With this past week’s release of Version 8.0 of
it is time to ask the perennial question: is GNU/Linux ready
for the desktop? Is it finally here? Is there a compelling
reason to use it on the desktop now? Despite some rough
edges in RH 8.0, such as a somewhat disorganized menu system, the
answer is yes. However, the reason may
Redhat 8.0 is a huge stride toward usability on
the desktop. It fills major holes of the ‘have to
go to the command line’ kind. For example, the
display settings screen is now GUI and the
Add/Remove Packages GUI program is very,
However, these are merely catching up with what
other operating systems have had for years. What
would make a user use it for its merits alone?
History has taught us that the short answer is
One can go back to the the computer
industry in 1989 for parallels. At the time the
underdog was Microsoft, the 800 pound gorilla
was IBM, and the dark horse was Apple. IBM and
Microsoft were jointly developing an operating
system called OS/2 which had a graphic user
interface(GUI). However, the OS was late, overpriced ($800!) and had no applications to speak of. Its predecessor, Microsoft DOS, was long in the tooth and had no graphic user interface. Microsoft desperately needed to ship a competitive OS with a GUI to fend off Apple. MS responded with Windows 3.0 which had an acceptable GUI, was priced right (about $90) and importantly, had a bunch of little but useful business applications already built in that justified its cost. For example, the calculator program alone made purchase of a stand-alone calculator un-necessary, which very much passed the ‘justify it to your boss’ test.
History may be repeating itself. In my freshly
installed Redhat 8.0 I spied
two little applications off
of the ‘Office’ menu: ‘Diagrams’ and ‘Project
Mr. Project and Dia
are nice to have, and two applications that
are definitely add-ons for other operating
GNU/Linux distributions have always come
with a plethora of
useful applications. But many of them merely
matched those available out of box from other
vendors. Dia and Mr. Project are different. They add serious ‘justify to your boss’ potential.
The fact that you get these useful applications out of the box with Linux adds an amazing amount of value to this OS. It really is a Swiss army chainsaw because many people won’t shell out a minimum of $58 (pricewatch.com) for a certain well
known project management software. They’ll either
do without, or just bastardized a spreadsheet to do the same thing in an inferior way.
With Redhat GNU/Linux 8.0 and no doubt other
Linux distributions like SuSe, Mandrake and Debian sporting a sharp, mature GUI, it is ready to take its place alongside other operating systems. More importantly, it now includes some productivity applications that are add-ons for other operating systems and may pass the boss test. An important milestone has been reached.