The Year Of The Linux… Everything Else

We have to face it. Linux isn't going to win the desktop war any time soon, but perhaps we don't need to. With products like MeeGo and Android, Linux is going to complete its domination of the embedded space, and find itself in every single home.

It’s just six months since all of the “2010 will be the year of the Linux desktop!” articles and I’m getting in early for 2011, well sort of. I know that you all hate these, but fortunately this is not such an article. In fact, it’s quite the reverse.

Let’s face it. Linux is just not going to make much of a dent on the desktop. We simply cannot compete with Microsoft’s marketing power (who has all the manufacturers sewn up), nor people’s unwillingness to change. Linux is not Windows, it’s fair to say. All of these articles which come out saying things like, “Linux needs to be more like Windows”, are just utter rubbish. Linux is Linux, and should concentrate on being Linux. That’s not to say that we can’t make things easier, but the bottom line is we should be making great software for us, not to try and win converts.

Sure, users are not always able to waltz down to the computer shop and buy some random dodgy peripheral and expect it to work on Linux. Generally, it just doesn’t work that way. It’s true that desktop Linux will continue to struggle until manufacturers start to play ball and release (or support) open drivers for Linux. Consumers who buy (or install) a Linux based PC expect (rightly or wrongly) to be able to buy any device and install software to make it work. No-one expects that from a Mac because people know that they are buying a Mac and their expectations are different. No doubt the Linux desktop suffers from these and other proprietary devices like iPhones that require proprietary and non-Linux based software. It’s great that Linux does support a majority of these devices anyway, but it would be even better if they got official support.

OK, so I’m dreaming – that’s never going to happen. Or is it? Hang on a second and take a look around. Things are changing in the industry. First Linux conquered the big iron, and now it’s conquering ahh, little titanium. Gadgets. Gadgets are the future, my friend (well not so much gadgets but appliances). Embedded devices are becoming common place and technology is finally catching up with long held dreams, so items like tablets are finally becoming a reality.

Apple knows it. They turned complicated technology into usable (but unfortunately, proprietary) appliances and it has literally saved the company. Apple’s value is now more than Microsoft’s – not bad for a company which many wrote off just a little over a decade ago.

Now imagine what it would do for Linux if Apple’s products worked perfectly with it. That’s never going to happen of course (not if Apple can help it, anyway), but another important shift is coming. Linux is becoming the king of the appliance world and that’s a really big thing. Android and MeeGo are changing the scene. The growth in Android’s market share has been impressive and is only set to rise. Nokia just announced that they will drop Symbian for MeeGo on their high-end smartphones phones. I mean does anyone even realise how amazing it is that one can go to any retailer and buy a Linux powered phone? What these products have done, is turn Linux into a truly wonderful, y, easy-to-use appliance and it’s only going to get better from here.

It’s not just phones. Consumers can also buy (or will be able to soon) Linux based:

..and just about everything else without ever realising it. You see, the tide has turned and we have truly outstanding Linux based products. Manufacturers are finally embracing Linux (as are consumers) and it will do well in these areas because these aren’t already dominated by Microsoft. So before consumers know it, they will pause their Linux based television to receive a call on a Linux based phone, while they use their Linux based tablet to browse the net through their Linux based router. Getting the picture?

Perhaps with the rise in popularity of Linux based appliances, more manufacturers will start to support Linux which this will trickle down to the desktop. Devices running Linux will be more compatible with a Linux desktop. MeeGo phones for instance, will use standard protocols which should make synchronization seamless.

Unless every single manufacturer turned around tomorrow and started offering Linux and Windows on their full range of computers, Linux will not see a massive rise in market share any time soon. I mean, what choice to consumers really have? They just need a computer and all they can really buy is Windows. With the compatibility problems of proprietary devices a non-issue on Linux based devices, the barrier for entry of Linux on the desktop would be substantially lowered.

Next year we will see Linux everywhere, finally (well those of us who know it’s Linux, anyway). Just about every single computer power device imaginable will be available for consumers running Linux. That’s right. Consumers will be unwittingly buying Linux powered devices left front and center. With Linux in people’s hands, it will make getting Linux onto the desktop that much easier.

The times are a changing. Big companies are embracing Linux in the consumer space (like they did previously on big iron) and it will surely win out in the end. This way the revolution for Linux on the desktop might actually come about via a completely alternate route. This is opposite to how many of us have been expecting it to happen, by winning over the desktop first and then extending out from there. Actually Apple has helped to make this a reality and Linux can follow their model – make great appliances and therefore win people over to free software. Linux needed to “bring the magic” to the computer space and that’s finally here. We are truly watching history unfold.

Comments on "The Year Of The Linux… Everything Else"


\”…more manufacturers will start to support Linux which this will trickle down to the desktop.\”

Strangely the companies that use Linux in their product do not support Linux. For instance Amazon, who use Linux in the Kindle but the Kindle reader software runs on Windows and Mac!


