Powerhouses Of The GNU/Linux Desktop In 2015

What do Italy, France, Spain, Germany and USA have in common? They are all huge, modern economies and they’ve all embraced GNU/Linux on the desktop to the tune of 3.*% share of page-views yesterday.
See Top 7 Desktop OSs in Italy from 1 Jan to 21 Apr 2015.
There are a bunch of smaller countries with higher shares (Uruguay, 11.37%, Cuba, 5.85%, and Venezuela, 5.81% yesterday) and bigger countries with smaller shares (India, 2.08% yesterday) but these are the epitome of the GNU/Linux desktop today. Some like Germany, Spain and Italy have been in this club for some time but USA and France have recently joined. StatCounter records 147 countries over 1% share. The global average was 2.04% yesterday. The lowest the global share has been in 2015 was 1.37% on 3 January… Sadly, my own country, Canada, is not in this club but even here GNU/Linux has grown to over 2% this quarter from 1.25% a year ago.

In 2015, The Year of the GNU/Linux Desktop, this is the way things are going. Just about everyone is using more GNU/Linux on desktops and in a huge shift, even in the home of those other operating systems. The world can and does make its own software and everyone can use it successfully. It was only a couple of years ago that ~1% was “the standard” by which GNU/Linux share was measured. Then came Android/Linux (1billion devices sold last year) and Chrome OS GNU/Linux (1.3% in USA yesterday). Now OEMs, retailers, organizations large and small and consumers all know that */Linux works for them. The monopoly on the desktop is dead. Even retail shelves have room for other operating systems today. It took a lot of small steps to get where we are today but the runners are all in top gear going downhill towards the finish line today. What the eventual shares will be is still unknown but at the rate of change we see today, GNU/Linux will have a very high share of the 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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25 Responses to Powerhouses Of The GNU/Linux Desktop In 2015

  1. ram says:

    DrLoser says “Who’s going to pay for the development, then?”

    Same people who pay for Linux and Linux applications development now – the USERS.
    My company routinely pays Linux developers to add features or backport applications to earlier versions of Linux. Sometimes we also pay to get rid of an annoying bug.

    On larger development we team with other companies to pool resources. In any event the software developers get paid. What gets cut out are the big overheads associated with big IT companies: marketing, advertising, lawyers (and more lawyers!), fancy downtown office space, and sales “commissions”.

  2. DrLoser says:

    And, not to drag you back to a subject that you obviously hate to talk about, despite the fact that you brought it up in the first place …

    … How ’bout them GNU/Linux salesmen, Robert?

  3. DrLoser says:

    However, let us take your preposterous proposition at face value, Robert.

    The desktop may be thankless in terms of generating revenue but it’s certainly useful for any person or organization.

    Let’s stipulate that you are 100% correct in this absurd fantasy of yours.

    Who’s going to pay for the development, then?

  4. DrLoser says:

    Pardon me for the excerpt here, Robert.

    The desktop may be thankless in terms of generating revenue but it’s certainly useful for any person or organization.

    First of all, this hardly addresses the question of why Red Hat should waste their time and resources and considerable R&D budget on it.

    And secondly, it isn’t obviously true in any case, is it? Certainly not for “any” person or organization.

    On the personal level, should you care to narrow down that “any” to a blood-sucking drone in Winnipeg, then I would heartily concur. But, in general, no.

    You’re probably on firmer ground with “any organization.” After all, it’s good enough for the gendarmerie. And, possibly under protest, for the staff at Munich.

    But, any organization?

    There’s precious little evidence of this.

  5. DrLoser wrote, “Show me the GPL clause that forces some unfortunate company to spend any money at all on R&D for the Linux Desktop. Why bother? It’s a completely thankless endeavour.”

