What's Keeping Linux Off Desktops?
BOSTON -- The vision of running Linux on corporate desktops has gained ground during the past 18 months, as full-featured office productivity software has become a reality and improvements have been made to the Linux kernel and to installation and administration tools.
But even though the open-source operating system has moved closer to filling
Shawen Donnellan, director of software development at Amherst Corporate Computer Sales & Solutions in Merrimack, New Hampshire, said about 10 percent of the PC reseller's several thousand customers have asked about Linux, partly because of increased costs for Windows licenses. But many efforts to migrate have faltered because of a lack of collaboration, calendaring, and scheduling software for Linux, he said.
Prospective Linux users "are just dead in the water" if they can't use such applications, said Donnellan. "It's what kills them. You get so tantalizingly close." Donnellan added that other needed applications are already available, including the OpenOffice.org software suite and Sun Microsystems'
Boston-based Ximian has developed calendaring and scheduling tools for users of its Linux-based Ximian Evolution groupware client that are similar to those in Microsoft Outlook. But the Ximian tools work only with Microsoft Exchange Server 2000, not the older Exchange Server 5.5. Donnellan said that cuts out most of his customers who don't want to upgrade to Exchange Server 2000.
At least one other option has appeared:
"This is just a typical part of the process," said Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC. "Some vertical markets find that most of the pieces are already there, while others find that some pieces are still missing."
According to Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata in Nashua, New Hampshire, software developers will eventually build the needed applications. "But it takes a wellhead of pressure [from users] to make that happen," he added.
Robert Borochoff, a senior research scientist at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington, said Linux is among the operating systems being considered to replace a Sun Solaris 7 installation that runs on Intel-based systems and supports about 32,000 end users in 400 federal courthouses.
But a key runtime tool for PeopleSoft's packaged applications doesn't run under Linux, and Borochoff said the Pleasanton, California-based company has said that it won't port the tool to Linux. But the courts have invested too much money in PeopleSoft's applications to replace the software, he said.