App Support Holds Back Desktop Linux

A study released earlier this week by the OSDL Desktop Linux Working Group indicates that a general lack of application support is holding back Linux from making inroads into the desktop market.

E-mail was rated as the most critical application to computer users regardless of platform, followed by office productivity tools and the Web browser. The organization said that without a quality e-mail application, it could be surmised that, "Linux on the desktop is not feasible."

The top issues preventing the adoption of Linux included a lack of simplified peripheral support, as well as support for common devices used by consumers and businesses. Also, a lack of end-user training is preventing adoption.

Some suggested a Mac-like interface for Linux, which would make the operating system less intimidating to novice computer users.

Less frequently mentioned reasons for desktop Linux not taking off were lack of OEM support for hardware, difficulty in playing multimedia Web content, and no native Windows application support.

Interestingly enough, only 31 percent of respondents to the survey called themselves "developers," which could put to rest the stereotype of Linux being a developer tool. Another 29 percent fell into various IT fields, and 6 percent indicated management positions. 21 percent of respondents did not fall into any of the categories provided.

Ranked highest among the reasons for deploying Linux were total cost of ownership and a reduction in licensing costs. OSDL said that security appears to no longer be a top reason for switching to the Linux platform.

The survey was conducted in October 2005, and received over 3,300 responses.

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