The Linux Foundation CEO Jim Zemlin made some tall claims at the Linux Collaboration Summit, which as expected, is lots of hyperbole. Just like Microsoft’s claim of having Windows on 95% of netbooks was met with criticism, I think a little reply is deserved by Zemlin’s claims. Here we go:
He spoke about the implications of Linux’s phenomenal growth rate and heightened potential for adoption in the current economic climate. He describes Linux as the “fastest growing platform in every aspect of computing,” and asserts that the operating system’s adoption rate is advancing two to three times faster than any other platform.
Phenomenal growth and faster adaption? Really? I still see Linux usage hovering in the single figure mark, way less than OS X, which doesn’t have much market either worldwide. According to W3Schools, the usage of Linux hovered around 3.8% mark in 2008, which has only increased to 4.0% so far in January. Is that a three times increase? No.
As we learned when we sat down for a chat with Zemlin at LinuxWorld last year, he views cloud computing and mobile devices as trends that are highly conducive to Linux adoption.
Hmm, the highly growing mobile phones in the world don’t use Linux, do they? iPhone? No. Nokia, Samsung or LG Phones? No. BlackBerry? Palm? Windows Phone? No, no and no.
He elaborated on this concept during his keynote when he tackled the issue of Linux on the desktop. The desktop is being redefined, he said, and the new model is one where Linux is emerging as a dominant force. The growing relevance of Web services and cloud computing could shift focus away from conventional desktop applications and towards the browser, which would serve as a window to remote Linux-powered Web applications.
Wait, is this still 2007? The last time I checked, these Linux guys were making these same claims. I haven’t yet seen any desktop application abandoned because a web service was better than it. You know, there’s a browser in Windows and OS X as well, which can “serve as a window to remote Linux-powered Web applications.”
Similarly, he suggests that desktops could be displaced by a new class of mobile Internet devices. He points out that Linux has gained tremendous ground in the mobile and embedded computing space, where it is used by countless consumers in popular devices such as the TiVo and Amazon’s Kindle.
Most of the people I know, who bought the Kindle 2, didn’t stop using their desktops. TiVo and Kindle represent a very small share of the global market of mobile and embedded devices. Again, these are old claims, circa 2005 I assume.
Zemlin also took advantage of the keynote to take less-than-subtle jabs at Linux’s competitors. He showed one of Microsoft’s recent commercials, which featured a cost-concious consumer buying a Windows-based computer to avoid the higher price of a sexier Mac. Zemlin remarked comically that this could be the first time ever that Microsoft has attempted to compete on price—a battle that Zemlin believes Microsoft will ultimately be unable to win against Linux.
Price, a battle? Linux has been free for like, forever. They even deliver ubuntu to your home for free! Has there been a rapid or noticeable shift to Linux due to that? No. This battle was over 10 years ago, Mr Zemlin, when others before you claimed the ‘year of Linux’ and failed.
Yet another year, yet more claims by the Linux community. I wonder when they’ll stop talking and show us some real numbers and a real growth to support those numbers. I wonder when they’ll realize that over the past decade, Linux on the desktop has been nothing but a big Fail.