back to article 2016 might just be the year of Linux on the (virtual) desktop

Come November, some “pundit” will declare that next year is the year of Linux on the desktop. This November, expect a twist on that prediction, as 2016 could just perhaps conceivably be the year of virtual Linux desktops now that Citrix has taken kit capable of delivering it into Beta. That kit is called the “Linux Virtual …

  1. Anonymous Coward


    Renting a open - source OS is bizarre at best.

    What business would rent what they can own, or just try, for free?

    1. Bronek Kozicki

      Re: Why?!?

      You are unnecessarily focused on "renting" part, the customers already paid for Citrix linceses and are presumably using these for Windows VDIs. If they also have users who need/prefer Linux desktops and do not want/cannot spend the time maintaning their own desktops, these machines can be now put on the same VDI and managed using familiar tools by corporate infrastructure team. This VDI is what Citrix is selling, and the actual machine OS is just an extra "flavour" to choose from. IMO adding Linux to the mix is a good thing.

      The point is: do not confuse corporate deployments where you have hundreds of end-user machines per one person from infrastructure team (who are also maintaining network, phones, AV etc.), with your home where you can spend as much time as needed to keep much smaller number of machines (below 10, most likely) in good order.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why?!?

        Sure, outsource the IT admin if you're to small and £30k beyond your budget, but have your entire desktop system somewhere else is asking for trouble.

        After work grinding to a halt because of a downed internet connection, late bill or the provider ending the service and a local IT guy for local desktops will seem pretty cheap.

        1. Bronek Kozicki

          Re: Why?!?

          I don't know where "somewhere else" came from, as I understand both XenApp and XenDesktop are applicable for both "on premises" and "in the cloud" deployments, and actually the former one is more traditional model of doing VDIs. You do not outsource from your firm, you outsource from individual desks to your data centre.

          Although what do I know, I am mere developer.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why?!?

        Also add the "who ya gonna call" factor.

        Lots of company IT departments are rightly or wrongly petrified of deploying software where they have no well known name to call when the system misbehaves. (The fact that the vendor frequently can't/won't help is irrelevant).

        It's highly likely that Citrix aren't doing anything that couldn't technically have been done a while ago on a DIY basis.

        What Citrix appear to have done is removed one non-technical FUD factor - the 'support' issue.

        When players like Citrix start doing stuff like this, you have to wonder what's going on behind the scenes between them and MS.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC - Re: Why?!?

          Bingo! Citrix is trying to get something from Microsoft here and Linux might put the right amount of pressure.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No one in their right mind would use a Linux desktop.

    Cite: Current desktop usage stats, Linux is a rounding error.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Non-product

      Usually the stats are generated from sales. Difficult to sell something that's free.

      Linux has come a long way in the past 5 to 10 years.

      Try it out, you might like it.

      I recommend Mint for a first time user.

      1. Andy Nugent

        Re: Non-product

        Based on usage (not sales) it's about 1.5%.

        The fact you recommend a variant, and someone else would probably recommend a different variant, plus the fact your recommendation is "for a first time user" suggesting you'll soon grow out of Mint and look at installing something else, is potentially some reasons why the figure is that low despite being free.

        1. phil dude

          Re: Non-product

          not wishing to come across as defensive, but my phone is Linux (Android) and Google chrome will run Android on the desktop.

          I am ten year recovering Winoze-holic.

          Make this your first day...


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC - Re: Non-product

      Not bad at all for a product nobody sells and with a grand amount of 0.00$ spent on marketing.

      Didn't even bother to give you a down-vote.

    3. Richard Crossley

      Re: Non-product

      A Linux desktop would make a lot of sense for my team.

      The bulk of our efforts run on Linux and being able to develop on the target platform makes perfect sense. There's no reason why office productivity has to happen on Linux, cutting code would make life a bit easier for everyone.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: Non-product

        If its bundled in with a Windows VDI system, why not? Linux may not be a viable Windows replacement but Citrix is giving people the option to give it a go and see, which is entirely reasonable. Not only that, but it might be used as a test-bed for having a Linux desktop and Citrix-provided Windows apps. After all, if its does work, then Citrix is well-placed for either an on-premises deployment or cloud VDI.

        There are also plenty of scenarios without an Office desktop + Visio a requirement and plenty of scenarios where Citrix is already the provider, so why would you install a local Windows desktop as well? Just PXE-boot linux and use citrix for application provision, regardless of the OS. Hospitals, banks, call-centres, retail all spring to mind.

    4. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Non-product

      You missed the boat, Coward Troll.

      Linux has long been the preference on many an engineer's desktop (benchtop ?) and, since Windows 8, Microsoft can no longer claim to be desktop-ready even for the great unwashed.

