Is Linux right for you?

Linux advocates expect the software situation to improve soon. Corel is investing not only in its own distribution of Linux, but in a Linux version of its massive Windows-based WordPerfect Office suite, which includes the Quattro Pro spreadsheet, the Paradox database, Corel Presentations, and Corel Central (a personal information manager). So far, WordPerfect Office is the only major business-oriented application suite to cross the Windows/Linux divide. However, other applications such as StarOffice now run on Windows as well as Linux.

Will the advance stop at Corel? Analysts believe that further Linux versions of popular Windows apps are unlikely unless someone develops a killer app to get desktop adoption of Linux rolling on a Windows-imperilling scale. (A killer app is a program with such outstanding benefits that its underlying technology - say, Linux - is worth adopting.) Certainly, a lot of techies and tech visionaries feel a strong affinity for Linux. That's why Tony Iams, a senior analyst with D. H. Brown Associates, says he wouldn't be shocked by the emergence of a Linux-based killer app. "In fact," he says, "[such development] could be happening in some garage right now."

In light of Linux's impressive progress over the past six months, the choice between Windows and Linux has become a lot more difficult to make. To simplify the situation, we've formulated several questions you should ask yourself before deciding whether to make the jump or stand pat.

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Matthew Newton

PC World
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