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2010… the year of Linux

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An article worth some reading by EETimes on 7 reasons why Linux won’t succeed on the desktop:

It is inarguably accurate to note that, while Linux is a success on the server side–Apache on Linux runs more Web sites than Microsoft’s ISS, though the latter is gaining–the open-source operating system has been a dismal failure on the desktop. There are at least seven solid reasons, which I’ll detail below, why Linux hasn’t moved the needle beyond a single-digit desktop market share since it hit the scene in 1991, and never will.

Desktop Linux’s failure to launch is all the more mystifying when you consider that it’s hard to think of any technology which has been backed by such an enthusiastic and committed group of supporters. Unfortunately, that boost has largely backfired.

Average PC users haven’t been swayed by vehement protestations from Linux supporters that it’s so clearly superior to anything and everything from Microsoft. It seems clear that more users have been turned away by the outright disdain hurled at them from many open-source initiates, than have been moved to overwrite their Windows installs.

While Ubuntu, the newest and friendliest distro, has done much to reduce the alienation of common folks, desktop Linux remains mired at a market-share of less than 2%. It’s likely to remain so, notwithstanding Dell’s move to offer pre-installed Ubuntu on a bunch of PCs and laptops. That’s the biggest boost desktop Linux has ever received, but it’s too little, too late.

One caveat: While I believe all the arguments I lay out below are valid, I don’t assert them with the faith-based certainty I see from many Linux supporters about their claims. This article is presented as an entrée to a healthy debate. If you don’t agree with me, please leave a comment below, or e-mail me directly at awolfe@cmp.com.

Before I dive into the seven reasons Linux on the desktop will remain an also-ran, let’s frame the debate with a quick analysis of the current market share of the open-source operating system.

Closing Thoughts

Is it possible that I’m wrong, and the Linux will move the desktop needle beyond the single-digit market share in which it’s been mired for so long?

The biggest hope for desktop Linux came earlier this year from Dell, which is now offering Linux preinstalled on several desktops and notebooks. Preinstallation is important, because the vast majority of PC users will never load their own systems software onto a bare machine.

A personal story: Dell never came through on their promise to send me a review unit of their Ubuntu laptop. Whether it’s because they prefer to publicize the machine on Linux sites, view me as anti-Linux (I’m not), or don’t want to shunt attention away from their Windows machines on mainstream IT sites such as this one, I can’t say. What I can say is that Dell’s Linux desktops will remain a sideline, and a drop in the bucket for the direct-PC powerhouse as compared to Windows.

While Dell’s Linux machines are likely to remain on the market for a while, the other big Linux retail hope hasn’t caught on either. That was the positioning of Linux as a low-end retail option, which reached its apex in 2004, when Wal-Mart took a stab at selling cheap Linux PCs.

Currently, most of the low-end Linux activity involves Linspire, the distro marketed by Net billionaire Michael Robertson. Linspire comes preinstalled on this $378 Microtel PC at Wal-Mart; other Linspire partners have similar offerings. It’s not realistic though, to say that Linspire will be the savior of Linux on the desktop.

What now? Perhaps 2010 will finally be the year of desktop Linux. Unfortunately, I believe that that the seven arguments I’ve set forth in this piece make an airtight case that this isn’t going to happen.

Personal thoughts:

The inroads made by Linux will continue to grow… slowly perhaps as usability and all other possible home user kinks are worked out over time. It just won’t be anytime as claims by the Linux community.

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Written by gooddealz

September 22, 2007 at 3:33 pm

Posted in News Only

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