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Ask Slashdot: Whatever Happened To the 'Year of Linux on Desktop'? 417

An anonymous reader writes: Investors, enthusiasts, and Linux distro makers have for more than a decade projected that the upcoming year will be the year of Linux on the desktop platform. But we just can't seem to get to that year for some reason. Windows continues to dominate the consumer market. Apple's macOS X is quickly gaining ground among business customers and designers, and is already ahead of Linux. Do you see Linux getting a significant boost in the desktop market in the coming years?
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Ask Slashdot: Whatever Happened To the 'Year of Linux on Desktop'?

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  • D'oh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @12:48PM (#55277597) Homepage

    What happened was, we'd already been using it for years so it sounded really stupid and it was only ever a joke where people laughed at anybody who had repeated the phrase.

    It was already a great desktop, and it still is.

    New users are not really useful to us, either. Please don't switch.

    • I've had Linux on my desktop since Slackware 96.
  • by Latent Heat ( 558884 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @12:49PM (#55277601)

    From 2016, 2015, 2014 . . .

    • Re:Duplicate post (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zifn4b ( 1040588 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @01:51PM (#55278387)
      I used to work with a guy who was in the IT Industry for about 30 years. He used to joke around about reading magazines in the 90's about Linux. He said in the beginning of the year an article would be published with a title like "This is the year of Linux!" and then later on in the year it would be followed up with "What happened to Linux?" and it did that ever year like clockwork to your point.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 29, 2017 @12:50PM (#55277613)

    Posted from my iPhone

    • There is a lot of truth to that. The article mentions business desktop and consumer desktop.

      Microsoft is still very popular on business desktops, of course. Windows on the desktop is NOT popular with consumers. Consumers have largely left the Windows desktop, moving to Android. Even if you leave out iPhone, people bought more Android devices last year than the total sales of Windows devices by both business and consumers combined. For consumers, Android and the mobile form factor are three to four times

      • by adolf ( 21054 )

        Eh?

        Consumer have largely left the desktop, period.

        Lots of people I know who used to slog around laptops or have a desktop at home now rely entirely on their pocket computer (whatever OS it is running) for everything.

        As I see it, it's desktop-vs-pocket, not Windows vs Android: Android is not [intended to be] a desktop operating system.

    • Don't you mean "Posted from your Android"?

      We skipped the Year of Linux on the Desktop and went straight to the Year of Linux In Everyone's Pockets. Android is Linux, and has the largest market share of mobile devices, which now greatly outnumber desktops.

  • I hope not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @12:50PM (#55277619)

    I don't see Linux gaining a significant part of the desktop market in the foreseeable future. And, as an avid Linux user, I think that's a great thing.

    I don't want Linux to get so popular. Getting that popular brings two really terrible things with it: more attention from hackers, and a more rapid degradation of the operating system as it tries harder to cater to everybody.

    • Re:I hope not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @12:57PM (#55277721) Homepage Journal

      That's the thing: everyone thinks their pet project is going to be super-popular for some reason, without considering the stakeholders. If you want the whole world to use it, then the whole world is your stakeholders.

      Occasionally you see this mentality leak when people mention end users being too stupid to know what's good for them and so sticking to Windows (check out RMS). You also see people try to factor the stakeholders in with things like Wine, XPDE, Steam for Linux, and even the installers that boot from Windows instead of repartitioning your disk (low-risk). Nobody's trying to get buy-in in general.

      • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

        That's the thing: everyone thinks their pet project is going to be super-popular for some reason, without considering the stakeholders. If you want the whole world to use it, then the whole world is your stakeholders.

        Nonsense! All hipster coders know the formula goes like so:

        1) Get VC funding with super cool presentation
        2) Use all the shiniest, blingy blingy cool new technology
        3) Business functionality? That's so lame
        4) Startup goes under
        5) Go back to step 1

        Don't be lame.

