We're half way through 2012 and so far the Linux world has witnessed the releases of some major distribution LTS or Long Term Support releases, we've heard the news that Microsoft Windows 8 will be out at the end of this year and how the Linux community have reacted to this and the also the release of the worlds cheapest commercial computer the Raspberry Pi which runs Linux ARM distributions off of a single board.

Ubuntu and Linux Mint both have released their LTS releases with Ubuntu 12.04 including their new HUD or Heads Up Display feature for navigating your computer desktop environment and a new upgraded software centre giving the user the same access to all the available free software as well as the commercial software and games now being introduced to the world of Linux. Ubuntu is built upon the Gnome 3 environment using Canonicals very own Unity Desktop. Speaking of Gnome 3, the dust has just about settled over the major change that Gnome made since their last very popular Gnome 2 environment and when the Linux community went into an uproar. Some liking the changes but most seemingly boycotting them. Step forward Linux Mint 13 with their LTS release and their very own Cinnamon environment and the Gnome 2 fork MATE. Mint have included both to be available as part of their new release with users who preferred the Gnome 2 environment as it is choosing MATE or users who still like the traditional desktop experience like Gnome 2 but want the new features that Gnome 3 include choose Cinnamon which is the brain child of Linux Mint founder Clement Lefebvre.

Microsoft Windows 8 is the new release due out at the end of the year in the Windows line of Operating Systems and with the announcement of their 'tablet' looking environment, many in the Linux community and indeed Windows community have voiced their opinions to whether Microsoft have concentrated too much on the tablet environment rather than on the desktop as well and have “done a Vista”. With more and more users migrating to Linux and indeed Apple, could Microsoft's stranglehold in the desktop market be loosening?

Raspberry Pi. Probably the last name you would expect from a commercial computer system but March this year gave way to a small and cheap single board computer, designed with the intention of stimulating the teaching of basic computer science in schools. It only has a fraction of the specifications compared to todays £400 desktops but it runs Debian or Arch Linux and runs smoothly to meet it's purpose. Raspberry Pi's are sold from around $25(£15).

Gaming has been one of the shortfalls of Linux in the past with most games being made for Windows and Mac only and Linux users having to use Emulators such as WINE to play games on their system with some not able to work. This may no longer be the case. As mentioned earlier in the article, Ubuntu have upgraded their software centre to include more commercial games and programs. According to  ArsTechnica , a recent partnership with the backers of the Humble Indie Bundle (a series of game bundles that are sold and distributed online at a price determined by the purchaser and which buyers can set the revenue split between the developers, charities and humble bundle organizers.) proved successful. Mainstream publishers like EA are also starting to take an interest who have already added several HTML based games to the software centre. Yet another boost to Linux gaming is coming in the form of Steam support who are developing a client and source engine for Linux.

Finally what's due out in the second half of 2012? Fedora have announced that their next release of Fedora 18 will be due out later this year. According to  InternetNews.com  “One of the major new features that is set for inclusion in Fedora 18 is something called 'Initial Experience'. The basic idea is to enable new users to have a fully functional desktop out of the box in a very seamless manner. This new Initial Experience will also give users a tour of GNOME 3 so they will know what's what”. OpenSuse have recently released the second beta for their 12.2 release, the stable is expected out later this year, and of course we will see the reactions of many when Windows 8 is released.