I've always been a fan of Ubuntu. While I started my Linux journey on RedHat, I completely fell in love with Ubuntu from it's earliest days. This was a distro for the average Joe. This was a distro I could show my grandmother. This was a distro that would finally tip the scale into Linux's favor once and for all. Why would anyone want to use Windows or Mac when they had a fast, stable, secure, alternative in Ubuntu?
But the years have shown that quite a few people still do want to use Mac and Windows and that Linux adoption, pushed forward by Ubuntu, hasn't taken off the way I thought it would. But recent movement in the Linux community, and particularly around Ubuntu, have reawakened my hope that Ubuntu is a viable desktop for the future.
Of course, the big item on everyone's "Ubuntu is going to survive" list is Steam. Earlier this year, popular video game maker Valve announced that it would offer a Steam client for Linux. Well, specifically for Ubuntu. For a platform that has been historically viewed as not for gaming and pretty much ignored by game makers, this is huge news. It means that game makers are now taking Linux seriously and seeing it as a viable platform that can support their products.
For their part, Linux users have stepped up as well. Several video game related Kickstarter projects have quickly and easily met their goals, the Humble Indie Bundle routinely makes more from Linux than any other platform, and Linux users have shown they are definitely willing to put their money where their mouth is to support good software. The anti-profit attitude that was the albatross around Linux's neck for so long is gone.
But what about grandma? Can Ubuntu really penetrate the home market to any large degree? Will it ever be commonplace to walk into a home and see an Ubuntu PC sitting on a desk? I believe the answer is a resounding yes. Ubuntu has everything that most home users need to accomplish their daily tasks and still not be shut out from communicating with their counterparts in the Mac and Windows worlds. The software is there, the operating system is becoming more and more intuitive, and Mark Shuttleworth might just see his 400,000,000 users after all.
Overall, I think Ubuntu is a contender. For as much as I complain about the Unity Desktop, it's one of the things I believe Canonical did right. They realized that they're not really designing a desktop for hard core Linux users; those users have probably gone to other distros. Instead, they are designing a desktop for users who are seeking refuge from the crazy and weirdly changing world of Windows and Mac. They are designing a desktop for mom, and dad, and grandma, and your little 12 year old sister. That's going to be the future of Ubuntu and that's who they should focus on.
In my mind, that's not a bad thing. Ubuntu's survival benefits us all. While I might not always like where they take the distro, I will always be a fan because they are doing more than just about anyone else to get Linux into the hands of the masses.
So the pundits say that the Linux desktop is dead. LONG LIVE THE LINUX DESKTOP!