Originally Published: Thursday, 24 February 2000 Author: Scott Nipp
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Misconceptions of Success

I have seen countless posts in newsgroups and such that Linux will never be able to succeed in becoming more popular than Windows because Linux cannot run Windows applications. These posts point to Linux' inability to run software written for Windows -- not taking into account emulation projects such as VMware or WINE -- as the critical weakness of Linux which will prevent Linux from ever enjoying the kind of success that Windows now has.

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I have seen countless posts in newsgroups and such that Linux will never be able to succeed in becoming more popular than Windows because Linux cannot run Windows applications. These posts point to Linux' inability to run software written for Windows -- not taking into account emulation projects such as VMware or WINE -- as the critical weakness of Linux which will prevent Linux from ever enjoying the kind of success that Windows now has. This logic does not seem to be very valid to me, and the phenomenal growth that Linux has sustained for the past couple of years denies this logic also. Linux is currently the fastest growing operating system, and there is nothing to indicate that this trend will not continue for some time to come.

First of all, high-end server applications have been coming to Linux by the truckload. This includes the likes of major database applications by Oracle and Informix, security-related software by Checkpoint, and other server-side applications such as Lotus Notes. This small list of applications is by no means complete, simply scratching the surface. Furthermore, this list of applications completely avoids the high-quality applications that are either inherent to Linux, or have been traditionally available on Linux, such as DNS, Sendmail, Samba and Apache. These applications have allowed Linux to succeed in penetrating the corporate server rooms of America -- everywhere from the technology giants such as Cisco Systems, to the clothing retailer Burlington Coat Factory. This dramatically illustrates how Linux is succeeding despite its "inability" to run Windows applications.

Next, many software developers who have not already ported existing Windows software to Linux are now announcing plans to do so. Most people are familiar with the high-quality productivity suite available from Sun Microsystems called StarOffice, and Corel is in the process of porting WordPerfect Office to Linux. Desktop applications available for Linux also include other commercially successful applications such as Netscape Communicator, and various games like Quake 3, Railroad Tycoon II, and more. There is also a number of other high-quality utilities included with Linux such as the XMMS audio player, the GIMP graphics manipulation package, and a huge variety of other utility and entertainment applications. Linux has a very large pool of software, both commercial and free, from which to meet end user needs.

Finally, the idea that any operating system will never succeed unless it can run Windows applications is blanket statement, which time has proven and will prove again cannot hold. The world we live in is very dynamic and change is simply inevitable. Someday, whether tomorrow or 20 years from now, Windows will go the way of IBM, Standard Oil, and even the Roman Empire. Simply put, nothing lasts forever. Whether Linux succeeds in becoming the next dominant operating system or not, someday another operating system will come along which will replace Windows as king of the PC world. Regardless of what operating system succeeds Windows, the ability to run Windows applications will not be the determining factor in making this happen. The factors that will lead to a succession of the Windows reign are stability, performance, ease of use, and successful marketing.

Linux has achieved remarkable growth, and sustained this growth for the past couple years now. This growth will lead to additional software offerings for Linux, which will only serve to attract more users. This pattern is the way in which Linux will become a serious contender for the Windows crown. Change is inevitable, and change seems to be in the wind now. Linux will continue to grow and gain market share, and the rate of growth is, if anything, increasing.

Scott Nipp is a Technical Solutions Consultant at Sprint Enterprise Network Services.

The views, information and opinions provided in this article are expressed and held solely by the author. Neither Sprint Enterprise Network Services nor Sprint Corporation or any of its affiliates assume any responsibility for any opinion or statement of fact presented in this article.





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