Does it still make sense for Linus to want the desktop for Linux?

Image credit: The Linux Foundation

In today's open source roundup: Linus still wants the desktop for Linux, but is he trapped in the past? Plus: Should open source developers support Windows more? And share your first experience with Linux

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Linux has long lingered in the single digits in terms of desktop market share. But some recent comments by Linus Torvalds at LinuxCon have brought renewed hope that someday Linux might achieve a more dominant position. eWeek looks at what Linus had to say about about the desktop and a range of topics at LinuxCon.

According to eWeek:

Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman moderated the discussion and commented that Linux already runs everywhere. He asked Torvalds where he thinks Linux should go next.

"I still want the desktop," Torvalds said as the audience erupted into boisterous applause.

The challenge on the desktop is not a kernel problem, Torvalds said. "It's a whole infrastructure problem. I think we'll get there one day."

More at eWeek

I can sympathize with Linus' desire for Linux to have a larger share of the desktop market. It would be wonderful if we all woke up one day to find that Linux had 30% or more of the desktop market. There would be many celebrations among Linux users if that ever happened and it would send shockwaves across the world of technology.

But part of me can't help but wonder if maybe Linus is trapped in the past a little bit. The days of the desktop being the primary computing platform for many people are over. Oh sure, it's still very important and it will remain so for a long, long time. But a lot of users have moved much of their computing habits away from the desktop in favor of mobile devices such as tablets or phones.

So even if Linux suddenly had a huge percentage of the desktop market tomorrow, it really wouldn't mean as much it would have ten or fifteen years ago. The desktop computer market seems to be in a long, slow decline and I don't think Linux or any other operating system can stop that.

I think mobile devices are much more important to the future of Linux. Chrome OS and Android are obviously based on Linux, so in that sense Linux is already dominant in the mobile arena. The users of such devices may be completely oblivious to the fact that they are based on Linux, but that doesn't negate the fact that Linux is there.

However, I'd like to see other Linux-based options besides Google's offerings take center stage on mobile devices. Ubuntu, Debian and various other desktop distributions would be welcome indeed in a mobile form on tablets and phones as an alternative to Android. Ubuntu has been working on this, but it would be nice if other desktop distro makers followed suit.

None of this means that the desktop should be ignored, but the days of focusing primarily on the desktop are already over. Mobile devices should be considered a higher priority at this point because we are truly living in a mobile world now.

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