SJVN ticked me off today. He wrote, “I declare traditional Linux desktop to be dead.”, but then redeems himself at the end by declaring, “while I no longer hope for the old-style Linux desktop to gain popularity, I have no doubt at all that the new, light-weight, Internet-oriented Linux desktops are going to do just fine. After all, they already are, and here it’s Windows, not Linux, that’s been the non-starter.”
I think he’s too soon written off GNU/Linux on the desktop. The diversity of GNU/Linux allows it to expand in every direction. Even now, Intel and Google are cooperating to put Android/Linux on x86. M$ is not only failing at mobility, it is also steadily losing share/solidarity on the desktop. There’s nothing at all on the horizon to stop that slide. “8″ on ARM won’t stop it like XP did on netbooks. Android/Linux is huge on retail shelves, much larger than GNU/Linux on netbooks ever was. ARM is becoming quite competitive with x86 and GNU/Linux already runs on ARM. Even today 40-50% of desktops use XP, much more similar to a GNU/Linux desktop than Vista, or “7″ or “8″. Those folks are going to end up using GNU/Linux thin clients and possibly even GNU/Linux desktops.
Sure, the expansion of the GNU/Linux desktop has slowed in North America over what it was a decade ago but in the rest of the world it is moving rapidly and OEMs know it. They are all producing GNU/Linux desktops. It’s a growth industry whereas that other OS is in decline or stagnating. In South America and the BRIC countries, GNU/Linux is huge and not going away. China, for instance, absorbs more PCs than USA. It is far too soon for the USA/M$ to pronounce GNU/Linux dead.
A recent survey of businesses in India found that businesses have high loyalty for RedHat Desktop Linux in small businesses and 100% loyalty in larger businesses. The most popular OS in Indian businesses is XP and RedHat Desktop Linux has 7% of XP’s share, ahead of “7″ in small businesses and 3% of XP’s share, also ahead of “7″ in larger businesses.
In 2009 the world’s largest GNU/Linux desktop deployment began in Brazilian schools. 26000 computer labs are not a testament to the death of the GNU/Linux desktop. The Russian schools have moved to GNU/Linux and the Russian Government plans to have complete a migration by 2015.
GNU/Linux on the desktop is happening. It may be slower than I want but it is inevitable. Will M$ disappear? I doubt it. They could compete on price and performance like everyone else or they could invest their ill-gotten gains and live off the interest…
Proof that SJVN is not broken may be found at ZDNET
“Gosh. Why does MSFT need Windows 8? Because its business model depends on you needing to buy a new operating system and copy of Office every five years or so. It’s that simple.
Now do we, who are not MSFT stockholders need to do that? I don’t think so. Look at all the people who are still running XP. If it’s not broke, you don’t need to fix it, never mind replace it.”
UPDATE Another take by Larry, the Free Software guy, is at Linux desktop: Not pining for the fjords.
“to those risking injury jumping on the Linux-desktop-is-dead bandwagon, my question is this: Does Linux’s skyrocketing use and popularity in the mobile and tablet realms necessarily mean the “death” of something else in Linux, like — oh, I don’t know — the desktop, as some sort of technological quid pro quo?
I’d say “no,” and I’m willing to bet history has my back.”