This is an opinion-based article about why I think the Linux desktop has not yet been adopted by the masses.
@ericbuijs@lemmy.ml
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An important reason for lack of adoption is simply because that every PC or laptop comes with Windows installed for free (as in gratis). People are generally lazy and don’t bother with installing another OS. I’m pretty sure that the general public doesn’t need the feature rich MS O365, and certainly doesn’t care about the toxic community or GNOME vs KDE/Plasma. They just take what’s already installed.

Three years ago I installed Linux Mint on my fathers laptop because of the slow performance of Windows and all the malware issues that he had. Before that he used to call me once a week the ask for help for his laptop but that stopped immediately after I installed Mint. He’s a happy Linux user now but he can’t tell you anything about his desktop environment, package manager or whether he’s running systemd. He doesn’t care about that, he just wants his laptop to work. If the laptop had come with Mint in the first place he probably wouldn’t have known that it had Linux on it.

This.

People are not even aware of alternatives.

Imo this article misses the point enterly which is : Microsoft and Apple advertise and lobby. Linux doesn’t - or at least not on the same playing field.

How to get Linux on every computer by 2050:

Every time a young tech-savvy person gets frustrated doing free tech support, where they’d normally have to do a clean install of Windows they just swap it out with Mint/Ubuntu instead.

poVoq
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Just don’t do free tech support for huge companies (as they after all got paid for providing that support)… it will probably get you some annoyed responses from friends / family members, but they most likely would not ask you to do substantial repairs on their cars for free either. So just don’t do it.

Dessalines
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Agree with everthing @ericbuijs@lemmy.ml said below. That windows and macOS comes pre-installed on every purchasable computer is 99.9% of the reason that the linux desktop isn’t more popular. Everything else in this article were concerns that don’t affect most people using computers:

Lack of Testers and Reporters

Linux OS’s have more testers and reporters than windows, having a larger number of power users to report issues. This has lead to some very stable distros: watch those videos of some older non-savvy computer people trying to use windows vs some clean linux distros.

Lack of Code Contributors, Developers and Maintainers

Linux has probably 10x the code contributers that windows does. Also M$ and Apple are closed source, so that’s not even something they can compete on.

Toxicity

Exists on windows and mac forums and communities just as much if not moreso.

GNOME “Vs.” KDE/Plasma

Non-issue that people don’t have to care about after they install an OS.

Package Managers

Much easier to use than windows, and one of the main reasons to switch to linux!

There are many reasons the Linux desktop isn’t very popular, they lead to lower adoption which creates lower investment and prevents these problem from being solved, If linux would have been such an attractive platform for the casual users business people will recognize the opportunity and will bundle it more and more in preinstalled computers (and as it was said they are preinstalled, they just not selling as well as windows or mac preinstalls).

I might get crucified for saying this but i think part of the problem is there isn’t really an organisation or project “leader” who is really great at building what people want, Say what you want about google ethically but if you will go to statcounter and chart a graph of chrome os growth in usage you will see pretty consistent growth , Linux also seems to be moving up, I am hoping linux mint and maybe pop os will be the next leader in this domain but according to my calculations chrome os is growing about twice as fast as Linux so that’s another thing to ponder.

poVoq
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The ChromeOS growth is basically 100% because it comes pre-installed on cheap hardware. I have actually never heard of anyone installing it themselves on a regular x86 laptop, even though I think that is possible.

Nothing prevents the installation of Linux on cheap laptops, IIRC there was already an attempt to do that (see Ubuntu Netbook Edition).

@jazzfes@lemmy.ml
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If linux would have been an attractive platform, they would have created a commercial os for laptops and mobile phones… which they did.

Computers are really not rocket science and 99% of what people do would be covered by a browser, a word processor and a spreadsheet (plus games I guess…).

You can have all these things for free with a linux desktop and more. The stuff my non-linux family and friends tell me about they will be missing is basically just the marketing messages around “ease of use, security, stability”.

I’m using Windows at work, Mac on my partner’s laptop. None of those pieces can be called stable or secure. My work laptop has a user friendly half-life of about two weeks, after which the true Windows customers (work admins) make sure it is about as fast as a mechanical type writer.

Mac’s principle of “having to buy into the platform” is utterly insane and can only work if you sort of start glorifying the source. The laptop stops working fault free after about 6 months.

On the Linux side, I had linux desktops not shutting down for years without fault. Make no mistake, I don’t attribute this to higher quality as such, but just lack of breaking shit to make another dollar.

