Is the Linux Desktop Dead?

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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 --

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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.

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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...

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