20xx Will be the Year of Linux

I see this all the time in the online linux press.  It’s pretty funny, especially as no one has really managed to define what `year of linux’ or `year of the linux desktop’ actually means.

Here’s a new one for you: there will be no year of linux.

Yes, you heard it here at ThermionicEmissions first.  No year of linux.  Furthermore there will be no year of the linux desktop either.

While I’m at it with the news flashes, the Linux Press (such as it is) has managed to ignore one really interesting and important milestone: 2008 was the year of the linux notebook.  By extension (as heard here before) it was also the year of the linux desktop (especially after I told you there was no year of the linux desktop).  Got all that?

I haven’t bothered to check the figures (not to mention having no idea how to go about it) but there have been rather a lot of netbooks sold.   Perhaps somewhere over a thousand and less than a million.  Quite a few of them have been sold with some variety of linux preloaded.  Detractors and bullshit aside, quite a few of them are still operating.

Let me switch from Real Imitation Linux Pundit<tm> to local linux guy<tm>.


Linux kind of snuck into my workplace a number of years ago.  It wasn’t even conscious… I was just FED UP with Windows and wanted to try something reliable.  I had tried out Red Hat, way back in 5.2 or so, and had a look at different flavors subsequently.  I settled on Debian for some reason.  When I finally managed to screw that up, I discovered Xubuntu, which has been my flavor ever since.

I was the lone linux guy in a four man MIS team.  The boss laughed at me whenever I mentioned it.  I kept threatening to put a live CD in his drive and make him think I overwrote his hard drive with linux.  The other guys tolerated me pretty well… they got used to my `varied interests’ and treated all of them accordingly (my wife learned early: “Yes, Dear”).

Through a bizarre series of circumstances, controlled substances, and vacuums, I wound up running the department.   Since I tried to hire smart folks with aptitude, some came from the local linux group.  I found it ironic and downright hilarious that the MIS department of the all Windows shop now had linux guys in it.

That’s when things really started to get fun.  Two of us used linux as our primary operating system.  The network monitoring was almost totally linux.  Virtualization brought more linux opportunities.  Open source applications started to appear both in the department and on desktops.  And then a few Ubuntu machines `wandered onto the floor’, both as loaners and second machines (no complaints).

After resisting the netbook for a while, I decided to give it a go.  Of course they came with linux.  I couldn’t stand the format but realized it could be pretty popular in our loaner laptop pool.  Lo and behold, the machines became incredibly popular.  Not only didn’t we hear a single complaint, the people who borrowed the machines requested them next time.   We also never received a single question about the operating system [either the EEE-PC’s Xandros or Dell’s Ubuntu].

Upper Manglement where I work kinda laughs when I bring up linux so any effort has to be stealthy.  Apparently it’s not that funny, as the owner has an EEE-PC netbook.

The future of linux is in the hands of its users/advocates.  The netbook experiment has proven what I suspected two years ago: put a Windows-like GUI linux on desktops and it can be used by the entire enterprise (with the possible exception of proprietary apps, which can be used through terminal emulation if necessary).

Don’t fight about – do it.