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Has Linux Reached the End of the Line?

Fans of FOSS are already all too accustomed to the many barbs and insults Microsoft tends to sling at any free competitor, but one of the latest was so mystifying as to leave many Linux bloggers scratching their heads.

To be precise,”Нужно иметь в виду, что Linux не является российской ОС и, кроме того, находится в конце своего жизненного цикла” was the comment from Nikolai Pryanishnikov, president of Microsoft Russia. Translated, it reads, “We must bear in mind that Linux is not a Russian OS and, moreover, is at the end of its life cycle.”

Now, those who have been paying attention know that Russia is in the midst of what might be called an on-again, off-again affair with free software, as Glyn Moody notes in a recent blog post on the topic.

But to say Linux is at the end of its life? That was just too much for most bloggers to bear.

‘Good OS Dies First’

“The idea that ‘Linux is at the end of its life cycle’ is rather rich coming from the vendor of a platform that is increasingly losing market share, both at the top and bottom end of the market, while Linux just gets stronger,” Moody wrote. “I’d wager that variants of Linux will be around rather longer than Windows.”

Slashdot bloggers had similar views.

“I just think it is just the way they see things in Microsoft,” wrote Slashdot blogger jgardia, for example. “When an OS is stable and works reliably, then it is at the end of its life cycle (like Windows XP).”

Similarly: “In Soviet Russia, good OS dies first,” agreed Stregano.

‘Lifecycle ENDS YOU!’

And again: “In Soviet Russia, FUD spreads Microsoft Russian exec,” chimed in marcello_dl.

“I think I know why MSSR is depicting Linux as an end of line OS: I hear MS has a beta of an operating system, has been in the works for a loong time (beta 1.0 came shortly after the first Mac),” marcello_dl added. “One of these days it will be good for release. Possibly.”

And one more time: “In Soviet Russia, Lifecycle ENDS YOU!” Jeremiah Cornelius wrote.

The conversation devolved from there, so Linux Girl knew it was time to hit the streets of the blogosphere for more insight.

‘Still Growing’

“Saying a thing doesn’t make it so,” Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza told Linux Girl. “Linux still has legs it hasn’t even walked on yet.”

The operating system is “still growing in the server space, and Android looks poised to utterly dominate the smartphone landscape,” Espinoza explained. “Meanwhile, the desktop computer is on its way out; less and less people need one, and more and more Internet citizens lack one.

“The year of the Linux desktop just may end up being the year the desktop is replaced by tablets and smartphones,” Espinoza concluded.

‘Still a Kid’

“End of life for GNU/Linux? No way,” blogger Robert Pogson agreed. “GNU/Linux is still a kid, with growth-spurts and all. Sometimes the rapid changes are annoying, but GNU/Linux is a child of the world and we will always love it.”

On the other hand, “that other OS is standing at the edge of its grave waiting for the coup-de-grace, which could come as early as next year: ARM + GNU/Linux on desktops and notebooks,” Pogson added. “Desktops and notebooks could completely change before M$ releases ‘8’.”

Windows 7, meanwhile, “will not run on ARM,” he noted. “The world needs small, cheap, efficient computers, and Wintel won’t supply them.

“OEMs are squeezed hard by M$ and Intel,” Pogson concluded. “There will be a breakthrough next year with OEMs and retailers giving the world what it wants. That change will be too fast for the dinosaur, but GNU/Linux will just make the jump as if nothing had changed.”

‘The War Is Long Over and MSFT Won’

Linux is at the end of its life cycle in the sense that the old “‘Linux year of the desktop’ horse needs to be taken out and shot, as the war is long over and MSFT won, same as DirectX won over OpenGL,” Slashdot blogger hairyfeet asserted.

It’s not the end, however, “in that there are gonna be NEW markets opening up,” he added.

“I’d say it depends how quickly Linux can get ahead of the curve,” hairyfeet opined. “I do think the future will NOT be the ton of distros we have now but will instead be a small handful of distros designed for specific tasks, like Android and MeeGo.”

The question, however, is “whether the mobile space will continue to get more proprietary like we have seen with laptops, or will it embrace more open designs?” hairyfeet added. “If it is the former, the future honestly doesn’t look good for Linux because with the fast hardware turnover on mobile, Linux will always be a day late and a version behind.”

For that reason, “corporate distros like the Google and Intel offerings will come to dominate, because they are the only ones that can afford to throw the kind of bucks at R&D to get ahead of the curve,” hairyfeet concluded.

‘Rumors of Tux’s Death Are Premature’

Slashdot blogger Barbara Hudson, who goes by “Tom” on the site, had a different point of view.

“It’s not dead, it’s pining for the fjords,” Hudson began. “Oh, wait — that’s the Kin’s next of kin, Windows Phone 7.

“Still, if you work for Microsoft Russia, I guess you have to toe the Party line,” she added. “Otherwise, they’ll make you trade your iPhone for a WP7.”

