The Dead Desktop Debacle: A Roundup of Rebuttals to Reichard's Requiem
May 25, 2001, 04:08 (18 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)
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By Michael Hall
The question of Linux's death on the desktop drew a varied set
of responses from around the 'net. We collected some that came in
today into a single item.
First off, we had a piece from osOpinion entitled "osOpinion:
The Desktop is Dead, Long Live the Desktop!" which takes the view
that the Linux desktop isn't dead, it's just taking its time. The
evidence? Prior performance in the server arena and ever-growing
file compatibility with the software found on other platforms.
It rather angrily declares "Linux on the desktop is dead. What a
crock! How analysts can make such conclusions based on the fact
that two companies had trouble selling it is beyond me. Linux
didn't achieve its server success by relying on the success of its
co-players. Why should anyone believe that the desktop should be
Anthony James of
Pinehead, less belligerent but as optimistic, also had something to
say on the matter in his column "Linux Desktop: A Simple Question
The question was, what would it take to get these users
to migrate to Linux? First off we need to clarify what users we are
talking about. I am talking about everyday home and office desktop
users. It might seem like a fairly simple question, but is it
I believe their two reasons why people don't make the switch to
Linux. If you were a regular user, only using Windows, without the
Linux knowledge you already have, could you take a Linux cd and
install it easily without any help? Chances are you cannot.
Another osOpinion column says that the problem with the Linux
desktop might be the very two projects trying their hardest to
promote it: GNOME and KDE:
"So how can we harness the power of Linux and use it to
capture the existing market? We give consumers something they can't
get with Windows. The answer is actually right under our noses --
we give them freedom of choice.
We stop building applications for specific desktop environments
and start building them with a common Linux GUI standard in mind.
We make this GUI extensible like XML so we don't have to release a
whole new package if we want to add new features, and we tell
people that they can now produce the same output, but do it with
software that works for them."
We also had one reader take the time to write us directly. He
comments that he believes Mr. Reichard's comments were meant to
motivate the Linux community to work all the harder. We have it on
good authority that there was no such agenda. Matthew Johnson
What a few weeks we have had, relative to a few storms.
It's probably time to take current stock of what is going on.
First, the Mundie episode. Thanks for the great advertising, MS.
The only people who will believe all that are your most loyal
subjects who will not use reason on those comments. Most people did
and came away laughing.
On what I call a more serious issue for those who consider the
desktop very important was the article from Kevin Reichard (Editor
for LinuxPlanet) who wrote "RIP: Linux on the Desktop". The boldest
statement of the week most certainly. This certainly set off a
storm to say the least, but what were his motives? The death of
Eazel could not possibly kill the desktop for a variety of reasons
as it was just a file browser and not even one mention of KDE, nor
of Konquerer. By the way, Konqueror is very good as it stands as a
file browser, and it's only just warming up. What were his motives?
Why did he not mention more desktops? As far as I believe, they
remain unanswered. Maybe, just maybe he is actually trying to
mobilize the Linux community into more thought and into more
action as it was kind of quiet with the odd plodding
along. Maybe people will re-think and re-focus on what is
Actually, what is most important is that Linux
distributions get profitable. If they accomplish this, then a huge
part of FUD will disintegrate even further, but currently the
economic environment makes that difficult, so its time for them to
focus on an area that is the easiest to break: the server room, of
"There once was an Ugly Duckling..."
All in all the Linux desktop is far from dead, but its yet to
fully emerge from its "ugly duckling age". It's certainly showing
great signs of being a majestic swan and it's this that is scaring
the executives seated in Tower Redmond. Of course, on the server
it's a Swan, and you can notice its effects across the server
platforms, just take a look at Netcraft.