Is The Penguin Listening?

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Have you seen Apple Computer's latest Macintosh commercial? It's the one where the Mac guy and the PC guy are trying to have a conversation, but Windows Vista's user-account control guy gets in the way by asking "allow or deny?" for every exchange.

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While that may be a humorous oversimplification of how security works with Vista, it does drive home a point: Vista does put a great deal of burden on the end user to decide if something is safe or not. Of course, Apple's answer is to buy a Mac and avoid all of that hassle.

Well, there is another alternative: It's called Linux. If you're looking to upgrade your customers' OSes, now is the time to consider Linux as a viable option. What is really needed is a commercial Linux marketing campaign. I can picture it now:

The Mac guy, the PC guy and a penguin are all standing around having a conversation. The Mac guy, of course, would be pointing out the flaws of Vista, but there would be a twist, the Penguin would be asking, "Why do I have to buy a new computer to avoid all of those Vista problems?" And then the Penguin would jump on the PC guy's shoulder and throw snowballs at the Mac guy. Perhaps the Mac guy would wander off muttering something like, "Those damn inexpensive alternatives!"

OK, now that I have had my fun with the idea, let's talk about the reality here. Businesses will be faced with a choice in the near future: What operating system should they run? For most, just switching to a Mac will be not possible, while for many the cost of upgrading to Vista may be prohibitive. And for others, doing nothing is not an option.

Simply put, solution providers willing to discard preconceived notions and target those must-do-something (for security, compliance or performance reasons) customers can make a convincing argument for the Linux desktop and perhaps reap some income, while solving many of their customer's problems.

Commercial Linux vendors need to pay attention. The year 2007 very likely will become the year of change on the desktop thanks to Vista and the next generation of the Mac OS, and if the commercial Linux vendors don't seize the day, the future may very well become bleak for Linux on the desktop.

Hopefully, Novell (SUSE), Xandros, Mandriver and the other commercial Linux vendors out there will actively dive into the channel and build relationships with system builders to make the Linux desktop an obvious choice.

Should businesses make linux their operating system of choice?
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CRN Test Center Director Frank J. Ohlhorst via e-mail

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