Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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The rise and fall of linux

2 August 2006

Does anyone remember Linux?

If I recall correctly, geeks around the world picked up a huge amount of support from a few key commercial players a few years back and it looked as if Linux was getting ready to take on Microsoft's OS dominance.

Almost every day there was a new story on the wires that told us Microsoft would soon be feeling the effect of this "free" and superior OS.

So why do I not see any Linux systems in offices or average Kiwi homes?

Don't get me wrong, I *am* a Linux fan and am well aware of its technical superiority in many areas - but it really seems to have fallen from the spotlight with a big thud.

Every now and then we see a story telling us that some government department in some far-off country has decided to biff Windows in favour of Linux, but the fervor and groundswell of support really does seem to have cooled.

Is it just that Microsoft has done a crash-hot (no pun intended) job of marketing Windows' strengths, or does Linux still have a problem with user-friendliness and the availability of good, easy-to-use applications?

Maybe it's the fact that Windows comes pre-installed on just about every PC sold and people simply aren't interested in taking a "risk" on some geek-OS they've never used before.

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So what's really needed to get Linux onto desktops and *really* give Windows a bit of a hurry-up?

Could the transition to Vista be another opportunity for Linux to muscle in on Microsoft's turf?

Upgrading to Vista probaby won't be very cheap and there's bound to be the usual raft of security vulnerabilities that will make headlines -- so should Linux vendors and an army of geeks be preparing to take advantage of these weaknesses?

If they're going to do that they've really got to get their act together and engage in a unified push.

They've also got to make sure that retailers and other vendors are properly equipped and skilled to deal with the demands that will come from lots of people dealing with new concepts and applications.

And just what is the best Linux distro these days? Thanks to a kind reader, I've got a copy of ubuntu Linux sitting here and I'll be playing with that as soon as I get a moment. I like the way it's being pitched as a "linux for human beings" -- that's the kind of marketing savvy that geekdom will have to employ to win over the Windowsesque population.

Probably just as important is the answer to this question: "Where can people go to get plain-English help and support for Linux"?

Support for Windows is ubiquitous. There's an army of folks making a good living out of sorting virus-ridden and corrupted Windows-based PCs. Is there a similarly competent army ready to provide the same services for those who take the plunge into the world of Linux? How do people get ahold of such folks when they need them?

After a long, long time, FireFox has finally made some appreciable inroads into Internet Explorer's marketshare. Could Linux do the same?

Or will the launch of Vista (and IE7) effectively ankle-tap FireFox's uptake and squash any chance of Linux gaining ground in the desktop market?

How many Aardvark readers use Linux?

How many use Linux as their primary OS in preference to Windows?

How many have tried Linux but gone back to Windows?

If you're a Linux fan, take a moment to try and sell us on why everyone else should be using it too...

Have your say on this...

Oh, and don't forget today's sci/tech news headlines

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