The largest obstacle to more widespread desktop Linux adoption is the enormous installed base of Windows applications that many enterprises are dependent upon, Perens said. Companies that have started to move applications onto the Internet, or companies that use a small number of relatively simple applications, will be the early adopters of the Linux desktop, he said.
Software is available for those companies that can't afford to make a full transition to Linux, said Jeremy White, president and chief executive officer of Codeweavers Inc. Codeweavers makes a product called Crossover Office, which allows Linux users to run Windows programs such as Microsoft Office and IBM's Lotus Notes.
Crossover Office runs a limited number of applications but is less expensive than Win4Lin, White said. Win4Lin is software that allows Linux users to run any application developed for Windows, said Jim Curtin, president and chief executive officer of Netraverse, which develops Win4Lin.
"We want to provide an alternate method of deploying Windows applications. Use Codeweavers for smaller applications, Win4Lin for larger ones," Curtin said.
Linux provides a low-cost alternative to Windows for the majority of enterprise PC users that don't tap the full potential of their desktops, Perens said. By 2006, 30 percent of enterprise desktops will run Linux, he predicted.