I downloaded a whitepaper from Novell this morning with these statistics:
“Although it is also proving to be a solid and competitive desktop operating system, Linux has not achieved mainstream success in the desktop operating system market, where Windows still dominates. Gartner expects:”Windows will be the primary OS used on more than 80% of enterprise PCs in 2011 (0.7 probability).”4 Most of the existing applications are based on Windows, and Windows users are reluctant to change to unfamiliar systems. However, new trends in the desk-top market will affect deployments in favor of Linux. Users are calling for greater reliability, cost efficiency and ease of use. Deployments will increase where applications do not rely on a particular operating system (e.g., Windows) and Windows applications. IDC expects Linux client operating system new shipments will grow from 4.5 percent market share of worldwide to 6.7 percent in 2010.5 The main growth is expected to be in emerging markets, including parts of Asia Pacific and countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China where cost plays an important part. In addition, many governments have launched Linux projects.
4 Gartner Inc.: “Why the Client OS Matters Well Beyond 2011″ by Michael A. Silver and Mark Driver, Aug. 28, 2006
5 IDC: “Worldwide Client and Server Operating Environments 20072010
Forecast and Analysis: Linux Establishes Itself Abroad Client and Server” by Al Gillen and Brett Waldman,
Doc #205385, February 2007
see “The Future of Linux”
These are global numbers for percentage of new PC shipments. Since large numbers of installations stem from downloads, the numbers of working Linux desktops must be significant. If Linux machines followed the lifetime of machines with that other OS so that new machines were 250 million per year on an installed base of 800 million, we would expect Linux to be on about 3 times the number of new PCs shipped with Linux, or about 12%. Since Linux machines are pretty good twice as long as machines with that other OS, 6% is the number of Linux desktops I believe are out there. If they predict that other OS to fall to 80% of PCs, that leaves 20% for others, about 10% for each of Linux and MacOS, perhaps by 2011. At that level, ordinary folks from all walks of life will notice there is an alternative to that other OS. Assuming equal effectiveness of software in a competitive environment, it is not beyond belief that Linux could get close to one third of the desktop share eventually. The BSDs and Solaris could take off and affect that, however. The monopoly will soon be gone.
TFA also states, “… advances in Linux on the desktop are developing along two related fronts: thin clients and desktop virtualization.
The acceptance of thin clients running on Linux is consistently growing, especially in domains where users work only with one or more applications, such as retail outlets, call centers and help desks, or where access to IT support is limited. But governments, manufacturing firms and financial services institutions also consider thin clients to be compelling desktop solutions. The market in 2007 has already shown a significant swing toward the thin-client model for enterprise application development and deployment.
Virtualization permits a powerful machine to run both Linux and that other OS so that the legacy of existing applications can be run at the same time as one is using Linux. That is still problematical as that other OS still has its EULA, fees and bugs but at least the application selection need not be a barrier to using Linux. Thin clients are my favourite installation because it centralizes the software and hardware maintenance if the clients are fanless. A thin-client terminal server could use virtualization but the licensing is nightmare-ish as the seat count cannot be flexible and auditing would be a pain.
Dell has published a presentation made by Colville, Chief Technology Officer of Dell. On pages 5 and 6 of this .odp,“The Corporate Linux Desktop-Fact, Fad or Fantasy” by Cole Crawford, IT Strategist, Dell, Inc., they give data that shows Linux about 6% of the global desktop numbers and predict 10% or more for 2009. For whatever reasons, perhaps bigger lock-in, the numbers are much less for USA. Dell has been pleased with the reception of Ubuntu on Dell in USA and has expanded the programme to Europe. I hope Canada follows soon. Many schools rely on Dell and could benefit by reduced cost and increased reliablity by using Linux.