\”With Linux in people’s hands, it will make getting Linux onto the desktop that much easier.\”…

Not true, far not. This will not change the Basic Problems on Linux.
Linux as it is at the Moment needs a complete Redesing from the Scratch
thats the Truth nothing more nothing less. I could start writing where the Problems begin but i think most readers here are aware of them anyway..

The Problem is that all Distros and Project developers try to modify their software to fit consumer needs and ship around many comon problems. but this wont make them away.. they get just worse with every additional software (abstraction) layer

even the most simple things like an fitting size of an window dont work properly at the moment.

and im not talking about the management in big envirements where you have to take controll over 5k workstations and more (softwaremanagement/usermanagement and more)
and im not talking about setting up and ldap directory..

Also theres a big need of consolidation of so many projects.
For example – theres no logical need of 3,4,5 Network management applications (WLAN, MOdem, Wired,..) for an Desktop
Instead of so many more or less working Applications would be nice to see one common Project / with Bundled manpower and know how to have one standard/linuxwide for this simple tray tool on all distros

same goes for many applications. even if there are 2 or 3 different applications fitting one need they have to use a common standard so other apps can work with all of them

heres the problem with \”open\” software – its so open that theres no standard layer or something everyone has to use – youve ways to get your app working but unlike windows no common interface (like com or activex)

its time to combine the advantages of propitary software (with their strict standards and interfaces) with the advantages of open software – and – consolidate projects – specially those without finicial interrest (might be easier to find a common workground here)

For me Linux has 2 Main Problems. First its writting from technicals for technicals and now they try to fit it for consumer.
Second the ground basics (like directory structure, how to handle files and stuff…) are made 15 years ago based on much older unix systems… time to renew rethink reinvent

i think the hole linux community (inlcluding all big distros) have to work together for a *nix 2.0)
if somewhat like that ever happen windows will have a big problem within 5 years

And one thing everyone forget. Many people thing windows got that strong because of their marketing, or their usual blackmail of hgardware vendors or because they where the only one…
but a big factor was because they make it easy for developers to make anything – including autoinstaller and stuff…. that way windows software has grown like hell – consumer adoped these software – use it now for many years and dont wanna miss it if they change to linux..

if its possible to have such an dev infrastructure on linux – those consumer programms will grow on linux too and will help to bring consumer and busniness users to the linux world…

thats it nothing more…

that linux is running on their phone or dvd recorder doesnt matter.
whta matter is that people can do what they wanna do on their computer and that is much more that reading websites


In general the article is wright, but in my case, after almost all my working life interacting with computers (26 years), a month ago I finally moved to use Linux in my desktop, at my job and home. I miss only a couple of things of my Windows desktop, an IM ibm client and the windows version of my favorite all task editor, VIM!!
All the rest of things I can do them the same way, or better, with my Ubuntu Linux desktop installation (10.04).


bofh999 seems to labor under some misimpressions. He obviously has not tried MDS or Pulse 2 which do excellent authentic imitations of Windows domain controllers and LDAP.

Linux should be linux. It has better filesystems (and though those may be confusing for some, enough tools and wizards exist that people don\’t have to deal with them at a low level unless they like knowing what\’s under the hood)

It seems like so many others, someone has tried the flavor of the moment and found it wanting. ArkLinux in 2005 had some dynamite features and was very easy to use but it was crashy on the desktop apps (no lock-ups, though) Ubuntu is the most polished free software I have seen, with Mint and Peppermint versions quite facile. But there are plenty of problems if you are used to point-and-click Active Directories or Domain Controllers. On the other hand, some proprietary distros have those problems solved handily.

Mandriva\’s free edition isn\’t very compatible or usable by non-experts, but Mandriva One, Mandriva Power Pack, Mandriva Enterprise Server, Mandriva Directory Server (MDS), and Mandriva Pulse 2 are all slick and polished products, with very few warts (most of them are evident in Power Pack 64 bit on AMD machines). With the proprietary Fluendo, the multimedia capabilities exceed what is available on any flavor of windows. Pulse 2 is the premier software for managing heterogeneous networks with crabby, arrogant, jealous windows boxes connected to MACs, Unix, and Linux boxes.

Yeah, everywhere but the desktop, Linux is winning, and it doesn\’t need to change to be better than Windows on the desktop if it has a host of devices that are compatible with it. It is that \”application barrier to entry\” which Microsoft has fostered and played to exterminate competition.

Finally, I don\’t understand the comment about rethinking the filesystem. Linux has the Linux Standard Base and the File Hierarchical System which are revised as needed by the community. In the year 2000, htdocs were moved to /var, for example, and I can run linux using any of 100 supported filesystems from NEC DOS to FAT12 to HPFS/NTFS to AIX to Venix to Plan 9 to VMWARE VMFS to Amoeba to Linux LVM… And that\’s only on the low-level (as in partition types), not counting how one may use the logic-level filesystems like XFS, Ext3, Ext4, JFS, Reiserfs and so on and the software RAIDS on top of that. Maybe he thinks there are too many choices?

