The New Desktop Paradigm: Blame the Success of Linux on the Desktop

By Caitlyn Martin
April 26, 2012 | Comments: 42

The new Windows 8 Metro desktop, the latest incarnation of Mac OSX, Android, Ubuntu's Unity desktop and GNOME 3, love them or hate them, all came about because of the success of Linux on the desktop. No, you didn't misread that and, no, I'm not talking about market share.

The new desktop paradigm originated on the very successful Linux desktop designs of the early netbooks: the ASUS Desktop OS (developed with Xandros) introduced the current style of desktop on the ASUS Eee PC in 2007. Those sold like proverbial hotcakes. Linpus Lite on the Acer Aspire One followed after that. It was Microsoft who suddenly realized they couldn't ignore that market. In response they began pushing the aging Windows XP instead of Linux. Microsoft also successfully used strong-arm tactics to get retailers and OEMs to drop Linux, including Android. In the meanwhile millions of netbooks with Linux and the current desktop paradigm were sold.

Linux has been ahead in terms of desktop innovation and the others have been copying since the turn of the century. There are lots of reasons why Windows is and will likely remain dominant on conventional desktop systems but lack of a better alternative has never been one of them. The quality of the Linux desktop has been fine for more than a decade.

With a new major Windows release just around the corner we have been treated to the usual slew of articles proclaiming the Linux desktop dead and the Linux market share as vanishingly small. I even saw one article claiming Linux desktop usage declined from 2.5% of the market to under 1%. Of course, no source was given for this ludicrous claim and no survey methodology was provided. As I pointed out in my 2010 article, numbers like this come either from deliberately parsing data in a way that is unfavorable to Linux or from wildly unreliable web counters. For example, if you want to claim Linux is unimportant you don't use numbers from Forrester Research, who count both tablets and netbooks as part of the desktop market.

The reality really hasn't changed in the last two years. Linux use is growing very slowly on the conventional desktop but expanding rapidly on mobile devices, tablets and low end netbooks with ARM CPUs, mainly in the form of Google's Android distribution. Microsoft is still the dominant player on the conventional desktop and is likely to remain so because the market, as it is structured today, makes it impossible for Linux to compete.

There are only two ways Linux could make headway on the consumer desktop: the first is if Linux is available preloaded in stores the way it was on netbooks for a couple of years. That is happening with low end Android netbooks at K-Mart here in the United States and similar low end stores but it's a tiny sliver of the market. There is no incentive for retailers to carry Linux even if Microsoft doesn't bring pressure to bear. If you sell a Windows system or a Mac you get to sell all sorts of software, from anti-virus to Office. With a Linux system that's all free. The markup on the systems themselves is small. There is no money to be made selling Linux retail the way the market is currently structured.

The other avenue to desktop success is the corporate marketplace. The big corporate players in the server room, Red Hat and SUSE, have never devoted the marketing resources to the corporate desktop. The server is simply more profitable.

A number of recent articles have claimed that the Linux desktop is perpetually playing catch-up or is somehow inferior. Others claim that consumers have rejected Linux. To put it bluntly these claims are arrant nonsense and represent revisionist history. Sales of Linux on netbooks remained robust for two years after the introduction of netbooks with Windows preloaded. Dell claimed that one third of their netbook sales were Linux even when finding the Linux offerings on their website required considerable detective work. Both Dell and ASUS also refuted claims that Linux return rates were higher than Windows.

Another point these articles all conveniently ignore is the percentage of the overall computing market that belongs to the desktop is declining significantly rendering Microsoft's dominance less and less important. There is an x86 desktop version of Android and I expect it's only a matter of time before Google begins marketing it seriously. After all, the new desktop paradigm, regardless of your choice of operating system, bears a strong resemblance to Android and the other Linux distributions that preceded it.

Regardless of which operating system you choose, one fact remains clear: if you're using the new desktop paradigm you are using a system based on Linux desktop design.

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I am in your side but for one thing, It always amazes me why people think Linux has 1.5 % when one actually look at the true data about Linux, for example 2006 Indian government there moved 90,000 school and government computers to Linux and stated that 1.5 million student use Linux, Africa, China, Spain, France Italy Turkey Pakistan use Linux. Russian Government and education will be all Linux by 2013 and recently the UK announced they are moving to Foss, saving 500 million pounds. That's without the millions of individuals downloading Linux distributions.

