View Full Version : I have my first blog story... Is desktop Linux adoption stuck in a rut?

December 21st, 2009, 02:44 AM
It kind of goes along with my keeping track of usage stats here.


I talk about the fact that I think desktop Linux adoption is stalled and what we can do to fix it.

As some have pointed out it's almost spam like to direct you to my blog to read what I want to talk about here, so I present (drum roll) the article...

I want to discuss the reasons I believe Linux adoption may be stalled and how we as impassioned Linux users can help give it a push. I have been using desktop Linux since 2006 and I have to say from a usability standpoint, the improvements could be described as revolutionary. However, the adoption rate has not followed suit and has appeared to have nearly halted. Which groups can the current desktop Linux offerings reach and how can we appeal to these users?

As of fall 2009, sites such as the W3 counter and Net Applications show that the Linux market share statistics have been frozen since early 2008. Which is surprising because Linux can handle plenty of computer usage cases as good as, or better than Windows. There are many people with specific application or device support needs and they cannot be converted yet. That doesn't mean you can't help them find new open source applications to improve their computing experience, thus making them receptive of open source and Linux in the future. There are also computer users who just need a nudge to convert to Linux. Who are those people and how do we reach them?

There are stereotypical users who would make good potential targets for a Linux or open source demonstration. It has long been noted that the casual Internet surfer is a good convert, although I have never met this user. Having worked in PC repair, I can honestly say there are a group of users who repeatedly infect their machines with malware. These people should be informed that they have other options, including Linux. Many college students are strapped for cash and looking to make their software budget smaller. The college student is a potential convert for Linux or open source, unless they have special application needs. The small business operator is also a good candidate for Linux, as open source software to cover most small business needs is available and mature. I am certain there are other good conversion cases, please add your contributions to the comments.

If you run out and start campaigning to users against their will, you may come across like a telemarketer or an infomercial, which is not likely to succeed. If you have the time, starting or joining a local Linux Users Group (L.U.G) to provide a functional support system for new users is a great contribution to Linux advancement. Rather than chasing after new users, try advertising locally to bring interested parties to you. Once you get potential users in the door, demonstrate to them the software, and discuss the level of support your L.U.G. or a commercial vendor could offer. Linux Advocates could do a lot of good to go back to school to promote Linux. Students, L.U.G leaders, and I.T. industry veterans could offer their time to do a presentation for a local high school or college. Another effective method of spreading open source would be to help a college computer club create a CD or DVD of useful or fun open source software and/or free-ware that they could legally distribute to the student body.

I believe desktop Linux is currently stuck in a rut, but we can push it out. I do not believe being stalled is due to an issue with quality, a lack of necessary applications, or unsupported hardware. In my opinion, the flagging adoption is due to a lack of support and awareness and that is a problem the average Linux advocate can help solve.

Oh and here is the link if you still want it.

December 21st, 2009, 05:20 AM
Linux is certainly not stuck in a rut due to people not pushing it on friends and family.

December 21st, 2009, 05:29 AM
edited because I posted the full article above no need to quote it now.

December 21st, 2009, 06:01 AM
Rut? no! People forget taht most "Linux users" also use windows in some form or another, it makes it harder to count total numbers.

Why should we advocate? Its about freedom of choice. We freely chose to come here, so selling it on someone is degrading. Its up to businesses to make the change not the average user. People will want what they have at work, its why Windows is so popular now, because its comfortable. But with industry its about money and Linux is free, so if you want to push Linux at work, show them it can support all your needs and show how its usually free to run or install, and all you might pay for is services if you need them, or have a Linux certified team member.

December 21st, 2009, 08:25 AM
Well other than Linux adoption is stalled at 1% to 2% we should advocate so we can get more users, to get more ports to help us get users so someday Linux is at ten fold of 1% to 2%.

December 21st, 2009, 08:48 AM
Why do we want, everybody using linux? I mean I'm all for making Linux easy but once we have all the geeks using it does it make much difference if anybody else does?
I suppose if you want prop support then yes, but if your using linux for the floss then it's only the developer/potential developer count that matters.

ALso i think linux usage doesn't gradually rise, it tends to leap up when there is flashy new software (like beryl/compiz), I think the next leap will be when mpx gets awesome (and that is only if we can demonstrate that's useful).
Does anybody have states that go back to ~2003?

December 21st, 2009, 08:57 AM
@ Xbehave good point between 2007 and 2008 there was a pretty good leap not quite a doubling but close. I don't disagree it's beneficial to have educated users (geeks) but if we want software ports and mainstream consideration Linux has got to reach a larger percent.

December 21st, 2009, 09:26 AM
if we want software ports and mainstream consideration Linux has got to reach a larger percent.
But do we?
Won't linux+load of crappy proprietary software end up the same as windows+load of crappy proprietary software, dependency hell, bloat, uninstalling programs leaving stuff lying about, breakages between releases, etc?
I think much of what works about linux distros is that they are open source all the way through.
OTOH I suppose video games are unlikely to go floss, so perhaps we do. OTOOH in an ideal world engines would be FOSS and game-data would be what you pay for, but i doubt that will ever happen.

I'm not arguing against adoption, I just think that adoption just for the sake of it gets us nowhere.

As for you blog post I think it's a good idea. I think another front is helping newbies better. 1.84% -> 2.14% -> 1.80% thats going backwards so not only are all the newbies giving, some older users are too :(. It is pretty bad given we already have them using Linux and IMO Ubuntu 9.10 wasn't a bad release. Obviously not all of us have the time to help newbies, but perhaps there should be a real push (maybe a general announcement/call for help) every release for help over irc/general help/absolute beginners, could improve the retention rate.

December 21st, 2009, 10:20 AM
I agree with the above.As an aside,what difference does it make how many people exercise there right to use,or not use an alternate OS.? Isn't that the idea behind having choices? I for one do not intend to come off sounding like a TV evangelist.