I never heard of specific examples of why a linux desktop would be problematic for users. I do can think of examples of why it would be bad for corporate. I think the latter is the main reason for linux’s low adoption when compared to some billion dollar corporations…

I used a work laptop with windows before, it worked fine for me, this sounds like more of some configuration problem.

Linux still has it’s problems, i still get screen tearing on firefox when running videos (This is 2021 , this should not happen), KDE wayland tech should solve this but it’s not yet production ready. I still get bugs and glitches which can be annoying to fix (KDE “Move to Trash” being extremely slow is one of them). the whole “different packages for different distros” concept can be confusing and flatpak needing to download gigabytes to work can also be off putting. I don’t think i ever encountered a user facing bug in facebook or google products.

The Windows issue is clearly related to the organisation I’m working at since everyone has the same issues. But this is just an example that Windows doesn’t target you as the user, it targets organisations!

Besides this, I have installed Linux on probably more than a dozen privately used machines and not once had screen tearing! What machine are you using?

Re packaging: use the package manager of your distro. The availability of packages is probably what helps you select your distro. Otherwise flatpack or snap is a convenient workaround where available. Debian is known for a really wide selection of packages that should cater most needs.

On Windows, package problems were probably related to my organisations admin practices. However I’d like to note that stuff like flatpack / snap, i.e. portable applications, doesn’t really exist on Windows. So there’s another limitation

Besides this, I have installed Linux on probably more than a dozen privately used machines and not once had screen tearing! What machine are you using?

Kubuntu 20.04 on intel graphics, but it’s not surprising there is screen tearing (That’s one of the problems wayland is supposed to solve), there is even an open bug, they probably just havent migrated to DRI3 because i got no tearing when opening the same video using VLC, I actually also helped convert someone to Linux and he also got screen tearing and at some point the OS just failed and we had to do a reinstall (Linux mint) and he eventually went back to windows (due to lack of software availability IIRC).

Re packaging: use the package manager of your distro. The availability of packages is probably what helps you select your distro. Otherwise flatpack or snap is a convenient workaround where available. Debian is known for a really wide selection of packages that should cater most needs.

Debian is unfit for most casual users IMO, There is Ubuntu which is OK but you either have to use a LTS which has dated packages or the latest version which could be more buggy (IMO most users don’t need to upgrade the OS more then every two years), snap is proprietary and flatpak as i mentioned is still not very convenient.

Appreciate the reply.

I’d be interested why you think Debian isn’t suitable for the casual user? I had the least trouble with it and it always seemed to work when other distros had issues.

I think you just need more information to use it, and might not fit for a “I don’t care just work” kind of users, you need to select a DE which might be confusing (basically choice overload), by default you get to install a version with an older kernel which might cause problems with hardware compatibility, It also provides an image without non free firmware which can cause unexplained hardware problems (the download page mentions its but starts the download immediately so that could be easy to miss).

That’s just my impression as someone who never really tried it seriously, If you got someone knowledgeable installing it you can move around these problems and debian stability could be great for a casual users (assuming installing updates using the GUI is OK and KDE discover is no longer a mess).

I agree that the install might be a tad off-putting to casual users. It does look pretty techy.

However for newbies, I’d say you’d have to do two things:

  • enable non-free repositories which will fix hardware compatibility
  • choose a DE

Once this is done, I don’t think there is a more stable, compatible distribution around. I tried (and often liked) OpenSUSE, Arch, Ubuntu, various downstream versions of those, and Debian is just by far the most easiest to run. I generally run “testing” which makes it a rolling distro, and might be another thing that should be done for casual users (or for them to be guided through). “testing” therefore means that you never to have to go through an install again (until you go distro hopping…)

So three things to guide casual users to Linux happiness! I say that’s possible…

:)

@Ferk@lemmy.ml
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I seriously doubt any of these are reasons for the masses. You can go and ask any average person chances are (s)he won’t even know or care about GNOME/KDE, systemd, or actually have any idea of any kind of toxicity of this kind. I think the article exagerates the importance of some pretty irrelevant internet discussions that are only followed by those who are actually geeks that are passionate about technology, not “the masses”.

In fact, the first time I was ever exposed to toxicity in the computer world was when Microsoft, MS-DOS and Windows users continuously criticised aspects of those very same systems (things like the “blue screen of death” being a famous example). Not in the Linux community.

poVoq
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I don’t agree with most of the article either, but looking at it from a more general point of view it is true that at 2-5% at most Linux is not anywhere near adoption of the general masses and the next step would be rather to get normal “tech enthusiasts” (i.e. not the very early adopters like currently) to use it more.

