With Sun, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Novell, Red Hat and IBM gearing up to push Linux onto corporate desktops the increased visibility brought about by such high-profile players should help Linux find its way into the workplace as never before.
Additional factors leading to the growth of Linux on the desktop are international government deployments, innovations that are a result of the open source model and the feeling of many IT administrators they will be (or are) stranded on an island by a single monopoly provider.
But, before widespread adoption takes place, there are still some shortcomings that must be addressed. Some vital applications will only run on certain operating systems, for example, and, if they are key to the operation, there will most likely be multiple desktop operating systems in the company. This is the case at Mindbridge where the systems engineers are on Linux desktops and the sales executives are on Windows because our CRM application will only run on Windows.
IBM, for its part, is anxious to help enhance Linux, define standards and extend Linux to a portfolio of their applications. They have already implemented a series of major Linux initiatives around the world to help their customers and independent software-vendors transition third party applications to the Linux.
Also driving the eventual emergence of Linux as a bona fide corporate desktop OS are several open source desktop projects of note including Gnome, Mozilla, Open Office, and KDE. I am sure others will be developed in the future.
Java applications will also play an important role in this trend as Java apps can run on any operating system. And, while Lindows is meeting tough legal battles because of stepping on the trademark toes of Windows, it will be interesting to see how the court fights turn out as well as how the product catches on in the marketplace.
But, at the end of the day, the decision comes down to finding ways we can work more effectively and more productively and I see Linux desktops playing an important part in that decision.
Scott Testa is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Mindbridge Software makers of the Intranet software suite, IntraSmart, which enables companies share information and knowledge that results in improved collaboration and productivity.
Got something to say about this article or Linux on the desktop in general? Take it over to our IT Management Forum.