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Desktop Linux: The presstitutes strike again!

October 20, 2010

The Presstitutes Attack!
Every once in a while we hear that desktop Linux is dead and buried. A columnist at PC World recently pushed this hoary old chestnut in a column entitled “Desktop Linux: The Dream is Dead.”


I hate it when somebody regurgitates this stuff. It never changes and it’s never fair or accurate to desktop Linux. Most of it is simply spin, lies and distortions and it ought not to go unchallenged. Yet we see these presstitutes pushing this crap over and over again.

Well let me tell you something, desktop Linux is alive and well; and it’s getting better and better.

I’ll tear apart Strohmeyer’s column in a minute, but there are a few other things I want to cover first.

Numbers: Who Cares?
Whenever somebody starts bashing desktop Linux, they usually point out that it has 1% or whatever of the desktop market. So supposedly, 99% of computers don’t use desktop Linux. Um…yeah, right.

First of all, who knows what the exact number is? I don’t nor do I think that any of these columnists have a clue. It’s a number that gets bandied about, often with nothing substantive to back it up.

Second, who gives a damn if it is 1%? I sure don’t, and neither do many other Linux users. I don’t base my decisions about which operating system to use on what other people are doing. That’s like somebody being stupid enough to buy a house at the top of the housing bubble simply because somebody they know also bought a house.

Desktop Linux is available to anybody who decides to use it, whenever, wherever and however they want to use it. It’s always there and it’s never going to go away, regardless of how much FUD is put out by the presstitutes in the media.

Apple & Internet Explorer: Why You Shouldn’t Write Off Desktop Linux
Let’s forget what I said about numbers and look at Apple.

Remember back when Apple had 2% or whatever of the desktop market? All of these dingbat pundits were predicting that Apple was doomed! The company would never survive; Macs were a joke, etc. On and on and on it went, with each pundit spewing his or her inane blather with reckless abandon.

All of that turned out to be pure bunk. Apple is bigger than ever and apparently has a higher market share than ever (around 10% or so last I heard) of the desktop. Apple should stand as an example to Linux users and to those who would denigrate Linux on the desktop.

The company, product or operating system that has smaller market share today can quickly balloon to a much higher market share in a fairly short period of time.

Internet Explorer
The reverse can also be true. Products that have enormous share of a particular market can often fade fairly quickly given real competition. Remember when Internet Explorer had 95% of the browser market? Now look at it, it’s a pale echo of its former self and will probably never regain its former glory.

What happened to IE? Simple. Browser developers simply made better browsers while Microsoft sat on its lead and ceded market share to them. This is nothing new, it happens all the time in technology. So don’t be too sure that the operating systems of today that have high market share will always retain it. Things change quickly and today’s top tech can quickly become tomorrow’s forgotten trash.

Desktop Linux Has Real Value
I write reviews of Linux distros all the time here on EOL and on Desktop Linux Reviews. Most of the distros I write about have enormous value in and of themselves. There’s a distro for everybody, no matter what their hardware is or what their preferences are. Just spend some time over on DistroWatch and you can certainly find a distro that matches your individual or corporate needs.

Here’s a list of some great distro choices for the Linux desktop:

Linux Mint
Peppermint OS One
Pinguy OS

When you combine that with the simply gigantic amount of open source software that is available through them, you have a tremendous amount of desktop computing value.

And it’s all free.

Here are just a few of the great applications available with most distros or available via their software management tools:

Pitivi Video Editor

That’s just a very tiny handful of the thousands of free applications and games available for desktop Linux. You could spend hours installing applications on your favorite Linux distro and still not run out of applications.

Strohmeyer’s Silly Column
Windows Vista and Windows 7
Strohmeyer begins his column by claiming that Windows Vista was some sort of missed opportunity for desktop Linux and that Windows 7 is somehow relevant as well. I have to file all of this in the “who cares?” category.

Sure, it would be nice if disaffected Windows users moved to Linux. But is that the real reason to pick Linux? Simply because somebody doesn’t like Windows? What does that make Linux? The lesser of two evils?


That’s a very negative way of viewing Linux, and I think it lends suspicion to the rest of the column in a big way. Linux can stand on its own, and its positive virtues do not need to be compared to any version of Windows for Linux to look attractive to desktop users.

Windows itself is simply irrelevant to what desktop Linux has to offer.

Lack of Content
He goes onto decry a “lack of content” and then mentions DVDs and Netflix as an example of this. Are you kidding me? The day of DVDs (and all other disc based media) are quickly passing, at some point they will be laughed about by all of us. Why should we worry about an obsolete medium anyway? The answer is simple, we shouldn’t.

As far as Netflix goes, ditto. I’ve never used it and I never will. If that company is stupid enough to limit the operating systems it supports instead of using an open standard, then screw em’. They aren’t worth my dollar and I wouldn’t waste my time trying to use their trashy service in the first place.

He then brings up flash, of all things. As if flash is some sort of black mark against Linux. I had to chuckle when I read that part of his column.

I wrote a column of my own a while back that spells out exactly how I feel about flash. It’s called “Why Flash Sucks” and it points out why flash is such a pain in the ass. As far as flash’s bad performance on Linux goes, that’s Adobe’s fault. They should fix it or stop making flash for Linux in the first place.

