Throughout the years, many Linux enthusiasts have waited and waited for the eventual “Year of the Linux Desktop” to come. They’ve been laughed at by the Windows and OS X users every single time, but this time, that year might actually come.
The Existing Userbase
As many of you probably know, Linux already has quite a huge following, with a lot of fans choosing more advanced distros, such as Debian and Gentoo, while the newcomers are drawn into the Linux platform by the comfy looks and functionality of Ubuntu. Most of these fans are recently-converted Microsoft fans, which upon seeing some of the weird decisions regarding Windows 10 decided to jump boat to an open-source operating system. This might not be the case for everyone, though. What could make people move over to Linux then? Well, there are lots of factors in the sudden popularity of the open-source platform.
A Small Push
A lot of tech enthusiasts have recently discovered the Raspberry Pi, which, for those who still don’t know about it, is a really small PC that can fit in your pocket. It comes with minimal accessories, which people can add components to should they want to upgrade their mini-computer. How does this help Linux? Well, Raspberry Pi runs on its own version of Linux, called Raspbian, which is based on Debian Wheezy. There are other operating systems for it too, with even Windows 10 making its way to the Pi this summer, but most people prefer the official operating system.
If you are interested in acquiring a Raspberry Pi, you can check out their official website for details on where to buy it. There are multiple models available, starting from 20 dollars. Keep in mind that if you want a full experience with everything you need, you will have to shell out a lot more money for accessories.
Titans Stepping In
What may just cause Linux to become a popular platform in the near future is PC gaming. Valve Software, creators of countless video game cult classics and video game selling platform, Steam, have recently released their own operating system which is, you guessed it, based on Linux. SteamOS aims to bring more console players to the world of PC gaming, a world which is dominated by Valve. The new operating system will accompany the “Steam Machines”, which will be smaller PCs designed to be hooked up to a TV in order to give the players a console-like experience.
The Steam Machines will be manufactured by hardware titans, such as Alienware, ORIGIN, Syber, and many others. In addition to the Steam Machines, Valve has also announced a device called “Steam Link”, which is a small PC to which you can stream your Steam games if you already have a capable PC. Of course, Valve has other hardware projects going on, such as the Steam Controller, which will feature haptic feedback and will be included with every Steam Machine, and the SteamVR, a pair of virtual reality goggles made in cooperation with HTC.
Given that PC gaming is an absolutely huge market and that most gamers play on Windows, this is a very ambitious move to push Linux. Why is Valve doing this? It’s pretty silly: Microsoft keeps coming back with competitors for Steam on Windows, and Gabe Newell, the CEO of Valve Software, has a long history of bad collaborations with Microsoft.
You can download SteamOS from Valve’s official website, and the Steam Machines will ship out this fall.
Foot in the Door
As people are slowly starting to migrate to Linux, Microsoft is trying to stop them, and it seems that they are doing a fairly good job. Windows 10’s release has been a resounding success, and now they are trying to lure in PC gamers back by promising them Xbox games coming to their platform. In fact, they are so confident in this move, that they have even added Minecraft, the popular building game, to their own standalone store.
And this isn’t everything! Microsoft has released a compact version of Windows 10 for the Raspberry Pi! Naturally, early adopters of the small computer have given it a try, but it seems that most have reverted to the Raspbian, as the Pi version of Windows 10 is quite underwhelming, and it isn’t even a proper operating system, as much as it is a development one. This initiative is part of “The Internet of Things” project, which aims to connect day-to-day things to the Internet for a better future.
With a plethora of devices pushing Linux to the general public and trying to appeal to both techies and gamers alike, 2016 is bound to become the long-awaited “Year of the Linux desktop”. Given that the Raspberry Pi has already brought many people over to the open-source world of tinkering, Valve Software’s arrival to the scene means that a huge number of gamers will start migrating to SteamOS, discovering something different than Microsoft’s constant obligatory (but unwanted) updates. Sure, we don’t know whether people will like it on SteamOS or if they will revert back to Windows, but one thing is certain: Linux will see a huge increase in usage.