Linux doesn't have to be a religious decision

Last week was a good one for Linux. With a flurry of companies announcing their support, this increasingly popular OS is starting to look like a viable computing platform.

Even so, despite the claims of its vocal fans, Linux isn't yet sweeping the country.

Nothing fills my e-mailbox faster than a column about Linux. When I make a positive comment, I often hear from IT professionals who tell me how their Linux solution has been running for months or years while their NT solution seemingly dies daily. On the other hand, negative comments are a surefire invitation for flaming. Typically, the letter starts by challenging my background or technical capability and then quickly deteriorates to the equivalent of "Linux rules, dude!"

Now, I'm not trying to belittle Linux. When you think about how OS/2 has struggled despite being backed by the largest computing vendor in the world, Linux is doing remarkably well. It truly is an OS solution that has a place in the right situation. And it is gaining credibility daily.

Corporate users should find solace in the fact that Oracle, Informix and Netscape have all promised direct products for Linux. While none of them is known as a Microsoft lover, they are the first major companies to throw some credible weight behind this OS.

However, despite contentions from the Linux faithful, the backing of these three vendors doesn't signal a dramatic rejection of Unix or Windows NT. But it does add credibility to a growing alternative. A year ago, Linux wasn't even on the radar for most IT professionals. It had a loyal following that was largely overlooked.

Reminiscent of the zealots from the early PC days, these loyalists are fanatical. But in a good way. I was part of the crowd that was convinced PCs could challenge the dominant mini and mainframe offerings. Back then, Bill Gates' mantra of "a PC on every desk and in every home" seemed like a pipe dream. Today, we have hundreds of millions of computers installed in business and homes alike. And Gates is the richest man in the world.

There's no question that the dedication of Linux loyalists is having an effect. Today, Linux is regularly written about in the press and openly discussed in corporate IT alternatives.

Linux fans can continue this trend, not by burying columnists in e-mail or by quickly dismissing nonfollowers, but by leveraging their strengths and showing Linux to be a viable corporate offering.

For starters, existing Linux users need to show management that, although they chose Linux initially as a low-cost alternative, it has become a reliable component of their Internet infrastructure. They need to explain that, although Linux poses some challenges in support and tweaking, it serves the organisation better than the alternatives. In short, Linux users need to demonstrate that the OS is a business choice, not a religious one.

Next, the Linux loyalists need to spread the word about their OS alternative. They need to gather more organisation to embrace those who don't know about the offering, while keeping the focus on business value instead of on a "kill the evil empire" approach.

Finally, they need to focus on solving the product's own shortcomings, such as an inadequate installation routine that is bound to discourage all but the most patient IT professionals. Fortunately, meetings such as the recent Future of Linux conference in California, are keeping these challenges on the front burner.

Using this combination of nurturing and increased awareness, Linux can continue to evolve into the solution that its creator Linus Torvalds originally envisioned. Although he will never rival Gates in net worth, Torvalds can become the next folk hero for this industry, and his operating system can prove to be an important component in many business infrastructures.eWhat do you think? Does Linux have a role in the business environment, or will it always just be the operating system for the "enthusiast"? E-mail us and have your say

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?