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IBM Pressured to Help Advance Desktop GNU/Linux in the West

Posted in Africa, America, GNU/Linux, IBM at 7:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM’s submission for the Linux Foundation’s video site

Summary: Can IBM be persuaded to push desktop GNU/Linux further? Some people think so.

TWO prominent bloggers, Sean Michael Kerner and Kenneth Starks, have just spoken out about IBM’s persistent promise of bringing GNU/Linux to the desktop. IBM makes a lot of noise about it almost every year, but very little materialises because the marketing push is scarce and almost inexistent.

Some would say that since IBM makes billions of dollars from Linux, then it has a certain debt/obligation to repay in terms of goodwill and advocacy. That’s debatable as IBM is already doing quite a lot.

IBM’s stance on software patents is unhelpful to GNU/Linux, but the company is not an enemy of GNU/Linux, not by a long shot. IBM is in the business of making money, not advancing GNU/Linux on the desktop, even though they have just launched such an initiative in Africa, along with Canonical. But as Sean Michael Kerner puts it, “Why not the U.S?”

Personally I think both IBM and Canonical are moving far too slow and aren’t thinking big enough. While I understand that it can take time to develop marketing and support services, the partners have had more than a year to put this together.

While I understand that Africa might be an easier entry point for the Linux notebook, the global recession is affecting every nation. The need for low cost, standards based solutions that IBM and Ubuntu are proposing for Africa is needed in every corner of the world.

One of the best known advocates of GNU/Linux was a little more direct and he specifically addressed a specific person at IBM:

Wake up man…Desktop Linux IS important and viable…you just can’t make any money from it. So a rag-tag bunch of people who care do the work, at least part of it, that you should be doing. In my opinion anyway.

Hey! I have an idea! Why don’t you guys take some of that profit (fully tax deductable of course) and help me get these 500 + computers connected to the Internet so those kids can compete and grow.

Oh never mind…I forgot who I was talking to for a second…

Silly me.

Ken’s position is rightly being defended and it is good to have people like Ken stand up and speak to those who see themselves as untouchable. According to Microsoft’s CEO, GNU/Linux is closer than Apple to dethroning Windows on the desktop.

Ballmer's slide on Macs and GNU/Linux
Steve Ballmer’s presentation slide
from 2009 shows GNU/Linux as bigger than Apple on the desktop

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