Ximian’s Friedman Plots Linux Desktop Growth

TORONTO — The co-founder of the GNOME Unix and Linux development platform and enterprise Linux desktop project Ximian said he’s had it with all this talk about Linux as the future of desktop computing.

“I’m sick of being the future,” Nat Friedman told a standing room only audience during a keynote speech at the Real World Linux Conference here. “I want to be the present.”

Friedman, currently the vice president of research and development at Novell’s Ximian Service, said for that to happen, the Linux Desktop has to keep evolving.

“When will the Linux desktop be ready?” he said. The question really should be, he continued, is “when is the Linux Desktop ready for me?”

The Linux Desktop is facing some barriers to adoption, he said, such as usability, application availability, interoperability and management administration.

As for usability, Friedman said it is a “people problem, not a technology problem.” Indeed, the Human Interface Guidelines spearheaded by GNOME addresses usability issues and now has MAC OS X type usability, he added.

Friedman said government-based Linux desktop installations in Florida, Spain and Thailand are examples that desktop Linux is part of the present world of desktop computing.

Ximian’s new corporate parent, Novell, moving to thwart criticism from the open source community,
during its Brainshare conference in March that it would be migrating all of its employees to Linux Desktops. Friedman praised the effort during his keynote address.

While plumbing Linux’s past, Friedman noted at numerous points in his keynote that Novell Ximian supports both KDE and GNOME and does not see two different Linux Desktops as being a barrier to adoption.

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