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Why You Might Be Using Linux in 2009

Whatever you do, 2009 is looking to be a big year.  That no exception when it comes to Linux. Applications and large projects continue to develop and make major releases multiple times per year.  And while every year people predict that the next might be “The Year” for Linux adoption, here’s a list of some major products and trends that will play a part in attracting new attention to Linux in 2009.

KDE4

Now more than ever, the Linux desktop just looks awesome.  KDE4 is an important part helping Linux develop that reputation. The release of KDE4 this year was maybe the biggest desktop focused release for Linux of the past 3 years, and besides being one of the most sharp and impressive looking environments out-of-the-box, it’s also created a whole new Linux desktop experience with it’s support for compositing and desktop effects, widgets (or “plasmoids”) including Google Gadgets.  The applications that come with KDE4 have all been going through major updates as well making them all just as impressive; utility tools like Dolphin, and lifestyle applications including Amarok 2, DigiKam, Kopete, Konquerer, and Kontact.

KDE4 was released earlier in 2008, but neither KDE4.0, or KDE4.1 were ready for use by average computer users.  But with the soon to be released KDE4.2, and KDE‘s future releases in 2009, new Linux users looking for a great desktop experience are in luck.

Netbooks

Netbook popularity continues to grow, and their sales show no sign of slowing for 2009.  People who are either looking for a second computer, or a second laptop, or people who appreciate the smaller price tag that comes with netbooks, are best suited to take the dive into Linux.  With less expensive hardware, and lack of critical information or applications on their netbooks, it’s a lot less risky for first time users to try Linux.

The best way to get the maximum cash value out of netbooks is only ever spend money on the one-time cost of the hardware.  Ubuntu-eee, soon to be renamed to Easy Peasy, leads the way for netbook targeted versions of Linux.  Apart from giving users full value for their netbooks and providing them with all the software anybody will want to run on a netbook, Ubuntu-eee and other netbook targeted versions Linux like also include customized user interfaces designed for use on the netbooks smaller screens.

Netbooks will continuously be best suited to run Linux as well. The new Windows 7 is said to be lighter than Vista, and able to run on netbooks, but even if that is the case, investing extra money for an operating system or for additional software for is a fast way to ruin any cost saving netbooks provide.  Linux already provides netbook users with all the software and connectivity support required to make the system fully usable.  The purchase of any software on top of the netbook itself is almost destroys the cost saving of the small computer.

The Cloud

The trend is growing of people whose work is being done more and more on the online. People are already figuring out that the smart way to get access to their data across multiple computers is by putting that data online onto the Cloud. Web office suites, communications tools, personal organization systems, and other quality applications are being created each month and all they demand from our computers is a good web browser and access to the Internet. The idea of computers being only an access point, and the applications and data we need and use being online lower the requirements of the equipment on our end substantially, and make the prospect of paying for a heavy front-end loaded machine will make less sense if the trend continues.

This is happening across all computing platforms and it was one of the original selling points for netbooks; that despite their lower processing power, they enable people more mobile access to their web applications.

Will It Drive Adoption?

There’s no way to tell if any of these items will actually switch people over in any higher numbers than Linux has been seeing over the past couple of years. But in the big picture, there’s an intersection being approached when the quality of the applications and experience present in Linux match the trends appearing in the way people work with computers, going more mobile than ever before, and the way the Internet and web applications are melding together with the desktop.

69 replies on “Why You Might Be Using Linux in 2009”

I am reading an article like this with one thing in my mind. All present operating systems were written over 40 years ago. In the last twenty years it has just been a massaging of old OS's that have been going on. I do believe that the world is ready for a completely new operating system based on what computing is based on today and projecting what form it (computing) will take in the future. I do believe that for the next twenty years or so a desktop operating system will be necessary, versus the cloud system that is been hyped up presently. Desktop computing is based on the premise that everyone will have access to limitless and affordable amounts of broadband access. This is not exactly correct. There are a whole bunch of issues needing to be tackled with today's operating systems. We have issues of 64bit compatibility, security, ipv6 implementation amongst other things.
The suggestion I will put forward is that all countries of the world get together to create a new Open Source OS. If we can extricate geo-politcs form such a scenario we should be able to cover the needs of future computing indeed. Such a system will entail, hopefully, every aspect of modern day computing. I have very little clue about how this will eventually take place but I can only say that such a system is well overdue.