Believe me, I will shed no tears if Adobe stops supporting flash on Linux. It sucks on Linux, it sucks on Windows and it sucks on the Mac. Flash provides equal opportunity suckage to every operating system out there.

The Cloud
At one point he oddly suggests that the cloud is a threat to Linux. Um…hello! Hasn’t he used Peppermint OS One, Peppermint Ice, Jolicloud or any of the other cloud-oriented desktop distros?

The cloud is very well integrated into these distros, and I suspect we’ll see that continue in distros that currently don’t put much emphasis on the cloud at all. There’s absolutely nothing to stop developers from absorbing the cloud into their desktop distros. Tools like Prism make it very easy for developers to bundle web-based applications into desktop Linux.

The other thing that’s silly about Strohmeyer’s take on the cloud is that he seems to think it’s some threat to desktop applications or that perhaps developers should cut back on desktop application development.

Why? Cloud based apps work perfectly well side by side with desktop applications. One does not preclude the other. We can have the cloud and desktop applications in our Linux distros.

Strohmeyer goes on to mention that Linux developers should concentrate on mobile devices rather than the desktop. Um…why can’t they work on both at the same time? Does he really believe that Linux developers are incapable of supporting mobile platforms and the desktop?

It really strains the bounds of credibility when I read something so stupid. Yes, mobile devices are a big opportunity for Linux (and other operating systems) but so what? Desktop Linux will still be there and it will push forward, getting better and better (along with Linux used on mobile devices).

Success in the mobile device arena does not preclude success on the desktop.

Final Thoughts
He goes on to take one last shot at Linux, saying that it doesn’t have a shot at “…Mac OS X, much less Windows.” So what? Since when did picking an operating system become all about a zero sum competition between the various choices?

When I sit down at my computer, I use the operating system that works the best for me and that offers what I need to do my work, surf the web, run applications, etc. I certainly don’t sit down and think about who has the highest market share and then use that operating system.

Do you?

Unfortunately, this won’t be the last bit of Linux bashing we get from the presstitutes. Since many of them can’t find anything positive to write about, they use Linux bashing to fill up space and attract hits to their sites.

You might notice that I haven’t linked to Strohmeyer’s column. I find that this is the best way to deal with these kinds of columns. Take away the page hits and ad impressions, and you take away the motivation to write such drivel in the first place.

Desktop Linux is alive and well, and there’s nothing the presstitutes can do about it.

What’s your take on all of this? Tell me in the comments.


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41 Responses to Desktop Linux: The presstitutes strike again!

  1. Who cares about Windows versus Linux? on April 1, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    […] up their page views and ad revenue). I wrote about this a while back in a column called “Desktop Linux: The presstitutes strike again!” I had to take apart a silly column written to make it look like Linux on the desktop was […]

  2. Hugh on June 13, 2011 at 4:01 AM

    I am a little late joining this discussion but will add my 2 cents worth anyway.
    I am 65 years old this past may. have had windows computers for all of my computing life. Was continuously frustrated with windows OS after windows 95. I felt that each of their succeeding OS were less reliable than the previous. I am by no stretch a computing geek. When I received for a Xmas gift a new HP with Vista installed I was extremely happy and hoped for the best. What a bad dream that turned out to be.
    To make a long story short, on my 64th birthday I gave myself my own birthday gift. I deleted, wiped my hard drive and installed the “Dead” Linux on the HP. That was over a year ago now. I have never enjoyed computing more than I do now. No BSOD in over a year. My only regret— not doing it sooner.
    My wife and I both have Linux and I now help and support about 20-25 converts to the “Dead” OS. And the nice thing about all this is Linux was there for us to choose if we so decided.

    Thanks for such an informative site.

  3. Aliff on December 3, 2010 at 3:05 PM


    jim,you were right about everything you said,i seen that article yesterday when it came to singapore.

    i read it and i felt angry and insulted since i was a linux-fantic since 2009.


    (ps i hope that guy goes to hell for writing that in pc magazine)

  4. Golodh on October 26, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    @Stan Richardson, Brian Masinick

    You seem to feel that marketshare estimated through webtraffic is somehow “unscientific” or unable to provide “a solid picture upon which we can draw any statistical conclusions from”. I would say that estimating market share based on web traffic share, whilst an indirect measurement, is a completely valid one. Why exactly would such estimates be invalid or “unscientific”? What do you base that opinion on?

    In addition you are happy to accept anecdotical evidence (your personal impressions while traveling) as (more) accurate.

    I can’t understand either position.

    One thing I think I can agree with is that where in the US, the market-share of Linux is negligible this might not be the case in Latin America. I don’t travel there, so I don’t know. In any event. data by geographic region is available from http://www.netmarketshare.com, but I don’t feel sufficiently curious to pay for enhanced access that shows geografically detailed information. The overall marketshare split is enough for me since that’s what I’m interested in.

    And, as noted before, something can be far from “dead” while remaining a typical niche product. It’s just that its market share flatlined.

  5. Brian Masinick on October 26, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    Stan, I agree with you and disagree strongly with Golodh. We don’t even have a solid picture upon which we can draw any statistical conclusions from. What I would be willing to acknowledge is that the USA is not the primary point for the advancement of Linux software. Many of the major projects are hosted in other countries. Our own country has most of the largest commercial software companies that have to modify their business models to incorporate open software strategies. Some are doing so, but most are not.

