Linux in the Workplace
For many years, Linux users have had to deal with the excruciating pain of confining their beautiful distros to home while having to slave away on Big Brother’s desktop of choice: Windows.
Is this really the case anymore?
Are Windows loyal companies more open to the idea of allowing their employees to use an alternative of choice now?
Set your work machine’s Windows updates to run for a few days, as we take a look at some points on the issue.
No matter what office job you may apply for, the respective company will always have guidelines, protocols and predefined standards for their workplace. This includes the tools you will get to use. A top favorite amongst office spaces worldwide is Microsoft’s Windows. We’ve all heard the testament’s for Word and Outlook being spouted time after time…
However, it should also be noted that Apple’s OSX is also often the go-to standard for any creative media-based industry. Designers, video specialists and audio engineers tend to appreciate the palette of tools available for OSX, even if many of the same tools are available for Windows.
So, where does Linux rank amongst these proprietary giants? Well, according to NetMarketShare.com, it’s kind of trailing behind them. If we observe the image below, we can see that *everyone* falls behind Microsoft’s Windows, as they have consistently owned around 88.14% of the market in the past year alone.
Possibly due to its specificity, global tangibility or prohibitive prices, Apple’s OSX comes in second place, with 9.42%. And finally, our beloved Linux weighs in at just 1.85%. This is of course, not mentioning *Chrome OS*, because it is stupid and no one likes it.
We’ve all heard of the “Apple Ecosystem”, but in reality, settings virtual confines around non-FOSS or non OSS can also be referred to as the “closed-source/proprietary ecosystem”. You’ll find that 9 times out of 10, a company or user will not make the switch or allow the use of an operating system due to it not having the exact same closed-source applications available as Windows, for instance. Even if the ultimate output or workflow is exactly the same via the use of a FOSS alternative, they will almost always opt for the brand original.
The availability of brand-named software on Linux used to be more of an issue in the past. Skype’s extremely old and clunky port posed massive restrictions for users in the past, as features such as group chats were non-existent for a long time. This is not the case anymore, as Skype updated their application on the platform to cope with their newest releases. This small change to a key piece of software played a much needed pivotal role in the community of users advocating for the case to use Linux-based distros at work. In recent years, many programs that were readily available for Windows and OSX, too became easily found on Linux distros. Discord, Spotify and Teamviewer can all be found on the frontpage of most Software Centers.
However, the holy grail of ports, Microsoft’s Office has always been the elusive golden egg in the argument for proving a solid alternative to Windows when voicing your cries to an stubborn supervisor. Although, most of us FOSS lovers hiss at the sound of Microsoft’s proprietary tech defiling our innocent Linux boxes, this would unequivocally draw a line in the sand for the right to use Linux in most office settings. Word, Excel and Powerpoint have all been long replaced by Libre Office, for most users. Working with Microsoft’s file types has also been extremely facile, thanks to OnlyOffice.
The same cannot be said for email clients. Show Thunderbird to an Outlook fan-boy manager of yours, and you’ll surely be stricken down by lightning from their fingertips. You may be able to get away with using Gmail, Sheets and Docs via the web if you work for a G Suite enabled company, but the number of these don’t compare to the amount of O365 users out there.
With Microsoft’s ever growing love of Ubuntu, we’ve seen some technologies made available for the OS that were previously thought of as highly unlikely. Visual Studio and Windows Subsystem for Linux are two advancements that display Microsoft’s interest in the platform. Perhaps one day we will see an O365 port for Linux, even if it will be stripped of most of its features.
Finally, I took to Fosstodon, to ask my fellow Linux users if they felt that Linux was becoming more acceptable in the workplace. The poll is still has a few hours left, but out of 15 responses, the majority feel that a Windows environment is still being heavily emphasized:
So, has your Linux environment been cast away to the deepest receses of your bedroom while Windows takes hold of your soul each day? Or have you had the stones to fight for your FOSS right? Let me know.
More to come.