This has always been a controversial subject, why is Linux on desktop not a thing? It’s free, open source, comes in a lot of flavors and is very user friendly these days. With the vast communities behind most distributions, the support users get is often far better than most companies can offer. So, why is nobody using Linux on desktop?
It doesn’t fix anything
First reason is quite simple, it doesn’t actually fix anything. People won’t start looking for a fix if something isn’t actually broken. If your Windows computer is functioning just fine, you can do your work and play games, why would you replace it? The average computer user doesn’t actually want to use a computer, they want to do things like work or play games, a computer just happens to facilitate those needs. And if it does that, they have no inclination to switch.
With so many distributions, communities and diehard fans of certain ways of the penguin. The Linux landscape can often be daunting to venture into. Often being met with overwhelming advice and even hostile people, neckbearding hard over which Linux distribution is better. It’s enough to scare a lot of people away from undertaking the task to install a different operating system.
To Linux users, or anyone actually interested in technology, a terminal window is nothing new. But to the average computer user, it’s basically hacking. Open a terminal and update your Linux distro, open htop and and run cmatrix and people are convinced you’re hacking the NSA. To the average computer user, being asked to open a terminal and type in commands, it not something they really want. They just want their computer to work. The same way 99,99% of all car users just want their car to work. Do regular maintenance at a garage, and use the vehicle. They don’t want to open the hood and clean filters, replace wires and chip-tune their car.
Installing an OS is daunting
Usually involves making BIOS settings, because a lot of vendors don’t like people removing the OS. Tinkering with things like switchable graphics on laptops. Downloading the ISO after you finally made your Linux pick. Getting it on a USB drive and finding the key combination to boot from the USB drive. And then the dreaded message that this will erase everything from your system, with no turning back. This is a good moment for the average computer user, to turn back and live with whatever temporary thing is broken due to Windows updates until it gets fixed.
It doesn’t come pre-installed
Save the best for last! The main reason Linux isn’t used on desktop? Because it came with Windows pre-installed. It’s the same reason these desktops and laptops have bloatware installed, because people won’t remove it. Just like cars, the vast majority of car owners aren’t going to uninstall the operating system in their car either. People buy a working product because they have a need or want for the functionalities (or brand association) that comes with the device. Given all the reasons mentioned before, unless it’s pre-installed, people most likely will just use what came on the computer when they bought it.
How to get people to Linux?
We see good examples in Android devices, IOT and now Steamdeck. Where again, the OS that comes pre-installed is Linux or UNIX based. And most people indeed won’t remove it, because they just want to use their device. So, how will people get to use Linux on desktop?
– Sell devices with Linux pre-installed
– Install Linux on people’s devices for them
– People fed up with a vendor like Microsoft might install Linux themselves
– Get people interested in IT and Open Source Software
But for most people, it just simply won’t be necessary. Windows and Mac work just fine, and if you can do what you want with your device, there’s no reason to switch. Use whatever OS works best for your situation, or what you feel most comfortable with. Because after all, the words “Operating System” mean just that: Software that Operates the System. If it does that and does it well, you’re good to go.
PS: I don’t use Arch 😉 … It’s Fedora for me right now.