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Say Goodbye to Linux on the Desktop --   OP/ED          

Say Goodbye to Linux on the Desktop
by Andrea W. Cordingly for

In this op/ed article, Andrea offers some candid advice for why Linux future rides on the devices wave.

Read the rebuttal to this article by Walter here on this link.

In our strategy meetings, the team at tend to start the month with big questions, for instance "where's Linux desktop expansion now?"  But this month, when we had our meeting our Senior Editor basically wiped the question from the whiteboard and wrote these words:  Linux on Devices matters.

The battle to position Linux on the desktop has always been tenuous.  Because the OEM relationships, discussed by Walter (read Why Linux on the Desktop is Wrong) and marketing dollars will always promote the proprietary solutions.

However, the advancement of mobile devices and the major shift to cloud based data storage and applications delivery means that the "desktop" space is perhaps no longer an area worth fighting to gain a share.

Many corporations and government departments are already getting this point.  Devices that offer their staff flexibility and mobility are becoming essential tools, not just cutting edge tech toys.  There is strong evidence to support that even more leaders will opt to allow devices to replace the core tools currently used, as seen with the trend to Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD).

Tablets, netbooks and the increasingly enhanced smartphones are becoming king tools, while sitting at a desk and typing is slowly becoming a limiting factor to many employees.  Employers know this, and many companies are now changing the way they enable and allow devices to be used.

Desktops (workstations/laptops/pick your own name) use to be perceived as the primary tool, and required licensing, central management, with all software homogeneous across offices, across users.

As this old model fades, the emphasis on getting people access to Linux and Open Source solutions within the old desktop world also fades.

Instead, if we in the Linux community can emphasize the incredible power and flexibility of the new breed of devices (smartphones with 5.3" touchscreens, tablets with high resolution and processing power) we gain so much more. 

There is plenty of evidence that the device market share is expanding massively including: this example, and this one, and even this one.

These new devices are precisely the area in which 1. There are few OEM relationships formed, and 2. OpenSource software actually improves the user experience far more than most licensed software.

In reality, promoting these devices is a perfect catalyst for further Open Source and Linux market share expansion, and frankly within a few years total domination.

I submit that we must encourage everyone in the OSS community to focus far less on the desktop share (an area that is dwindling even for Microsoft) and focus on the ever increasing numbers of devices users who need solutions and applications that are cross platform, simple to obtain and easy to use.

Look at some of the facts.  Windows is substantially behind in the devices market, Apple's share of the pot is restricted by their own single user to single device model, and Linux as well as numerous Open Source solutions are the best value proposition in the devices space.

Now is as good a time as any to say goodbye to Linux on the desktop as a focus, and to emphasize the power and ROI gained from using Linux and Open Source solutions on devices.

Andrea contributes regularly to the op/ed section as well as on occasion to the user guides. Windows and Microsoft are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation, both in the USA and internationally. All other trademarks and registered trademarks belong to their respective companies.

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