The End Of The Beginning Or The Beginning Of The End? (Part 3)

1/24/2013 4:21:39 PM

Distros Fighting The Good Fight

Whether you agree with Canonical or not, Ubuntu is certainly proving to be the front line of Linux innovation. However, Ubuntu isn’t the only fruit in the bowl.

For a number of years now we’ve seen the rise of Linux Mint, as its popularity on the likes of Distrowatch’s contentious charts has shadowed that of its main rival, Ubuntu. Despite being package based on the latest version of Ubuntu, Linux Mint has become something of a refuge for those whose distaste for overelaborate desktop environments and the latest offerings from Microsoft have forced them to hop operating systems.

Description: Best Linux desktop of 2012: Linux Mint 13

Best Linux desktop of 2012: Linux Mint 13

Linux Mint in itself is more of an ideal Linux starter’s operating system than its parent Ubuntu. As many of you will already know, it comes with numerous bug fixes from the main package base, along with the various controversial codecs required to play anything remotely interesting. The software included is well established and proportioned and the desktop environments on offer, MATE and Cinnamon, are a welcome break from the tablet centric displays we’ve come to loath so readily.

Another distro that’s rapidly coming of age is Zorin. Now on version 6.1 of the core, Zorin is another Ubuntu based distribution that welcomes new users by attempting to be more Windows-like in its approach. The ultimate goal of Zorin OS is to provide a healthy alternative to Windows while allowing the Microsoft refugees to enjoy the many pleasures of Linux without too much hassle.

The result is something quite special: a stable, well thought out distro with some interesting features. We won’t go into them all here, but suffice to say Zorin OS is certainly a distro to keep your eye on. If you’re interested, then consider having a look at Micro Mart forumite Bruce R’s experiences with Zorin on a number of machines and in a number of environments, an example of which can be found at

 Zorin OS 1.0 Screenshots

The Fedora Project has been churning out some pretty good distros of late. Number 17 had some interesting technologies in use, although Fedora has adhered lovingly to the much maligned Gnome 3 desktop environment. The work involved with Fedora 18 (due out early 2013, possibly January) sees an enhancement with many features, but more importantly the release has been put back due to the team ironing out a number of bugs. The one to look out for is Fedora 19, which is supposedly due out sometime in May 2013. This is an especially interesting release, as it will be the first Fedora distro to take advantage of Red Hat’s RHEL Distribution for ARM CPUs, so those who run ARM-based devices could see a version of Fedora on their screens very soon.

Final Thoughts

One thing that endears Linux to so many is the fact that, despite the problems it inherently has, its lack of popularity or the image it portrays, Linux keeps on evolving into something else. One minute it’s a text based operating system used by the computing elite, the next it’s offering full graphical capabilities for the movie industry; one minute it’s a slow moving desktop environment, the next it’s evolved into the most used mobile operating system ever.

Whenever a writer comes to pen the words ‘Linux is dead’, it reemerges as something totally different and takes over the world without the common user ever realising that they’re using a Linux-based system. It’s quite an astonishing feat really.

The future of Linux used to be a fairly easy one to predict. You’d simply say that yes, it will be around next year and may even claw another half percent of the world’s computer users. Things have changed this year, though, and it’s not quite so easy to predict any more. There’s little doubt that this time next year we’ll still have a traditional Linux desktop, because there’s far too much work from the community involved to let that die over the course of 12 months, but will Linux evolve once more and become something else entirely?

We’ve already seen Linux being renamed and rebranded as Android, despite the purists declaring that Android isn’t Linux. Could we see the combination of commercialisation and the interest of big companies rebranding Linux as a new entity?

Without doubt, we’ll find out soon and there’ll be much ‘told you so’ and the pointing of digits should things go either way for the future of Linux. One thing is sure, though: Linux is here to stay, either as Linux or as something mutated by the aspirations of those who wish to exploit it.

Is The Linux Desktop Dead?

There are undoubtedly some big challenges ahead for Linux. More importantly, though, Linux needs to know who it’s aimed at and who it wants to attract. For the moment, Linux still remains firmly in the court of the enthusiast and the techie. Having read some of the comments in our own forum and after a recent conversation with fellow contributor Roland Waddilove about the ‘dd’ command, it’s no wonder Linux isn’t more popular. The fact is when you mention Linux to a non-techie individual, you’re generally met with a blank stare.

Description: Is The Linux Desktop Dead?

Is The Linux Desktop Dead?

Bringing on the gaming elite and advertising with Amazon is hardly going to usher in a new era of Linux desktop. What’s essentially needed is a Linux-based operating system that stands out from Microsoft and Apple as the one that everyone needs on the desktop much in the same way that Android came across on the mobile platform. An operating system that a user can turn on and use without having to drop into the terminal to work some functions and features, or having to constantly refer to numerous forums to gain the knowledge needed to perform basic tasks.

Linux on the desktop isn’t dead for the moment at least. It may have lost the race to produce a viable and all-encompassing consumer operating system, but it will still continue to provide a novel desktop for those who wish to use it. It is, however, floundering and the coming year may prove whether the desktop Linux OS will disappear under the waves or become the commercial success that it so rightly deserves to be.

Moving on from this, a good question would be the one Canonical recently asked its users prior to them downloading the latest Ubuntu.iso: how much would you pay? For the common user who’s out to purchase a new PC, they waltz into the likes of PC World and buy the latest desktop as offered by the sales person. They see the item as a whole, including the operating system that comes on it, be that Windows or Mac and they don’t usually consider the cost that has been added to the machine to cover the OS. If, instead, they were required to purchase the PC as hardware then have the option to purchase Windows or Mac OS or get Linux for free, I wonder what they would choose? Choice is a wonderful thing, but only when it’s offered and the customer knows of it.

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