XP and Linux: A showdown in the works?

Linux lovers can't really beat the drums of stability and reliability when they diss Windows XP. Does this bring the two OSes closer to a desktop duel or a server showdown?

Like Rudyard Kipling pitting mongoose against cobra, press and pundits like to pit Linux against Windows.

Which OS, if either, is the poisonous snake? That's your call.

Unless you've been locked away in a biosphere somewhere, you probably know Windows XP has rolled out of Redmond. And you can almost hear the collective scoff of Linux lovers at the licensing and anti-piracy measures inherent to XP. But the added stability and reliability of the new OS take away two major beefs Linux pushers have had with Windows.

No users or analysts contacted by searchWin2000 see Linux and XP as head-to-head competitors. But the two systems do compete for user loyalties.

Some Windows users like Jim Newman of Burbank, Calif.-based Cornerstone Systems, Inc. don't see Linux as much of a threat. "Linux overall can't hold a candle to NT. The money put in by the big corporations is what has kept it alive," he said.

Nor is Linux "as free as everyone thinks," he said. "Just call for support from IBM and find out how much it costs."

Gonzalo Talamantes, a self-described "techie" and manager of technical services for a manufacturing company uses Linux exclusively at home but fears his "users would revolt" if his company switched over.

Windows user Jeff Davis, technology and IS manager for the Standard School District in Bakersfield, Calif., sees the appeal of desktop Linux "both from a cost perspective and a centralized desktop administration perspective, not to mention a much better licensing model."

THE DESKTOP

One of the main hurdles for desktop Linux is the availability of business productivity applications, said Bill Claybrook, an Aberdeen Group analyst. Support, especially for home users, is a dicey subject as well.

Claybrook found this out for himself when he tried connecting to the Internet with his Linux laptop. It took several calls to the Linux distributor and to his ISP, which didn't support Linux. Much of what he had to do was beyond most home users.

Currently Linux has only a fraction of the desktop computing market -- 1.5% of the market when shipments are considered according to Dan Kusnetzky, an IDC analyst.

But the server side is a different issue.

THE SERVER

Kusnetzky said Linux has about a 27% share of the shipments for server operating environment software.

Claybrook sees less of a Linux vs. Windows battle brewing and more a Linux vs. Unix fight. "I could see in several years, Linux leapfrogging Windows and being used to replace Unix systems," he said.

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