Sunday, 5 February 2012

Linux Is Not A Viable OS

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I just came across two comments in an idea on Dell's IdeaStorm claiming Linux is not a viable OS or some nonsense. Frankly I was gob-smacked to learn there are still some people promoting this FUD. So much so in fact I was moved to write quite a lengthy rant and then repost it here. Frankly if this stuff is still doing the rounds and people are actually believing it then we're not doing enough to get the message out that Linux currently dominates the OS market in it's many forms. It has a presence in virtually every device market pigeon hole. And it's the top contender in most. If you are a Linux user and Dell customer using Linux on Dell hardware then get your arse on IdeaStorm and tell Dell you want Linux!

That was the short version. Below is the long version I posted on IdeaStorm.

Linux is not a serious contender in the OS market? This is the sort of FUD and ignorance that keeps consumers away from Linux. Linux is very much a contender in the OS market. Which is why Microsoft lists desktop Linux as a threat to it's desktop Windows in it's tax returns. When netbooks first appeared Linux was such a massive threat to Microsoft it had to literally give Windows XP away for free and extend it's shelf life because Vista wouldn't run on a netbook.

If you have a WiFi router, DVR, DVD player, smart TV, satellite set top box, cable set top box or any number of other devices in your home then the chances are it's running either a Linux or BSD based OS.

Android/Linux smart phone deployments dwarf all others in the smart phone market. Even Apple's iPhone is dwarfed by Android when all Android distributors are counted as one. And Windows Phone 7? Hardly a blip on the radar.

It's true all manner of malware exists for Linux. However Linux has a different approach to dealing with malware. Yes the people sticking their heads in the sand are not helpful. Linux does have anti-malware software built right into the kernel. It's call Apparmor. It works a bit more like a white list of software rather than the black list Windows anti-virus vendors try to use. This is used in combination with community vigilance. One of the great advantages of Free and Open Source Software is the community gets to see the source code. It can be inspected so the community can determine what it does. So additional anti-virus software on Linux is generally speaking not needed.

With the black list approach you'll always be step behind. And that's just not good enough.

So far as the average office worker or home user is concerned GNU/Linux has all the bases covered when it comes to application software. There are more web browsers, e-mail clients and office productivity sweets than you can swing a cat at. And many of these applications are also available for Windows as well. So migration needn't be a harsh experience.

It's true more specialist bespoke software is not available off the shelf. However that's true of all OS platforms. The clue is in the "bespoke software" part. The Microsoft way is to tell people to use their OS and applications stack no matter what. And indeed Microsoft channel partners follow this mantra. Religiously sometimes. However it is very bad practice to shoehorn every business into the same mould. This is in fact the primary reason why malware is such a massive problem for Windows.

When building bespoke systems it is better to assess the clients actual needs and serve those needs first. When that approach is adopted. FOSS tends to win. Hence the reason why many of the worlds stock exchanges have switched to GNU/Linux. Hence the reason why US drones now run on Linux instead of Windows which could not be properly secured against malware. Hence the reason why many EU government agencies are switching to GNU/Linux and why GNU/Linux is so popular in South America. Hence the reason why something on the order of the top 40 of the worlds most powerful super computers are running GNU/Linux and why most of the top 500 are running GNU/Linux.

And then there is the tablet market. Which very closely resembles the smart phone market. ARM based devices running Android/Linux.

At this stage in the game anybody claiming Linux is not a viable contender is just delusional. The last market Linux has left to conquer is the desktop. Which is ironically becoming less relevant every year if the pundits are right. The only market where Windows has a strangle hold is the desktop/laptop market. Linux is slowly gaining ground. Microsoft is slowly losing.
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