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.
Fedora 20 with GNOME
openSUSE 13.10 with KDE
Linux Mint with CinnamonMore at 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.