March of the penguin

Will Linux finally achieve “world domination” this year?


Linux proponent predicts “banner year” for open source operating system – here’s our two cents.


There have been some heady predictions for 2014
tumbling around the internet this week – many of them focused on
open source. Over at TechRepublic, they reckon the coming year
promises to be a banner one for Linux (hm, where have we heard that

It’s been over twenty years since the little penguin
waddled its way into the big leagues, and over the decades, has
conquered servers and (on the back of Android) smartphones alike.
Yet there’s one platform that Linux still has yet to conquer,
despite years of trying: the almighty desktop.

Once this ‘final frontier’ is crossed, something
sysadmin and author Carla Schroder reckons will
happen at last in 2014
, it’ll finally have achieved world

On top of this, Schroder writes that she also expects
“exponential growth in every arena”, and, on top of winning the
desktop war, makes several further “bold” (as she admits herself)
claims. The first being that the Linux kernel will continue to
dominate for years to come. Second, after years of hyperbolic
speculation, via the Trojan horse of the cute, consumer friendly
Android variant, Linux will finally topple the domination of
“porous lardy Microsoft Windows” on the retail computer market.

Schroder isn’t the only one talking up the impending
Linux colonization of the desktop. Over on Techrepublic,
Jack Wallen predicts
that the open source OS’s market share on
desktop – by which he means only traditional keyboard-and-mouse
devices – will “break double digits”. A rather significant jump,
considering that in 2013, Linux share in this field was a meagre

Dizzying growth is known to exist within the tech
industry (look at the
crazy sales of Apple’s mobile devices
), but for Linux this
seems less than likely. Wallen lists a couple of reasons: that the
end of official support for Windows XP will result in enterprises
exploring cheaper upgrade options, and that the rise of pre-loaded
Linux from mainstream OEMs like Dell and HP.

But let’s be honest: if it’s taken companies this long to
upgrade, what are the odds they’ll be bothered by Microsoft’s new
patches? As for pre-loaded devices, don’t expect them to front a
global marketing campaign anytime soon. Dell’s XPS laptop with
, for example, is branded “Developer Edition”, and
it’s difficult to miss the “Dell recommends Windows” message in the
corner of the page. Ironically, the incredibly restrictive Chrome
OS will probably become the most popular desktop OS built on the
Linux kernel.

Android’s dominance, too, is something of a hollow victory
for Linux. Even if it does result in a shift away from Windows,
Android’s development takes place in secret, and its core apps
being replaced with Google’s proprietary updates
. At
least CyanogenMod provides a truly open distribution, even if it’s
yet to blip on to the radar of the majority of Android

If there’s one thing we agree with Schroder on, it’s
that Linux has
locked down
cloud hosting (and the server market in general).
Anything more than that, however, is either a positive spin on
proprietary distributions or wishful thinking.



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