IDC: Linux not on the desktop yet

Linux accounts for about one per cent of desktop operating systems in the whitebox space, according to figures from IDC.

The results follow a recent survey of 200 resellers, 250 SMEs and 400 consumers. The analyst group found only 1.1 per cent of SMEs planned to use the operating system in the next whitebox PC purchase. And just 1.7 per cent of consumers said they used Linux on their branded notebook PC. Whitebox PC assemblers expected Linux to represent 1.1 per cent of anticipated sales for 2005.

While Linux had continued to become more accessible, IDC PC hardware analyst, Michael Sager, said the figures showed its presence in the desktop PC and notebook operating system environment were still very low.

He said the numbers would have been even less if piracy figures were included.

Some respondents had indicated that the reduced licensing fees associated with Linux had been clawed back by increased support costs, Sager said. "Specialist Linux support staff can command high salaries," he said.

Sager advised the channel to offer Linux as an option or to focus on existing pockets of users in education, government and enthusiasts. For system builders, thin clients systems and servers showed more promise, he added.

Westan managing director, Victor Aghtan, did not expect Linux to feature strongly as a desktop OS for several reasons.

"There's not a lot of application software available and Open Office has not been developed sufficiently," he said. A Windows styled front-end would also be needed before the system took off, Aghtan said.