Whoa, what? Not for nothing, those Xandros and Linpus desktops were created by people that had no idea about design. Hence, the grade school looking icons that were large enough to see from space. Look, Microsoft has over 80k developers. Most of those work on fit and finish (design, GUI, etc) which is why all Microsoft products although working like crap (not many kernel developers either, LOL) were considered superior to any desktop Linux distro or app.

Sorry, I have to give this all to Apple. Accidentally. I honestly believe this was all an accident. Okay, we knew that they were going to enter the mobile phone market in 06-07. They ended up releasing the smartphone of smartphones. That's where it began and it accidentally created a shift (in the desktop paradigm) where the same screen will scale from an iPod all the way to a MAC G *(whatever they're up to now) .

Desktop Linux never had success because of the one good thing it offered: Choice. Gnome, KDE, Unity, LXDE, et al. So many developers, so many choices. That's why. If there was one or two DE(s) and those developers were open to suggestions from outside people who know UI, not just code, then desktop Linux would've succeeded. Heck, desktop Linux could've been running the PlayStation, Wii, or maybe even, wait for it, xBox 360??? What, Linux scales better than anything MS has ever released...

With all due respect, those large icons and apps opening in full screen mode is exactly what we are getting now. That lack of design knowledge you claim is based on what? You personal feelings or preferences, maybe? The non-success you claim was a success with tens of millions of units sold. Sure, Microsoft has lots of devs and the result is design by committee. Are you going to claim Vista as a superior product?

I've been reading about innovations in MacOS that *nix users had for years prior. You can "give it all to Apple" if you like but history doesn't bear that out. Then, of course, you say it was all an accident and that Apple did it years before the public saw it on any Apple product. Huh? I don't think so.

There was no choice on a netbook when sales took off.. The systems were preloaded, just like the Windows systems they sat next to at the store. That is why they succeeded and that very real success in the marketplace is what drove the current paradigm.

I never really used a Linux netbook, but I can still tell you why Windows XP replaced it. XP turned a netbook into a very cheap full-featured laptop, with all the apps you use at work. The lack of 'all the apps you use at work' is and has always been the main reason Linux desktops never took off. And, yes, the multiple desktop environments and dev toolkits didn't help in making all those apps available; but for many people, the bottom line app was MSOffice, which was never gonna be there.

Ultimately, MS tired of giving away XP nearly for free, and since then the netbook has withered on the vine. If smartphones and tablets hadn't come along to serve the same market that Linux netbooks originally served, that market might have been able to regenerate. Today's netbook is an underpowered, but not underpriced, Windows 7 laptop - and nobody wants them.

The Asus Transformer is essentially an Android netbook, but watch out. Once Windows 8 tablets appear, expect the market to suddenly 'want' them over Android devices. This time, though, they won't have 'all the apps you use at work'. But they will have MSOffice. We'll see how that plays out.

One other thing. Google better get off its ass and make Android multi-user, or that's going to be the deciding factor for many people. I want to log in to the device on my coffee table and get *my* email, *my* facebook account, etc. And I want my partner to get *his*... It's not complicated. Tablets are not 'personal' devices.

A lovely misreading of history from a pro-Windows perspective. First, all the apps on the netbooks work just fine, thankyouverymuch. As I pointed out in the article Linux netbook sales remained strong for two years after Microsoft offered Windows XP. I provided a source for my data as well, something you did not and cannot do. Why did Linux continue to sell? Unlike what you describe, netbooks were full featured laptops in miniature. Putting Windows XP on the slowed them down to the point of being nearly useless. Microsoft Office never ran well on a netbook.

Microsoft didn't grow tired of giving away Windows XP. They simply replaced it with Windows 7 Starter, which was and is crippleware. If nobody wants netbooks then why are big box retailers like Wal-Mart, CompUSA, Brands Mart and even K-Mart still selling them? Netbooks have not "withered on the vine". They still sell. They just aren't the latest gee whiz gadget and sales have normalized but are continuing.

The market won't want Windows 8 tablets any more than they want Windows 7 phones, which went over like a lead balloon. Your entire comment is wishful thinking by a Microsoft fan with no basis in reality.

But the "it doesn't run MS Office" mantra may well change. MS has announced (at least in the UK) a hike of corporate software licence costs by anything from 25 to 33%.

