Your views: Time for Linux?

The recession is apparently driving some firms to look at Linux as a cost-saving alternative to Microsoft – is it time for open source to take off?

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The recession may be driving some to take a look at open source alternatives to bigger-name proprietary products but is Linux and co ready for the attention?

Linux based operating systems were initially popular on netbooks, but have fallen out of favour after customers passed them over in favour of Microsoft systems.

We asked in our biweekly newsletter if you thought Linux will ever pose a true challenge to Microsoft. Why hasn't it succeeded so far?

Sean would like to see Linux making more of a dent in Microsoft's Office market, but doesn't expect it to happen anytime soon. I have been recently tried to purchase Ubuntu desktops for our engineers and it has proven very difficult. The big vendors seem to offer no choice of Linux especially in the business desktop area."

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"I can accept that for the big vendors it is difficult to settle on a particular distro of Linux, but this leaves me with one of the things I find most frustrating - the inability of the major vendors to provide machines with no OS," he added.

Terry praised Linux especially Ubuntu for the many improvements it's seen of late, but said the old problems still remain. "What do you do if it goes wrong? They would have us believe that the community forums will sort your problems out quickly. Maybe so, but if your box just isn't working, or if you cannot connect for some reason, you are stuck."

Roger told us he loves his Mac and hates PCs, but has always eyed Linux suspiciously. "I have often looked sideways at Linux and admire their open source approach, but have so far resisted the complications of platform transfer." But now, he's moved to Open Office. "Open Office does everything I need from Word and more. Also, I have found other free downloads like Sketch Up to be interesting and user friendly."

"The next step for Mac would be for them to release their OS for other manufacturers to use, or at least function specific versions of it It remains to be seen whether Apple will have the confidence to separate the equipment from the OS and respond to the increase in Open Source opportunities." It's a nice idea Roger, but don't hold your breath.

Keith highlighted that many enterprises already use Linux but said we shouldn't expect that to spill over to the consumer world. "Corporate use of Linux is unlikely to have much of an impact on the personal scene; they have used Unix systems since computer time began but that has only made their operators familiar with the idea of computers not the operating system, as most corporate software is on-screen form filling. The PC, in whichever form, is a universal machine and its universal operating system is the one nearly all of them are delivered with: Windows." David said Linux's time will come, but we need to get really sick of Microsoft first. "It will take time, but then come as an avalanche, particularly when companies realise they are putting their trust and money into Microsoft, which appears to me as a company that never gets it quite right!"

An entirely different David isn't optimistic, but we like his barometer. "I think the true measure that open source, or more specifically Linux, has made it on the desktop will be when Microsoft release Office for Linux' or less likely Open Office installations/purchases for Linux overtake Office for Windows. What do you think is the likelihood of either of these events happening?"

Click here for more views from IT PRO readers.

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