Among those commenting on the rise and rise of Linux, it has become a truism to point out the lack of applications available on the free operating system as an impediment to continued growth. In the web magazine Salon this week, writer Andrew Leonard pointed out that Linux has no Quicken and no Eudora. However, […]
Among those commenting on the rise and rise of Linux, it has become a truism to point out the lack of applications available on the free operating system as an impediment to continued growth. In the web magazine Salon this week, writer Andrew Leonard pointed out that Linux has no Quicken and no Eudora. However, that caveat may not hold water much longer. Some branded applications may still be hesitating on the brink of Linux ports, but others, including Netscape and Corel with its office suite, have already taken the plunge. Add to those the lower-profile companies that have beavered away in the Unix world for years and there is no longer any shortage of office and productivity software available to Linux users. Applied Information Systems is a good example of a Unix developer recently converted to the gospel of Linux. Also this week, AIS announced availability of its XESSLite 4 Spreadsheet for the Linux desktop, with licenses priced at $50 ($80 with printed manuals). But this is the cherry on top of the company’s existing commitment to the platform. XESSLite is based on XESS 4.0, which has been available on Linux for four years. Even the stripped- down version has nothing to be ashamed of where features are concerned. It supports 3D workbooks and multibyte languages, can be used as a helper application for Netscape’s Navigator browser and offers a reasonably high level of interoperability with Microsoft’s Excel 4.0 and 95 and Lotus 1-2-3. How many new Linux seats does AIS hope to win with XESSLite? We don’t know, in all honesty, says president Arthur Coston. At the moment the company’s Linux user base is not especially significant. AIS supports ten other Unix flavors as well as VMS on Vax and Alpha and NT on Alpha and Intel. But Coston says Linux is in transition. The people who are for Linux are pretty fervent, he observes. They’ve done quite a good job on the basic OS. Now, he says, the Linux Expo has grown from a few hundred local attendees to a few thousand. Eight per cent of business cards AIS gleaned from the most recent Expo were from international inquirers. It’s a larger, more established commercial marketplace, not just the enthusiasts and students, he says. That’s great news for AIS, whose other clients for its industrial-strength spreadsheet include power giant Asea Brown Boveri. Nor is AIS the only company to find opportunities in the newfound respectability of Linux apps. Market leader Red Hat Software, which sells a version or ‘distribution’ of Linux, will be packaging a Linux Apps CD-ROM with Red Hat 5.1. The company promises internet tools, office products, computer-aided design and sales automation software. In his critique of Linux, Andrew Leonard argues that corporate America doesn’t like the multiplicity of choice Linux offers – a startling observation about a nation that has already embraced competition in telephony and electricity. But it’s true that when it comes to desktop applications, Linux users will soon be spoiled for choice.