In these cash-strapped times maybe businesses will now start looking at Open source alternatives like Libre Office, in which case using Windows as an OS grows more and more unnecessary.

Although I love GNU/Linux and use it and enjoy it daily for my work, to attribute it for the New Desktop Paradigm is, for me, wishful thinking or simply moronic.

Wanna blame the "new style" on something? It's that expensive gadget that, with great probability, resides in your pocket or in your hand: the iPhone.

Funny,, those Linux netbooks were out a couple of years before the iPhone and had that interface down and sold like craxy. They were the darlings of the tech media at the time. To ignore them and claim a product that came later was the original inspiration ignores history. To call someone who points that out "moronic" reflects only on the person doing the name-calling.

More reliable data about OS market share you can get from Wikipedia
which shows that Linux share has grown twice from 2.5 to 5% for the last year.

First, this article is about the influence of the Linux desktop, not it's marketshare. I made that clear in the first paragraph. Still, let me answer your point: As I explained in my article two years ago, web counters, including the WikiMedia counter, are notoriously unreliable.

One of my favorite Israeli news sources (in English) is IBA News. Much of my family lives there so I follow the news in that part of the world closely. They use Cast Up for their streaming media which won't work unless my browser falsely reports that I am running Windows. Guess what my user agent string claims? Am I really running Windows? No way! Tools to anonymyze browsing also throw statistics off. How many corporate desktops visit WikiMedia regularly? I'd dare say very few. I can show you a web counter from a sports site (which I did two years ago) which showed Linux ast 14%. I don't believe it's that high, nor do I believe that it's at 5%.

Which came first - the iPhone or Linux based netbooks? Seems to me Caitlyn is dead on. Wow, revisionist history must be some powerful drug! Another example - Compiz. How long did it take MS to try their hand at a fully composited desktop? And look at how bad a job they did with their first try, Vista. Windows 7 was better, of course. Now, they are trying to copy the netbook interface that has become the new standard, with their Metro UI.

Big icons are very convenient for touchscreens (I once saw someone in an internet cafe trying to hit, with a traditional mouse, a traditional screen : people can become very happy with touchscreens).

The idea of having big icons was not a bad idea, **if **it was meant for touchscreens, on mobile devises -i.e under uncomfortable circumstances, such as in a train-).

Using traditional PCS (as far as half PCs , like "net""books" are concerned, I do not know) to test this idea is a bad idea (shoes are better solutions for human beings than tires: testing shoes on bikes is not a great idea -that was done, during the VietNam war, by vietcongs on bicycles; but, as soon as the traditional bicycle tires came, they gave up).

The great interest of having a lot of DE in GNUlinux (the term linux is not that relevant) is that, if one DE is being developped, the other remains working : in 2004, I was advised to use KDE, as Gnome had bugs... When KDE shifted fom 3.x to 4.x, I was glad Gnome 2.x existed....

Linux is much more "relevant" than GNU. With out Linux there would be now running system. Look at the failure of HURD. 20+ years to create a kernel? Linux can run with out GNUserland. Android is a prime example of this. So yeah, Linux is much more relevant than GNU.

This is why the majority including Linus call it Linux and not the absurd "GNU/" as Stallman is a butthurt propagandist.

AFAIK, gnome has been windows ported (so is KDE

KDE and Gnome work great under BSD
Thats why I wrote GNUlinux and added reluctantly "linux" : in the case of a DE, it is irrelevant (as it is irrelevant in the case of applications, AFAIK); I was very kind of writing "not that relevant".

If you had a smart phone with a LINUX kernel, and *only that*, what could you do?
look at stating message?
where would be the minimalist line command interpreter?

PS : your post is very ironical, as my post claimed that software be adapted to some purposes (making DE , very adapted to touchscreens, leads to a mess on tradtional screens; there is no need to make propaganda for the GNU, as Linus is now the father of all the DEs in the world -editors, compilers?- : the mere absurdity of your claim is the best propaganda for the GNU and belittles LT)

I actually agree with you, which is why I titled the article "Blame the Success of LInux on the Desktop". We are, in part, victims of our own success. The good news here is that we still have choices. From my perspective KDE and Xfce are both excellent, and for those with very limited or legacy hardware that won't even run Windows we can work with LXDE or EDE. Choice remains one of the great strengths of Linux.

