Chrome OS and Android may be top desktop Linux distros in 2014

Today in Open Source: Will Chrome OS and Android dominate the 2014 Linux desktop? Plus: Red Flag Linux bites the dust, and an anatomy of a Linux system

Chrome OS and Android Desktop

ZDNet has an interesting slideshow of potential top Linux distros for 2014. Chrome OS and Android Desktop may top the charts.

For years, we've talked about the Linux desktop becoming important. Now, it finally is. But thanks to Chromebooks and Android PCs, it's not the Linux desktop we expected.

In 2014, I see us moving to a new world of Linux desktops: Cloud-based Linux distributions, such as Chrome OS and Peppermint ; mobile-Linux distros, such as Android and Ubuntu Touch; and "traditional" fat-client Linux desktops such as Fedora and openSUSE with their newest relative: The SteamOS based gaming Linux.

Chromebook Pixel

Chrome OS

Android Desktop

Fedora 20 with GNOME

openSUSE 13.10 with KDE


Linux Mint with Cinnamon

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Top Linux Desktop Distributions for 2014
Image credit: ZDNet

How ironic that Android Desktop and Chrome OS are two of the first slides in the article. Did anybody ever really think that Google would be the one that might introduce Linux to the broader desktop market? And yet it seems to be happening as Android moves to the desktop and Chromebooks explode in popularity.

The Windows 8 fiasco has opened the door to Linux in a way that hasn't happened before. Many Windows users took one look at Windows 8 and immediately cast about for alternatives for their computers that didn't lead them to Apple. So the time is ripe for Chromebooks and Android Desktop.

Android phone and tablet users have also become incredibly comfortable with the idea of computing without Windows. It's really no surprise that these folks would take the next step of dumping Windows from their desktops. Once you've used an Android phone it just makes it easier to imagine life without Windows altogether.

I'm glad that the article didn't ignore the regular Linux desktop distros like Fedora and Linux Mint. Both have a lot to offer in their own right, and they are just the tip of the iceberg of what's available in terms of desktop distributions.

As much as I like the idea of Chrome OS and Android Desktop being available, I don't see them winning over users from more traditional distros like Ubuntu or Linux Mint since those users might not appreciate being brought into Google's orbit. Google has been criticized for privacy issues in the past, and some folks will just not trust their desktop operating systems.

Still, I think Chrome OS and Android Desktop are net positives for the Linux desktop. They aren't perfect and they are attached to Google, but at least they hold out the potential of introducing a lot of Windows users to life without Microsoft's operating system software.

SteamOS is a different animal entirely. While it can be used as a desktop operating system, I can't see many SteamOS users using it that way. SteamOS is all about the games, and I think that's where it will shine when finally released. I don't want to write it off entirely, but I would probably not have included it on this list about the Linux desktop in 2014.

Chinese version of Linux bites the dust

ZDNet is also reporting that Red Flag Linux has been discontinued.

Once the world's second-largest Linux distributor, Red Flag Software has shuttered reportedly due to mismanagement and after owing employees months in unpaid wages.

China's state-funded answer to global software giants like Microsoft, the Chinese company filed for liquidation over the weekend and terminated all employee contracts. Set up in late-1999 amid the dot-com boom, Red Flag was touted as an alternative to Windows, offering desktop and server OSes built on the open-source Linux platform.

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My sympathies to the Chinese employees who are now trying to get their earned wages back. I hope they are successful in getting what they worked for while Red Flag Linux was still in business.

That said, I don't see this as a big loss for Linux. I'm not sure why anybody thought that there needed to be a state-sanctioned version of Linux in the first place. There are plenty of different distributions available in a host of different languages already that should work very well for Chinese users and businesses.

The anatomy of a Linux system

SJVN on Google+ had a great image of the anatomy of a Linux system.

This is actually a pretty good Linux diagram.

More at Google+
Anatomy of a Linux System

I really like how this diagram breaks down the various groups who use Linux, and shows which Linux components matter to them. It's a great visual representation of what Linux has to offer, and I think it can be a good teaching tool for those who want to learn more about Linux.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

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