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Table Topics: Is 2008 the year of the Linux desktop?

Western PA Linux User Group will hold their second "Table Topics" meeting on Tuesday February 26 at 7:30pm to 9:00pm at PaneraBread Southland. The topic will be "Is 2008 the year of the Linux Desktop?" This meeting facilitator will be Beth Lynn Eicher.

"Table Topics" meetings are a relaxed environment where we discuss current Linux and Open Source issues. A facilitator picks a topic and prepares questions for those gathered to generate conversation. New Linux users and the curious are encouraged to attend.

Every new year Linux enthusiasts ask the question because it seems so close yet so far away. How can we define success? Do we need to see a greater use in business, in academia, in homes, or all of the above? Is the Linux desktop a higher quality product than Windows or MacOSX. If so, how can we measure ease of use, driver availably, software total cost of ownership? If we are not yet there yet, what is holding us back? Are some of Linux's strengths such as distribution choice, community support, and a plethora of free software options hurting Linux's success in ruling the desktop market? How can the community of Linux users help? Does your mom use Linux? How about your boss? Why or why not?

Discuss this topic now!

Here you are encouraged to begin the discussion by posting articles supporting the topic.

Meeting Discussion Points

Is everyone here using a Linux desktop? Yes, but not always full time.

Good familiar cross-platform open source tools such as Open Office, The Gimp, and Firefox are an attraction. When interfaces are different cross-platform it's a frustration. A familiar and consistent look and feel is desired.

Not a revolutionary change but a gradual Linux discovery at one nitch at a time. People lacks awareness of Linux desktop business readiness (ie stability and security).

Home users are often trying Linux with older hardware. Low resource Linux distros are often hard to configure. All the users want to do is common desktop functions - word processing, email, web browsing.

When helping configuring a system for a new user, let the user decide if they should "drive" at the keyboard through the resolution of a difficult configuration issue. Sometimes taking the keyboard away can be intimidating to new users.

Is multitasking important or is a single task box commonplace? Younger users tend to want to run many application at once while most adults are happy running one application at a time. The younger users are happy to use new communication tools.

Will human i/o interfaces change drastically? Consider media formats have drastically changed ie floppy>cd>dvd>memory sticks.

How to attract more Linux desktop users:

Children like to learn how to do something that others don't know because they want to show off. Linux's obscurity can be a marketing attraction to the kids of the digital age.

Find out what users want and need to do. Design a system for them.

Bring business users in showing them that traditionally high-cost service machines ie PBX or databases have stable open source alternatives.

Selling points: free as in cost licensing, ease of license management, stable system, cool alternative that's cheaper than MacOS, very configurable

Other Obstacles: corporate/proprietary custom software, change