Does Linux have an answer to Windows?

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It has been the dream and passion of many to create a strong Linux-based competitor to Windows--open-source software freely altered, cheaper and better than proprietary codes. But for all the effort and hope, Linux has failed to make it into the desktop and notebook mainstream. Yet there could be light at the end of the tunnel.

The New York Times reports on Mark Shuttleworth, a 35-year-old billionaire from South Africa, who is described as the "spiritual and financial leader'' of the Linux crowd. He is promoting Ubuntu, a fast-growing version of the Linux operating system that comes at no cost and is now used by more than 10 million people.

While still not a major threat to Microsoft, Dell started to sell PCs and desktops with the Ubuntu software in 2007, and I.B.M. recently began making Ubuntu the basis of a software package that competes against Windows. IDC, the technology research firm, estimates that 11 percent of American businesses have systems based on Ubuntu.  In December, hundreds of software developers gathered for a week at the Google headquarters in California to coordinate a volunteer effort to improve and promote Ubuntu. 

"I think Ubuntu has captured people's imaginations around the Linux desktop," Chris DiBona, the program manager for open-source software at Google, told the New York Times. Ubuntu is similar to Windows, but apparently can cause headaches for the average user right now. But for the tech savvy, it may be worth a close look.

It may be just another shot in the dark that falls flat and come with too many glitches. Or it could be the start of a Window-less future?

For more on Ubuntu:
- check it out this New York Times article

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