Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Is the Linux Desktop Dead?

Filed under
Linux

Predictions about when the year of the Linux desktop might finally arrive are a long-standing joke. They are so widespread that even Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, laughed about them in his keynote at this year's LinuxCon.

However, in the past year, such predictions have been increasingly replaced by more basic questions: Will the Linux desktop -- whatever its actual market share -- survive at all? And, if not, what are the operating system's survival prospects in a post-desktop world?

By "desktop," of course, I mean the traditional workstation or personal computer --

rest here




Spoiler Alert: The Linux Desktop is NOT dead.

In 2006, with the help of the NSA, the Linux Desktop faked its own death, and joined the witness protection program. Its current location is a closely guarded secret. Several unanswered questions remain, most notably whose body was discovered in that abandoned elevator shaft with the fingerprints burnt off with acid... and was the dead parakeet in the corpse's vest pocket left there deliberately, as some kind of clue?

For the record, articles with stupid titles like "Is Linux-Open Source-Ubuntu-Debian Dead-Dying?" are far more common than articles predicting "The Year of the Linux Desktop". Not long ago, the genius who originally coined the term "the year of the Linux Desktop" published an equally inightful artcles about how Linux is dying, or whatever. I didn't really read it.

These tech journalists need to scramble to make this stuff interesting. The numbers for Linux's market share change slowly. It's like watching paint dry, in slow motion.

But the actual technology is another story. When I consider everything that's happened since I took up Linux (About the time Knoppix was introduced. Remember when live CDs seemed like magic?) I question whether the community could handle a bigger market share. If we had 20 percent market share, would that mean 10 times more distros and desktop environment discussions? Or even five times more? Would we get a whole new KDE every year? We just may be getting all the business we can handle.

The success of Desktop Linux isn't that it took over the market, it's that it managed to put down roots in a hostile corporate culture that wants to kill it.

It wasn't very long ago that verizon's "customer service" representatives told me flatly that I couldn't run Linux on their DSL network. It wasn't true, but how many ordinary users just gave up after hearing that? Verizon, of course, is a Microsoft partner, like everybody else. If I called them up now, would they tell me anything different? Non technical users of Linux have to put up with a buttload of hassles like this. It's not Linux's fault, but that doesn't make it less of a hassle.

And yet, we're still here. Linux isn't a business, so it can't be put out of business. One per cent market share is all we need. We are small in number, and yet we are thriving in terms of development. Viewed from withing the community, EVERY YEAR is the Year of the Linux Desktop. And if the Novells and the Shuttleworths lose patience because they're failing to take over the world, we'll still be here.

Microsoft needs to take over the world to survive; we don't.

1+

blackbelt_jones wrote:
Linux isn't a business, so it can't be put out of business.
Microsoft needs to take over the world to survive; we don't.

Perfect...

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

It’s Christmas in FOSS-land!

See, Mageia is a community-driven Linux distribution. Everybody here volunteers and does the work because he or she can and because they want to contribute. The money that we collect in donations goes to paying for server costs, hardware repairs and upgrades, supporting booths and handing out merchandise at conventions (and in one case, flying in a repair person when everything broke). Read more

2014: The Open Source Tipping Point

For the last ten years open source has expanded into more and more segments of the computing industry. But as we review 2014, a new story emerges: software development has fundamentally shifted toward an open source model. Especially for the infrastructure software used for scale-out computing, open source is the de facto choice; in fact, it’s virtually impossible to find examples of scale-out infrastructure that is not open source. Read more

Paper: New Material Design Inspired GTK Theme

Paper is a new material design inspired GTK theme, which is currently in beta. "Its design is mostly flat with a minimal use of shadows for depth", mentions its website, and it was developed primarily for the GNOME (Shell) and other desktops that make use of header bars. Read more

Leaving KO

Inge, Tobias and I founded KO GmbH in 2007 in Magdeburg. We named it KOfficeSource, because we believed that KOffice, which is Calligra these days, was getting ready for the big time, especially on mobile. Nokia was beginning to invest heavily into open source, Intel joining in with Moblin, the times were heady and exciting! After a bit of rough-and-tumble about the name, we renamed KOfficeSource GmbH to KO GmbH and from 2010 on, we were in business! Read more Also: Krita and KO GmbH