Well, Caitlyn , you write "we still have choice". But the main issue is that it is a constrained choice, constrained by bugs, lots of functionality which happen, sometimes with gnome, sometimes with KDE:
my colleagues, when polled in 2009, prefered gnome-2.0 over KDE (as KDE-4 had isssues). So did I, but, thiis year, I prefer KDE-4 (even with Fedora) over Gnome-3.x (I tested it for one month with FC15, it never crashed, but there was such a loss of functionality that it took me a lot manipulation to launch a simple application : therefore, I preferred KDE-4 on FC16).

The tests I did were on a "net""book" MSI wind, initially sold with W7 (nobody, in my small french province town, agreed to buy MSI wind with linux preinstalled, as it was very buggy-not M$ fault, only Suse's one!-)
and with 2G RAM (the maximum I could put : it does not harm with GNU linux distributions, and, if I wanted to use ressource-hungry GNU applications (such as R "gnuS", octave) from cygwin+W7, it would be necessary ;

maybe having and keeping into life legacy platforms would be more expensive than buying new "net""books"; if legacy hardware disappears fast, the approximation you made in 2010( assimilating Linux penetration with its *speed* of penetration, based on yearly sales figures) might be a very valid one.....
Nota : I write Linux in this case, as there may be very few GNU applications on "net""books" with a Linux kernel....

I've been using Linux as a choice OS since 1998 and have seen a lot of things, especially from the Enlightenment desktop, appear in Windows and OSX over the years. (Desktop widgets, multiple virtual desktops, shelfs, etc.)

The under-representation of Linux in "market share" statistics is well documented. Most of these "counts" are performed by people who have an interest in the previous status quo and are therefore invalid.

Current desktop share for Linux is probably closer to 10% than 1%. In all reality it probably meets or exceeds Mac desktops. And it's still growing. Look for this trend to continue as our idea of "the desktop" continues to transform itself from a fat client sitting on a table, to a virtual desktop accessed from whatever device you happen to have in your hands at the moment.

My first Linux was the Acer netbook and the Linpus Lite was a great way to get started. Soon after, I found out I could use a full desktop as well and off I went.

Having tried all the desktops since then, we have more or less settle on KDE and XCFE at home. My wife tried the brown Ubuntu from 3 years ago and said it was the ugliest and most depressing thing ever so the Gnome bias has never left her.
Switching her, kids, grandparents to KDE from Windows was very, very smooth. Better than I could have ever hoped and while we have a dual boot XP and a dual boot Win7 on a 2nd hand laptop I bought, we probably use it 5-6 times a year now.

CHOICE is what made the transition to Linux possible.
We found desktops which suit our needs and allow configurability to meet those needs. Had we been forced to use 'this' without a choice, it probably wouldnt have worked as well.

I think that the KDE way is really the best way. Like Linpus Lite, I can either use the full desktop or can switch from within to the netbook look. On top of that they also are working on the Plasma Active display for touch. All are KDE but DO NOT FORCE you to use the UI you prefer. One of my boys prefers the netbook look on his laptop, one prefers the full monty. None is wrong and both get what THEY want.

Which is something all programs should emulate as well. Some people need a full interface while most people do the same 5-10 things all the time and need only a minimal interface.
By offering people an easy and advanced mode, THEY get to choose what suits them best.
Im not going to start a desktop flamewar but I dont GET Unity's HUD (which even my youngest recognized as Krunner) push which deems that using two hands on a keyboard to be easier than a mouse to acces things while at the same time pushing the whole touch thing at the same time. (then again, I dont understand the claims that switching the close buttons to the left side was somehow 'better' than a paradigm used by the whole planet.)

When I run a laptop-netbook, desktop or tablet, I shouldnt have the same interface if I dont want to. KDE seems to grasp that more than the 'my way of the highway' mentality. Im my field of business we always say "The client is always right." Its a shame developers dont grasp this concept.

By Art C. on April 27, 2012 7:31 AM |

I think you have to look no further than when Ballmer spoke to shareholders in Feb of 2010 I believe and the graph used showed 'legal' desktop deployment in the US (Linux has much higher intake outside the US) in a coloured pie chart.
The Linux slice of the pie looked slightly bigger than the Mac one and I dont see Ballmer being a Linux pimp (well, they do take-extort money from other companies by claiming that Linux stole their IP and if they sign a deal with them, nothing bad will happen. You know, just like the mafia does).