    Elsewhere, though, adopting free software is a quick way to accelerate in technology. If we are not careful, those other places can (and will) surpass my country in technology; some have already done so.

    But on the Linux argument, I don’t know how much more clear we can be; there is no way the Linux infrastructure is dead or dying, whether we are talking about the desktop, the server, or any other focal point. It is strong in all of these areas and has loyal following, and solid development. Advancements in various other areas just make it all the more important to keep the desktop intact, because that is where most developers do their work. Linux has the advantage that as new technologies become available, desktop or elsewhere, they can be plugged in and used, replacing what was previously used.

    I’ve seen that time and time again. In the nineties when I first started using Linux, there were mostly command based tools, but there was an emerging graphical user environment. The stuff that was there then is, for the most part, still around, but so much more has become available – and continues to be developed every month that it’s hard to keep up with it. How can that be possibly viewed as “dead”?

    The market number stuff has no bearing on any of it; the desktop will continue to evolve, regardless of what some new fangled statistic says. I have so many diverse desktops I can use that it is hard for me to come to any other conclusion other than the reality that my desktop is not only alive, it is highly vibrant and relevant, and continues to get better and better. If that’s dead, then I am in heaven already.

  6. Stan Richardson on October 26, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    Many respondents, including Golodh refer to market analysis that has absolutely no scientific way to confirm accuracy of Gnu/Linux “marketshare”. Furthermore, as I travel around South America, all countries, including in Central America are/have moved infrastructure, including desktops to Gnu/Linux. The Russia government has announced “officially” the implementation of GNU/Linux (as only OS) in “ALL” Russian Schools over next few years. And on and on. These statistics are not included in any “USA” prognosis, and therefore makes mute and irrevelant any reports emanating here.

    Marketshare has never been a very good barometer for quality, reliability or security in any technology issue, particularly for Servers. Oracle Corp, IBM, several large USA Universities have indicated a very, very high percentage of GNU/Linux desktop users.

    Without “credible” and sensible information, these recurring stupid topics of Gnu/Linux decline or death are just senseless talking points.

  7. Golodh on October 26, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    I’ve hesitated a little before replying, but here goes. To save time I’ll first state my points, and then the evidence

    (1) Linux desktop market share verifiably is and remains negligible (with reported figures of between 0.85% and 2.04%).

    (2) Linux market share matters because new attractive hardware and software developments come out for the market’s no. 1 first, and somewhat later (if at all) for all the others.

    (1) Linux desktop market share
    For data see e.g. here http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/66076 , here http://stats.wikimedia.org/wikimedia/squids/SquidReportOperatingSystems.htm and here http://www.netmarketshare.com/report.aspx?qprid=11&qpcustom=Linux

    These data are based on connections, so strictly speaking one can’t tell if the connecting machine is a desktop, a laptop, or a netbook. But those distinctions aren’t very relevant. Really mobile devices like iPads and Android are separated out, and the rest can be lumped together.

    The estimates (0.85% and 2.04%) differ, but that is normal in sample surveys, which all have a margin of error, and in no way invalidates the data. The point is that a percentage error of 1% doesn’t allow you to distinguish between a 0.85% share and 2.04% share, but definitely allows you to tell 1% from 10%.

    So Linux’s share of desktop/laptop machines remains negligible, and even (according to netmarketshare.com data, flatlines.

    (2) Linux market share matters
    One can either (like the author of the above article) take the position that remaining a total niche market product doesn’t matter. In that case all is well, because even nich market products have minimum viable userbases, and Linux seems to be above that threshold. Meaning its continued existence (as a niche market product) and further development is fairly secure.

    Due to the number of large companies that finance Linux development (Red Hat, IBM, Novell (Oracle), Intel, etc.; see http://www.linuxfoundation.org/sites/main/files/publications/whowriteslinux.pdf ) momentum in development and maintenance seems assured. Linux’s relevance in the server room seems assured, which is great. However, that does *not* mean much about Linux on the desktop.

    The sobering fact is that MS Windows retains a market share of 84% – 91% despite (a) costing money and bringing license hassles (b) being less secure, and (c) requiring somewhat more maintenance effort than Linux.

    The question is: why?

    My own view is that, as far as most end-users are concerned, this is because they can easily afford the cost (or they will happily make illegal installs whenever they feel like doing so), they don’t care overmuch about, security, MS Windows is what they are used to, they are -by and large- quite content with MS Windows.

    That last point ought to worry Linux users and developers. Clearly Linux does not have the advantage in end-user appeal that MS Windows has. Whilst continued development of window managers like KDE and Gnome steadily improves that particular aspect of Linux (to the point where it’s no longer much worse than MS Windows) it still lags in terms of and-user applications. Despite the availability of Open Office, Gimp, Firefox, and a slew of low-visibility specialty applications like Amarok.

    In addition the proliferation of dozens of fly-by-night distros (sometimes touted as an advantage) is reinforcing the image of Linux as a thoroughly fractured system. Linux has come a long way, but it really really isn’t there yet in terms of desktop relevance.

