Thursday, October 18, 2001

Linux, desktop loser A long article in Wired talks about Linux's limited future on the desktop, opportunities on the server, and corporate vs. slashdot cultures. Mitchell is right -- Linux's big, obvious win is to consolidate the fragmented Unix market and commoditize it away (much to the joy of vendors in complementary markets i.e. big iron, like IBM). Sun's Solaris is under the biggest threat here.

He's also right that Linux will struggle on the desktop. Open source amortizes away development costs because users improve the program for themselves for free ("scratch their own itch.") Desktop GUI development is trying to scratch someone else's itch--for free. I'm sorry that Eazel went bust. I hope a more focused successor does better.

But I don't think that hurts Linux as a whole. Linux development is not like corporate development, there aren't a limited number of developers who either work on the kernel or work on the desktop. The people best qualified to work on the kernel are doing that. Folks flinging themselves at the GUI aren't sapping strength from development anywhere else.


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