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Breaking down barriers to Linux desktop adoption

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People reject Linux desktops for illogical reasons, says IT consultant and developer Jono Bacon. For example, they fault Linux OpenOffice desktops for not having all the features in Microsoft Windows Office, even though few actually use all of the Microsoft stuff. So, in essence, they're saying they want desktops cluttered with unnecessary features.

Bacon discusses the impact of such irrational views regarding Linux desktop adoption in this interview. He also opines on what developers should be doing to reverse-engineer people's fuzzy thinking and make it easier to adopt Linux and open source. Bacon co-authored Linux Desktop Hacks (O'Reilly Media) and is an applications development specialist at OpenAdvantage, an open source software consulting organization that provides free services in the West Midlands region of the U.K.

Do you think Linux can compete with Microsoft on the desktop?

Bacon: Sure. The one thing that people tend to get wrapped up in [is:] 'Everything should work.' If you take Windows and, for argument's sake, deduce that it performs five hundred functions, the typical business or home user may only use a hundred or fifty of those functions. The Linux desktop can probably achieve nearly all of those functions, but many people disregard its suitability irrespective of the fact that they may not need many of the features. Good IT is about applying a solution to a need.

I deal with companies every day that are moving over to Linux, and it does all the things that they want.

I think the sensible person would sit down and identify whether it does what they need it to do now and identify what they're going to need in the next couple of years. Most people have fairly typical requirements that the open source desktop can achieve. There's no doubt about that.

I think we can match what most people need but there are sometimes niche situations where it just isn't going to cut it. We need to identify what regular people need as well instead of just targeting huge organizations. We need to be competitive but reasoned too.

What do you think prevents people from switching?

Full Interview.

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