Linux works its way toward prime time

www.infoworld.com |  Operating Systems

"I do know a lot of people who use [Linux] for e-mail, word processing, and Web access, but I couldn't recommend it to someone whose teenage children just want a computer to play games on," Davis added.

The future of Linux lies in embedded processors and on servers, Davis said. "Will it ever become an alternative to Windows on the desktop?" he asked. "I think people will use it on the desktop, but will it become the desktop for everyone is the question."

However, the main issues that users have with the operating system are the same as what Linux companies claim to have been working on over the past year.

"The quality of the user interfaces [of different Linux versions] have greatly increased, and compannies are producing products fairly comparable to those available on Windows," said Bernd Wagner, vice president of European operations, Linux division, at Applix.

Applix makes a product called Applixware Office, which is a Linux alternative to Microsoft Office for Windows suite. "Because of things like identical key bindings [key combinations such as Control-C for copy] and the look and feel of the program, you don't even realize you're using Linux," Wagner added.

As long as the interface looks familiar, some companies do not care what the operating system actually is as long as the price is right, according to Martin Peterson, technical director of Linux shopping portal LinuxIT.com.

"We just shipped 170 workstations running Linux to a large company," Peterson said. "It was a cost-efficient deal; the only thing that was important was price. And when we can give them workstations running Applixware for half the price of a workstation running Microsoft, that becomes the bottom line."

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