Linux is Ready for the Desktop, Says IBM Speaker

Grid services executive predicts up to 60,000 IBM desktops will run Linux next year.

If you have a show called the Desktop Linux Conference, you expect to have a few speakers saying that Linux is cool for the enterprise desktop. You don’t necessarily expect that one of them will be a senior IBM employee.

That’s exactly what has happened this week with Linux and Grid services executive at IBM Global Services—Sam Docknevich confessing that 14,000 IBM employees now run with Linux on the desktop and that next year it will jump to 50,000 to 60,000. He declared simply that Linux is ready for mainstream and said, “Linux should be on the short list when considering an upgrade.”

Docknevich acknowledged that Linux had already made inroads into kiosk systems and fixed-function machines, where the operating system makes almost no native appearance to the user. He also said that the only thing standing in the way of widespread Linux deployment was the enormous wealth of installed Windows applications that we all depend on.

Other speakers, such as influential Open Source leader Bruce Perens, who made the first defense of Linux against the attacks of SCO in his famous “Open Letter,” added that as applications move from a platform to the Web, on Web services, they might just as well run on Linux as Windows. Perens predicted that by 2006, 30 percent of enterprise desktops will run Linux.

Other speakers said there is software at hand to help, with executives from CodeWeavers and Win4Lin (which supply software that allows Linux users to run Windows programs) touting Linux as a low-cost alternative to Windows.

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Rethink Research Associates (www.rethinkresearch.biz) provides analyst and research publications and consultancy/advisory services on enterprise IT, wireless technology, and broadband digital media.