back to article Year of Linux on the desktop creeps closer as market share rises a little

Statcounter says Linux's share of the desktop moved up from three percent last July to four percent in February, which on the face of it is pretty good. The desktop OS market share data is pointing in the right direction for Linux: for February 2024, Statcounter recorded Linux at 4.03 percent, up from 3.08 percent last July. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Repeat after me:

    "If it was going to happen, it would have by now".

    This is where not having a guiding strategy *doesn't* work.

    I've been using Linux at home for (checks) 19 years. In those years there hasn't been a single role or outfit I have worked for that could have adopted Linux even if they wanted to.

    I pointed out the missing bits in 2005 to tumbleweed (and some pretty nasty comments on this very forum). And they are still missing. And without them, you will never ever get a corporate wonk to start looking at the idea of moving to Linux - despite the eye watering savings in MS licensing.

    Be curious to see if any other Regtard can suggest what components Linux desktop lacks for use in a corporate setting. It's not AD - amazingly that's covered.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: Repeat after me:

      "...can suggest what components Linux desktop lacks for use in a corporate setting"

      One of my employers runs (almost*) everything through MS 365/Sharepoint with bolt on subscriptions from other providers (course materials mainly). I just log in using Chromium on a Linux laptop and all fine (well as fine as Teams ever is but no worse than Windows users).

      (*) A recent change in the finance/HR systems means that there is ONE function that I can only reach from a computer that is inside the employer's network (and therefore runs Windows 11 for Education). Fortunately I don't need to access it often. Just pop into an actual office and done.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Repeat after me:

        I don't suppose they would let you use Remote Desktop to connect to that machine?

        1. keithpeter Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Repeat after me:

          Your suspicion is correct, that employer does not provide RDP access.

          Other employer actually mandated RDP and provided no other way of accessing services from outside the buildings using a personal laptop. I'm not sure how that would have played out over COVID period, running a zoom or teams client within an RDP session. I had stopped working for them the year before.

      2. ianbetteridge

        Re: Repeat after me:

        "I just log in using Chromium on a Linux laptop and all fine (well as fine as Teams ever is but no worse than Windows users)...."

        Heck even Firefox will work fine for web-based Office 365 (at least in my experience). If there's one thing I'll say for Microsoft, it's that they make decent web apps.

    2. theOtherJT Silver badge

      Re: Repeat after me:

      Curious what it was that was missing in 2005, and what's still missing now?

      The biggest blocker everywhere I've worked was always MS office. Specifically Outlook and Excel. My feelings about those two particular abominations and the way that so many office workers are suffering what I would best describe as Stockholm syndrome regards to them are well documented at this point, but those have been the big blockers for me.

      I have worked somewhere where we very successfully managed nearly 1000 Linux desktops and that was the case as far back as 2012 - but even there, which I still remember extremely fondly because of how incredibly easy managing Linux desktops at that scale actually was - we had another 100 or so Windows desktops explicitly to provide MS office to specific members of staff who refused to couldn't work without it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Repeat after me:

        I rather like Excel - but I'm just at home in LO Calc. So that's an easy switch. Outlook is different because of the various capabilities and hooks into other programs, making it difficult to easily replace. (Undoubtedly that's intentional.) I've never used Thunderbird's calendar (no use for an electronic calendar at home), but that might be a viable option.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          These days I've finally succumbed to using the equivalent calendar in SeaMonkey. Works fine and syncs to the Nextcloud Pi which then syncs to the phone. It would be a good idea to have a built-in WebDAV server for those who don't have Nextcloud.

        2. usbac Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          I want to start out by saying that I detest Microsoft. They are the root of all evil in the universe as far as I'm concerned (or maybe Google?).

          I'm in the process of migrating everything in my private side of IT away from anything Microsoft. The few remaining Windows PCs here at the house still run Windows 7, and only for a couple of pieces of software that I don't have Linux replacements for (and before anyone says "but you can use...", no I can not).

          That said, I've used Outlook at work (mostly) but also at home for about 25 years. I've recently tried Thunderbird as a replacement for Outlook. It was dreadful. I also tried BetterBird, which is considerably better than Thunderbird in my opinion. Neither of them are all that great. I spent a week trying every open source email client out there, and chose BetterBird. It is sort of tolerable at best. I could spend the whole morning listing all of the problems/shortcomings/bugs I've run into with it.

          As terrible as the new versions of Outlook are, (this is painful to write) none of the open source email clients can replace it.

          1. druck Silver badge

            Re: Repeat after me:

            If you think Outlook is any good at email, you really don't understand email.

            1. Munehaus

              Re: Repeat after me:

              "If you think Outlook is any good at email, you really don't understand email."

              99.9% of the functionality in Outlook has nothing to do with email. It's a very bad email client with an integrated calendar, contacts and task management system that syncs across all devices and staff in an organisation.

              It's shocking nobody else has made anything similar (Lotus Notes is the only thing that came close) as Outlook is terrible yet still the only real option for that use case.

              Ironically Outlook doesnt even support Microsoft's own Activesync protocol well. All we need is an open source Activesync desktop client with the shared calendar/task/contact/email functionality that already exists in most mobile phones.

              1. Julz

                Re: Repeat after me:

                Lotus notes was a database with various functionality like email attached.

            2. TheMeerkat

              Re: Repeat after me:

              > If you think Outlook is any good at email, you really don't understand email.

              If you think Outlook is bad, you have never used Thunderbird on Linux for work (my current employer is cheapskate and makes us use Lunix instead of Macs).

              1. ovation1357

                Re: Repeat after me:

                Thunderbird is outstandingly good as an email client with 'okay' calendaring - sadly they've been doing various evil things to the user interface of late but I would take it 100 times over outlook or i could persuade them to allow it where i work.

                Outlook is nothing short of atrocious - the search is almost nonexistent and I find the UI impossible.

                I don't think I'll ever quite understand why some people love outlook so much not why others hate thunderbird with such passion.

                From my perspective, with outlook I find it extremely hard to keep up with day to day messages and can rarely find emails I need once they've fallen out of my current inbox view. The calendar is really confusing and I often misread times or even the correct day in the way it draws everything.