If Microsoft can claim that Linux is a bit ahead of Mac on the desktop, I find it strange that they are so off.

As well, all you have to do is go back 6-7 years and you will see that Linux desktop numbers were between 2-3% up to 6-7%. So I find it really strange that the numbers would have dropped since then.
The 1% stuck because the messages dont stay on topic buy themselves. There is serious PR work in the tech industry and you have to have just a bit of working knowledge how perceptions are shaped.

Heck, half the people in this country believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 911, why? Because the message promoted by the US govt to justify the war that.
Look at the 40+ countries that the US has bombed since WW2 and even the ones before: ALL had 'good' reasons because people never want to see themselves as the bad guy, so you dress up your crimes as good deeds.

There is a lot at stake in technology and the same PR tactics work.
Even guys like Scoble talk openly about how this is done.

"Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" seems pretty transparent and obvious to some but the psychology behind it is always in full force.

The quality of the Linux desktop has been fine for more than a decade.

At least. Stated another way, the Linux desktop has been equal or superior to the Windows desktop available at the time. I am running Kubuntu 12.04 with KDE 4.8.2. In power and ease of use there is no Windows DE close to it, including Metro 8.

I worked on the EeePC at Xandros, it was actually designed and developed both by Asus and Xandros. Its actual name was Asus Desktop OS, Xandros Presto was another related project for use on all types of PCs in a quick boot fashion.

Thanks for the clarification. I've corrected the article accordingly.

I don't think Android counts as Linux. It's actually a fork of Linux. It's just mostly Linux. But what I really mean is that it's not Linux in spirit. It's not conducive to openness, tinkering, or choice. Microsoft has patent deals with the majority of manufacturers that ship with Android. Microsoft makes a lot of money from Android. Then there are the Java issues. I consider Android more of a Microsoft and Oracle product than Google or Linux. I use Linux because I want the technology I use to be mine, to do with as I please, which is exactly why I won't use Android.

Android counts as Linux since it uses the Linux kernel. The Linux Foundation are very clear on that point. Regarding openness, you can download the Android source code. The manufacturers load all sorts of proprietary stuff on top of it and modify it in closed ways but Android itself is open. Finally, Microsoft has nothing whatsoever to do with Android. They are effectively running a protection racket by claiming patent infringement and shaking down manufacturers and this is actually legal under current patent law. It is a Google product, yes, but it is in no way, shape or form a Microsoft product.

Its funny, this article highlights how much our point of view differs.

Its well written though i have to hand it to you :)

Hello Caitlyn,
I agree with you. Linux has always been inovator in terms of window manager. MacOsX has taken inspiration from open source. His operating system is based on FreeBSD initially called * Project Darwin * to attract GNU developer. Why OSX has use the BSD license simply because it has no restrictions. So Apple just use the work of others to these personal gain. This is why there will never any Apple product that will go into my house. Microsoft is no exception.

Now regarding the part of Linux on the desktop there is no accurate information. My part-time hobby is making websites for clients and friends. I just tell you that overall Linux turn around 8 to 10%. It depends the type of website such as a website technology, linux is 15% On politic website linux is 5%. Sometimes Ubuntu is 12% in some cases. But if I go this is an average 10%.

Sorry if my english is not perfect

I have to disagree with your analysis somewhat. In a respectful way obviously. I've been using Linux since I had to download slackware floppies on a modem using a slip connection from UNC's old sunsite. I cut my teeth as a middle schooler writing assembly language programs on the Apple II+. I've seen a lot come and go. Lately a lot of my time is spent around figuring out how to deploy, manage and use these various mobile devices in educational settings. Having reviewed many of these devices I don't think you have much basis to claim linux desktop computing is influencing mobile devices. Apple with ios on iphones and ipads has pretty much invented the whole app store, app interface paradigm. And android and Microsoft follows. And if you have been watching Gnome it is being influenced by Apple's interfaces. Not the other way around. And neither android or apple or Microsoft is using gnome, kde, lxde or any other of the various linux desktops instead choosing to invent their own more free of bloat. I would also point out that most of those Dells you reference sold with linux were usually bought that way so the person receiving them could load a bootleg copy of windows XP on it. AS a person who has used all of these various OS's and who uses linux as much as I can I can say that linux desktops are nowhere near ready for primetime. Despite my wish they where. I still have to use MS office to get documents that look good enough to send to paying customers. In some ways I think the plethora of dekstops (KDE, Gnome, Xfce, etc) in linux and reliance on an age old protocol built for dumb gui terminals has been the real deal on what's holding back open source from taking over.