    And last but not least, a real handicap of Linux is its rowdy and flame-happy user-base. Just log in to a forum dedicated to some facet of Linux with the sole purpose of having your (often simple, if not stupid, and almost always under-researched) question answered quickly and knowledgeably and marvel at the contemptuous, hostile, abusive, unhelpful, dumb, and self-satisfied attitude of the posts. This isn’t a problem for large organisations who are used to budget for paid support in any event, but it is deadly to the adoption by individuals and small companies.

  8. Homer on October 26, 2010 at 3:22 AM

    Heh. I remember reading the original FUD argument. Came with all the usual “I really love Linux”… But it’s dead, over, no good. The guy lost all credibility as soon as what he “loved” was not useful…. What a clown.

    Cash for comment is such a bad thing on the internet. Clearly he has no personal integrity.

    Linux can never die. In fact, every time I install it on a friend/colleague, family members PC at their request to save them from the hell that is Microsoft, I secretly grin and think “1 by 1, technology is getting back to where we were before MS screwed the industry senseless.”, my 1 by 1, plus the 30+ million other desktop linux users 1 by 1 and that tsunami of Windows exodus is well underway.

  9. joblin on October 25, 2010 at 10:23 PM

    Linux usage is at least 1%
    1% of 1,000,000 is 10,000
    1% of 1,000,000,000 is 10,000,000
    How many billion PCs are there?
    There are MILLIONS of people happily running Linux desktops.

  10. crb3 on October 25, 2010 at 7:15 PM

    @Brian Masinick: I don’t think we’ll see a “perfect storm”. Instead, I think we’re right in the middle of a sea change; it’s happening too slowly for most to notice it, but it’s there.

    With Linux, “there’s no one neck to choke.” That used to be the argument against using Linux in the business world, the fact that there was no single firm taking responsibility for it, back before Red Hat proved that there was real money to be made in support for free software. That also means that there’s no one single purveyor of Linux, so folks like Microsoft can’t kill it off just by zeroing on that “one neck” company and “cutting off its air supply” like they did Netscape; the GPL doesn’t allow it. The closest we currently have to such is Canonical/Ubuntu, but that’s built on Debian; subvert and destroy Canonical and others can fork and continue Ubuntu development, while Debian and the other distros built on it will still be as free as ever.

    That means that nobody _has_ to ‘build the buzz’ for Linux, because Linux isn’t dependent for its survival on one company’s limited marketing funds. Your ‘perfect storm’ might never arrive because there’s no one company shaping up public attention towards a singular release event. Linux adoption is happening anyway, just as Linux publicity is all over the Net expressed as news of who all is now taking Linux seriously.

    There are submerged towns off the coast of England. I doubt there was any one “the water is breaking in” event, instead the sea level there rose slowly but steadily over the years, taking that land for keeps, and all the prior occupants could do was retreat and rebuild. I think Linux desktop takeup is like that: achieved one desktop at a time where it’s adopted for the same “it’s right for _me_” reason you cited, with or without marketing dollars or meaningful metrics or buzz-support from the analyst claque, and as unstoppable as the sea.

    • Brian Masinick on October 25, 2010 at 8:13 PM

      @crb3: You make some good points. I have simply been making the case about “alive” versus “dead”. There is no way that any of the current desktop alternatives: Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux will disappear any time soon, regardless of what may happen on some new, as yet unseen front to change things. None of them are dead now, despite rhetoric on any side that would suggest otherwise.

      Smartphones, netbooks, and tablets seem to be the current rage, yet I’ve not seen one capable of killing off the desktop. I see the desktop around for a long time yet. Similarly, I have not seen any development or rage that has succeeded in killing off any system we have today. Manufacturers can kill their product lines; we have seen that, but we have not seen any effort to erase and eradicate any of the movements over the past thirty years and I don’t see it happening any time soon either.

  11. Behzad on October 25, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    I am a desktop Linux user for a few years, and though I find myself in total agreement with some parts of your post, there are issues that I hold a different view point.

    I am a user of Netflix which thanks to them I cannot use their streaming service on my linux system, I use Hulu and every-time I watch something on it my laptop temperature rises so high that I wonder I am damaging my laptop by just watching a video on Hulu.

    On more serious stuff, OpenOffice falls way beyond Microsoft office, in terms of macros and vba support and handling large spreadsheets. Let aside the compatibility issues than are not few. There is no Professional Adobe Acrobat for linux systems or a software which brings the same tools for manipulating and annotating pdfs in linux.

    For sure not as much as performance, but yet “look” does matter, and gnome look is not good enough and KDE is too heavy and inefficient.

    This is not about whose fault this is. Is it linux’s fault or Adobe’s or Netflix or …?! That is a secondary issue. The main issue is that a linux power user should be able to use his system for whatever a Mac or Windows user can use, and if that is not the case that means linux is not suitable for desktop.

  12. stevent on October 25, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    since 1998 my linux desktop is alive and still kicking

  13. Niki Kovacs on October 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    I’m an IT professional in South France, working 100% with GNU/Linux and free software. Most of my time, I replace malfunctioning Windows networks with crisp and clean Linux systems in schools, town halls, public libraries and the likes. In my completely unhumble opinion, Windows-only admins are just too stupid to learn a real operating system.

  14. W. Anderson on October 25, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    I use the analogy of car popularity. There are more (quantity) Chevrolet Cavaliers and Chevy Impalas on the road – by a wide margin – than Honda Accords, but why would anyone who is not a moron chose the Chevy which has no where near the quality, reliability or retained value than the Honda.

