Linux on the Desktop

Interest in Linux on the desktop continues to grow. OSAF has published a report. An extract from its executive summary:

This report..concludes that, while much work remains to be done, desktop Linux is now good enough for significant classes of users. We believe that claims about Linux fitness or unfitness for desktop use have both been overblown. It is true that Linux is unlikely to achieve significant adoption by knowledge workers and mainstream consumers, especially in the United States, over the next few years. It is also true that Linux is already in use by millions of users around the world, and is likely to find a home on tens of millions of desktops over the next few years, outpacing the Macintosh OS as the number two desktop operating system.

We believe that initial deployments of Linux on the desktop will focus largely on highly technical workers, students and transactional workers. The public sector, especially outside of the US, will also be a major driver of desktop Linux adoption.

While technical challenges remain, we agree with several of the people we spoke with who argued that desktop Linux has evolved from being a technical challenge to a marketing challenge. Linux is now good enough for large numbers of people. A key remaining task is to convince buyers to consider a Linux desktop on its merits.

ZDNet reports on a keynote address at OSCON 2003 by OSAF’s founder, Mitch Kapor on the same topic.

Kapor said he would not be surprised to see 10 percent of global desktops running Linux in the near future. That’s a good bet.

He cautioned that gaining desktop Linux users beyond the techie crowd would require much improved Microsoft Office compatibility as well as fit and finish in the desktop environments and applications. OpenOffice, for example, still lacks the polish necessary to convert the mass of Office users, despite the cost advantages.

Kapor also said that the hardware abstraction layer and integration among various open source desktop environments should get the attention of the developer community. Installing Linux on a laptop can be a nightmare, and device driver support remains inadequate.

An OSAF presentation on Chandler, an open-source personal information manager, which could be a key application as part of the Linux desktop, is available here.

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Linux Journal Awards

Linux Journal announces its 2003 Editors’ Choice awards. Among the winners:

Best Security Tool (hardware or software): Netfilter/iptables
Best Server: Newisys 2100
Best Web Browser or Client: Mozilla 1.4
Best Graphics Software: Jahshaka
Best Communication Tool: Gaim
Best Desktop Software: OpenOffice.org
Best Development Tool: Perl 5.8.0
Best Database: PostgreSQL
Best Management or Administration Software: Webmin
Best Web Site: Linux Weekly News

Chandler as RSS Aggregator

Krzysztof Kowalczyk writes:

Chandler is still in its very infancy but the writing is on the wall: it’s going to be a killer RSS aggregator. The main problem with existng RSS aggregators is that they’re only that: RSS aggregators (sometimes with blog posting features). Chandler’s long-term vision is to be a hub of personal information, be it e-mail, calendaring information, contacts, notes. It’s only natural to add RSS aggregation features to it. Pure RSS aggregators will be able to compete on RSS-specific features (it’ll always be possible to make narrower tool to be e.g. more efficient or more streamlined for just RSS reading). However I believe the future lies in Chandler approach: one application to manage various kinds of information.

PS: there is an experimental RSS aggregator parcel in Chandler currently (in fact it was the first non-core parcel written). It’s awful (just like the rest of the Chandler). This will change because Chandler is barely out of design phase so awfulness is to be expected.

Hmmm…something for our Info Aggregator to transmogrify to?

Adds Ted Leung: “If you believe in Phil’s email-like microcontent manager (and you believe that Chandler won’t suck), then the conclusion is obvious. Krzysztof’s reasoning about webs of microcontent insinuated and augmented with one’s personal information is just fuel for the fire. Chandler’s design around Parcels give it the ability to act like an OpenDoc style container for microcontent components.”

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