Maddog and Linux men go out in the desktop sun

The Linux operating system will pervade the desktops of the corporate world during the next two years, Linux guru Jon 'Maddog' Hall has forecast.

The Linux operating system will pervade the desktops of the corporate world during the next two years, Linux guru Jon "Maddog" Hall has forecast.

Hall is the executive director of Linux International, a non-profit association of computer vendors which supports and promotes the Linux operating system.

In a keynote presentation at the Linux.conf.au conference (which concluded yesterday) in Adelaide, Hall said the next two years will see enterprise IT departments start to put together tailored systems based on Linux desktops across their organisation.

Entitled "Programmers are from Mars, Users/Managers/Companies are from Uranus," Hall's presentation focused on the needs and expectations of the corporate world versus the attitudes of programmers towards developing open source software.

Linux will also gain favour with consultants brought in to construct software packages for slightly smaller organisations, said Hall.

Nevertheless, there was still work for the Linux community to do in reaching very small installations where staff go to the local IT store and "buy whatever they can get", he added.

One of Hall's key points stressed the importance of programmers distinguishing between corporate and home users.

"The home user gets support from their church, or their community," he said. "These people want simplicity, consistency…not change for change's sake." Corporates on the other hand, focused on the need for product roadmaps, patents and "controlled innovation".

"The end user speaks only one language – and it's not yours," Hall warned.

"Even university presidents want simplicity…[but] you need to give them enough to do their job." Hall also pointed to several "successful" open source and projects, such as OpenOffice and the online television program tool Tivo, as well as the World Wide Web and Palm Pilots to illustrate the need for "real world knobs" in software applications.

"The World Wide Web was a success because the user only had to click on something underlined," Hall said.

Commenting on the future for Linux, Hall said he was often asked where Linux would be in 10 years.

"My response is: how many of you thought that you could sit in a Starbucks café with a laptop and transfer money around the world 10 years ago? You would have said 'what's Starbucks?'"

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