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In Search of Linux's Greatest Moment

By Katherine Noyes
Feb 21, 2013 5:00 AM PT

There's no denying that Linux has had a lot of great moments since the turn of the millennium, and Linux Girl has done her best to highlight each and every one of them here on LinuxInsider's pages -- at least over the past six or so of those years.

In Search of Linux's Greatest Moment

Recently, however, the always-engaging crew over at TuxRadar came up with an interesting question: "We thought we'd ask you what you think has been the greatest moment for Linux since the start of the millennium.

"Perhaps it was 20 October 2008 when Ubuntu became Linux for human beings, or was it October 2011 when Android (possibly) took over 50 percent of the smartphone market share," the team suggested. "Was it when Raspberry Pi introduced cheap and cheerful Linux computers to an excited world, or when SCO filled for bankruptcy in September 2007?"

That question is now the basis for one of the site's ever-popular Open Ballot polls, and it's had tongues wagging ever since -- both in the comments section and throughout the blogosphere at large.

'Windows Can't Do This!'

Linux Girl

"For me it was 20 October 2008 when Ubuntu became Linux for human beings," offered Govannon in the TuxRadar comments, for example.

"For me personally it was the day I stopped dual-booting and wiped my Windows installation with Mandrake 10 because I decided the system was solid and broad enough to cover all my computing needs," said Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér.

Alternatively, "it's the private moment you have at home, playing with a fresh install, and you find that *one* application, and you think, 'Windows can't do this!'" suggested merelyjim.

Geeks down at the blogosphere's Punchy Penguin Saloon had plenty of their own ideas.

'Truly a Watershed Moment'

"The moment a Linux install became easier than a Windows install," opined consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack, for example.

"September 23, 2008, when T-Mobile announced the very first Android powered phone, the G1," offered Linux Rants blogger Mike Stone.

"It was a rise to power -- the first in a long line of releases that would put Linux literally in the hands of millions of people in the general public," Stone explained.

"It would be the first event of many that would lead to Linux eventually overtaking Microsoft and Apple in the computing device market by a wide margin, and inspiring a wide range of other Linux based devices in dozens of different categories," he added. "In my opinion, it was truly a watershed moment."

'The Day Android Was Released'

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet saw it similarly.

"The day Android was released," hairyfeet agreed. "That was the day Linux was taken out of the hands of a bazillion little fiefdoms filled with maintainers that never talk to each other or work together, and instead FINALLY had someone come in and lay down the law and say, 'It WILL be thus.'

"And what do ya know? Just as I said would happen if somebody would come along and bring real order to the chaos, Android has done in just a few years what Linux hasn't been able to do in over 20: actually put real numbers on the board," hairyfeet said.

It remains to be seen "if Google turns out to be just as nasty as MSFT -- looking at how locked down the Chromebooks are, I'm starting to feel like it's MSFT all over again," he added.

Still, "one would be hard pressed to argue that Android wasn't the REAL tipping point when it came to mainstream acceptance," he opined. "Does anybody think Valve would be making a Linux client if all those Android games didn't exist already, thus giving them ready games on tap?

"No question in my mind; the day Android was released trumps them all," hairyfeet concluded.

'The NYSE Migration'

Robin Lim, a lawyer and blogger on Mobile Raptor, had a different view.

"A year ago I would have said the coming of Android, but I don't think the Linux Community in general considers Android as 'Linux,'" Lim told Linux Girl. "Looking at the reaction to Ubuntu's upcoming phone operating system, it looks like the Linux Community is still looking for a 'true' Linux smartphone operating system."

Ubuntu, of course, "is an excellent Linux distribution, among many fine examples," he added.

In any case, "the most significant moment of the millennium is not too hard to identify: the NYSE migration to Linux in 2008," Lim asserted.

'50 Percent Plus One'

"I think that in terms of quantity and quality, two moments are the higher milestones for me," Google+ blogger Gonzalo Velasco C. told Linux Girl.

First, "Red Hat becoming a billion dollar open source software company," he explained. Second, "the moment of turning '50 percent plus one' with Android/Linux."

Other notable contenders, however, include "the first GNU/Linux with graphic installation; Ubuntu becoming the most used GNU/Linux distribution and reaching newcomers; the development of Android, a Linux for phones; the creation of the first Raspberry Pi; and the moments when many governments decide to go Open Source Free/Libre Software."

'I Really Didn't Need Windows'

There isn't a single moment that stands out for Google+ blogger Kevin O'Brien, he confessed.

"At some point I discovered that I could actually use Linux (Mandrake at that time), and at another point I found I was spending more time in Linux than Windows, and then at some point I discovered that I really didn't need Windows any longer," O'Brien explained.

"But for me it has been a gradual movement," he added.

'Wintel Is Stagnant'

Last but not least, blogger Robert Pogson had yet another view.

"The most important moment for GNU/Linux in the 21st century probably was ASUS's release of a netbook that sold out globally, delivering GNU/Linux to the masses for the first time," he told Linux Girl. "After that, no one could convince the world that GNU/Linux is inferior or doesn't do the job -- too many millions of real people had felt the performance."

After that, "M$ had to pay OEMs to install XP to stem the tide," Pogson added.

Of course, "they could not do that when Android/Linux came along because the OEMs involved were not beholden to M$ and the cost of entry was too low for M$ to compete," he pointed out. "Now most OEMs are shipping GNU/Linux on all kinds of notebooks and desktops and Wintel is stagnant in a growing market."

Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.

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