It's hard to say exactly what percentage of desktop and laptop computers
run Apple OS X, but it's clear that the operating system has made slow
but steady gains at chipping away at that the sizable lead Microsoft
established in the '90s with its Windows operating system. Some figures
put the number at about 6 to 7 percent of the desktop market.
But one thing's for sure: OS X has been more successful than Linux, the
open source operating system that has found a home on data-center servers
but is still a rarity on desktops and laptops. Linux may have seen a
surge last year, but it still hasn't seen the sort of growth OS X has,
nor the growth that Linux supporters have long hoped for.
Some might blame the slow progress of desktop Linux on the fragmentation
of the desktop user interfaces used by the major Linux distributions. In
2010, Canonical announced that it would replaced the popular GNOME
desktop environment with its own homegrown Unity environment in the
Ubuntu distribution, much to many Linux geeks' chagrin.
But many are also unhappy with the direction GNOME has taken, including
Linux creator Linus Torvalds, who posted a tirade about it on Google Plus
last year.But at the same time, development was shifting to the web. Open
source on the desktop became a lot less important than open source on the
server. The need to develop native applications was diminishing and at
the same time OS X provided a good enough Unix-like environment that
programmers could develop on a Mac and then deploy to a Linux server.
Another big change since the early days of the Linux desktop is the rise
of the mobile web. "There's a huge portion of the world who are going to
first experience the internet through the mobile devices," Peters say.
To that end, Mozilla is working on its Boot to Gecko open source mobile
operating system, but possibly more importantly is the Mozilla
Marketplace. These applications will run anywhere that the Firefox web
Mobile development is also on de Icaza's mind. Since 2001 he's been
working on Mono, an open source framework for running Microsoft's .NET
languages on non-Microsoft operating systems like Linux and OS X. Now the
project is available on Android and iOS as well.
Meanwhile, through all of this, GNOME and the Linux desktop are still
chugging along. GNOME 3.6 is out, and is working to improve the developer