Will Linux Find its Way Onto Your Computer?


While the majority of readers here use Mac and Windows systems, I’m consistently surprised at how many readers also use one form of Linux or another. Judging from anecdotal evidence I’ve seen in the reader comments, the folks who do use Linux use it as an ancillary tool, secondary to the operating systems they spend most of their time in. Recently, this positioning of Linux as an ancillary tool has picked up steam. Even if you don’t use Linux at all now, the trend may affect you.

Over on the OStatic blog, we’ve written about Splashtop, which is Linux-based instant-on software found on many of Asus’ systems. Splashtop isn’t the primary OS on systems that use it; instead, it allows users to flip in and out of a Linux-based OS for on-the-fly tasks, when it’s undesirable to wait for a lengthy system boot-up.

Our sister blog GigaOm recently did a good piece on what’s missing from the current crop of netbook systems. “Instant-on” was at the top of the lengthy wish list.

Today, DeviceVM, the company that makes Splashtop announced that it has received $15 million of Series C venture funding–in addition to the good will it has from Asus. On top of that, the instant-on Linux concept has also made its way into the new Windows-based Dell e4300 laptop, which Mike Gunderloy writes about here.

It’s very useful to be able to access e-mail, the web, and various applications without waiting for a full system boot. This is an ideal space for Linux, where there are many compact, purpose-driven distros to work with.

For some observers in the Linux crowd, this application of Linux may seem to ghettoize an OS that they care about, but especially in the case of the Dell laptops, it could make Linux useful for a lot more people. That’s also true of the Linux-based netbooks from Asus, Acer, and others.

Meanwhile, several blogs today are reporting that Dell’s new sub-notebook will ship with Ubuntu pre-loaded, and Dell has been expanding its line of systems based on Linux. The two large, public companies that have had widespread success with Linux–Red Hat and Novell–don’t build their business strategies around Linux on the desktop. In fact, they both say that they don’t have much focus on the desktop because of the success they have elsewhere. However, whether Linux makes its way to you as an ancillary, on-the-fly convenience, or in a low-cost, offbeat portable computer that might be an adjunct to what you use all the time, it may creep up on you.

Is Linux on your radar or do you already use it?

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