Feeds

Choice breeds complexity for Linux desktop

New tricks for old dog

New hybrid storage solutions

The success of the Everex gPC this month raises once again the possibility that Linux can make inroads into the desktop market. In stock at Walmart, initial sales of the gPC caused panic on a scale comparable to the recent stock market panic. Not only has the gPC sold well - it has also proved popular.

It helps that gPC ticks all the right boxes. It claims to be fashionably "green" - hence the "g". At $199, it is ridiculously inexpensive. And it comes with a pre-packaged Linux-based operating system. Perhaps more importantly, the gPC is a basic, stripped-down device, suited to simple tasks such as word processing, e-mail and acting as a client for online applications. This is all a lot of computer users want.

The "Linux is set to take over the desktop" story is, of course, a seasoned perennial that invariably provokes a strong reaction from the developer community. But despite its acknowledged technical superiority, its success as a base for servers and its position as a low-cost alternative to Microsoft's Windows software, Linux-based desktops have so far failed to attract desktop users in significant numbers. Statistics from W3C and a recent Linux community survey show it running behind even Apple's Mac OS/X with around two per cent of desktops.

The gPC and Dell's decision earlier this year to offer a pre-packaged Unbuntu Linux deal aside, the future for Linux on the desktop still looks quiet - despite hopeful predictions of its success. A recent report from Forrester forecasts 2008 as the year when Vista - not Linux - will start to erode the current dominance of Windows XP. Forrester estimates that about 40 per cent of corporate users in the USA and Europe will have moved to Vista by the end of next year.

There are lots of reasons why Linux has not ousted Windows - many of them nothing to do with technology or logic and more to do with politics. Nevertheless there are still outstanding technical issues - not least is the problem of fragmentation that confuses users and developers alike. A quick scan of a Distrowatch more than illustrates the simple point - yes I know I like Linux - but which version?

It is not only fragmentation. Linux is also in danger of becoming the operating system that "does everything". Linus Torvald noted in a recent interview that you can find Linux everywhere from a supercomputer to a mobile telephone.

While such broad flexibility could be a good thing, and will be welcomed by enthusiasts, it complicates development of Linux in the world of desktop software and makes the idea of a "mass-market" desktop for Linux - that echoes the Windows desktop market - harder to achieve.®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.