Year X is NOT the Year of the Linux Desktop

khess 0 Tallied Votes 1K Views Share

This year is not the year of the Linux desktop. Next year is not the year of the Linux desktop. In fact, NO year is the year of the Linux desktop. Every year, there are at least ten writers (Ashamedly, I'm included in that ten) who proclaim that the current year or the upcoming year will be the year of the Linux desktop. I've given up hope for it. I've given up on the idea of an acceptable level of Linux adoption on the desktop. I've given up on the prospect of ever having corporate Linux desktops and I think everyone else should too.

The Desktop Wars will be over forever.

By the time there is widespread acceptance for Linux desktops, it will be too late. Web-based desktops will replace the old school heavy desktop operating systems of today.

Netbooks will be the desktop of tomorrow with no local operating system. Oh there might be a JEOS (Just Enough Operating System)--a minimal system whose only job it is to get you to a network (LAN or Internet) but not a traditional OS with applications, office suites, games or the like.
For service subscribers and everyday users, your operating system will consist of a web-based desktop lookalike that is in reality a fancy web page. Renegades, like you and me, will have the choice of web-based desktops or virtual machines that run what looks like a traditional desktop stored on some remote server.

Forget the Desktop Wars, the Browser Wars, The Office Suite Wars and any other petty religious nonsensical wars relating to software. Your service provider will determine which desktop, office suite and browser you use when you connect to and use their services. Chances are there will be ads in all of them, subtly placed to entice but without too much 'in your face' interference.

Will this futuristic web-based desktop society take away your choices?

Yes and no. Having a service provider won't prevent you from using some other online services, suites, applications or even desktops but beware that there might be some penalties involving their use. Think along the lines of certain satellite TV services that don't have your local stations or some phone companies that don't provide 911 emergency call access.

So, it's goodbye to any hope of a sweeping adoption of a Linux desktop. I've put down my banner. I've put down my sword. I've put away all my propaganda for the Linux desktop. I submit to the will of the web designer, service provider and the advertising executive.

I've hoisted my white flag on this one.

dorkwad -10 Light Poster

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

1) Linux has never been about the desktop; it is about control. I can control what my computer does. I might not actively control everything because someone else has written software that meet my needs. But if they decide to go and break it, I'm free to make my own, or fork the original project.

The only reason effort is being put into the desktop is to attract new users with pretty colours.

2) Netbooks will not replace traditional computers. First, they are a huge pain to use for anything more than websurfing. Second, what you're thinking of are thin clients, which have been done before, but did not catch on.

3) Web apps may be fine for corporate drones, but hackers are never going to give up their own machines.

PS: Logged in with some account from Bug Me Not. Forced logins to comment are silly.

aquaadverse 0 Newbie Poster

Couldn't agree more. The Linux community dropped the ball big time when we decided to fight for scraps on the desktop with Apple instead of having a wider awareness of the superior platform for use as a Server product.

Imagining the market for deployment of Linux servers during the current financial implosion gives an empty feeling of lost opportunity.

dorkwad -10 Light Poster

Ditto most of what the other dorkwad said. Considering how unlikely it is that this imaginary "cloud" will always be available, I'll be long dead before someone moves my desktop and apps off of my local machine to some remote hosting service.

Makes some sense for corporate deployments, but I can't see it working for real people in the real world.

einheit 0 Newbie Poster

LOL @ aquaadverse - the devs working on the linux desktop environment are doing nothing to hinder linux server adoption, you silly boy. You do realize that's a whole different crowd than the kernel devs?

I agree with Linus when he maintains that a linux desktop presence is absolutely vital to the continued viability of linux. Out of sight, out of mind. If we try to hunker down and hide in the server room, guess what? Hint: how well did that strategy work out for solaris and hpux?

I'm a full time linux user since the 90s. I live and work in the real world. Deal with it.

blakeelias 0 Newbie Poster

I have to disagree here. It's probably true that 2009 is not the year of the GNU/Linux desktop, nor will 2010 be. If it does happen it will certainly take a long time, and maybe it will never come.

So what OS would we be running in the cloud? There are already a few such services. But I doubt that many of today's GNU/Linux users will switch to a web-based OS any time soon. I like to tweak my software, and while there is certainly room for web-based computing, I would be concerned about not being able to tweak and have complete control.

Stopping the OS wars with a universal web-based version would eliminate competition, and hence slow innovation. No browser wars? As a web developer, the browser wars annoy me as much as anyone. But even I would not want to have everyone confined to one browser, simply because none of them are perfect, none ever will be perfect, and competition between them makes them all get better. If the change you're describing took place a few years ago, we would all be using Windows and Internet Explorer because those were mainstream. The decision would have been made for us by the service providers, and I wouldn't be using GNU/Linux right now.

I think the biggest concern should not be switching to one system or another, going cloud-based or desktop-based, as there is merit to all different types of solutions. What I want to see is interoperability, so that whatever machine or virtual machine I want to use, whatever desktop OS or web-based managed system I choose, I should still be able to create and view content, run all programs, etc. What happens if I want to switch web-based providers and move my data over? Because the one thing that will never (or should never) happen is everyone agreeing on one solution.

As for netbooks being the desktop of tomorrow, that just can't happen for physical reasons. They work fine for websurfing, but the screen is simply too small for anything else. It has 1/4 the area of my desktop monitor, and I only have 1 -- lots of people have 2 or more monitors, and a netbook would be a major downgrade.

sheakauffman 0 Newbie Poster

The desktop is not going anywhere. Moore's law outpaces Neilsons Law. How would you even measure the year of the linux desktop. I would define it as "when a majority of applications run on it". The same way I would describe the year of the firefox web browser "When most designers test sites against it". The year of the firefox web browser has come and gone, progress is made every year steadily on the year of the linux desktop. When the year finally does come, no one will even notice at first.

swiftnet 0 Newbie Poster

The year of the Linux desktop was 2001, at least it was for me. What was your year of the Linux desktop?

techevar 0 Newbie Poster

I agree and disagree with the year of the Linux Desktop. Linux will never be a viable desktop unless we come to one Distro and that will never happen. There are just too many out there. The closest to the Desktop is Ubuntu if they can pull it off then we might have a chance. The other distros as good as they are need to be gearing toward the average Joe who barely knows how to right click. Apple has had a record year! Like it or not they are cutting into the MS market.

As far as everything being in the cloud, I don’t ever see it. How would you work when you’re not attached to the Net?

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