10 Reasons why Linux as a Desktop is rarely found in an Enterprise

Application and Development

  1. Commercial apps. Like it or not the best apps, from MS Office, Adobe Creative Suite, and thousands more, exist only for Windows and most cross-platform apps just mean Windows and Mac.
  2. Internal custom apps are almost all written for Windows only. And when they are web apps they often use SharePoint with IE only features.
  3. Lack of enterprise product support for any operating system but Windows.
  4. Rapid desktop application development on Windows with Visual Studio is orders of magnitude faster than on Linux with its best IDE, which is arguably Eclipse.


  1. Most existing desktop operating systems are already Windows.
  2. Desktop Management solutions that Enterprise IT departments use to manage their workstations only manage Windows or if they manage multiple operating systems, they manage Windows the best.
  3. Existing infrastructure (such as phone systems, etc…) integrate with Windows but not with Linux.


  1. Existing Full-time employees (FTE) in IT are skilled in Windows and employee replacement or training costs are high.
  2. The cost of Linux FTE in IT is higher than Windows FTE in IT.


  1. Most companies start small and grow to be an enterprise. When most companies are started, they are started by people who have never heard of or seen Linux.

Will this change in the future?

Maybe. Change is possible but it takes a lot of time and I don’t mean just years, I mean decades. And during these decades every OS vendor is going to fight to gain a monopoly in the enterprise desktop world.

If it does happen, the changes are for the following reasons.

  1. To better support  mobile devices such as iOS and Android (which is sort of Linux)
    1. As more applications become browser apps or cloud apps that work in any browser.
  2. Cross platform development tools, such as Mono and Java and AIR are really improving.

For those who are pro-Linux because it is open source and you believe knowledge belongs to the world, the enterprise doesn’t care. This argument is completely irrelevant from an enterprise perspective. I care, though, if that makes you feel any better (though I am a person not an Enterprise).

What if a Startup uses an Open Source Operating System

Well, look at the 10 items above and you will see you can eliminate 2, 5, 7, 8, and 10. Half the reasons are eliminated by starting with an Open Source OS.  However, on the other hand, half the reasons still exist.


  1. HW says:

    For my two cents worth, it comes down to three reasons: 1) Human nature liking convenience and ultimate ease of use over all else; 2) The lack of resources -- time, money, available programming talent -- on the part of the free software and open source communities; 3) Patent and other legal issues (although money can usually overcome these). These factors are all somewhat inter-related.

    Before explaining why I think that these are the reasons, I'd like to note that if more people invested as much time in trying to solve the problems as they do in flaming others whose opinions they disagree with, the whole issue might be moot... Linux might be highly used as an OS for desktop systems. I realize of course that simply making that observation will probably result in my being flamed.

    I'll start with point #3 first, using GIMP as an example. It does not do "Pantone," which is a color matching system used in packaging, advertising, etc, because the Pantone system is patent-encumbered, thus requiring royalties and therefore ruling it out for no-cost software. Because of Pantone's critical but limited market, it doesn't make sense to spend the developer time to try and code around it. Using Crossover or Wine to enable the use of Photoshop is viewed as an inconvenience to most people when they can simply run it natively on Mac or Windows.

    Point # 2 is simply that there are far too few talented programmers and other individuals necessary to fulfill the needs of all the free software/open source projects needing such talent. The basic functionality may be there, but unless and until Linux becomes the dominant desktop, the "limited" numbers of developers for Xfce or whatever will always be playing catch-up on ease-of use-features available in the paid programs... and companies generally would rather pay for software that their staff finds easier to use, to say nothing of the majority being risk very risk-adverse -- it's "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" in a different way... it's not hard to imagine people getting fired if a problem arises for using a free program instead of a commercial one with support.

    Point number #1 is probably the most important of the three factors. Most commercial programs are simply easier to use natively, they have more bells and whistles that appeal to users, and most users look at computers as a necessary tool, not something fun, and thus look at having to use things like Wine as a pain in the face (they both have cheeks!).

