Gartner: Linux ‘five years away from mainstream use’ I read that little gem above and laughed aloud. Mainly because if you’ve been living under a rock for the past year you might agree with that. However, with Novell entering the community with SuSe, Red Hat’s Fedora, and Mandriva’s 2005/6 editions I don’t think we’ll have to wait 5 years for things to happen. It’s obvious that Microsoft doesn’t think so either…otherwise, why are they advertising on television and launching a major ad campaign? Don’t you usually do this when sales are slow or interest is abysmal? By the way, who is it that they are competing against in the desktop area again? Oh that’s right, 90% of all desktops use Windows already. So in this case, they are either A) beating a long dead horse, B) slightly worried, or C) all of the above. When in doubt, choose C. So Microsoft might be slightly worried by Linux/Mac/BSD intruding into the desktop arena…and subsequently mainstream. But Gartner doesn’t seem to think that it is an issue until 2010. If you’d have caught me in about 2002 or previous years I might have agreed with them. However, there are some things that are making Linux into a force to be reckoned with. These are small programs that have begun to make desktop Linux exciting. These programs are often referred to in group by the label “Project Utopia.” Basically, what they do is work with each other to automatically add any device you plug in to your computer. Project Utopia is just a name. The ideal. We’re very close. If you don’t believe me, just try using PCLinuxOS. I’ve come back to it time and time again as one of the most user friendly Linux distribution currently available. This is after testing Fedora Core and SuSe…it’s that good for most people. I say most people because just like every technology there is a caveat. In this case, Linux can’t detect everything…just like Windows can’t detect everything either. Linux has taken a turn for the better though. By not having a rigored structure with which to fight against…that is, having to send code improvement through a chain of command…it has allowed for lightning quick improvements. I took a look at the differences from Slackware 9 to Slackware 10.1 and was astonished at the technological improvements in the operating system just in 1 version. It’s not slowing down, it’s speeding up! Very nice if you’re along for the ride. With Linux, it can only get better…because no one that is working on it actively will allow it to get worse. That’s what makes it great. So, with devfs finally giving way to udev in the 2.6 Linux kernel tree, the hardware abstraction layer and DBUS surf in wearing nifty “Project Utopia” badges detecting everything in their wake. What does it mean for us? It means a better operating system. One where you can plug anything into it and it registers, detects, and is usable in a matter of minutes. Is it attainable? You bet it is. Are we 5 years away from having a real desktop? Nope. Not even close. We arrived there this year and the only place to go from here is up. Afterall, if Microsoft is always on the tip of the iceberg, they’re bound to see more and more penguins as time goes on.