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YEAR of the PENGUIN: A Linux mobile in 2015?

Choh. Just as they sort the desktop out, bloody PCs disappear

It's nearly impossible to sum up an entire year of developments in something as large and nebulous as the world of desktop Linux, especially in a year like this one which has seen some the best releases that projects like Mint, Fedora and openSUSE have put out to date.

At the same time the distro that's closest to being a household name, Ubuntu, has been nearly silent since 14.04 arrived in April.

To paraphrase author Charles Dickens, the past year of Linux releases has been both the best of times and the worst of times.

At the very moment that Linux desktops seem to be reaching new levels of sophistication, polish and "just works" ease-of-use, the entire future of the desktop computer (by which I also mean laptop) feels in doubt.

No, the desktop is not dead yet, but it increasingly feels as though, for the general use case anyway, the mobile device offers most of what the user needs.

A tablet may not be top of the holiday wish list for self-professed power users, but for most it's enough to check email, browse the web and upload some images. Combine that with better battery life, smaller, lighter form factors and you can understand why Canonical spent the better part of year working on its mobile interface.

The good news, for those of us not likely to be ditching the desktop or laptop any time soon, is that 2014 saw the Linux desktop hit a level of polish and sophistication that quite frankly, well, surpasses what's available from Windows 8 or OS X Yosemite.

Naturally that's a very subjective statement, but go download Ubuntu 8.04 (the gateway drug, if you will, for many of today's desktop Linux users) and install it alongside Mint 17.1. Suffice to say that these are great days to be a Linux user.

Perhaps it's fitting that just as it would appear that the days of the desktop PC as the device of choice for the home are numbered, desktop Linux finally surpasses its closed-source competitors. Bug number one is closed and no one cares, it would seem. Maybe this is the way it was destined to be all along - the only people around for the just-out-of-reach "Year of the Linux Desktop" will be those of us who've been having our personal year of the Linux desktop for decades, if not more.

Still, the final days of the desktop seem to be producing an embarrassment of riches at least. And I'll take it.

It used to be that when I sat down to write one of these year in review pieces I would talk about how Ubuntu had continued to refine the desktop Linux experience. Then it'd be a struggle to find something else interesting to comment on.

This year Ubuntu is just one of half a dozen distros that put out amazing new releases. Ubuntu is arguably one of the least interesting of the year.

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