I tried a number of linux distros in the past and single handedly the biggest problem for linux distros was all the choices people were given. Say I choose one distro over 200 others, I still have to pick whether I want KDE or Gnome or put-your-favorite-DE-here. And God only knows if I can install it without any glitches and get the wi-fi working out of the box. I guess I could go onto forums and look for tutorials or workaround, and I can probably get wi-fi up and running without too much effort. However that's not what most people would want to do. If something doesn't work, average consumers would like to have a phone number they can call and get the problem fixed. Open Source is good in theory, and yes most of linux distros can run on old PCs, but any of available linux distro won't be accepted to average consumers unless there is a single Linux distro that can work for the most of the time (Ubuntu comes very close to this) and have some sort of support mechanism in case there is a need of it. Without support, good luck 2009 being the year of Linux!

Just my 2 cents 🙂

Our computers are the same way, but as you probably know they ask stupid questions. So if they use linux or M$ they are still going to ask you 20 times how to send and receive their email.

great post 🙂 now, questions

1. I am using ubuntu with theme that makes it look like mac. .. if I download fedora core 10, with gnome, can I use the same theme, for mac like looks ?

2. Does applications work in the same way, when we use gnome and kde ?

3. If I download gnome fc 10, can change it to kde later, without much trouble ?

thanks for answering these questions .. and if possible on email 😀

We using using Linux in corporate RHEL in particular but still windows for the desktop and laptop. For me as a desktop it's still Windows for a couple of years will dominate… Although I am a Linux fan since I used Slackware back in year 2000.

Well with Linux being widely available in netbooks, the choices are already made for the consumer so then there's no issue with that. Ubuntu is already widely available at Best Buy for $20 with 60 days of support. This is just the start… I'm not saying 2009 is the year of Linux, but it is indeed progressing very fast.

kde 4.2 is almost there. Ubuntu 8.10 is a joy to install. The last time I compiled a kernel was in my rpm days *shudder, so I had some trepidation in installing ibex on my new laptop. Completely unfounded, once I used envy to install the Nvidia beta drivers that support 9800M GTS and upgraded my repositories to kde 4.2, now I can say that Linux is ready for any end user, wireless, sound, everything works out of the box. KDE 4.1 is a bit of a joke though, Kubuntu really should have gone with 3.5 rather than rushing out what is a work in progress.

I would hope the folks that do kde will do a whole lot of work on version 4. I had to switch to Gnome on my laptop and keep version 3.5 on my desktop. I can’t figure out how to do anything on version 4 that made the previous versions useful and easy.

one word, DirectX. say what you want but wine is no where near good enough. As long as linux doesnt have 100% directx support then it simply wont take over. ohh and dont get me started on drivers.

The headaches of linux installation are well and truly in the past. Everything works straight out of the box and stability is as always great. There are two problems I think hold Linux back from becoming commonplace. One is that alot or proprietry software used within corporations is written for windows machines, as this is the OS most workers are used too. The second is the gaming fraternity which must still rely on windows for the quickest and simplist solution. My gaming PC runs XP for this reason though I ditched Vista for my laptop for Linux and am having a play with Ubuntu.

Our work machines are all windows based and sadly the majority of users are inept with the use of windows, let alone tackling linux. I feel thet it is computer illiteracy rather than the ease of windows that is the major factor.

Although I love using linux, and am in fact using Ubuntu at the moment, overwhelmingly nettops are being returned because of driver problems or not being able to run windows applications.

Support is getting very close; I don't find myself googling much of anything while running linux anymore. In fact, installing driver was even easier in linux than in windows (clicking "download" on synaptic and then "install" vs. downloading all the drivers and installing them in windows).

The problem is that people are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too gosh darn used to windows and linux still has the elitist-user-only reputation.

KDE4.1 is already pretty good, just not in Kubuntu.. you should give fedora10 or OpenSuse a try, it's pretty solid there. The only thing I miss is Apt, but yum does it's job pretty well.

