The Week of the Linux Desktop
We don’t need to declare the year of the Linux desktop anymore. This week alone was pretty darn good. Having spent the week at Computex, the place where you see all the things that people are going to find in Bestbuy and Amazon 6 months from now, it is clear that Linux has a critical role in client computing. Here is a shortlist of this weeks developments.
Moblin Breaks Out
Acer announced it will support Moblin across all its product lines. Asus showed some new prototypes at the Moblin executive summit. Canonical, Linpus, Novell, Red Flag, and Xandros all announced they will deliver Moblin versions of their distributions. We even saw several Android applications installed on a netbook running Moblin 2.0 in a speech from Intel on Thursday making it clear that it isn’t necessarily and either or game between the two platforms.
Smartbook or Netbook; Common Denominator is Linux
Qualcom has dubbed the term “Smartbook” which is defined as combining features of a smartphone and a netbook. It is unclear if this category will stick but there is one thing that both netbooks and smartbooks have in common; Linux. Moblin, Android, and desktop Linux were in all of the preview devices on display behind the scenes and on the show floor at Computex.
“Instant on”runs on Linux
As I predicted last year, Linux is shipping with a huge number of the PC’s at Computex thanks to a flurry of activity in the “fast boot” segment. On display this year were Fastboot from bios giant Phoenix, Splashtop from DeviceVM, and Presto from Xandros. Clearly consumers are sick of waiting for Windows to boot and with sub five second boot times from each of these vendors using Linux you can access your e-mail or web browser in seconds.
Dell Introduces a Full Linux Notebook for $299.00
Dell introduced the Inspiron N notebook computer this week for $299.00. This is a full fledged notebook computer with a 15 inch screen, a dvd burner, 160 gig hard drive and more for $299.00. This is breakthrough pricing in a market that can’t be re categorized by Microsoft as a “low-cost small notebook PC” It is hard to see how Microsoft can maintain their usual margins which would represent 1/3 of the cost of this PC. Linux’s fundamental pricing advantage here could not be more compelling.
Better Audio and Video Support
RealNetworks Inc announced it is licensing its RealPlayer for Linux on x86 and ARM-based netbooks, as well as the three “instant-on” products mentioned above. Real is joining Fluendo who is already partnering with Ubuntu to offer multimedia support for Linux on Dell products.
Palm “Pre” makes a spash with a Linux based Smartphone
Palm started selling its ambitious new smartphone product this week to strong reviews. Palm has bet the company on the Pre and it shows. The device has tremendous potential with slick industrial design and a solid Linux based software platform.
Intel Buys Wind River
Finally, Intel surprised everyone this week by purchasing Linux and embedded systems giant Wind River. If anyone questioned Intel’s commitment to Linux and to expanding in the embedded and mobile market this certainly made it clear that Intel is going all in. This acquisition, which is Intel’s first major M&A activity since 2001, is certain to help all of their efforts in this arena from the Moblin project they are working on with us here at the Linux Foundation to better software enablement of future products in this space.
After this week I think the term “year of the desktop” is becoming obsolete. Heck, after this week of the Linux desktop if there wasn’t so much going on I might even take next week off.