Linux on the desktop continues to gain momentum. Shops that formerly would not consider Linux for desktops are starting to like the substantial savings possible using Open Office plus Linux for dramatically lower costs and hassles over Vista + Office 2007. The Walls Street Journal has picked up on the phenomenon as reporting on its substantial groundswell here.

Linux still goes into only a tiny proportion of the desktop and laptop PCs sold. But in a recent report, market researcher IDC said licenses of both free and purchased versions of Linux software going into PCs world-wide rose 20.8% in 2006 over the previous year and forecast that licenses will increase 30% this year over last. That compares with 10.5% growth in 2004, according to IDC…..In places such as China, Microsoft has made some progress curtailing piracy — a change that could be spurring PC users to pick up Linux, avoiding both paying for Windows and the risk of being nabbed for illegal software. “That in some respects drives the adoption,” says Al Gillen, an analyst at IDC. So far, the clearest shift toward desktop Linux is happening in Asia, which “may turn out over time to be a pivotal market for Linux on the [PC] desktop,” Mr. Gillen says. Shipments of Linux for PCs in Asia in 2005 caused a surge in overall Linux licenses that year, he says.

But Linux is not just besting Windows in cost. As noted, comparisons with the latest Windows Vista finds decisive advantages in performance and functional advantages for Linux. Meanwhile, Windows Vista is giving away former advantages of ease of use. Look what some reviewers are saying about hardware compatibility and software compatibility of Windows Vista. There are serious problems of missing drivers and apps not yet converted to Vista.

Now Redmond supporters cite these peripheral driver problems and application software compatibility problems as only temporary; but some others are not so sanguine: they say for some older devices and applications the conversion will never occur and so Linux may well end up with a better reach at least to older peripherals for a long time.

Another factor is the total cost of converting to Vista and Office 2007. Its not just the premium price of both software but also the conversion effort and incompatibilities with existing systems and applications. And I am not just saying this but reputable commentators from Business Week, the New York Times and Microsoft-leaning. But perhaps the biggest factor is the fact that these new editions of the OS and Office are simply not People Ready. Why Microsoft decided to do a series of People Ready software ads at the same time as they made substantial changes to Vista and especially Office 2007 which would require serious retraining efforts for all existing users of both Windows and Office …. give that gal or guy the Donald Rumsfeld/Dick Cheney StoneWallIT Award.

The result is that often these refurbished Linux desktop and laptop PCs work just as good or better than the “new” Wow.

(c)JBSurveyer 2007 If you liked this, let others know:
Slashdot Digg reddit newsvine Y! MyWeb

I am in the midst of doing a review of RealBasic 2005, a Visual Basic look-alike, that now runs on Mac and Linux as well as Windows. The GUI interface is uncannily like say Visual Basic 4 or 5 – with visual drag and drop design using a rich set of components many of which are database aware. So it is all that Delphi wanted to be but could not get enough developers to convert to.

But of course RealBasic 2005 is being aided mightily by Microsoft which has yet again thumbed its nose at VB developers (all those who remember suffering through VB1, VB3 and VB5s RDO raise your hands)with VB.NET which is such a departure from VB6 of old and so close to C# it might as well be called C# without braces. Oh and the conversion of VB6 projects to VB.NET – you guessed it – nightmare city.

So VB6 developers are looking for a place to go as its popularity in the TEOBE ratings start to plummet along with Kylix/Delphi and Pascal (three months running VB has had 2 or more down arrows in its ratings trend). meanwhile RealBasic is available and looks and acts a lot like VB but runs on Mac and now Linux as well as Windows (and all versions including ME, 98, 95 unlike VB.NET)with almost identically the same development environ and GUI components.

Now why is this important to the Linux desktop ? Because Linux is fast becoming the place to be for development tools and languages. Java on Linux has Eclipse, NetBeans, and JDeveloper – all superb IDEs. Macromedia is porting Flash/Flex to Zorn which will be an Eclipse interface for visual database development with Flash. C/C++ has a number of very good implementations from Trolltech, Eclipse, and Watcom. PHP has a number of very nice development tools from Zend, Activestate, and others. Perl, Python, Ruby, Jython, and 3 or 4 other scripting tools got their start in Linux and branched to Windows, Mac, and embedded processing.

The bottom line is that developers can now target for Windows and take their chances that Redmond wont eat them alive if they have any success; but at the same time also have code that runs in Linux and Mac and possibly mobile phones and PDA-like devices as in the case of Flex/Flash, PHP, Perl, etc. The inevitable result – desktop applications start to show steady growth on Linux. And suddenly IBMs Steve Mills projections that Linux Desktops will grow only because of PCs devoted to specific tasks such as order entry, inventory monitoring or call center operation. Steve is saying these low breadth application will sustainat least a larger linux desktop presence than now. But this vision is short sighted.

I suspect the RealBasic 2005 and Flex/Zorn and Java apps will also being growing and attracting new users to the Linux desktop. For example, just doing this review has forced me to make the final Linux desktop plunge and in a big way. Fedora Core, Suse Linux and Debian Linux machines are now up and running. And as a developer this gives me direct connect to my many LAMP websites and a growing number of client Linux installations. As a writer, with OpenOffice, GIMP, and Firefox I have all the basic components needed to churn out reviews and tutorials. In sum developers like me will help lead the way back to a PC that will no longer be synonmous with Windows.

(c)JBSurveyer 2005

Jason Brooks at eWeek has done a good review of the new Enterprise Linux desktop offerings from Java and RedHat. This is a solid review – issuing cautions where required (mixed ratings on drivers, some missing mail connections) and adding insights into the real advantages of the new Linux desktop environs. It is interesting that cash strapped governments are now leading the charge to Linux desktop usage . Good state of the art update on how Linux has now increased its configuration options and manageability on the desktop greatly. Microsoft wants you to get the facts on Linux – here is an informative source.