Does desktop Linux matter?

I have a lot of great correspondents in our TalkBack section. Among the best, and most persistent, is Cho Ok-Hyeong.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

I have a lot of great correspondents in our TalkBack section. Among the best, and most persistent, is Cho Ok-Hyeong.

Cho often makes the same point. Cho makes this point regularly, powerfully, and with facts to back him up.

Chos point is that Linux will never make it on the desktop. (For a dissenting view, check out the Desktop Linux Summit, today in San Diego.)

I have thought about this a lot. I have come to the conclusion that Cho may be right.

I have also concluded that it doesnt matter.

Linux and open source have enormous power in the server area. This now extends across the server space, and no one denies it. Much of this strength comes at the expense of other nix operating systems. Much of it is due to the heroic efforts of IBM. No matter, this is the market reality.

It is also a market reality that Microsoft controls the desktop. Microsoft dominates the PC operating system space, and it dominates in applications.

But these are not the only two computing platforms out there.

We know, for instance, that handhelds are becoming a computing platform. We had PDAs, and now we have smart phones. Nearly all mobile devices will become smarter over time. Which operating system these new devices will use is still an open question.

There are many other computing platforms. Theres the games platform. Theres the music platform. There are going to be platforms for wireless networking. All these platforms will support a host of applications. There are multipleoperating systems offeredin all these areas.

But only one type of operating system has opportunities to enter all these areas, and more. That is open source.

This doesnt mean that open source will be the glue that holds the computing world together. Its not necessary for everything to run the same operating system. If it were, Linux servers at Google couldnt pass data to my Windows PC.

But it does argue that there is far more to computing than the desktop, more all the time. And that maybe, in seeing Linux through its failure on the desktop, our view of it is limited.

But what do you think? Let us know on TalkBack. I believe Cho and I both look forward to it.

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