    The GPL and GNU/Linux desktops have two very different roles in IT. The desktop may be thankless in terms of generating revenue but it’s certainly useful for any person or organization. That’s the real reason to develop it, not to make money distributing it. There is some revenue to be made supporting the GNU/Linux desktop and some in selling units with GNU/Linux pre-installed but not much in RedHat’s line of business. After all if you have one RedHat desktop working, that can be cloned thousands of times according to the licence so RedHat only has leverage on at most 1/1000 of the desktop world. RedHat could use GNU/Linux for its own work, however, just as Google and IBM and a bunch of others do. Instead of paying M$ a bunch per seat they can pay themselves. We saw that behaviour with SUN and StarOffice. It was cheaper for them to acquire the company and to develop the software for their own use than one round of PC-refresh and licences to M$. It only takes a few hundred employees for that to be true with a GPLed product like GNU/Linux because no one has to do all the work. It’s mostly configuration, maintaining apps and possibly contributing to some apps/utilities that the organization finds useful. IT using FLOSS gives staff time to do that kind of work.

    Typically, an organization wanting a GNU/Linux desktop will adopt some distro which comes close to their needs and customize it just as they would with TOOS, only better. They can control everything. e.g. When I did that for schools, I didn’t have to write any desktop software, except some scripts and configurations to manage it. I did write some web-applications because they are a good interface to databases and they are easy, letting the browser run the GUI. Staff are familiar with browsing so they don’t need much training except a brief intro/demo.

  6. oiaohm says:

    Remember how RedHat’s withdrawal from the desktop was hailed as a victory of the community distros?
    kurkosdr when did that happen.

    https://www.redhat.com/apps/store/desktop/

    Reality Redhat has always shipped a desktop product. Redhat salesman ever since read has existed has been selling Redhat desktop solutions to customers.

  7. DrLoser says:

    Certainly not. We saw it as RedHat biting the hand that feeds them, betrayal, dessertion in the face of the enemy…

    Your fantasies are of no obvious concern to Red Hat, Robert. Show me the GPL clause that forces some unfortunate company to spend any money at all on R&D for the Linux Desktop. Why bother? It’s a completely thankless endeavour.

    Red Hat wisely chose to focus their efforts elsewhere. Now, in what sense is this either a betrayal or a desertion?

  8. DrLoser says:

    DrLoser, pretending to be erudite, claims ignorance with, “I don’t know that at all, Robert. It’s even more silly to claim that it’s “well-known.”

    Dr Loser, who actually is erudite by the pitiful standards of this site, did not depend upon erudition to make this claim of Socratic Ignorance, Robert.

    The simple reason I do not know about this purported lack of salesmen is that, other than the pitiful commissions on offer, it did not exist.

    Play along with my Socratic Ignorance, here, Robert.

    Show me the numbers.

  9. thr says:

    “The world can and does make its own software and everyone can use it successfully.”

    Indeed. The world makes, for example, SAP, and many customers are using it very successfully. Except for cheapskates. But we’re not talking about pitiful fools when we say ‘everyone’, or are we?

  10. oldfart says:

    “DrLoser, pretending to be erudite, claims ignorance with,”

    Nope. What is known is that 20+ years ago DOJ brought suit against microsoft for some questionable practices. While there were some findings, the judge who made them overreached and had his entire judgement effectively invalidated on appeal. Microsoft than agreed to a settlement without admitting any wrongdoing. What is also known is that the period of review related to that agreement is long over and done with

    We also know that it is your opinion that having had this suit brought against them and initially at least upheld by a court constitutes criminality. The reality is that by law they are not criminals at all , and also by law they would not have been even if the judgement held, because a law suit and a criminal prosecution are two entirely different legal matters.

    We also know that it is your opinion that the US courts let microsoft go. You are entitled to that opinion, but it is by law not fact and it has never been fact.

    And IMHO all of the now ancient DOJ paperwork that you keep pointing to as some sort of proof does nothing to bolster your case for against microsoft of now.

  11. DrLoser, pretending to be erudite, claims ignorance with, “I don’t know that at all, Robert. It’s even more silly to claim that it’s “well-known.””

    “on August 2, 1995, Gates told Grove that he had a fundamental problem with Intel using revenues from its microprocessor business to fund the development and distribution of free platform-level software. In fact, Gates said, Intel could not count on Microsoft to support Intel’s next generation of microprocessors as long as Intel was developing platform-level software that competed with Windows.”

    That was for a “partner” developing software independent of M$. If M$ would meddle to that extent, what did they do to OEMs and retailers offering GNU/Linux?

    see US DOJ v M$ Court’s Findings of Fact – Microsoft’s Actions Toward Other Firms.

