The state of linux on the desktop

2008-01-08 2-minute read

In 2001 I was certain that the linux desktop revolution was just around the corner. It would hit in 2002, 2003 latest. Well, that didn’t happen. By 2005 I got tired of waiting and simply switched my desktop permanently to linux. At that point, I stopped paying close attention.

As Grace Lee Boggs pointed out during her closing key note at the 2008 Allied Media Conference, unlike uprisings or revolts, revolutions take time. They move slowly. So slowly, in fact, that we often don’t recognize or appreciate the amazing changes that have taken place.

I had that experience at Steven Mansour’s AMC presentation on using free and open source tools to make media. Steven demonstrated, with the audience participating, how to make flyers, images, audio programs, and even videos not only using free software, but running on an Ubuntu Linux laptop. In fact, Steven barely mentioned that he was running linux! There were occasional asides of “oh, yes, I think you can do that with a Windows or a Macintosh; not sure it would work as well though.”

Since I’m not up to date on multimedia applications, I learned a lot of practical information from the workshop. However, the most powerful realization that I took from the workshop was the amazing progress we’ve made in getting linux into the consciousness of the left.