Linux interface gets backing

Three major computer manufacturers have confirmed they will outline their individual Linux desktop PC strategies on Tuesday at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, in San Jose, Calif.

Officials at Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM Corp., Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc., and neighboring Hewlett-Packard Co. will be on hand at the trade show to announce that they will begin supporting the open-source Linux operating system on their PC offerings using the GNOME interface.

Although the Linux has enjoyed huge success as a server operating system, those familiar with the open-source OS blame its traditionally complex default interface for slowing its adoption by PC users.

The GNOME project, at, is an open-source community dedicated to entirely free desktop environments. One of the components of GNOME, the GNOME Desktop, is an easy-to-use windows-based environment that can be customized to ease the complexity of the default Linux interface.

Although the open-source availability of Sun’s StarOffice software suite and recent moves by both IBM and HP to further embrace Linux has caused speculation that Tuesday’s announcement will usher in the beginning of the end for Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft grip on the desktop PC market with its Microsoft Office suite, Jim Bell, the general manager of open-source and Linux operations at HP, said only time will tell.

“I think its premature to expect that Linux on the PC will play a significant role in the short term,” Bell said. “But Linux on the desktop PC is improving very rapidly, and Linux will play a bigger role in the next year. With the interface having been one of the major road blocks in the use of Linux, I think adoption will be going up steadily, in both PCs and in portables.”

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