  3. Jim 59

    At home I use only Linux, including Mint 17 for the desktop. However, sales types probably believe I am using Windows, as I was forced to purchase a Windows license with each of my PCs, none of which run Windows.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Ah, but.

      " I was forced to purchase a Windows license with each of my PCs..."

      Real geeks build their own.

      Then you know what's in it and you don't have to pay the "Windows tax"

      1. Jim 59

        Re: Ah, but.

        You built your own laptop ? Impressive.

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: Ah, but.

          Build your own laptop - I have a vision of teak and walnut and polished brass keys.

        2. Chemist

          Re: Ah, but.

          "You built your own laptop ? Impressive."

          I too always build desktops - laptops are more of a problem but a number of smaller UK sellers now sell their ranges without OSs and charge extra for Windows. The 8GB i7 I'm writing this on is one such, nice 1920x080 display and OpenSUSE 13.1 installed without a glitch

          1. Jim 59

            Re: Ah, but.

            Would quite fancy a desktop but my house is small and portability requirement large. I have Mint 17.1 installed on a MSI cx61 (same spec as Chemist), with 2 external monitors. Mint 17 is long term support, so no messing around until 2019 or so. I would recommend MSI stuff to other Linux users.

            1. Chemist

              Re: Ah, but.

              "and portability requirement large."

              I've tended to prefer desktops for speed, ease of fixing, custom building and upgrading but I travel a lot and processing (on the road) RAW photos and particularly 1080/50p video editing/rendering requires quite a lot of muscle. My preferred video editing software will wind all 8 cores up to ~85% utilisation during rendering

        3. nematoad Silver badge

          Re: Ah, but.

          You built your own laptop ? Impressive.

          Not personally, as a former support person I consider laptops to be the spawn of the devil. but it can be done.

          See here:



  4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    An alternate Why?

    Bearing in mind that UNIX/Linux and X11 has always been network capable, I have to ask Why? but from a different perspective.

    Configure your humongous server as a single Linux machine (or a small number of large machines). Put a thin deployment Linux distro on the desktop machines, running XDMCP or a modern alternative. Configure for the X11 sound extensions on the thin clients. Manage the single system for multiple users.

    You have multiple thin clients with no user local storage and a single system image on the large server to maintain. And none of the Citrix infrastructure or costs.

    I know I'm playing devil's advocate here, but this is the tradditional way of managing shared UNIX systems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An alternate Why?

      Your question contains the answer: someone is making money ? And this is the main reason why Linux has always been uninteresting for desktop deployments, nobody is making money out of it.

      Besides that, it involves hiring some Linux literate people which is very hard in all these proud Windows shops.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: An alternate Why?

        People in Windows shops that need to do a bit of Linux, just do a bit of Linux. Maybe using stackoverflow occasionally. I know many windows techies that also operate Linux on their own kit.

        It's not a big deal. OS polarisation seems to me to be such a pointless waste of energy.

        Be OS agnostic, start your applications, get on with your work and forget the OS.

    2. P. Lee

      Re: An alternate Why?

      >I have to ask Why?

      Multiple users running SAMBA on the same host? You probably don't want to run X from the cloud, so the question is, how much better than VNC or some such thing is the citrix server/receiver? Can you run multiple citrix servers on the same host?

      Its also probably easier to provision Linux VMs in the same format as Windows VMs than than the "proper" way.

      Is there anything to stop you taking your linux VM and creating more users?

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: An alternate Why? @P. Lee

        I'm not sure you've understood what I've suggested.

        "Multiple users running SAMBA on the same host"??? This is not what I suggest (and I would certainly not make them automount for each user)

        If you have your shares arranged in a suitable manner, you have one (or a small number) of shares mounted and 'shared' between the multiple concurrent users of your large Linux machines, and let the normal file permissions secure the files. In terms of the SMB server, it's probably less demanding to have one share per several users, rather than one per user, and almost certainly less resource hungry on the client side.

        I'll accept your point about the Internet and public cloud. My suggestion is really all about private infrastructure, not public.

        VNC is not actually that much better than X in terms of network use (it's swings and roundabouts, some things are more efficient, some are drastically less efficient), and it is probably much heaver on the shared Linux server as it has to maintain multiple virtual X servers, one per user, rather than just the clients it would need if it were using the remote X server on the desktop machine. And when using VNC, I often find it much slower and full of display artefacts than native X11.

        I'm not suggesting using Linux VMs on a per user basis. I'm proposing single (or a small number - possibly VMs but better on separate hardware for resilience) of large Linux systems, with multiple users using them at the same time

  5. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    What a streak!

    What is it, twenty years in a row?

  6. Jim 59

    My cx61 is i7 Haswell, eight core, and to be honest the needle hardly shifts off zero Nice to have the grunt anyway. Laptops that come with Windows, once you put Linux on them, tend to be over specified.