                On thunderbird I can usually find emails in a matter of seconds, even from years ago. The calendar is clear and I never misread the date or time.

                Both suck a bit in terms of HTML or rich text message editing.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Repeat after me:

                > my current employer is cheapskate and makes us use Lunix instead of Macs

                I assume you mean Linux (as opposed to Lunix). As for "cheapskate", I think you could ponder Richard Stallman's quote: "Free as in 'freedom' not as in 'free beer' ".

                In my experience, Mac is only loved by people who haven't passed beyond the "homebrew-level".

            3. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Repeat after me:

              Almost everyone who uses email, understands what matters to them. The email gets written. It has stuff attached to it. It goes to the right people.

              It gets replies. The replies get put into the right folder (optional for some users, but should be essential).

              Outlook also has calendering. I wish the calendar element wasn't so often ignored by the techies I speak to or see on El Reg.Or in the development of email clients. I assume because they're focussed on email as a communication tool ( which it is of course) rather than an administration tool. Emails often require the calendar to be on hand. Joe emails and says "Can we meet at my office on Thursday 23rd" - you open the calendar tab, check and add it in if it's OK. Then reply to Joe to confirm. Yes you can have a separate programme and open that. But since the two functions go hand in hand it's so much easier to have then together.

              i.e. Outlook isn't about email- it just has email as a main purpose. It's an organiser.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Repeat after me:

                As much as I despise Microsoft, and hate the various de-improvements they've made to Office in the last few years, Outlook is unfortunately nearly indispensable for $WORK due to the features you just mentioned. The fact that you can not only send an email asking if people can meet at a particular time, but actually show when all the proposed recipients will be available, send invitations, have the system track the responses, and remind you a user-configurable amount of time before the meeting is really, really useful.

                I, too, wonder why more techies don't use this functionality. Being a techie that has to work with multiple departments, I *always* mark my vacation days, WFH days, etc. on my Outlook calendar, so anybody needing to meet with me knows in advance what days won't work. I have for years. If my calendar says "available", it's true unless something comes up between now and then.

                (I don't need this at home; we use a paper calendar for the family. Running 1 Macbook (SWMBO) and 4 Linux machines, including one for the 9-year-old, who has no difficulty with it at all. Get 'em started early.)

        3. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          It took me a few years to move from Outlook to Thunderbird, because of two aspects of the calendar component. One was that the calendar wasn't integral for a long time, but an add-on. The other was synchronisation- to other computers and iPhone. and that works well now, but is still an add-on (TBSync) and so relies on the goodwill and availability of a volunteer dev..

          I do miss the filter rules of Outlook, even after several years of TB use. TB's rules are very simple and basic, no more than choosing between if all/any of [element] is [content] do [action]. There's no Boolean Logic types of filtering. In Outlook I could use the various rules option for, say as an example, "If the [subject] is [subject name] and the sender is [person name] move message to [subject specific sent sub folder].

          Which would then put any messages about a given subject that had been sent out into a subject specific sent folder, rather than them going into the general "sent" folder or just the subject folder itself. And all messages received into a received folder. Very useful if the sender sends out lots of emails which are needed to be retained, only some of which need and get a direct reply. In TB I have to manually retrieve them from the TB Sent folder and place them in the subject specific Sent subfolder.

        4. lamp

          Re: Repeat after me:

          The Thunderbird calendar is excellent. It works with our company calendar server and also Google calendar. So Linux desk is taken care of! On my Android phone I can sync with both of them using davx5. So much better than Notes calendar which we once used during our IBM partner days, but it wouldn't talk to anything...

    3. Lurko

      Re: Repeat after me:

      despite the eye watering savings in MS licensing

      Hardly. A MS365 "full fat" licence is what £22* a month, £264 a year assuming you're not big enough to blag a discount? I'll ignore the cheaper web-only licences, because the web-only apps are total and utter crap. Now, what's your all-in costs for all IT in a typical large company - usually around £2-3k a year. Even that all-IT is a fraction of the average office worker cost. So yes, savings to make, and they'll add up if you have enough employees - but when netted off against the fact that 90%+ of your workforce are already familiar with Office, why take the risk? When it all goes to shit (for any reason) the sales director or FD will be blaming the move away from MS, and the CIO is in the very hot seat. Why do it?

      What is there in an M365 to FOSS move (or even paid Linux) that is in any way career enhancing for a CIO?

      * Admittedly there's other costs such as exchange licencing and the other ways MS bilk corporates, but there's notable costs for a corporate trying to configure and run a FOSS equivalent.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Repeat after me:

        I don't really care what the clients are running but I do consider the move towards M365 as an example of systemic risk and, therefore, very much something that CIOs should be aware of.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Repeat after me:

        You haven't costed replacing all your W10 only PCs with W11-supporting and then replacing them again when AI-specific requirements become essential and W11 support is discontinued, just to make sure you get the message.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          Realistically, given the timescales, most corporates and many SMBs will have replaced the majority of machines which don't meet the W11 requirements.

          We've not got many left now, and all of them are heading towards six years old.

          I'm not in favour of the hardware requirements, but I think they actually hit home users much more because they tend to keep computers for longer than would be the case i most businesses.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Repeat after me:

          Most businesses we deal with operate on a 3 to 5 year hardware replacement timeframe, so more than likely will be able to run W11.

        3. Casca Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          You dont work in a company I guess?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Repeat after me:

        So £264 a year per employee, plus Exchange, OneDrive, etc. isn't a big deal for a 1000+ employee company? There's also less risk of data leakage (what exactly is Microsoft slurping?), and if you can ditch MS Office in preference for something FOSS, you can then move to a FOSS OS for an additional savings per employee/machine.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          And how much does it cost to develop and then support that FOSS solution? And what can't it do which M365 can, especially around remote working? With Sharepoint, the users can access the files from anywhere, and the M365 apps are designed to hook into it. Somethign equivalent built in-house is going to be time-consuming, expensive, and won't have the integration with the desktop apps.

          The MS monopoly is not a good thing, but it's operationally far, far easier for companies with standard IT requirements than putting together some home-brew Linux setup.

