No, Linux is not dead on the desktop

In today's open source roundup: Linux is not dead on the desktop. Plus: The city of Munich switches to Linux and saves millions, and how to find the best desktop for new Linux users

There are certain constants in life, and one of them is a never-ending spate of predictions that Linux is dead on the desktop. It's inevitable that we see these kinds of article popping up every once in a while. CIO has one of the latest examples of this as it tries to make the case that Linux is dead on the desktop.

According to CIO:

All of experts agree – Windows won every battle for the business user. Mac OS has surged a bit lately, they argue, but the prospect of handing a Linux laptop to end users are long gone. Linux has a stranglehold on the workstation market, for developers, and on tablets and phones. It's time the enterprise decided Linux on a business laptop is finally, totally dead.

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Linux dead on the desktop

Bah! I hate having to wade through these kinds of articles, but it's necessary to answer them lest the perception take root that "Linux is doomed!" and all the usual blather that goes along with such nonsense. Every single time I read one of these articles my eyes roll into the back of my head and various profanities burst from my lips.

The article focuses on the corporate desktop, but as we all know there has been a revolution going on inside companies as people move their focus from desktop computers to mobile devices. And Linux has been a part of that via Android and Chrome OS since the very beginning. And let's not forget that we'll soon have phones and tablets coming from Canonical that run Ubuntu.

The author acknowledges the transition to mobile, but then downplays it and focuses back on Windows on the desktop. Well, if Windows is still the main OS being used on the desktop then who's fault is that exactly? I hardly think that the users can be blamed for that, it's much more likely the IT department that is making those kinds of decisions.

The power of IT departments to control the choices of their users is slowly but surely fading away, however. And that will eventually have long-term ramifications for Linux inside companies. The BYOD movement shows no sign of slowing down, and it is forcing IT companies to make way for non-Windows operating systems and devices.

One of the more irritating points in the article is about the supposed lack of applications. I found this section to be completely absurd. There are thousands and thousands of desktop Linux applications available in most distributions. And if Windows applications are necessary, it is quite easy to run them via VirtualBox, Wine or CrossOver.

I think the article really should be renamed to: Is Linux dead on the corporate-business-executive desktop? It would be a much more accurate headline than the current one, which gives the misleading impression that Linux has failed completely on the desktop in all markets. Well that's not true at all. There is so much more to desktop Linux than just the corporate IT world.

Think I'm kidding? Then take a look at this list of switchers to Linux from Wikipedia. Many countries have already switched to Linux on the desktop. or have plans to do so in the near future. The list is so long that there's no way I can repeat all of it here in this roundup.

Governments aside, the Wikipedia article also contains a list of companies that are using Linux on the desktop. Here's a brief sample of companies that have been using Linux on the desktop, I think you'll recognize the names of some of them:


Dreamworks Animation


London Stock Exchange


And that's just a few of the companies listed in the Wikipedia article, and it doesn't include governments and other large institutions that often have hundreds of thousands of desktop users. Go ahead, take a look at the entire list and then tell me that Linux is dead on the desktop.

But what about individuals? Let's remember that the list on Wikipedia does not include any of the millions and millions of individual users around the world who run Linux on the desktop each day. Individual Linux users are often overlooked, but they are there and their computing choices matter just as much as those of any government or company.

Desktop Linux isn't dead, it's alive and well. And it's just getting started.

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