    • more attention from hackers,

      That's a good thing. It will make linux more secure. (i.e. the opposite of security through obscurity). I would argue linux already gets a lot of attention from hackers, just not from people trying to hack desktops.

      more rapid degradation of the operating system as it tries harder to cater to everybody.

      Are you sure you're an avid linux user? Did you not notice the million different linux distributions that all cater to every possible individual? There doesn't need to be a one size fits all linux distribution that needs to cater to everyone.

      Of all the problems linux has, you managed to cite

      • That's a good thing. It will make linux more secure.

        It's not a good thing -- security is a constant arms race. That's like saying "getting mugged more often is a good thing because it will make you a better fighter".

        Did you not notice the million different linux distributions that all cater to every possible individual?

        And why do you think there's such a wide variety? If Linux became a mass-market item, then everybody would start chasing the market, which means that there would be less variety as all the distros converged while competing for those sweet mass-market dollars.

        • It's not a good thing -- security is a constant arms race. That's like saying "getting mugged more often is a good thing because it will make you a better fighter".

          No it's more like saying, playing a lot of chess will make you a better chess player. The *only* way to become a good chess player is to play lot's of chess. Just like the *only* way to have good security is to have lots of people trying to break it. Other things can help you have better security (e.g. good design, etc). But you cannot have good security without lots of people trying to break it. You can not become a good chess player without playing lots of chess.

          Trying to have good security by having

    • Suit yourself, I'd be happy with better GPU support.
    • Re:I hope not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @01:59PM (#55278441) Journal

      It seemed to improve WIndows quality tremendously though over the past 20 years. Windows 7/10 is not WIndows 98/ME by a longshot in terms of BSOD, security, or crashes.

      Linux kind of oddly is degrading with SystemD, gnome3, pulse audio, wayland, and so many dependencies that not everyone knows what they are trying to make Linux be the end all be all.

      For servers the idea of running FreeBSD is becoming quite popular for this reason.

    • > more rapid degradation of the operating system as it tries harder to cater to everybody.

      That would have been a reasonable prediction 30 years ago. For the last couple decades, almost all supercomputers have used Linux, as have many embedded systems, most web servers, and now most phones / mobile devices use Linux, each with an appropriate UI on top. The fact is, Linux does suit a vast array of very different use cases, and that has worked out very well.

      One reason that has worked well is new

  • Yeh baby (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dorianny ( 1847922 )
    The desktop was replaced with the smartphone and considering that every android phone runs on a linux kernel its fair to say that Linux rules the world
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > every android phone runs on a Google-modified linux kernel with Google userland and spyware its fair to say that Google rules the world

      There, I fixed that for you.

    • Android has become even more insufferable than Windows, with annoying useless spyware/adware programs pre-loaded that most users have no way at all to remove, due to device makers not providing hardware drivers and software access permission.

      Also (partly due to that?) Android has the charming feature of updating until the meager memory fills up, and then you,,,, ummm,,, what? Then you go buy a new one. Because the vast majority of people with a device in this state have no idea what to do with the thing a
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Android is a horrible example to use of Linux being popular. In fact, it shows the complete opposite: Linux can only become a widely used consumer OS kernel when users and developers have absolutely no idea it's there, and it's thoroughly hidden under many layers of abstraction.

      Google could silently replace the Linux kernel with some other kernel, and Android users and developers would have no idea it had even happened. That just goes to show how irrelevant Linux is within the Android ecosystem. Yeah, it's

  • ...will be the year of Linux on the desktop. W8 4 it!

  • Within a marketspace, when there is an entrenched product, in this case Windows, you do not overtake it. You cannot overtake it by playing its game. You have to play a new game. With a new game, there is not entrenched product. Enter the new game, a.k.a., smartphones. Linux is quite popular with smartphones, Windows is not.