          There are also no Linux equivalents to Azure AD and Intune. The move to people working in various locaitons, including from home, makes these things all the more important.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: Repeat after me:

            I don't think anyone is suggesting that any company implement everything themselves. There are some perfectly good alternative solutions for pretty much everything you list. Sharepoint itself is an abomination and horrible to work with just for sharing files. What does Active Directory do that something based on LDAP can't? And there are plenty of alternatives to Intune for device management.

            I think the clients are key for user acceptance, but there are alternatives for many things: just look at how they manage with mobile devices.

            I really am worried by the corporate march to M365 and the updated "nobody got sacked for buying IBM" approach. I am convinced that, as more and more stuff moves onto Microsoft's platform, the risks will just get bigger and we will see some catastrophic failures.

            1. 43300 Silver badge

              Re: Repeat after me:

              Not Active Directory - Azure Active Directory (or 'Entra' as they have recently renamed it) - which is cloudy so works with computers scattered over a wide area.

              For a single office (or several with linked networks) there are options which aren't too onnerous. When there are users working from home and various other sites, it gets very difficult.

            2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: Repeat after me:

              > as more and more stuff moves onto Microsoft's platform, the risks will just get bigger and we will see some catastrophic failures.

              You need to correct this | sed "s/we will see some/we saw, see, and will continue to see more/". But you are out of the edit window :D.

              1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
                Black Helicopters

                Re: Repeat after me:

                True, but I'm also worried about potentially even bigger failures: complete control of a domain. Or, what happens when someone gets control of parts of Microsoft's cloud?

        2. Lurko

          Re: Repeat after me:

          "So £264 a year per employee, plus Exchange, OneDrive, etc. isn't a big deal for a 1000+ employee company? "

          I see a lot of objectors to my view, who presumably believe Microsoft's domination of enterprise desktops is so irrational that it must be down to a conspiracy. But lets go back to the question none have so far addressed:

          What is there in an M365 to FOSS move (or even paid Linux) that is in any way career enhancing for a CIO?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Repeat after me:

            You mean aside from significant cost savings, enhanced stability and security, and lack of vendor lock-in?

            No need to look for a conspiracy. Microsoft has done a very good job of tying all their software together and perpetuating the marketing that "everybody has to use Office, it's the only real solution" despite that simply not being true.

            1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

              Re: Repeat after me:

              So where are the examples of medium or large organizations successfully making the switch and realizing these significant cost savings? Surely it has been tried by some brave CIO who didn't fall for the marketing scam. The lack of coverage in the FOSS media world of such examples seems to suggest these examples don't exist.

              1. Dickie Mosfet

                Re: Repeat after me:

                > So where are the examples of medium or large organizations successfully making the switch and realizing these significant cost savings?

                Wikipedia has some interesting examples... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Linux_adopters#Businesses_and_non-profits

                1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

                  These are mostly examples of running Linux on servers and special function machines such as point-of-sale computers, which should be no surprise to anyone here. I may have missed one, but I'm not sure there are any examples in that list of an org successfully moving it's office workers, managers, and executives over to Linux machines for general productivity and communication/collaboration.

      4. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

        Re: Repeat after me:

        >>MS365 "full fat" licence is what £22* a month

        Other price plans are available... the last I paid for an MS365 license was...... ~£5 per year per seat. About the same as the Adobe Everything (Premier, Photoshop, After Effects - the whole shooting match) license... I would show you the bills but that would dox myself, which would be stupid.

        1. ianbetteridge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          I have friends who make a good living simply advising companies on how to navigate the complexity of Microsoft licensing. Not my idea of a thrilling job, but it pays very well.

          But yes, the entry level Office is about that and a good deal - 1Tb OneDrive storage for each employee plus all the web apps (not the desktop versions, but the web apps are more than good enough for most people).

    4. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Repeat after me:

      "In those years there hasn't been a single role or outfit I have worked for that could have adopted Linux even if they wanted to."

      That's some serious hyperbole.

      They could have adopted it, at any time. It would have cost money to transition, they would have had to made some small sacrifices, not unlike ANY upgrade or system change project.

      But saying they COULDN'T have done it is just wrong. They didn't want to.

      Any one single item you might consider a blocker will have an alternative that may be less preferable, but equally as viable.

      I've yet to actually work in a single place where I couldn't have just replaced everything with Linux overnight, let the users scream and shout for a few weeks, and then business would have just carried on as normal. Maybe you'd have to swap out a banking integration with a dumb bank that only knows about Windows, or had to change the office suite to a web version, etc. but saying that not one place you've ever worked could have gone Linux is just a flat-out lie.

      What you mean is: "without impact", but the impact of changing any system is pretty much there, even going from Windows to Windows, or merging two Windows networks, or whatever.

      1. Peshman

        Re: Repeat after me:

        Well, I see your hyperbole comment and direct you to Munich.

        https://www.theregister.com/2017/11/13/munich_committee_says_all_windows_2020/

        1. Adair Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          Munich: Politics ...

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Repeat after me:

            Politics of the "How would it be if we set up a regional office here?" sort.

        2. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          They said that in 2014:

          https://www.neowin.net/news/munich-germany-realizes-that-deploying-linux-was-a-disaster-going-back-to-windows/

          After a decade of already being on Linux. I wouldn't call an entire decade of operation (in fact nearly two) "unviable", would you?

          And there's already a campaign to return to it again.

          Their flip-flop has far more to do with their political landscape and opportunity to profit than it does the technical viability of what they're doing.

          And, hell, running Windows software on Linux in 2004 was a VASTLY different landscape to today's mostly-web-services environments.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Repeat after me:

        But saying they COULDN'T have done it is just wrong. They didn't want to.

        In my until-recently $WORKPLACE I could lot onto any company PC anywhere (office, the the road, at home, or remote login to a virtual machine) and see the same desktop and the same folder of my stuff. I could use my work phone number for incoming and outgoing calls. Is all of that do-able with Linux only?

        1. Adair Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          Isn't that the old mainframe model—everything else is just a dumb terminal. Everything old is new again.

          I'm afraid I'm not qualified to answer your challenge though. My personal setup is accessible wherever, but I don't have an IP phone setup, and I don't support a workforce of tens, let alone hundreds.

          Maybe others can supply an honest answer at an institutional level.

