Skip navigation

Time to queue up 2009's first 'Year of the Linux Desktop' joke

Well, maybe not.

In this New York Times article, Ubuntu Linux is the focus, and I'm OK with that: Ubuntu is, by a wide margin, the only Linux version that has any chance (albeit one of the snowball in hell variety) of succeeding with consumers. But I think the key here is not "consumers in the US and other developed nations" but rather "new computer users in emerging markets."

Created just over four years ago, Ubuntu (pronounced oo-BOON-too) has emerged as the fastest-growing and most celebrated version of the Linux operating system, which competes with Windows primarily through its low, low price: $0.

More than 10 million people are estimated to run Ubuntu today, and they represent a threat to Microsoft’s hegemony in developed countries and perhaps even more so in those regions catching up to the technology revolution.

“If we’re successful, we would fundamentally change the operating system market,” Mr. Shuttleworth said during a break at the gathering, the Ubuntu Developer Summit. “Microsoft would need to adapt, and I don’t think that would be unhealthy.”

The article is worth reading. But I'd like to point out that, for the mainstream tech market, the notion that Linux is ever going to compete effectively with Windows is somewhat laughable. In fact, most people feel that Linux has been bypassed by Mac OS X in that regard, even though Apple's system continues to hover below the 4 percent market share figure worldwide.

But I wonder if that's fair. As I noted in an earlier blog post, Keith Curtis, a former Microsoft employee, has just published a book in which he argues that Linux and other open source software solutions will eventually bury the software giant. You can find that book, After the Software Wars, here.

I've run numerous kinds of Linux since the mid-1990s, but maybe I need to be paying more attention to this stuff.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.