Mobile Proliferation Killed Linux Hopes For World Domination

Poor Linux. It struggled so hard to dominate the world. It was the little open source engine that could, but it didn’t. It never even came close to Microsoft Windows on the desktop, with less than 2% share of desktops. The bright spot for Linux is that 60%+ of servers on the Internet run Linux.

But the real end to Linux’s hope for world dominance came when mobile platforms iOS and Android cleaned clocks in the mobile market. Sure, Android is built on top of Linux, but Linux is only one of many piece parts of the Android mobile operating system. It is not a Linux distribution
The mobile platform space is extremely fluid, and I do not think the open source community can muster the forces necessary to compete. Open source never seems to be the innovator. Instead, it seems to disrupt pricing power for established technologies.
Game over for worldwide dominance. But server dominance is nothing to sneeze at.


Mike... you really need a

Mike... you really need a hard kick in the crotch and good cold slap in the face of reality. You have no clue exactly what Linux is, where its been, how far it has come, and how much more is yet to be unleashed.

Saying Android cleaned the clock of Linux is like saying OSX killed BSD or Microsoft Windows annihilated its competitor NTFS (which the latter is true, with a huge story behind it you probably couldn't even come close to comprehending it). Android, for all intense purposes, is a mobile distribution of Linux... Similar to Fedora is a desktop distribution of Linux. Go soak your head with some good old fashioned research before you post about something you have no clue about.

I see where my post went wrong

I do appreciate the comments and discussion. Many of you think that my analysis is unfair because Linux is a kernel not an operating system per se. It is used to build up operating systems. I understand the distinction between a kernel (I wrote one in Z80 assembler language back in the day) and a full operating system.

Linux is also a brand, though. As short-hand many people refer to various distributions as just Linux. For example, laypeople don't routinely distinguish between the Windows kernel and the various version of Windows. Most do not even know what a kernel is.

I apologize for not making the distinctionclearer in the post. I did clearly state that "linux" is used in Android. I think your comments have made a valid point that being a key part of an OS is what Linux kernel is designed to be.

The facts do remain that Linux-based operating systems do not dominate the desktop for whatever the reason. I have no horse in this race. The mobile space is very fluid right now and perhaps it is anyone's game. But, I standby my analysis that Linux as a brand and as a kernel will not become dominate on all platforms. Although I fully acknowledge its dominance on servers and kernel of some operating systems like android.

"Linux is a kernel not an

"Linux is a kernel not an operating system per se."
There's no per se. It's NOT. Don't try to downplay your mistake. You're still making one.

You can't simultaneously argue "Linux has failed because iOS and Android own the mobile market space" while stating "oh yeah, Android uses linux". That's idiot, and simply poor journalism.

Your argument that linux as a brand is more nuanced one and deserves an entirely separate refutation. Linux as a brand has never competed in the mobile space, and so this argument has zero application to subject of your post, and your post is still entirely wrong.

Conflation between linux and an OS has indeed occurred, but only in the server/desktop world. In the case of the server world, it doesn't much matter because Linux as a brand has very much succeeded, as have any associated brands such as redhat and ubuntu. In the case of the desktop market, I would agree that it has failed to achieve more than a single digit market share yet, but then it's not like it ever had it. As long as linux has been around it's been a 2 horse race on the desktop. Linux may yet have its day on the desktop though.

So let's consider the history of linux in the market:

1990: zero on desktop, server, mobile.
2000: single digit on desktop, dominant on server, single digit of mobile
2010: single digit on desktop, dominant on server, dominant on mobile

For windows in the market:

1990: dominant on desktop, non existent on server,, mobile doesn't really exist
2000: dominant on desktop, major player on server, major player on smart phone
2010: dominant on desktop, minor player on server (trending down), single digit on phone

For mac os in the market:

1990: minor player on desktop, server, mobile.
2000: single digit on desktop, non existent on server, 0% mobile
2010: minor player on desktop (but trending up, and taking in a disproportionate % of profit), minor player on server (trending down), major competitor(and taking in a disproportionate % of profit)

Hm... of these three, which has the good trends? And which has the bad:
Linux: neutral, excellent, excellent
Windows: slightly negative, poor, extremely poor
Mac: slightly good, poor, good

Then edit your post and admit

Then edit your post and admit your mistake.

