He resists falling in to the trap of predicting Portland means 2006 will be “the year of Linux desktop,” but is confident it can capitalize on the buzz that Mozilla’s Firefox has created around open source software on the desktop. Firefox has gained 11.51 per cent of the browser market in the year since its release.
I will be very interested, as Mozilla’s representative to the Portland summit, to follow this effort. I don’t think that most of the people in that 11.51% (I love the precision there!) use Firefox because it’s open source, or perhaps even know that it is. Well, I’m being pretty generous here. I’d be surprised if more than 0.51% used Firefox because it was open source, and I’d be very pleasantly surprised to discover that more than a few percent knew that it was, and what that meant.
I do hope that a growing understanding of the value — to more than just the Mozilla project — of the Firefox brand will help alleviate some long-standing issues here, but even more I hope that the “rest” of the open source desktop can learn from what we’ve done well and poorly, and use that to inform their own path. That’s not a guarantee of success for anyone, to be sure, but it seems like something that would be of interest to those projects. (I have a bit of trivia about that very interest from the Summit, but that’s a whole other story.)
As an aside perhaps of interest to nobody, I think that the “open source desktop” is much much more interesting these days than the “Linux desktop”, with the possible exception of OLPC, and that it’s a lot easier to switch the OS after you switch the parts that touch the users. (The flowers, in many cases, remain standing.)