Will Desktop Linux Be Successful Due to Web 2.0?

The tech publisher Tim O’Reilly has famously asked a question of audiences during talks about open source. “How many of you use Linux?” and a show of hands and only a few are raised. Next he asks, “How many of you use Google?” virtually all hands shoot up as O’Reilly then launches into an explanation of the fact that they’re using the world’s largest Linux application, Google, every time they perform a search.

Whether or not Google’s Linux purity is still 100% true or not is a guess. What is true is that hosted Web applications are so amazingly desktop operating system agnostic that most of them are accessible through a Linux desktop.

As I read this blog post about the Linux-friendliness of the just launched Google Doc’s and Spreadsheets (as their salvo into the hosted office application suite game), it made me realize that the onrush of Web 2.0 applications; open or ubiquitous standards like PDF and Flash (the latter, for instance, with its use in video delivery is a game-changer and there’s a fabulous article here worth a read);  and super-simple Linux distributions like Ubuntu are all combining to make Linux increasingly a strong option for desktop operating system use.

I’m almost ready to predict that we’ll see an upsurge in Linux desktop adoption in 2007 and 2008 due primarily to Web 2.0 applications reaching critical mass coupled with a continued increase in online functionality making the desktop operating system increasingly moot.


  1. Adam Sellke on October 12, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    “Almost” ready to predict?

    It’s already happening… even swaying some lessor web dieties away from their diehard Mac devotion.




    -Adam Sellke

  2. John Eckman on October 14, 2006 at 10:08 am

    Certainly the combination of web-based applications and open document formats for data interchange will help drive Linux adoption – at least for some users within the enterprise.

    Not every user in a given company will get all they need from a Google Docs or Zoho office – but many will, just as most users today are way over-served by MS Office.

    But I have to add a caveat with respect to Flash – the Flash Player on Linux still lags behind its Windows and Mac counterparts.

    There is a blog for the team developing the newest Linux flash player here: http://blogs.adobe.com/penguin.swf/

    It’s one of the few things which still leads me to have to reboot into Windows, when flash based sites/apps/videos require the latest version – that, and applying Windows Update patches. ;)

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