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Two on the Desktop: "A Linux Desktop is on the Way" and "Revenge of the Dead Desktop"

Jul 12, 2001, 20:12 (52 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Anthony Moulen, Martin Vermeer)

The Linux desktop isn't dead (yes, this again), it's aging and mellowing like fine wine:

"...So what of the Gnome, KDE and hundreds of other developers out there? Should they start packing up their bags and go home? Did they all miss something while they were happily using their computers that never seem to crash and work the way they want? No, instead we should look at the desktop Linux like a fine wine, if you uncork it too early it will be bitter and unformed and hard to swallow. Similarly, desktop Linux will take time to mature.

Today Linux is at the 'workstation' level, this means it is highly powerful, and ready for serious users. These users don't look for the cute little buttons or glitz to get their work done, they look for systems that work well and are stable. Users like me. Everyday I develop Web pages using Linux. Linux offers me something that Windows can't: stability, tools, and freedom to work the way I want. And while some out there complain about hardware support, I can tell you that I can't think of a single 'type' of hardware that I need that won't work with Linux. Now it means finding a model that is compatible but the same holds true for Windows workstations.

So what about the desktop? Well, it may never get there for everyone. Just like Microsoft seems to not care about a few Mac users that it can't reach, there are going to be users for which Linux will never be a good fit. Choice is what Linux is all about, and if we didn't acknowledge that there are going to be those for whom Windows is going to feel 'right' we would be fooling ourselves. However, desktop Linux is coming quickly. KDE and Gnome development is moving fast, and while Gnome may have paused a moment to mourn a fallen friend, it is still going strong. Desktop Linux means accessibility. And this goes beyond installation."

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Alternatively, there's LinuxToday regular Martin Vermeer's take on the matter, which is that if nature can solve the chicken and egg problem, Linux can, too.

"Those few*) of us that have made Linux their primary desktop still do not form enough of a market. We are still before the critical mass event, the phase transition. Adobe tried with FrameMaker, but withdrew. They were probably right at the time. But expect, as KDE/Gnome, Mozilla and OpenOffice mature and make at least for some large subset -- millions -- of mostly corporate users the Linux-only desktop a realistic proposition, also here the floodgates to suddenly open, as eggs beget chickens beget eggs, into a self-fulfilling, self-perpetuating process.

The knives will be long and sharp."

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Gratuitous Editorial Commentary:
For those following from home, the desktop-status-o-meter now has several positions to aid in assigning a given column's stance on the issue to a continuum:

  • dead (a.k.a. "astroturfers under every bed")
  • dead for now (a.k.a. "The pundit's hedge")
  • getting there
  • already there for me, forget the rest of you
  • already there, period
  • already there but not on the desktop as we know it (a.k.a. "The O'Reilly Equivocation", a.k.a. "Treasonous abdication to Redmond")
  • irrelevant (a.k.a. "The Burned Out Editor" Stance)

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