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Desktop Linux: If we build it, will they come?

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Linux has made major inroads on servers and in data centres running both open-source and proprietary applications on millions of computers worldwide. We've recently seen the rise of Linux on mobile devices. But the Linux desktop remains elusive. We know it's out there, but it only now seems to be approaching the tipping point.

Where is desktop Linux at the moment? Right now we see end-user Linux in fixed function and transactional systems and technical workstations. Transactional systems tend to be next-generation Unix replacements that connect to Linux and mainframe back-end systems. Technical workstations are largely in the developer arena.

Over the past 18 months, we have seen growth in desktop Linux usage, spurred by new more user-friendly distros like Ubuntu and new versions of Firefox and OpenOffice. But the holy grail -- business users -- are still few and far between. At what point will ISVs port applications to Linux, and is there enough demand?

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