Once again. If you were

Once again. If you were making the argument of Linux proliferation on desktops only, then why use the mobile platform as evidence of it's fact, if that is your argument, then you've proven the opposite of your thesis by mentioning Android. That is what everyone is trying to drill into your skull.

You should really stay off of your own side if you want to come out ahead.

No, you don't see where your post went 'wrong'

Android is nothing but some custom kernel modules and a presentation layer written in java. All of that runs on a Linux kernel. So, is Android "Linux"? You say that Linux is a shorthand used to refer to various distributions. Those various distributions are composed of the Linux kernel, a programming stack, and a presentation layer. In other words, by your own use of the shorthand, Android IS Linux. Saying Linux got its clock cleaned by Android is like saying Linux got its clock cleaned by Ubuntu.

Either you consider Linux just the kernel portion, or you refer to any Linux based distribution as "Linux", but in either case, your comments are wrong. If you consider it just the kernel, then Linux dominates the world, because the majority of mobile phones are running the Linux kernel. The other side is to consider the entire Linux kernel based stack, and refer to it by the shorthand and brand of "Linux", in which case, Linux is dominating, because the majority of mobile phones are running "Linux".

The statement that Google did a lot of work to get it ready for prime time is also misleading, as they provided some patches, and some custom modules, but the majority of their work went in to the presentation layer. They did a lot of work on *Java* and the Dalvik VM to get it ready for prime time, not so much "Linux".

As for the desktop market, I wonder how much of the 'defeat' of Linux on the desktop is due to the fact that every major manufacturer includes Windows by default, so it gets to count nearly every computer manufactured as an "install"? I also wonder how many people even know they have a choice? If they were allowed to compare the two ahead of time, and work with each, would they still choose to have Windows installed? It doesn't really matter, does it, since Microsoft still gets the license fee for Windows even if it doesn't get installed, and so they get to count another notch in their gun belt of dominance, even if that OS was never used? Or what about folks like me, who buy computers that come pre-installed with Windows, because I have no choice, but then delete it and install Ubuntu instead? I counted as part of Microsoft's 'desktop dominance', yet never used Windows, and didn't get to count my use of Ubuntu?


Duty Calls!

Poor Mike

Let me quote "... Android is built on top of Linux, but Linux is only one of many piece parts of the Android mobile operating system. It is not Linux.". You are professional but you are giving a stupid analysis. Say, Ubuntu is built on top of Linux Kernel -- therefore Ubuntu is not Linux? As simple as that. Android is Linux with a Java front end. Please do your research.




"Sure, Android is built on top of Linux, but Linux is only one of many piece parts of the Android mobile operating system. It is not Linux." LOL That's the best troll I've seen all week and I spent some time on /b/ yesterday

Dear Mike,

I find it very sad that you wrote this blog post on purpose to generate more traffic. Because, let's be honest here, you cannot in your right mind have written this piece of garbage and at the same time thinking what you were saying is right. No, you did that to generate traffic, you knew a lot of linux and cs enthusiast would rush here to correct you.

Well, at least I hope this is what happened. If not, really, do some research on the matter.


Google runs on linux, your blog runs on linux (See this:

Connected to
Escape character is ‘^]’.

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2011 11:02:46 GMT
Server: Apache/2.2.14 (Ubuntu)
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.3.2-1ubuntu4.5


Android sure looks like Linux

Android sure looks like Linux to me.

Troll much?

I hate linux! I hate open source! I hate linux! I hate open source! I hate linux! I hate open source!

Oh wait.. I just typed that connecting through a router running embedded linux on a web server running linux.

" it seems to disrupt pricing power for established technologies. "
HaHa!! So paying Oracle a "shit-ton" (economist term) for a database with no competition is a good thing?

I don't understand the point

I don't understand the point of your post... it just seems like a random stab at Linux...

