Categories
Computers Linux Ubuntu

The writers who cried YOTLD

If you have followed tech news closely at all within the last ten years, you’ve probably heard the phrase year of the Linux desktop before. This is the year that Linux makes a breakthrough with home users, and suddenly Microsoft’s dominant market share comes toppling down. I believe people have been proclaiming various years as the year of the Linux desktop since as early as 1998 (possibly even earlier).

Sometimes the writers will say the current year will be the year of the Linux desktop. Sometimes they’ll be a little more conservative and say some year a few years from now will be the year of the Linux desktop. For example, if I were one of these writers, I would either write 2008 will be the year of the Linux desktop! or with the progress we’re saying right now in 2008, it’s likely that by 2011, we’ll see the year of the Linux desktop.

Did we see the year of the Linux desktop? Nope. That, at least, I think most of us Linux aficionados can agree on. But some naysayers go a step further. Through a leap in logic, they decide that the fact that none of these previous predictions have come true precludes the possibility of a future prediction coming true. In other words, the extrapolation goes something like this: Oh, come on. For years, people have been saying such-and-such year is the year of the Linux desktop, and it’s never come. It’s never going to come. Microsoft will always be on top. Just deal with it.

I would contend that we have no way of knowing whether that year will ever come or not. Just think of the fable “The boy who cried wolf.” In it, the boy tells the village that a wolf is coming. The village gets all up in a panic and then realizes the boy was lying. He cries wolf a second time, and a second time the village is in a panic and realizes the boy was lying again. The third time he cries wolf, there really is a wolf, but no one in the village believes him any more. That’s what’s happening with this whole YOTLD business. These writers who keep proclaiming that some year is the YOTLD are losing their credibility every time the year doesn’t come. But it also means that it’s possible the year might come, and no one will believe the writer who really does get it right.

So I guess it boils down to two things: 1. If you’re a writer who wants to proclaim that such-and-such year is the YOTLD, don’t even bother. Even if you’re right, no one will believe you anyway, as people have been saying that for years. 2. If you one of those people who thinks the YOTLD will never come, you have to come up with other reasons than “They’ve been saying that for years.” After all, I could say every year that I’m going to die that year, and I may be wrong most of the time, but one year I am going to be right. Whether I say it’s going to happen or not has no bearing on the actual outcome or occurrence.

I’m just beginning now to read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, which talks about the moment when there’s a huge sociological change (crime rates dropping, fashion trends being adopted, new technology going mainstream), and it’s made me change my mind on Linux adoption. I used to think the growth of consumer Linux would be gradual and stay gradual indefinitely, but there is a tipping point, and if we get to that point (maybe about 15%), there will be a huge flood of new users. I’m not going to speculate on what year that might be, but it clearly happened for cell phones (as Gladwell points out) in 1998, and it also happened for iPods in 2003, and Firefox in 2005. It won’t necessarily mean the end of Windows’ dominance on the home user’s computer, but it could mean a lot more third-party support for Linux—the kind that Macs currently enjoy.

Which year will be the YOTLD? No one knows. There very well still could be one, and it would probably be a year and not a decade.

Categories
Asus Eee PC Linux

I don’t know about “the desktop,” but Linux appears to be ready for the ultra-mobile PC

I don’t like arguments about whether or not Linux is “ready for the desktop,” because I think that phrase is basically meaningless. What I have always contended about Linux, since I started using it in 2005, however, is that Linux preinstalled and properly configured is perfectly fine for most home users’ basic needs: web browser, email client, music, photos, and word processing. Before Asus’ Eee PC, there was little to support that contention. Now, though, the people speak.

Right now on Amazon, there are 124 reviews for the Asus Eee PC. Of those, 89 are 5-star reviews, 27 are 4-star reviews, 5 are 3-star reviews, 2 are 2-star reviews, and 1 is a 1-star review.

While I don’t agree with Asus’ choice of Xandros for its base Linux distribution (mainly because of its limited software repositories—many of even the positive reviews complained about the difficulty involved in adding more basic software), I have to say they have really made Linux user-friendly to the uninitiated.

Some of the reviews are clearly from Windows power users who intended from the very beginning to wipe out Linux and install Windows XP, and others are clearly from Linux veterans who bought the ultra-mobile PC because it had Linux on it. But many of the reviews are from people who had no idea what to expect from Linux and were pleasantly surprised. Here are some of those relevant excerpts (the bolded bits are for the extra lazy among you who don’t need context):

Great Product! The perfect little carry along computer. I wasn’t too savy with Linux at the beginning. But now I’m all about it. This pretty much handles anything you throw at it, but you may need to tweak it here and there (Linux that is). I recommend jacking up the RAM. Oh and this Eee is a Chick Magnet! Seriously. Walk into Starbucks and this thing sells itself…


I am thoroughly delighted with this product. It is everything their claims say, completely easy to use and does everything I could ask. Writing a doctoral thesis or editing a full length movie would be difficult but everything that a basic computer would do is right here plus portability, etc. I have been bragging about it to everyone who will hold still. The instruction book could stand an index, but most tasks are intuitive anyway. Just began using the built in Skype…what a deal! Everyone should have this rather than one with dozens of applications that will never be used, at 2 or 3 times the price. Was a little concerned about Linux (I am not a computer geek) but no problems at all.


