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The Linux Desktop Space is no Place to Concede --   OP/ED          

Linux Desktop Space is no Place to Concede
by Walter V. Koenning for the OPINION/EDITORIAL section on

In this op/ed article, Walter offers a reply to an earlier article by Andrea that Linux on the desktop is going away.

The argument goes something to the affect that "since there is a movement towards enabling more devices at work and schools, the desktop no longer really matters."

I understand my colleague Andrea's passion for mobile devices and social media, but her conclusions seem seriously flawed. The reason I am writing this article is to ensure people understand the great value of Linux on the Desktop.

I sit here typing on a full sized keyboard in front of my 28 inch wide screen LCD, and it is impossible to ignore the other twenty workstations around me.

The desktop is not going to disappear suddenly because there is a movement to include mobile devices. On the contrary, I see years in which a business will adopt a multitude of new devices, and the infrastructure needed to make them all work coherently.

I do not see desktops being pulled out of the office space, thrown into a dumpster and replaced with a tablet.

Imagine the uproar if the staff here walked in next week and found tablets. I guess we could get our Facebook pages made easily, but not much else would be completed.

In defence of Andrea's well-meaning but seriously flawed report (Say Goodbye to Linux on the Desktop), she probably based her conclusions on several demos we watched at a trade show.

In one demo, an Android based smartphone was slowly moved closer to a desk where blue tooth enabled devices (mouse, keyboard, LCD and printer) automatically sync'ed and activated as the smartphone approached. What the demo showed is that eventually, yes even I can see the writing on the wall, eventually our smartphones will be powerful enough to basically serve as the CPU for "desktop" applications.

Ubuntu already promotes this premise with the "Ubuntu on Android" where a smartphone now also offers you a full desktop experience. See Ubuntu for Android.

But I must add, this grand day where smartphones replace the desktop CPU and talk to all the devices seamlessly is not appearing any time soon. In the meantime there are thousands upon thousands of institutions, government offices, businesses that will still require workstations that can handle desktop applications like OpenOffice.

" there are thousands upon thousands of institutions, government offices, businesses that will still require workstations "

Granted, the numbers are diminishing as some office staff are loosened to use tablets and smartphones. But for the majority of us, I may add that actually have a lot of computer work to do, we still need our trusty desktops. If not for the productivity, then for the shear fact they are already sitting here in front of us and no one is going to throw out perfectly functional tools.

Submitting this premise then, I can go on to say that Linux on the Desktop, yes the workstation we all keep declaring is dead, is an essential and important part of the future.

I offer that in the next few years, as Microsoft places itself in a precarious place with its own Windows offering focused around mobile devices, the desktop space will open wider for Linux use and open source applications. In fact, I propose that right now the desktop space is a perfect place to see Linux expansion as there are so many new advantages, with Google Apps, and cloud solutions only making the option to leave Microsoft Windows and entertain the benefits of Linux a greater reality.

Linux on the desktop is therefore essential and unequivocally a vital facet of our community's growth, no matter how much the "devices" world may expand.

To Andrea and the lot who think the desktop is going the way of the dodo bird, I offer:

1. The Linux desktop market is growing, not declining.

2. Most people work in environments with workstations that are not going to be replaced by tablets or a smartphone at least not for a long time.

3. The massive expansion of Open Source Software makes the value proposition to move a desktop to Linux greater not less.

4. Ubuntu and a plethora of other distros are already seeing the advantage of being available across platforms, not isolating to specific platforms.

5. Tablets are not the replacement tool for anything, they are an adjunct tool.

6. Smartphones are still tied to a core telephony role and thereby costs associated with their purchase, integration and maintenance are currently higher than many desktop workstation solutions.

7. The more platforms Linux is used on, the better for everyone.

I hope this settles the often ridiculous debate about desktops and Linux's future. It looks bright, desktops are not going away and I for one will not let go of this workstation running Linux unless it is pried from my cold dead hands.

Walter V. Koenning is a technology writer and provides insights regarding industry trends. He contributes on occasion to the OPINION/EDITORIAL segments.

This brief opinion piece should not be construed as factual information, and only contains the opinions and personal experiences of the author at the time of publication. could not find information in this article that at the time of publication was inaccurate. However, the opinions and personal experiences that have been posted do not express the opinions of and are NOT endorsed in any way. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft and Microsoft Windows are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation both in the United States and Internationally. All other trademarks or registered trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners.

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