    .
    So it you phrase the statement a little differently, from "Year of Linux on Desktop" to Year of Linux for Personal Computing," that year is in the past due to smartphones becoming

  • An artificial goal designed to hide the fact that Linux is successful on servers, embedded systems, mobile devices, as well as niche markets like supercomputing? You might as well try to hype the "year of carpooling by using an app".
  • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @12:58PM (#55277739)

    When was YOUR year of the Linux desktop?

    Mine was 1998. I installed Redhat 5.2 and Linux has been on my desktop ever since.

    • 1993, Slackware 0.x ... (0.9?)
      Something like 18 3.5" disketts to install, then a boot loader, I did not dare to install it on the HD, so when I wanted to start linux I put in a floppy with LILO on it. Later however I installed LILO on the HD ... however it defaulted to Win 3.11 (I hated it os much, but needed it for Symantec C++, I think it was still Zortech that time).

  • by Mordaximus ( 566304 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @01:01PM (#55277773)

    Those are sort of on the desktop. Granted given that the general trend is people are using mobile devices more often than not, and your choices are a Linux kernel or Mach, we've already been there a while.

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      Dear god no... My daughter has a chromebook, and if people think *that* is linux on the desktop... Boy they'll never touch Linux again..
      ChromeOS is a festering pile of instability and intentionally limited capability. Have had so many glitches impact basic functionality because Google went their own way on so many fundamental aspect, and yet also don't seem to care much about it either.

  • by Zorro ( 15797 )

    And this time, WE MEAN IT!

  • Whatever Happened To the 'Year of Linux on Desktop'?

    You know that's the joke, right?

    If you want a serious answer, it's because it still doesn't "just work."

  • Integration (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KidSock ( 150684 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @01:13PM (#55277917)

    I have used Linux as my primary desktop since ~1997. As a software developer it is a power platform. The shell is critical. However, as a conventional desktop it is just not competitive with Windows. And OSX isn't either. Both Linux and OSX are below 4% market share. Vertical integration is very weak. Windows has an identity management system that allows transparent filesharing, advanced group based access control, sophisticated business applications. Getting stuff like that to work on Linux is too difficult or simply not possible. So software venders focus on the Windows platform. And rightly so. I just tried and application that recently released a Beta for Linux and it was a total fail. I occasionally dabble in engineering related stuff and I have to have a Windows machine for all of the various programs for cad, PCB design, simulation. Yeah, programs like that exist for Linux but they're just not good. And I know people agree with me that the GNOME desktop has actually regressed. It used to be much more usable. But they dumbed it down for reasons that where not entirely clear. My guess would be that when new developers come along, they have a tendency to want to re-write everything from scratch. I'm not diametrically opposed to this strategy but you better come up with something that was at least as good as what you're dumping. And that didn't happen. There are other integration related issues as well. For example, for as long as I can recall there has always been a fight between X and the desktop over who should remember the positions of windows. X says applications should save that information and recall it when re-launching an app. Desktop people think it should be handled by lower level facilities. Now, whenever logout and back in, all of my terminal windows have to be re-launced and repositioned (I run 6-8 terms on 4-5 workspaces). That is something that actually used to work somewhat in GNOME. It worked in WindowMaker IIRC. The Linux desktop has been dumbed way down to the point where it's not nearly as useful as it used to be. At least not for people doing more than surfing the web and email. Might as well just get a Chomebook for that.

    • I have used Linux as my primary desktop since ~1997. As a software developer it is a power platform. The shell is critical. However, as a conventional desktop it is just not competitive with Windows. And OSX isn't either. Both Linux and OSX are below 4% market share. Vertical integration is very weak. Windows has an identity management system that allows transparent filesharing, advanced group based access control, sophisticated business applications. Getting stuff like that to work on Linux is too difficul

    • Both Linux and OSX are below 4% market share.
      Market share is not interesting.

      Both Linux and Mac OS X has an install base far beyond 4%, on the desktop. Considering how many linux servers are out there, I doubt windows is even in the same magnitude.

