Linux will ship on more PCs next year than Microsoft Windows, but not as the core operating system. Instead, it will be used to boot computers, particularly notebooks, faster.
That's the prediction of Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux foundation, in a blog posted Wednesday. In making his forecast, Zemlin references a recent New York Times article that chronicles how Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Asustek, and other PC makers are developing computers that can give people access to basic functions, such as e-mail and Web browsing, in less than 30 seconds.
To make that happen, PC makers are turning to Linux as the foundation of the software used for the fast boot, Zemlin said. The Times article says such instant-on technology could be mainstream over the next few months.
In establishing the momentum behind the trend, the Times article points to the growing use among large PC makers of Splashtop, a boot software developed by Silicon Valley company DeviceVM. HP's Envy laptop is available today with Splashtop-based software, and the company plans to ship an undisclosed number of machines with the technology in the coming months.
Dell plans to ship instant-on software with a pair of laptops in the near future. The software would run on a separate ARM processor, instead of the main CPU from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices. By early next year, Lenovo plans to ship a version of Splashtop on some of its consumer notebooks.
Finally, the Times said Phoenix Technologies is working on downloadable software that would start a Linux-based system early while Windows boots in the background. Phoenix is expected to make the software widely available in January under a monthly subscription fee.
"We may see a world at the end of next year where Linux ships on almost every notebook computer regardless of whether it is loaded with Windows," Zemlin said. "This in addition to the huge potential of the netbook, mobile internet device and mobile Linux market can mean huge and immediate inroads for a Linux desktop, albeit not in the form most people had predicted many years ago when the first 'year of the Linux desktop' was declared."