This year’s LinuxWorld conference in Toronto gave observers an opportunity to learn about the latest advancements around the open source operating system and, for enterprise IT personnel, a chance to gain more insight into the question of whether the technology is right for their operations.

The event also gave audiences a chance to reflect on how far Linux has come and what its future role in Canadian computing environments will be. And this is where the Linux picture gets interesting, because there aren’t many IT topics today that generate as much disagreement as that of the future of Linux.

Some vendors claim that Linux is ready to meet the demands of enterprise computing environments, while others warn against its ability to work effectively under such high-pressure conditions. Caught in the middle are IT managers and CIOs trying to make sense of each side’s claims and forge ahead with a decision.

One of the biggest hurdles facing the adoption of Linux in the enterprise is the highly ingrained nature of the Windows operating system in most locations. Yes, Windows environments are fraught with bugs and holes, are primary attack targets of hackers and virus writers, and, like a whiney newborn, are in need of constant attention and care. Despite these obstacles, Windows has proven itself to work. Also, after many years of working with its familiar interface, a company’s end users are comfortable with it. Why would any enterprise in its right mind bother to engage in such a time-consuming switch to another OS when the existing one is, for the most part, working OK?

Linux proponents will speak of the cost savings associated with their OS, its ease of use and many other factors that might in the end allow Linux to make inroads into the enterprise.

Whether it succeeds in doing so or not, Linux is guaranteed of contributing one important factor to the OS equation: it is offering some competition to Windows, and any customer interested in saving money and seeing products improve at a rapid pace will tell you how just how far a little competition can go to achieving those results.

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