One day in the distinct future, the adoption of Linux on the desktop will not be driven by improvements in desktop applications, but by desktop applications moving to the web. The more conventional desktop applications we can eliminate, the faster end-users will be able to adopt Linux.

It is both logical and inevitable that web applications, and not desktop applications, will take Linux to the desktop.

Microsoft has to invest in rich internet applications and web application development so they can compete with Google and Adobe. But do they realize that by making rich internet applications a commodity, they will indirectly help drive Linux' adoption for the reason outlined above?

Make the desktop obsolete and the Linux kernel will shine.

This week's official introduction of Microsoft Silverlight will be remembered as a tipping point in the history of Free and Open Source software, and Linux in particular.


futtta (not verified):

Although I do agree with the general idea (web apps replacing -most- desktop applications diminishing the importance of the OS in general and Windows in particular), I don't get why you would consider the release of Silverlight as being that important in that perspective. Would you care to elaborate?

Victor Kane (not verified):

What I understand from Dries pithy comment is the following:

1. There are new rich application clients coming out: Adobe Apollo, for example, which gives you the ability to create a web application which runs in a more robust environment than a browser; or in a browser of course. Microsoft sees itself obliged to bring out Starlight in order to compete with products like Apollo.

2. With a regular browser, and perhaps even more so with rich clients, a tendency is already underway, and will grow, to replace desktop applications with web applications, be they based on a browser (all the new Google stuff) or a rich text client. This will eliminate the added value of Operating Systems in general. In fact, if you can run a rich client or a browser, you simply don't need anything else.

3. Starlight encourages this tendency to make the choice of an operating system a moot one. Even a non-Microsoft developer could come along and re-write a spreadsheet or word processing document as a killer-app, and could make it run either on a browser, on Apollo, on Starlight or all three.

4. Micrososoft is being made to shoot itself in the foot by history.

Khalid (not verified):

I have been using web based desktop applications for many years.

It started with Yahoo's web mail, and Yahoo's address book, and Calendar. Lately, it has been Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Reader.

This made my switch to Linux easier, since I was mainly on Firefox and OpenOffice, not Windows.

Open Office is still my word processing / spreadsheet / presentation suite.

Everything else uses ssh, vim and command line, apart from voice (Skype on Linux) and IM (Gaim then Kopete).

Give Kubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn a try, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Amy Stephen (not verified):

Agree with your SilverPoint observation. I have referred to as the Berlin Wall starting to come down. Tremendous announcement. Knowledge is wiggling free from our stranglehold. :-)

bockereyer (not verified):

Are there any medium to large organizations, using around 1000 workstations, in the Benelux using Linux on the desktop?

We are looking if a switch from Microsoft to Linux is possible for the whole or part of our organization. My boss would like to know if there are any. He is not looking for people who say they can do it but for businesses who already switched.


AmyStephen (not verified):

It won't be long before we start seeing broader desktop implementations of Ubuntu. They are an indisputable industry sweetheart right now, gaining recognition and awards right and left.

To me, the last barrier is distribution. ZDNet announced that Dell, 2nd largest PC manufacturer in the world, plans to offer Feisty Fawn as a pre-installed operating system choice end of May.

IMO, you'll have plenty to share with your boss in about three months. Of course, if he wants to look strategically brilliant, he might want to catch the wave now. ;-)

DaveNotik (not verified):

I agree with the overarching point.

I've long felt that Linux will dominate the desktop only as the OS becomes marginalized and everything moves to the web. It's already happening: I just got a new computer with Vista and I've barely noticed anything different because what I do is increasingly on the web (thank you Google). In a short while, the traditional desktop applications I do use (Photoshop, Dreamweaver) will make their way to the web too.

Eventually we'll address the issue of handing over all our information to corporations when we move back to the internet's roots and establish a true P2P system, where your information will reside "everywhere and nowhere", literally. The computer will be a dummy terminal, the OS controlling little more than the hardware.

In the not too distant future, you'll visit any terminal, be it a kiosk in the airport or your friend's computer, place your thumb down, and upon authorization all your information will be accessible off the P2P network.

I promise to keep sharing more. :)

I don't get why you placed such emphasis on Silverlight in this revolution, Dries. Sure, it's big news because now multitudes of developers will begin writing their sophisticated applications for the web. Yet I think the quick rise of Google and their suite of tools on the web will be looked upon as the early tipping point. Anyways, they're all important events as this revolution unfolds.


Gaele (not verified):


Do you believe for one minute that Silverlight won't be tied to Windows, and Vista in particular? Or won't offer an "enhanced user experience" on Windows? It's XAML and .NET all the way.

Yes, it is "cross platform", but fit for Linux it is not.

I do agree with you on the trend towards RIA's and the opportunities for desktop Linux though. And I'm sure Drupal will play part of the role you're assigning to Silverlight!



Do you believe for one minute that Silverlight won't be tied to Windows, and Vista in particular?

I don't believe that this will happen -- I never said that I believed that to happen. However, I do believe that this move, will (indirectly) cause good things to happen.

As Douglas Adams put it: Anything that happens, happens. Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen. Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again. It doesn’t necessarily do it in chronological order, though.

Hanief (not verified):

At the moment I can't see Silverlight for Linux.

Just like Adobe Plash Player, they (Microsoft) have to provide an installer for the open-source guys.

Does Microsoft wants to shutdown Linux indirectly?

Steve Dondley (not verified):


Do you see these web/desktop apps diminishing the need for Drupal? Seems to me like a desktop app like this could do amazing things for managing content on a site. And if Drupal doesn't offer the same kind of easy-to-use user interface, it could end up being a Drupal killer.

alexanderpas (not verified):

Make the desktop obsolete and downtime will be fatal...