Killing the desktop Linux?

December 22nd, 2004

It is really ironic that I am writing this first post on a Desktop Linux blog with a title like that. But consider the compelling argument that KDE hacker Aaron Seigo has made: Open Source Software for Windows will kill the desktop Linux dream.

…the vast majority of users select which operating system to run based on the applications available for it. … If the applications people want are available on Windows, they will tend to stick with Windows. Conversely, if the applications they want are to be found only on Linux/BSD, they will eventually end up using Linux/BSD.

In a way he is right; of course people will continue using the operating system they are more comfortable with. It is also true that users of Firefox do not switch to desktop Linux after a few months/weeks of wonderful experience with the product. As can be envisaged, it is a bleak scenario. The open source community is committing hara-kiri by providing a set of stable, secure and free software for the Windows platform.

Not necessarily.

I do not believe that the open source community needs to go the Microsoft way and make biased choices about platform support, if only to gain a share of the market. What it does need to do is make people aware of the alternatives; an informed user always makes a better choice. As an example, people dumping Internet Explorer for Firefox have done so after repeated warnings informing them of the pitfalls of that terrible beast. This is what should be the goal of the Open Source community, first inform the people of existing drawbacks and then present them with a viable alternative.

Firefox, Gimp, Openoffice, and loads of other Open Source Software that run on the Windows platform are serving to bridge the gap between the two worlds.