Sometimes putting together a best-of-the-year list is like pulling teeth. There simply isn’t enough big news to fill the list out. That was not a problem for desktop Linux in 2007.
This year was one of the most eventful years in desktop Linux’s short history. While Mac OS X remains the most successful of all the Unix/open-source-based operating systems, the Linux desktop made great strides forward in both the office and in homes.
As I look back over the year while making up my list, one thing strikes me: This was not a year where I can point at some substantial advancement in the Linux desktop itself. That’s not to say there weren’t significant desktop Linux releases; there were. To name but a few, this year saw the arrival of such significant distributions as Fedora 8, OpenSUSE 10.3, SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 10 Service Pack 1, MEPIS 6.5 and last, but never least, Ubuntu 7.10.
However, while each was incrementally a better desktop than its predecessors, none of them were revolutionary. The Linux desktop has reached a point where its progress is evolutionary.
At the same time, Microsoft has trapped itself into trying and failing to create a revolutionary new system: Windows Vista. Today, no one aside from Microsoft and its fanboys claims that Vista is even really a move forward from XP. Instead, Vista is increasingly seen as, at best, a step to the side.
At worst, Vista is seen as potentially the greatest failure Microsoft has ever brought to market. Never before in operating system history have so much money and so many thousands of years of programmer hours been put into such a flop.
In the meantime, Linux kept inching along with an almost continual series of small steps forward.
Desktop Linux did see major leaps forward in 2007, but they happened in the hardware, software and business systems around it.