So, in an article at PCW (http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/207999-2/desktop_linux_the_dream_is_dead.html), Robert Strohmeyer argues that the dream of desktop Linux is dead. I disagree. I strongly disagree. I don't disagree because I have some hope of Linux out-pacing Windows or Macintosh OSX. I don't disagree because there is some new distribution that is going to sweep the market. I don't disagree because of how easy to use Ubuntu, Mint, and Mandriva are. I disagree because the Linux community will never rest.
In the mid-90s, the Linux community was much smaller than it is today. It was, in fact, minuscule in comparison. We've grown by leaps and bounds. Well, if our community is so much smaller, why are the market share estimates by so many relatively the same size? Well, how do you gather data on the number of desktop machines running Linux? Are you doing so by website polls and such? Are you doing so by the Linux Counter? Are you doing so by PC sales? None of these are going to deliver any kind of accurate statistics. This is because Linux normally spreads by word of mouth. How many times have you shown Linux to someone? How many times have you told people what Linux is? How many times have people entered into conversations describing the benefits of Linux to others? It is often from these encounters that Linux market share increases. Very few people by computers with Linux preinstalled on them, which means you would have to literally ask everyone who owns a desktop computer which OS he/she is running. To date, no one has asked me or anyone I know (not anyone conducting a poll anyway).
Next, the article asserts that reasons are flash, or that the reasons are lack of content, or that the reasons are due to media incompatibilities. These are all bogus. Flash runs well on most desktop Linux distributions. Media playback is often painless and beautiful on most desktop Linux distributions, and there are many thousands of applications available on most Linux distributions. None of those are the reasons for the lack of Linux to become dominant in the PC world. The real reasons have never changed. Number one is the lack of hardware vendor commitment. Number two is a lack of advertising. Number three is the general lack of knowledge/care that most users have of/for operating systems in general.
This article then moves on to say that the desktop is becoming irrelevant itself. This is probably the most bogus claim in the entire thing. Have desktop PC sales slowed? Sure they have. Have desktop PC sales stopped? No they haven't. There are several groups who will never want to give up their desktops. First, gamers. Laptops are never as powerful as their desktop brethren of the same era. Second, workstation users. A workstation these days is quite simply a powerful desktop computer. Third, the thrifty. A low-end laptop costs about as much as a mid-range desktop of the same era. Fourth, enthusiasts. You usually cannot build your own laptop, and certainly cannot do so as easily as you can a desktop.
All in all, the article was bogus. People need to be weary of FUD like that. Too many credible news agencies are starting to churn out drivel like this PCW article.