All joking aside, “the rumors of Tux’s death are certainly premature,” Hudson asserted. “Linux will be around a lot longer than, say, Steve Ballmer.”

‘Linux Is Just Getting Started’

Perhaps the best — and most optimistic — view of all, however, came from Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack.

“Linux finally has most of the hardware makers on board with proper drivers and a distro that makes Linux easy to use, with no end in sight to the kernel and usability improvements,” Mack pointed out. “I’d say Linux is just getting started.”

7 Comments

  • Linux is many things to many different people. Foremost it is a sort of generic Unix that IT admins can use in lieu of more expensive brands such as AIX, HPUX, or Sun’s Unix. It makes sense where the claimed benefits of the call brand are not needed or are over-priced. Linux is administered essentially identically to Unix, so no learning curve is necessary. Awareness of Linux is high AM ong IT admins and servers using Linux are the 4th most popular in terms of money spent on annual procurement.

    Embedded Linux, in routers, DVRs, or any other data appliance is just code that saves an apparatus vendor development time and money and/or saves purchase of some commercial OS, specifically Windows for embedding.

    Linux is also being promoted by Google under their Android or "Droid" brand where Google has commercialized the application market on top of the raw kernel used.

    Linux, as a software entity, has received a lot of recognition in these areas. Where Linux is still a lead baloon is on the desktop. There it is not at its end of life, it never really had a life to start with. It works, sure, but so would Unix itself or its freebie clones. Linux never addressed the needs of the desktop user and continues to miss the mark today. It is hard to see where tying Linux to weaker and weaker hardware platforms is going to help much. Windows is as functional as Linux on a function for function basis and that lesson was learned by most during the netbook wars. If ARM based devices become popular, there will be a Windows for that as well. For that matter, there are already many Windows based ARM devices in the world.

    • "Linux never addressed the needs of the desktop user" <> "Windows is as functional as Linux on a function for function basis"

      Both statements cannot be true. I have seen GNU/Linux please users on thousands of desktops and the systems are much more responsive than that other OS. What needs remain to be addressed? Should GNU/Linux welcome new malware or require more re-re-reboots? I don’t think those are needs of the end-users but of Wintel. Wintel wants PCs to slow down so the end-user will want a newer/faster machine and a new one will be bought. Growth of usage of GNU/Linux desktop is about 20% per annum. GNU/Linux on ARM will soon eclipse Wintel simply because Wintel does not give end-users what they want, small, cheap, and fast computers.

      • Sticking to the point never was your long suit, eh, Robert? Linux as a personal computer OS misses the mark, of course, and little can be done to correct such a faulty design. Linux is a clone of Unix which was meant for sharing a computer between numerous users and PCs are, after all, personal and not to be shared with anyone. PCs gained popularity when they cost thousands of dollars each. Now you think that they need to be shared via Linux when they now cost only a couple of hundred dollars?

        Your other misconception is that putting Linux on ARM based junk processors will somehow block Microsoft from competing. But, as I said, there is nothing magic about Linux in regard to launching apps. It has no computing efficiency advantage when used for the same function as Windows, it simply lacks many of the Windows functions that aggregate into the "bloat" that you folk seem to see as an impediment to Windows in an ARM environment. But get a clue, if/when any such device becomes highly popular, there will be a Windows version to work with it and the Windows version will be the winner in the market.

        The Linux horse cannot pull that little wagon either.

        • You see you must be new here, allow me to elucidate: Ms Noyes has "run into" those of us you see quoted in her articles on various places around the net and she has chosen those that she knows have a particular "voice" and opinion on topics. I AM the voice of the common man and the token Windows guy around here, while Ms Hudson is your classic IT server admin.

          She then emails us questions concerning various topics of the week, which we all put our 2c worth in on, then later we will often come here to finish our "conversation" as it were and to parry back and forth with the various readers.

          So you see it isn’t some copypasta as much as it is a round table. Various experienced IT folks from varied view points brought together by Ms Noyes to give our views on the subject of the day, although unlike most of the various round table discussion s most of those involved at the table are actually here to answer questions from the audience as well as to banter and argue with each other, just as I’m doing here with you.

          So I hope that clarifies things. If that isn’t your cup of tea that’s fine and dandy, but many of us here enjoy our little weekly get together where we can share our opinions without having to deal with groupthink or karma whoring like we do on sites like /.

  • Can’t say that Linux did not give it a shot. But I think Linux never really lived on the PC. At least not for home users. In my own opinion Linux became too fragmented and had way too little support to ever convince many home users to even think about Linux. Only the Microsoft or Apple haters you know the ones who cannot stand big business ever overlooked Linux and its flaws and stayed with it. I think it does very well in a specific product which does not have to conform to the so many hardware combinations in a PC.

  • Linux is endless by itself,as you know Linux is for humanity,and humanity is not going to end in a year!
    Unfortunately some Linux related sites who care about money and politics!! more than humanity,have limited the Linux progress.

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