Every year for the past seven years — since 1999, if you’re counting — someone has come forward and made a bold claim that Linux desktops are ready to have a breakout year. This year’s candidate is Novell President Ron Hovsepian, who is now predicting that market conditions are ripe for Linux desktops to make major gains in the next 12-18 months.

Forgive me if I’m not the first person to go out and buy a Suse-powered laptop. My problem is that I’ve heard this claim so many times that I have a hard time getting worked up about it. So many Linux distributions and tools have been hailed as THE ONE to break the Windows-Office stranglehold over desktops that I have a hard remembering all of the names. Here’s few of them … Mandrake, Linspire, Codeweavers, Corel Linux, Eazel, StarOffice, OpenOffice, Ubuntu, and on and on and on. Many of them have long since faded into obscurity while the others still have plenty to prove to a mass audience.

Ron Hovsepian now comes forward and says that Novell’s Suse Linux Desktop 10 is prepared to make a major move in three markets:

  1. Large corporations
  2. Small businesses
  3. The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China)

And Novell is supposedly the company to execute and deliver Linux to these markets? Novell’s underwhelming marketing power aside, I just don’t see any of those three market segments being ready to jump into the arms of Linux desktops any time soon. I bet they will continue to utilize and grow Linux servers in their NOCs, but most end users have a hard enough time with Windows desktops right now, and in terms of usability, Linux is still years behind Windows (and Mac). Plus, because so many line-of-business apps are optimized or customized for Windows clients,  Linux is automatically eliminated from consideration in a large number of those businesses.

So, Linux on the desktop will get big in the next 12-18 months? I’ll believe it when I see it.