Where does Linux fit into a BYOD world?

Where does Linux fit into a BYOD world?

Summary: Android is the Great Green Hope for end user Linux devices. Android and BYOD are perfect mates.

TOPICS: Android

I've heard and read a lot of fluff over the years about the Linux Desktop and it's frankly getting a little tired. Every new release of Ubuntu and its offspring brings out every commentor, industry pundit and technology writer to ponder the viability of Linux as a desktop alternative. I might have fallen prey to it once or twice myself over the years. We all know that Linux has no chance whatsoever as a real contender on the desktop. Even the most diehard Linux fanboy secretly knows this, although admitting it publicly will never happen for most. They'll defend it to the bitter end. But, it's a lost cause. That said and understood for traditional Linux distributions, Linux might still have a chance in the brave new BYOD world as Android.

First, let me explain to you that I've messed with every Linux distribution starting with Slackware back in 1995. I've used every possible window manager and desktop interface offered by the diligent open source community programmers. I like most of them but my current favorites seem to be LXDE or XFCE.

And, for what it's worth, I believe that Linux could be, or could have been, a serious alternative in the desktop market. My opinion doesn't reflect what the majority of people want though. In fact, the market says that Apple's Mac OS X, Apple's iOS and Windows are the desktop systems of choice. On smart phones, Android, a Linux derivative, is a very serious contender. That fact leads me to the meat of the discussion of where Linux fits into a BYOD world.

I don't know what the exact numbers are for Android's share of the mobile phone marketplace but some analysts quote it as high as 60 percent. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that it's 45 percent. That's a huge number of people using Linux. A large number of those are using it in a BYOD setting.

The number of Android users is so high that a few mobile device management (MDM) companies only support Android devices. Most MDM suites support Android and other popular mobile operating systems.

Android is the Great Green Hope for Linux on the "Desktop." Mobile devices have desktops or desktop-like interfaces and Android is really good. Apple's iOS and the new Windows interface are also very good. The real winner is the user. I like BYOD and I like having a choice of operating system for my devices. In fact, I really appreciate MDM vendors who support several different choices because I might carry an Android phone and an iPad one day and on another day, I might have my iPhone with me. All need access. All need management.

I don't want my device banned or denied simply because the MDM doesn't support it.

I don't jailbreak my devices so there's never a chance I'll be denied on that basis. Besides, why the heck would anyone want to jailbreak an Android device? That's one that needs explanation, so please, if you can give me some good reasons for it, please do. Apple's iPhone, iPod and iPad make a good case for jailbreaking--although, as I said, I would never do it. I can certainly understand why someone would on those devices.

Android has a place in BYOD scenarios--a central place. It's one of the Big Three for devices. But, sadly, for the Linux desktop, there's just no room. There never will be. By the time there's a Linux distribution that's truly ready for the desktop, the traditional desktop won't exist.

Linux distro producers should think "Mobile" if they want a place on user devices. Android has proved it.

What do you think? Should Linux distro creators focus on the future of mobility for BYOD or stay stuck in the past? Talk back and let me know.

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Topic: Android


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Where does Linux fit into a BYOD world?

    It doesn't.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Ubuntu on Android

    I think you have a very good point. Personally, I believe that concepts like Ubuntu on Android which allow you to turn your smartphone into a desktop with a simple dock is going to be a game changer for many people. I still love my Ubuntu Desktop though. If it weren't for Netflix, I'd have no need for Windows whatsoever. And, in my humble opinion, Ubuntu creates a much prettier experience than either OSX or WindowsX. I for one am excited to see the path Canonical is going.
  • RE: Where does Linux fit into a BYOD world?

    [i]Android is the Great Green Hope for Linux on the ???Desktop.???[/i]
    The ASUS Transformer, with a detachable keyboard and 10-inch display, is a good example of an Android-based netbook. Imagine the Toshiba Excite 13 tablet packaged similarly to the Transformer. With a detachable keyboard and 13-inch display, this would make a fine laptop.

