Yesterday a friend of me asked me if he can switch to Linux, as the new Vista needs a lot of resources.

Well until yesterday I could have thought that everybody could use Linux, but with his question my friend put me to think.

So I would like to put some functions for what Linux is suitable and some that Linux is not good at. (at least from my point of view). Traditionally and may until 4 years ago, Linux lovers where computer engineers, as the main function of Linux PCs were to be servers.

The ones of us which are working with Linux since ‘96 or before, usually used them for applications like:

  • Web Hosting: Linux is still today the most used Operating System used for web host, now with PHP, MySQL, Java, Apache, Ajax, and so on
  • Mail Server: Despite the enterprise application where MS, and Lotus got popularity for the Internet email Linux is still the number one, and now on the enterprise field it is gaining popularity also.
  • AAA applications: When internet became popular we all used dial-up connections, which were authenticated by TACACS+ and later until these days Radius

Some time later with MySQL the Database applications started to be hosted by Linux also, but once again specially like a server, and the clients were mostly Windows (with some Macs out there).

The X server of the first days where mostly used to have better view of the administration tools, and we did not have good Desktop and office applications.

Later with staroffice and now with openoffice and lot’s of others applications like Abiword, GNUcash, firefox, thunderbird, Opera, Gimp Linux is really a great option for Desktop / office users.

Linux with OpenOffice, some web browers, and email /news reader is great for home users, mostly using it for browsing the web, you can even log into MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Skype with your Linux powered PCs.

Linux is also suitable for small, medium and even big offices it is secure as the most, has all the office application you may want or need.

Linux is suitable for the sales man always on the move, works great with laptops, wifi out of the box in most cases, multimedia software to play DVDs, MP3, Ogg, etc.

But, returning to my friend’s question, he is studying architecture, and needs to use Vector Works and some times even AutoCad, for Linux you have some software like QCad among others, but even if they are good enough for your needs you will fight with the compatibility, you will need to ask your colleagues to save as DXF file, and anyway you will have problems. So I have to tell to my friend to say with Microsoft for some more time.

With this in mind I started to think about other scenarios where Linux still do not fit and think these are some of them.

  • Newspaper edition
  • Electronic Circuit design
  • PLC configuration (some brands) for automatization of industries
  • Multimedia edition, professional level

I think Linux will start gaining terrain in this fields, just like MS did it before when it comes with windows, all the good graphical applications were Mac, but Windows on a PC were cheaper that a Mac with MacOS, and that is going to happen again this time with Linux being the new graphical interface to develop graphical applications. Developers has GNOME and KDE to develop good applications for them, the good news for developers is that Linux needs less resources and is much, much more stable that MS, so if it appears an AutoCad for Linux, will run more stable, faster because Linux will “steal” less resources than MS from the machine and left them for AutoCad, and more stable also.

Every body is starting to disconnect the concepts of Linux and Server, and with the help of Fedora, Ubuntu, Mepis, Suse, the new Ulteo, most and most simple Desktop users are starting to use Linux as Desktop operatin system, so they will demand applications for Linux, it is just a matter of time.

Just choose which Linux distro is good for you

If any of you have any experience using Linux in other scenario different from the server one, please let us know.