GNU/Linux Desktop: Not Dead. Thriving.

Articles continue to be written that GNU/Linux is dead on the desktop. see Graham Morrison – Ignore the speculation, Linux is far from dead

He confuses the Linux kernel with the GNU/Linux operating system:
“What most of us forget now is that Linux was never created to compete with Windows. The first major release of the kernel, 1.0, came only a month after Windows for Workgroups 3.11. Those two technologies couldn’t be more different and, despite appearances, they are just as different today.”

Of course a kernel was not created to compete with an operating system. Free Software, as defined by RMS was intended to compete with non-free software and it does very well.

The example of netbooks is described as a “failure” even though M$ lost $1billion paying OEMs to install XP instead of GNU/Linux. What other products have such impact in their first year as GNU/Linux had on netbooks? The current share of netbooks is a staggeringly great success considering there were very few netbooks shipped with XP in the first year of the netbook. In that first year, ASUS shipped millions of netbooks with GNU/Linux. Now, more are shipped each year than ASUS did. Then about 1 million netbooks shipped in the first quarter. Now the world ships 7 million netbooks a quarter and a good percentage of them run Linux. What has changed is that more OEMs are shipping GNU/Linux.

Further, GNU/Linux ships on desktops, notebooks and tablet computers using x86 and ARM processors. GNU/Linux remains the lowest cost option for all kinds of computing, desktop or not. W3Schools and Wikipedia show visits by GNU/Linux systems steadily growing. The market leader’s share constantly falls. There’s no sign of GNU/Linux slowing or stopping for sure.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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43 Responses to GNU/Linux Desktop: Not Dead. Thriving.

  1. I don’t care much about big shops. They can take care of themselves. Small shops can enjoy larger margins thanks to FLOSS. Bigger is not necessarily better. For example, small businesses while employing fewer people per business, employ far more people than large businesses because there are so many more small businesses.

    I live near Winnipeg. There are huge big box stores selling computers: FutureShop, Walmart, etc. Where do I shop? The small guys. They have better selection, better prices and staff who will actually help out. I often walk in the store and have a salesperson home in on me and I blurt out what I want and it is paid and out the door in minutes. In the big box stores it takes minutes just to reach the department that’s relevant. Chuckle. Competition is also thriving in small shops. They don’t need to wait for head office to propagate a change of price. Then there’s parking. The small guy’s parking lot is full but it is only about ten steps to the door. The big guy has acres of parking and it is an adventure to find a spot anywhere near the door. The last time I shopped at a big box for a computer the overflow parking on the next block was needed.

    No thanks. I will deal with businesses that give the best service, including supplying GNU/Linux-friendly service.

    What the heck. Here’s a plug for two of my favourite small shops in Winnipeg.


    see Computer Avenue

    There they are 650m apart on the same street. How convenient and competitive.


  2. TechMonk says:

    Oh please, Pogson.

    I live here, damn it. The idealo site lists mostly web shops. Yes, I can find web shops that sell PCs with Linux. But the same stores usually sell PCs with Windows too, and usually the ratio is like one token Linux PC against 100 Windows/Mac ones.

    On the shelves of big retailers, you won’ find Linux. The big outlets just don’t carry computers with it.

    And about that site:

    Get real. That is some small shop in a small city (8.000 people live there). Just because some mini shops carry some token Linux computers doesn’t mean it’s mainstream. I can find in the US small computer shops with 1-2 employees that sell Linux too, so what?

    By the way, have you looked at the site at all?

    Count how many times “Win7 HP” appears.

  3. I provided link to a page full of retail stores with “open hours”. Quit trolling.

    Walmart said their eeePCs sold well. ASUS said no more were returned with GNU/Linux than that other OS. Quit trolling.

  4. Ivan says:

    “Thanks to Google, your claims are obviously false, TechMonk.”

    Web stores are not retail stores, Bobby. You would be hard pressed to find any form of Linux in a retail store, usually for the simple fact that outside of geeks and “truebelievers” no one wants a PC/laptop/netbook/tablet that doesn’t allow them to use the software of their choosing.

    Ask WalMart how well their Linux based low end PCs sold and how many were returned then ask Dell how well their desktop Ubuntu offerings sell.