      • Majority of the worlds servers run Windows. PHBs looove Microsoft because they feel it's an integrated platform with what they run on the desktops.

  • The main reason I dual boot is for all the games that aren't available on Linux. Wine isn't a good answer. Even if I can get a game to work under Wine, and can get decent performance, the next update to Wine is too likely to break it.

    Plus, decent 3d accelerated graphics is still a pain to get working in Linux. Best chance is to get whatever card from a generation or 2 ago that is the most standard and tested. Without hardware acceleration, a lot of games are unplayable. Too often, open source drivers f

    • by hduff ( 570443 )

      Wine isn't a good answer.

      Crossover does a very good job of supporting Windows games using WINE. It does it better for many games than the newest version of Windows.

      It's the only non-free Linux software that I have ever felt was worth paying for.

  • ...when all users move to "the cloud".

    There will be no money to be made with standalone PCs with local OSes, and that's when all the businesses will stop putting money into it. Deal with it, bitches.

    • The planet has 7 - 8 billion people.

      Probably it will take another 100 years till they all have moved to the cloud.

      Oh, you did not mean that cloud ... my mistake.

      Honestly: why would *I* move to the cloud? I have a laptop. Everything that is essential is on that laptop and on the backups. Why would I move to the cloud? So I have no access to my stuff in a plane, train? In a foreign country with absurd internet costs ... or I have to buy a new sim card first and probably a new phone as my iPhone has no dual si

  • The closest it's been was 2010. It's been all downhill since. Gnome 3, Systemd, etc... Nobody has really been able to get the mojo back. Not even Cinnamon/Mint.
    • Windows too I may add. Though Windows 10 is certainly an improvement over WIndows 8, it still is no Windows 7 when it comes to the GUI.

  • From the very first days I ever heard the term, there were only two sorts of people who ever used it:

    1) Linux people who were making a joke
    2) Linux-haters

    It's a meaningless thing.

  • Linux will never take over the desktop. Only the GNU Hurd kernel can save us.
  • I doubt we will really see Linux on the corporate desktop any time soon but we will see it powering more and more kiosks and self-serving style computing. I can see Linux powering things like vending machines and kiosks selling services.
  • by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @01:27PM (#55278097)

    Here is a blast from the past for you:

    https://linux.slashdot.org/sto... [slashdot.org]

  • If I install Windows there is one version of it, Win 10; same with Apple. If I install Linux which distro, or even non-gnu. Until all the Linuxers come together and agree, "I think this distro is horrible but one Linux on a desktop is better than a good Linux" it won't happen.
    Similar things need to happen with stuff like Vi vs Emacs.
    There's too much infighting.
    Controls need to be changed to match Windows or Apple.
    As does appearence. Of course it can still be changable.
    Being open/free might actually make it

  • Linux is almost usable as a desktop right right now. The guy who ran the "linux sucks" presentations just had his last talk in 2017. Year after year, he'd bring up the same problems over and over, but eventually they did get fixed (albeit a lot later than promised). It's not as if every problem is currently fixed, but most have been and the few remaining have clear paths to being fixed. Or to put it another way, enough stuff has been fixed or almost fixed to no longer warrant further "linux sucks" presen

  • Android is based on the Linux kernel. If you want, you can use it via a Unix command line [google.com]. Add the missing command line tools [google.com] if you want the full experience.

    Perhaps a better question would be, why does open source suck at making a desktop/mobile platform, while a company which uses the same open source managed to make a platform which displaced Windows as the #1 OS in use. IMHO it's user friendliness. The programmers who make open source projects are notorious for prioritizing their own needs above
  • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @01:38PM (#55278221) Journal

    Do you use Android? Do you spend more time with your phone or tablet than on a workstation or laptop? Congratulations, you're in the year of the Linux desktop.