I know actually quite a few people that fall into this category and who continue to use Windows on their desktop. They claim to have their reasons, which I find mostly non-sensical, but they are definitely not part of the open-source culture and thus the superficial outside look at some of the discussions ongoing gives them easy excuses to be lazy and continue using Windows.

@Ferk@lemmy.ml
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But there are also a lot of “tech enthusiasts” that actually enjoy engaging in passionate discussions about what approach to desktop environment is optimal.

I’m sure the alternative of attempting to centralize and armonize it all not only will be unsuccessful at preventing conflicts (because there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all”) but it’ll make it harder for those who do want to have the freedom to experiment with alternative approaches.

I’m not convinced that you’ll attract more tech enthusiasts by trying to unify everything. Systemd in a way tried to unify and standardize things (with relative success) and it ended up resulting in just another source of discord.

I think at the end of the day, having options is good, specially for the enthusiast who actually wants to experiment with different tech. Discussions and debates about different approaches are good, just as long as they are respectful. And outside of minority groups (or extremelly loud *ssholes, which exist also outside Linux), I haven’t noticed any more toxicity in the Linux world than I have seen in any other topic between people passionate about something they enjoy. I feel the accusation “the Linux desktop community is very toxic” is either exagerated or born out of misinterpretation.

Personally, I think the “toxicity” comments come from 5+ years ago where you were completely shut down and ridiculed in forums if you had missed anything in the man pages/ wiki or didn’t understand it completely. Also, and this still happens, if you don’t include the necessary logs. I totally get where both sides come from.

We can’t really help people without logs, but at the same time, linux noobs have no idea where to find any of the logs that are relevant to the problem. In order to go through the wiki and get enough information to find the correct logs. It would literally take many hours to not only sort through the 30+ articles you might need to go through just to understand enough to find the correct logs when us vets could often tell them what specific logs would be helpful in 1 sentence. Especially if they have no prior terminal skills.

poVoq
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Everything works in the Linux desktop, but nothing works well.

Yet it works (for me) consistently better than Windows and MacOS. Might be personal bias, but all the supposedly necessary telemetry to fix issues seems to not actually fix them on these systems.

On GNU/Linux stuff mostly gets fixed because it annoys the developers… not a perfect system either, but I can actually see things improving, while Windows seems to never actually fix glaring issues.

I love Linux and I’ve used it almost exclusively for 10 years. That said, Windows and MacOS have always been more stable for me than any desktop Linux distro.

For instance, when a Linux desktop starts getting overloaded it has been my experience that the UI will start to lag. MacOS and Windows seem to give a higher priority to processing UI elements so that even when the system becomes overloaded it still presents a smooth UI (even if programs are not responding). Similarly I have never had the window manager, or display manager crash on Windows or MacOS, but I have encountered DE instability many times on Linux.

Servers that I’ve run with Linux are a different story. Without a GUI or audio I’ve never had a single problem.

poVoq
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This is honestly the complete opposite of my experience. Especially the display manger on Windows crashes all the time, they just got really good at hiding that fact, so that on a cursory glance it is not so noticeable on modern Windows PCs. However I don’t think I ever had KDE crash on me on normal desktop use (in nearly 20 years of Linux deskop use).

I don’t think I ever had KDE crash on me on normal desktop use (in nearly 20 years of Linux deskop use)

You should play the lottery :D

It is basically marketing. GAFAM spends billions on it in partnerships, favorable articles, advertising, and lobbying. FOSS relies on us to evangelize to our friends and family.

I honestly don’t care what everyone else uses as long as I can keep using it.

It may be a bit of cliche, but I actually enjoy the fact that Linux is the less used underdog. Gives a better community feel.

That’s a decent overview.

It would be interested to see part 2 of that post, where author looks at what people are currently doing to solve these problems.

The article forgot to mention the GNU/Linux vs. Linux debate, free software vs. open source, Vim vs. Emacs and some others as well.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Linux is a family of open source Unix-like operating systems based on the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released on September 17, 1991 by Linus Torvalds. Linux is typically packaged in a Linux distribution (or distro for short).

Distributions include the Linux kernel and supporting system software and libraries, many of which are provided by the GNU Project. Many Linux distributions use the word “Linux” in their name, but the Free Software Foundation uses the name GNU/Linux to emphasize the importance of GNU software, causing some controversy.

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