How Apple killed the Linux desktop
Article by By Klint Finley
It’s hard to say exactly what percentage of desktop and laptop computers run Apple OS X, but it’s clear that the operating system has made slow but steady gains at chipping away at that the sizable lead Microsoft established in the ’90s with its Windows operating system. Some figures put the number at about 6 to 7 percent of the desktop market.
But one thing’s for sure: OS X has been more successful than Linux, the open source operating system that has found a home on data-center servers but is still a rarity on desktops and laptops. Linux may have seen a surge last year, but it still hasn’t seen the sort of growth OS X has, nor the growth that Linux supporters have long hoped for.
Why is that? Miguel de Icaza — one of the original creators of GNOME, a Linux desktop interface that has struggled to take hold — believes that a large portion of the software developers that could have taken Linux to greater heights defected to other platforms, including not only Apple OS X but — more importantly — the Web.
Some might blame the slow progress of desktop Linux on the fragmentation of the desktop user interfaces used by the major Linux distributions. In 2010, Canonical announced that it would replaced the popular GNOME desktop environment with its own homegrown Unity environment in the Ubuntu distribution, much to many Linux geeks’ chagrin. But many are also unhappy with the direction GNOME has taken, including Linux creator Linus Torvalds, who posted a tirade about it on Google Plus last year.