An Operating System for the Future

There is an old, so-far-unfulfilled prophecy about “the Year of the Linux Desktop.” Many have predicted that Linux would eventually replace Windows as the de-facto desktop OS, but so far it hasn’t happened. Might things be changing? Could the long-awaited “Year” finally be here?

Linux is not about market share, but just plain sharing. To share, say, an apple with you means giving it to you. You can eat it, give it away, or store it for later use. That’s what sharing means; otherwise something is expected in return. Proprietary software makers want you to take the apple, pay for it in advance, feel that you need to eat the apple right away, and then sell you a knife to peel it (and it’s even better if only their knife works with that particular apple). They polish the apple and put a sticker over the worm hole so you don’t see it until it’s too late. Their revenues derive from this method.

Microsoft’s mission of battling piracy can also be a force driving Ubuntu Linux adoption. Believe it or not, on desktops, the second most installed OS behind legitimate copies of Microsoft Windows is… illegal copies of Microsoft Windows. But if Microsoft increases its pressure on pirates (as it’s already doing), people might turn to free alternatives rather than keep paying for Windows. And if more users turn to Linux, anything could happen. With a small amount of the market share for desktop computers, the Linux community produced something as good as Ubuntu; it’s difficult to imagine where the limit will be if the number of users increases.

Ubuntu is now a mature desktop OS in its 14th release, and it is reportedly the most popular Linux distribution for desktops; in fact, it has been chosen as distribution of the year many times. Red Hat and Novell, with Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop and SUSE Linux respectively, are aiming at the corporate market and have made some advances there that push forward the overall Linux community.

There might never be a “Year of the Linux Desktop.” Today, computing is less about desktop computers and more about such devices as smartphones, tablets, and even TVs with processing power and intelligent software. Linux, in its various flavors, is a step ahead of its competition in this arena. Desktop computers will most certainly maintain a place in this new world of computing, and Ubuntu and Linux have already been successful in raising the bar when it comes to what we expect to receive for each dollar we spend on software.