Landmark Day for Desktop Linux
When the history of desktop Linux is written, open source pundits will likely point to October 18, 2007, as an historic date. Here’s why.
Although most of the desktop industry is gearing up for Apple’s Leopard upgrade and Microsoft’s Windows Vista Service Pack 1, a small but significant Linux product launch — occurring today — could eventually bring open source to the masses.
As any open source enthusiast will tell you, today marks the arrival of Ubuntu 7.10, previously code-named Gutsy Gibbon. Sure, Red Hat and Novell grab most of the Linux headlines, but Ubuntu 7.10 — from a company called Canonical — is the desktop Linux most pundits are now watching.
The upgrade includes a slick 3-D interface and other enhancements that bring Linux closer to the mainstream market. I’m not suggesting that Linux is now ready for every home or business desktop. But we’re getting closer to that goal. As long as Canonical and the open source crowd don’t lose their focus, it’s safe to predict that Linux will grow to represent 5 percent to 8 percent of the PC market in a few years.
That may sound like a tiny figure. But let’s do some quick math. Worldwide PC sales will approach 260 million units this year, according to Gartner. Five percent of that market is 13 million units. That’s a killer opportunity for Canonical and its partners. Ubuntu’s installed base is currently about 6 million to 12 million users, Canonical estimates. And the latest Ubuntu 7.10 release should help broaden the operating system’s appeal — especially with Dell backing it.
For business owners and consultants who remain married to Windows, it’s time to at least kick the tires on desktop Linux. Install Ubuntu 7.10 or another Linux flavor on a desktop in the office. You’ll be surprised by its speed, reliability and flexibility. It’s not an option for all users — but schools, government organizations, small businesses and other cost conscious customers are prime targets for Ubuntu going forward.
Linux won’t topple the Windows desktop empire anytime soon. But history will show that Apple wasn’t the only company to restore consumer choice in the PC market. On October 18, 2007, thousands of new users discovered Ubuntu Linux.