Last night was the local Blug meeting, and as always it was a good and thought provoking talk.

This month we had Bart Massey down from Portland talking about Linux history, where we are and where we need to go. He had some very interesting points and things we could look at doing in the linux community to try and keep things going the way that those of us who use and enjoy free software hope for.

Note: this is my thoughts based on his talk, credit goes to him, blame or inaccuracies are all my fault. ;)

Currently, the Linux desktop is kind of in between a rock and a hard place: On one side, smartphones (iphone/android) and the other the web. If we don’t improve things and fast, we are going to basically get squished out of the desktop.This of course still leaves Linux on the server end, but that means that people who enjoy using a free desktop would have fewer and fewer options over time.

There are several areas ripe for improvement:

  • We need to make it WAY easier to make desktop applications. Right now Bart pointed out that it’s a great deal easier to make smartphone or web apps. Why would you choose to try and make a gtk/qt app? He suggested going to some kind of better language, but their was no clear winner currently. Haskell and Java are better off than c/c++ in ease of use, but they have their share of issues too.
  • The Linux infrastructure is old and confusing and nasty. There’s many years of history in lots of the stack, and it would be impossible to just redo it all at once. However, biting off chunks, reimplementing them and making the new thing work with the old setup seems possible here. I think this is what things like systemd are doing. Replacing old infrastructure with new. We need to do this more with areas that are old and failing.

I think what we can take away with this for Fedora is that we should be focusing on a number of areas:

  1. Try and to the above to increase people using Fedora on the desktop (push fixes of infrastructure, make it easier to make more desktop applications).
  2. Make sure Fedora gets known as a great testbed for the server side. Get more people who use RHEL testing and working on stuff in fedora to improve things down the road on the server side in RHEL.
  3. Even though it’s not ideal in my mind, we should still position Fedora so it’s suited for running web applications (basically a webos/terminal) and a development env for smart phones and web applications.
  4. Try and do the first three things while still allowing all the other various ‘niche’ users to use and enjoy Fedora.

Anyhow, I thought I would mention this given that the Fedora Board has been discussing Vision and other longer term plans. I think we should try and do what it takes to keep the desktop moving in a direction where it’s likely to expand, while still keeping track of the server and niche users (who we often seem to forget about).