Torvalds: "I'm still working on" year of the Linux desktop, "I'll wear them down"

The phrase "year of the Linux desktop" has been uttered for so many years that for some it has lost all meaning. But the creator of the Linux operating system hasn't given up on that dream. And he's right not to give up.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Linux on different devices

Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux operating system, hasn't given up hope of there being a "year of the Linux desktop."

Speaking at the Embedded Linux Conference, Torvalds was bullish about the idea that Linux could become a dominant player on the PC desktop, and he's willing to put the next 25 years into trying to make that happen.

"I would obviously love for Linux to take over that world too," said Torvalds during the keynote that was reported by CIO, "but it turns out it's a really hard area to enter. I'm still working on it. It's been 25 years. I can do this for another 25. I'll wear them down."

Who the "them" is that he plans to wear down is unclear. Microsoft? Consumers? PC OEMs?

And don't talk about Linux being a failure, because Torvalds doesn't see it that way.

"I actually am very happy with the Linux desktop, and I started the project for my own needs, and my needs are very much fulfilled. That's why, to me, it's not a failure."

Given that hell has indeed frozen over, and Ubuntu and the Bash shell are indeed coming to Windows 10, Torvalds might be right to be so confident. Also, given that hundreds of millions of consumers are already happily running the Linux kernel on their Android devices, that could offer Linux an attractive way into the consumer space.

Another reason Torvalds is right to be optimistic is that the way consumers use a PC has changed so dramatically over the past decade. Gone are the days when everyone wanted to run monolithic software packages, and that's now been replaced by people using their PCs to primarily access the internet.

Well, that's something that Linux can do very well, saving the end user a chunk of change in the process.

OEMs are under pressure to make PCs cheaper and cheaper, and whenever you buy or build a new PC, the cost of the Windows operating system is a big chunk of the price tag. While OEMs have tried - and failed - in the past to get users to shift from Windows to Linux, the timing wasn't right. Many of the variables that made that wrong in the past have changed.

And overall Microsoft is a much smaller part of the tech world when you look at total shipped devices over a year. Where once it was Microsoft crushing Linux out of the tech space, now Microsoft is finding itself being pressed in on by Android and iOS.

And, I have to admit it; there are a lot of good Linux distros out there. A lot of consumers would be just at home with Mint or Ubuntu as they would be with Windows 10.

See also:

3D Printers: From $179 to $4,000, the price is right to buy one now (gallery)

Editorial standards