Bruce Byfield responded to news that Linus still wants the desktop by trotting out some of the usual ideas and one I know to be false:“Free-licensed desktops have been an alternative now for almost a decade, but many average computer users have no idea that they exist.”
You see, I was out in the world for more than a decade teaching in many different communities all over Canada. At first it was rare to meet anyone who had ever heard of GNU/Linux. After a few years, about 2004, if I recall correctly, I began to visit random communities where one or more people actually had used GNU/Linux. These were communities from about 1K to 4K people in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, so one person in 1K is tiny but definitely far beyond, “many average computer users have no idea that they exist”. I can promise you that all of the high school and many of the younger students in those communities did learn about it so the proportion abruptly changed to about 1 in 10.
For the past three weeks I have been attending meetings of about 7 people. These are randomly selected people (Diabetes). It turns out that 4 of those 7 (including me) knew you could use GNU/Linux on the desktop and two (including me) had worked in places where GNU/Linux was used on the desktop. That could have been a fluke but it mirrors what I was seeing out there in the world. When I went to a new community, I often asked students if anyone knew of GNU/Linux. At first no one did out of 100-300 students that I taught. A few years later there were always a few students who had used GNU/Linux in some school or other or knew someone who used GNU/Linux. Now we have Chromebooks and Ubuntu and other GNU/Linux PCs selling all over the world.
There’s just no way to put Linus and RMS’ genie back in the bottle. We have a billion people using Android/Linux for pity’s sake and they are not just Apple-like rich folks, but folks from every continent and every walk of life. I would bet that half of all humanity at least knows there are alternatives to Apple and M$’s offerings. That’s a Hell of a lot more users than “many”. There may be “many” that still don’t know but they are certainly not holding back GNU/Linux. The OEMs and retailers who still promote that other OS even though consumers largely reject it are the problem. They had better get on board the FLOSS band-wagon or they will be replaced by other OEMs and retailers as the goto suppliers of humanity.