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Linux remains overmatched in the 32-bit world on the desktop. There is just too large a base of Windows users and related applications for Linux to dominate the market in a reasonable period of time. However, transitions breed change, and the industry is about to take a big step into the 64-bit world, where the playing field is either level or actually might favor Linux. The dynamic that exists in the 32-bit world, which favors Windows, is upside down in the existing 64-bit world that favors Unix.
The other argument favoring Linux not only over Windows but all other proprietary OS's in the 64-bit space is its multi-architecture support. Linux (like NetBSD) supports a whole host of 64-bit processors including Itanium, Opteron, UltraSPARC, Power, Alpha and others. You really can consildate your entire enterprise on a single OS across all hardware platforms.
Referring to Linux as a "derivative of Unix" is likely an error that is bothersome to many, including myself. It's a workalike--not a derivative. What's particularly irritating about that mistake is that it's what SCO has been saying, because they believe some of their code was illegally copied into it, after the 2.2.x kernal series. Hence, it sounds like the author of this article is legitimizing their claim.
Those German cities may not regret their moves--it depends on how they deployed. SuSE is very well refined desktop system and works great. What ever Windows applications they need, that are not available for Linux can be provided in a variety of ways--most notably via terminal services. That's a far virus safer and more manageable way of providing applications, anyway.
In the article, the author also seemed to imply that Windows was working toward 64-bit and that Linux could catch up, easily. Linux was the first OS to compile on Itanium and for 64-bit on the Opteron. Linux had long offered 64-bit support on other platforms, such as the Alpha (very prominent) but also all other major processor types...and most minor ones.
Microsoft had support the Alpha processor, but mostly in 32-bit mode. They spend many years attempting to get Windows NT (the predecessor to Windows 2000, XP, etc.) to work more and more in 64-bit mode but made very little progress. It was a story of high hopes and mostly failures.
The 64-bit transition actually argues in *favor* of a move to Linux now -- since Linux and Unix have been established on 64-bit systems for years. Linux is actually a more stable long-term platform than Microsoft, given that Linux applications are a mere recompile away from working on just about any architecture, and application porting could and did start years ago.
Later in the article, Enderle says,
"This move to 64-bit computing will let Microsoft create a product that steps away from the unreliable and unsecured parts of its current code base without incurring the wrath that typically would be associated with such a move. In addition to the opportunities presented to the company, there is a compelling argument for Microsoft to change directions and make better decisions."
So, a New Windows. That's not a bad thing, considering all of the bad design decisions, emulation and legacy cruft in everything up to and including XP. But, if Windows is changing its APIs and Linux isn't, isn't it better to move to Linux now to help ensure forward application compatibility?
So, why do we need to move to 64-bit computing on the desktop? We could have asked the same question of 32-bit computing, and we likely will ask the same question of 128-bit computing a decade from now. The right answer probably has more to do with the need to step away from the mistakes of the past than anything else.
No, Rob, the reason we moved from 16 to 32 bit computing is that 16 bit computing limited the CPU to a maximum linear address segment of 64k, while 32 bit computing expanded that to 4 gigabytes. Quite a change. While 64 bit computing lets us break the 4 gig barrier with ease, the fact that current 32 bit machines can already address more than 4 gigs (albeit non-linearly) with much more ease than their 16 bit ancestors could access >64k means that 64 bit computing is only really needed right now for things with a large memory model.