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: Repeat after me:

            Isn't that the old mainframe model—everything else is just a dumb terminal.

            But with extra nickle and diming steps. A LOT of extra steps. Ca-ching!

        2. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          You mean remote terminals, virtual machines and SIP?

          Gosh. I wonder how long they've been the core design of other desktop OS and, for instance, when things like Asterisk took over the SIP-based telephony market.

          You keep reinventing the wheel. The rest of us know that Windows was the LAST operating system to add those features, with the exception of Macs that literally REMOVED such features from their desktop environment.

          Honestly, of all the arguments...

        3. Julz

          Re: Repeat after me:

          Hun, Sun Ray?

    5. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Repeat after me:

      I've worked at a company that used Linux on everything, all the way up to the CEO's laptop. It worked very well, actually. It was a software/electronics company, with about 40 staff in 2011, so not a big company by any means.

      But just because Microsoft has tools for lazy sysadmins and Evil HR, doesn't mean a company actually needs them, if it has a decent sysadmin and actually trusts its own staff.

      If open source software doesn't fit your corporate culture, I'd suggest changing the corporate culture, rather than buying Kool-Aid from Microsoft.

      Anyway, to play your little anonymous guessing game, I'd hazard a guess that some of the "missing components" you are referring to are:

      • Distributed Filesystem (DFS), the corporate version of SMB. Not sure if Samba/CIFS supports this fully, but it's pretty close.. As for Linux-native alternatives, NFS sucks, I agree. There are better alternatives, though. Coda perhaps? Or else you can still stick with CIFS
      • Device/TPM provisioning - this is an EvilHR(tm) feature that can be dispensed with, or can be provided by the firmware if you really need it
      • Group Policy i.e. setting local user permissions at a fine-grained level. This is a LazyIT (tm) feature that can be dispensed with, if you trust and educate your staff.
      • Software provisioning e.g. with the Win11 App framework - ensuring that local software is kept up to date and consistent - there are plenty of ways to do this without Microsoft, but it does require the sysadmin to have a clue and get out of bed once in a while ..
      • Corporate VPN? That's well-covered by NetworkManager these days..
      I don't know what else you could be thinking of.. Printer drivers? Nope, that works far better than Windows now.. Teams/Slack/etc are all there.. Libreoffice is there.. Maybe you'd miss the "interactive collaborative features" of MS Office, but if you want those (I don't), they are there on the Web version. There's even a OneDrive client for Linux that works nicely - But then again you are talking about "since 2005"..

      so.. maybe you have an antique plotter that only works on GPIB with a kernel-mode Windows driver? Or some other unusual peripheral with proprietary Windows NT compatible driver support? Or antique software that relies on ActriveX/COM, or kernel-mode libraries for DRM reasons. I do have some software that works perfectly in Wine except for the USB DRM Dongle. If only there were some standard way of doing that! Well there are, but not enough vendors use them. Lack of third-party vendor support is a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom..

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: Repeat after me:

        Sorry, but you really don't seem to have a clue about the realities, e.g.:

        "Group Policy i.e. setting local user permissions at a fine-grained level. This is a LazyIT (tm) feature that can be dispensed with, if you trust and educate your staff."

        I assume you've never actually done user support? Many staff are simply not going to have a clue how to configure anything, and might well inadvertently change something (depending how locked dow the system is). And what if you have 200 laptops scattered here, there and everywhere and need to make a configuration change? What do you propose? Remote support session with each of the 200 users?

        And user training, of course. Libre Office may be fine for the readership of forums like this, but it's sufficiently different from MS Office that many users are going to need training.

        The bottom line is that if this Linux utopia was all that some on here claim it to be, companies would be rushing to move to it. The reality is there are many reasons why most businesses would not consider it a realistic option.

        1. theOtherJT Silver badge

          Re: Repeat after me:

          | And what if you have 200 laptops scattered here, there and everywhere and need to make a configuration change?

          I had a puppet agent running as root (which the users were not allowed to have) on the laptops with a public endpoint that it would poll for changes every 15 minutes. If I needed to change a machine I'd update the manifest and the next time the thing checked in it would update the machine config accordingly. This had the double benefit of the fact that if someone changed something I didn't want them to change but it wasn't practical to completely lock (Common ones like the VPN config where the username was something people might realistically need to update, but the host address absolutely was not) it would simply change it back.

          It was, in fact, the same system we used to update the desktops and servers - even the switches by way of a switch management bastion. Everything was IaC. Everything was version controlled. All endpoints could be swapped from the "Prod" to "Test" branches as required. It even managed major version upgrades entirely remotely. We offered a "Things done fucked up" boot option that would connect to a sftp site, validate the machine certificate for your host, and download you the correct and pre-configured installed should something go terribly wrong. It was - in short - a metric fuck ton more reliable and convenient than AD was, where Microsoft had a nasty tendency to change what settings did between one version and the next, and occasionally just plain take them away from me.

          Now, this was not cheap - at least in terms of man-hours spent getting the thing to that state. Basically the entire infra was totally custom and there were effectively two full-time members of staff to support it, but then I don't recall AD being particularly cheap in that respect either - although I imagine it would be easier to hire people for.

          1. 43300 Silver badge

            Re: Repeat after me:

            "Now, this was not cheap - at least in terms of man-hours spent getting the thing to that state. Basically the entire infra was totally custom and there were effectively two full-time members of staff to support it"

            And that's the point isn't it - massive amount of work to set up and manage it all, and a level of staff resource to maintain it which many organisations simply won't have. And what if one of your staf leaves? Or both of them at the same time? How long will it take to recruit and train new staff? These are the sorts of reasons why Microsoft maintains its monopoly.

            1. theOtherJT Silver badge

              Re: Repeat after me:

              I totally take your point. We had full time 5 (it was meant to be 7, but for all the time I worked there, we never managed to have the complete set due to staff churn caused by the shockingly low pay given the complexity of the work) members of IT staff to support a company with about 1000 employees.

              Personally, I think that's pretty impressive. That means that each one of us was handling all the support requirements of 200 people, and this was definitely only possible because 90% of those people were using Linux systems that were basically impossible for them to break - and if they did break, due to hardware failure or something, they were all effectively identical and we could just swap in one from spares and have them going again in a matter of minutes. Compare and contrast where I work now where we have effectively 14 proper IT staff and another 4 help-desk technicians to support about 400 people and still provide what I see as a much worse user experience, but can't do anything about it because our management absolutely insist that all users must get local root.

              I think what @cyberdemon was getting at in their "Lazy IT" comment was that it's a matter of training the IT staff to be able to run a thing like this, and not just relying on people who are just about good enough at their jobs to click through the list of GPOs and it'll probably work, most of the time, for most people, maybe.

              I'm not sure it's fair to call those people "Lazy" perhaps so much as "low skilled" and you do get what you pay for. It seems like the barrier to entry for managing Linux at scale is much higher than it is for Windows, but that itself has upsides as well as down. Basically any idiot (including myself, back when I was responsible for the Windows desktops) can click through the GUI and find a bunch of GPOs that sound about right and apply them to the fleet and get a "sort of good enough on a clear day" level of management, but it takes a much more skilled Windows specialist than I ever was to be on the ball about which of those were deprecated in the last release, which don't work for the "Education" edition but require "Enterprise", which just plain don't work any more... I got caught out by AD an awful lot of times. That's before we get into the problems caused by someone clicking though a UI rather than using something like Desired State Configuration (is that still a thing?) because a lot of the Windows admins I've met over the years don't even know that's something Windows can do.

              But then again I'm not a Windows admin, and if that were my job full time I'd expect to be expected to know that sort of thing and design things accordingly. As a Unix admin I was required to know a very different set of things, and I don't actually think there's a massive difference in the number of good Unix and Windows admins out there, there's just a fuck ton of bad Windows admins available because of the ubiquity of Windows devices.

              When it comes to managing Linux at scale the answer seems to be "You can do it properly or you can't do it at all." where as Windows is totally possible to do badly.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Repeat after me:

            "Now, this was not cheap - at least in terms of man-hours spent getting the thing to that state."

            This is the very important point. I have something sort of similar which only manages a few personal devices, and it's great, but I can't put a company on it. I can't find them a turnkey solution either. I could improve my version to be at least somewhat production capable (the spec for my version is that if I totally screw something up, it is okay if I have to go to it and physically fix it, but that's not going to work for even a small business).

            Usually, when some company isn't choosing Linux, it isn't because it would really be impossible to do, or even prohibitively difficult, but that it would take a lot of effort. Whenever you have to justify spending that amount of time, both as a setup cost and an ongoing maintenance cost, someone will ask what you get out of it, and the reduction in Windows licensing is usually not enough to justify it. Freedom to modify the software is almost never even considered a benefit at all, since most businesses don't plan on changing either the Windows or Linux source. Other claims, like Linux failing less or stretching hardware support lifetimes, are difficult to prove or estimate for that viability meeting, and even if you could, might turn out to be rather small savings.

            1. cyberdemon Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Repeat after me:

              One good reason is not being beholden to Microsoft's release cycle. You can choose to stay on a version that works and install whatever subset of updates at whatever timescale you feel to be prudent. Whereas with Microsoft, you get "Welcome to the all-new Teams! We've made loafs of changes which we think you'll love! If not, well, fuck off" or Google "sorry this product is being sunsetted. We kniw you have nowhere else to go.. Ha ha fuck off"

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Repeat after me:

                I know the annoyance of a new Teams release, but generally, that is not considered much of a cost by the people you need to convince. When you're pitching hiring people to build management tools and infrastructure, training everyone to use Linux, and replacing any software that isn't compatible, you have to go to various meetings where you'll be asked what benefit you expect, measured in currency. You can sometimes measure it in time, which they will mentally change to currency, but either way, you will be asked for that justification.

                Avoiding updates you don't like is not very convincing to those people. If they're nontechnical, they ask how much money not updating Windows will save. If they're technical, they point out that you already can block most types of updates and that you usually choose not to so you avoid being one of those people for whom EternalBlue malware still worked. Either way, they're looking for something that's either more obvious or just larger. I listed some examples above, most of which are larger, and even those tend not to convince them. If you want them to change to Linux, you need to understand why they're not convinced, and it isn't a Microsoft employee skulking outside the door with brown envelopes. There are a lot of parts to it, but one of them can be that they don't understand what the benefit is and we are not doing a good job of explaining it.

              2. Casca Silver badge

                Re: Repeat after me:

                You should try to work in a large company...

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Repeat after me:

        Group Policy Objects.

      3. Casca Silver badge

        Re: Repeat after me:

        Trust your staff? Thats a good way to get ransomware...

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Repeat after me:

          Don't trust your staff? That's a good way to get shit employees, because all the good ones have left.

          An evil boss of HR once (rather too candidly) told me "The role of HR is to protect the company from its employees.." I didn't stay there long.

          1. theOtherJT Silver badge

            Re: Repeat after me:

            Trust no one. No one can be trusted. It only takes one moment of carelessness or a single malicious employee to do catastrophic damage.

            I have a user who has, because he has local root on a shared GPU cluster, managed to force us to send his entire team home multiple times because he's totally hosed the cluster by playing with things he doesn't understand to the point where we've had to actually go into the server room and rebuild the thing from the local console.

            He's not a bad person, but he's absolutely not qualified to be administering a Linux system. He's a software developer. Presumably he's a good software developer, because despite the number of times he's done things like this and we've not let him go, but he can't be trusted with local root.

            It only takes one fuckup to seriously ruin everyone's day.

    6. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Repeat after me:

      The mistake is assuming that 100% of services need to move in one go.

      The two can, and probably should co-exist. If I could have an approved linux distro as my work device and access to appropriate VM's to run Windows apps where necessary this would be excellent.

      With so many basic applications migrated to web based front ends the number of cases where you need a fat client for anything other than the browser itself is declining,

    7. ldo

      Look At Cutting-Edge Enterprises ...

      ... like Google/Alphabet and Facebook/Meta. You think their staff have Windows on their desktops?

      No, they have Linux.

      1. theOtherJT Silver badge

        Re: Look At Cutting-Edge Enterprises ...

        Most of the ones I know use Macs.