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. Linspire had the equivalent of the app store years and years before Apple. The only way Apple could have invented the new desktop paradigm first was if they had a working time machine. You're rewriting history to suit your agenda.

The claim that people bought Dell netbooks to wipe and reload them with bootlegged copies of Windows is ridiculous. The Linux versions were not one penny cheaper that the ones with Windows preloaded. Why would anyone do that? Do you have any source of information to validate that rather wild claim? I think not.

Why would anyone replace Linux with Windows? Because... maybe they don't want to use Linux? Or they don't like Linux? Are people allowed to use software you don't like? Am I allowed to marry someone you don't like? Can I wear clothes that you don't? Heavy metal music is OK with you? I'm not sure where you would draw the line.

Another thought. Sure, doing something first is nice, but I think it's also important that we don't have just 1 choice. Some ideas become better with small changes from others. Many Linux developers probably use Windows and OSX from time to time or at least read news about them. Couldn't that developer be inspired by something he saw in either of those systems to create his or her own version or new idea? Is every new idea or technology something that Linux did first AND also remained the best possible choice in all circumstances, scenarios, and preferences?

If you were to make such a claim... again, it seems like only your opinion is valid. Others can't have a different opinion. I'm not comfortable with that. Am I alone?

Who replaces Linux with Windows? Do you have an example of where this is happening? As for the rest of this, I never said any of the things you ascribe to me. Where did I try to impose my will on anyone? Where did I block opposing opinions? Where did I ever say that Linux was t"the best possible choice in all circumstances, scenarios, and preferences?" Huge clue: I never said anything of the sort.

Perhaps you should reread my article and comments when you're sober.

I notice with many of your replies you like to play semantic games, so I knew before I started that I was going to have to play along. No problem.

"I never said any of the things you ascribe to me."

I didn't ascribe them to you. I asked if you thought people should be allowed to make these choices. Thus why each sentence ended with a question mark. I wanted to gauge your level of tolerance for people who don't agree with your preferences. Choosing to dodge my questions by claiming they were statements by asking your own questions is disappointing, but not altogether surprising. It's possible you don't think people should be allowed to choose Windows over Linux, you just aren't foolish enough to say it. How about just one more:

Do you, Carilyn, believe people should be able to use any operating system they want to use on their computer, even if they choose windows?

This is a "Yes" or "No" question. But, I assume you'll ether ignore it or make a rude remark. As a scientist at heart, I welcome the chance for you to prove my assumptions incorrect.

"Who replaces Linux with Windows? Do you have an example of where this is happening?"

First, let's realize that someone replacing Linux with Windows IS a plausible scenario. You called it "ridiculous" and "wild" earlier, but these are personal opinions. It's not like suggesting there are people who buy a Big Mac but then remove all the sesame seeds from the bun with a pair of tweezers. I think most people would agree this "picky eater" suggestion is "ridiculous" and "wild". Someone might buy a PC of any form with Linux pre-installed and after using it for some time they may decide to replace it with something else. So, to answer your question, "Who replaces Linux with Windows?", the answer is, "People who don't want to use it for whatever reason or have a preference for something else."

You asked for examples. Does this count?

Is that good enough? Or do you need someone posting on a personal blog that they actually did such a thing? A YouTube clip of a person actually performing the install? A sworn affidavit?

You won't find too many examples, but they are out there. I assume you would claim this is because Linux is better, but that's not looking at the rest of the picture. What I bet you won't say is that there are few cases of this because few people buy a computer with Linux installed in the first place. What I would find really shocking, and somewhat sad, is if you never even considered the thought at all out of negligence or intolerance.

Looking forward to your answers.

Yes, your example of one person who wanted to replace Linux with Windows 7 from a year and a half ago does count: as exactly one person. I'm not saying that the scenario doesn't exist. I am saying that is is exceedingly rare. Why? Windows comes preloaded and most Windows users just use what came installed on their machine. Moving from Windows to Linux is much more common for precisely the same reason. In the end that doesn't discount or dispute anything I've written. Windows still has in excess of 80% market share on the desktop and is still the dominant OS on the desktop. Linux still has something under 10% and growth continues to be slow and incremental. That does not equate to "failure" on the desktop but rather an expression of the market conditions and Microsoft tactics I described above, combined with a degree of inertia. The fact remains that during the brief period where Linux had something that almost, sort of looked like a level playing field with Windows in one corner of the desktop market it did well: retaining a third of that market and selling in excess of 25 million units.