The filesystem consists of partition types, physical mid-structure, and a filesystem hierarchy on top of that. I am Puzzled why people think the logical structure of the hierarchy is really any different than any other. / is equivalent to \”Computer\”, and lower directories are as they should be, except the division of executables and their libraries is a little different. As far as installation and making things easy for developers, I am thrice as puzzled. I am a developer, and I strongly prefer Linux to Windows, but then I learned on Linux. The bells and whistles of most IDEs annoy me, though KWebDev is OK, but I like emacs with extensions for repository management and color-coding code and many color themes to prevent optic fatigue, and boredom, so the high-contrast screens of Visual Studio are more impediment than aid to me. Installers? Well, before InstallAnywhere, there might have been a point.


Very well written. I\’ve been saying the same thing for a while now – Linux\’ attack on the desktop has acted more as a diversionary tactic while Linux conquered the rest of the world. (I\’m much more a free-as-in-freedom software fan than a Linux fan, but it\’s hard not to root for the home team when they\’re winning the playoffs. ;-)

Supercomputers – total lock. Mainframes – locked. Servers – neck and neck with Windows, with Unix picking up the crumbs. Netbooks – a solid third. Phones – 10% and exploding, predicted my IDC and Gartner to be second only to Symbian by 2012 (and Nokia will be pushing MeeGo Linux as the official Symbian successor, featuring app compatibility to make the transition easier). Embedded – dominant.

What\’s left are desktops, tablets and game consoles. That\’s all.

After Microsoft\’s Win7 fail (on tablets), Apple is cleaning up. But the major tablet alternatives just hitting the market are all based on Linux – Android, MeeGo or webOS (maybe). It\’s a young market; we\’ll see.

On desktops, Windows continues its ultra-slow decline while Apple and Linux grow ever so slowly. Linux won\’t win here anytime soon, but if desktops continue to matter in a decade or two, it *might* play tortoise to Microsoft\’s hare. No need to concede anything.

Game consoles – well, that\’s the last bastion of the all-custom OS. But if you were designing a next-generation system, would you write a new OS from scratch or customize the dominant embedded OS that also happens to be free?

We got\’em surrounded, folks. Now finish strong, and remember: It\’s not about winning, it\’s about freedom for the computing masses. IMHO, at least. :-)


Linux is ready for the desktop. I\’m using Ubuntu on the desktop and the server. It\’s much easier than Windows! Why?
A couple weeks ago, I bought a new laptop, Win7 preinstalled of course (Can\’t get one here without paying the Microsoft Tax -> that\’s one reason why M$ is keeping it\’s monopoly). Although it came \”preinstalled\”, it took me almost five (yes, FIVE!) hours to get it ready to work, because you don\’t get the installation CDs anymore, you have to burn them yourself.
I resized the Windows partition, installed Ubuntu in about 30 minutes (yes, TEN times faster), everything worked out of the box.
By the way, I installed Ubuntu with French, German, English and Dutch translations, whereas I can use my Windows 7 only in English (this is either English, French or Dutch, but only one of them.)
I was surprised to notice that ATI provides a (OK, till proprietary, but still..) driver for Linux now.
My wife is a lamba computer user and works since 7 years with Linux without any problem. By the way, she uses a PC that is 7 years old and still runs that latest Ubuntu release! Try to run Windows 7 on such a computer!
My kids, resp. 7 and 11 years old both use Ubuntu without a problem. Tell me again that Linux is too difficult for lambda users. I think it\’s much more difficult to switch from Windows to Mac than it is to switch to Linux.
Yes, we still have a \”need\” for Windows, because some application and hardware vendors persist to ignore it. Online photo vendors is the first example that comes to my mind, games for the kids is another one. Hardware problems are much less a problem than a couple of years ago.
The problem of Linux on the desktop is not due to Linux, it\’s due to Microsoft forcing users to buy Windows with their PC, it\’s due to Microsoft spreading FUD and doing hyper-aggressive marketing. It\’s due to Microsoft not respecting standards or paying organisations to approve \”their standards\”.
Most importantly it\’s due to our stupid (or corrupted?) governments, letting Microsoft (and Apple,…) getting away with all this! It probably just comes down to one big problem: a problem of big bucks!


Why is windows running 9/10 desktops and Linux running 0.1-0.2/10 (prob 0.1)?
Because it works – not because of the financial arrangements – again because it works. Try running the beloved Ubuntu 9.2 and try getting sound to work.

And no-one on the internet had a solution for ages unless you had a degree in computing, or were a developer.
And how many linux users, who were neither of the above, changed to windows, because it just works. Probably 1000\’s. Or changed because of complex other program glitches.
Why use linux when you can\’t get help from mainline computer companies eg HP, even though they wrote one f the few printer drivers. You can\’t get help from ISP\’s for routers or wireless broadband devices if you tell them your O/S is Linux, ie no help at all. If you\’re one of those c programmers, developers or your basic c nerd who wants to spend hours re-configuring linux till you get it right then that\’s fine. But what happens when this takes days as it often does to members of our user group? Looks like it off to windows for many more.
And who cares if linux is on lots of embedded devices all over the place. It doesn\’t matter. Whose going to try an root their device if it\’s a microwave, a fridge or a watch. Prob only those 1-2% who are c prog\’s, devel\’s, and nerds.
Others just want their phone to work.
Perhaps if you take your head out of the sand and check the real world, you\’ll help linux become more available to ordinary people instead of to .
computer programmers.
And wasn\’t it Google who developed the final product called android.