I'm generalising, but when most people buy a PC the chances are it's got Windows pre-installed because Microsoft bully companies into doing so... so is it a shock that it still has a low % uptake on the desktop? Linux-based OS's, slowly but surely, is gaining popularity and I'm sure when Windows 8 comes out, which is looking to really alienate it's users (especially business) with it's Metro interface, that Linux-based OS's will start to get even more uptake as people will want alternatives.

Sorry, but you are wrong. Linux isn't going away anytime soon and the OS's that are based on it get better and better each release which is more than I can say for any Microsoft developments.

Simon, Forrester should hire


Forrester should hire you to analyze the future of linux desktop. You do a better job than Mikey...but then you are knowledgeable about this subject unlike Mikey.


How in the world a company like Forrester let anyone post anything on there sites with out any research any preparation how can you comment on something like that and not go to a valid source for it. If you recently been to hospital chances are you been to a hospital that Linux server majority of the hospital in all the major country are switching to Linux server do to the fact that they have more control on who have access to the information they deem secret. does the TV on your living room have apps build in guess what those apps are Linux build. as you said android guess what it's not just the kernel the frame of Android Is Linux do you have a screen Remote control Do have even have to say it. MR Lonny (i call you that cause it seem like you are since you write with nothing important to say) a few of the biggest company i the world are backing up Linux e.i IBM(r) Orrical(r) HP dell Asus Arm Amazon even apple Support the the OS and they are the only one that only put Linux as a kernel only. So Forrester please find a way to educate this man cause God forbit he actually does he's research, how great his word might be.


I'll try being diplomatic about the points that aren't actually factual along with some personal comments.

A) Linux is a kernel. GNU/Linux is the base OS of many distributions - RedHat, Ubuntu and Android.
B) If you give Linux serverside dominance, you can't change the rules by identifying Android as not Linux. Serverside is in no way dominated by a single distribution. In short, double standards for serverside and mobile. Chose one, not both.
C) Mac OSX is so much Unix, that it even has Unix certification (
D) How exactly do you define opensource community? Because it looks like you exclude anyone with commercial interest in the product. Is opensource community only hobbyist? Eclipse is opensource, but IBM plays a major role in the project. Is IBM part of Eclipse opensource community?

Why opensource exists in the first place? It's definitely not about innovation. It has been always about the DRY principle. Sharing code so that other people don't have to repeat the same thing. RMS is only one element of the OSS movement and history; he should not be taken as the definition of OSS movement.
Even with those definitions, there has been a lot of improvements and innovations from the OSS world. Though it was not always as apparent to users. Samples include SpringFramework, which only later had a company founded around it, PosgtreSQL, most software development advances is a result of hobbies and not professional activities. Other, more flashy, include GNome Shell and ComizFusion.


ok you just place your Microsoft Big feet in your mouth Open source is a way of living in business it's an other form of Market. Instead of having a small close minded group work on a product, open source let anyone who is good at what they do help push the product on to the market faster. and the bring the community you mention community is quote How exactly do you define opensource community? Because it looks like you exclude anyone with commercial interest in the product. UN-quote again as you have done your research before you open you big mouth open source does not exclude commercial interest we actually love anyone who want to make money to try open source our licence simply stated that you do not close the code of a product when you create on on open source which mean you let other see the line of code so if after purchase a line is bad for them they can fix it if the have the know how and post the fix so anyone who had that problem can fix it too so on the first writer next update guess what that line that was fix become a line that configuration to the first writer please to re-sale to his Consumer. example android if android was not open source, Samsung would have to pay a bunch of money to goggle witch would kill the whole android thing like for example I don't know windows phone so you see my friend your research is badly needed or you would not have all this people after you.

1-2% market share after 20 years

Fact is Linux after 20 years has still 1-2% market. Linux is not a newbie. It should be mature after so many years of evolution. Whatever the model it is following and keeping the spirit of brotherhood by sharing of source code (for general benifit or for some vested interest). No matter Linux at core is only kernel and there are different DE's and too many choices. There are FOSS fanatics, etc, etc. You can argue that open source has influenced many world class projects. The fact remains that it still has only 1-2% market share. Some say, 1% means millions of computers.

