Thursday, October 06, 2005

 

I believe you have underestimated my sneakiness

For the last ten years we've seen a constant brigade of articles starting with the phrase "Linux isn't ready for ______". Once upon a time the word was servers, but at this point Linux has done a pretty damn good job of penetrating the server market ready or not. Now the blank is desktop.

For those already on the bandwagon, it feels like being on the edge of the first wave. For the first time it seems we're on the cusp of Linux being ready for the desktop. There are a lot of technologies converging which only serve to ready it more. In a way it almost seems as though it will sneak up and be "ready" before many see it coming.

- Accessories
Anyone who hasn't looked at the FOSS versions of their favorite accessories in over a year should immediately do so. kopete is at least as glitzy as Trillian and gaim is rock solid. It's nice that FOSS hasn't forgotten about things like IRC as well. xchat is like the Firefox of IRC offering the bulk of it's functionality via plugins and scripts. Noatun has a great interface for multimedia although winamp fans may be drawn to xmms.

- Desktop environment
The difference between logging in to kubuntu and logging in to Windows is kubuntu's KDE login looks a lot nicer than Windows. The funny thing about gnome vs. kde is that to a new user it probably doesn't matter that much. They have come together enough that installing an application results in new menu items in both gnome and kde. There are important differences in how administrative tasks are performed but the result is you won't go wrong by sticking with what your distro installs. I use KDE and Mom would have no problem here. The future looks even better (and simpler) with KDE 3.5 and beyond. Simplicity good

- Office apps
I spent some time in openoffice calc, working on a spreadsheet the other day. The application was very responsive and had all the functionality I expect from a spreadsheet. It surprised me by continuing to perform when doing more advanced tasks like a few complicated formulas and macros. OO 2 is right around the corner and they say MS office compatability is even better. Furthermore, the Mass decision to standardise on opendoc is clearly a boon here, although it won't be long before MS introduces opendoc.

- Web
Firefox. Enough said. FF extensions are platform independant. I also have acrobat reader and flash and if the flash audio stayed in sync with the video I'd never have to use VMWare to read somethingawful.com :) I expect this to work virtually flawlessly in 6 months.

So, when will the naysayers decide it's ready? Will it be the point when 50% of new games are released for Linux as well? Perhaps when Dell offers a desktop distribution preinstalled with a new PC? Some people will never switch, and they don't have to. Certainly, though, your choice of desktop influences how you look at the situation. So, perhaps the "not ready" articles will live on.

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