@richi111: \”Try running the beloved Ubuntu 9.2…\”

That crashing sound was your credibility hitting bottom. There\’s no such version.

So, now that we\’ve established that you haven\’t *tried* Linux yet, let me encourage you to pull a recent version from the Internet and give it a whirl. You\’ll be surprised!

The good news is that it\’s ridiculously easy to try.

First, it costs nothing. If you don\’t like the first version you try, just get another (and if Ubuntu doesn\’t float your boat, try Fedora, Mint, Novell, Puppy… we\’ve got nothing if not choice!). You don\’t need to return it or ask for a refund or anything. Amazing, no?

Second, you can install it in what us technical folk call \”dual boot\” mode, and reboot into your old Windows environment any time you want (but you have to install Windows first, as it unfortunately lacks this capability). Or you can install Ubuntu like any other Windows program (called \”wubi\” mode for obvious reasons), and if you don\’t like it, remove it like a Windows program, too! Or, if even *that* is too much commitment, just boot from a CD or thumbdrive and run it without the hard drive at all. You can even buy a thumbdrive with Linux already set up for you – just plug and go!
Yes, Linux *is* flexible. It\’s almost like magic after you\’ve lived with Windows for so long.

Third, you don\’t need a stack of driver CDs. The drivers are built in, and automatically configure. Plug in your thumbdrive, printer or camera, and off you go. It\’s pretty amazing, really.

Fourth, you won\’t need to search the Internet for basic applications. Ubuntu comes with office software, email, instant messenger, PDF reader / writer, photo and video editing software, etc. all pre-installed, and they support virtually all popular file formats out of the box. It doesn\’t *need* anti-virus. And it\’s completely free of the crapware that usually infests pre-installed Windows.

Fifth, you can add 10,000\’s of new programs from an app store called the Software Center. It\’s wizard-free – just click \”Install\” and the magic happens in the background. You can install several programs at once, and even keep using your computer while they install! Amazing, I know. And if you need a product not already in the Software Center, just download the file with the .deb extension from its website and double-click it – it installs automatically. (You remove software from the Software Center, too – not from a totally different location as on Windows. Very intuitive!)

Sixth and last, if you run into any problems, you needn\’t pay a tech support persons $35 to read a script of things you\’ve already tried. Just go to http://ubuntuforums.org, and try searching. If that doesn\’t turn up a solution (it does about 90% of the time for me), then leave a message. You\’ll be surprised at how friendly and helpful the people are there!

So, don\’t hesitate – actually give it a try! I think you\’ll find it to be as liberating as I have.

Have fun!


Thanks for an EXCELLENT article, Christopher. Beyond all the babbling, frothing zealots and naysayers, LINUX really has no identity. I mean, come on, there\’s no standard TUX bootsplash screen. There\’s no \”default\” TUX screen saver. LINUX will never win the hearts and minds of the public, but ANDROID might. Businesses use \”RedHat\” because they have achieved \”Brand Awareness\”. I\’ve specialised in LINUX since 1993 – does anybody remember how many distros there were in the \’90s? And lets face it, MacOS X is just FreeBSD in drag. So why aren\’t the public beating down the doors to embrace FreeBSD? FreeBSD could arguably be technically superior to any LINUX distro, so technical merit has nothing to do with it.
Most people reading this are too young to remember the \”UNIX Wars\”, but a fragmented and incompatible UNIX universe was one of the largest obstacles that hobbled UNIX\’ broader adoption. So too is LINUX fragmented, and likewise hobbled. LINUX has no identity. FreeBSD has no identity. Apple gave FreeBSD a brand, the Mac OS X – the Mac OS X desktop is what Enlightenment looked like 10 or 12 years ago, but consumers weren\’t beating a path to that door either.
Also, billions of consumers never buy an operating system – few actually know what it is. They buy the \”utility appliance\” that a computer is. Its all about \”what it does for me\” – they purchase the \”utility\”. When all the mainstream software is available for Windoze, a Windoze box has greater utility. Followed by Apple as a distant second. Apple follows the 80/20 rule; they provide what 80% of the consumers actually need and use. The other 20% can just stay with Windoze.

It wasn\’t LINUX (or should I say GNU/LINUX) that won its place in the data center and ISP shops – that honor belongs to RedHat and Wall St. for creating brand awareness, IBM with DB2 and Z/OS, Oracle and their RDBMS. These were the watershed moments for LINUX in the \”industrial\” space. Now google\’s Android is doing the same to the consumer space through appliances. Yes, there\’s Meego (Intel/Nokia), yes there\’s WebOS (Palm/HP), but they have no brand awareness. It has nothing to do with technical merit. Intel is, as I write this, porting Android to the x86 architecture. How does that bode for Meego?

