Yet again, desktop Linux won't claim a year

Netbooks haven't changed the fact that local Linux is simply not necessary, making 2009 no more the "Year of the Linux Desktop" than 2008 was--or 2007, or...

"[Insert year here] is the year of the Linux desktop!" That has been the Linux community's refrain since at least 2001. Yet it never comes true.

I am an ardent open-source advocate, but I admit to perplexity as to why the Linux community so desperately wants its year on local systems. Who cares?

Now Netbooks are giving Linux desktop enthusiasts yet another reason to proclaim a year of the Linux desktop, despite the fact that four times as many Linux Netbook customers as Windows customers return these machines because they find Linux unfamiliar and cumbersome as a desktop operating system. As ITWire suggests, 2009 is unlikely to mark any significant change in the Linux desktop's fortunes:

2009 isn't the year of the Linux revolution, after all, but (rather) more of the same delusional fantasy land that Linux users have been living in the past few years.

Remember: if you want to get real work done, you use a computer, not a smartphone. With today's Netbooks offering 10-inch screens, 92 percent sized keyboards that are actually pleasurable to type on...people can actually do more than just consume media.

If you want to only consume media, then get an iPod Touch, an iPhone, or some other handheld media player....The Linux revolution on the desktop, notebook, or Netbook may yet come in the years ahead, but it certainly won't be 2009, and it certainly won't be through even less powerful Netbooks than are available today.

While I do believe that Ubuntu, in particular, will make headway through its Linux leadership in Netbooks, I concur that 2009 is absolutely not going to be the year of the Linux desktop--just as it hasn't been for the past decade, despite proclamations to the contrary.

As I wrote recently , we already have the Linux desktop: it runs in the cloud and is called Facebook, Google, etc. There is little need to have Linux running on my local laptop when the real game is in the cloud now.

It's time to move on. Next year won't be the year of the Linux desktop anymore than 2010 will be. Why? Because we don't need a Linux desktop. We need to accelerate efforts toward the cloud, which is open source's game to lose.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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