Linux

Is there a desktop Linux revolution?


DesktopLinux.com's admittedly non-scientific recent poll indicates that the number of desktop Linux users has more than doubled since last year. Unsurprisingly, Ubuntu is the favorite distribution. In his discussion of the results, Steven Vaughan-Nichols points out that whatever one may think of the poll's accuracy, Dell and Lenovo probably aren't preloading Linux just for kicks.

Further anecdotal evidence for the recent upsurge in Linux users is that -- in my previously all-Windows household -- there is now a Mac laptop in the family, as well as a dual-booting desktop with Ubuntu installed. I certainly hear from more people who are thinking about Linux as an alternative to their extreme Windows fatigue. Is it because no one wants to drop hundreds of dollars on complicated software any more when there are iPhones, Blu-Ray players, and plasma TVs to buy? I just think it's interesting that more home users seem to be considering Linux even while their workplaces are still Windows-bound. Is it possible that the long-awaited, always-on-the-horizon Linux revolution may arrive not via the Geeks, but by consumers worn out by Microsoft?

Not to mention, this may finally be the year for the Chicago Cubs! (Somehow, that just seems to fit.)

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

20 comments
rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

1) The poll wasn't just "non-scientific", it was completely cooked from the get go. It was more along the lines of a MS paid for "study". 2) Ubuntu may be the flavor of the week today, but wait a year and we'll see. That's one of Linux's problems. Not enough consistency. 3) I personally believe that Dell and Lenovo offering Linux is a publicity stunt. Wait 6 months to a year and the offers will be pulled for lack of volume, profit, etc. 4) "hundreds of dollars on complicated software"? What is that all about? One can buy a brand spanking new PC nowadays (grant it not the best in the world) for $300 with Windows on it along with everything else under the sun. The equivalent Linux based PC cost the same or sometimes more. 5) The only fatigue out there is this. PC's and software have gotten so fast, so powerful that the average everyday user doesn't need the latest and greatest from either MS or Linux or the hardware makers. Unless you are into photography, gaming, video, etc a new $300 PC should last for many, many years. I mean really, what other features can we stuff into a word processor, a spreadsheet, etc? Does my grandma really need a duo core or quad core PC with 2-4 GB of RAM? She plays solitaire and browses the web and that's about it.

martin_ozolin
martin_ozolin

The system which will be able to access a file while it is hibernating, may not need more than 10% processor power. The operating system with most clock free interrupts is bound to win. Just like us humans who need to wake up to go for a pee, but haven't finished file management.

DC101
DC101

I feel Ubuntu is going pretty big at the moment, this is good since it is a great os. Although openSuse, fedora, and freespire haven't been getting as much recognition as Ubuntu. If people keep getting linux distrobutions eventually they could top microsoft with a bit of luck.

nedvis
nedvis

I certainly think Linux is something which will revolutionize cyberspace. RedHat, Novell, Canonical and other commercial Linux vendor are already making big money on this elegant Unix clone operating system and 30 + million people worldwide running Linux code on their machines cannot be wrong. I'm running PCLinuxOS and Debian Etch on my four home computers and on two computers at work. I have helped more than ten people to install and configure Linux on their aging computers and I also managed to sell couple Linux PC. I've got four more computers all running PCLinuxOS which I want to donate to charities or people willing to have their hands on TUX machines.

DanLM
DanLM

Sorry, just too easy to not pass up. Dan

JPRuiz
JPRuiz

With all the bugs and complexities of the new Windows Vista, whatever alternatives people have are worth considering. If you have one that does not cost you that much money, all the more reason to at least give it a shot. Apparently, people like the alternative.

groenem
groenem

I use Kubuntu (KDE version of Ubuntu) and I love it. With MS Windows, you have to dig deep into your pocket everytime you want the newest version. With Linux, I just click on Fetch Update and the system upgrades to the newest and most current version available for free. And Linux updates the OS and the applications installed, whereas Windows only updates the OS. I can't wait for the day when the hardware vendors all support Linux (printers, cellphones, modems). For a Home user, money saving is the deciding factor.

