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Preaching the virtues of Linux

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Peter van der Linden is on a crusade to educate the masses about the virtues of open source. His message can be persuasive -- the Linux evangelist boasts that he even coaxed his 80-year-old father away from a lifelong relationship with Windows.

An engineering manager at PalmSource Inc., the maker of the handheld operating system Palm OS, van der Linden has attracted the attention of the Linux world by publishing several books on open system software. His latest, Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux, helps Windows users make the move to Linux.

At the Linux Desktop Summit in San Diego, van der Linden spoke with's MiMi Yeh about why applications are key to bridging the consumer gap and how Freespire, a new Linux distribution, will attract users to Linux.

What Linux desktop adoption trends do you see now?

Peter van der Linden: I think we're in a growth phase. People have been saying 'this year is the year of the desktop' since 2000, at least. There have obviously been tremendous barriers to that.

I'm really encouraged by Linspire opening up a free version of their product [Freespire]. I think that it's one of the most capable desktop distros out there -- if not the most capable. It's going to make it possible for Linux advocates to put a free copy on their grandmother's PC and have it be usable.

I think the applications have to keep coming. Support for hardware has to keep coming. Wireless is still a problem. I have yet to see a reliable USB Wi-Fi connector in Linux or in any distro.

What are some immediate barriers you see preventing the average business worker from using the Linux desktop?

Full Interview.

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