THERE IS NO LINUX. Consumers couldn\’t care less. There is no FreeBSD – consumers couldn\’t care less. But THERE IS MAC OS X, and THERE IS ANDROID. Those of us inside the atrophying tech industry can be smug all we want\’ knowing its all LINUX/UNIX anyway, but don\’t resent the absence of any recognition. It will be our private satisfaction, and that\’s all. And yes, in the good old US of A, where a plumber or appliance repairman commands a superior hourly rate than a computer programmer, our beloved industry is atrophying. Thanks, Mr. Gates et al.

I have been a champion of, and contributor to the LINUX computer environment since 1993, and I still am. My greatest wish would be to see the requirement of all consumer PC LINUX distros to have a single, universal boot splash of TUX, and a default screen saver of TUX. Branding. Identity. LINUX may be in everything from a cigarette lighter to a transcontinental airline entertainment system but LINUX doesn\’t exist in the mind of the consumer because it has no identity there.

To make it simple, not many people know who Faroukh Bulsara is, but they\’ve heard of Freddie Mercury. They\’ve not heard of Reginald Dwight, but Elton John is a household name. And so LINUX is unknown, and RedHat (apologies SuSE, Mandriva and the plethora of other distros) and Android are already becoming (consumer) household names.


There is tremendous role available for Linux in the lives of individual and small and medium business users. Many of these people are users of Windows Vista and Windows 7. Vista is cruel and unusual punishment. Windows 7 is just cruel. I use linux Mint/Ubuntu on the machine I had to upgrade because it is fast and stable, a lot more fast and stable than any recent version of Windows.

Thus I check my email (Gmail, Hotmail or other web based email for sure. others I\’m not sure about) a lot faster than on Windows. Web surfing is faster and much more stable under Linux. The codecs come either installed or readily installable in Linux, so watching Video. listening to Audio, texting, IM, using Skype or other VOIP are more stable and much faster under Linux.

Linux applications can do a lot of the work I need to do, including document preparation, math, spreadsheets etc. Moreover, Linux is much much faster. I have a Pentium M machine that I upgraded to 2GB of Ram and it leaves my quad core Windows Vista machine with 8GB of Ram in the dust, really. Open office is as slow as Microsoft Office, but freezes much less and doesn\’t bother you with UAC issues.

So at this time about 75% of my work is done on Linux and the rest when I either need a Windows specific program or need to intereact with a Windows specific system. I have much fewer crashes, reinstalls, recovery installs, scans for registry errors or malware etc than I used to have and my less- stressed Windows systems work better, seemingly appreciating the free time to recover from when they are used.

One suggestion that I think would help would be to integrate Linux applications so they work well together. For instance, integrating Lyx, Scribus and Open Office writer so they can interoperate would blow the socks off Word plus Publisher plus some long document add in and actually be a superior solution. Doing this with an excel, power point and other application suites would make Linux a hard to beat cost/performance option where Linux could provide superior, not just me too, application combinations.


Alright, youse guys, of course Linux isn\’t going anywhere.

I suspect Microsloth hackers might be writing the new KDE 4 code. . . . either that or Windows stole the whole system for Windows 7. . . . . I don\’t know. . . . anyway,

we need people older than 25 to be promoting Linux. No, not tired people over 25, people who care about the reality of Freedom of the Desktop to help promote Linux. We need a really positive campaign to show the American public the wonder and grace of Linux.

The new drivers that keep showing up in the distros are really boosting the compatablility and variety of systems that we can use for Linux. It is getting easier to use wireless, new nVidia cards, new sound cards, and so forth.

We may eventually win the war against the proprietary \”Windows only\” machines.

But, we are only going to win over the public to the benefits and ease of use of Linux when we get together and make the whole thing more accessable to the average Joe who may not even know Linux machines exist. Most Windows slaves do not know about the freedom to use, reuse, and change the way things work, that they can share freely without guilt, and the total fun it is to run a computer that is capable of more than Windows bloated code ever allows.

They don\’t know they can have a machine that does not crash all the time. They don\’t know they can get more software (than the other systems have) that works so much better and is improved upon on a regular basis. They don\’t know that they can run their Linux flavor forever without logging in to the \”Company\” site to \”Activate\” it.

They don\’t know how easy the package managers are to use, that they can choose hundreds of programs and click the \’Apply\’ button and go make a sandwich and come back to a fully stocked ready to use computer without even rebooting.

They don\’t know they can have all this without headaches, without answering a shipload of silly questions for every single application they want to install. The package manager does all that for them, but they don\’t know what a package manager is because we don\’t bother to tell them in a friendly tone that makes them feel comfortable and want to know more about that glow we get when we talk about Linux.

They have no idea that they can configure the whole computer without having to learn a new and very foreign language called \’command line\’.

Do you all know how much the general public fears the command line?