I have Ubuntu 10.04 LTS which is very stable. But I find it hard to achieve it. I would just like to say that all the voices on the internet and distro is community driven, most people active are tech geeks. The fact that arch and chakra linux and rise in popularity of bodhi linux shows that geeks influence the direction of distro. The moment a company tries to think about end users and try to see from the eye of an end user, the are some who keep shouting. Too many choices creates confusion. This is due to open source nature. If you do not like it, fork it :)

I think more developers (like canonical, Linux Mint and pinguy OS) should think of end users. End users (who some call as dumb) heavily influence the spread of an OS. One developer or programmer influences lacs of end users. By not providing non-free codecs and proprietory drivers, how can you think of spreading it to end users? Then there is Unity and Gnome3 and now KDe moving to touch screen devices. Do a desktop user need to stretch his/her arm to point the screen when he/she has keyboard and mouse. Even microsoft is moving in this direction and Linux can think about it. So XFCE is getting very popular. I think touch screen optimized DE are not suitable for desktops.

Until developers think something very different, i think it would be difficult to penetrate in the end user market. To add to this there are compatibility issues with popular apps of windows and mac os.


Typical media...writing up a

Typical media...writing up a load of non-sense and then expect the masses (read: sheeple) to go along.

It should have been entitled "OP-ED" - at least then it would have some credibility.

Linux is dead, but dominance in the server market. Which is it? Will the massive share (including Forresters server) suddenly reformat and go to Windows?

I used to respect Forrester but this really, really gives me pause.

I did not say Linux is dead

Tom, I am not a reporter, so analysis (or op-ed) is my opinion. I have observed that Linux (whatever flavor etc...) is on less than 2% of desktops. That is fact.

Actually, not fact. It's a

Actually, not fact. It's a flawed statistic.

There is no hard way to count

There is no hard way to count Linux desktops. For instance, a person goes out and purchases a Mac (for whatever reason, perhaps they like over paying for everything) and then installs Linux on their Mac. Statistically, that purchase is counted as a Mac and nothing else. Those who dual boot are counted as either Windows or Mac users. Linux savvy users who surf the web are more often than not smart enough to block trending analysis which makes the web statistics skewed. What we do know is this... when a single distribution updates to a new revision, there are well over 50 million unique IP addresses that hit the repos on a 24 hour window. This excludes the hundreds of thousands of users behind a single IP window such as corporations and colleges hitting the repos. Not to mention, there are those who are late adopters of distro upgrades. Over a course of two weeks, the unique IP range spans well into the hundreds of millions. So really, 1-2% is bitterly low by most statistic research, even Nielson Research has admitted there's no hard way to track the number of Linux desktops. The numbers I've posted are from the maintainers of various distribution repositories.

Linux developers are not synchronized

I would further like to add:
If you look at Micro$oft and Apple, they have a complete control on all parts of an OS. e.g. Microsoft has it's own kernel, own GUI and some own apps. Same with apple. Infact apple has gone one step ahead. It has even produced processors A4 and A5 for iphone. They have a dedicated staff, which works in a definite direction (in all departments).

The future of Linux is, I would not say doomed, but definitely 'Uncertain', specially after Gnome3 and KDE 4.x. They are moving in altogether different direction. Some have even said that, at present, there are not any mature DE, who will go in concrete direction.

In this case, Ubuntu is a hope as it has financial backup, now it has developed own DE (Unity).

I think this is also the reason for not getting popular. You never know what will happen in near future, say after one year. Anther problem is that, it has to pass the likes of geeks to be successful. As and End user, if I will read 3 negative reviews, I will never try that distro.


Thank you, Sujal, for adding insights on how competitors develop os and enduser perspective.

Thank you Mike. I am Just a

Thank you Mike. I am Just a non-technical End User and my comments are my personal opinion.

This is one of the usual,

This is one of the usual, poorly informed conclusions that bloggers think matter when they don't.

Mike, your conclusions are as wrong as your presumptions. Android IS linux, as is the server that I went through to get to your blog, as is that biggest super computer on the face of the planet (ie Google), as is a number of other things.

Linux? World domination? Don't make me laugh. A, it was never linux's goal to begin with, and B, it was the web that gave linux world domination. We have it already. It's by far the most used kernal on the face of the planet.