    P.S. Chromebooks and Chromeboxes are going to have to get considerably cheaper before consumers buy them and bring them to work.

    [i]Besides, why the heck would anyone want to jailbreak an Android device? That???s one that needs explanation, so please, if you can give me some good reasons for it, please do.[/i]
    There are still individuals that strongly adhere to free software principles and Android-based devices, as shipped by virtually everyone, are chock full of proprietary software (drivers, applications, etc.). R-e-p-l-i-c-a-n-t OS is an example of an truly FOSS, Android-based distro that these individuals would use. However, at the present time, it only supports a small number of smartphone models.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Ahhh!! The "mystical" top dog of the Android tablets ....

      Fandroids completely ignore the fact that IS NOT SELLING. ASUS built only 80K and they still have more than 50% of them sitting in a warehouse.

      But to a fandroid, selling less than the Xoom is a "great" product that is selling by the "millions".
      • LOL!

        It's a bitter pill, swallow it already.
      • Yeah, um

        I own one, and love it! I'm not a "fandroid" as you say. I'd have no problem dumping my Prime if something better came out (the iPad is NOT it), but right now, it works extremely well for me. Part of the issue is that too many people are, to use your thinking, "Apple Fanboys", and can't get past the iPad. And the marketers are certainly helping with that; 99% of the products out there for portable devices are for iPad and iPod, so if you own anything else, you almost always end up on eBay to buy accessories. If some of these people actually tried something other than an Apple device, I'm guessing, humbly, that they'd have no problem with running an Android device instead.
  • I don't want Linux Desktop Popular

    I like Linux Desktop right where it is. I don't want a dumb down OS and I don't want a Walled Garden. I like the fact that I can do whatever I want and tweak whatever I want. Most people don't want that is fine with me.

    OS Choice is what tool you want. I want Linux for my needs why do people always say Linux isn't ready when it should be Linux might be right for you if ___ and Windows is alright for you if ____ and if You Hate Your Money, like causing economic harm to others (Look at my Android bill at Sprint) and enjoy supporting evil buy Apple (Though the China Manufacturing is a World and Technology issue and not an Apple one)
    • Deep down, I think many Linux developers feel the same way as you...

      "I don't want Linux Desktop Popular. I like Linux Desktop right where it is. I don't want a dumb down OS and I don't want a Walled Garden. I like the fact that I can do whatever I want and tweak whatever I want."

      Unfortunately, it seems that those who drive the development of most desktop Linux distros have the same idea - they would rather be part of the "power user elite" than have their chosen platform be accepted as mainstream.

      If computers were cars, Linux automotive engineers wouldn't see anything wrong with a car that had 18 gears requiring four shifters and two clutches, as long as the engine was always running at a constant 2500 RPM.

      Meanwhile most other engineers had learned long ago that giving up a little gas mileage is a small price to pay for a car with controls intuitive enough for a new driver to be able to start the engine and drive.

      It may or may not surprise you that most people drive cars with automatic transmissions, even though they are worse on gas and generally cost more to maintain.
      • Yea, but there'll always be those who prefer driving manual

        and they don't care that they're a minority
        And there'll always be those who like to pop the hood and check and tinker with the engine themselves - and their jaw would drop at the idea of driving a vehicle whose hood was sealed shut with all kinds of legal threats to those who would crack it open.
      • Auto gearbox drivers

        daftkey, BTW, most drivers in Europe and, probably, anywhere outside North America, drive manual shift cars and, what's more, fuel consumption in modern automatics cars is little different from those with auto transmissions...
  • Why I Jail Break

    Bloat from Sprint, I can tweak my mobile phone like I do in Linux (Do anything I want), speed up my phone, and I can install any app I want. Also I can go through my file system with no problems.

    I don't do anything illegal but I have complete control of my phone.
  • If anything is now much less relevant than 5 years ago...

    ...it is Windows! More and more is done through the browser; this has caused the *perceived* application and usability gaps to narrow between Windows and various Linuces. You really write for a tech rag???
  • Think things through

    I do think you're completely wrong about the desktop. Completely 100%. I won't just yell my opinion, I'll prove it. Linux has lasting power and its eventual dominance on everything can't be stopped.

