Practical Technology

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Five ways the Linux desktop shoots itself in the foot


I don’t just write about the Linux desktop, I use it every day. At my desk, I tend to use MEPIS and Mint. On the road, it’s Ubuntu on my Dell netbook and openSUSE on my Lenovo ThinkPad. I do this because they work well and they’re as safe as a desktop operating system can get. So why aren’t more people using them?

The biggest reason is Microsoft. Microsoft is a jealous monopoly and doesn’t want to share the desktop with anyone. Desktop Linux is just another target in a long list that has included OS/2, DR-DOS, and, that eternal thorn in their side, the Mac. It’s no surprise then to see that in the history of the Linux desktop Microsoft has always tried to crush it.

For example, the very first attempt at a mass-market Linux desktop, 1999’s Corel Linux Desktop lasted less than a year. Why? Because, in 2000 Microsoft paid off debt-ridden Corel to kill it.

Much more recently, Microsoft, caught by surprise by the rise of Linux-powered netbooks, brought XP Home back from the dead and offered it to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) for next to nothing to stem Linux’s rise on low-end netbooks.

OK, it’s hard to beat a monopoly that will do whatever it takes to make sure people don’t see that there’s a better, cheaper alternative I get that. At the same time though Linux has shot itself in the foot quite often.

How? I’ll tell you how.

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