    To sum up, Linux desktops can almost certainly do everything a Mac or Windows desktop can do, albeit not as conveniently. That situation isn't likely to change, and as long as it doesn't, Linux is likely to remain with a miniscule share of the desktop market. And that is simply a comment on what the weather is -- not saying whether the weather is good or bad.

  2. Anne Ominous says:

    Hahaha! This article was obviously written by someone who doesn't know very much about Linux.

    #1 is simply false. In many ways Open Office or Libre Office are BETTER THAN Microsoft Office, and they ARE cross-platform: Windows, Mac, and Linux. Many, many other programs are similar. Yes, there are programs that are not available for Linux but the list of important applications in that category is getting smaller all the time. (Photoshop, by the way, is also available for Mac though I admit not Linux.) Further, the majority of Windows programs can be run under Wine or some other VM. So it's really not that much of an issue, even for those few programs that are not available for native Linux.

    #2 is false as well. More and more internal apps are being written in languages like Java, Python and Ruby, all of which will run on all major platforms without modification. (In case you hadn't noticed, Java has been around a long time now and a great many important applications -- and even programming environments -- are written in it.)

    #3 is false. You can get award-winning, world-class enterprise-level support via Red Hat and a few other Linux distributors.

    #4 is not only false, it is complete bullshit. I used to be a Visual Studio and .NET guy. I dumped it like a hot potato once I learned Ruby. The IDE thing is nothing but a red herring, because most programmers who use Ruby and other modern languages neither want or need an actual "IDE". Sophisticated editors designed for Ruby and similar languages (there are many of them now) are not only more performant than an IDE, but allow for even "rapider" development, if I may forgiven that word.

    #6 is great if you like working in a locked-down, regimented environment. In the best corporate environments I have worked in, IT did not act like dicks or treat us like children. We were trusted to do right with our own machines. This is only reasonable, since if there is anyone who can bypass restrictions put in place by IT, is is the programmers, and believe me if they think they need to they will.

    #7 is ridiculously false. Some of the most sophisticated telephone software (including PBX control software) not only runs on Linux, it was DESIGNED for Linux. The most commonly known of these is Asterisk, around since 1999, designed on and for Linux. It is also now available for OS X. As an afterthought, somebody ported an older version to Windows. It is called AsteriskWin32. (Note: no 64-bit version for Windows, as far as I know.)

    #8 This argument can be used to justify ANYTHING in a corporation. Old stuff is already known. Changes are expensive. BFD. It applies to IT no more than any other important department.

    #9 is false. Almost every web hosting company in existence has a set of full-time employees administering Linux systems. VERY FEW of them use Windows. Why? One of the reasons is that Windows servers are too expensive in manpower to maintain. This is one of the primary reasons that the vast majority of web servers are Linux. Windows IIT does work. But nobody uses it. Ask yourself why.

    #10 is interesting. True, most companies start small. But one would think this would be a motivation to learn and use Linux, since the bang for the buck is MUCH higher than with Windows. Almost all of your basic business needs can be met or exceeded today with open-source software (I mentioned Libre Office already, there are many more).

    All in all, this article looks like it was written 10 years ago. An awful lot has changed since then. I take issue with a full 9 out of your 10 points.

  3. Yoda says:

    9 is especially hard to fix without getting everyone else onto a unix system as well. Especially if you want to move to a BSD desktop experience (or Linux, or other unix) the cost of the FTEs will be roughly proportional to market share.
    Better FTEs will usually cost more, but not everyone needs the best IT person.

    • Rhyous says:

      I thought of another reason, #11 I guess.

      PC Vendors (Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc...) mostly only offer Windows when you buy Desktops or Laptops in mass for Enterprise environments. For Desktops/Laptops, Linux isn't even offered, though you can probably ask for it. And similar to #6 as OS Cloning is part of Desktop Management, PC Vendors have excellent OS cloning solutions to prepare your PCs before they arrive

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