With the size, all the different bright colors, and the low cost, I thought this Eee PC might be more gadgit than a usable tool. I was completely wrong.

The Linux software loaded on the Eee PC has a look of a child’s game, but it’s actually powerful and well put together. It can read and save in MS Word and Excel. I was very surprised.


I titled this review as a great second laptop because I really don’t think it would be enough if it were someone’s only computer. There are some great things that you can do with this, but definitely not everything most people would enjoy. It’s difficult to download new programs and the system is designed to be used for simple applications. I am not much of a techie and I have never used a Linux OS before, so maybe there are things that I just don’t know how to do, but for only $400, it’s a great way to get online, listen to some of your music (with a SD card) and take notes. As long as you don’t need a full computer, this laptop is perfect.


starts in 30 seconds, on the net in a minute. as i keep everything in the cloud, the 4gb ssd is plenty. took about a week to get the hang of the somewhat cramped keyboard, but once i got it it’s no big deal. fits in the outer pocket of my coat, but now that it’s warming up i use the bag. two novels, pens, notebook, smokes, and the eeepc fits perfectly well. shuts down in 10 seconds toss it in the bag and am out of there. haven’t bothered with the xp, tried a couple of things with linux that i found on the net and they worked fine. all in all it’s light enough to be there when you need it.


I love this little gadget. It does most of what I need it to do. I have a full-sized windows laptop as well but it is a nuisance to tote around the house. This does the trick nicely for e-mail, surfing, and yahoo messenger. Having no Linux experience whatsoever, I was pleasantly surprised to have this running out of the box in less than 10 minutes.


I gave this as a gift, and despite the cons, the recipient is extremely happy and satisfied with it. I felt the ability to switch to Windows XP would be a nice fallback plan in case the Linux OS and apps weren’t satisfactory. Since the OS and apps are more satisfactory than Windows, switching to Windows is no longer a consideration.


Honestly, this is an AMAZING product.
It is small, cute, light, and easy to carry, and use.

I found the Linux operating system pretty easy and yeah, it OPENS my Windows Microsoft office files.

I have no problem at all going wireless.

I like it and I recommend it to everyone.


The laptop itself is built very well. The linux OS it came with is enough for the regular user, but was too limited for me. I installed XP and love the eee even more now. It is fairly powerful for its size and has enough processing power to run any office app. I have had no problems with the laptop so far, it has not frozen on me once. The eee pc also has a big following online, so one can get help from forums fairly easy. This was a big help in installing windows XP.


I purchased the Asus Eee laptop from amazon about two weeks ago and have been using it on a daily basis. Now understand that I am not an expert in computers and have never used Linux before. After powering up this little thing, I was able to be on the web and use many of its programs in no time.


After a quick search, I found step by step instructions for downloading and enabling the “advanced” desktop. I’ve never used linux before (advanced Mac/PC user), and I was a bit intimidated, but was able to follow instructions, and the “advanced” desktop is just like XP, only quicker! I definitely recommend that any user intent on having XP put the advanced linux desktop on it for a few days first. Also, the 2G does not have java plug-in installed. That was another quick 5 minute install. I believe that the 4G Surf model has the advanced desktop and java plug-in installed, you just need to enable the desktop mode.


I purchased this machine as a travel pc and have to admit that it’s a fun little pc to use. The start up is quick – really quick. We needed quick directions. Got them in less than 3 minutes. The other laptop and desktop were still booting up. I was wary of Linux operating system having never used it, but it is so user friendly. It’s just like windows – only different icons. I connected it to my home and office network in a snap. In less than 10 minutes I was browsing the web. I thought the small 7″ screen would not allow full screen view and scrolling, but it does. I have only had a few sites where I have to horizontal scroll but i can live with that.


I was a bit apprehensive about the OS, since I have never had a linux machine, but it is super easy to use and very intuitive. Whew.


This is a very user friendly laptop (Targeted after all for your children and older adults). I was never a huge Linux fan but the version that they installed here is at par with xp, even surpasses it because of the tabbed interface that is similar to Firefox. You do not even need to read the manual or be an expert on Linux to figure the thing out. It is a great starter laptop, and at the same time a great secondary laptop for the road warrior or student.

Even though Asus is now starting to sell some Eee PCs with Windows XP preinstalled, I admire their bold move to put a less-popular operating system on a revolutionary new product, and I’m glad to see it having such commercial success. Maybe I’ll pick one of these up when the second-generation models come out.