I absolutely agree with you… the slowness UI of linux is what keeps me from doing the permanent jump from windows. (firefox problem with 17* drivers for example)

Ah bugz, I presume you are a gamer. Funny you should mention DirectX. Does anyone really see the PC as a games machine anymore? Some must, but then the vast majority use their consoles to play games where they dont have to worry about patches, workarounds etc just to get the damn thing working on Windows.

Then you take a mainstream game like WOW and compare it when its run through Linux. If playing WOW is the only thing keeping users to Windows then I think they will find (as many already have done) better performance through Linux.

There are some who wont consider Linux, which is a shame, however Im personally not disappointed that those types are not making the move to Linux, as I think the gfx orientated and "nannying of an OS" type user are largely responsible for the binary pig of Windows. IMO they can stay where they are and help contribute ideas to add to the bloat.

Let me get this straight, you make an over-simplified summary of someone's post, and then chastise it for being too simple? Thank you for your contribution. No, really, thanks.

For anyone who still thinks Linux is a pain, just try the last few releases of Ubuntu. It's an absolute pleasure to install and use. There are still plenty of third-party proprietary applications that aren't written for Linux, but it's just a matter of time.

One big thing this article missed is this year's release of the first Android phone. In 2009 we can hope to see several more. Android is Linux. With the rising popularity of cloud computing and mobile computing (smartphones), this may become a major route to Linux adoption.

I have been an avid user of Linux on my servers for the typical LAMP configuration. However on the desktop Linux is still lacking. It has greatly improved since my high school days of playing with Red Hat 5 on a Pentium MMX 166, but it is still lacking. Sure install is a breeze now and most things work out of the box (sound and video support is still a big issue [creative xfi anyone?, proprietary video drivers, etc]).

The KDE4 UI is great, I've spent time playing with the latest Kubuntu 8.10. However, I have to say it is NOT fast and is lacking compared to Vista on the same machine. The UI is sluggish compared to Vista on the same machine (mind you I've tried it on two different laptops and two different desktops with various configurations — from integrated Intel Video, to dedicated nVidia or ATI video, up to 256MB video memory and 4GB RAM in the machines with dual core processors!). Artifacts while switching between workspaces and the general slowness when doing so is just annoying. FireFox is DOG slow on ANY sites that have any kind of flash or rich content (for instance… myspace.com is just unusable). Mind you this may just be a FireFox issue, but FireFox is THE browser to use on Linux, so what gives?

Overall, in my mind, Linux has a long way to go, and 2009 is NOT the year for it on the desktop until it is as snappy and responsive as Windows is on the SAME EXACT HARDWARE.

quote:: For anyone who still thinks Linux is a pain, just try the last few releases of Ubuntu. It’s an absolute pleasure to install and use.

Try every release of Mandrake/Mandriva, or every recent release of Mandriva since 2006 (for comparison with Ubuntu) and you’ll find that it’s an even greater joy to install and use.

quote:: 1. I am using ubuntu with theme that makes it look like mac. .. if I download fedora core 10, with gnome, can I use the same theme, for mac like looks ?

You can use the same theme on Fedora or Mandrive (with the GNOME desktop) or any other Linux distribution running the GNOME desktop

quote:: 2. Does applications work in the same way, when we use gnome and kde ?

Yes, I install all my Mandriva systems with both the GNOME and KDE desktops, I run KDE, all the GNOME applications run just fine, and, because Mandriva set up the KDE configuration to do so, the GNOME applications integrate visually and functionally into the KDE desktop.

3. If I download gnome fc 10, can change it to kde later, without much trouble ?

Of course, it’s merely a matter of telling the appropriate package manager to install the packages, and then logging in to the appropriate desktop. On Mandriva you simply select task-kde (for KDE3.5.10) or task-kde4 (for KDE 4) from the list of meta packages in urpmi, and wait.

quote:: I tried a number of linux distros in the past and single handedly the biggest problem for linux distros was all the choices people were given.

Then don’t choose, either stay with Windows, or find out which Linux your friend is using and use that, or purchase a computer with Linux pre installed, and stick with that.

quote:: If something doesn’t work, average consumers would like to have a phone number they can call and get the problem fixed.

Well if you lived near me, I’d happily give you my phone number, I charge $50 and hour to fix computer problems. Unfortunately I make most of my money from Windows. Once I’ve upgraded people to Linux, I don’t get as many call outs.

quote::Our work machines are all windows based and sadly the majority of users are inept with the use of windows, let alone tackling linux.

