Resistance to the Linux Desktop Is Futile – Get Over It

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.

See Resistance to the Linux Desktop.

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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19 Responses to Resistance to the Linux Desktop Is Futile – Get Over It

  1. kurkosdr wrote of the Little Woman, “she makes friends only with trophy wives or soccer moms.”

    I don’t think that’s so. She has more friends on her “Rollodex” than I’ve met in my whole life. Really. She probably knows ~40K people in Winnipeg. She can tell you who’s related to whom which way, where they’ve lived and where they’re going… She knows all kinds of folks from recent immigrants to high and mighty politicians. Her opinion of the legacy PC is supported by what I’ve seen in Walmart, almost no activity. Where there used to be multiple aisles of models and accessories, there’s just part of one aisle now, a small part. That’s also consistent with IDC’s numbers for global shipments, stagnant despite growing populations and economies around the world. I know business and organizations find them essential but ordinary human beings, not so much. There is a growing segment who don’t own a legacy PC and don’t want one.

  2. DrLoser wrote, “you refuse to buy the “Little Woman” a Chromebook.”

    She has lots of toys and doesn’t need one. I just checked and her legacy PC is getting on in age but with dual-core at 2.3gHz, she isn’t exactly hurting for throughput. If there’s anything she needs it might be more RAM because she tends to leave umpteen windows open in the browser. If she begins to use Google Docs, a Chromebook might be appropriate. Otherwise it would be just a good PC on which to install Debian GNU/Linux. I notice her machine is installed of 32-bit GNU/Linux because when it was first installed 32-bitness was all there was with She might gain a bit of performance going to a 64-bit OS. I would update the RAM and fans before considering a new PC and she would buy one if she wanted it. I’m not in her loop when it comes to buying whatever she wants. She could even buy one with that other OS but I’ve told her I would not support it.

  3. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser Apple does not make their phones.
    Asia Pacific Telecom you can access their website that lists all phones they provide. The answer is zero Samsung. Lot of Foxconn produced model of Android(yes under 14 different names). Your presume is way out that they would be selling.

    The Apple deal in the USA with AT&T was penned by Foxconn not Apple.

    This is the next part of the Mobile Phone battle. If you start looking around there are even carriers in the USA that do not stock Samsung and have exclusive deals with Foxconn. ODM battle is what we have to worry about.

    Foxconn uses the Apple brand against Samsung. But Apple is not the threat to Samsung. Foxconn is the threat with the exclusive deals. If Foxconn gets too many carriers under it control Samsung will be in a horible location.

  4. kurkosdr wrote, “People generally have obligations like write documents, file taxes, use desktop applications etc”.

    Let’s see: Currently her CPU usage for Chrome browser is about 4% and her office suite, LibreOffice, isn’t even in the top 10. Really, she goes days between desktop documents and could easily use Google Docs for that. I have two documents on the go, one for a plan for landscaping and one for my blood sugar… They’ve been open for days and I peck away at them from time to time. That’s nothing that can’t be done on the web. Heck, this whole website is done on the web. All anyone needs on a client device is a browser for most purposes. I now can do my income tax on the web even from GNU/Linux.

  5. DrLoser says:

    NEWS FLASH! I suggested to the Little Woman that we buy a ton of USB flash-drives and give them as Christmas presents. I thought it was a brilliant idea until she explained everyone she knows (except her) no longer uses a legacy PC to do stuff.

    And yet you refuse to buy the “Little Woman” (that phrase doesn’t get any less offensive if you capitalise it) a Chromebook.

    You know, a Chromebook. That Chromebook that you claim will be the thin-client Linux way to desktop domination!

    Looking at it from about five thousand miles away, Robert, I suspect that your Missus would indeed benefit from a Chromebook.

    Have you raided the household piggy-bank yet and invested in $300 or so of a functional system?

  6. kurkosdr says:

    anyone has one = everyone has one

  7. kurkosdr says:

    “I thought it was a brilliant idea until she explained everyone she knows (except her) no longer uses a legacy PC to do stuff.”

    Then she makes friends only with trophy wives or soccer moms.

    People generally have obligations like write documents, file taxes, use desktop applications etc Also, people tend to use the PC as the main storage of photos and video (if the internal HDD is not enough an external one is attached), sort photos and videos (which is a PITA to do with a remote or touch), and download movies and music.

