More on Shuttleworth v X

Susan Linton wrote:
“So, the theory I was submitting is: Unity + Wayland = Cloud computing.

There is no money in desktop Linux. So, I was just saying I think Ubuntu as a desktop system is probably being phased out for a mobile system tied to remote storage.
(see the comments)

I disagree about the “desktop Linux” part. Anywhere/anytime you get a large number of people for long periods of time desktops really work well. While notebooks/mobile has its place, so does the desktop. In the old days we were 100% desktop, now we are about 50% but there will always be a role for desktops. People like to sit when they do IT. It helps to have a desk by the chair and a PC on the desk. It works.

Money from desktop GNU/Linux is another matter. While selling PCs with GNU/Linux is one way to make money from GNU/Linux, there are others:

  • install GNU/Linux on desktops
  • sell ads on pages served to desktops
  • maintain GNU/Linux desktops
  • write software or generally use GNU/Linux desktops for work/productivity (in most situations this will be a winner for desktops)

Because RedHat and Ubuntu may not see desktop GNU/Linux as a hotspot will not make it go away. It is easier to make money in hot areas like smart-thingies but Ubuntu would be very foolish to abandon the desktop. I think Linton is wrong about that. Mark Shuttleworth may be somewhat bold but he is no fool. If Ubuntu does go –>Unity–>Wayland they will make sure the desktop is well maintained. Wayland is quite compatible for the desktop especially for video/high-end graphics. For that purpose it does not need to work on every piece of hardware out there, just the ones most likely used for such work. The market will sort that out but I can envisage each hardware maker of graphics interfaces producing a product line with a driver for Wayland. The rest of the desktop world can run X, perhaps in a virtual machine running on top of Wayland somehow. The details will be sorted out.

The killer reason why the desktop and X will not die any time soon is that thin client technology is making its move. Even that other OS gets that. GNU/Linux will have to manage thin clients very well. For that purpose Wayland is irrelevant. X and variations on X do the network stuff quite well and are constantly improving. GNU/Linux will be able to run on everything for the short and long term. Ubuntu is not going to abandon the desktop. If it does other distros will take up the slack.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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2 Responses to More on Shuttleworth v X

  1. Perhaps I should start using the term “PC with a real 3D keyboard” instead of desktop. I just hate keyboards on notebooks and touch seems like it is a bottleneck. If they can get voice to work, then, sure, put the PC in the lapel microphone and be done with it.

  2. “People like to sit when they do IT. It helps to have a desk by the chair and a PC on the desk. It works.”

    It’s not the only system that works, though.

    About five more years work on mobile processors, battery technology, and wireless display technology will get us to the point where the devices people carry in their pockets have (more than) enough processing power to do all the work they need, and the ability to render easily to any available external display (this is something which doesn’t get a lot of hype but which will be a huge deal). The last major problem to solve is input, but someone will probably come up with something for that, and there’s always bluetooth.

    At that point, the box on the desk ceases to serve much of a useful purpose.

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