As a long time fan of the Linux desktop I was interested to see the the Linux desktop usage number for personal computers increase to over 1.02%. I suspect it’s partially fueled by the popularity of Linux netbooks from the Dell (who offers an Ubuntu option) and Asus (that’s uses a special version of Xandros Linux).
While there’s no one company behind Linux for personal computers, it’s significant that Linux just broke through to 1.02 percent market share for personal computers, the first time it has ever risen that high, according to data compiled by Net Applications. (Meanwhile, even in beta, Windows 7 continues its march, now hitting .25 percent market share.)
I spent a long time trying to convince myself and others that the future for the desktop was an option of Windows, Mac or Linux. I am less bullish then I once was and now I use both a Mac and a Linux laptop. I really like the Linux desktop for it’s stability and I like the virtual desktop environment afforded by windows managers for Linux and the flexibility to adapt the interface in general to your personal needs.
However, I think we will always struggle with Linux as a desktop operating system as long as application compatibility falters (I can’t open sophisticated Excel spreadsheets from colleagues) and hardware vendors don’t feel obligated to support Linux (My Verizon EVDO card takes extra configuration for it to work under Linux while it’s a snap to set-up on Mac OS X).
So why bother with a Linux desktop at all? Well I found when using my Asus N10 netbook that my battery life is much better under Linux and I feel like the operating system is much more responsive than when I run Windows XP (I downgraded from Vista to reduce the resource requirements improving speed and battery life). My theory is that over time we will see the focus less on the desktop operating system and more on the avialability of hosted apps that run on them like Google Docs and Zoho. I think at that point the emphasis on the desktop operating system will be greatly diminished.[Desktop Usage Numbers via Matt Asay]