Fred123456
Fred123456

The reality of nux is their is no leader. If you remember the year or two before MAC OS went the way of the unix kernal, people were predicting that Apple was going to unite the Linux world. Beleave me when I say I was all for it, in fact I'm still all for a viable Microsoft alternative, but its not looking like its going to happen. Back in the late 90s Sun was at a point to do it but lost out when it turned its attention to Java and the web and decided not to enter the home user market. It will take a large company with the money to market a product to replace the MS OS. And though MS Windows has its security issues and tends to have some glitches, people still buy it and still associate home based computing with it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The pole taken was never intended to be scientific and to be "cooked", it would have to be more than a "hey, if you run a Linux based OS among your other things then why not answer a few questions in passing". That doesn't compare the the truly "cooked" research presented by big industry think tanks and highly financed by an interested party. (didn't you get the momo; Microsoft dropped the "get the FUD" campain website, maybe you should too.) I agree though that Ubuntu is the flavor of the week. Maybe it'll be the flavor of the month or year. Either way, the intention of the distrobution was to make a Linux based OS that was geared towards average users. What's your problem with that? Are you afraid of alittle competition with your own pet OS? As for the second part of your point 2, *choice* is why people like alternatives to Windows and it's scaring the hell out of Microsoft these days. (oh no! The commoners have discovered free will and are attacking the lord of the land.. run.. flee) As for point three, perhaps it is a publicity stunt but we'll both have to wait and see since speculation either way only serves a personal interest. I hope they don't pull the offering but it's big business and could change as easily as the board of directors. Either way, Lenovo's machines are some of the best hardware collections to run Linux and BSD based OS on. Again though, that just gives the end user more choice. It's nice to see the end user benefiting instead of the reseller (what was your business again?). As for four; Windows is complicated software often unnecessarily so. But buggy complexity must be what justifies that 300$ to 600$ end user license fee. But then, even on the low end that would be "hundreds" so I don't see where you find fault with that either. As for five; you must not actually be talking to people. Microsoft is having to resort to heavy handed retail to get Vista adoption in most placed and many end users are not impressed with this latest offering. It's not a finished product mind you and I've no doubt it will get better as the bugs are worked out but end users tired of putting up with Microsoft's BS isn't too outlandish an observation. No, most people don't need the latest and greatest hardware to check email and write a letter to Aunt Sally and (oh snap!) that low end hardware runs Linux distros pretty well these days. If only the higher end hardware vendors would pull Microsoft's thumb out of there @zz and support there hardware not a single brand of software for use *with* there hardware. I'm not sure how the last bit remotely relates to a casual poll of end users choice in software. A discussion of low end hardware seems completely irrelevant but I'll go back and read the thread encase I missed something. Admittedly, this hasn't been my most diplomatic response but it's just been one of those days and this pissy snide post of yours probably read a great deal more antagonistically than it was meant. Ironically, I'm proabably about 50/50 for agreeing with your comments on this one. As of late, your posts of tended to be constructive and intelligent up until the last few days. What happened? One of the other regulars get up under your kilt and now you gotta take it out on anyone who mentions something outside your personal preferences in a remotely favorable light? (perhaps I'd best go morn a loss and leave any further posting for another day. I'm surly not in the right mindset today.)

jlwallen
jlwallen

amazing that not 5 years ago saying 30+ million users.... would only have applied to MS.

Selena Frye
Selena Frye

I mean they've been to the World Series TWICE in the last 15 years!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

A computer company as large as IBM and it's Unix mainframes could never be replaced by a viable alternative from some obscure software company with its (what did they call it?) DOS computer program. No, to challenge IBM's monopoly hold on the computer market it would have to be some other large company with as much money to market a product to replace IBM Unix in the workplace. (if anyone didn't get the joke, you need to reread your computer history in greater detail)

Absolutely
Absolutely

Different groups develop the Linux kernel for different markets, agreed. Does that really imply absence of leadership? There's certainly leadership within each distribution. Beyond that, each responds to the markets they've chosen to pursue. I think the variety of Linux distros (which does make it a less appealing desktop replacement for most casual users) is a symptom of the presence of healthy competition, outside the "jurisdiction" of Microsoft, not any lack of leadership.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

Why is it that anytime I or anyone else disagrees with you, we get attacked? Is it you that is so insecure in your position that you have to have a rebuttal to all my comments? Or is it the opposite of what you accuse me of 24/7? Maybe you're the one with the attitude...not sure.