    8. vincent himpe

      Re: Repeat after me:

      Would that be : the ability to run EXISTING APPLICATIONS without hassle ?

      Businesses don't use operating systems to do work. They use applications. Applications that, often, only exist for the microsoft operating systems. There may be "similar" applications but they are NOT THE SAME. Retraining the workforce , changing business operations. Not going to happen.

      I'm in the technical domain. Catia, Siemens NX, Solidworks, Altium and lots of other CAD. sorry bub , windows only ... Running it under Wine doesn't work.

      1. ldo

        Re: Applications that, often, only exist for the microsoft

        Actually, they’re predominantly cloud-based now, and the cloud—even Microsoft’s cloud—is mainly Linux.

        1. vincent himpe

          Re: Applications that, often, only exist for the microsoft

          That's the backend. i'm talking front end, that what runs on the users machine. Linux is fine ticking away in a server room somewhere. User facing ? Not so much.

          1. ldo

            Re: what runs on the users machine

            The user’s machine in cloud-centric setups is basically the 21st-century equivalent of a “dumb terminal”, running a browser for consuming cloud-based apps. So the OS it’s running becomes essentially unimportant: a Chromebook could fill the bill.

            1. vincent himpe

              Re: what runs on the users machine

              You clearly have not read my post. Try running CAD applications like Catia, Solidworks, NX , Altium and the likes. That doesn't work over remote desktop or on Wine. Adobe tools ? Rhino ? Anything GPU intensive with realtime 3D doesn't work over a remote desktop or in a browser.

              The funny thing is that, traditionally, heavy CAD was always *NIX based : HP-UX, Solaris, Irix. The only ones remaining is Cadence and Mentor, although the PCB tools also have gone windows.

              The remaining (commercial) Linux based tools are VERY picky on what distro. Mainly only specific versions of RHEL. Try it on anything else and you get no support at all. You are on your own, don't complain if you encounter issues. You can't do work like that. you are spending more time second-guessing and fixing the apps than actually doing productive work. Application users are not coders or sysadmins. That's a different world. There it DOES work. Outside that realm : not so much.

              The Linux desktop ecosystem is simply too fragmented to cover all ifs, thens and buts. Every UI is different, using different runtimes and different libraries. They don't even use the same install mechanisms. Patch and Break. The application manufacturers don't want to deal with it. Windows is easier. Most windows applications are version agnostic. There may be a minimum version but that's mainly it.

              The same is true for browser based apps. Remember the misery with having to make websites that could work in IE, Mozilla, Chrome, Opera. For many years you had to code HTML differently and detect the browser used. Fortunately that has mostly gone away. Almost every browser these days uses one of two cores.

              Re-unify all the linux UI's around a common core , and have one package installer. That way anything can install anywhere and run anywhere, just like Windows and Mac.

              But that goes against the grain of the entire Linux world. And that is the issue. It is too fragmented and too hard for the app developers to support all permutations.

              Please don't start about source or open-source. The source of these applications is not available and never will be. And the knock-offs are not the same. Similar isn't good enough. Data exchange and translation are a forever headache and time-hog.

              The (desktop application) business world doesn't work that way.

              Linux has its place. But not on the desktop. Not until they solve some base things : making sure the existing apps can run. I understand that from a system admin perspective linux has certain advantages. But the desk worker has nothing to do with that. He/She needs to be productive. They have nothing to do with the OS. The OS is only there to run applications and access file systems over a network. We will run the OS required for the application pool needed.

              1. ldo

                Re: what runs on the users machine

                Have you noticed that most of those proprietary apps you mention have gone rentware now? You have to keep paying an ongoing subscription to use them, and if you stop, you lose control of your own work?

                The reason is simple: it’s the only way left to keep making money from a stagnant or shrinking user base.

                1. vincent himpe

                  Re: what runs on the users machine

                  Yes and no. The cost of developing these things is staggering and the user base too small. Silicon tools have always been rentware.

                  Others like Solidworks and Altium are not rentware. They keep working but are frozen in time. You pay a subscription to keep getting updates, new features and bugfixes. Maintenance essentially.

                  You don't lose your work. I have a 3 year old license of Solidworks. It still works fine. I don't need the latest and greatest. Same for Adobe Creative Suite. Altium is the same deal. It keeps running but is frozen in time. That one i keep up to date as i make money of it. Silicon Design tools are true rentware. Stop paying and it stops working. This is akin to silicon testers where you pay for "test time" : you pay by the hours the machine is running so it is in everyone's benefit to test a given component as quickly as possible.

                  1. ldo

                    Re: what runs on the users machine

                    > The cost of developing these things is staggering

                    Or maybe the marketing cost is staggering, the development cost is relatively small. I saw an engineer do a review on YouTube of a Solidworks alternative—I think it might have been FreeCAD. He confessed that he had actually used it for some paid jobs, in place of Solidworks. So the professional-level quality is there, even if the marketing isn’t.

                    > They keep working but are frozen in time. You pay a subscription ...

                    ... to keep using the same old software?

                    Have a look at the Open Source options; if they aren’t quite up to scratch, why not put your money to making it so? If just a few hundred users of a proprietary product did that, think how much better the Open Source product would become. And it wouldn’t be “frozen in time”.

                    > You don't lose your work.

                    No, it just gets locked.

                    > I don't need the latest and greatest.

                    A key point about being a professional is to grow with your job, as it evolves in a changing world to adapt to new needs. Maybe the ones who still have that attitude have moved to Open Source? Meanwhile, it sounds like you are just marking time until retirement. Just like the software you use.

    9. joejack

      Re: Repeat after me:

      Not sure what's keeping you on Outlook, but Mailbird was good enough to get me to actually buy a perpetual license. Worth checking out. Talks to Exchange servers, has hooks into a number of other apps, can integrate its own calendar, or Google Calendar via webview. Task list on the side, or hook into Todoist (no TickTick support yet, sadly).

      https://www.getmailbird.com/features/

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Repeat after me:

        Mailbird is apparently an email client. It appears to have some contact management and synchronises with various online apps. But it does not seem to be claiming to do more than be an email client.

        Outlook is not an email client . It is an organiser. It does email. And calendars and calendar rules. And task lists.

        There are plenty of email clients. There are not plenty of organisers with email and calendar functions. Basically in Windows it's Thunderbird or Outlook. There may well be others with some level of comparable functionality, but they are certainly not well known.

  2. FF22

    "Statcounter says"

    You should have stopped right there. StatCounter has no clue how to do statistics.

    They count page views, not even unique visitors. They are only used on the smallest websites, not on any that has a more than few thousand visitors per year possibly.

    They don't know what sampling bias is, and don't even try to compensate for it.

    Because of these their numbers are not representative, and completely useless to determine install bases or changes in them. For all we know, Linux's market share amongst PC OSes could be 10% or 0.1%, because StatCounter's numbers and statistics are not actually measuring that, and any change in the latter might not correlate with the former.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Statcounter says"

      In what way does this bias the results?

      "For all we know, Linux's market share amongst PC OSes could be 10% or 0.1%"

      So "we" don't know what way it biases them but "we" know it does.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: "Statcounter says"

        It may not be biased in the political sense, but it's certainly not representative of the most popular websites. You could do a comparison of sites using the Chrome Lighthouse data to see how much overlap there is.

        Akamai used to provide browser info and I suspect Cloudflare and other CDNs could do as well. I suspect any of these would be more representative of the most popular websites than statcounter.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "Statcounter says"

          How representative are the most popular websites of overall website usage? If the OP is saying that any website counter is not a counter of installed base that's fair enough. A measure of installed base would need to include stuff that doesn't go near any web sites.

          OTOH we have a measure that's being taken as some sort of proxy for installed base and if that makes what appears to be a significant change month-on-month it needs more than a claim of unquantifiable bias to impugn that result. It may, of course, be that the overall numbers are that statcounter has are so small that their increase isn't statistically significant. Otherwise you'd need to understand the nature of the bias sufficiently well to show that a change there is what's underlying the apparent change in the overall share.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: "Statcounter says"

            How representative are the most popular websites of overall website usage?

            I think you've answered that yourself in what looks very much like a tautology! ;-) As I said, it's just another easily available dataset which could be used to assess any similar kind of report. Of course, it is itself biased as it relies on the Chrome browser so it will never pick up what the fanbois are doing.

            The CDNs, which are generally mutually exclusive, have the advantage of not using third-party requests to collect the data.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: "Statcounter says"

        Its effect on the results could be changing frequently. For example, there is probably some attempt at deduplication effort here, but we don't know how they're doing it. If I run a bot that uses a Linux user agent and retrieves a couple thousand pages, whereas the normal user only retrieves three to five, then my bot should probably not be counted as four hundred users. Yet you can't just do it by IP address, because those are shared between multiple devices. That makes it difficult to decide how to count OSes, and the formulas are probably changed from time to time. Add in problems of sample size and you get a dataset that is not that easy to draw useful conclusions from.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Statcounter says"

      I wonder if it might be dramatically undercounting page views due to the user blocking third-party traffic? If so, that would tend to have a bias of underreporting more technical systems (like Linux), as generally those who block third-party traffic are more technically capable and thus are more likely to run things other than Windows...

    3. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: "Statcounter says"

      [Author here]

      > StatCounter has no clue how to do statistics.

      I welcome suggestions of better sources of information.

      There is little to no point in ever commenting "do not use X" unless you can suggest a better replacement.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: "Statcounter says"

        There is no good way to get such information.

        As such any numbers have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

        Best you can do, is what you are doing, take one "vendor" of browser usage data and see how their numbers change over time.

        I do a lot of web browsing with Firefox on a non WIndows OS, but user agent mimics Chrome on Windows, just to get around those badly coded sites that check user agent & say you are not supported (even though you can happily use the site with FF once past lazy browser gatekeeper test). I also complicate matters by having a lot of JS disabled for those aggressively intrusive JS browser tests some sites use (& obviously stuff like google analytics is blocked in my local setup at firewall level).

        IP address cannot be relied on, may be 1:1, but typically one to many e.g. at home several of us but all show as having same IP address (between us using Mac, Windows, Linux plus Android & iPhone), if I visited a site from work then hundreds of colleagues would also share that same IP address

  3. Aladdin Sane

    Maths

    3.08% to 4.03% is a 31% increase, not 25%

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Maths

      Or a "one percentage point" increase, if you're a politician trying to downplay a statistic.

      1. Julz

        Re: Maths

        Or 3/4's of a tractor, for lovers of Soviet statistics.

  4. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Linux Mint

    I believe Linux Mint will be the distro that ISV's will eventually rally around. It's the most user-friendly distro so far and seems to work on the widest range of hardware.

    It's still far from perfect, though. For example, a family member got errors on startup and it turned out that his boot partition was full. I needed to remove old kernels using "sudo apt-get autoremove". However, the boot partition was so full that it wouldn't boot properly. I had to resort to all sorts of voodoo command line stuff to reclaim enough disk space for it to work.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Linux Mint

      Would that be 1) boot off USB stick running a live iso 2) chroot into mint install 3) run apt-get autoremove?

      Or am I barking up the wrong tree totally. I agree too much for ordinary computer as a thing to be used people.

      1. Refugee from Windows

        Re: Linux Mint

        It's sudo apt autoremove when you run it.

        Yes it does need to be addressed, the issue of filling up the boot partition with redundant kernel versions, as it's been an issue for far too long.

        Mint, Lubuntu and Raspberry Pi OS here.

    2. BenDwire Silver badge

      Re: Linux Mint

      And that's why I always carry a bootable USB around with me on my keyring. It has allowed me to fix many a computer from forgotton passwords, viruses, and dodgy downloads. Fixing a full boot partition would be trivial, and wouldn't need much in the way of voodoo.

    3. theOtherJT Silver badge

      Re: Linux Mint

      I'm going to have to disagree.

      I reckon it'll be steamOS or whatever it is that Valves supports. Why do I think that? I think that gaming is a hook. Kids will own Steamdecks to play games, and then they'll get used to the idea that they can sort of use this thing as a PC too. Then as they get older they'll need an actual PC for work, but now - and here's the kicker - they're already comfortable with the idea of steamOS, and of course they still want to play games too, so why not stick with what they know?

