Saturday, 1 December 2007

The Year of the Linux Desktop? Not Again!

Last night I read a leaflet from a local electrical retailer, and to my surprise, they were selling the Asus Eee PC (check out this link for details - they also do the black one but it's out of stock at present). I'm seriously considering getting one - it's a really great deal and I'd probably find it useful.

I have noticed a lot of positive trends in Linux adoption this year (Dell and a number of other manufacturers beginning to offer preinstalled Linux, the gPC, Tesco offering preinstalled Ubuntu Dapper, and now the Eee PC). While I'm reluctant to start shouting "2007! The Year of the Linux Desktop has arrived!", no-one can deny that Linux is now seeing increasing exposure in the mainstream.

I think the trend towards cheaper consumer electronics is likely to favour Linux adoption in future. Windows Vista is a bloated monster (Home Premium on the laptop I'm writing this on takes up a colossal 15GB, whereas a fresh Kubuntu install takes up 2GB) and a lot of your computer's expensive processing power is taken up with things you don't really want to run at all such as DRM.

Consider this example. Sim City Societies has a minimum processor speed of 1.7GHZ running XP, and 2.4GHZ in Vista! That's a staggering difference for no worthwhile improvement in performance.

Also as consumer electronics get cheaper a proprietary OS such as Windows forms a larger and larger proportion of the cost. If you're going to get better performance from a Linux distribution and it costs less, then companies which start preinstalling future mini-laptops such as the Eee PC with Linux will make a killing compared to those who stick with Windows, and pretty soon all vendors of such devices will be switching to Linux. I doubt that Apple will be able to do too well in this market, as they've spent years establishing themselves as the cool option that costs more (although I can imagine there being such a device - the iLaptop perhaps?).

In addition, as the creators of gOS have realised, the future lies in web-based applications. That's not to say desktop applications will die out completely, but they'll probably become less and less popular over time. And with that, the reasons for not using Linux will begin to fall by the wayside...

1 comment:

kozmcrae said...

I admit that I get a "little" angry when I see the banner "The Year of the Linux Desktop?". It should read "The Year of My Linux Desktop", which was 2005 for me. I think the opposition will haul out that nonsense every year until Linux adoption reaches 51%. I believe it was created by Microsoft or one of its allies and now the clueless press has picked it up as a hit magnet. I have learned to avoid headlines that end in a question mark in general and this one in particular. If your link didn't point to a blog, you wouldn't be reading this.

So yes, I too see a lot of positive trends. More importantly, I think they will accelerate. I expect to see Microsoft pull all the stops and we will see "exciting times". But as for the title of your post? It will become an inside joke sometime in the not-to-distant future. So it does have value and I'm not so angry anymore.