"I kicked the Windows habit 10 years ago," Bhaskar said. "In the group that I have at work, Linux is our primary desktop that we've been using since 2000," he said.
An industry analyst in the audience agreed with the panel's skepticism toward desktop Linux. "I think they're right, there are barriers to adoption," said analyst Tim Clark, partner at The FactPoint Group.
Earlier in the day, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian was optimistic about Linux on the desktop, particularly on netbooks.
Panelists also discussed topics such as whether the economic downturn was good for open source. The downturn has benefitted open source because it gets people to try new things, Whitehurst said. Many new projects are getting done on Linux, he said.
Prior to the panel session, Whitehurst gave a speech proclaiming the economic situation as a "fantastic time for open source."
"I almost feel bad," because open source software proponents profit from other people's misery," Whitehurst said. In tough economic times, "people get out of their comfort zone," he said. Companies that would never have considered open source are now looking at Red Hat, said Whitehurst. He added a significant chunk of Red Hat's revenue has come from Unix to Linux conversions.