Why Linux Is Already A Success - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Enterprise Architecture
Commentary
9/20/2007
08:55 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Why Linux Is Already A Success

Anyone who reads InformationWeek regularly probably knows by now that my colleague Alexander Wolfe has more than a few pithy things to say about Linux with his piece 7 Reasons Why Linux Won't Succeed on the Desktop. After reading it, I thought: Does Linux really need to succeed on the desktop?

Anyone who reads InformationWeek regularly probably knows by now that my colleague Alexander Wolfe has more than a few pithy things to say about Linux with his piece 7 Reasons Why Linux Won't Succeed on the Desktop. After reading it, I thought: Does Linux really need to succeed on the desktop?

The thinking seems to go something like this. Linux has to succeed broadly on the desktop as an alternative to Windows because:

  • It's a good way to support development of the OS and its attendant applications. People are more likely to invest in an existing success story than one that's struggling.
  • Linux is a technologically better system and it deserves to win.
  • Someone has to stand up to bully-boy Microsoft.

Maybe the truth is that Linux is already a success, and that talk of "the year of Linux on the desktop" is also misleading. Plain and simple: I don't believe Linux has to eclipse Microsoft on the desktop to be viable. Frankly, I don't think it has to eclipse anything at all.

It's all about what you define as success. From the point of view of the people who wanted to simply provide free alternatives to the existing for-pay software, they've already succeeded. The software is out there, it works decently enough that many people can adopt it for daily work, and you are in no way prevented from using Windows in the future, or even using it now as a dual option, if you have to.

Here's a movie analogy: When Hollywood calls a movie a "success," they mean "it had a $100 million opening weekend and we earned back most of our production cost in that week." When movie fans call a movie a success, they mean "it's touched people's lives for decades and will continue to do so for a long time." I love both types: big Hollywood productions like Terminator 2: Judgment Day -- a huge success worldwide -- and smaller, more personal, and far less commercial films like Why Has Bodhi-dharma Left for the East? There is no reason both movies cannot coexist in different spheres, because they satisfy inherently different audiences.

The reason Linux exists, if you ask me, is not to knock Windows out of the box. It's to provide an alternative. For some people that alternative is not wholly viable; I have a discussion of GIMP vs. Photoshop in this regard that I'll save for its own blog entry. But for others, that alternative is perfectly suitable.

As long as Linux has enough of an audience to justify its own further development -- and from what I can tell, it most certainly does -- then it's a success. Linux doesn't need to displace Microsoft to be "better." It just needs to be good on its own terms. That's a tough enough job to occupy all the people who want to make Linux work, from Linus Torvalds on down.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

News
Becoming a Self-Taught Cybersecurity Pro
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  6/9/2021
News
Ancestry's DevOps Strategy to Control Its CI/CD Pipeline
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  6/4/2021
Slideshows
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll