Death of the Linux desktops

An apocalyptic take on the OS of the future

There is sad news from the USA: 95% of netbooks (i.e. the likes of the Asus EeePC, the Dell Mini etc) are being now supplied with Windows XP rather than Linux pre-installed. Why? Cos' the Americans don't like Linux; the number of returns spoke for itself, they hated Linux...or maybe just the variants they were exposed to... so, like the venerable Terminator itself, XP is back*.

Only 12 months ago the majority of netbooks were sporting 'snazzy' Linux OSes and enjoying their price advantage. Better still, Windows Vista simply did not work on anything other than supercomputers and Microsoft had officially deprecated XP, hoping to force punters into upgrading to the most unpopular OS of all time.

The Linux desktop revolution was under way

We now know what happened in the US, it's all over, but wait! comes the new smaller, greener, lighter Smartbooks. These use Linux on their teeny ARM-Risc platforms ...the Linux desktop revolution is under way! Or then again, it is until the platform proves to be popular, if so..then hello Windows XP_lite.

The point is, and this has been said before, open source models of development are so effective that herein lays all innovation. But the openness of both the code and the methodology means that every Tom, Dick and Harry proprietarist gets to read and study them.

Moreover, rich clever Tom, Dick and Harrys then create much the same thing with closed patented code plus the all-important feature - good marketing.

If you are Microsoft it does not pay to innovate, in fact, taking risks is senseless which is why they don't do it very often and when they do it goes horribly wrong.

Why not, simply play copy-cat and whichever party it is that you are at, pass yourself off as the host! It works, after all, despite even the best efforts of such erudite authors as Dan Brown most Americans still believe Bill Gates invented the Internet, such is the power of good marketing.

It follows that logically all desktops of the dystopian future will be Windows XP* unless...

Linux licks its wounds and bides its time

This is where it gets interesting, the very model that prevents Linux from beating Windows also means that the little critters are almost impossible to drive to extinction. They get into all sorts of nooks and crannies. For example, I have in my geeky inventory a new Asus VideoPhone, a Sony E-reader, an Asus EeeBox PC and a TomTom. All four have are supplied with embedded Linux OSes.

It reminds me of the Herpes virus. Chase it down with antivirals and it goes and hides in nerve cells where you can't get to it. It'll be back don't worry! I don't speak from personal experience of course, but in my capacity as a PhD in bio-chemistry:)

So, having flirted with the biological theme it is fun but not frivolous to extend it to explore how the mighty XP desktop can be defeated.

Mass Extinction (of XP)

Mass extinctions occur regularly in nature. This generally happens in three ways - genocide, change of climate, and disease.

Trumping them all of course is an Act of God which embraces all three (eg smiting, floods, and plagues of frogs). Just for the sake of the article I will not invoke apocalypse at the hands of a God that just loves Open Source Software but I suspect if there were one, he/she would.

So which of the three concerns us most?

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