As far as being rude... I'm from New York City. We New Yorkers have a tendency to say what we mean and mean what we say and to do so in direct language. It's blunt at times and some people misinterpret that as rude. Let me be blunt again: I really don't like people putting words in my mouth or claiming I said things I didn't say. It isn't playing semantic games. It's my frank assessment of what you did. I think anyone doing a fair reading of your previous comment would come to the same conclusion.

To answer your "yes" or "no" question, the answer is obviously "yes". People should be free to choose whatever they want, including Windows. You are being completely disingenuous to suggest that I ever said or implied otherwise. I can quote example after example where I have written as much. The most recent example is found in my reply to a comment to the article I published after this one:

"No operating system is "one size fits all". Windows tries to be but it really isn't. Neither is Linux. I, for one, have no problem with the idea that Windows 7 better fits your personal needs and therefore is the right choice for you."

If you prefer an example from 2010 like the one you used in response to me I'll be happy to oblige :)

Dude, you need to step out of the alternate reality you are living in. You certainly have gotten your history the wrong way round.

Unity is the worst thing Canonical ever did to Linux. Choices narrowed since Canonical kills support on Kubuntu and insults Xubuntu's ex-leader to resign. Canonial can't develop more than Debian developers do. If Debian doesn't patch GDM 3.2 or 3.4 to SID, Canonical's developers can't do anything with that situation. It's easier to working on already obsolete Unity to sell some paid content with ugly Lenses. Just because Android Market do the same thing and Shuttlewort doesn't like Gnome boys and girls.

Ubuntu kills Linux.

Ubuntu and Unity cannot kill Linux. I find that idea truly funny. Unity is just another choice of desktop. Choice is a good thing. There are also lots of Ubuntu users who truly like the Unity desktop.

Canonical didn't have the power to kill support for Kubuntu. Yes, they took the one and only paid developer for Kubuntu off the payroll and another company, Blue Systems, immediately sponsored the distro so it is still supported. Similarly, Ubuntu never supported Xubuntu in any way, shape or form.

Canonical has chosen to base on Debian as a way to reduce development costs and to use a solid, existing base. They had no reason to reinvent the wheel. Having said that, I think they are perfectly capable of becoming an independent distro and forking Debian if they so choose. They have talented developers and the financial resources necessary to hire more if needed.

Where do you come up with this stuff? You dislike a desktop designed by Canonical so you demonize the company and it's CEO. Hmm...

Demonize Fedora too, because Fedora is killing Linux too, starting with giving up posix filesystem and making every release slower and slower.
Anyway, too much silence about Ubuntu Gnome-Shell version, distrowatch censoring all comments about it.

I feel that androidx86 has big potential over biggest linux distros...

And the real fun is the default choice (Unity) is completely bad.

I find Unity much better than previous desktops - especially on my Netbook from which I am writing this...

Android is the definition of Linux.

We still have Kubuntu and Xubuntu, don't we? Why, yes, we do! As a sometime user of Kubuntu, I think dropping support for Kubuntu might be a good thing. I'd like see something closer to a vanilla KDE desktop.

I love this article for lucidly explaining things I've been wondering about for years. I've been a Desktop Linux user for ten years, mostly Linux for maybe eight years, exclusively Linux for maybe five. I've never used Vista or Windows 7. So I have no real understanding of what's been going on in other platforms, but the Linux desktop world has just been exploding. Everything's just new, like all the time. Since Linux as a whole is not a commercial effort, it's misleading to measure its success in market share. And for reasons mentioned above, it's misleading to focus on the conventional desktop in measuring the success of linux.

And it a great platform. I love Linux on the Desktop, I didn't come from a technical background, and migrating wasn't easy. The pain was real, but the pain was eight years ago. The years of awesomeness keep piling up.

What the above discussions highlight, is the need for open user feedback channels, back to the volunteer developers, so the desktop of their dreams can be shaped and fine tuned for all. I left Gnome when V3 came out, but I'm a minimalist who likes LXDE even with it's limitations.

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