A Continuing Work in Progress: The State of Linux 2006

Decreasing The Knowledge Burden On Everyday Users

Not only must the desktop applications be usable for unsophisticated Linux users, but the desktop must also lend itself to user-friendly interaction. Many development groups have responded to this call by releasing a cornucopia of distribution choices to simplify the Linux desktop experience. Also supporting this movement are independent software vendors (ISVs) that produce applications to ease migration from Windows to Linux desktops.

One such company is Versora, maker of the Versora Progression Desktop Software that simplifies migration through a series of interactive dialogs and a point-and-click interface. With Versora's application software, a Windows user can automatically migrate personalization settings (wallpapers, screen savers, keyboard settings), instant messaging metadata (AIM), Microsoft Office documents (via OpenOffice), and Internet Explorer files, among other things. Getting Windows users onto a Linux desktop is an entirely separate accomplishment from creating the usability needed to make that migration stick, but both achievements are instrumental to a successful outcome.

Figure 5: MEPIS, Mandriva, Lycoris, and Linspire icons

Another interesting challenge posed to the Linux community is the trick of providing a non-Windows user with unadulterated familiarity and productivity within a Linux context. Distributions like Mandriva, MEPIS, Lycoris, and Linspire aim to streamline the interface specifically for non-native Linux users, so that a greater number of them can enjoy a relatively hassle-free transitional experience. To attract the average Windows user, Linux developers must recreate - and if possible, improve upon - the successful design (and not merely appearance) of the Windows desktop.

Ed Tittel is a long-time IT writer, researcher and consultant, and occasional contributor to Tom’s Hardware. A Windows Insider MVP since 2018, he likes to cover OS-related driver, troubleshooting, and security topics.