Access and Feeds

Linux: Can it Ever Break Through in the Desktop Market?

By Dick Weisinger

It’s been more than 30 years since the Linux project was first introduced by Linus Torvalds. Over the years Linux has resoundingly captured the market for servers running in the cloud and for business.

Linux has been packaged and bundled in numerous ways.

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, said that “how end-users experience Linux is definitely fragmented. But that’s one of the powers of Linux. It’s a building block that has allowed Google to build Android and Chromebooks, Amazon to build the Kindle, Canonical to build Ubuntu, and much more. All of those experiences are different for the user, but there is choice for the consumer.”

Linux has been particularly successful on the back-end server side.

Some statistics from Hosting Tribunal:

but statistics for Linux as a desktop show little interest:

Linux has clearly captured the backend server market but has not been accepted as a viable desktop OS.

There are some signs though that that might finally beginning to change. Recent iterations of front-end interfaces of Linux packagings, like Ubuntu and Linux Mint, have been given high marks on usability.

Kelsey Hightower, Google Cloud Platform principal developer advocate, said that “there was this kind of inflection point where Linux has gone from like this command line server-side thing to something that you could actually run on a desktop with a meaningful UI and it felt like we were closing the gap on all the other popular open operating systems.”

But others think it is too late for Linux desktop.

Robert Strohmeyer, wrote for PCWorld some time ago, pointing out a serious deficiency. “Ultimately, Linux is doomed on the desktop because of a critical lack of content. And that lack of content owes its existence to two key factors: the fragmentation of the Linux platform, and the fierce ideology of the open-source community at large.” And that may still be true.

We shall see.

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