Mark Shuttleworth: Why Linux Desktop 'Failed' (5min video)

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  • This topic has 18 replies, 10 voices, and was last updated May 19-10:26 am by Anonymous.
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  • #21687

      FWIW, I agree with the POV expressed by Mark Shuttleworth in this recent video.


        The sole question “Why Linux Desktop ‘Failed'” is completely senseless and meaningless.
        Everybody I know of is failing to answer that because of ‘nobody got the point’.
        (If they would have ‘gotten the point’, they wouldn’t ask that question.)

        The reasons “Why Linux Desktop ‘Failed'” are much simpler.

        1. Average user DOES NOT CARE for O/S (but, it simply wants to search the web, write a document, create the image … whichever TASK)
        2. 99,5+ % of computers come pre-installed (usually Windows, rarely Mac — why SOMEBODY WHO DOES NOT CARE should change the O/S?)
        3. If you try to recommend Linux to SOMEBODY WHO DOES NOT CARE, you’re doomed to fail because:
        3.1 The average user DOES NOT CARE!
        3.2 Why it should change something that came pre-installed and it ‘just works’ if it simply DOES NOT CARE?
        3.3 There’s one moment in which the user that DOES NOT CARE starts taking care — at the moment when something doesn’t work (and it needs help).

        At that very moment (and only temporary), the one who DOES NOT CARE will first try to get help from another user, which will be using something that came pre-installed …

        The one who DOES NOT CARE, simply DOES NOT CARE and if, it has the BIG ADVANTAGE IF NOT USING LINUX.

        –> “Linux Desktop ‘Failed'” because the average user DOES NOT CARE. So simple.

        * The ones who care are the wast minority … ‘freaks’ … we here …


          In the most part I agree with what noClue said…
          Fragmentation (which is discussed on the interview) is part of the problem. Having too many options related to window managers/ DE’s. file package types, file managers can make most people unsure what to choose, how to get help is anything goes wrong, etc, etc, etc.
          The lack of software that many people tend to use (like Ms Office, Paintshop, etc) is another BIG part of the reason. most people don’t much care what OS they are running, but they care that they can’t use Word, Excel or Paintshop on their computers. It’s true that on-line Office 365 partly solved the Office problem on Linux, but there are too many must-have apps that just don’t run (or run Out of the box) in Linux. someone proficient in using Paintshop for some 20 years does not want to learn Gimp, no matter how similar it is, how good it it does it’s task (it’s the same for LibreOffice or any other Linux software- there’s LO and GIMP available for Windows for many, many years, but people tend to stick to what’s considered “the Standard”).
          Universal file packages could reduce “fragmentation”, but… there are 3 major “universal” file packages- Snaps, flatpaks and Appimages! Even that is fragmented 3 ways (and there are other universal packages, at least 2 I know about one time or another) Maybe a “appstore” that offers all those file types for easy installation (like is trying to do) can help new Linux users deal with that fragmentation… But I don’t think it will bring in any new Linux users.
          Perhaps if Chromebooks start also running real Linux apps, that may push Linux desktop base (in my country it’s almost impossible to find Chromebooks, but I read they are big with US students).
          I don’t even talk about Android- it’s Linux kernel based, sure, but not a Linux desktop- sure I can run Ms word in my phone/tablet, and use a USB dongle to use a USB keyboard and mouse, and it acts almost like a desktop, but it isn’t a Linux desktop (I tried that. It’s strange seeing the familiar mouse pointer on my phone’s screen).
          I’m not sure what a future Windows 10 version also offering a Linux kernel means to Linux usage. Will then Windows 10 also count as a Paid Linux OS?



            2.) 99,5+ % of computers come pre-installed (usually Windows, rarely Mac — why SOMEBODY WHO DOES NOT CARE should change the O/S?)

            The item “2” should be the ONE (a tactical aspect):
            … The social marketing (the: there is no easy alternative). I guess than Mark Shuttleworth is already aware.


              Here one reality fragment for easier understanding:

              Chapter I

              PERSON A talks to PERSON B over the Skype. Both aged 75+.

              PERSON A:
              “Let me show you what have I done …”

              PERSON B:
              “Oh nice! How did you make it?”

              PERSON A:
              “That’s pretty easy. You could try to do it yourself. I’ll send you a program …”

              Little bit later, the PROGRAM A.EXE arrived.

              PERSON B, who’s using a Linux, wants to install uninstallable.

              PERSON B:
              “Could you install me this (thinking on his .EXE)?” (talking to me)
              “PERSON A will explain me how can I …”

              “Hmmm … that’ll not work. .EXE can’t be installed in Linux BUT, there’s a “PROGRAM C.deb” which will do that and it can also …”

              WHO CARES?

              PERSON B just wants PROGRAM A that it knows from the PERSON A.
              What PROGRAM C can or can’t do, is it ‘better’ or ‘worse’, that’s completely irrelevant.
              PERSON A uses the PROGRAM A, PERSON B wants PROGRAM A and the PERSON A will explain the PROGRAM A to PERSON B.

              That easy.

              People want what other people know/use.

              The same thing in Enterprise.

              You have to deliver and that’s it. Illustrator.

              NOBODY cares if it could have been done with Corel Draw, Inkscape or Xara.

              Chapter II

              Yes, the fragmentation of Linux is a problem too but:

              A) The sole discussion on Linux fragmentation as a problem comes to a much later point — at that time, the Linux is already long time ‘no alternative’.

              B) The Linux community / users are also a ‘poison’ for the further Linux development with their rejection of anything unified or sane.

