I am spending the week in San Antonio, TX at a training course filled with Linux system administrators with a wide range of professional experience supporting large and small enterprise environments. In speaking with many of these admins I am struck by one common theme:
“I used Linux to learn about computers growing up but now that I am a professional I run a Mac.”
In fact, almost 90% (I counted) of the admins were using a Mac as their primary work machine to monitor and manage their Linux servers and were given the option of running a pure Linux machine if they so desired. Naturally, I was curious about this unexpected trend and dug deeper to get a better understanding.
Here are some of the comments from the Linux administrators on why they use a Mac instead of a “pure” Linux desktop:
• I don't have time to fix my random and weekly Linux issues on my laptop so I just use the Mac since it simply works
• I grew up using a Linux desktop and now that I get paid to run Linux, I choose a Mac; a Mac allows me to focus on my job without all the overhead associated with a Linux distro
• A Mac is just simple and easy to use
• Linux is made for the server and I like to keep it there
One note on this, I realize that the Mac runs on a UNIX derivative but most people consider the Mac OS separate from a Linux distribution so I am following this thinking.
As you can see, the Linux desktop market is not successful in this group of computer users who would seem to be the natural candidate for a Linux desktop. As I have presented in earlier blog posts, I am seeing a clear trend for Linux in the mobility, embedded, and server marketplace but the desktop is not gaining ground; thus my thinking that Linux developers should spend less time on the desktop.
What are your thoughts? Do you know a Linux administrator who would agree with the administrators I met this week? Who is the target for a desktop Linux solution?
Stephen Spector is the community manager of the open source OpenStack cloud platform community which develops solutions and technology for public and private cloud infrastructures. He is responsible for all things OpenStack, except for the software itself.
Stephen is an old school C developer for Real-Time embedded systems and a long time alliance and developer program manager longing for the good old days when technology upheavals only occurred every six months. You can follow him on Twitter and the OpenStack blog.