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For many years people have claimed that <insert year> will be the “Year of the Desktop” for Linux and it’s friends. I say it that way because people tend to clump the kernel, the toolsets, window managers, and everything else under the ‘Linux’ banner. I think Linux is ready for the “desktop”. I’ve used Linux on my main desktop for several years, and very few times have I griped about it. The only gripe I have would be proprietary formats, which in no way is a fault of open source.

The trouble with saying Linux is ready for the desktop, is people immediately assume you mean everyone can use it, without problems, without having any prior knowledge of their hardware or anything, that everything that comes on their PC (accessories included) should “just work”. I’m saying this in the sense that, Linux and friends have fit my every need for computing. Need a word processor? Grab OpenOffice. Need development tools? Find and install. Does this mean I haven’t had to tweak anything or massage something into place to work right? Of course not. I run into small problems, easily resolved. But that’s because it interests me. The only reason something stops working is me messing with something. Take a Windows installation for example. How do you get it setup. You install the base system, then spend the next 6 hours on updates. Install your anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, everything. Trouble is, your typical users are still running as ‘administrators’ so the system will “just work”.

Now, many people claim to have problems when setting up a Linux box.  Usually some piece of hardware doesn’t fully work as expected.  This is bound to happen when peripheral makers are focusing on the Windows platform.  But, I’ve had several cases where I haven’t had problems.  For instance, this weekend I bought a bluetooth adapter to use with my Treo.  Just an off-the-shelf Kensington bluetooth adapter from Best Buy for $22.00 on sale.  Plugged it in, and it’s already configured.  Up pops the Bluetooth config dialog, and I just close it out accepting the defaults.  Try sending something from the Treo, works every time.   Next, I bought a wireless keyboard and mouse set for the DVR.  Easier than running cables up the wall.  Plug in the USB receiver, and connect the keyboard and mouse, works perfectly, without a reboot, no driver installation.

Who says Linux isn’t ready for the desktop?

Note:  I’ll concede to certain Apple fans, they do make nice systems, but the cost of ownership is still too steep.  But, remember, the kernel of your OS is open source.

One Response to “Linux on the “Desktop””

  1. Jon Says:

    Yes, I have to admit that Linux will do just fine as long as you keep it simple. Doing automatic updates of software packages is still cumbersome and every once in a while you have to break down and actual configure and make something to work. Kind of sucks, but as long as you build out your system where your data is stored externally to the operating system, you can always do a fresh install of the latest distribution. Kind of like that fun you used to have in re-arranging your bedroom furniture every 6 months. (I won’t compare this to the annual windows re-install to remove the bloat-ware.)

    As for my laptop, I think I might settle on Puppy Linux and the pizzapup distro. I have a hawking wifi card that is still giving me fits, but perhaps one of these days, I’ll find time to get it working. For now, the wired 3-com adapter works fine.

    And yes, the Mac is expensive, but with the gains from my Apple stock, I’ve already paid for my Mac Mini, and my iPod, and Joan’s iPod, and her Mac Mini…! :)

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