  12. kurkosdr wrote, “RedHat’s withdrawal from the desktop was hailed as a victory of the community distros?”

    Certainly not. We saw it as RedHat biting the hand that feeds them, betrayal, dessertion in the face of the enemy… They never truly abandoned the desktop however. They still provide it to customers who want it and many large rollouts have occurred. They still support Fedora which definitely caters to desktop-users.

  13. kurkosdr says:

    Because “GNU/Linux” had salesmen at the time. The product was sucky, but it very definitely had salesmen.

    Remember how RedHat’s withdrawal from the desktop was hailed as a victory of the community distros?

    That was the Desktop Linux community we used to know and love. Ambitious and under the assumption they didn’t need anyone beyond the neckbeards that contribute code in the weekends. No salemsmen, no bosses, no paid programmers, no IHVs and ISVs, eff them all. Those were the days.

    Now look at them: They beg for Dell to release a single Ubuntu laptop, beg for GPU manufacturers to release working drivers for their platform, and get super happy when Netflix throws them a bone by allowing playback via Chrome browser in Linux or when Valve ports some old game for Steam Linux. Sad, sad, sad.

  14. DrLoser says:

    As you well know, M$ went to great lengths to prevent GNU/Linux from having salesmen…

    I don’t know that at all, Robert. It’s even more silly to claim that it’s “well-known.”

    At no point in time did Microsoft go to any lengths at all to prevent GNU/Linux from having salesmen. Even assuming that your list of grievances is 100% legitimate, it has nothing at all to do with the hiring of salesmen.

    If you’re going to moan about something that never happened, do try at least to moan about the relevant thing that never happened.

    You want to know how I was able to buy Linux in a box form in the 1990s? (Slackware, Debian — I think — Novell?)

    Because “GNU/Linux” had salesmen at the time. The product was sucky, but it very definitely had salesmen.

  15. kurkosdr wrote, “for some reason they managed to survive and maintain a respectable marketshare”

    According to IDC, GNU/Linux and MacOS had similar shares around 2003… In schools, for instance, MacOS was on its way out and GNU/Linux was thriving. I was there. I only encountered two Mac labs in all my years of teaching (started 1997). In a previous decade, they were all over the place.

    ISTR M$ invested in Apple to keep it going so they would not be seen as so obviously monopolistic… Later, Balmer publicly acknowledged that GNU/Linux was the bigger competitor. He was right. MacOS still has only a small share if you ask Apple. They have increased share in developed markets as people flee M$. They still have only a tiny share in most of the world. It just happens wealthy people spend a lot of money and it does not bother them much to throw money at Apple. Price matters a lot in emerging markets, with young people and in schools and non-profits, however.

  16. kurkosdr says:

    As you well know, M$ went to great lengths to prevent GNU/Linux from having salesmen:

    And they did the same to Apple Inc, but for some reason they managed to survive and maintain a respectable marketshare which allows them to have a respectable ISV and IHV ecosystem around OS X.

    Why? Their product worked. I mean, it had a clear Hardware Compatibility List, and if you run OS X on that hardware, it was guaranteed to work with perfect GPU acceleration, perfect sound, perfect WiFi, and was gurranteed to upgrade without problems.

    Oh, and it came bundled with good tools.

  17. DrLoser wrote, sarcastically, “What Desktop Linux needs is more salesmen!”

    As you well know, M$ went to great lengths to prevent GNU/Linux from having salesmen: exclusive dealing, their version of “evangelism”, EDGI etc. Now that GNU/Linux has salesmen, lots of them, the monopoly is vaporizing.

  18. DrLoser says:

    I will expand on that question briefly, Robert.

    Those who sell operating systems (and ancillary systems, support, etc) do not operate as the Avon Lady operates.

    In fact, as you well know, they do not sell on a personal basis at all.

    Guess how salespeople of operating systems actually make their commission?

  19. DrLoser says:

    They could be counted together but it’s interesting to see who has more/better salesmen, Google or Canonical etc.

    Fascinating theory, that, Robert. Let’s just point out that Google (~$182 billion market cap) quite possibly has a slight edge in salesmen numbers over Canonical (I’m guessing at best ~$200 million market cap, given a $20 million loss in 2014).

