Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Sematext Blog, Ian Khan

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Linux Containers

Open Source Cloud: Article

The Linux Desktop Marches On

There was a time when you couldn't shut me up about the Linux desktop

There was a time when you couldn't shut me up about the Linux desktop. I was a fanatic. In 2000, I made the switch to a full-time virus-free Linux desktop and weeks of crash-free computing. I was a zealot. However, I did suffer from a few of the alternative operating systems shortcomings. My preferred desktop vendor deemed my Linux laptop1 unsupported, so if I ever had a problem, I had to boot into Windows to receive assistance. When someone sent me a macro-laden spreadsheet, I was forced to run Excel within a virtualized Windows instance2 to read the document as intended. Finally, when it came to wireless, I suffered a multitude of connection problems. While I loved the speed, the stability, and the security, it lacked convenience.

In the fall of 2006, I sold out; I flipped to another operating system - Mac OS X. I still had a bash shell, UNIX stability, and many of the benefits of my Linux desktop, but I also got manufacturer support for peripherals (specifically my EVDO broadband card to which I have become addicted) and support for my operating system. I didn't go cold turkey; in fact I continued to run a Windows and an Ubuntu Linux virtual machine on my desktop thanks to Parallels. I justified my move to OS X as an open source-inspired operating system3 owing its lineage to BSD. At the heart of my move was a combination of a need for applications and for support for a number of peripherals required for my day job. However, I think I might have acted to quickly.

Despite my personal sellout, I have become even more bullish on the Linux desktop than ever before. You see since my acquisition of a shiny, silver MacBook Pro, the world of the Linux desktop has changed. First, and foremost, Ubuntu - the wildly popular Linux desktop - has come on like gangbusters in the last two years. In January 2006, I published a book4 offering advice for business users on migrating to Linux desktops. I meticulously spelled out all the advantages - stability, security, low cost - and warned of pitfalls - application availability and manufacturer hardware support. In that time I talked about Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Novell SuSE Linux, Debian, Linspire, Xandros, and a few others but made little, if any, mention of Ubuntu. Shortly thereafter I started using Ubuntu, and since then I can't think of single conversation on the Linux desktop where I haven't mentioned the community-driven, financially backed Canonical creation.

On May 1 2007, Dell5, through a partnership with Canonical, the company that sponsors Ubuntu, announced that they would be shipping desktop and notebook products with Ubuntu 7.04. This was a big coup for desktop Linux as this is not Dell's only desktop Linux offering, but pre-installed Linux laptops also implies support for all included hardware from the manufacturer. That's a huge step forward in desktop Linux adoption. Many organizations want to procure their desktop and laptops from a single source. Now, at least those that use Dell can procure both Windows and Linux laptops from a single source. Availability in existing supply channels, in my opinion, is critical for corporate adoption that progress has been made through this deal.

Another point of encouragement is the high-profile philanthropic desktop Linux program - One Laptop per Child (OLPC). OLPC is as much an education initiative as one for Linux desktop adoption. This project aspires to put low-cost computers into the hands of children in developing countries, giving them access to online learning. On May 12, 2007, Uruguay President Vasquez inaugurated the first laptop school in Villa Cardal where 150 children received OLPC laptops. Over the course of the upcoming years, the goal is to put Linux laptops into the hands of children throughout the world. Should OLPC be successful, they will put millions of Linux computers into hands, increasing the ranks of open source users substantially.

In addition, based on lessons that they learned while partnering with the OLPC project, Red Hat launched a new desktop product on May 9, 2007: the Red Hat Global Desktop, a new commercial client operating system. This was a divergence from former Red Hat Linux desktops that consistently mirrored the Red Hat server products. The Red Hat CTO ushered in the new desktop product saying, "Users, requirements, and technologies have changed so dramatically over the past few years that the traditional one-size-fits-all desktop paradigm is simply exhausted. Our strategy is to deliver technologies that are specifically appropriate to these varied constituents, all based on open standards." In addition to this new product, Intel announced that they would, in partnership with Red Hat, offer pre-certified, cost-effective PCs in Intel's reseller channel running the new desktop Linux product.

A final encouraging note is the emergence of cross-distribution application vendors. Specifically an offering announced by Linspire in January to bring one-click deployment of Linux applications to not only their own distributions, Linspire and Freespire, but also Debian, Fedora, OpenSuSE, and Ubuntu. This is an interesting step as it eases adoption of open source and commercial applications uniformly across Linux distributions. It also provides a legal way for desktop users to download commercial codecs for playing Windows Multimedia files and solves other problems associated with delivering commercial or proprietary applications to open source platforms. While I am a fan of Linspire, the truly interesting point is the emergence of cross-distribution desktop vendors. This would almost be analogous to having Windows Update work for Mac OS and Solaris as well as Windows.

My prediction is not that there is an upcoming flood of desktop Linux users. Nor am I trying to position Linux as a David to the Goliath we know as Microsoft. What I do know is that Linux will continue to improve and become a viable alternative to today's mainstream desktops; that support from companies like Red Hat, Dell, Intel, and Canonical will cause slow and steady expansion into the developed and the developing world.

Other Links
• Ubuntu: www.ubuntu.com
• Parallels: www.parallels.com
• Linspire: www.linspire.com
• One Laptop Per Child: www.laptop.org

Endnotes

  1. At this point I was using a Dell Inspirion 9100 running SUSE Linux.
  2. I would typically run Windows 98, with Microsoft Office from within Win4Lin. I was COO of Win4Lin Inc. at that time.
  3. Mac OS X release 10.0 Cheetah was released in March 2001; it was based substantially on the BSD operating system.
  4. Windows to Linux Business Migration by Mark R. Hinkle. Charles River Media, January 2006.
  5. Announcement was made via Direct2Dell Blog - http://direct2dell.com/one2one/archive/2007/05/01/13147.aspx

More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Infernoz 06/25/07 07:12:17 PM EDT

Did you even try OpenOffice 2.2 or Wine, or is this just another fluff piece?

@ThingsExpo Stories
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to connect your brand strategy with the right consumer. 24Notion ranked #12 on Corporate Social Responsibility - Book of List.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sheng Liang to Keynote at SYS-CON's 19th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1-3, 2016 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your ...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Adobe is changing the world though digital experiences. Adobe helps customers develop and deliver high-impact experiences that differentiate brands, build loyalty, and drive revenue across every screen, including smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs. Adobe content solutions are used daily by millions of companies worldwide-from publishers and broadcasters, to enterprises, marketing agencies and household-name brands. Building on its established design leadership, Adobe enables customers not o...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
“We're a global managed hosting provider. Our core customer set is a U.S.-based customer that is looking to go global,” explained Adam Rogers, Managing Director at ANEXIA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT de...