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OSDL Picks Up Desktop Linux Charter

OSDL Picks Up Desktop Linux Charter

The Open Source Development Lab (OSDL), which has so far limited itself to high-end carrier-grade and data center Linux server initiatives, is preparing for a desktop jihad the scope of which is difficult to gauge at this point. OSDL's new 10-man desktop task force is supposed to define it and the task force it hasn't even met yet.

OSDL can't be so foolish as to take on Microsoft head-on and the organization seems to suggest that there are areas besides the classic office desktop such as call centers, point-of-sales devices and factories floors where "desktop" Linux can be used already, but the push is unlikely to remain in a ghetto.

OSDL's desktop initiative comes at the behest of its secret end-user advisory council, composed of 20 US-based companies, 15 of them Fortune 500s, that don't want their names known to avoid being labeled Microsoft haters, according to OSDL marketing director Nelson Pratt.

OSDL members like IBM and Red Hat nominated the companies that sit on the council, but of course they are presumably all Microsoft customers.

OSDL is putting together similar European and Japanese councils and is about to mount a big member recruitment drive focused on the user.

In addition, well-placed sources say that Novell, which is not an OSDL member - at least not yet - is also pushing the consortium to start a desktop initiative even though Novell CEO Jack Messman claimed when he announced Novell was buying SUSE that "This deal is not about taking on Microsoft on the desktop."

Novell of course already has the Ximian desktop interests that it bought this summer and SUSE is deeper into desktop Linux than Red Hat, whose CEO Matthew Szulik recently advised consumers to stick with Windows and Office rather than go to an immature Linux.

Novell also has a bunch of old scores to settle with Microsoft.

Anyway, OSDL's board, which includes representatives from IBM, Intel, HP, CA, NEC, Fujitsu and Miracle Linux, instructed OSDL staff at its last board meeting late last month to develop an implementation plan of how the desktop initiative might be structured.

The plan is expected to progress unimpeded to setting up a working group - a short list of who should be in it is reportedly in preparation - and then to the business of listing the so-called desktop requirements. OSDL figures to make a formal announcement of the charter's existence and work-to-date in January at LinuxWorld, according to OSDL CEO Stuart Cohen.

Ironically, the Wall Street Journal's great technology arbiter, its influential columnist Walter Mossberg, has just reviewed StarOffice 7, the Office wannabe closely associated with Linux though it also runs on Windows and Solaris.

Mossberg says the new StarOffice 7 is a bit better than last year's model, but he still wouldn't recommend it except to "light users preparing basic documents who either can't afford Office, or hate Microsoft so much they'll live with some complexity and limitations."

He figures that "The key virtue of StarOffice is that it's cheap," but that the average Joe can buy a copy of Microsoft's $149 Student and Teacher edition of Office no questions asked and although supposedly off-limits to all but students and teachers, it "can legally be installed on up to three PC in a household."

The niceties Mossberg raised aren't stopping the Thai government, for instance, from adopting StarOffice.

Meanwhile, on the Sun front, software czar Jonathan Schwartz in the run-up to the release of the company's SUSE/StarOffice-based Project Mad Hatter, now dubbed the Java Desktop System, said Thursday during a Town Hall meeting that Sun has been in negotiation with any number of accounts and was about to prove that Microsoft could be had on the desktop - particularly outside the US.

Schwartz also said that Sun's desktop ambitions, which have been delayed for a while now, was "about to become profitable."

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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Most Recent Comments
Sea Dragon 11/20/03 10:15:57 AM EST

Although it is not easy for OSDL to improve the Linux Desktop, but it is good starting. Let OSDL get the chance to break monopoly in the world.


Sea Dragon 11/20/03 10:14:01 AM EST

Alothough it is not easy for OSDL to improve the Linux Desktop, but it is goo starting. Let OSDL get the chance to break monopoly in the world.


