The cloud might be the key to the triumph of desktop Linux

In today's open source roundup: Linux and the cloud could be a winning combination. Plus: DistroWatch reviews Neptune 4, and Linux kernel 3.16 released

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Linux, open source

There have been many musings about why Linux doesn't have larger market share on the desktop. It's a topic that keeps coming up, over and over again, year after year. This time around Tech Republic speculates on how the cloud could be the key to Linux triumphing on the desktop.

According to TechRepublic:

The cloudbook could very well be the thing that vaults Linux into the hands of the average user, without having to stake its claim on Chrome OS or Android. And with the Linux cloudbook in the hands of users, the door for the Ubuntu Phone will have been opened and ready to walk through. Convergence made possible and easy.

The desktop, the cloudbook, the phone.

More at TechRepublic

Linux needs the cloud

There's no denying the power and utility value of the cloud. We all use it and it's certainly something that most Linux users can appreciate. However, I disagree with the basic premise of the article that Linux "Linux needs...a major win in the desktop arena." Why? Linux is alive and well, and doing just fine without having tons of desktop market share.

I'm not sure where this obsession with market share comes from, but I think it's an altogether unhealthy thing. And it's particularly bad when you consider that mobile devices have been chipping away steadily at desktop usage across all platforms. I'd much rather see Linux offer more mobile device options than trying to go on some quixotic quest to gain desktop market share when most users are moving away from the desktop anyway.

The author uses Chromebooks as an example, and I can understand his affection for them. For what they do they are fine computing devices, and their popularity can't be questioned at this point (as always see Amazon's list of bestselling laptops to see just how popular they are right now). But we already have Chromebooks, so why do we need a Linux "cloudbook?"

Also, if you want a cloud-based Linux distribution then you can certainly opt for Peppermint OS. It blends the cloud and the desktop together in a very coherent and useful way. You can run your favorite cloud based applications right alongside your desktop software. It's a far better option than Chrome OS for those who want the convenience of the cloud but who also want powerful desktop applications too.

Frankly, if I had to choose between Peppermint OS and Chrome OS, I'd go with Peppermint OS hands down. Yes, Chrome OS has much to offer but Peppermint OS does even more. And you can install Peppermint OS on any Intel-based laptop that will run Ubuntu since Peppermint OS is an Ubuntu spin.

The cloud certainly has its uses, but it's not the be-all, end-all of computing.

Neptune 4 review
DistroWatch has a full review of Neptune 4, a Debian-based distro.

According to DistroWatch:

My general feelings about Neptune, having used the distribution for a week, are that it does not stand out as having any particularly unique or intriguing features, but neither does Neptune appear to contain any serious flaws.

All in all, Neptune offered me a pretty good experience. It was welcoming in its stable (some might say bland) approach. The Debian Stable base means Neptune will continue to receive support for a few years to come and the underlying operating system is likely to be rock solid during that time. The modern kernel and desktop environment provide a good, fairly up to date experience atop the solid base. In short, Neptune provides a solid desktop system that is friendly and stable. There are a minimum of surprises and fuss with this distribution.

More at DistroWatch

Neptune 4 review
Image credit: DistroWatch

I have not used Neptune, but sounds like a decent distribution even it seems to lack anything to set it apart from many others. That seems to be a big problem with some distributions. They work well enough but there's nothing particularly unique about them that adds enough value to draw in Linux users. It's sort of just more of the same, and that can make it difficult for such distributions to survive for long periods of time.

You can get more information on the Neptune site, including download links and a forum about Neptune.

Linux kernel 3.16 released
OMG Ubuntu reports that Linux kernel 3.16 has been released.

According to OMG Ubuntu:

...we've put together a list of some of notable changes featuring in this release.

Multi-platform ARM kernel image for multiple ARM SoCs (incl. Exynos)
Various support for Nvidia Tegra K1 and Kepler GPU
Nokia N900 modem driver included in mainline
Initial Intel Cherryview Support
Improvements to Sixaxis and DualShock 4 controller support
Sony-HID driver improvements
RMI driver for Synaptics touchpad
Saitek RAT7 gaming mouse fix
Dell FreeFall driver
80 changes and fixes to Btrfs filesystem
New audio drivers for misc. Cirrus, Realtek and Analog devices.
Tegra HD-audio HDMI support

More at OMG Ubuntu

You can also read the 3.16 release announcement from Linus. Reddit has a thread with reader reactions to the kernel update.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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