    1. Chemist

      "and to be honest the needle hardly shifts off zero"

      If that's the case then your software is undemanding or can't utilise 8 cores.Playing 1080/50p files takes ~5-10% but rendering the final edits in hi-quality H264 takes ~85% - if I want the job done as quickly as possible

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: your software is undemanding or can't utilise 8 cores.

        "your software is undemanding or can't utilise 8 cores."


        But in the real world how much widely used software does benefit from parallelisation ?

        A couple of cores, maybe even four, may mean better multitasking. Or may not, depending on whether there is any contention for shared resources.

        8 cores? On a client (desktop/laptop/mobile)? Yes there are a tiny handful of application classes that can make use of this level of parallelisation. Rendering is one of them, thouigh in commercial rendering the trend at one time was to do the desktop stuff on a desktop and then ship the data off to the (shared, multi-user ) render farm for final processing.

        Outside rendering, are there many other widely used parallelisable applications?

        1. Chemist

          Re: your software is undemanding or can't utilise 8 cores.

          It's not just parallelisable applications but how many processes you want to run. I'm used to running many cpu-intensive programs at the same time whilst doing lots of other stuff whilst they get on with it.

          "Outside rendering, are there many other widely used parallelisable applications?"

          Plenty of scientific ones, but even for my usage when travelling I use scripts to further process sets of directories of jpgs(that's 100s of files in each, 5k*3k ) (scaling/sharpening) to produce sets that match the native resolution of various devices they are going to be viewed on. Having 4-8 copies of that code running can give a laptop a good work-out. I also do the same with video using ffmpeg to convert 1080/50p to 720p again for display purposes, and during this time I still want to write, email, upload, browse, and process RAW DSLR images, build panoramas etc. That's why I bought an i7 with 8GB. I could have done the rest with my old Celeron 1GB laptop ( I admit the screen hinge is glued with Araldite and possibly living on borrowed time), but when 1 minute of video needed 30 mins of rendering it was too slow.

  7. Mr Templedene

    I made the switch to Linux in 2006, at home anyway.

    When I set myself up in business a few years ago I stayed with Linux and can honestly say I have no software I miss from Windows. I have 4 computers for the business and not one of them can even boot into Windows. I have all the tools I need.

    Not ready for the desktop? it's been ready for years, just some people are too lazy to learn something new.

    People complain that Linux isn't intuitive, having used it exclusively for several years, I can say that coming to Windows now I say exactly the same, it's not intuitive either, it's just what you are used to.

    1. P. Lee

      >Not ready for the desktop? it's been ready for years, just some people are too lazy to learn something new.

      Not ready for the diverse needs of the large corporate desktop. Let me know if there is a good alternative to Visio that I haven't seen. Even when licensing is free, the costs of migration (to from any OS) are significant. The costs of support are significant (for any OS). To lazy to learn perhaps, but its the business that bears that cost.

      Interestingly, cloud and VDI move Windows apps to the server, making the OS far more vulnerable to server-side replacements than something installed/managed across a mobile/desktop fleet. The fewer desktop apps, the lower the lock-in. Server apps tend to be far more OS-agnostic than the desktop.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        @P. Lee

        Visio is a stunning example of how a large organisation manages to adversely and unduly influence rival systems.

        There is nothing inherent in Linux that would prevent it having a Visio replacement. And there is nothing that would prevent someone from producing commercial software to run on Linux. What prevents it is the self maintaining mantra that "Visio is not on Linux, so Linux is not suitable for the desktop; without Linux on the desktop, commercial software for Linux is not economically viable to produce because it has no penetration".

        It is not necessary for a suitable piece of software to be written for free by volunteers, and LGPL is sufficiently relaxed that you can use most of the application development tools without being bound by the full GPL.

        The problem that Microsoft exacerbates is that they deliberately make it very difficult to write software that is file and feature compatible with Visio, and supports this by pushing Visio as being necessary software in office packages.

        But please ask yourself this. How many Visio licenses does an organisation have? Probably relatively few, as it's quite expensive. The people who use it are the only people for whom Visio is a show-stopper. Everyone else does not have this excuse not to use Linux.

        Of course, there are plenty of other Windows packages that you can make the same argument about. But answer me this. How many times is a monoculture (or a monopoly, if you want to put it a different way) actually a good thing? If there was no chance that another OS could take over from Windows, can you actually believe that Microsoft would not start gouging their customers more than they currently do?

        I wonder how much the cost of The Ribbon interface, or the switch from XP/Vista/7 to Windows 8/8.1/10 was/will be for users and administrators? As much as the switch to Linux? Who has actually costed out the full impact of Microsoft changes to business?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        maybe Gliffy?

        Its not free admittedly, but then again it does all the things I need it to do.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you can't beat them, join them

    Isn't this what Nomachine have always done, virtual Linux desktops? Obviously Citrix believe there's some money to be made.

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