Sign 11/20/03 10:05:10 AM EST

It is so interesting that there are too many "blue screen" M$ server in ther world and may be it is good for Linux to follow. :)

G. Donovan 11/19/03 03:11:03 PM EST

I don't think there is any doubt that Unix/Linux systems run server programs better that any version of MSWindows. If the same performance / reliability can be achieved for the desktop with a very smooth integration of applications and a easy to use software installation gui, then Linux will dominate the desktop market. People talk about this as if it is an insurmountable endeavor, I don't agree.
With the likes of Linus Torvalds and associates on the case I am very optimistic it can happen.
Good Day

Sea Dragon 11/17/03 05:16:24 PM EST

If the free world, M$ still monopoly now. We don't need monopoly. Let OSDL and other Desktop companies to find the way to break the monolopy.


Jim 11/17/03 12:25:50 PM EST

It may only cost $149 for a student copy of MS Office, but when you install it, what is being sent back to Microsoft? Do you know what information is being sent, and what they do with it? If you don't register it, how long will it stay active? Or do you have to activate it with Microsoft to start?

tracyanne 11/15/03 04:24:52 PM EST

I live in Regional Australia, and one of the problems I have found when attempting to prize people away from their copies of Windows 95 (yes, some businesses in my area still use Win 95) and Windows 98, let alone the preinstalled Windows XP, is the very real issue of installing software. From the point of view of the casual home user, those people for whom a computer is not an end in itself, who don't really want to know very much about the computer, but rather can they install/play games, do a bit of word processing, hook up their latest toy digital camera. In other words people for whom computers are not a hobby, but a necessary tool for the pursuit of their real hobby.

Linux is perceived to be difficult, and it is, for them. running Linux and installing software not included with the distribution is fraught. When there are RPMs, for example, and all the libraries are installed there are no issues, when the libraries are not they start to experience problems, ./configure, make , make install starts to become a foreign language, and what do they do when when an RPM simply fails, with no error message. These are issues that don't, or very rarely, occur when using Microsoft Operating systems. These are some of the issues that a truely user friendly Linux must overcome.

Overcome these obstacles to use, make Linux accessible to the casual computer user and Linux will, I believe truely become a household word.

Sea Dragon 11/15/03 11:45:37 AM EST

Good news and good start. M$ is monolopy many year. Many users have no choose to install M$ OS and Office. Good time to find out the way to make Linux Desktop more compitible with M$ Desktop and let people know they have choice to choose free/cheap Desktop rather than M$'s. Hope everyone can tell their PC supplier to install free/cheap desktop. Hope PC supplier can tell their customer, we can provide free/cheap desktop that is better than M$'s and have many poplar software sipported. Not because of that is Linux only, also it is the best Desktop in the world. On that time, good news to let user/supplier have choice.

In the free world, we don't need monolopy. Start from now, let OSDL and other Desktop companies to find the way to break the monolopy.


nostus 11/14/03 11:16:32 PM EST

everyoone jnows that arguing about os is much like arguing about religion. at the end of the day you are talking about something u know nothing of. fundamentally oses do the same things but the people who really care are only those who need a belief system, you know sometimes it is better to be sceptical of everything!

Kalevi Nyman 11/14/03 02:25:05 PM EST

Linux is used by far more people on the desktop than all those more or less serious so called investigators can imagine. Nobody has yet guessed the ritght number of users.
Corporations and private users never tell anybody when
they donwnload a distribution for free trough the

No statistical, mathematical or other methods are good enough to guees the number. All Gartners of this world goes by the sales. Linux does not sell! :-) Linux is free!

Why pay for StarOffce when you get OpenOffice for free!
If you take the trouble of downloading a language module
from Internet, you can also work with Chinese, Japanese and
dokuments in Hebrow! :-)

Linux, Desktop-Linux and wht ever flavour you choose is not going to "take on" MS as you put it. It has done it already
and MS is in a process of spreading any lies they can invent
about Linux. This, if nothing else, proves that Linux is a real threat to MS.

In a free world, without fences, who needs Gates?