Gartner pours cold water on enterprise Linux desktops

A recent report by analyst firm Gartner says that despite recent hype around open source desktop software, technologies such as Linux and OpenOffice.org are not posing challenges to Microsoft in enterprise desktop computing.

The Gartner report says that "while most users could get their work done either on Windows or Linux, Microsoft Office or OpenOffice.org" in a "greenfield" environment where new PCs and applications are installed, swapping out Windows for Linux is a trickier situation.

Gartner, which advises many Fortune 500 companies on IT decisions, says many of its clients look at open source software as a cost-saving technology, while a smaller percentage say that the control of source code is the major draw. But drawbacks for open source adopters include an "oversized catalog of applications with no suitable Linux alternative" as well uncertainty about which Linux desktop environment - KDE, GNOME - will emerge as the standard for Linux desktop computing.

Gartner says it had a hard time finding clients willing to talk about Linux desktop deployments. But the analyst firm also says it has studied some deployments of Linux desktops in the education market where schools are seeing savings by using Linux instead of Windows and StarOffice for word processing and other tasks. In one Midwestern school district, more than 300,000 PCs are expected to be installed with Linux and OpenOffice, the firm says.

In all, the report surmises that "open source can make sense for some users and can provide benefits. Organizations need to carefully examine themselves to figure out where open source products might best be used."

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