As a Linux advocate or should we say a bigot, I recently correlated enough of a survey to recognize that the Linux community has not arrived fully. Of course, if you want to discuss the issue of arriving, you also have to define the destination. I have a reference for meeting the goal and that came from Linus Torvald’s speech in March 1999 in San Jose when he uttered the words “world domination”.
Then, I also have my own itinerary. At one time, I felt angry toward and betrayed by Microsoft. So, during the Justice Department’s anti-trust suit, I had hope that the Redmond gang would meet with a break up. Someone dashed my hopes after George Bush’s assumption of office in 2001. That’s a little off topic.
I created an itinerary where Microsoft fell under the weight of Linux and free software. I envisioned the major vendors working together to hurt the giant of Redmond. And why not, I reasoned that free software mostly dumped on the users of the world by the National Science Foundation would see massive adoption.
But, let’s forget my itinerary and Linus’ world domination statement and look into the world of enterprises. Hey, guess what, Linux and free software haven’t made it. Not much demand for Linux people exists. Speaking with a bevy of recruiting firms convinced me. Here’s a few bullet points:
- Rarely do recruiters see job orders for Linux administrators. Those that do see a few live in the top tier.
- Demand for Linux admins seems concentrated in the ISP/Hosting market where Linux has about a 60% of the business.
- Advertisements for Linux skills on job boards and classified listings tend to say “Linux experience a plus”.
You didn’t read anything so far saying that Linux is losing, failing and not gaining any ground, etc. Linux has captured some technology markets. Unfortunately for the rah-rah crowd, Linux has not made much progress at capturing desktop market share. Where Linux has an advantage has not produced technology to benefit the desktop. In other words, the advances in Linux benefit servers and embedded devices and not the desktop.
I once proposed that someone create a DVD player with a daughter board. I thought that one could create an embedded device to accompany a DVD Rom using Cyberlink’s products to allow Linux desktops to play DVDs and other proprietary formats. I even thought about a PCI card that had the Cyberlink products on it. That’s not a stretch.
I also suggested that one of the major Linux vendors start a distribution and license Cyberlink’s audio and video products. That distributor could sell a stand alone version of the software as an add-on in different formats. People could buy that components alone. That would put Linux on even footing with other desktop operating systems.
So far, we have no takers.
I have concluded that Linux cannot expect to remain 100% free software and gain market share on the desktop. People will want features not available as free. That begins and ends with the current rave in music and video. We can give that fight up to the money people.
Last night, my DVD player failed. I own a RCA box that attaches to my Hitachi Television. In the middle of the story, the DVD player just started making ugly pictures and skipped tracks. Having no other choice, I booted up the computer my wife uses at home with the same OS she uses at her job. I finished watching the DVD on an Intel computer with an Apple Studio Display running XP.
I would have liked to have used my Linux desktop. But alas, I live in the US and we don’t get to use the Win32 codecs or the DeCSS DVD-decryption tools. We’re video and audio challenged.
I wonder. If Linux could perform the functions available on the Windows desktop, then would we start seeing jobs for Linux skilled technicians? I think so. Instead of just desk side support for Windows, companies would need to support people for Linux too. That would cause some growth.
In the mean time, I have given up my disdain for Microsoft. That’s right, I don’t feel strongly about them one way or the other. They’re just there and I will deal with them when I do.
As far as Linux and the demand for Linux system administrators, the US job market sees it in the server area but not on the desktop. At least, not yet.