    Meanwhile I've got an XBox One S for movies and some games, several generations of other game consoles, a couple of Raspberry Pis running Raspbian but often used to emulate older console and desktop systems, a WebOS smart TV, a Linux smart TV, a couple of Chromecasts, a Windows desktop for games, a Linux desktop for personal non-game use, a Linux laptop for travel, a Mac desktop for company work that mostly connects to Linux systems and runs Linux VMs, a Mac laptop for company work that mostly connects to Linux machines or to my work desktop, two Android phones one each for work and personal use, and a non-Fire Kindle for reading without interruptions like I get on my other devices. My girlfriend has a Mac laptop, a Linux desktop, and an Android phone.

    So... what's the question again?

  • Almost there...

  • It's on Windows 10 toda! What? You said you Windows on the desktop right??

  • For me it happened in 2009, where I had this release of reality when I realized there was nothing that Windows had that I couldn't do it on Linux Mint/SUSE. Before that it was a hit and miss and using Virtualbox.

  • Linux has plenty of nerds that are software engineers developing software. Something Linux and pretty much the entire F/OSS ecosystem is missing is quality UX/UI designers and engineers. There isn't much by way of decent collaboration tools in this department. Another area of interest is the lack of technical writers to write up solid documentation. Instead, our community is full of forum threads that consist of only two posts: someone asking a question, and that person getting a reply to "just fucking goog

  • There is no such thing as "macOS X". It was called Mac OS X before. The new name is macOS.
  • Analogy time:

    McDonalds serves _billions._ No one is arguing that their quantity is even remotely comparably to quality. McDonalds excels at selling A LOT of cheap, shit food.

    Likewise, the analogy to Operating Systems on the desktop is applicable:

    * Windows = Quantity
    * Linux = Quality

    Although I would argue that Linux on the Desktop was NEVER about quantity, but about Freedom. Quality was always an afterthought.

    Linux has failed to gain any serious traction on the desktop because:

    1. "Windows is Good Enough"

  • Video Drivers

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Friday September 29, 2017 @02:57PM (#55278977)

    The year of the Linux desktop has past mostly unnoticed. And the OS is nothing more than a terminal for services. Just got a Chromebook for 130€ to try out this cloud thing. (I'm a 20 year Linux user and my other portable is a MB Air from 2011). The Chromebook concept is amazing. Dirt cheap, boots in seconds, runs for hours on a single charge with a very small battery (ARM system) and is totally idiot safe, usable but the other 99.999% of the population who aren't computer experts like us. Two-factor auth setup with two mouseclicks.

    Given, I have to do *everything* with cloud services now (IDE, CI, Testing, Documents, Storage, etc.) and everything is hooked to accounts in the cloud. But as you know, that's not just disadvantage but also comes with huge advantages. Having Travis and Codeanywhere do the setup work for me lets me focus on coding. If the Chromebook gets stolen, I'll disable it remotely and pick up where I left somewhere else. I don't have to think twice about syncing my Smartphone with the stuff I did on the cBook.

    Note that this stuff can be used by some kid in the third world aswell. Which is exactly how Google intended it to be.
    You have to hand it to Google, when it comes to enablement, they are lightyears ahead of everybody else, including Apple.

    Bottom line: The Linux Desktop is long since here and it will take the world in a storm. It's called Chrome OS.

  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Friday September 29, 2017 @03:25PM (#55279227)

    Linux has no exposure in the consumer market. Most people with Android phones don't even realize they have Linux in their pocket.

    Consequently, Linux isn't available from PC vendors. They don't think there's a market for it, there's no OS vendor willing/able to make it worth their while, Microsoft aggressively forces OEMs to choose between Windows and anything else, and OEMs know anyone looking for such a machine won't tolerate the bloatware they love to include (which doesn't exist anyway).

    Then there's hardware support issues, mainly Video. The Linux desktop needs a breach point into the consumer market, the most likely candidate is a Linux gaming console (looking at you, Steam).

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