    Oh and before you start some nonsense about Dell not supporting Linux, they’ve offered Linux pre-installed on workstations and servers since 2001 (long before Mark Shuttleworth single handedly invented desktop linux).

  5. TechMonk wrote, “Here in Germany (and Europe), you won’t find Linux on retail.

    see Idealo

    They have lots of dealers.

    “Under find buyers a price, product and comparison shop, one of the top 5 shopping sites and marketplaces in Germany.

    When integrating your store to our database customers are transferred directly to your offers. Through detailed description and daily updates we get a very good relationship between the number of clicks and sales generated.”

    Thus, those notebooks are on shelves somewhere in Germany.

    If that’s not enough, see

    They post store hours:
    Opening times

    Monday-Friday: 9.30 – 12.30 clock
    14.00 – 18.30 clock

    and yes, they do sell GNU/Linux :
    “Dell Vostro 1015
    Intel Celeron 2.2 GHz, 160 GB, 2048 MB DDR2, 39.62 cm (15.6 “) (1366 * 768), anti-reflective DVD-Burner / WiFi / Webcam / Bluetooth Card Reader, 6 cell Battery, HDMI, eSATA, Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics including Ubuntu 8.10 operating system with CD’s “

    Thanks to Google, your claims are obviously false, TechMonk.

  6. TechMonk says:

    That criterion only proves M$ is not declining in North America. In the rest of the world there is no problem finding GNU/Linux on retail shelves

    Define “rest of the world” please. Here in Germany (and Europe), you won’t find Linux on retail.

    Look at the website of Mediamarkt: (the German Bestbuy)

    Look how many times the phrase “Windows 7 Home Premium” appears.

    The situation in China has been already described by Yonah.

    If you really think that ONLY in North America Windows is in the majority, then you’re completely deluded.

  7. oldman says:

    “I see people using “smart thingies”, as you call them, every time I ride the subway.”

    I believe that Pog will claim that this proves his point. Remember Yonah, because Commercial OS Android was built on a Linux core is is by Pogs and a lot of other linux boosters thinking Linux.

    Of course many would argue that this is claiming victory where no victory is present, but whatever…

  8. Yonah says:

    “Android/Linux is acceptable to more than 100 million users on smart thingies all over the world and on retail shelves all over the world but GNU/Linux is not?”

    That’s because smart phones aren’t desktop PCs. A majority of people expect an Android phone to run Android applications. Likewise, a majority of PC users expect their machines to run Windows software. Simple as that.

    “The barriers to adoption of GNU/Linux are the result of exclusive dealing and nothing else.”

    Right. Because GNU/Linux is pure perfection without any technical rough edges or design problems. It works flawlessly on when installed on any PC and there is a wealth or propriety applications ready to run. Anyone who publicly claims to have problems with Linux is nothing more than a paid Microsoft shill. Did I accurately elaborate on your views? I can easily find Linux users who disagree with you. But, their just trolls, right?

    “Where are your numbers? None? I thought so.”

    He doesn’t need numbers. He just has to get up from the keyboard and walk outside. GNU/Linux is extremely rare as a choice for a PC operating system. On my end, you’ve repeatedly claimed Linux is doing great in China. Umm, excuse me, but I live here. I’m not seeing what you’re claiming. Not by a long shot. I see people using “smart thingies”, as you call them, every time I ride the subway. The only tablets I see are iPads and I see a whole lot more iPhones than anything else. Chinese people really like Apple products. I don’t see any kind of love for GNU/Linux, expect for one guy I saw wearing an OpenSUSE shirt. Thing is, so many Chinese people wear shirts but don’t have any idea what they mean. I’ve seen girls wearing T-Shirts with the “Wendy’s” name printed on them, but there are no Wendy’s restaurants here. Go figure.

  9. Contrarian says:

    “If no offence was committed, why was a settlement even required?”

    Certainly there were offenses discovered. A variety of practices were found to have no purpose other than to protect Microsoft’s monopoly power in “x86 desktop operating system software”. A numer of other charges, such as exclusive dealing, leveraging a monopoly to create another monopoly, and illegal tying of a product to a monopoly product were found by either the District Court or the Appelate Court to be unfounded.

    The settlement consisted of Microsoft’s agreement to cease and desist the various practices found to be in violation and to fund an industry oversight committee that would review Microsoft day to day business contracts to ensure that these practices and anything else that could be seen as similar in nature would not recur. Microsoft also had to pay legal fees and court costs for all the parties.