    There is no way the PC is becoming irrelevant. Sure, MS wants new markets, they are a corporation. But the importance of the PC market is mostly intact.

    PC units worldwide are not flatlining or shrinking. PC yearly SALES are flatlining or shrinking. Got the difference? People are not replacing PCs that work nowadays, because Windows 7 runs on 6-year old hardware just fine (Windows 8.x also runs in old hardware).

    Didn’t you FOSSies whine about Windows requirements forcing people to junk perfectly working PCs? Now that Windows doesn’t do that anymore and people stick to their PCs longer… it’s “OMG the PC market is dying because sales have flatlined”.

    PS: Tablet sales have flatlined too. Again, anyone has one and are sticking to it.

  8. NEWS FLASH! I suggested to the Little Woman that we buy a ton of USB flash-drives and give them as Christmas presents. I thought it was a brilliant idea until she explained everyone she knows (except her) no longer uses a legacy PC to do stuff. It’s all smartphones and tablets, many of which have nowhere to plug a USB drive… Isn’t she awesome? I never knew…

    This could mean that the legacy PC is no longer a consumer-item, but only for geeks/workers/creatives, etc. This means the market for legacy PCs is about half what it was.

    When I asked where people keep their photos/files etc., she said, “FaceBook”. It’s like Linus saying that “real men keep their backups on FTP servers”…

  9. DrLoser says:

    Correction: they’re presumably selling a mix of Samsung/Apple phones, let’s say 75/25 to be generous, through that sales channel.
    Even in this tiny neck of the woods, they’re going to get stomped on by far bigger companies with an actual brand name, customer expectations, and all, if they so much as squeak about replacing those phones with FoxyLadies or whatever.
    This is beyond risible, oiaohm.

  10. DrLoser says:

    Ah, I see. How is Hon Hai Precision Industry supposed to break into world wide sales channels?

    By merging with Taiwan’s fourth biggest mobile operator, of course. Assuming a power series, which is common with these things, that would give them roughly 10% of the Taiwanese market. And they’re presumably selling Samsung brand phones through that channel in the first place.

    What … total … idiocy.

  11. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser the wikipedia in fact overview lists the problem.
    In May 2014 Foxconn announced it was expanding its involvement in Taiwan’s nascent 4G telecommunications market further by merging with Taiwan’s fourth-largest mobile operator Asia Pacific Telecom.
    Yes the 4 largest Carrier in the Asia Pacific is now Foxconn and that carrier owns their shop fronts. DrLoser what do you mean no “Sales Channel” that was true before the recent change not any more.

    DrLoser Foxconn 1 Billion is only 1 of their Mobile Phone producing operations. Each country factory income of Foxconn is done as independent company and balance sheet.

    Samsung produces a central balance sheet of all their sub companies income. Foxconn does not as Foxconn home country does not require this. Reality total up the Foxconn group companies producing phones you are talking 8 billion in the last quarter. This is the problem the biggest requires using effort to in fact see they are the biggest. Reality mobile phones samsung vs foxconn with every one as a side player or bit players.

    DrLoser you are falling for the same trick as everyone else thinking foxconn is small. The no central balance sheet for the group of companies that is foxconn is one hell of a trick to allow your company to be huge yet appear very small.

  12. wolfgang wrote, “phone makers losing money except two big guys. sooner or later, they all gone”.

    Do you really think the world will make hundreds of millions of smartphones for nothing? Any company losing money will stop digging after the first million or so.

  13. DrLoser says:

    Every time I am convinced that you have hit rock-bottom stupidity, oiaohm, you come up with another little gem.

    wolfgang looking at Samsung and not looking at Foxconn is disregarding a very major problem. Yes Samsung might end up defeated by Foxconn and if it does heaven help companies like Apple.

    Your insanity has no bounds.

    First of all, compare the quarterly profits for Hon Hai Precision Industry with the quarterly profits of Samsung and Apple. Last I heard, FoxConn was generating roughly $1 billion profit per quarter. Not too shabby.

    But Samsung was generating $4 billion profit per quarter on smartphones alone. I can’t even be bothered to look up the relevant quarterly profits for Apple. Let’s just point out that they have $40 billion in the bank, and they have no immediate way of using it.

