On Desktop Linux, Blogging, MS & RSS and More

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Couple if interesting tidbits out there to close out the week:

First, Chad Dickerson and IDC are beginning to put some substance behind the claims I made in my “Linux on the Desktop: The Time is Now” publication (sorry non-subscribers). The short version of that pub is this: 1.) Linux has had a window of opportunity opened with the ongoing Longhorn delays, 2.) it needs to capitalize on that window, and 3.) it is mostly ready to do that.

In his blog today Dickerson gives some evidence that Linux is doing just that. First, he cites a Computerworld article by Bob McMillan that includes the following:

“This is the year that Linux overtakes the Mac on the desktop, and maybe my laptop will help accelerate that,” Fink said.

Industry research firm IDC in Framingham, Mass., said it believes that this has already happened. “Linux captured the No. 2 spot as desktop operating system in 2003,” said IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky in a recent interview.

HP, with its new Linux laptop has obviously concluded that Linux on the desktop is ready for primetime, and IDC gives that argument – and mine – some additional support. But skepticism of such numbers being what it is, it’s always nice to get the anecdotal, in-the-field type of evidence, and Dickerson delivers that.

I hadn’t looked at the OS distribution for InfoWorld.com users in a while, so I took a look at the numbers for the last 30 days and confirmed what IDC notes. The following are proportions of our users’ various operating systems relative to each other:

Linux vs. Mac: 3 to 1
Linux vs. Solaris: 9.5 to 1
Linux vs. FreeBSD: 66 to 1
Windows vs. Linux: 16 to 1
Windows vs. Mac: 38 to 1

Windows vs. AIX, Windows vs. IRIX, Windows vs. HP-UX: 7667 to 1 (roughly, give or take a few hundred)
(Note: RSS readers are not counted in these calculations)
InfoWorld might not be the most typical site since we tend to skew towards technology early adopters. Frankly, I’m surprised that Linux has such a wide lead over Mac OS — especially since I personally have been won over by OS X after using Linux on the desktop off and on for the past few years. Interesting stuff.

Interesting indeed. The passing of OS X is surprising for a minute, at least until you consider the exponentially greater hardware platform support for Linux. But this is something to watch, without question. Everyone talks about Linux on the desktop “making it,” whatever that means, but then makes the mistake of comparing it to Windows. Linux does not have to unseat Windows to be successful, it just has to be a credible alternative. If it gets there – and HP’s move helps – all sorts of interesting conversations begin to happen at buy time.

Second, Dan Gillmor highlights an Orlowski piece from el Reg, that exploits a Slashdot review of Dan’s new book “We the Media.” in making the point that bloggers are quite taken with themselves. As I commented on Dan’s blog, the point is well made and taken. I’m not of the opinion, however, that this is a permanent affliction. I think the occasionally self-important tone of many blogs is likely to abate once their authors are more comfortable with the medium and the concept of speaking to a large audience. Of course, I am talking about this in a blog, so maybe I’m blind to my own irrelevance.

Lastly, a note from Dave Winer talking about a visit to Microsoft,

Today, more meetings at Microsoft. Already I’ve learned that the interest in blogging and RSS in Microsoft is deep, broad and long into the future.

My reply would be: they’d better be interested. If I were in their shoes I’d be wondering what would happen if you pooled Gmail, Picasa (thanks for reminding me about this one, Bruce), Blogger and maybe Evite and Bloglines in a single, Gmail-style interface. Or even go further and check out where Steve Gillmor sees the iPod and RSS meeting.

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