Is a Linux Desktop Avalanche Coming?

Opinion: With easy-to-install software, Linux is on the verge of becoming a force in desktop computing.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the Linux desktop has been picking up momentum. It keeps getting better and better, but Microsofts monopoly has kept many PC users from realizing that there really is a viable alternative to Windows. However, thats about to change. Just like a few more snowflakes can turn a quiet, snowy mountainside into an avalanche, Linux is teetering on the edge of becoming a real force in the desktop computing world.

First, the Portland Project started getting Linux desktop developers to work together. No, neither KDE nor GNOME is going to go away. Rather, Portland has got the developers working on a common foundation. With that solid footing, ISVs will be able to write one application that will run on both of those popular desktop environments.

Another major step forward is Ubuntu and Linspire partnering on the use of CNR for software installation. I think a lot of people have missed just what an important step this is for desktop Linux.

Ubuntu is, without question, the most popular of the community Linuxes these days. While not nearly as popular, Linspire, with its newly opened CNR, is creating the easiest way, by far, to install software on a Linux desktop. When you put them together, you get a desktop Linux—with broad support—that anyone can install new programs on.

Software installation, even on some of the best Linux distributions, has long been a Linux problem child. RPMs, Debs, YaST, Synaptic, APT, yum, alien, klik ... the alphabet soup of installation formats and programs goes on forever. Heck, I cant keep track of them all, and I follow Linux for a living. The Portland crew recently started working on standardizing installation routines, but I dont expect to see any big results from that until 2008.

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