    Windows, for however good it can be or pretty it can be is tied to one company. A company only just established in 1975. And though it has lasted pretty good so far, what about in a 100 years? Or 200 years? Or 1000 years? The entire fate of the Windows OS is tied to Microsoft and the company's health. And one big economic depression from now to then will cause the Windows OS to cease to exist.

    Linux on the other hand is tied to people. Every single major Linux company could die and it'll still live on and be used. It's also an evolutionary thing. Windows is slow to change, slow to adapt(smartphones), it can't live in too many places. While Linux has a fast adaption, can change rapidly, and can live on any device you throw at it. Just look at the smart phone industry, Windows has been slow and is playing catch up. While Linux thrives. It's evolution in work, the technical landscape changed and Linux adapted instantly. So it's stupid to hear other Linux fans proclaim this day or that day is the day of Linux. Because there won't be a single day for Linux. It'll be a long gradual and slow process. No one can say if Windows or Microsoft will be relevant any more in 100 years or 200 year. But I can say that 100 years from now, or 1000 years from now; if people still exist, then there's a good bet Linux will still exist and it'll run on any new thing that we have then.

    That's why Microsoft is so concerned about Linux, it's an enemy that can never die.
    • Good points, but you're making the same mistake Richard Stallman makes...

      "The entire fate of the Windows OS is tied to Microsoft and the company's health. And one big economic depression from now to then will cause the Windows OS to cease to exist. "

      This isn't entirely true. Windows is a product of a company, and like any product, can be sold (hence, how Microsoft, Apple, and most other major players have gained much of their technologies), or it can be liquidated in the event of Microsoft's "death" (read: bankruptcy).

      In any event, the fate of Windows may rely heavily on the fate of Microsoft, but one does not completely dictate the other.
      • read more into it

        This isn't entirely true. While it can be sold, it would be a severe hit to Windows as a brand. Would the new company rebrand it? How would the new company handle existing customers? Any kind of product buy the size of Windows would cost a lot of money and a lot of time for whoever the new owner is. Just this alone will cause most companies to back away.

        The new company would almost certainly have their own goals with the software too. What if Facebook bought Windows and made it a Facebook Os hybrid. Timeline right on your desktop with major UI changes every year or so. No, Microsoft is a special kind of company. Microsoft isn't something easily replaced and its magic isn't something any company could easily reproduce. Whether or not the brand would endure, the Windows you love would cease to exist. To the point where you might actually prefer Linux or Mac. In my opinion both are better alternatives.
    • The more things change...

      "Linux has lasting power and its eventual dominance on everything can't be stopped. "

      -- That was in 1991. How many more decades will it take?
      • hhmmm...

        well as of late I can safely say that it has grown to where it powers 8 out of 10 websites website; in some way shape or form, if you visit a website you are going through a linux server, even if the web admin says it's windows. Also 90% of all supercomputers/grid/cloud centers use this os to keep thier servers secure and keep 99.9% uptime.
      • How many more decades will it take?

        Linux runs everything now.

        The fact is it is too useful to be dumbed down to the level where your daddies secretary can use it. It may well be running your food processor though, and certainly most of the devices that allow us to have this conversation on the Internet.
      • Can't really say how many decades

        but it takes a while and then growth becomes exponential. Add to that the prediction of a post PC world and those who claim they'll never adopt post PC and Windows as a desktop platform seems less likely to survive than Linux. If desktop usage declines and MS finds it no longer profitable it may well abandon desktop in favor of background and cloud services. Linux, in the form of android, already has a healthy market share in mobile and may gain a higher market share in desktop as its usage declines.

        I wonder about the motivations of those who should know better, but continue to deny this as a real possibility.
  • -1

    Man, take a trip aroung the globe. You'll find countries were Macs are the desired hardware/software option, and other parts where people (and Governments!) are changing and moving towards FOSS everyday!??? How comes you still think Linux is already dead? (we read this from your text!).