    Nuf Said.

    These “presstitutes” also do not address the facts of The Gap, many “countries in Europe, Asia, South/Central America that are standardizing on Linux for education systems and government infrastructure.

    A pat answer from the presstitutes is they are not America and are stupid.

    W. Anderson

  15. Brian Masinick on October 25, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    What is “alive” and what is “dead”? The dream of being able to use whatever kind of system you want is “alive”, and it has been for many years, and continues to be “alive”. If there is anything that is “dead”, it is a false belief that any particular system is going to “take over” and completely dominate.

    It is clear that for consumers, the Windows based systems are the most widely available for traditional computer systems, so if we want to define things that way, sure, that is the way it has been and that is the way things continue to be.
    Even so, there are at least three major alternatives for those systems: Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, and there are more alternatives than that. So if the dream is to have alternatives, we have had that since the eighties, when we had the choice of either MS/DOS, Windows, or Mac OS.

    Today, we have the alternative, not just in hardware, but in software as well. We have desktop systems, laptops, netbooks, smartphones, tablets, and various appliances. In software, we have Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, several varieties of BSD, and a number of virtual unknowns.

    MY own dream, when I started in this business, was to be a part of a change that had not yet emerged, and that was to make computer systems usable enough that the majority of people could use a computer – if they wanted to do so. That dream has definitely been realized. Even many senior citizens, who never touched a computer at all, more than likely, until well after retirement, now send pictures using Facebook and communicate using Email and text messages to their friends and loved ones. That was definitely not possible when I became a professional in 1979, much less when I first started regularly using computers in high school in 1973!

    Is Linux “the dream”? No, it isn’t, not for me, anyway, but it is part of the overall landscape that helps realize the dream, at least my dream. It provides me with an interesting environment that I can use and explore every day, it provides freedom from the status quo, it is usable, enough so that my children can readily use it (and they do). Even my former wife can use Linux and she has, though she finally got herself a Macbook instead because someone talked her into it.

    That was a choice, though, and it can be a good choice. To me, choice is one of those things that is an important component of “the dream”.

    Richard Stallman’s dream – HIS dream, was to create a complete system that is 100% free as in freedom, the way HE defines it. He has largely achieved HIS dream, because it is possible to run systems that have 100% of the software completely available in source code. The problem with that is the fact that what people use and what they are interested in keeps changing. Since that dream was formulated, wireless networks have come around. Some of those wireless networks have 100% free software available; some still do not. Visionaries back in the same era that Richard had his vision could see a day and a time when a common network would share voice, data, images, any kind of information that could be transmitted, either through wires or over broadcast media (radio, televison, telephone, cable, microwave, satellite, fiber, and more). We have a lot of that, but again, that is another moving target, and the free software communities work tirelessly every day to keep up with it.

    Do we have a live dream then, or is it “dead”? Well, my dream is alive, it definitely works for me. Richard’s dream is alive, he can definitely have a 100% free system, as he defines it. Is the “dream” 100% realized? Well again, that depends on what the dream is. Clearly many dreams are alive, and many new dreams are envisioned each and every day. I don’t see how you can call that dream “dead” when the original dreams are working and new dreams continue to evolve. For me, I consider that very much alive.

    As far as Linux and how it pertains to those dreams, again, I see it as being very much alive. It’s only when we talk about some mythical market and somehow thinking that one single approach will “dominate” that statements about Linux being “dead” – or any of these dreams being “dead” are brought up. To me, that’s the wrong argument, and I don’t buy it at all.

    I could care less what “dominates” as long as choices continue to abound. I’ve never seen more choices in both hardware and software than I see today, and I am more enthusiastic than ever about those choices. That’s not dead to me – whether we are talking about the desktop, the server, the cloud, mobile devices, whatever. Linux contributes considerably to the ecosystem in every one of these areas, and I don’t see that slowing down or stopping whatsoever.

    So our perception of being vibrant and alive or dead, a lost cause, or whatever someone cares to claim is simply that – the perception of some. The reality – reality means REAL, my friends, and reality is that we have more real choices than ever before. That’s a long way from being dead. Declining? I wouldn’t say that either. Just look at the evidence all around us. Choices abound. None of the choices have gone away, not Windows, not Mac, not Linux, not BSD, not desktops, not servers, not appliances, none of it. It is all very much with us, and every one of those spaces represent multi million dollar markets; several of them represent multi billion dollar markets! If that’s dead, well then someone else’s definition of dead does not match my definition!

  16. wally on October 25, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    What percent of people in the world now have computers? What percent will EVER be able to purchase a (non-pirated) Windows or Mac operating system?
    These Linux-is-dead things are always looking backward at an elite market of highly wealthy persons.

  17. dave on October 25, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    The dream is alive, it is the reality that is dead. I like Linux and use it at home. I’m a geek. Non-geeks use Windows, and creative types use Apple. Windows and Apple users see a computer as a tool for increased productivity (Windows) and increased artistic abilities (Apple). Linux users see open source freedom, and a “…who cares…” attitude. So the documentation is incomplete and not well written (if there is any at all). So the help system is not available (still being written). Linux users will put up with that. Not Windows or Apple users.

    So yes, the dream is alive, but not the reality, at least not until there is an attitude change in the Linux community. Not likely. So, Linux users, “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes is your motto.


