Given the impending news of Dell shipping systems preloaded with Ubuntu, I guess there is no doubt now that Ubuntu has jumped the shark. What's next? Trying to get Linux slapped on the side of an IRL race car? At this rate, there will be people using Linux who've never even compiled a kernel before!
Oh the humanity!
Honestly, I don't see the march towards free and open source salvation (or disaster depending on your point of view) stopping any time soon either. I'm not going to join the geeky hordes in calling this the 'Year of the Linux Desktop' - even though this year it seems somewhat more realistic than the last ten, but looking at the surroundings, it does give you pause for thought.
Some interesting things from my perspective:
1. Free and open source development is not slowing - people not getting directly paid for developing things hasn't been a major stumbling block to this point.
2. The general public is getting more tech saavy. It doesn't matter if they are switching to Macintosh. At least they are beginning to realize that there are completely viable non-Microsoft alternatives. While awareness is growing at what seems like a snail's pace, it is growing - inexorably.
3. If Vista hasn't been a failure, it sure hasn't been the runaway success that it needed to be to maintain utter long term dominance.
4. Virtualization may make the choice obsolete. If I can run XP in VMWare, or XP in Parallels on a Mac, then the sacrifice of moving from one platform to another will vanish.
5. The pace is relentless. Who can move faster? Microsoft, Apple or FOSS developers? Doesn't releasing an OS every 5 years leave you a little hog-tied when technologies rise and fall so quickly? Apple sounds like it is trying to make some big steps with Leopard. It has to. I haven't heard of one thing in Vista that could be considered a big step ahead. Linux will undoubtedly scramble, catch up and likely surpass Apple's best efforts within a year anyway. Such is the tenacity of riled up developers when the gauntlet is thrown.
6. Free and open-source software is empowering the people who make and do interesting things. Open vs. closed models is becoming the big debate more and more often. Witness Silverlight v. Adobe.
7. If you can succeed as wildly as Ubuntu has, with a default brown theme, you can do just about anything! ;)
So the shark-jumping is not the end. It's hopefully only the beginning.