The oft repeated myth of hard to use Linux. None of the people I’ve upgraded to Linux are by any means computer literate, they would be no different from your average office worker, most of them are grand mothers, none of them have any particular difficulty with Linux, and certainly no more so than they had with Windows…. In fact probably less so, as they are no longer plagued by viruses and trojans and spyware and adware, they no longer have to make sense of the messages from the add on security that is necessary on Windows, they just get to use the computer, with little or no fuss.

I've also wanted my desktop to be lightning fast sometimes. That's when I loaded up the minimalist window manager Fluxbox. But as far as KDE4 goes, you should expect the performance to increase after the new features are all added and the focus can move towards enhancements more.

I feel your pain for Firefox on Linux. It's THE browser for linux, but still doesn't feel as snappy as Firefox for Windows. For Flash being a problem, I think we can put the blame on Adobe for that. Flash support has been horrible for years, and is now just starting to catch up, but still is far behind performance wise.

It's funny to think, but is entirely true, that bad Flash support could forever kill Linux on the Desktop. But we just rely on it so much these days that we need it to be as fast as possible.

Say you have a couple of different computers, will Windows be on all of them always? Or might you have a Mac somewhere. And if you pick up a Netbook along the way would you consider using Linux on that as a spare computer?

1. As long as you are using the same desktop environment, Gnome or KDE etc.., if you switch distributions the same themes will work.

2. Applications work the same way, but sometimes you'll notice bugs in the user interface, buttons will not look as sharp, or might be displayed incorrectly. For the most part they will look fine and work the same though.

3. Usually there will be the tools you need in the distrobution, to install the other desktop environment from the terminal. If you google something like "Installing kde3 on fedora core 10" you'll find the right commands to use.

No problem!

I'm seeing a theme come up with people more and more using different operating systems on different computers. I think that goes to show the versatility of Linux a bit.

Some would rather use it on the server and backend of their business, and while most companies are unsure enough to use it as the main desktop in their office, linux on laptops or spare computers is becoming popular.

Hopefully what this is all leading to is just to see Linux on more systems, and in more places.

You know Adam, you actually don't have to choose whether you want KDE or Gnome or "put-your-favorite-DE-here"… You can have them all!

I do see Ubuntu system of desktop environment distribution becoming the norm though, one emphasized version (ubuntu), with the others on the periphery to give people choice (remixes, kubuntu, xubuntu, fluxbuntu, edubuntu, etc..).

I've heard of this trend as well. It actually worries me more than most others. Especially since I see Netbooks succeeding and really selling hard for the next couple of years at least, users getting a bad opinion about Linux and associating it poorly in regards to netbooks might be damaging in the long term.

Attitudes like this are a part of the problem. You used it in the PAST-and are just propagating misinformation now. If you get a GNU/Linux computer today from a reputable source that comes with good support you won't encounter the issues described. Installing GNU/Linux yourself has been easier than installing MS Windows for a long time-you don't have to do this though if you BUY a GNU/Linux computer. There aren't really that many choices either. The most distributions anybody even really supports are maybe 6. That's usually from the smaller companies too. Dell, HP, amongst others aren't support more than one or two distributions. Most distributions today have only one primary default desktop. So in this respect there is one or the other. You often can change this-but it isn't like these are choices you have to make. You can stick with the default. There are only half a dozen major GNU/Linux distributions and don't forget that Microsoft Windows also has a half dozen different versions. Lets not forget that GNU/Linux is compatible with far more hardware today than Vista.

This is true. Definitely in the past there was a problem of Linux distro proliferation, but the perception has outlived the problem.

Especially if you, as a first time Linux user, were to ask a friend (or the Internet) for recommendations on a Linux distro and desktop environment to try, 95% of your responses would fall into either 3 different distros (Though my recommendation would be Ubuntu & Gnome). Which really makes it easier for the end user.

Unfortunately battling perceptions is something Linux has had to deal with for a long time.

