Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Beyond Creative Cloning on the Desktop

November 17th, 2002 · No Comments

Why aren’t people moving from Windows to Linux desktops, asks Don Soegaard:

With Windows, the operating system is just a start; you must add applications to make it functional. Many Linux distributions provide a desktop look similar to Windows and include an extensive assortment of applications, programming tools and games.

Installing Windows and sundry applications can take most of a day. Contrast that with Linux, where the process typically takes less than 60 minutes.

Windows and its applications are expensive and require costly upgrades. The cost of a Linux system is nominal, and you can download a vast number of versions for free. If your favorite Windows program hasn’t been ported to Linux, software is available to let you run that application from within Linux.

Windows is limited to the offspring of the IBM-PC, while Linux systems can operate on virtually any hardware platform.

Unlike Microsoft products, when you share Linux software licensed under the GPL, you are not committing a crime. And, if a feature is missing or broken, a person with the ability can access source and modify the software.

With Windows, knowledge is hoarded and kept secret. With Linux, the exchange of knowledge is promoted.

With so many positives, why aren’t desktop users flocking to the Linux banner?

Don’s conclusion: a Linux desktop will have to do things significantly different to improve people’s productivity, than just being a “creative clone”. He writes:

Professionals want to improve their productivity, but is the industry listening? We can continue upgrading through the process of diminishing returns, or we can actually solve our problems by improving the office toolset. Taking advantage of software progress over the past 25 years, we can develop tools that offer improved capabilities for people.

While several projects are creating components for developers, a project to develop modular tools for people is not on the horizon. GNU/Linux can flourish in the enterprise sector and still be a desktop dud. Though opportunity exists, the market won’t abandon Windows except for something significantly better.

The GPL community could take the lead by modularizing the tool capabilities found in office suites for use in a more integrated and process-oriented work environment.

With separate tools, functionality can be clarified and learning curves minimized. People could customize their workshop to include only the tools they need and to perform the same work that’s currently done working with office suite applications. Tools could be added or upgraded one at a time. And new open file-standards could also evolve. But most important, a process-oriented environment would enable users to set up systems to manage their work.

Tags: Software

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