The Best Battleground for Linux?
Contributed by James Maguire, www.osOpinion.com
, Part of the NewsFactor Network
When dealing with applications like back-end accounting, it helps to be able to mold
programs to an individual enterprise. Linux, with its open source approach, lends itself
Restaurant chain Papa John's (Nasdaq: PZZA) is an unlikely place for the great
operating system war between Windows and Linux to play out. Papa John's motto, after
all, is "Better Ingredients. Better Pizza." Pretty low-tech.
But with 2,900 stores across the country, Papa John's has significant IT needs. In a
recent major overhaul, the company replaced its vintage electronic cash registers with
terminals that use Linux to link to back-end accounting.
And Papa John's is not alone. Consider Regal Cinemas, which claims to be the
world's largest motion picture exhibitor, with 5,663 screens in 36 states. The last
time you bought an extra large popcorn with extra butter at a Regal theatre, that sale was
transmitted to the chain's accounting department through a network running the Linux
Both businesses recently began using Linux for the same reasons as many other companies:
The open source OS is markedly cheaper than Microsoft Windows; it requires less computing
power to run; and its customizability means businesses can tweak it to fit their
A Third Battleground
In fact, the market for customized business applications can be thought of as the third
battleground between dominant Windows and upstart Linux.
The first battleground is the server market. Estimates vary as to how much of the server
market is run by Linux, but 20 percent is a commonly used figure.
Linux has gained success in the server market because the individuals who run it, unlike
average office workers, are comfortable dealing with the obscurities of programming code.
If the kernel needs to be recompiled, that's no problem for the unusual breed of human
known as the IT professional.
The Second Battleground (The Tough One)
The second battleground on which Linux and Windows are battling for market share in the
desktop market. But unlike the customized business applications market or the server
market, the desktop market is a tough sell for Linux.
The problem? All of those Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) applications like Word and Excel that
we know and love won't operate in the Linux environment without a lot of help, if at
all. Even more than the Windows OS itself, those popular programs are the source of
Microsoft's dominance on the desktop.
An Open Third Market
But the market for customized business applications, the Papa John's of the world,
doesn't lean toward Microsoft as much the desktop market does. Without anchors like
the Office suite, buyers are free to choose the best option without concern for previous
Microsoft, of course, will not quietly concede this lucrative market. But even if the
software giant can lower its prices to fight back, it faces a critical disadvantage in the
customized application market: the tweak factor. When dealing with applications like
back-end accounting, it really helps to be able to mold the program to the individual
enterprise. Linux, with its open source approach, lends itself to this.
Since Microsoft does not release its code, its product cannot be custom tweaked for
individual use. In the server and desktop market, this was a strength. The company guards
the secret code, giving it a competitive advantage. This doesn't work in the
customized business application market. What was once a strength is now a weakness. And
Linux may step in to fill the gap.
Posted by N.S. Soundara Rajan, Freelance IT journalist, Columnist "Deccan
Herald", Spoken English Teacher & Knowledge networker ...connecting people to
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