Do you have any idea the terror that washes over them when they even think about the fact that they might have to run the system from a command prompt?

It\’s not their fault; DOS was wretched from the beginning, and some of us still remember. . . . DOS ruined it all for many us, Windows was a rescue when it first came out, when M$ first stole the GUI from Mac.

People have this idea because the forums and help sites always talk in \’command line\’ and no body tells them they can click the icon for the GUI based System Configuration and set the whole machine up to run just the way they like it in a few minutes and they won\’t even have to reboot.

People in the Windows slavery camps do not have the foggiest idea that they can run a computer all day, every day, for many days without ever rebooting, and the system\’s memory will NOT become clogged with junk and bad programming code and TSRs that force them to reboot all the time. They don\’t have to run a system with half its programs running uselessly in the \’tray\’ and no hope in sight for a better way.

I think it is time for the people who keep the kernel and the core systems running well and updated on a timely basis to keep improving the stability of the system and make it more powerful, more friendly, more GUI oriented, and ever more stable.

And the rest of us who love the penguin need to convince our friends, family members, and acquaintances that a better life is available and it is called Linux. Then we need to show them a machine that looks and feels nicer than a Winders box and does not get viruses all the time. A machine that is not constantly slowing down as time goes by, and doesn\’t have the flu, a cold, or a nagging virus all the time.

We need to help them see the beauty and wonder of a fine tuned machine and tell them about the various desktop managers like KDE, Gnome, LXDE, XFCE all give them more freedom than they have now. Then show them they can have more than one desktop to reduce clutter… anyway, that\’s my take on the issues.

I started with Linux in the mid 90s and gave up because it was way too hard to use… Now I love it and want to preach Linux everywhere I go!

Amen and good night, thank you for leaving this window open for me rant awhile…

Sonshine Penguin


The Windows vs Linux debate is always a strange and long winded affair and to be honest the arguer’s opinions is sometimes extreme.

I have a simple approach and my personal pick of desktop is Ubuntu. Apparently somewhere near 50% of current Linux desktop installs are Ubuntu.
For a business desktop it has everything required. Open office, Scribus, GIMP, GnuCash… The list goes on. Then you have Email, Collaboration, CRM, Web,ERP server software for practically all business processes.

From a business prospective “open source” has many advantages. If you have been involved in IT how many of us have been caught in the catch22 situation, I wonder if this rings any bells.
Your business model requires some small changes to the software you have. The vendor will not open there source to a third party. The vendor can not provide any assurances that modifications can be made. Also your jaw drops to the floor when you see the cost of modifications.
Its the usual start point of “Computer says No” and your business model starts to be bastardised by computer systems.
Open Source is just not an alternative system and software it is an alternative business model. If you make comparisons to current commercial offerings then you are missing the point.
I hope this is true as I am currently launching http://www.alllinux.co.uk to provide solutions to many of the problems I have seen with IT over the last twenty years.

Also if you are offering Open source solutions to business I would be very interested in any collaborative functions that may be beneficial. Please contact me if you think you are in a similar arena.

Many Thanks



Oooof there is one thing that stops Linux for home users. I have seen this from ppl I have installed Linux for who think it’s great but…
The operation and simplicity of Windows Media Player is required on a Linux desktop. The ability to use in built libraries and the file system to make a play list is simple to accomplish but still hasn’t hit he Linux desktop.
Then bring in Linux games which has a directx for Linux that beats the pants out of Windows.

As I say, I am interested in business systems but if the above two are accomplished I can’t see any reason to pay licensing fee’s to Microsoft.



I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you want to drive Linux as a desktop O/S, then you have to make it THE O/S of choice for gaming. You don’t get the home market without gaming. Yes, I know there is a growing market of games on Linux (or browser-based games), but until you can convert the mentality of the gaming market to “Linux first”, then you will never win over the consumer market.

Linux isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) a hard sell to consumers who just want to surf the web or run business apps. Linux already does productivity beautifully…and for free. What’s not to like?

I admit I’m overlooking the support aspect, but I believe OEMs would fall in line with support if the consumer demand for Linux was high enough.


Here’s my two cents worth; burn the live distros and give them to your friends and family. I have been doing this for several years and everyone has at the very least had Linux installed as a dual boot option. When they see my system, the speed, the stability and all the open source software available they become envious. So what if Linux will never dominate the desktop, but it can sure give Windows a reason to be concerned. I haven’t used Windows at home since OS/2. And for more than 8 years it’s been nothing but Linux. I haven’t missed out on anything. Windows is nothing more than a gamers platform. It has no value in the business world other than lining the pockets of M$ shareholders. And that is truly a very sad state of affairs.


“Sure, users are not always able to waltz down to the computer shop and buy some random dodgy peripheral and expect it to work on Linux. Generally, it just doesn’t work that way.”

