Those of you who follow the state of Linux may realize that Linux is now at the precipice or "jumping off place" as an operating system. Linux, to others, is viewed as being at the crossroads for success. What's the difference, for Linux, in teetering at the precipice and standing at the crossroads?
How do these metaphors translate into concrete information that you can use?
The Precipice: This view is one that's sparked by those who believe that Linux should become a competitive desktop operating system and that it's time to "put up or shut up" in this area. They believe that Linux should either jump off the cliff and go headlong into the desktop universe or back away from the edge of desktop-dom completely.
Personally, I think that Linux desktop developers are doing what they can in this direction and are perhaps lowering Linux over the cliff on a rope. Linux is currently a usable, viable, and quite stable desktop operating system that's easy enough for the masses. Ubuntu Linux and its derivatives are highly prized for their simplicity and usability as desktop alternatives.
The Crossroads: The crossroads viewpoint of Linux makes a bit more sense to all who understand it--that Linux is at a place where there are many paths from which to choose: Desktop, Server, Virtualization Host, etc.
Linux will always be at this crossroads--it will never move from this spot. Instead, its distribution spawn will take the different paths. Ubuntu, Red Hat, Novell's SUSE, CentOS, Debian, and all the others have their own individual destiny's--some will emerge as desktops, others will triumph in the data center as servers, while others will settle in as part of cloud infrastructure--essentially donating their resources to the greater computing grid. There's no need for Linux to choose just one path.
The way I see it, Linux neither stands at the precipice or at the crossroads but rather in a place where it can choose all the above and be quite good in any occupation. Why choose to be pigeonholed when you can do everything well?