  18. Phil on October 25, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    The ONLY people that want Linux dead is Microsoft. All the trash talk starts with them.

  19. Tony (Scotland) on October 24, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    Yeah Well Done Jim ! I have been dual booting Linux for yrs now and my wife’s laptop uses Linux. I am constantly trying out new distro’s all the time. Keep up the good work :cheerful:

  20. Larry Cafiero on October 23, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    You nailed it, Jim — thanks for the insight! Also, just a thought: I think part of the “death of the desktop” mantra is from folks who want resources aimed away from FOSS development for the desktop and toward cloud/mobile FOSS development. It’s nothing but a hunch, but it seems that the most vociferous of the “dead desktop” proponents have a stake in something else, especially mobile.

    Larry Cafiero
    Larry the Free Software Guy

  21. Jim Lynch nails it « Larry the Free Software Guy on October 23, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    [...] thank you, Jim Lynch, and go here to read Jim’s response to the PC World article that said that the Linux Desktop is [...]

  22. Linux Guru on October 22, 2010 at 11:27 PM

    Food for thought….”I” use my laptop for my personal uses. I don’t care what the person next to me is using as long as MY system works fine. For me personally opensuse 11.3 on a toshiba laptop brought me greater joy and hacker control then the default windows 7 it shipped with. I got my hard drive space back , all my devices actually work … and most importantly I couldn’t run simcity classic without extra work. WTF, a classic from maxis is suddenly flagged as being able to ‘harm my system’ WTFFFFF? No, I want an operating system that I control and that takes MY final decision as law….not babysit me out of cheap and into pricey to play. Linux RULEZ!!

  23. Chris on October 22, 2010 at 7:02 AM

    I like the modularity of linux and the rolling release distros.
    I installed gentoo on my computer many many years ago, now I have the latest kernel, OS, GUI, apps etc and I have never had to re-install or start again to get the latest system. If I was using MS I would have to “upgrade” to xp, then vista, then 7

  24. PehJota on October 22, 2010 at 12:54 AM

    Great article. It’s a long stretch to tie a toe tag on a group of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of OS distributions with hundreds of thousands of software projects, hundreds of thousands of developers, millions of users, and the support of thousands of companies including several big name multimillion-dollar corporations.

    I have to wonder who Microsoft and these other FUD-flingers think they’re competing against. Do they not realize that much of the free and open-source software out there is written by volunteers? That the users themselves are the developers they try to put down? Moreover, if this “competitive” effort was put into actually making software that could compete, then maybe M$ would have stronger market share than it does–at least among users who want to be chained to software that doesn’t trust them.

    In response to the comment regarding Oracle and OpenOffice.org’s future, that’s why LibreOffice and its overseeing vendor-neutral Document Foundation have recently formed. In addition, their goals are to improve the OOo code base more quickly than the Sun/Oracle maintainers have done and to offer a more developer-friendly community. They already have support from some big name companies and are well on their way to surpassing OOo. They’re even throwing around ideas like switching from the clunky embedded multi-platform GUI toolkit to the more native and portable Qt framework and removing all Java dependencies. (http://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Category:Development)

  25. paul on October 21, 2010 at 9:48 PM


    That is PERFECT! I am SO envious that I didn’t think of that. Well, actually, I’m much more amused than envious. And I’m probably way behind on the clever names being used today, but that’s just me.

    You can add my voice to the chorus. IMHO the trends are becoming clearer all the time. The record-breaking processing times that the new London Stock Exchange is turning in will just add more energy to the adoption of Linux. Add the LHC to that, the most complex machine in the world, and the case for Linux becomes even more credible. More schools are realizing the advantages of FOSS. More people are using Firefox and OpenOffice. (Hopefully Oracle doesn’t mess OO up, now.)

    I’m certainly enjoying the stability and quality of all that is Linux and open source for 3 years now. And I never miss a chance to share that with others.

  26. AC on October 21, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    Oddly, I’m reading this site on a laptop running Xubuntu 10.04 LTS – on hardware that probably wouldn’t run Win7 Bloated DRMware. Nobody cc’d me the memo about desktop Linux being dead :P

  27. Ashish on October 21, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    Ignore the FUD, they will come more and more now as Linux is becoming more and more popular and amazingly useful. What I do from my side is spread Linux by presenting and helping people install Linux on their PC. The way devices like Internet dongles are supported plug and play, people are amazed. Very soon big companies will start changing their destops to Linux. They have already opted on Open Office on Windows. Next step is OS. Here lot of big companies give MS office to users who really need them, like accounts dept, rest have to use Open Office. This is a policy in Companies like TCS which is 1,15,000 strong. IBM has done the same for 3,50,000 users.Change is happening…Keep up the good work.
    Last suggestion, Linux companies should find ways to make money thru consultancies and projects and yes Adds.

  28. nonya on October 21, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    Good artical. I have no intention of using any “cloud” or online apps or storage until the serious security and data loss problems are addressed to my satisfaction. Some of us may never trust such apps or storage. To each his/her own choice. Mine is to use Aptosid (formerly sidux). Linux will never die as long as there are people who care enough to use/develop it, and apps for it.

