Net Applications, a Web site analytics company, just published their April 2009 Web users survey, Market Share, and they found that "Linux usage share on client devices has surpassed 1% for the first time in our tracking. Linux has been successful primarily as a server operating system, but client usage share has not kept pace with server share Linux has reached this important milestone on the client as Linux-based systems have become more functional, easier to use, and pre-installed on computers from vendors like Dell."
It's about time!
Desktop Linux has faced an uphill climb. It's had to face Microsoft's Windows monopoly on the desktop. It's had to deal with its undeserved reputation for being hard to use. But still, slowly, ever so slowly, it's made gains.
First, easy-to-use but powerful Linux distributions like Fedora, openSUSE, and Ubuntu have gained fans by showing that anyone can run Linux without compromising on features. Then, by offering pre-installed desktop Linux, mainstream vendors like Dell and HP have been convincing ordinary people that Linux can work for them.
Linux still has a hard climb ahead to become a major desktop force, but there can no longer be any question that it has a hand-hold in the market.
If 1% doesn't sound that important, let me remind you that less than five years ago another open-source program, Firefox, had less than 1% of the market. Today, Firefox has 22.48% of the market, and Microsoft's Internet Explorer is at all time low for the decade.
Will Linux ever get the near 100% marks that Microsoft once had? No, I don't see anyone ever getting that much of the market again. But 10%? 20%? That, I can see happening.