Desktop Linux computing has entered a state of boredomness


#1

There has been about a decade or two of anticipation of Linux suddenly replacing Windows as the de facto desktop/workstation operating system. In 2004 Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu Linux / Canonical Ltd., wrote the famous bug #1 about the market dominance of Windows. He closed the bug report 9 years later, in 2013.

If you take computing as a whole, including mobiles and servers, the bug #1 can be rightfully closed. Linux rocks in the server segment, in mobiles (via Android), but on the desktop nothing has changed. A vast majority of the desktops and laptops currently sold are shipped with Windows. Apple has it own small niche, and Linux market share remains to be minuscule. Personally I tried to make the switch with Ubuntu 7.04, but it took a couple more ears until Linux was desktop ready for me. But when I finally did it, I have never looked back. As Linux has evolved, so has the world around it. Computing for most people nowadays is very Internet browser centric. We are living on an era where for the casual user the operating system is almost insignificant, as long as the basics work. You can communicate, stream content and do your online banking with any relatively modern operating system.

As Linux has matured it has also become boring. Back in the days it was exciting to do distro hopping and wait for the next Linux distribution release. But nowadays, and for the past few years, it really has not made a big difference. If your hardware is not exoctic or very latest, you can pop in just about any Linux distro DVD/USB-key, boot, install in 15 minutes and everything works. Differentiation comes only from desktop UI cosmetics, which also are rather irrelevant as you are mostly staring at Firefox or Chrome. The next release will bring nothing but slightly updated software component versions and some improved hardware support features. Linux distro developers actually have to do some gimmickry trying to make their OS different from all the other alternatives, like moving the window control buttons to the wrong side (left).

But boring is good. It actually means that Linux is ready for the desktop and a free drop-in replacement for Windows for the casual user. But why should people care, as they can click the browser icon on the pre-installed Windows, just as they would using Linux?

“Wow, a slightly different tint of purple in this new Ubuntu release!”


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