Honestly, I’ve seen that statement reversed almost all of the time. El Cheapo Chipods work wonderfully under Linux. Knock-off webcams work like champs under Linux. Pathetic Chinese Chancho-branded mice work, like do Genius TV cards, Taiwanese unknown-branded wireless dongles, you know, every item works… unless it has a layer of DRM on top of it. And what manufacturers do put a layer of DRM on top of their products? Big names, like Sony, Philips or Apple. Chinese dual-SIM knock-off phones work wonderfully under Linux, better than any brand, I’d say.

Next time, when you want to buy hardware, turn your head away from the big names and buy El Cheapo. 99,9% of times it’s going to work in your Linux system.


Linux will never take over the desktop, because the desktop is going to die before that happens.

Welcome to the world of the device. For years people wrongly believed that the desktop would encompass more and more ability and information, and that people would expand their knowledge to accommodate this ever growing machine. We were wrong.

Kids today care much less about the internet than we did. Sure they use it, but they aren’t mesmerized by it like we were. The have no desire to spend hours much less weeks or months learning how to do things on it. They just want some easy to use device that does exactly the thing that they need it to.. oh ya and facebook of course and maybe twitter and youtube.

A game machine plays games.. (and twitter and facebook) a phone makes phone calls texts, (and twitter and facebook). The TV does TV (and twitter and facebook).. you get the drift.

Within the next five years each home will begin to equip with one hard core machine that does things like heavy computational tasks, graphics, fileserving. They will have some powerful thin clients like their phone, TV.. etc., and no one will care what runs it, as long as they get to play their game, and get on facebook and twitter..

What a lovely varied debate.

I have moved all my systems – business and home to Linux.Why?

- it works
- it free – why pay a predator like Msoft a fortune
- it’s not American so it doesn’t have 10,000 pages of legal threats
- it’s beautiful
- it’s mine and it’s contributory
- it’s shared – not a rich monopolists world domination
- it’s FUN – and the people who write, support, use it are fun too

It took me a while to become comfortable using Linux as, like most people, I had been conditioned by Msoft.

We should teach our kids and our friends how to use a PC/Tablet/Phone – not teach them how to use Windows.

If we want freedom (and this is dear to me) then lobby politicians, teachers, parents to clear the Msoft hegemony out of our education establishments.

And tell everyone just how much FUN Linux is.

Then they can make real choices.


Interesting article, many good points raised. I prefer not to buy into the Windows versus Linux argument. I am immune from what is happening in the Windows world simply because I don’t use it and I have no particular interest in what is happening in their world and nor do I care. Computerworld.com can write all they like about the latest viruses doing the rounds in Windows World, but everything that Christopher talks about in his article is the way of the future.


Wow, totally off topic, but interesting thread nonetheless.

It’s pointless having a linux vs windows debate. I have a OSX on my laptop and love it. But… my linux desktop wins for work, just because it’s better for a few apps and I like nautilus.

Windows has a huge user land and some great paid for apps and some great free apps. The free apps you might also get for Linux.

I won’t deny that gnu/linux/gnome make a good base for a desktop PC, but it needs great desktop apps too.

Nice icons, infrequent crashing, lack of glitches all help.

A lot of very sensible replies up above. A few comments. Games, games, games. To “win the desktop” (nowadays likely the laptop desktop) Linux has to be able to play real commercial games, native. Linux can already easily cover a work environment desktop far, far more cheaply than WinXX and (according to a recent if possibly biased article I read) fortune 500 companies are finally recognizing this (possibly driven by sheer economics) and have some serious plans to move towards linux OUTSIDE the server room over the next 18 months. OpenOffice is at this point precisely as useful as MS Office, and is pretty much totally compatible. A browser is finally just a browser (and MS’s browser has a history of security problems as old as it is, the latest in its java implementation).

Europe continues to be very hostile towards Microsoft, although MS is working on trying to improve this where they can. The rest of the world just steals Windows if it uses it at all or uses Linux if it pleases them. The US desktop market and its armtwisted deals with vendors such as Dell is its heart and soul.

As somebody pointed out — and I agree — linux may win the desktop war because the next paradigm shift may very well be the demise or radical transformation of the desktop, so radical, in fact, that MS simply cannot keep up, so that their ability to sell into it evaporates from under their feet. Google, for example, is quietly planning to take over the world — and that would be the world <i>including</i> the desktop — by means of obsoleting the operating system itself.

Now of course it won’t <i>really</i> make operating systems obsolete. It will just make them irrelevant. The OS is supposed to be a layer of software between the metal and applications that handles all aspects of the management of “the computer” for a user or collection of users executing many software based tasks. Microsoft began by providing just such a layer back in 1982. The software was mostly written by other people — they just provided the OS interface to the IBM PC devices and a way of launching and controlling programs.

Apple, launched even earlier, did something similar but very early on but rapidly realized that there were significant advantages to controlling the hardware, the OS and the software all three. They pursued an integrated strategy.

Unix was from the beginning a much better operating system (per se) than either of these, and OUTSIDE of BSD tended to be corporate monolithic and tied to hardware.

