Saturday, February 25, 2006

Is Linux on the Desktop Approaching the Tipping Point?

Dave Rosenburg of OSDL seems to think so. He accurately describes the challenges of Linux on the desktop, which I have described in previous blog entries: the difficulty in getting the applications that people expect to see on a PC ported to Linux (Adobe, Intuit, etc.), and the lack of support for plug and play drivers that consumers expect with devices like digital cameras. Dave points to the Portland Project as the unified effort to tackle these problems and help the ISVs port applications to desktop Linux.

Although I wish that 2006 would be the year of Linux on the desktop, I have to be a bit more pessimistic. I think that the Portland project will help; however, it will not solve the chicken and egg problem that exists with desktop Linux. I suspect that it will take a while before enough applications are available and before consistent driver support makes it easy for people to use their consumer devices with Linux desktops. The Portland Project is a great first step to help drive momentum for the Linux desktop, and as we start to get momentum, it will become easier to convince vendors to commit resources for application and driver support on Linux.

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R.Smith said...

Certainly, Linux is ready for the desktop now but only the corporate one, I think. The "average user" (I hate myself for using that phrase) is just not competent enough to maintain an installed distro nor, in my experience, are they willing to learn something new as people seem to fear change.

Regretfully, I share your pessimism.

Dawn Foster said...

R. Smith,

As an open source advocate, I hate to be so pessimistic about Linux on the Desktop. I agree that corporate usage, especially among developers and other tech crowds, is a much easier hurdle, and corporate users are beginning to use Linux on the desktop more frequently.

The issue of resistance to change is a very good point, and people are especially resistant to change when the new environment is missing key features that the "average" user has come to expect (plug & play and certain applications).

I'm still hoping for broader adoption of desktop Linux, but I think that it will take some time to get there.