The State of the 2006 Linux Desktop

Opinion: Linux desktops are now more available and more popular than ever-and ready to challenge Windows, some say. (

Analysis—Were you to walk around LinuxWorld in San Francisco this week, for almost every person youd see sitting, youd see a laptop in front of them. And, if youre a snoopy person, like me, youd also see that about half of those laptops were running Linux.

That doesnt sound like that much? Think again.

Even a year ago, Linux-powered laptops were a rarity.

My unscientific survey revealed that about a third of those desktops were running the newest Ubuntu, another third were running either OpenSUSE or SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop), and the final third were Freespire or Linspire. I also saw a scattering of Xandros and other Linux distributions.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here for an early review of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10.

They all have one thing in common. These were all from the new generation of desktop Linuxes that has appeared over the course of this summer.

Other than the official introduction of Linspires Freespire, there was no major desktop news, as such, at the show.

What I found more interesting, though, was a sea change in how people saw the Linux desktop.


It wasnt just that there were far more people that were using Linux desktops, it was that they didnt see it as a statement of their loyalty to Linux over Windows. They were using it simply because it worked.

You could especially see this with people giving Freespire a try. Linspire made it almost impossible to be at LinuxWorld without getting a copy of its Linux. Many people decided to give it a try in its live CD mode.

They were, in a word, impressed.

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