Somewhere in there MS recognized that there was no real need for a third party software market. They executed a series of “savage” business moves that cut the hearts out of the companies that wrote the software that made them by far the leading desktop platform; they ate them alive. Word processors (except for Word) died. Spreadsheets (except for Excel) died. Integrated office packages (except for Office) had no chance. Compilers (except for MS compilers) failed to work after each major upgrade for longer than any hopeful software developer could afford to wait. Browsers simply wouldn’t work at all, and users couldn’t remove Explorer without breaking the OS.

At the beginning of this period, computer stores had tier after tier of shelves of software, well over half of it business software, and a few games. At the end of it <i>all of the business software had disappeared</i> except for the dregs that MS didn’t feel like consuming — security/antivirus, typing tutors, some Adobe stuff, a few packages that managed to hang on for some years actual “competing” with MS’s bloated market share in markets they <i>invented</i>. And, of course, the <i>games</i>.

Games is all that’s left. Go into Best Buy and what software do they sell for MS based systems? A handful — maybe half a row of titles — of business stuff. All the rest (in a vastly reduced overall space) is games. And even the games are gradually collapsing as kids only care about certain <i>kinds</i> of games.

Message to Linux — to win an enormously important fraction of desktops, woo the game developers. Make it easy for people to <i>sell games for Linux and make money!</i> That’s right, not “get games for free” — sell games, and make money. Not open source games. Real, closed source games. World of Warcraft. Starcraft. Diablo III. Or convince the game companies that they can give away their software and sell access to game servers, but I think that would be a hard sell in the case of Blizzard.

To have a hope of succeeding here, Linux has to make peace — real peace — with Nvidia. Native Nvidia exists for linux, sure, but it regularly breaks the hell out of it because Linux is openly hostile towards Nvidia’s urgent desire to embed proprietary closed elements in its drivers. I’m using Fedora 13 and had to deinstall nvidia native altogether after it completely screwed up my update cycle by silently breaking on a kernel update. How can a game company rely on that? They don’t need fifteen year old kids calling them and complaining that WoW won’t work because of some hidden dark magic between the REQUIRED drivers and their OS. Until this problem is resolved — and I mean really resolved, not just band-aid patched — Linux desktops cannot be decent gaming desktops even WITH wine, cedega, vmware, virtualbox, kvm, running Win under Lin or emulating, and where is the accelerated library that they can write native on and be certain that it will support and continue to support high end graphics hardware from all of the major manufacturers?

But Google’s move is more subtle. Make the BROWSER the desktop, and then all you have to do is ensure that the browser works on all platforms. Suddenly <i>all that complex layered system of operating system, integrated GUI, monopoly controlled software</i> becomes <i>irrelevant</i>. All that matters is that Google Chrome runs on your particular platform. All the software is either integrated with the browser native or via plugins, it all comes from the internet (often in real time). No one cares at all which platform one is running, as long as it will run your browser.

This is the future and it is all but upon us. Who will win the desktop war? Firefox. Chrome. Sorry guys, Linux may “win” by being the cheapest OS that can run them (can’t beat free:-) but ultimately it won’t be gnome or kde that finally “beats Windows” as a gui windowing interface; those interfaces will <i>finally</i> be transformed <i>back</i> into what OS’s were always supposed to be: a device independent layer between universally portable software and the hardware on which it runs.

If this idea takes off — and I very much think that it will, I think it is close to a slam dunk at this point — within a decade we will see the framing OS that runs the browser SHRINK. Probably shrink back to being — gasp — an operating system. All a computer will need is to be able to run a single foreground task in a <i>computer</i> independent way, hiding every detail of the underlying hardware from it including the particular microprocessor being used. And we are so close to being there now.

“Interesting times”. Isn’t that the Chinese curse?


I have been running 9.04 beta on my ltoapp (dell latitude D610) for the last two weeks and it’s fantastic. Windows XP runs like a dog on this machine, but not Ubuntu). The wireless networktivity even set up without much fuss (System->Administration->Harware Drivers). I am running VMWare Server 2 on it, so if I require Windows, I start it as a virtual machine and only run the particular app I require (I use some Windows based network analysis tools for work).I was given a wireless usb network dongle for the ’3 network last week I plugged it in and the connection automatically set itself up. This is a dream!!I’ve just loaded Vantage Analyser for a job at work (it allows you to see the goings on in a Java VM or .Net VM memory leaks, hung threads etc.) and the nice thing is that it is a Java app and can use MySQL I can analyse an app server running on any platform if I ran this on Windows on my ltoapp it would run like a pig in a pony race.Next, I have to get my act together and compile a custom kernel. Aaaah, geek heaven.

FBI would use Spinrite’.I used ubuntu and intlelsad testdisk’ which completely recovered deleted partitions after I intlelsad over them. If you want to keep it like windows, go for KDE, if you want something more stable and (in my opinion) better looking, then gnome is great.Testdisk does not need a black desktop the desktop is superfluous, you should be able to enable repositories and type sudo apt-get install testdisk’ then when it’s done, you can type testdisk’ to start the program running.Choose from distrowatch’ I’d go with Debian (that’s because I already did and don’t know much about anything else).

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