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Bringing Linux to the desktop.

As Linux continues its steady rise, Chelsea-based Open-Pc is making it easier than ever to get the penguin on the desktop. With an online store featuring Linux-based products to small and large businesses in New England. Co-founder Morgan Lim talks about open-source, migrations, and a certain Redmond giant.

What do you like about Linux?

I like the fact that you can customize your own system, you have a lot more control. It’s like buying a car and being able to make changes to the engine. That’s the difference between proprietary software and open-source. With proprietary, you can’t look under the hood, you can’t see the code.

The other nice thing is that Linux is very cheap. You don’t have to pay a licensing cost, you just have to pay for the configuration of the hardware, which is minimal.

Also, when you buy a Linux operating system, it comes with application software. When you buy Microsoft, you only get the system. As soon as you start buying applications, the cost adds up pretty quickly.

Have you noticed an increased interest in Windows-to-Linux conversions?

Definitely, but it’s taking some time before implementation is in place. We’re seeing more desire for migration, but not widespread conversion yet. There’s a state agency here that’s in the process of deciding right now, so one thing we’re doing is providing them with a migration plan. Many people are at that educational phase, just trying to become informed about what it would take to migrate and how it would change their operation. Our main source of revenue until migrations pick up is our Web site. We’re actually selling a lot of products right now.

What type of products are people buying from Open-Pc?

Linux-based computers, servers, that kind of thing. They can configure their own systems.

On the server side, there’s a faster adoption rate because sometimes people use a Linux box to create a home server for about $500. You can hook it up to several computers, it’s very stable, so it’s easy to see why the adoption rate is growing. On the desktop side, we might have to wait for a little while before it catches on. That’s not because there aren’t enough applications for it, but because of the current mindset.

How does the mindset need to change for Linux to see more desktop adoption?

People are so used to having Windows, that’s all they see and all they know, unless they have a Macintosh. People who say Linux is hard to use usually haven’t tried using it. They just think it’s for geeks and programmers.

But Linux has changed so much in the last year, that it’s very different than before. The applications that sit on top of the system have changed dramatically. But they haven’t seen it because if they go to Best Buy or someplace like that, there’s only Windows, they don’t sell anything with Linux inside.

Why do you think stores don’t offer Linux-based computers as well as Windows-based?

Well, that’s why they call Microsoft a monopoly. If you want a good deal with Microsoft you can only sell Windows, and Microsoft software. Those are the mafia tactics that a lot of people around the country were complaining about, and that’s what landed them in court. But the recent settlement has changed the situation and now you’re beginning to see, in a very nascent stage, the rise of Linux. It hasn’t happened fully yet, but it will.

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