    It’s even more fascinating that you appear to have given up on developers altogether. What Desktop Linux needs is more salesmen! More lawyers!

    What an entrancing view of utopia that would be, Robert … but anyway, back to examining your incredibly limited understanding of how the corporate world works.

    Here’s a nice simple question for you. Imagine a salesperson for a company that promotes an operating system. (Canonical is fine. Google salespeople are more concerned with advertising, but there’s plenty left over for, say, Chromebooks.)

    What do you think is the main role of these salespeople?

    You don’t actually have a clue, do you?

  20. kurkosdr wrote, “how much of the rise of Desktop Linux Pog blogs about is ChromeOS?”

    None. Statcounter counts them in seperate bins. They could be counted together but it’s interesting to see who has more/better salesmen, Google or Canonical etc.

  21. kurkosdr says:

    Users don’t care whether it is software or hardware’s fault when the service as total is lousy, and users will simply avoid it.

    It’s funny how Desktop Linux is timelessly irrelevant. Few products of human labor can boast that feat.

    In the 90s, when people where building their PCs, Desktop Linux couldn’t be installed without some command line foo here and there.
    In the early-2000s, when PC gaming was all the rage, they didn’t have good graphics.
    In the late 2000s, when laptops were all the rage and 1080p was the must have, they didn’t have good power management, and no Bluray.
    Now, support for streaming services is hit and miss (and hope you don’t have a FHD monitor) and their clients for social media are terrible and feature-lacking.

    And how much of the rise of Desktop Linux Pog blogs about is ChromeOS?

  22. kurkosdr says:

    “I’m using XFCE4 on Debian GNU/Linux with a wireless keyboard including a trackball.”

    If you have to use a trackball or mouse, it’s not good.

    And anyway, besides your hacked-up solution, what other option is out there? Ubuntu TV? XBMC that can’t do much besides playing back videos?

    Do me a favor and head over to the Android TV presentation video to see how a couch-friendly platform should look like. Then do me another favor and don’t celebrate a victory that is not yours (but Google’s).

  23. Deaf Spy says:

    That’s an issue of hardware, not software.
    That’s an issue of the service. Users don’t care whether it is software or hardware’s fault when the service as total is lousy, and users will simply avoid it.

  24. kurkosdr wrote, “none of the shells of Linux are optimized for the couch anyway.”

    I’m using XFCE4 on Debian GNU/Linux with a wireless keyboard including a trackball. It’s nearly optimal in flexibility but I would prefer the mouse-buttons were closer to the trackball. I’m in a recliner. GNU/Linux certainly doesn’t need any improvement to work from the couch. That’s an issue of hardware, not software.

  25. kurkosdr says:

    How To Miss Opportunities, Get Taught By The Pros (that is, Canonical):

    The Intel Compute Stick is out, and having to use a mouse and keyboard to navigate your way when you are on the couch sucks.

    So… where is Ubuntu TV? Nowhere. Also XBMC is still a primadona and won’t open up to streaming services, and none of the shells of Linux are optimized for the couch anyway. But, this is the Linux Way(tm)(C)(R). Instead of finding a market the big boys have abandoned (Media Center), let’s try to chase the big boys, by producing “-killer” products that come years after and are inferior than the product they are trying to “kill”.

    Which allows me to make my point: Even if we assume that Desktop Linux is technologically sound (for a moment only), the inability to predict trends results in products arriving with years of latency (for example, how long it took Ubuntu Touch to ship after Android or even windows phone had shipped, how long it will take for canonical to ship a couch interface after Android TV). Which is a perfect recipe to lose the market. Which brings the question: Who is the leader in the Desktop Linux world? Is it the Wayland guys, the Gnome3 guys, the shell guys (canonical, cinnammon etc), the app guys (xbmc, vlc, mozilla, document foundation), or someone else?

    But hey, who needs leaders who anticipate trends and direct? Meritocracy for the win! The guy who maintains the fighter aircraft engines gets to decide how the war is fought.

    But anyway, Android TV will win (it will ship with every Sharp, Sony and Philips TV, something tells me it will sell more units even compared to the Xbox One), locking the users in a dumbed down environment controlled entirely by Google and a couple of other services Google is in good terms with, and the FOSSies will cheer about another victory that is not theirs. Carry on…

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