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Call Issued For More Mobile Linux Apps

Posted by iTech - 2006-02-15

A software engineer at Google is urging the open source community to develop more applications for desktops and laptops, because he says the workforce is increasingly on the move.
In a keynote address at the Fourth Annual Southern California Linux Expo (SCaLE 4x) in Los Angeles, Google's Dan Kegel outlined some challenges for greater adoption of Linux.

"One in three companies use open source applications on the desktop but market share remains tiny," he said at the event Sunday. "General market share for desktop and laptops that run Linux in the United States is between 1 percent and 2 percent."

Laptops pose new challenges, Kegel said during the keynote. Wireless drivers, switching between network interfaces, suspending and power consumption continue to present problems. Laptop users just close their laptop to put it to sleep and expect it to wake up quickly when opened, but this doesn't work well on Linux, yet. Kegel said the Linux. community is attempting to develop a unified wireless stack, making it easier for vendors to release drivers.

Linux applications typically launch slower and require more RAM than Windows, Kegel said. "My laptop takes between 60 and 90 seconds to boot up," he said. "I took out my stopwatch in a coffee house the other day and because I wasn't plugged into a network it took three minutes to boot up, and that's not acceptable."

Fedora Core takes 98 seconds, and Ubuntu requires 160 seconds if the laptop is not plugged into a LAN, Kegel said. OpenOffice 2.0, which takes 28 seconds to boot running on 96 Megabytes of RAM, takes much longer because it loads shared libraries, compared with Microsoft Word, which requires three seconds on 64 Megabytes.

Another major problem is big retailers, such as Fry's Electronics and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., continue to sell systems with 128 Megabyte of RAM, with 32 Megabytes devoted to the display, Kegel said. OpenOffice 2.0 and Fedora Core don't work well on systems with less than 256 Megabytes. "This is a horrible situation," he told conference attendees. "Fry's and Wal-Mart should be disallowed from shipping those 128 Megabyte systems with Xandros on it."

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