    FoxConn’s profit margin for mobile phones seems to be between 1.5% and 3%. That there is FMCG or even Supermarket profit margins. Perhaps they should, indeed, sell their own hardware?

    Um, no. They don’t have the sales channels. They don’t have the marketing. And they’re not exactly in a position where they can dictate financial terms to everybody else.

    Even if Google/Android gave them the green light (which won’t happen), they’ll be stuffed inside six months when both Apple and Samsung, and presumably HTC and any other minor player in the Android market, tool up via another factory, say in South Korea.

    You get all this from a single Wikipedia entry, oiaohm?

    I’d eschew Wikipedia in future if I were you. The damn thing rots what little is left of your brain.

  14. oiaohm says:

    The following is from you link wolfgang.
    why increasing competition from low-cost Chinese and Indian players have resulted in a market share loss for Samsung.
    Who is the biggest low cost Chinese/Indian Player. They don’t list it. Its not Apple. Its Foxconn. It gets worse. Foxconn is cutting out the middle man. Foxconn is becoming a Mobile Phone Carrier as well as a Mobile Phone ODM in more and more regions. Yes this link between Carrier and ODM is causing Samsung problems.

    Sad case where the only way to be able to sell your own design of phone to a customer in particular regions will be have Foxconn make it and sell it. Why if Foxconn does not make it the phone will not be in the Carriers shops for the customers to see because the Carrier is Foxconn.

    Apple products are in Foxconn carriers at this stage because Foxconn makes the i products. See a problem Foxconn has worked out controlling the Carrier they can Control their ODM clients profit margins. Also this can make it impossible for a ODM to walk away because the market share loss will be too huge.

    wolfgang looking at Samsung and not looking at Foxconn is disregarding a very major problem. Yes Samsung might end up defeated by Foxconn and if it does heaven help companies like Apple.

    Samsung dropping profit is the blood fight between them and Foxconn. Microsoft Android tax is mostly because Microsoft got an agreement out of Foxconn as well.

  15. wolfgang says:

    …lot of money being made…

    by apple and samsung, but not by other schmucks.

    phone makers losing money except two big guys. sooner or later, they all gone.

  16. ram says:

    “Linux users make up 95% of the market share, but unlike windows users who are constantly accessing porn, we get laid! “

  17. wolggang wrote, incorrectly, ” samsung makes ton of money and apple makes bigger pile of money. no one else making a dime”.

    There’s a reason that dozens of OEMs make smartphones and tablets. There is a lot of money being made. Not everyone is as greedy as M$ and Apple. Some will work for less but they are happy. Further, selling devices is not the only way people make money. Revenue for wireless service was $264Billion in Q1 2014. Some folks are giving the devices away for $0 and remain profitable. Then there’s revenue from ads, search and various other network services.

    wolfgang also wrote, “battles over, microsoft won and has what’s left”.

    M$’s client division is in decline if you read their reports. They are giving the OS away for a large class of units these days. Soon, they may have to pay people again to install it. They make only a trivial revenue from clients altogether compared to five years ago. If M$ stopped shipping software tomorrow, the world would adjust in a few months and move on.

  18. oiaohm says:

    wolfgang the biggest single company making a profit from Android is Foxconn. ODM vs OEM. Samsung is the biggest Android OEM. Foxconn is the biggest Android ODM. What is the difference ODM you can place what ever brand you like on the device they make for you.

    Foxconn from android pulled in more money than Samsung by a large margin.

    Sorry the no one less is making a dime is the biggest joke of a claim you have came up with so far.

    There is a nice fun thing about foxconn they all make all the iPhones. Yes foxconn is Apple ODM. Samsung is their own ODM.

    Not including foxconn is really disregarding the largest tablet/phone maker with the most power to alter the future.

  19. wolfgang says:

    …alternative to microsoft…

    you have it all wrong. android is not alternative to microsoft, android is alternative to apple. fancy boys have iPhone and others have to make do with droids. samsung makes ton of money and apple makes bigger pile of money. no one else making a dime, I hear. you fighting last decade battle, no one care about microsoft vs world anymore either. battles over, microsoft won and has what’s left.

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