DanLM
DanLM

But I just moved here and I never followed baseball before. Also my girlfriend is a HUGE Indians fan. Actually, all sports teams that are Cleveland. So, if I wish to have a happy home. Chuckle, I will cheer on the home team. Except the browns that is. roflmao, sorry. I'm a die hard steelers fan. Lived in PA all my life, and just because I left the state doesn't mean I leave my team alliances behind. Dan

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Also, the biggest point of confusion I hear is due to looking at Linux distributions like Windows. Linux based OS A does not equal Linux based OS B even if all the parts come from the same fabrication factories. Microsoft's Windows brand has been built to look very much like different versions of the same OS; it's all the same OS in either workstation or server configurations and older or newer generations (versions would be more compatible). A new Windows OS release like Vista tends to clearly demonstrate that they are completely new OS with some backward compatibility rather than newer versions of the same evolving OS but most people don't look at software in that level of detail. The problem with looking at other OS through the Windows coloured classes we've all grown up wearing is that each distribution of Linux or BSD is a separate and distinct OS. They may be built with the same commodity parts but they are as different as two different manufacturer's cars build from the same commodity parts. Your not choosing between hundreds of Linuxs and BSDs; your choosing between four Mandriva OS, two Debian OS, a PCLinuxOS, four Ubuntu OS, two Suse OS, a CentOS, a FreeBSD, an OpenBSD and so on. Each may happen to use a Linux or BSD kernel but they are separate distributions and OS. The first taste of true freedom of choice is overwelming for most so they simplify it down to looking at all the *nix as a single group. Maybe it's the fairly interchangable parts, use of industry standards and true interoperability that is so confusing. 90% of the computer market is used to Windows only working with Windows seamlessly ;D . That last bit is mostly humour but more seriously, we'll have to wait and see how Suse turns out. I'd like to think Suse will then be able to give back to FOSS so that other *nix OS can learn to work with Windows AD and protocols better but the pessimist in me smells a license lock-in to keep that portion of source from being available outside of Novell.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

In the Q&A Section and continually make a fool of yourself. There is a major difference between the way that Hardware works and what an OS any OS can do. :D Think next time before you make an even bigger fool of yourself. :^0 Col

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If it wasn't for differences of opinion, we'd all be running the same vanilla software, driving the same car and worshiping the same communist leader. No, I've said many times, it's not disagreement I'm responding too. You must realize though that it's very easy to tell someone they are completely wrong without choosing wording to make them seem an idiot for not have the same experiences you have. I openly welcome your disagreement if you can express yourself without denigrating the person you respond too. Pretend for a moment that this is a conversation had in person and your not hiding behind keyboard courage. You've been around the news forums long enough to know exacly how your snide choice of wording reads to others so there's really no excuse is there? As for attitude problem; how many OS do you run regularily? Seems that if it was a simply "my way is the only right way" attitude problem then I sure wouldn't be running, learning and enjoying five or more choices of OS. (for me, these days; the Windows family members I have license for, Linux distros, osX, BSD and I'm working on getting Haiku and Plan9 installed to VM. You still only touch Win32/64 systems these days or are you finally working on learning something else to the point where you can provide balanced comparisons?) Honestly though; yesterday was just a very bad day and I should have avoided the forums and posting. I can admit that openly. I left the post up for the few bits of information that other's may find worth considering but that was after considering an edit to scrub the post completely. (Edit) I forgot to clarify, my overly detailed responses is simply a reaction to your historical tendency to nit pick over each word. Some days it seems that if the post isn't written like a legal document instead of casual conversation in a new forum you'll simply decided on your own interpretation and try to run a tangent off the thread (ie. discussing low hardware requirnments for limited use users without showing how it remotely related to the short blog posting).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I read both posts and didn't find either of them to be aggressive, rude, or snarky. Maybe a little snide, but nothing of a Maxwell Edison level of attack. Just me, I guess.

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