Does anyone want a Linux desktop?

Dell was the first to ship PCs and notebooks with Ubuntu Linux, while Lenovo is giving Linux a whirl in the U.S. only. At the recently concluded Novell Brainshare conference, HP announced it, too, will ship PCs and notebooks with SuSe Linux.

But does anyone really care about Linux? All this activity might suggest Linux is effectively competing with Windows in the marketplace. Judging by what many in the marketplace say, Linux still continues to barely make a dent in the world of desktop OS.

Solution providers have told me for years that customers are simply not interested in switching from Windows variants over to Linux. The main reason is support. Few are trained on Linux so many partners and end users simply can’t support the platform. The Linux community like many other sectors also faces an IT worker shortfall. There aren’t enough IT people in general and certainly much fewer Linux experts.

Microsoft is hardly shaking in its boots at the news that even its top three hardware partners are offering Linux options.

Perhaps there’s an opportunity for other PC makers. Might this action by HP, Lenovo and Dell prompt Acer and Toshiba to demand better OEM pricing from Microsoft because of exclusivity to Windows? Acer and Toshiba could use a bit of a competitive advantage in the market place. What about Tier 2 vendors such as Asus, Fujitsu, Sony and MSI or even the “white label” system builder community? Should they be rewarded for exclusive Windows loyalty?

Linux often gains a foothold with customers with lean or slashed budgets. As Microsoft licensing costs increase it does prompt some to look for alternatives. But while some organizations have in the past reportedly switched to the Linux environment for the desktop, many have likewise switched back to Windows, often because they can’t find or afford the support for the OS.

Notebook and desktop makers may want to offer Linux as an option to buyers, but I really have to wonder who’s interested.

One quick hit before I go. I was happy to learn that Mary Ann Yule has been promoted to Canadian GM of CDW. She is a highly skilled executive with great passion for this industry. I have written a lot lately about local leadership and I tip my hat to CDW for recognizing that and promoting from within the subsidiary. Pete Edwards leaves CDW Canada for a position in the company’s Arizona office.

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