  29. FreeBooteR on October 21, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    Enjoying my rolling release Archlinux desktop + KDE. Just went through a massive update again for KDE & meriad other programs. Guess somebody should clue all those developers in that GNU/Linux is dead. /sarcasm :blink:

  30. notbob on October 21, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    It’s PC Magazine, ferchrysakes! What else would you expect from a rag who’s revenue source is almost 100% Microsoft based?

    OTOH, it’s kinda chilling what a lame article like this accomplishes. I had no idea of its origin, not being a PC mag reader, and wondered why it was on almost every Linux blog/forum, etc. Seems Linux users are not innocent in spreading the hype. Yours is the first article I’ve seen that exposes this nonsense for what it really is, jes plain ol’ FUD. Tired old FUD, at that. Good call.

  31. Nilesh on October 21, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    Excellent article man!
    Most probably no windows users will be reading this article, but your article makes a great sense by that House point on page 1.
    It’s like, should I jump into the well because every one else is jumping?

    And yeah, you’ve rightly said Linux is never going to die no matter what others say.

  32. linuxrich on October 21, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    When I saw the ‘Desktop Linux is dead’ headline, I thought ‘O noes!’ and quickly went to check my PCs. No, all fine and still running. Then I checked my favourite distro’s site at http://www.mepis.org. Nope, that’s still there too with it’s community as strong as ever. :wink:

  33. Kenny Strawn on October 21, 2010 at 12:38 PM
    • Brian Masinick on October 21, 2010 at 4:14 PM

      @Kenny Strawn: Thank you for providing that link to the article at http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2010/09/debunking-the-1-myth.html

      I remember reading that article now. It is hard to determine precisely what the actual “market numbers” really are, but the reality is that actual usage of both GNU/Linux and Mac OS X probably falls somewhere in the six to ten percent range EACH. That means that somewhere between twelve and twenty percent of the real usage of desktop systems that have some kind of UNIX lineage in them is probably closer to the truth than one or two percentage points, and that is why people like Steve Balmer take both of them seriously, as well they should.

      Sure, one can argue that neither of these alternatives represents a majority of systems, but smart phone system producers, particularly Palm, RIM, and Microsoft can tell you that ignoring emerging alternatives can be a big mistake, as both of them are seeing as their markets erode.

      In the case of Linux, it could be argued on the other side that desktop Linux has not had the kind of penetration (so far) that Android, for example, (using a Linux kernel) has had in the smart phone market. But if they want to go with that argument, fine. Meanwhile, Linux most certainly does provide a viable alternative, regardless of the percentages, for an increasing number of individuals. When you couple that with the long success in the back end server space with Web servers, profitable database servers, plus the smart phone market, the router market, and the appliance market, maybe they still cannot see the “Perfect Storm” approaching, but I’ve seen it for over a decade, and I haven’t ignored it, I’ve simply wondered when the storm would reach its critical mass.

      I am more inclined to believe the six to ten percentage point market numbers for desktop Linux usage world wide, but even if they are greatly inflated, as I’ve mentioned numerous times before, Linux is a viable alternative for many people, and for people like me, it has been the best fit for the things I do with desktop computers for over a decade now.

      Way back in 2001, I co-authored, with the late Ralph Glanz, a series of articles for Ziff Davis Media’s Extreme Tech Web site, a technology enthusiast site. We called the series “Linux: The Time is NOW!” Even back then, there were multiple distributions that were more than capable of handling the every day things that a desktop user of that time period was likely to encounter.

      Today, that is much more true. You can easily access any of the Social Media sites with a desktop Linux system. The “Cloud”, however you want to define it, was tailor-made for desktop Linux or mobile Linux use. The Web is perfect for any kind of Linux use. The three things that hold Linux back from much wider use are market perception, consumer familiarity, and a lack of concerted marketing. Yes, there are more “Games” available for other platforms, but even there, you’d be amazed what really is available today on Linux. Yes, some hardware doesn’t work well with Linux, but I’ve had at least two systems that I’ve owned that had just as much trouble running Windows – lacking drivers, or more importantly, the performance needed to run them well.

      Whatever the arguments are against Linux, for anyone who would choose to use it, there are alternatives available to overcome the issues. It becomes a matter of two things: choice and perception. For me, a long time ago, I made the choice to stick with Linux. I don’t have any systems, even my smart phone, where I can’t run Linux. I use Android 2.2 (with a Linux kernel) on my smart phone. I use desktop Linux on both of my laptop systems. I used desktop Linux for nearly a decade on a Dell Dimension 4100 desktop, and just before I shut it off (though i still have the hardware) I could (and did) use about six different Linux distributions on it, but the Windows XP, also installed on the box, was badly running out of gas.

      I don’t try to force anyone into using what I use. If people want to use something else, they should be free to do so. But when it comes to saying that either Linux is dead – anywhere – or that Linux can’t get the job done, or that it is a tiny player in any space, I generally speak up. None of those things are true. Linux works, has, and continues, to work on the desktop, the server, the appliance, and especially the emerging devices. The Linux kernel is the most flexible operating system core available today; no exceptions. The BSD kernel is another viable alternative that is used much more widely than any market numbers would suggest, but that’s an entirely separate argument.

      Let’s leave it that there are plenty of great alternatives available, and I hope that always remains true.

  34. Barista Uno on October 21, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    Yes, who cares?

    On my desktop, it’s been the Year of the Linux Desktop since last year when I started using Linux. Next year and the next, it will be the same.

