What's Wrong with Linux?
Linux servers are ready for prime time and most web sites run on them. This article examines Linux desktop problems.
I've used Linux for a little over a year now, from the perspective of a power Windows user. I can do almost anything on my Linux system that a Windows XP or Mac user can do on his system. My system is reliable, stable, and far safer from malware/intrusion than Microsoft products. I can watch almost any multimedia product, same as a Windows or Mac user. I have both a drive mirror and DVD-R backup sets for backup.
I run Windows on my Linux workstation via Win4Lin emulation, which allows me to run an actual copy of Windows concurrently with Linux. But all I really run on Windows day to day are Eudora (email), Microsoft Office, and graphics software—everything else I do in Linux.
Is the Linux Desktop Ready for You?
With any typical Linux version (called a distribution or just distro in Linux parlance), you get an operating system and a browser, plus a fairly powerful office productivity suite roughly equivalent to Microsoft Office. Are you mainly interested in web surfing and light business correspondence or academic work? If so, and if you can get a preconfigured Linux system with multimedia already set up, it's ready now.
At a shop with lots of people doing "back office" functions or whose office productivity work product is used internally, the company's IT department should be looking at thin-client deployment of a Linux office productivity suite across the company. (Multimedia is no big deal if IT preconfigures it.)
The question "Is Linux right for you/your company?" really means "Is the software out there to support the way you work? If it takes minor changes in your work style, is it still cost-effective?"
Turning an installed Linux distribution into a fully functional workstation isn't really difficult if you know how and are willing to spend money to get past the hard parts quickly. Actually, the biggest problem—other than missing applications—is getting useful information. So much Linux information is available that finding what you need to know is difficult and time-consuming, and almost all of this data is useless to the newbie trying to do a specific task. Some procedures in tutorials take from a few minutes to few hours to apply. Finding those procedures and making them work takes from several hours to several weeks.