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It's Time for The Linux Foundation to Stop Ignoring Desktop Linux

The Linux Foundation is the sort of official organization behind the Linux kernel project. Linux creator Linus Torvalds draws a salary from the foundation and devotes his entire time managing the awesome Linux kernel project.

The Linux Foundation spends its time and resources for standardizing and supporting the growth and commercial adoption of Linux. Started in 2000, Linux Foundation has been successful into bringing major technology groups like Intel, AT&T, Google, IBM, Samsung, Huawei, Microsoft, VMWare for the development of Linux kernel. These companies also pay a hefty sum to Linux Foundation for their membership.

In the last few years, The Linux Foundation has also focused on developing or growing various open source projects under its umbrella, just like the Linux kernel project. These projects include Kubernetes, Automotive Grade Linux, Hyperledger, Cloud Native, Let’s Encrypt, Cloud Foundry and a lot more.

There is no denying that the strategic hard work has worked wonders for the commercial adoption of Linux. The IT industry today cannot be imagined without Linux. However, the same cannot be said about the desktop Linux.

Is desktop Linux being ignored by the Linux Foundation?

Here’s the thing. Linux Foundation does contribute to desktop Linux but that’s indirectly and more as of a positive side effect. All the changes to the Linux kernel benefit the desktop Linux indirectly after all.

However, there is no visible contribution to desktop Linux from the Linux Foundation. I don’t know if they donate to projects like GNOME or KDE. I could not find this information on their website. That’s the least they could do, I believe.

If you ever attend an event by Linux Foundation, you’ll see all the enterprise focused talks and booths. The desktop Linux side is virtually invisible.

I have attended two Open Source Summits by Linux Foundation and only once I saw a tiny booth of KDE in a distant part of the venue. I felt quite at home interacting with Jonathan Riddell, creator of KDE Neon.

Jonathan Riddell at KDE Booth, Open Source Summit 2018, Edinburgh

SUSE does participate in these events and distributes a special edition of Linux Magazine centered on ‘getting started with Linux on desktop’.

What surprises me that Ubuntu stays absent from the Linux Foundation events. I don’t know if there is some inside feud between the two organizations but this is another example of a fragmented Linux community.

You don’t have to participate in Linux Foundation events to see the neglect of desktop Linux. Just visit its website and you’ll find no mention of Linux on desktops.

What can Linux Foundation do to help desktop Linux?

Bringing KDE and GNOME under the umbrella of Linux Foundation would not be liked by everyone. They should at least regularly donate to these organizations. They should also give desktop Linux projects some weightage in their events. This will give visibility to the fact that people could also use ‘Linux on Desktop’.

Microsoft Windows rules the PC sector because almost all major manufacturers have tailored their hardware to support the Windows operating system. Lately, Lenovo, Dell and IBM have started to certify their new systems with popular distributions like Ubuntu and Fedora. This means that if you got one of those ‘certified’ model, you would expect better support for those distributions and in some cases, technical support for hardware issues as well.

This positive change has nothing to do with Linux Foundation, but this is something they could have done in the past. There is still a scope on this front. As industry leader they can encourage hardware manufacturers to provide better Linux support on their system.

Another idea would be to push for a ‘Linuxbook’ like Google’s Chromebook. I know it is a far-fetched concept and Linux Foundation doesn’t really deal with hardware. But a cheap and portable device running actual Linux, not Linux-based Chrome OS, could help boost the desktop Linux adoption.

There are several of Linux-only manufacturers and KDE and some distributions have already launched their systems in partnership with them. But these manufacturers are small-scale businesses. As the face of Linux project, the Linux Foundation can surely provide some grant and support to these manufacturers.

These are just some ideas I can propose to increase the adoption of desktop Linux. People at Linux Foundation are much more qualified and skilled to find more intuitive ways if they are willing enough.

And trust me, if Linux Foundation stops ignoring desktop Linux, many will follow the suit.

What do you think? Should Linux Foundation focus on desktop Linux or you would rather let things take their own course and let desktop Linux flourish on its own? Your opinion is welcome.

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