Mark Shuttleworth, the man behind Ubuntu has claimed that the Linux desktop is a piece of art and will leapfrog Apple within two years to become the second largest OS on the market.
Shuttleworth, who is the founder of Canonical – the firm that developed Ubuntu – made the claims during his keynote speech at this year's Open Source Conference (OSCON) event in Portland, Oregon.
Exalting the virtues of open source, he claimed that disclosure is what drives innovation within the technology industry and that Linux is ideally placed to be at the forefront of it because of its nature.
Describing free software as the 'ultimate form of disclosure', Shuttleworth went on to add that it can form not just the basis of the software people use, but also the framework that other open source programs can be built around.
He also called for increased co-operation with Microsoft and Windows, saying that inter-operability between the two was key to open source's success because it means that those who continue to use Windows can benefit from the positives of open source.
On Apple, he said that open source can not just match, but surpass Apple's desktop, which is widely recognised as the benchmark for the OS market.
Noting the impact of the internet, he said that in order to survive in the net age products need to be attractive and the best way to achieve that is to aim for art. However, he was careful to stress that Linux needed to be utterly usable if it was to ever beat Apple.
It was backed up by Canonical marketing manager Gerry Carr, who said the netbook revolution was the ideal platform to push Linux and in particular Ubuntu into the face of the consumer.
Noting that all major retailers were clambering to get their hands on netbooks like Asus' Eee PC, he said that Linux's proliferation on the devices would mean that all major retailers would be stocking Linux devices by the end of 2009.