The advent of desktop virtualisation will provide the missing link for Linux to shine on the corporate desktop, Dell chief technology officer Kevin Kettler predicted in a keynote speech at the Linuxworld conference in San Francisco.
"A lot of people are predicting that next year could be the year where we really see an explosive growth of Linux on the desktop in business applications, " Kettler told delegates.
Linux however won't offer an all-out replacement of Windows. Through the use of virtualisation technology, businesses will run multiple operating systems on a single client, each in its own virtual compartment. This allows users to continue to use legacy applications that aren't supported on Linux or Windows Vista, or gradually migrate from Microsoft Office to running OpenOffice on Linux.
Resembling the idea of software appliances, a virtual guest operating system could also be used to run maintenance and security software outside the user's control, or to provide a disposable secure compartment for web browsing. Restoring the operating system to a secure state after each browsing session would protect the user from malware infections.
To demonstrate that the technology for this scenario is available today, Kettler demonstrated these applications, each running in their own guest operating system, running on a production dual core laptop with 4GB of memory.
Users often cite limited application support and a rough transition between Windows and Linux as a major obstacle that prevents them from switching. The introduction of a virtualised desktop allows Linux to overcome those hurdles, and adds a few advantages in the process.
Kettler first unfolded his ideas of the virtualised desktop at Linuxworld 2006 in Boston. At the time the technology wasn't ready for real world deployments. Desktop virtualisation has since made large advances that it brings his vision within reach, Kettler argued.
A video demonstration of Kettler's virtualizaed desktop is available on vnunet.com TV
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