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Linux creeps toward desktops

Vendors work to address the lack of applications and unfamiliar interfaces

Linux has become more of a reality and less of a buzzword, but the open-source operating system is still struggling to find a home on the desktop, according to users and Linux professionals here at Linux Expo 2000.

"Companies are still trying to make it easier to use," says David Patrick Cheng, information technology officer at Imperial College in London.

"Linux will have to continue its path, heading more towards GUI [graphical user interface] and away from text-based operation," he adds. "Users don't want to type a lot of commands."

Linux companies also need to make the operating system more practical for everyday use, Cheng says. "They need more driver support on hardware, more applications and improvement on Plug and Play," he says.

"People also want to be able to convert their files to Linux and not have to start over from scratch."

"The biggest problem for Linux on the desktop remains its lack of applications," says Lance Davis, a consultant with U.K.-based Linux company Definite Software.

"Sure, there are six games for Linux, but after that, what's next?" he adds.
"I do know a lot of people who use [Linux] for e-mail, word processing, and Web access, but I couldn't recommend it to someone whose teenage children just want a computer to play games on," Davis adds.

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