Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wave of the future?

I had a customer call me and tell me he wanted to try OpenOffice because he thought it would be the wave of the future. At the same time he did not understand what open source is or is about.

The timing of this call is very interesting. I will be covering open source and what it means for the future of computing tomorrow at the Chelan Valley Computer Users Group. I will also be covering IBM's strategy regarding the Power architecture and how this may eventually have an impact on how all products we consume are developed.

It is clear by now that FOSS is now an ascendent force even in the desktop market including Linux, the Firefox web browser, and even OpenOffice. And it is an interesting observation that although I am the only one in my area that supports Macs, I have more customers running Linux in some form than OS X.

The largest obstacle in my estimation to the adoption of open source in mainstream desktop markets has more to do with solution building processes rather than raw capabilities. People think that Linux has less software available than Windows because they don't see boxed packages at the store. However, the fact that Linux has at least as much and that this software is fundamentally more flexible is lost on most individuals because they don't see it.

Some time ago, my mother needed a cd burning solution for her suzuki violin teaching business. I was able to put something together which was powerful, efficient, and easy to use for a reasonably small fee (including training). I did this by combining a set of free tools. THe same could be done for desktop publishing, and many other tasks. I have not yet found anything that I could not do adequately on Linux. But then there are obstacles to FOSS in small business markets. These will be a subject of a later post.


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