Who Says It’s a Microsoft Worldé

I have been working for operating systems companies for nearly eight years — first in UNIX, then in Linux. During this time, as happens to nearly all of us, I have been frequently asked the question, "What exactly do you do for a livingé"

I usually answer by saying that I sell Linux, which is an alternative operating system to Microsoft that is much more affordable, secure and (at least when it comes to Linspire) just as easy to use.
Depending on the extent of computer knowledge the person I am speaking with has, I typically get two types of responses : a) "There is another operating system besides Microsofté" or b) "Linux ... isn’t that really complicated and technicalé Why should I bother to use something for geeks when we live in a Microsoft worldé"

The easy-to-use alternative : Desktop Linux !
Now, you could argue that if you don’t select the right Linux OS, it could be complicated and therefore would only be suitable for someone with significant technical experience. However, it’s that very assumption that Linux is only for geeks or that everyone else will always need and use Microsoft that puts me on the defensive.

I like to tell Linux doubters I encounter that they in fact probably use Linux as part of their daily activities. As you can imagine, they want to see the proof. I thought I’d share with you my favorite examples of Linux playing an integral part of our society and show you how, in some shape or form, many of us rely on Linux every single day of our lives.

The Examples

When you get to work in the morning, the first thing you probably do is turn on your computer. Since I work for Linspire, I obviously have a Linux notebook — so I won’t count that as the first example ! However, if you are like me and use Google to search the web, do you realize that you are using Linux every time you enter in a keyword and click "searché" Google is based on a worldwide infrastructure of 250,000 Linux machines.

Google isn’t the only web business to utilize Linux. There is a long list of websites and e-commerce sites around the world that run Linux — be it Amazon.com or any one of the millions of websites based on the Apache Web Server Linux solution. (If you’re interested in finding out which websites run Linux, go to www.netcraft.com and enter the web address.)

Traders on the NY Stock Exchange use Linux
While online, you might want to check on your stocks on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Hopefully your stocks are up — but whether you’re selling or buying, you’re relying on Linux. All the traders on the NYSE use Linux workstations that provide real-time information flow between the exchange floor and trading desks — meaning Linux aids in about 1.6 billion trades a day !

The point is, if you’re connected to the Internet one way or another, you are probably going to be using Linux. However, it’s important to realize that Linux has also entered our homes, fast food chains, shopping malls and even your pockets ! A few more examples :

When you place your order for an extra-large pineapple pizza at Papa John’s, a staff member enters your order. This information is then sent to the kitchen and into an interface that prints out your bill — functions which, you guessed it, are all powered by Linux.

Now if you’re one of those people who enjoys retail therapy (or maybe you were just dragged along) you’ll find many of the shops running Linux behind the scenes. If you purchase anything from stores like Circuit City or Pep Boys — you are again benefiting from using Linux.

I’m sure that most of you own a mobile phone, and increasingly more and more people are using "smartphones" so they can check email, surf the web, etc. Well, if you happen to be using a smartphone from Motorola or Panasonic — Congratulations, you’re using Linux again !

You might be reading this thinking, "I know for a fact that I don’t have Linux in my home." Well, if you find yourself relaxing in the evening sitting on the couch watching a program on your TiVo — you got it — you’re using Linux !

So many places in our society rely on technology to function, from the military to financial institutions to film production companies to space travel. They all have one thing in common — all have been touched by Linux.

Surprise ! Linux is in your TiVo
So what does all this meané These real-world examples of Linux being used in everyday life show that the world of technology is changing — and Linux’s place in that world is growing. Linux is now a long-term competitive threat to Microsoft that continues to gather momentum with new implementations and increased availability to consumers and businesses.

It’s true that the examples of Linux I outlined above were running on servers, embedded Linux or specialized workstations. It’s also true that in the majority of cases, the user would not even know that they were using a Linux system unless it was pointed out to them. However, I believe that all of this behind-the-scenes Linux use is a testament to its growing necessity in our modern world. And increasingly, Linux is also finding its place front-and-center with everyday users who are demanding a secure, stable and cost effective desktop operating system.

With all this momentum for Linux — from servers to handhelds — plus increasing momentum for open source and desktop Linux technologies such as the Firefox web browser and of course Linspire’s desktop operating system — hey, I am in sales ;-) — I know it soon won’t be necessary to explain to people what Linux is or where they can find it. Soon, when I tell people that I sell Linux, that confused look will be replaced with recognition : "Oh, I know Linux ! I actually use it myself !"

- Matt

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