  10. If M$ had sold 600 million PCs back in June with that other OS, that number would make sense but M$ said they shipped 400million so it does not.

    “All vendors” up 2.7% for the quarter. M$, down 1%, down 2% for the year. BTW, 1% is a lot of money.

    M$ blames the drop on a drop in “deferred revenue” from earlier years, so it is worse/better than that. Unearned revenue is about 10% of revenue.

    If no offence was committed, why was a settlement even required? M$ could have said, “See, we did nothing!” and got off free.

  11. Contrarian says:

    “I demand proof that Wintel has not lost serious share globally.”

    Well, you found Gartner yourself, and they say that 94% of PCs are Windows PC and the rest are mostly Apple PCs.

    Gartner is a public company, independent of Microsoft and Apple, and counting the market is their business. They sold way over a billion dollars worth of their research findings to interested companies last year.

    I realize that you have dismissed their findings as a “joke”, but they are the largest of the market study vendors. IDC has had similar findings, but you dismiss them, too. So what sort of proof would you accept?

    “M$’s SEC filings show that share is down.”

    Perhaps that is how you want to interpret them, but they basically show that there is no growth and even a tiny decline in the OS business for desktops. That can be accounted for in varying ways.

    A loss of share would be one of them if there were a competitor who was showing improved revenues, but that is not the case. The most likely explanation is that Microsoft is suffering from some loss of price realization due to the relative maturity of the PC OS market.

    OEMs are suffering the same malaise as people become saturated with PCs. How many do you have #pogson? I have a netbook, a new laptop, an old laptop, a 3 year old workstation, two HP slimline boxes about 4 years old used for Netflix on the two TVs that are not otherwise web capable, and even two IBM IntelliStation dual Xeon machines still sitting on the floor in my IT closet at home. These machines were all acquired over the past 10 years or so and in aggregate dampen any interest that I might have in getting another PC in the forseeable future.

    Oh, and my wife has a Dell integrated touchscreen model that she uses for her stuff that is about 2 years old.

    On the plus side, Windows servers and office automation numbers are up and more than compensate for any decline in desktop OS. Game stuff made a couple of billion in profit last year, too.

    “Check out RICO or the Sherman Anti-trust laws.”

    No need to do that, #pogson. The US DOJ and many of the individual state attorney generals did just that some years ago and came up with very little that could be laid at Microsoft’s door.

    The Federal courts did find some anticompetitive practices were being done by Microsoft, but nothing that could be construed to violate the RICO Act or even require any corrective action in civil terms. Bill Gates himself appears to be an Obama Democrat and it is not possible to draw any case for collusion between Gates, Microsoft, the states, and the Bush (or Clinton) DOJ.

  12. Contrarian wrote, “the products produced by the suppliers to these stores, HP, Dell, Sony, Acer, etc., essentially offer only Windows based products”

    Nonsense. All those supplier do make GNU/Linux PCs.

  13. Contrarian wrote, ” We will just have to leave it as a disagreement for the readers.”

    Nonsense. You demand proof that GNU/Linux PCs are selling well elsewhere. I demand proof that Wintel has not lost serious share globally. Where are your numbers? None? I thought so. They cannot come out of thin air. M$’s SEC filings show that share is down. Flat revenue with good growth in PCs globally. No growth on ARM…

    Check out RICO or the Sherman Anti-trust laws. What M$ did was illegal even if the lawyers glossed over it. The courts would have found M$ quilty if the US DOJ had not made a sweet deal.

  14. Contrarian says:

    “Those are the real points”

    I do agree with that, #pogson, although I still do not accept anything presented so far as evidence that Linux computers are “selling well” anywhere. We will just have to leave it as a disagreement for the readers.

    As to:

    “Why are North American businesses putting their heads up M$’s ass to avoid the light?”

    Presumably, from the context, you mean the “North American big box stores”? If so, the simple answer is that the products produced by the suppliers to these stores, HP, Dell, Sony, Acer, etc., essentially offer only Windows based products. These stores cannot sell Macintosh computers or iPads since Apple refuses to deal outside of their own store chain. OEMs offer only Windows products in this market because their own belief is that there is not sufficient demand for Linux products to justify the additional investment needed to offer Linux along side of Windows.

