The Linux community has been saying it for years, “this is the year of Linux on the desktop” and each time I wrote it off as wishful thinking. For a number of years I felt Linux had never really made any real progress, just changes. I said things like, the things that were good in Linux 5 years ago are still good now, and everything that sucked about Linux 5 years ago still sucks today. You have your old timer applications and services like Apache that are just as rock solid today as they’ve ever been but then some projects like GNOME have felt unfinished.
But I’m starting to see signs that all of this is set to change and I think Ubuntu and it’s associated spin offs like Xubuntu and Kubuntu will be leading the way. Although I’ve become, primarily, a Windows user I do keep on top of Linux and if you read my previous post about MythTV you’ll know I have at least two computers with Ubuntu running on them. I originally installed Ubuntu (6.10 to be specific) simply because it was the easiest way to get up and running with MythTV but I’ve since given it some time as a desktop OS and have even gone so far as to try out the latest beta releases called Fiesty Fawn.
Now I haven’t gone so far as to bring over all of my photos or music or anything like that but I really don’t feel I need to. Many of those applications have existed for a while and work well enough. What really has me convinced that Linux, and more specifically the GUI’s that rest on top of Linux, are truly becoming “desktop ready” are all of the small touches and thought that are being put in.
While Edgy (6.10) contains a few of the things seen in Fiesty, Fiesty and items planned for it will really push the envelope for what’s available to Linux users for ease of use. Utilities like KDE’s knetwork manager and things like ifplugd or netplug that automatically bring up a network interface when a cable is plugged into it. Things like this have existed for a time, but nobody has ever really made it all work together, correctly in one distribution.
Another reason why I feel Linux has truly reached a tipping is increasing noise about vendor support. Dell recently even started a poll to find out exactly what people might expect from a Linux system from them. With companies such as Dell, like them or not, getting behind the Linux movement you’ll see a lot of good for everyone. Once Linux gets into the hands of even more novices, people who probably wouldn’t take the time to download and install Linux on their own, we’ll begin to see more rapid ease-of-use type development in the Linux scene. While many Linux elitists will state Linux is already easy to use, the smart Linux user will admit that there are things that could be easier. While I don’t think 2007 will be “the year” 2008 is looking mighty promising.