Novell this week said Linux on the desktop is gaining on Windows in European public and private sectors.
The company said many IT organizations are choosing Novell Linux Desktop for transactional, engineering and fixed-function workstations because of the cost and security benefits Linux provides over Windows. As a result, Novell reasoned, hardware and software costs are reduced and systems are more secure.
Microsoft executives could not immediately be reached for comment.
“Instead of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, Novell Linux Desktop can be customized to provide the right fit across different workstations in the enterprise,” said David Patrick, vice president and general manager of Linux, Open Source Platforms and Services for Novell. “So businesses finally have a secure and cost-effective alternative to Windows that serves the customer’s ROI rather than a vendor’s proprietary licensing program.”
Novell pointed to recent wins, including Automotive logistics solutions provider ARS Altmann of Germany, which has begun its Linux Desktop deployment.
Novell also cited SEB Eesti Uhispank, the largest bank in Estonia, which is using Novell Linux Desktop for bank teller workstations and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server for servers and the data center, and the municipality of Baerum, Norway, which is migrating 40 schools from Windows to Novell Linux Desktop.
But analyst numbers tell a different story about Linux on the desktop.
Numbers Tell Different Story
A recent report by Gartner said Linux continues to struggle to make it into mainstream acceptance on the desktop. Gartner reported that just over 1 percent of companies were running Linux desktops and open-source office products in the fourth quarter of 2004.
Gartner also estimates that only 3.2 percent of non-consumer computer users will run Linux and open-source office products by 2008.
Interabor Solutions Principal Analyst Dana Gardner told LinuxInsider that despite the figures, there will inevitably be spots of action and uptake. The question is whether Novell’s recent customer wins point to a trend or simply a few isolated incidents.
“It has been a long-term waiting for Godot, if you will, when it comes to Linux on the desktop,” Gardner said. “The economics are the essential issue. But the economics are complicated because it involves cost of migration, training, total cost around applications and life cycle.”
A Complicated Trend
Analysts said Linux on the desktop is a complicated issue to unravel. One aspect to watch, however, is governments that begin to specify Linux on the desktop as an option, if not a preference.
If countries like China or Brazil mandated the use of Linux on the desktop, it would quickly change the economic landscape. But we haven’t seen wins of that magnitude, at least not yet.
“We need to see Novell in a lot more than 40 school municipalities before we can call Linux on the desktop a trend,” Gardner said. “But on the other hand, if it works for Baerum, Norway, they could become the bellwether for other municipalities to consider the same course.”