    “Why does the Land of the Free not value software freedom?”

    #oldman has answered this, I believe, but to summarize, “software freedom” is not important to the consumers who buy the products. Windows comes with the computer, as above, and any change to that would cause an individual effort to be exercised and the consumer is never motivated to make that effort. The consumer is not going to fix bugs using the source, the consumer is not interested in how a watch is made, he is only interested in the time of day. Software freedom is an issue for developers and the truth is that there is plenty of code to view for anyone in a learning mode without having to deal with the hassle of the GPL.

    “Why are the leaders of M$ not in jail or out of business?”

    Because they have not violated any criminal or civil law for which such retribution is applicable.

    “Why was M$ allowed to write its own “settlement”?”

    The short answer is that the settlement of the USA vs Microsoft litigation was negotiated with half of the states’ attorney generals and the DOJ. The accuracy of the settlement was vindicated by the courts action in imposing those terms on the balance of the states. The decision was upheld on appeal and not accepted for review by the Supreme Court. With so many legal solons involved, it is hard to show that the settlement was in any way defective.

  15. oldman wrote, “With all due respect, It certainly is your blog Pog, but to allow feedback is to invite an alternative point of view. Contrarian has indeed pushed you, possibly into an uncomfortable area you dont want to deal with, but he has certainly not subjected you to the disrespect that I receive regularly here.”

    Contrarian lies repeatedly. He often claims I have provided no evidence when I have provided multiples of links. He provides little but abuse.

    oldman, that GNU/Linux is a fraction of Wintel’s share is beside the point. All over the world except North American big box stores, millions of people are finding GNU/Linux on retail shelves side by side with that other OS. Why are North American businesses putting their heads up M$’s ass to avoid the light? Why does the Land of the Free not value software freedom? Why are the leaders of M$ not in jail or out of business? Why was M$ allowed to write its own “settlement”? Those are the real points. Contrarian has no point.

    Android/Linux is acceptable to more than 100 million users on smart thingies all over the world and on retail shelves all over the world but GNU/Linux is not? There is no technical reason for that difference. Both OS are Free Software, *NIX-based, and running on the same POSIX kernel. The barriers to adoption of GNU/Linux are the result of exclusive dealing and nothing else. Retail businesses that are not M$’s “partners” may sell their stuff but they also sell GNU/Linux because it costs less and they can sell more units without M$’s tax. That’s a reality and denying it is a waste of our time here.

  16. oldman says:

    “Maybe you should go somewhere else.”

    With all due respect, It certainly is your blog Pog, but to allow feedback is to invite an alternative point of view. Contrarian has indeed pushed you, possibly into an uncomfortable area you dont want to deal with, but he has certainly not subjected you to the disrespect that I receive regularly here. And I would respectfully submit that is is better to meed his points head on than just suggest he go away, which IMHO is tantamount to an admission of defeat.

    Yes you have given evidence that some larger group of vendors out side the developed world are making offerings with Linux installed. However a quick view of these sites indicates that only a very tiny number of these business are only offering Linux, and many of those who do so seem to be subsidizing it as part of another larger business ( e.g. selling server configurations into the scientific educational market).

    IN short, I you can call US out for you you view as our error, we should, within the bounds of civility be able to call you out where we feel it is needed.

    So even if Linux is more widely on sale outside the US, it still remains a faction of wintel

  17. This is my blog Contrarian. You do not have the right to tell me what to write. I have written and showed many examples of GNU/Linux selling well on retail shelves. If you choose to deny that, you have a problem, not me. ASUS was selling out and redoubling production and you refuse to believe history. Those who neglect history are bound to repeat it as you are doing. Maybe you should go somewhere else.

  18. Contrarian says:

    “GNU/Linux has sold well when offered on retail shelves or the web.”

    Where and when, #pogson? There are a fair number of instances where it has been offered on the web, certainly, although they seem to disappear fairly soon afterward. On the shelves, there are very few cases to view and it seems as if none of these are active today. That doesn’t sound to me anywhere close to “sold well”.

  19. GNU is an important part of GNU/Linux.

    There is no confusion. People want small, cheap, fast computers and they don’t care about the OS. GNU/Linux beats that other OS on price/performance so smaller, cheaper, faster computers do run GNU/Linux and eventually price/performance rather than exclusive dealing will win. GNU/Linux has sold well when offered on retail shelves or the web.

