Intel: The year of the Linux desktop is here

Intel Chief Linux and Open Source Technologist Dirk Hohndel sees Linux as the leading end-user operating system - thanks to smartphones, tablets, as well as the rise of Chromebooks.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
Thanks to Android on smartphones and tablets, plus the rise of Chromebooks, Intel sees Linux as the leading end-user operating system.

New Orleans: The Sept. 18 LinuxCon keynote sessions were kicked off by Intel Chief Linux and Open Source Technologist and Linux kernel developer Dirk Hohndel who said that client computing today is mostly Linux. Thanks to Android on smartphones and tablets, plus the rise of Chromebooks, Intel sees Linux as the leading end-user operating system.

Hohndel admitted that "in 1999 he was the first to predict the 'Year of the Linux desktop.' Predictions are hard," he continued wryly, "especially about the future. But if I changed it from the year of Linux desktop and changed it to a decade and a half from now client computing will be mostly Linux, which has happened."

Intel is singing a different tune from when the company, thanks to its close Microsoft partnership known as Wintel. Hohndel was simply saying what Goldman Sachs and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers have already reported: Windows has declined while Linux has rose. 

As Goldman Sach stated in December 2012, "It took a computer revolution to unseat Microsoft from its dominant market position." It was not that Linux-based Android or Apple ever managed to knock Windows off its desktop throne. They haven't. It was the smartphone and tablet rebellion which has unseated the desktop. "Fundamentally, Microsoft’s business was disrupted by other vendors who successfully introduced compelling new device categories" But "thus far, Microsoft has failed to establish a meaningful foothold in [these new] key growth categories."

In his speech to top Linux engineers and developers, Hohndel said, "Outside of the community, most people don't see Linux's impact. Linux is usually invisible. When you go to any large Web site--Google, Facebook, Twitter--you're using Linux."

It's not just that even the most die-hard Windows users are invisibly using Linux every day, Hohndel said that, thanks to Android, Chrome OS, and the Linux that dares not speak its name (Ubuntu), the Linux end-user experience has never been more popular.  

In particular, when it comes to Chromebooks, Google and Intel are working closely on improving these lightweight laptops. The two companies "have seen Chromebooks race to a quarter of all computer sales and one fifth of all new PC school deployments."

Again, these users, just like Android users, may not be aware that they're using Linux, but then they're using Android smatphones and tablets, Chromebooks or Ubuntu, they're using Linux.

Hohndel said that Android is the most popular operating system for smartphones and is quickly becoming the most popular tablet operating system.  He added that Android smartphones are now the top of the line phones and that there are beautiful tablets as well.

In particular Hohndel praised the high-end Chromebook Pixel. "The Pixel is gorgeous. I love the Pixel. We are work closely with Google to improve Chromebook's graphics, audio, and all the pieces that lead to killer end-user devices. If you look into the future with the Chromebook, you can see Google reaching a broader and broader audience."

And, from where Intel sits, they'll be reaching them with Chromebooks powered by Intel chips.

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