"Sure, Android is built on top of Linux, but Linux is only one of many piece parts of the Android mobile operating system. It is not Linux."

There can hardly be a more ignorant retarded statement possible. There is no such thing as a computer running 'just' linux. It has to run an operating system built on top of Linux, where Linux is just a part. AS IT'S ALWAYS BEEN.

There is no 'linux' computer, just operating systems built out of parts including that kernal.

Apples and oranges

Thanks for your comments Tyler. I understand the point about Linux kernel versus operating systems built with the kernel. Many agree with you that I make an apples (kernel) to oranges (os) comparison. But, if you replace "linux" with "operating systems built on linux" my analysis still stands - especially for the desktop. I acknowledge the mobile is a prediction that could be right or wrong because of android. But, analysis is about about extending what we know into the future. It may be right or wrong.

No, your post is still stupid

No, your post is still stupid and poorly informed. You can't say that mobile proliferation killed linux when the number one mobile OS is built on linux.

Change to Linux Distro for Desktop

Hi Mike,

I think, in the post title if you change word 'Linux' to 'Linux distro for Desktop' or better 'Linux Based OS for Desktop PCs' would be better.

Even that is ignorant and

Even that is ignorant and using incorrect numbers. Whole school districts and governments have switched their computers to Linux based operating systems.

Hello Tyler, I Like Linux and

Hello Tyler,

I Like Linux and using Ubuntu 1.04 for day-2-day use at home.

Please check this link

I think we should trust wikipedia. Rest depends upon individual perspective.

Trust Wikipedia

Yes Sujal, I think we should trust Wikipedia. Lets see what they have to say in the articles you just linked to, eh?

"Information about operating system share is difficult to obtain. In most of the categories below, there is no reliable primary source or methodology for its collection."

"There is little openly published information on the usage share of desktop and laptop computers. Gartner publishes estimates, but the way the estimates are calculated is not openly published. Also, sales may overstate usage. Most computers are sold with a pre-installed OS; some users replace that OS with a different one due to personal preference. Conversely, sales underestimate usage, by not counting pirated copies. For example, in 2009, "U.S. research firm IDC estimated that 80% of software sold in China last year was pirated." (Windows was mentioned, but no specific estimate for Windows was given.)[1] As another example, in 2007, the automated push of IE7 update onto legal copies of Windows, contrasted with web browser share statistics, led one author to "estimate that 25%–35% of all Windows XP machines are illegal".[2]"

In other words, trust Wikipedia when they say that these numbers may be completely skewed.

Analysis - definition

"But, analysis is about about extending what we know into the future. "
Analysis - the separation and identification of the parts of a whole; a series of explanations or observations on something (as an event)
Prognosis -a declaration that something will happen in the future

However if you replace replace "linux" with "operating systems built on linux" only a third of your analysis stands up to scrutiny.

"I acknowledge the mobile is

"I acknowledge the mobile is a prediction that could be right or wrong because of android. "
Actually it looked to me that you used android as evidence of Linux's demise.

"But the real end to Linux’s hope for world dominance came when mobile platforms iOS and Android cleaned clocks in the mobile market. Sure, Android is built on top of Linux, but Linux is only one of many piece parts of the Android mobile operating system. It is not Linux."

I think you should read your article again.

Mike, you're FIRED

You can consider yourself one lucky bastard, why? Cause you are not my employee, or else, tomorrow (or NOW) you would be searching another job and another internet pipe to post such crap.

You have no idea what you are talking about.

Most people already put you in the right direction, Linux is NOT an OS, its a KERNEL and that's all it really IS, nothing else.

And I'm pretty sure even your office coffee machine runs a slim lined version of that Kernel, maybe even your watch, probably that "in the end of life, old stuff" Kernel, powers 50% of the internet attached devices, and growing...

OSS is the freedom of being able to run an app without support and for free, have problems, fix them yourself, the car hood is not soldered, so you can open it, fix it and pass around the info, most OSS companies (yeah, companies) offer them products for free without support, and also support based licenses, anything wrong with that? I do the same and believe me, is VERY profitable.

Get real Mike, go post about flowers.

