A blog for the enterprise open source community
Desktop Linux old and newJay Lyman, November 13, 2007 @ 4:15 pm ET
I’ve long been a supporter of using Linux and other open source software on older, refurbished and outdated computers (eating my own dog food with most work on 2-3+ year-old computers). But lately I’ve been seeing quite a bit about the longevity of Windows XP. Microsoft’s OS was extended for use by OEMs a couple of months back. More recently, the company announced a refurbisher program for old PCs. It’s interesting how much of the competition these days is centered older PCs and emerging markets, where Linux is generally on better footing than with new PC sellers or in North America. I still think free software makes the most sense for older PCs. I don’t know about you, but I’m hesitant to drop $100, $50 or even $30 for software on one of my old PCs running new Linux. It’s much easier to use and seek free and open source software with absolutely no risk. If I don’t like the software, I just remove it. Organizations such as Free Geek are among the many groups giving PCs to charities and nonprofits, helping individuals learn about, appreciate and earn computers and of course, giving new open source life to old (mostly Windows) computers that would otherwise go to the landfill. If you want software that is well-adapted to your old hardware, take a look at any number of Linux options that include Puppy Linux, Xubuntu, Slackware, Knoppix or many, many others. These can all comfortably and efficiently take on Windows XP at no charge.
It’s also notable that it isn’t just old PCs where we’re seeing some Linux traction. Linux is hitting consumers in all forms and is well beyond set-top boxes to present solid PC options for consumers. Nice to see a report of Wal-Mart selling out of its latest Linux offerings. There are still more Linux options emerging for consumers, such as Phoenix Technology’s Hyperspace, an instant-boot Linux to allow fast media or Web browser access alongside Windows, which is still included for other applications or those who don’t mind waiting.
Put this all together with Dell’s forray into Linux this year, and it almost looks like it could be … no I won’t say it. However minimal it may be, though, it’s good to see healthy supply and demand for desktop Linux. It’s certainly come a long way from the meager offerings of the recent past.
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