Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Why we'll never see linux in common use on the desktop


Desktop linux.

Never really happened has it?

And while I’m an enthusiastic proponent of linux, I’ve got to admit I use a Windows PC most of the time these days.

And of course, the reason why I use a windows pc instead of a Linux based one is because something like 85-90% of the pc’s in daily use run windows in some form, which means a well supported range of robust software. Basically Windows works and it lets me do what I want to do. (And there’s no OneNote or Evernote client for linux).

The rest of the pc’s out there are either chromebooks or Macs.

And as we know there are 57 varieties of desktop linux, something that doesn’t help as it means there are 57 ways of doing something, like do I start a program via the launcher menu, or do I have to right click on the desktop. Basically it’s confusing.

It’s telling that those projects to deploy linux in education in Brazil and Argentina have standardized on a single distribution and in the case of Argentina, producing their own.

Standardize on a single distribution and documentation and support becomes easier, and you build a community of knowledge – and that’s important because people can then ask each other.

And even though actually most people’s interaction with computers is via the web these days there’s a hard nub of difficult problems.

Our local U3A runs a series of workshops for older citizens. Overwhelmingly the problems people have can be categorized as

  • How do I set up a Zoom session
  • How do I upload this photo of my drivers licence to the government services website
  • How do I download this pdf receipt and file it (or upload it to Medicare)

All simple tasks, and one that can be shown simply to people because we know they have chrome, they have acrobat, they have a standard mail client or use webmail.

Try it with linux? The 57 varieties problem will get you.

Yet there are advantages in using linux. It extends the life of hardware, and there are none of these pesky license costs – something which in these days of Google Workspace is less of an issue than it once was.

But basically apart from a few wierdos and enthusiasts like me it isn’t going to happen simply as the effort is simply too great in support time.


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