Users, peers lead firms to consider desktop Linux

Companies are choosing to run Linux on their desktops due to pressure from both their employees and their competitors, according to an OSDL survey.

While employees and competitors are putting pressure on companies to deploy Linux on desktops, a lack of applications remains the biggest hurdle for the operating system, according to a survey from Linux development consortium Open Software Development Labs (OSDL) released Tuesday.

As staff are calling for their enterprises to use desktop Linux, firms are also noting that their peers have already successfully deployed the open-source operating system, the poll shows.

Other key reasons for using desktop Linux are total cost of ownership, lower licensing costs and security, according to an online survey carried out by OSDL's Desktop Linux Working Group (DTL). DTL's main mission is to speed up the adoption of Linux on the enterprise desktop by highlighting any barriers preventing that move.

Companies are holding off from using Linux on the desktop because at present there is insufficient application and peripheral support as well as end-user training on the operating system, according to the survey's respondents.

The top five applications survey respondents indicated as critical to their likely adoption of desktop Linux were e-mail or messaging (62 percent), office productivity software (51 percent), Web browsers (50 percent), database applications (33 percent) and developer tools (32 percent).

Companies have been slow to embrace Linux as a desktop operating system, in sharp contrast to the rapid adoption of the open-source software as a server operating system. But that situation is set to change, with market analyst IDC forecasting that 17 million PCs worldwide will be running desktop Linux by 2008. At present, Linux has a 2.5 percent share of the desktop operating system market based on shipments, according to IDC, with that figure set to reach 9 percent by 2008.

DTL conducted the online survey in October for a month and elicited 3,374 responses, according to an OSDL release. Most of the respondents, 81 percent, were from North America and Western Europe, and many of them, 63 percent, were under 35 years old. Less than one third, 31 percent, were developers.

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