  35. tlmck1234 on October 21, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    Very well said Jim! Bravo!

  36. Jim Lynch on October 21, 2010 at 3:35 AM

    You raise a lot of good points, Brian. But I think they will fall on deaf ears as far as that guy is concerned. Seriously.

    But oh well. Linux will roll on regardless of what folks like that say about it. It’s not stopping and it’s not slowing down. Every distro release just improves it even more.

    And the traffic here and on DLR indicates that it is anything but dead. :smile:

    • Brian Masinick on October 21, 2010 at 3:57 AM

      Jim said: ”

      You raise a lot of good points, Brian. But I think they will fall on deaf ears as far as that guy is concerned. Seriously.

      But oh well. Linux will roll on regardless of what folks like that say about it. It’s not stopping and it’s not slowing down. Every distro release just improves it even more.

      And the traffic here and on DLR indicates that it is anything but dead. :smile:”

      That’s for sure, Linux is anything but dead. Notice that the hot new Linux releases get far more reads in the threads than anything else at DLR.

      As far as what that other writer has to say, first of all, I’ve never heard of them before, and I am not about to go chasing their work. They may be looking for a different job soon anyway.

      Linux really isn’t a majority operating system, though some scenarios suggest that it could become a significant player – and it is, just not on consumer desktops. That doesn’t make it inferior, it is simply not targeted sufficiently well to typical consumers, and it is definitely not marketed well to consumers. It’s still a great OS, on servers, in appliances, and yes, on the desktop too.

      Long ago, UNIX and Linux developers did not even WANT consumers to use their OS. Their thinking: consumers want dumbed down stuff, and they weren’t about to create dumbed down stuff. Then paying the bills started to matter, and things changed. Too bad the arrogance of these people put us back at least a decade, maybe two decades, otherwise we wouldn’t have Windows dominating.

      Did you know that Microsoft was poised to go with UNIX in the eighties, maybe even the late seventies? They had Xenix, and it was actually the best way to get UNIX on a minicomputer or PC at a reasonable price two decades ago. They sold it to SCO, who made a good living out of it for well over a decade, especially in PoS (Point of Sale) systems. Had UNIX developers created not only the ed, sed, awk tools for developer convenience, but also a clean, attractive, and simple user interface, like the ones we have today, UNIX could have killed Windows before it even really arrived, and in fact, MS-DOS would have just given way to Xenix, but that’s not the way it happened, and I blame arrogant UNIX engineers and infighting among UNIX vendors for that.

      I always felt that UNIX based systems were perfect for creating any kind of interface at all – a geek interface for the geeks and a point and click interface for the masses. UNIX eventually inherited the X Window System, but the AT&T – Sun Open Look collaboration was terrible, and so was the Open Software Foundation (OSF) Common Desktop Environment (CDE).

      It took a couple of college aged students, one initiating the KDE project, the other initiating the GNOME project a year later, to bring competition and refinement to the desktop, and today, I feel that the Linux desktop offerings exceed that which is available anywhere else, including Apple. With Linux, you have choice, and that, to me, is what makes it superior to every other “choice”.

  37. Brian Masinick on October 21, 2010 at 3:32 AM

    Linux is not dead and Linux is not asleep. You know, I was just thinking about market percentages, and as I think about it, just about every desktop I’ve ever used by choice has had under 10% of the market, and except in my very early days in computing in the late seventies, when, pretty much out of necessity, I programmed on mainframe computers for a couple of years until I could get a new gig, the same was true of server and workstation systems.

    I’ve used VAX/VMS software, ULTRIX, Sun Solaris, Digital UNIX, UNIX System V, various BSD derivatives, then I landed with GNU/Linux software when I bought my first home personal computer in 1995. I have preferred Linux based systems ever since.

    By the way, that misinformed writer ought to realize that at least two of the top four smartphone operating systems use a Linux kernel: Android and WebOS. The Apple iOS used in the iPhone, if I am not mistaken, uses a BSD based kernel. Neither of those operating systems is considered mainstream, yet they are far more popular than any writer could imagine, being used in millions of routers, Web servers, and appliances, as well as smart phones.

    I think that the desktop will be the minority used interface within five years. It will not be gone, but it will be limited to use when connecting to servers. You will still see it in offices, and you will still see it in places where people prefer to type, but I predict that alternative interfaces – even speech, as we see today on the Android system, will become more prevalent, as will alternative input methods so we don’t need large keyboards. If we do get a decent invention here, the desktop could become the true minority, not zero use, but not more than ten percent use. So who cares; Linux is deeply entrenched in servers, especially Web servers. The Cloud came about mostly because of Linux. The desktop and Linux do well together, and have for at least a decade now. But the mobile and appliance markets is where I really expect Linux to dominate. Why pay big bucks when the hardware is cheap and Linux is freely available?

  38. Ugly American on October 20, 2010 at 9:40 PM

    Windows Server Delusion is Dead!

    Here’s yet another very costly example of Windows liability to catastrophic failure as a server. Microsoft themselves were involved, proclaiming to everyone that this was their showcase project.

    The system ran just fine old VMS equipment before Microsoft got involved.

    The guys who picked Windows were fired and everything has to be replaced with Linux to make it work.



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