This article is a rebuttal to Michael Gartenberg’s Opinion: Linux on the desktop: Still not happening over at Computerworld Operating Systems. Executive Summary: Michael Gartenberg is wrong.
I am seriously annoyed by the constant disingenuous articles that state GNU/Linux is not ready for the average user’s desktop PC as the primary, or only, operating system. What a dump truck load of manure! The majority of the people making such spurious claims are usually ignorant end-users, clueless “reporters”, Microsoft fanatics or Apple worshippers. I am not sure which of these categories may contain Mr. Gartenberg. But I suspect it is one or more of the above. If not, then someone point out to me just exactly where Mr. Gartenberg stands in the operating systems wars. Yes, these are wars. If you do not believe that, fine. You can be wrong if you want to.
Edit: the following paragraph is not an ad hominem directed at Mr. Gartenberg. It is written to illustrate Mr. Gartenberg’s logic used in the article URL above.
First off, I am already tired of typing “Mr. Gartenberg” so I will just call him MG. Not that I want to disrespect him or anything like that. It is just that the last name Gartenberg is just not ready for my company technical web log. It is too long and cumbersome to type. It takes too much effort. Also, Richard M. Stallman doesn’t use Gartenberg in a sentence every day. We all know that what Richard M. Stallman does is What We Should All Do. I mean, MG holds up RMS as The Guy that proves Linux just ain’t ready for the average user.
ARGH! Do you see how ignorant and disingenuous is MG’s premise? Okay, his puff of effluvia aside I will state what I as a small business owner use GNU/Linux for on my desktop system. You can decide for yourself which things I do that are too arcane for an average user with average intelligence.
My PC stays up and running for days and weeks on end. So, I rarely have to wait for it to boot when I need to get some work done. I do occasionally log out of my X session (Graphical desktop, for those of you who have no experience with GNU/Linux desktops). Mainly I do this when I get an update that requires me to log out of X for it to apply. These are rare though, and they never require me to reboot. Is this something that is important to an average desktop end user? Probably not. But it is a nice feature of GNU/Linux none the less.
I use Firefox and Opera web browsers every day. I watch Flash videos on YouTube, play a few Flash games, read news and opinion on several different web sites, check the weather using www.accuweather.com or just by looking at the Forecastfox AccuWeather plugin. I use Firefox to write articles on this company web log. I also use Firefox to login to our web host to manage our web sites. These last two may or may not be something an average user would do. But many businesses large to small surely would be doing some things similar on their desktop PCs. These solutions are definitely ready for the desktop end-user on GNU/Linux.
I use GnuCash to manage my personal and business finances. It has a straightforward interface and is as easy to use as any personal finance management software I have ever used. I can use the small business features of GnuCash to keep up with accounts payable and accounts receivable. I can input clients and create and print invoices for same. There is not just GnuCash, there are other financial management software packages available for GNU/Linux. Surely desktop based financial management is something the average user does and could do on a GNU/Linux desktop. Yup, that is ready.
In my role as a small business owner I also use OpenOffice.org writer often. I use it to create proposal documents, quote documents and client labor document forms. I also use OpenOffice.org Calc spreadsheets to calculate costs for quotes. The “Export Directly as PDF” feature is one I use frequently for preparing documents to send in e-mail. Certainly these are things done by many desktop system users using costly and proprietary software. For those people, the GNU/Linux desktop is ready. A friend of mine asserts that she is convinced the OpenOffice.org suite is the “killer application” for GNU/Linux systems, Apple systems, Microsoft systems or anywhere else it may be ported. I agree with her. What about Microsoft Office you say? What about it? I certainly do not need it, nor do probably 99% of desktop PC users.
I receive and send e-mail using Kmail with Kontact on my GNU/Linux desktop PC every day. It works and it works very well. I also use Akregator RSS feed reader with Kontact on my GNU/Linux desktop PC every day. That also works and works very well. I use the Calendar in Kontact regularly to schedule appointments and keep up with recurring events. Works great. Of these the one most average end-users would be doing is probably e-mail. There are several excellent e-mail applications for the GNU/Linux desktop. All work as expected. Definitely e-mail on the GNU/Linux desktop is ready for the average end-user.
There is more, much more that I do that is not at all like an average end-user. For example I occasionally play some FPS 3D games. Most average end-users are not playing FPS 3D games, that would be hard core gamers. Hard core gamers are a breed unto themselves. However, there is no need to go into most of these other things since most end-users are not going to think they have to emulate me or Richard M. Stallman to use a GNU/Linux desktop. That would just be silly.
Is GNU/Linux happening on the desktop? On my PC desktop it is. On the PC desktops of some of my non-geek friends and acquaintances it is. On the PCs of many businesses world wide it is. Desktop GNU/Linux is making small inroads in other businesses that are still undecided about moving to Windows 7. Is GNU/Linux happening on your desktop? If not, it should be … unless you have a serious reason that prevents it. Such as proprietary software that does not yet have a good equivalent on the GNU/Linux desktop. If so, you fall into that 1% of people who are not ready for GNU/Linux.
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