Linus on the Desktop

A little while back I wrote about an interview with Linus Torvalds conducted by the Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin. Well, that was part one, and part two is now up, both as a podcast and transcript. As with the previous episode, this is full of interesting stuff, particularly about what keeps Linus motivated, why innovation is overrated and the following thoughts on the GNU/Linux desktop:

The desktop is special. Everybody has a different idea of what the desktop is going to be. You have lots of people coming from Windows who just – they know what a desktop is supposed to be - Windows, right?

You have people coming from Mac and they know what a desktop is supposed to be and it has to have that menu bar at the top and if you don’t have the menu bar at the top, it’s not a desktop, right?

So, everybody has a different idea. Everybody also has different hardware. The desktop is also where all the hardware really exists. Servers have 1% of the hardware that the desktop has in terms of different drivers and things like that. You don’t find webcams on servers generally. You don’t find oddball IDE drives on servers.

But at the same time, one of the things that worked against open source, I think, in the desktop was that when things are really changing fairly rapidly which the desktop used to do during the 90’s, there was a lot of new features. The whole way people interacted with the desktop went fromhaving a few programs to the whole web browsing thing and people’s use of the desktop really changed.

When that happens, when you have lots of change, it’s easier for one company that drives it, in this case mostly Microsoft, to kind of drive the market and at some point, and I think one the reasons people are having issues with Vista now, is that it’s much harder to – for one company - to kind of change the market and when the market has matured.

And I think the desktop market, to some degree in the last four or five years, has started to mature in the sense that people today are not probably using the desktop all that differently from what they were five years ago which didn’t used to be true.


Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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