  20. Contrarian says:

    “Water and air…”

    I could argue that the rich man has his air conditioned and filtered to his liking in many cases and he sups on bottled water from exotic springs as well. The poor guy has to take what the wind blows in.


    I know that you seem to worship at the feet of Stallman, #pogson, but that seems so demeaning. People care so little about Linux itself that burdening the concept with the mention of these archaic utilities seems counter-productive. Would your cause not benefit from streamlining it to just “Linux” as most of the others use as a reference? It could eliminate some confusion.

    Linux has but 1% or so in the polls, but GNU/Linux hasn’t even a mention.

  21. Water and air are the choice of poor and rich men. So is GNU/Linux.

  22. Contrarian says:

    Oh, and these Linux boxes at Wal-Mart are no longer there, eh?

  23. Contrarian says:

    “That’s a lie”

    Well, I was remembering the Microtel machines of the early 2000’s, #pogson. You are correct in noting that there were subsequent offerings that I was unaware of. They went rather unmentioned apparently. I did note the comment in the one reference, though:

    “Linux advocates argue, however, that until they become more mainstream, open source systems could fill some important niches — such as the market for cheap PCs aimed at students in low-income areas.”

    #chapman thinks it arrogant that I mention that Linux is being framed as the “poor man’s choice”, but I am merely noting what I think is a pertinent attribute central to most pro-Linux news, namely that Linux is “cheap” and useful where users cannot afford anything better.

  24. Contrarian wrote, “Wal-Mart once had Linux computers on their web site, but never in the stores on their shelves”.

    That’s a lie. Remember, Walmart supposedly complained about return rates.

    see Wired

    “two new PCs running Linux out of the box have hit the shelves this week: Asus’s $399 Eee Flash-storage mini-notebook and Everex’s $198 TC2502 gPC, courtesy of Wal-Mart. “

    see Information Week – 2007-11-2

    Brazil’s government promotes GNU/Linux and they have millions of machines in schools and offices. 20% of PCs in Brazil ship with GNU/Linux.

    Contrarian = Revisionist

  25. Contrarian says:


    Well, that is a Linux computer advertised, but if you go to their home page, you see a Flash ad for a long series of Windows 7 machines that does not show any Linux boxes. Further, their static ads mostly show Windows 7, too. Note that the prices for the Linux machines are identical to the prices for the Windows models with identical configurations.

    I might also point out that this is a web site and even Wal-Mart once had Linux computers on their web site, but never in the stores on their shelves. No points here for your claim.

    Ditto for the Russkies. There are 3 models with Linux, but 30 or so with versions of Windows 7 for the Acers listed. No indication of what might be on store shelves or even if they have stores.

  26. Thanks for the report. I sent spies to China and The Philippines this spring but they were having too much fun to visit a computer store.

    Malaysia also seems to be another hot bed of GNU/Linux. It works for people.

    There are so many white box PCs made in the world, I expect some millions are not counted by Gartner and IDC.

  27. Bob Parker says:

    Yesterday I went browsing at Pantip Plaza, a computer super store, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There was a ground floor computer promotion selling netbooks, laptops and a few desktop boxes. Brands on offer were Acer, Asus and Lenovo and maybe others.

    There was not even one pre-installed Windows machine among the lot. No not one.

    I asked a salesman what they were running. “Linux” was the reply. I didn’t bother to ask the breed of Linux because I don’t care.

    I had a brief look at some of the regular stores selling laptops and netbooks. It was possible to find pre-installed Windows in their offerings but you had to search through the Linux offerings to find them.

    In Chiang Mai, Thailand Microsoft Windows is the minority OS on offer. This is a change from the roughly 50%-50% split between Windows and Linux about a year ago.

  28. Here are PCs with GNU/Linux from

  29. Brazil
  30. Russia (HP and Acer, not white boxes)
  31. Here’s a Dell in India with GNU/Linux 16000 rupees or 19000 with that other OS
  32. Here are some more from India
  33. See? Even dodging foreign languages with Google Translate, I can find GNU/Linux PCs around the world easier than I can find them on Dell’s US site, and some of them are Dells…