The current dogma is that Linux can't become a popular desktop operating system while the worlds most popular applications are written for Windows. But that's just not true anymore. My grandfather who's in his 90's recently got his first computer. The only two applications that matter are web and email. The fact is that the OS matters much less now then it did in 2001 and it'll matter even less in 2010.
Applications are moving to the web and application platforms are moving online as well. Flex from Adobe is moving things into the Air platform. Silverlight from Microsoft is bringing .Net onto the web. Prism from Mozilla is also bridging the gap by bringing web applications to the desktop.... And Java, ahh Java, but that's another story.
There's no reason the next OS platform can't be Linux but there has to be something in it for the typical web user experience. Even if Linux takes a foothold on the desktop the open source community will wake up to find that the field goals have moved. While everyone was touting Linux standards and open platforms everyone will have moved on and the operating system will be the Web. Your apps, your files and your data live in the cloud, not on the desktop. This future is coming closer every day and it often feels like Linux on the desktop ignores this eventuality.
For the Linux desktop to succeed it needs to begin to enhance the user experience for the web user. it also has to be more relevant to today's developers. Currently the browser experience is disconnected from the desktop and the innovations from KDE, Gnome and others aren't relevant or visible to the web-community. (Both end-users and web-developers)
Questions Linux Architects need to ask:
- What can Linux as a platform do to enhance the web experience?
- What can Linux as a platform do to get developers excited about writing apps, the way that people are excited about writing iPhone apps.
- How will Linux innovate and set itself apart from Windows and Mac? The hardware and the software are starting to look the same, what can Linux do with new interaction techniques and innovative hardware that will make people say wow, I want that!
For next year to be the year of the Linux desktop it needs to become relevant and provide something more then a free alternative to something that everyone already gets for free with their computers.