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Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, explains the success of Linux servers by saying that “Total Cost of Ownership, technical superiority and security were the top three drivers for Linux adoption. These points support Linux’s maturity and recent success. Everyone is running their data centers with Linux. Stock exchanges, supercomputers, transportation systems and much more are using Linux for mission-critical workloads.”
But while the enterprise server market looks good, the Linux operating system has not fared nearly as well in the desktop market. Over the last year, the Linux desktop market share continued to hover unchanged around the 1 percent range, while Apple’s iOS has now grown to about seven percent.
Even Miguel de Icaza, co-founder and developer for seven years on the Unix Gnome for developing a graphical user interface for UNIX, “I spent three weeks without having to recompile the kernel to adjust this or that, nor fighting the video drivers, or deal with the bizarre and random speed degradation. While I missed the comprehensive Linux toolchain and userland, I did not miss having to chase the proper package for my current version of Linux, or beg someone to package something. Binaries just worked.” de Icaza’s move away from Linux was prompted by issues with Linux fragmentation and incompatibilities between Linux distributions and versions.
But there are a few things going in Linux desktop’s favor. One is Google’s Chromebook – which is powered by the browser-centric Chrome OS, a cloud-focused version of Linux. While some have given the Chromebook rave reviews, others pan it as being too limiting. There’s also been some attempts, like from Canonical, to create Linux-based tablets that compete against iPads and Androids (is this really even the desktop market?).