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Laurie Langham [opinions]

Is the desktop dead?

fsmsh.com/2292 [free-software] [laptops] [desktops] [olpc]

Red Hat’s, Brian Stevens, claims that the desktop is dead. This may seem a trifle premature, but from my own perspective, that has already been the case for several years.

Across the room, from where I’m typing this, I have a formal computer desk, complete with comfortable “executive” chair, adjustable foot-rest (your feet will love you till the day they drop off if you buy them one of these), nice, fast AMD64 tower case, and a 19 inch IBM-Lenovo LCD screen, to look at everything.

Even though it’s running most of the time, I hardly ever go near it.

I’m over on the couch, aren’t I, with my feet up, a glass of wine on the table, and my trusty Thinkpad perched on a stool beside me.

Why sit up, at a desk, like a silly great school-kid, with your feet hanging down in the most uncomfortable position, when modern technology can give you every opportunity to loll around like a Roman Tribune at a banquet?

It really doesn’t make a scrap of sense, does it?

The desktop is a straight hang-over from Tom Brown’s Schooldays, while the laptop is the way of the 21st century future.

I can shove my laptop in a bag, at a moment’s notice, fly around the world to wherever you are, and show you this document on the machine it is being written on. This wouldn’t really be an option with the average desktop.

The sheer, self-containedness of the laptop will conquer the desktop.

I have a big enough library, on my laptop, that you could throw me on a desert island (with a solar power-point) for a couple of decades, and I’d never run out of reading-matter.

Even in large-scale office usage, the desktop, with all its discrete components, no longer makes sense.

The One Laptop Per Child program, which will be a free software flagship, is ample evidence of this trend. It is self-contained. Imagine trying to set up a One Tower Case, plus One Monitor, and also, One Keyboard, Mouse and Assorted Cables, Per Child program. Just trying to write it all down would be bad enough, but the delivery logistics would suddenly become horrific.

The desktop is dead! Long live the laptop!

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