Correction- you don't want GNU/Linux to 'take off'. GNU/Linux has already 'taken off' though. GNU/Linux today is more popular than ever. Over the past 5 years it has gone from being non-existent in the mainstream to being used by a small minority of the main stream. Hard core GNU/Linux users have been around a long time now and the average techy has been toying with it for just as long. There has always been allot of publicity and absurd predictions- yet somehow GNU/Linux has managed to inch its way into the mainstream. I work in technical support and I'm seeing increased demand for support. Asus, Dell, and others may not be providing good support in general- and you can see that with GNU/Linux as well- but they are selling these things as I've been supporting them for mainstream users in a major retail store (Staples) for several months now- customers who've I've never 'sold it' to. You can even find GNU/Linux on store shelves in allot of countries-including some places in the US. Despite low market share numbers on the desktop in the US it has crept its way into the mainstream.

They are being returned due to crummy GNU/Linux compatibility and support mostly. It has nothing to do with the lack of MS Windows program compatibility. People just think that MS Windows will solve whatever ails them when it really wont. For instance I had one lady who came in with a Ubuntu netbook that she couldn't connect to the Internet. The problem wasn't that of Ubuntu- but rather that she had encryption setup at home and no wifi key-she then tried to use a hotspot that required the purchase of a beverage first (she didn't understand that- and so it wouldn't have worked in MS windows for her either). When she called Dell for support they told her someone would call her back as they didn't support Ubuntu directly. Typical of Dell support. That is when customers usually seek out third party paid support. When she brought it to me at a major retail store I explained this all to her and showed her that it did in fact work-and that the support she got was just typical of Dell. She was very happy that I solved her problem and thanked me for stopping her from having made a terrible and costly mistake (that is installing MS Windows).

There are allot of market leading devices running GNU/Linux. The article was referring to the desktop it appears.

Your experience is misleading. The issues you have are hardware specific and you can get machines without these problems. I also would like to point out that you have to pay VERY close attention to notice this problem with flash on the machines where it is a problem. SWT.com sells an Asus S37S notebook that has good compatibility for GNU/Linux right now.

1. I believe the answer to the theme question is yes.
2. I'm not sure exactly what you mean- but many GNU/Linux applications work slightly differently due to integration and tailoring efforts. If you've used Ubuntu Fedora will look similar and have similar features, but still not be identical.
3. Yes. Be aware that most distributions including Fedora have far better support and integration for a particular desktop manager. Ubuntu and Fedora support Gnome best. In fact almost all the major distributions support Gnome now. While Gnome is catching up KDE is more feature rich though so it is sort of sad that everybody is supporting Gnome. The result of this is our choices have become more limited. Linspire 5 was the last major distribution (although they did have allot of negative publicity) to be released that used KDE and had decent integration/support. Kubuntu and others just aren't in the same position. Before Linspire got bought the founder Michael Robertson and Larry ruined the distribution after Kevin Carmony (amongst others) left.

Yea- it's so sad what went on at Linspire cause it was the only distribution that had good KDE integration, ease of use, support, and so on. The company had lots of problems though from day one. It wasn't till later on that I realized on arrogant Michael Robertson was- and I was not too impressed with the employees working for the company either. We need more GNU/Linux enthusiasts working on a solid distribution without allot interference from management rather than Mac enthusiasts and other disinterested persons. I'd say the later is partly the downfall of Linspire.

okay.. I've been using kde for 3+ years now … so, do you think its better to stay in kde ? I am just being attracted by the stylish looks of gnome lol … sill me … 😀 but kde 4 looks more cool 😀 what you think ?

The 200+ distros really aren't a problem. There are only a handful of distros that meet the criteria for the "average" consumer. As for that phone number, as Linux adoption increases so will the number of technicians ready to help. It is strictly an issue of the market. If Linux adoption doesn't increase, it is a moot point, and all of the carping people do is useful only as a feel good exercise.

Good ideas, and with the new OS we'll be able to eliminate war and disease. We'll all have android servants to attend to our every want. Our children (those we elect to spare) will all be beautiful and exceedingly intelligent. Perpetual motion will not only become reality but it will be productively harnessed to accomplish our goals. Utopia will at last be within our grasp.
Dreaming is good, but facing reality is a necessity. You might begin by developing that "very little clue into a more concrete plan to present. Don't just call on others to do it. It requires research and thought. Are you the one?

P. S. I also suggest you share your thoughts with the new president, Barack Obama. He is the most tech and Internet savvy president to date. In short, he gets it!

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