Linux Reaches 'The Show'

Edward F. Moltzen

Get your season tickets. Start reading the box scores. They don't sell bubble gum cards for this yet, but give it time.

Linux has hit the big leagues and is taking the field.

Unlike Apple or Microsoft, the Linux community doesn't hold launch events with rock stars when a new operating system is released. Customers don't line up overnight outside retail stores throwing out snappy quotes to the media. But over time -- especially over the past 18 months -- Linux developers have delivered technology to the market that is sound, that is simple and that can do the basic work people need to get done.

The CMP Channel Test Center this week is reporting results of "The World Series of Linux" - - after several weeks of testing and comparing six different distributions of desktop Linux performing a series of everyday office tasks. Some distros worked much better than others. But, overall, a compelling story began to emerge that we hadn't seen before: a viable alternative to Windows or Apple on the desktop has now arrived.

To be sure, there will be critics who complain that the testing was stacked a certain way to give one distro an advantage over another. Or it was all skewed to make Linux look much more competitive to Microsoft than it really is. But the testing was real-world testing, it was transparent and it was straightforward. As you read the report, you'll see where some distributions were easier than others to install, deploy and get people working. You'll see where more work needs to be done, across all distributions. But you'll also see that it works.

Of course, in desktop Linux, there are the haves and the have-nots. Canonical, which administers and evangelizes Ubuntu, has sunk a lot of resource into development and marketing and, earlier this year, reached a deal with Dell to have its desktop OS installed on some Dell laptops and notebooks. Novell, with SLED 10, has deep channel relationships and partnerships with other vendors like IBM and Lenovo. PC Linux OS? Well, let's just say that falls into the "have-nots" category.

Read the report. Put yourself in the position of CMP Channel Test Center engineers who did the work and think about how far Linux has come in just the past year. And then try to place your bets on who will be the winner of this year's World Series of Linux.

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