Desktop Linux tidal wave alert

In 2009, more Linux-powered desktops will sell than will Windows-powered ones. Sounds crazy doesn't it? Think again.

What's happened is that people don't just want; they're demanding that their computers boot-up Right Now. Vendors aren't fools, so they're delivering laptops and desktops that can boot-up really fast.

Of course, while most of the vendors would like to give their customers Windows, they can't. Windows is no more capable than booting fast than John McCain is of winning the Olympic gold in the 100-meter dash. That's where Linux comes in.

You see you can boot Linux up in a hurry if you do it from the hardware and thanks to a company called deviceVM and its fast-booting Linux, SplashTop. PC OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) like ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo, are all including SplashTop on their lines.

SplashTop, which can boot from either the firmware or the hard drive, is a lightweight modern Linux. The package includes a simple graphical desktop, Blackbox and a selection of popular network-aware applications. These include a Web browser, which is based on Firefox; Skype VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol); and an IM (instant message client).

While you can't access the hard-drive with this fast-boot operating system, you can use your network and play DVDs or CDs. Once you've booted into SplashTop, depending on how the vendor has it set up, you can either choose to continue to boot into the system's main operating system or the main system will boot up in the background.

While the bulk of Linux desktops are going to come from vendors who are adopting SplashTop or similar 'instant-on Linuxes,' the hardware OEMs are also adopting desktop Linux in its own right. Lenovo, after turning away from Novell SUSE Linux on its ThinkPad line is back in the game. Now, Lenovo is shipping its new IdeaPad S10e netbook with SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop).

HP, after resisting the temptation to ship a laptop with Linux for ages, will finally be shipping Linux as a standard option in December on the HP Mini 1000 with MIE. The MIE (Mobile Internet Experience) is actually the name of HP's home-grown version of Ubuntu for its netbooks.

In the meantime, Dell is continuing to lead the mainstream adoption of the Linux desktop. Its most recent Linux-enabled laptop, the Inspiron Mini 9 with Ubuntu 8.04 is especially attractive. Other vendors, like Asus with its Eee lines, are also quickly moving into shipping Linux on their mini-notebooks.

Quietly, without many people noticing, the Linux desktop has become the mainstream. Now, with the arrival of new, exciting Linux distributions like Ubuntu 8.10, users' demand for a quick boot-up operating system, and Microsoft's Vista failure, Linux may actually be on more new systems next year than Windows will be. If Microsoft takes too long in delivering Windows 7, its emergency Vista fix-up, who knows? By 2010, maybe most new PC users will be using Linux instead of Windows. The desktop Linux tidal wave may indeed be on its way.

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