PS.: I won't reply, cause I stumbled here in an fb link, BTW, fb runs php (OSS) and maybe in nginx or apache server, maybe with mysql, imagine that, the biggest social network, runs OSS and maybe on Linux Kernel, or BSD.

Your argument is invalid

Android = Linux you corporate troll

So you don't admit

So you don't admit that Android is a Linux Mobile Environment. However you are saying that Ubuntu is a linux desktop environment?? You are not making any sense. Your revised claim about desktop environments may be true. But as for mobile you are totally wrong. You can't just dismiss that Android is running on top of Linux and they say you were talking about Linux based stuff all along. And somehow make the assertion that we misunderstood your point.

I think:

i think this guys is a window man and want to shut down Linux because he can't understand it so he's in-sainly mad so he open he's mine. My CNS teacher told me once, "never open your mine on a technology problem until you learn it" witch mean keep your mouth shut on something you have no idea about let's see maybe ha can go to the android team and talk to them that might help him know what shut up actually mean.

Thanks for having an open mind

Thanks for having an open mind. I guess that the only analysis you'd be happy with is that Linux will dominate on all platforms!

Actually I don't think anyone

Actually I don't think anyone here cares about linux domination, we just dislike people saying stupid stuff.

How do you have a job in Technology?

"But, I standby my analysis that Linux as a brand and as a kernel will not become dominate on all platforms" -Mike's comment from above

Seriously? How do you work at a technology research company? IT ALREADY IS DOMINATE ON ALL OTHER PLATFORMS.

Here is quite simply the only accurate way to make your point:

Microsoft dominates desktop operating systems, Unix kernels power 90%+ of anything else in the entire world that uses a chip. Period.

There's simply nothing else to say.

Where are you getting your data from?

1. Where is you data from that Unix kernels power 90% of anything else that uses a chip?

Let's start small: Every IBM

Let's start small:

Every IBM powered Data center and sever farm in in the world runs AIX (came from Unix)
Every HP powered Data center and sever farm in the world runs Unix

Those two companies alone power a gigantic portion of all business operations in the world.

How about mainframes? From the exact wiki article you linked to:

"IBM System z has a 90-95% share of the mainframe computer hardware market.[55]"

But for a little more down to earth example that you might be able to comprehend:

All of Facebook's severs and data centers are Linux Based
All of Amazon servers and data centerss are Linux based
All of Twitters servers and data centers are Linux based

How about a graph of the top 500 super computers in the world

If you are still arguing that mobile phones aren't dominated by kernels that are derived from Linux then there's simply no talking to you.

Android > Linux Kernal (which was derived from the Unix kernal if you still don't get that.
iOS > Derivative of Unix kernal

How about consumer electronic?

In 2008 the LINUX foundation announced it was moving for a standardized kernel for the Consumer Electronic manufacturers. Just a sample of the companies who use this:

Hitachi, LG Electronics, NEC, Panasonic, Qualcomm Atheros, Renesas, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba

Would you like me to keep going?

"Android, Bada, webOS and

"Android, Bada, webOS and Maemo are built on top of Linux, and iOS is derived from the BSD and NeXTSTEP operating systems, which are all related to Unix."
(Couldn't post link, it triggered the Spam filter)
Linux is also heavily used in TV's and Routers

Have you used a TV,

Have you used a TV, dishwasher, router, and many more every day devices? Also many developing nation use Linux, not only as part of everyday life but also for schools, government agencies and many more establishments. Also Russia and China are trying to use more Linux based machines
Linux is a very powerful OS and I strongly believe it will become a larger player as years progress and everyday people learn more about it's capabilities.

Good argument

Hi Mark,
Thanks for making a strong argument and subsequent analysis for your position.

You would've convinced me, but...

I think you accidentally repressed my satiric representation of your position by deleting my comment, Mike.

Here ya go, I don't mind posting it again.

"Thanks for making a strong argument and subsequent analysis for your position."..however, I stand by my article because, heck, I can. Fact and logic will always play second fiddle to that. Haha, suck it readers!

Blog admin

Mike hasn't deleted any comments. Just keep the profanity to a minimum, thanks!