The Future of the Linux Desktop – Bdale Garbee
General career update, retired from HP
Doing rocket electronics business – Altus Metrum
Involved with Freedom Box
Is 2013 finally the year of the Linux Desktop?
Percentage of people whose main desktop is on a desk is dropping (although desks more common a LCA that possibly elsewhere)
Not everything needs a “desktop” interface (eg fridges, TVs)
Desktop is interface to Universal computer environment
- Email, web, design, software development, accounting, managing a small business, presentations
- User is completely in charge
Will Linux ever displace Windows?
- Some big deployments
- Cost of change can be high , re-education of users, people know applications instead of concepts
- OEMS have strong dis-incentives
- Offering to “reduce their software expense” is a non starter
- Pre-loaded Windows does not cost OEMs large money, can be net-revenue source
- Joint marketing opportunities with software vendors
Will Linux ever displace Apple?
- Wall Gardens can be very beautiful, alluring… captivating
- Mac OS X
- Credible technical base
- Plausible additional target for free software applications
- Oh please! World most proprietary operating environment
- Hard to ship free software
- Hostile to hardware devs
Many desktop devs have been lured to mobile
- Core technology elements certainly relivant
- So much effort applied to lot of things that didn’t make it
- Android consumes open source, uses lot of open source but ecosystems arn’t really open
- They are not a universal computing enviroments
Is this work on mobile useful to us?
- Can one UI really span all things? The idea is certainly appealing…
- Interface capabilities vary widely
- keyboard centric vs touch centric
- Screen size
Personal computers with Free Software were meant to empower!
- Any user *can* become a developer, every dev is a user
- Expanding the user base by reaching more people is laudable
- Accessility, multi-lingual, appealing to non-geeks
Feeling abandoned by Linux desktop developers
- Confusion over target audenience
- Not eating their own dogfood
- Huge piles of software that interfaces in complex ways makes it hard for users to become developers
- Was with bunch of Gnome devs, none of them uses evolution to read email
- Not scratching our own itches
Tradeoffs associated with encompassing apps, system functions
- eg Gnome desktop relationship with network manager
XFCE4 as Debian Wheezy’s default
- Gnome too big to fit on single OS install CD
- Most distributed have moved to DVD image but Debian wants to stay with credible single CD option
Why can debian easy change desktop without hurting users
What really matters: Applications
- Desktop doesn’t really matter, it just gets in the way
- Want to use any application with any desktop
- Linux gives us the ability to multitask, don’t take it away
What really matters: Efficiency
- Buy a faster computer should mean applications run faster
- For most modern computing, battery life is a really big deal
- Composting is expensive
- Shiny can be fun, but is all the “bling” really worth the cost?
- Oh, and because my laptop is my desk, please don’t cook my legs
What really matters: Customizing
- Users won’t to customise
- Personalisation is part of taking ownership
- Investing time is okay as the returned value persists
- Ability to automate things that are repetitive
- Scripting is valuable part of Unix heritage
- Don’t hide access to text interfaces too deeply
- Coping with the industry infatuation with 1366×768 displays
- Waste as few pixels as possible on “decorations”
- Vertical “panel” support
What really Matters: Hackable
- The real reason I run free software
- I’ve known since I was a kid I was a “tool maker”
- Immense gratification from fixing and sharing the fixes
- I want to be able to undertsand and fix the software I use
- Gave up trying to get evolution to build
- Complexity gets in the way of “casual contribution”, killing the long tail effect!
- Linux kernel has many devs that just submit single patch
- I want yo be able to share easily with others
- Any app should work on any desktop
- Ability to push patches upstream
What does all this mean?
- Fell good about how Linux is winning in the mobile space!
- Pick realistic goals.. can’t easily convert OEMs from Windows
- We should build the kind of systems *we* want to use!
- Collaborative development model is awesomely powerful
- Differentiate in interoperable ways!
- Empower users to be developers so we can get long tail effect