For much of the last year FUD has been spread about the viability of GNU/Linux on the desktop. Either the FLOSS developers are amateurs, the ecosystem is too diverse, there’s no money to be made or it’s just broken… That’s all FUD. GNU/Linux desktops are going places. You can see that on Wikipedia and other webstats. Nowhere, not in any country Wikipedia lists is Linux below 1%. Their global average is 7.55%. Some of that is Android/Linux but they haven’t sorted that out properly. For example they show Apple’s share as iPhone 16.13% + iPad 9.05% + Mac 6.71% + iOS 0.66% and total share of Windows is 55.73%. Clearly, it’s Windows that is in decline. A year ago they were 73.38%. Nowhere is GNU/Linux share declining even as the world pumps out hundreds of millions of legacy PCs and smart mobile thingies annually. In fact it’s growing. All the major OEMs produce GNU/Linux desktops/notebooks. Some retailers even sell them. Imagine what the share of GNU/Linux would be if retailers put a fraction of their advertising money to the task. The present share is achieved with almost no advertising, just what’s on the web.
The key to growing the share of GNU/Linux desktops is not in radical change in the ecosystem but getting retailers to demand GNU/Linux. That’s happening this year as ChromeBooks made a dent. Even the big box stores in North America were selling them.
Some are even selling Android/Linux on notebooks. The retail world is ripe for innovation and retailers will sell GNU/Linux globally sooner or later. I think it will be sooner as they try to move product where “8” is floundering. No retailer wants to be paid to reserve retail shelves for a dead product. Retailers value turnover, recycling their capital multiple times with tiny margins to be competitive.
Proof that retailers can and do sell GNU/Linux can be seen in the Dell/Canonical relationship in India and China and Walmart selling tons of GNU/Linux legacy PCs in Brazil. Brazil has its own OEMs and global OEMs have to go to Brazil to play in that market.
The problems with wider usage of GNU/Linux lie not with anything in the GNU/Linux ecosystem but external forces: M$’s marketing strategies to exclude competition and retailers’ unwillingness to escape M$’s traps. In India and China most retailers and other businesses are not locked in as the market is young and growing rapidly. In Brazil government tariffs exclude most importations and the government promotes FLOSS so it happens. If governments everywhere enforced anti-competition laws, the problem would evaporate as retailers see higher margins with FLOSS.
The FUD is fuelled by web statistics that show an irrelevant ~1% share for GNU/Linux. Those are clearly wrong. One can see it in the share claimed by MacOS which is larger than what Apple claims… or the fact that in countries where GNU/Linux is flying off retail shelves there’s hardly a flicker in the statistics.
On the business side, the following link points out that businesses are not interested in M$’s marketing bling but want stuff that works and works more or less the way Lose ’95 worked. Businesses don’t want to change OS just because M$ wants more money. They are fed up with the Wintel treadmill and are ready to migrate to GNU/Linux just to avoid Wintel. A lot of mission-critical applications on servers have been migrated to FLOSS and there’s little reason to retain that other OS on clients. Businesses are using web applications, clouds and thin clients where M$ has no monopoly. That trend has been growing for years and there’s no end in sight.
For a thorough discussion of some of these issues, see Is the Linux desktop becoming extinct?