Linux Viable on the Desktop in 2 Years

A recent article from The Register discusses a survey from the Butler Group called Linux in the Enterprise. Their conclusion is that Linux is already ready for the data center (and indeed is already in place) and that within the next two years will be a credible alternative for clients.

The ISP I work for is rather small, but Linux has been in our data center for some time. I’ve already purchased tape backup software that will run natively on Linux and FreeBSD, and our billing software vendor has a Linux port of our package available. If we chose to, we could eliminate our two Win2K servers by the end of the month without a problem rather than the long-term migration I’ve got planned at the moment.

Switching our desktops wouldn’t be too difficult, either. The biggest problem will be replacing QuickBooks for the business manager and billing department. However, I believe the real boon to switching will be wider use and development of software based on cross-platform tools such as Java.

I saw this firsthand yesterday when my personal Slackware laptop officially became my workstation at work. We have a Java app written by one of our techs to help extend the functionality of our billing software. It’s a simple GUI interface that communicates with another Java server app on the server, which in turn accesses the billing database. I could live without it, but it’d be nice to have.

Ten minutes of minor tweaks to the code and a recompile on my laptop and it worked like a champ. I don’t have the nifty system tray icon the Windows version does, but that doesn’t bother me a bit.

If the transition for an app like QuickBooks were that easy, I’d have it done already, too. Maybe I’ll have to talk our resident Java programmer into having a little meeting with our accountant…

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