Is Desktop Linux for real?

A guide for Windows to Linux migration, social media blogging, and a fond farewell

A year ago, Computerworld wouldn't have published an article describing how to switch from Windows to desktop Linux like this one by Neil McAllister. The operating system's installation glitches hadn't been smoothed out, app and basic utility support was still too spotty, and peripheral device support lagged. Oh, yeah, there was one more thing: The demand simply wasn't there.

What a difference a year makes. Vista's arrival -- complete with its ponderous hardware requirements -- gave many users with less beefy systems pause about moving to the next version of Windows. Coupled with the rapid advancement of desktop Linux itself -- the maturing of supported apps, Open GL and 3D graphics support, and the introduction of brain-dead-simple installation -- desktop Linux is turning the heads of regular users. If you are likewise intrigued, give Neil's step-by-step guide a try. Remember, whatever Linux you choose, you can run it on the same machine as Windows; if you're unimpressed, you always have a fallback position

I feel obliged to point out, though, that not everyone is jazzed about plopping Linux onto a PC. Our Enterprise Desktop blogger Randall Kennedy sums up the loyal opposition's argument eloquently in " Desktop Linux? Stick a fork in it." He believes that the elitists who control the Linux kernel don't care about user experience. The result: Linux will always be a second-class desktop citizen. But don't take Neil's or Randy's word for it. Try out Linux yourself and make up your own mind.

Social media and pornography

Whatever operating system you use, you'll almost certainly find yourself playing around in the world of social media, a term that encompasses user-driven collaborative experiences from blogs and wikis to networking sites such as Facebook. Yes, "social media" is an overbroad category that tries to fit too many feet into a single sock. But the phrase itself brings to mind Justice Potter Stewart's famous comment about pornography: "I know it when I see it." Regular Web users know social media when they see it; and these days, they see it a lot.

That's why we've rolled out a new blog, Social Media 360, from xynoMedia Technology CEO Lena West. "Social media for the enterprise is less about Facebook and MySpace and more about the need of organizations to not only participate but also to facilitate candid conversations about their brands," says West. If you're trying to figure out how your organization can take advantage of the latest advances in this area, check back regularly for Lena's ongoing advice.

Taking my leave

This is my last Editor's Letter. After four and a half years and more published words than I care to count, I am leaving the comfy confines of InfoWorld to embark on new adventures. Starting immediately, long-time Executive Editor Eric Knorr (aka InfoWorld's "Mr. SOA") will be taking over as Editor in Chief and author of this column. I won't embarrass Eric unduly with a full list of his accomplishments, but I will mention that he has 20 years of technology journalism experience under his belt, was the former editor of PC World, the creator of the best-selling The PC Bible, and a founding editor of CNET. I leave you in very good hands.

It has been my pleasure and honor to serve you. I thank you deeply for your support, your e-mails, and your participation in the great experiment that is InfoWorld. Keep reading!

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