According to Novell’s CEO, the Linux desktop for the next three to five years will be workers transferring their home computers to Linux. He also said that Linux will take several more years before penetrating the desktop.
I partially agree with the 3-5 year numbers for Linux adoption, although I am talking about both enterprise transfers and desktop advancements coming from Windows to Linux converts. I personally believe that Linux on the desktop faces the following variables:
1) Microsoft (How often will they release a new version in the next 5 years, how good will they be?)
2) Apple (nuff’ said)
3) Linux supporter involvement
Microsoft is said to have a new version of Windows in the works. A new, modular form of Windows due to be released in 2009 or 2010, thanks to contradicting sources from various Microsoft sources. Depending on whether or not these next releases will be a success, Linux will either face slowed adoption or an increase over time. Either way, there is at least a year before the first predicted release of Windows 7 occurs.
Apple has quite a bit of growth, and while it’s shipments are small compared to the other computer makers, they are indeed growing. If they continue to grow, and in five years become dominant (a stretch), Linux would have to wait the year or so before Apple’s shine wares off. More likely, there will be a market for both Mac and Linux, and Windows. Microsoft will not go away, and Apple is most likely to take the high-end computers and increase in size. Linux will also grow, with installation on lower-end PCs, and also converts from Windows and Mac. Either way, it does not look good for Microsoft’s current dominating status.
The third point is something that I have personally been a part of for the past year. I have been working to get Ubuntu into the mainstream. With an estimated 12 million users, Ubuntu is one of the largest distributions, and currently one of the most popular. The real interesting part is the involvement of the community. Ubuntu is not just Canonical, but a large community as well. Without community involvement, Ubuntu would just be another distribution, probably not as far along as it is now. Ubuntu has done well due to the efforts of a certain self-appointed dictator for life, and a focus on community.
Local Community Teams have been created with the sole purpose of bringing Ubuntu to users in their local area. So far, no other Linux distributions have put forth such an effort, and thus, have not been as successful on the desktop. Plain and simple, a little elbow grease goes a long way. Thanks to the efforts of the thousands of Ubuntu volunteers taking the advocational efforts OFF the internet and into the REAL world, Ubuntu has seen great strides on the desktop, previously unseen by any other Linux distribution.
For the purpose of time, 3-5 years seems to be a realistic point of view for Linux adoption. In pre-Ubuntu times, I rarely heard of Linux. Later on, I began to hear more and more from people I would never expect to run Ubuntu talking about how “cool” it is. To be perfectly honest, I would not mind other distributions using the Local Community Team model for spreading their distribution, although a leader is necessary if we as a Linux community are to make it to the mainstream, where people know it as well as “Windows” or “Mac.” As it stands, I work for Ubuntu’s success, and will continue to do so. If others pitch in and join the effort, it would be interesting to see exactly where Linux could go.