Linux Desktops

Amy Wohl writes about the market for Linux desktops: “Wed say the desktop Linux race is just getting started and whether its about devices or mainly about delivering function to existing desktops is yet to be determined. As to whether existing vendors the Dells, Gateways, and HPs will be the main desktop providers in a Linux desktop era or whether a new set of providers might arise its simply too soon to tell. In fact, its too soon to tell how important the Linux desktop is going to be, although many vendors and analysts are already predicting that outside of the highly penetrated North American and western European market, its likely to be an important player.”

The newsletter also has a letter by John McCreesh: “The most effective use of computing power is to put an absolute minimal hardware on a diskless terminal on the desktop, and do all the ‘real’ computing on shared central servers. Virtually all the PCs currently being thrown out by corporates could be used indefinitely as diskless terminals. Comparatively small servers can support surprisingly large numbers of users- simply because the available horsepower is being used efficiently. Holding all the user data and software centrally provides for an extremely cost-effective support model.”

This is exactly what Emergic Freedom does.

Adds McCreesh: “As all the software required to try out Linux terminal/server is available under open-source licenses, it’s very easy to try out. Pretty well any networked PC can be converted instantly into a dumb terminal simply by booting it from a suitable floppy. Load Linux onto a spare server – or even a good desktop PC, add the package of ‘glue’ from the LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project), and you can be up and running on a sustainable computing proof of concept without spending a cent. It’s an interesting exercise to try and see what the users think of the sustainable computing alternative. Reverting to Microsoft Windows is as easy as removing the boot floppies – but the chances are, you won’t want to do it. ”

Inherent in what John says is an interesting, incremental idea for targeting existing Windows users. Here’s a staged approach to get them to first try out Linux on the desktop and then even shift:

  • first, target email. Get email on Linux through Evolution, by booting through the floppy. No Windows, No Outlook, No Viruses. And that’s a big deal. Viruses are the biggest bane in a corporate network, most viruses come in via email, and using Linux eliminates that risk.

  • next, put OpenOffice and Mozilla under Windows. Both (the Windows versions) can run from the Linux Thick Server. Users can get familiar with them. This way, three key applications (email, office and browser) are now not dependent on Windows.

  • finally, switch Windows to Linux, using the thin client-thick server architecture. No need for the local hard disk or CDROM drive, no need to ever upgrade the hardware on the desktop.

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.