I believe in Synergy. One positive event feeds other positive events. The share of computer users who use Linux, GNU, and other Free Software is growing because people are actually starting to put some marketing muscle behind the concepts. Canonical is one of these companies. Red Hat is another. Google is also fighting the good fight. It was only a matter of time before we had to see positive results. Ubuntu TV, Android phones and tablets, and the rise in GNU/Linux’s desktop market share in 2011 are 3 such tangible results. Free Software and Open Source have arrived in 2012!
TLWIR 30 is a celebration of this achievement, and an optimistic look at what the Linux future holds. Three thrilling features will be part of our adventure this week:
- Linux++: The GNU/Linux Desktop Market Share Increments
- Brother Shows GNU/Linux Some Brotherly Love
- Ubuntu is on Fire!!
Linux++: The GNU/Linux Desktop Market Share Increments
GNU/Linux enjoyed a banner year in the recently departed 2011. GNU/Linux surged 50% in desktop usage from 0.96% of the market in early 2011 to 1.41% at the end of 2011.1 I have been a fan and user of Fedora Linux since the mid-2000s, so I have known all along how great the operating system is. However, it appears that a lot more people are starting to catch on. I have noticed this trend quite a bit myself. I’ve introduced a lot of church members, family, and friends to GNU/Linux. Most of the time, when people that I introduce to the Linux ecosystem use it, they are amazed by how easy and intuitive it is. To a lot of laypeople, the restrictions and pricing associated with non-free operating systems, and non-free software in general, are making less and less sense. The Free Software alternatives continue to improve while most proprietary code stagnates. The current trends reflect our human nature to gravitate towards what is easier. If I want to buy Microsoft Office for example, I have to go to the store, get out my credit card, cash, or debit card, shell out anywhere between $77 and $699, and then return home to actually use it. Even if I buy Office online and download it, I still have to pay a considerable amount for it. In sharp contrast, LibreOffice 3.4.4 is a free download that I can install on my system in minutes. There are no limits on how many computers that I can install it on. I can download extra copies and give it to friends….legally.
Brother Shows GNU/Linux Some Brotherly Love
I have owned a couple of Epson printers in the past, and I had very good success with them on my GNU/Linux systems. This is mostly due to the great CUPS package that provides Linux drivers for a lot of popular printers. However, if I buy a multi-function printer in the future (which is something I’ve been seriously researching), I’m taking a hard look at buying a Brother. Figure 1 below comes from Brother’s Linux driver page for the model that I have been thinking about purchasing: the MFC-7460DN. There is a separate pages on Brother.com for the scanner drivers.
Figure 1: Brother MFC-7460DN GNU/Linux Printer Drivers
I run Fedora 16 on most of my computers, and Ubuntu 11.10 on my netbook. Since Brother provides both .rpm and .deb packages, I am covered either way. My biggest surprise came when I actually looked at the drivers. They are licensed under version 2 of GNU’s GPL! Bravo to Brother for finding the moral courage to fully support the Free Software community.
Ubuntu is on Fire!!
Though Ubuntu was recently replaced as the most popular GNU/Linux desktop by Linux Mint, the wonderful group over at Canonical have some seriously scary things going on. I mean scary in a very good sense. Canonical has the financial resources to actually make a strong push into the desktop and mobile device markets.2 Here are the two Ubuntu/Canonical initiatives that I find the most impressive:
- Ubuntu One: I use Dropbox myself to share files between my various machines. Though I have not used Ubuntu One, I am very familiar with the cloud files concept. I have also used Google Docs extensively. The Cloud has truly arrived, and it is an incredibly powerful tool. I use Dropbox on an almost daily basis to easily share files between my systems. Canonical MUST have seen how great Dropbox is, and decided that they HAD TO get into the game too. This is a brilliant move that will surely bring more people to Ubuntu. My problem is that I started off with Fedora. I have mastered the Fedora environment and I feel most comfortable in it. At this point, there is absolutely no chance of me switching to Ubuntu and Ubuntu One when I can get the same functionality with Fedora+Dropbox. However, I also see the bigger picture, and that is why I desperately want Ubuntu and Canonical to succeed. They have been an extremely powerful force for converting people to Linux and Free Software. What Ubuntu is doing will eventually result in all of us being able to buy GNU/Linux systems at Best Buy, Walmart, and other big retailers.
- Ubuntu TV: Yesterday, I watched a promotional video from the Consumer Electronics Show demonstrating Ubuntu TV. What a bold move! That is a TV that I would buy. Ubuntu’s TV is well designed, and its features are competitive with any TV currently on the market. When this is introduced in the United States and elsewhere, I really don’t see how it can be stopped. Here is the video from the CES:
I commend Canonical for having the courage to make such bold moves in a time when patent trolls are trying to block Free Software from gaining a foothold anywhere. Unfortunately for the trolls, they can’t be everywhere at all times, and they can’t sue everyone. Someone’s brilliant idea is going to eventually slip through the cracks, and I believe that it just might be Ubuntu that bubbles up to the surface. Once one company breaks through, the flood gates will open, and you will see all kinds of GNU/Linux-based products stampede onto the scene.
I sincerely feel that 2012 WILL be the year that Linux and Free Software break through. Android led the way, and GNU/Linux got a big bump because of it. There will soon be Linux tablets, TVs, cellphones, set top boxes, and other consumer devices. The coming reality is probably the worst possible nightmare for some of the more “old school” software, computing, and technology guys. Change is inevitable. The old school guys are learning to adapt to a new way of doing things. They realize that if they don’t, they will become obsolete. Freedom, sharing, Free Software, open source, collaboration; these are the terms that are going to define the 21st century. The genie is out of the bottle, and there is no way to force it back in.
- Sneddon, J. January 4, 2012. Linux Marketshare is Rising. http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/01/is-linux-marketshare-on-the-rise-it-seems-so/
- Jackson, J. January 9, 2012. Canonical Demonstrates Ubuntu TV. http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/247571/canonical_demonstrates_ubuntu_tv.html