              Unity (DE) was partially rejected because it had deep Amazon integration but, same time, that was its greatest feature.

              One could have made it a real commercial alternative to the commercial competitors.

              Now it’ll start raining the protests and ‘freedoms’ and such and …

              If you think a little on that ‘rain’, you’ll understand the second reason why there’s no such thing as ‘Linux as alternative’.


                You can’t tell me that a fully functioning free to use system is not a winner. 🙂

                But other people don’t see computers as a personal item, they just see them like a TV, it just works, they don’t care how.

                Plus most users of the internet these days seem to use a mobile phone, & only use a computer for work.

                Linux (& BSD) since 1999
                Ultra Small Form Factor & thin client computers


                  PERSON A:
                  “That’s pretty easy. You could try to do it yourself. I’ll send you a program …”

                  … LOL … Now, you can just say (to these both aged 75+.) to send the appimage of the software, and it’s enough (Multiplatforms).

                  • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by oops.
                  Forum Admin

                    Just a weird loner mindset member post to this thread.

                    Meh. I care as much as wanting everyone to ride motorcycles. To free up roads. I know it will never happen.
                    Besides. Once something becomes main stream.

                    Capitalism takes over twists it purpose and makes it so poor folks can’t afford it.
                    Once something becomes main stream. I find I tend to lose interest.
                    I have had to work extra hard lately because of clueless desk jockeys
                    on big motorcycle cruisers with no clue on how to handle that kind of power

                    Money is OK but the people can be trying. Needy and illogical.

                    Kinda funny how, I also don’t like the crowds that main stream bring in.
                    Being a loner desert coyote out here probably figures into that mind set.

                    People who are people persons in personality. Probably are disappointed by Linux Desktop not taking over the planet. While loners like me are rejoicing.
                    Go figure? 😉

                    Sometimes I drive a crooked road to get my mind straight.
                    I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute off it.
                    Motorcycle racing is rocket science.

                    Linux Registered User # 475019
                    How to Search for AntiX solutions to your problems


                      You can’t tell me that a fully functioning free to use system is not a winner.

                      I won’t tell you that, because it’s not true. Linux is a winner for all of us that use it. In antiX’s particular case it makes hundreds if not thousands of antique machines usable, avoiding the need to invest in new hardware.
                      For example: my wife as a very neat hp convertible laptop that came with windows 8.1 some 3-4 years ago. It has a 2 gig of ram and a 32 gb ssd. She wanted to upgrade it to windows 10 (to use Office 2019). I read the news about in the very near future it needing at least 32 gb free space to upgrade, so I said- stick with 8.1… She tried a live usb MX. Loved it, loved it’s speed. Won’t use it because it does not run Ms office and the documents she writes on Writer “come out all messed up”. So I got her Office365 🙁
                      What linux distro needs 32 gb free space to upgrade/install?
                      That makes Linux a winner, at least for folks like me, that refuse to spend money on buying new hardware that they don’t really need, just to run the latest OS or Office suit…
                      The desktop I’m using to write this came with windows 10. I tried using it (a MS Windows OS), for the first real time in about 10 years because… Well, I thought I could just go mainstream… and still use LibreOffice, Firefox on in. Sure I could… but it crawled on this single core machine, with 3 gig of ram. So, I just put MX on it, after considering using antiX (that I use in my netbook).
                      My office has one 1 pc- it runs MX, my home has 2 pc’s, mine runs antiX, the other Windows. For me it’s a 2 to 1 vitory for Linux…


                      • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by PPC.

                        She wanted to upgrade it to windows 10 (to use Office 2019). I read the news about in the very near future it needing at least 32 gb free space to upgrade, so I said- stick with 8.1…

                        Holy moly! I bet even the most bloated Linux distro can be installed in about 10GB. If I know Microsoft I think they include the page file in this figure. When Windows Vista came out, it required 15GB space. I have often found even Windows 7 can be installed in about 8GB of space, so I think Microsoft is taking into account some things like the page file and space needed for updates etc.
                        I think the 32GB might be a “safety net” figure.


                          @rokytnji: The main stream is the mainstream (the social marketing aspect).



                            32GB for the sole installation is just enough — including later upgrades.

                            You don’t have much space left for personal data though.

                            For an upgrade you need approx. 7 GB free.

                            On the screenshots is my Windows 10 VM; happily started as 7 and later it got upgraded to 10 — all on … read yourself. 😉

                            (Basic MS Office (Word & Excel & Image Editor) and a dozen of other applications included)


                            I forgot to say one more thing:

                            Windows 10 1803 will run happyly from 16 GB USB — full install.

                            (Not as good as antiX though)


                              I just posted the topic as “food for thought”, not hoping to argue or convince.

                              90+ more posts here, diverse opinions-n-commentaries regarding the topic:


                              If you discover a ycombinator (aka “Hacker News”) discussion related to the video, please post a link.


                                Desktop Linux may be viewed as failed by outsiders but not as a user. Linux in general though, world domination! Check what server is running on most if not all the web sites you visit. Take a look at your Android phone. Most IOT devices. TV’s, fridges that tell you your out of milk, boxes that entertain you in the evening with your families. Hell! Even M.S. is playing with Linux.

                                Mac on the other hand although not Linux is still a *nix but with a lot of real shiny stuff that keeps you away from your data.



                                  Several years ago Microsoft was forced by EU law to make the user explicitely choose a web browser from a set of alternaives.
                                  We have EU elections soon. Which party would promise to create a level playing field for operation systems in a similar way?
                                  An idea would be to give the customer the right to ask Microsoft for a refund if he or she uninstalls Windows.

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