      It's the same way that the 8 bit micros completely dominated the 80s. Gaming drove adoption. Yeah, they got killed off in business by the IBM PC, but they didn't die in the home until the PC was also capable of playing games so it could supplant them and do both. Games is a really powerful driving force.

      1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Linux Mint

        Any Linux distro can run games. I've got Steam installed on my Linux Mint desktop and can purchase games if I want to (haven't done so yet).

        Most people need a desktop to surf the web, read email, access their banking account and print a document every once in a while. Linux Mint suffices for that and is relatively easy to use (but the "autoremove" of kernels and installing of updates is still too technical in some cases).

        1. theOtherJT Silver badge

          Re: Linux Mint

          Sure, any distro can but steamOS is a product. It's a thing people can just buy and use without thinking about it. It changes the perception, and the perception of Linux has been more important than the reality for a long time. Linux has been "good enough" for a long time, but the perception doesn't match that. I personally like mint. It was my daily for a couple of years before I decided that stock Ubuntu was now good enough that I was happy to go back to that - but people really like a thing they can buy and don't have to think about. The major benefit is that it comes on the device and once it's gotten it's foot in the door that way...

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Linux Mint

            "The major benefit is that it comes on the device"

            On the device? That's a hand-held gaming console. Somebody looking for a laptop or desktop won't see that as a benefit.

            Yes, I know it can be downloaded and installed like any other distro but to those whith no interest in gaming its add-ons are going to be regarded as bloat.

            Mint or Zorin are probably the best options for Windows refugees at present. I've said before, there really should be an opening for a distro designed to install on a Windows PC by shuffling things around to make space and then use some combination of Wine, virtualisation and or mounting the user's directory on the C: drive as the home directory to use the user's old files and such applications as can't be easily replaced with FOSS alternatives.

            1. 43300 Silver badge

              Re: Linux Mint

              "there really should be an opening for a distro designed to install on a Windows PC by shuffling things around to make space and then use some combination of Wine, virtualisation and or mounting the user's directory on the C: drive as the home directory to use the user's old files and such applications as can't be easily replaced with FOSS alternatives."

              Like that's going to be 'simple' for a home user with basic IT skills! Wine for starters is temperamental and often needs a fair bit of fiddling to get it to run things (and some things it just won't run at all).

    4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Linux Mint

      I'm using Linux Mint on two desktops and a laptop now (successor to Xubuntu, successor to Lubuntu, successor to Ubuntu with which I replaced OS/2 in 2006).

      Linux Mint is shit. Sound is a gamble. The two identical desktops are attached to identical printers; one can only print using wifi and one can only print over USB. One will tile windows left and right, one won't. And so on.

      However ... Windows is even shitter and Linux Mint doesn't use snaps, which is why I put up with it for now.

      1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Linux Mint

        I too think it's far from perfect, but still a whole lot more palatable than Windows. There's so much cruft running on it and Microsoft really doesn't care much about maintaining it properly. Often, junior developers seem to be in charge of updating it, continuously breaking things after updates have been rolled out.

        The senior developers have all been moved to Azure and now, AI. Interns are now mucking around in the Windows kernel.

        Microsoft seems to believe Windows will survive merely on inertia. I predict they'll be in a for a shock.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Linux Mint

          Windows really does seem to be written by a bunch of complete amateurs now. I am amazed at how often they manage to break things.

    5. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Linux Mint

      Been running Mint for a family member for two years.

      Their only issue has been 50 YouTube tabs open at once. On a low spec 8 year old PC.

      Reboot. Sorted. Explained issue. Advised them to pay attention to tabs.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "We suspect that, sooner or later, someone will hit a magic combination of some near-bulletproof immutable OS and transactional packaging system that makes Linux conclusively easier than any Microsoft offering, even for your grandparents."

    I can't remember when the last of my grandparents. !960s, probably. Will a retired hair-dresser cousin-in-law aged about 90 do instead? Zorin with plain old-fashioned dpkg-based updates works perfectly well. All this transactional-stuff sounds over complicated for something that Just Works.

    Although a couple of weeks ago, after she had problems with an ATM and the bank's help line (what sort of bank's help-line tells a 90-year-old to clear her cache?*) I went over to take a look. I think she simply got confused about entering 2FA data but as Firefox was on v113 I thought I'd update it just in case.

    Hmmm. Zorin's software management system has 3 entries for Firefox. It has Snap and Flatpak as well as the normal repository. All this helpful stuff just confuses things. Just run apt update and apt upgrade occasionally.

    KISS

    * Answer: a Spanish-owned one.

  6. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    It is the UI

    and nearly ONLY the UI which prevents good sales. That includes way to many annoying popups, which makes using an unadjusted Windows 11 like this scene.

    1. theOtherJT Silver badge

      Re: It is the UI

      UIs are important, but TBH I think that Gnome has been a "good enough" desktop for quite a while now. Certainly for the last 4 years. Even my eighty-something year old parents are just fine with it. In fact they like it better than Windows because it has fewer buttons. They just pin the four or five apps they ever use to the Ubuntu taskbar and get on with their lives and it isn't constantly asking them to sign into things or do updates. Those I set to happen automatically in the background and they never thought about them again.

      Here's why I think they wouldn't have bought machines with Ubuntu on if I'd not bought them for them:

      They had no idea that such a thing existed.

      And that is probably the biggest blocker to people taking up Linux as a desktop these days. Most people have either no clue there is such a thing, or if they do know about it, they think that's some nerd thing for nerdy nerds that they can't imagine themselves wanting because they're normal people who don't cast magic spells that look like this ${array[${#array[@]}-1]^^}.

      Even for me - who is very aware that Linux exists and would very much like to be able to buy computers with it pre-installed - it's remarkably hard to do so. Most vendors will sell you Windows or Windows, and if you try and convince them to sell you a machine with no OS at all, because you don't want Windows, they just plain won't.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It is the UI

        Some of them just plain will: https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/

        Although you then have to spec it yourself which, again, isn't going to help most prospective customers.

        1. theOtherJT Silver badge

          Re: It is the UI

          Indeed. I'm typing this from a Dell XPS15 running Ubuntu 22.04. It's without a doubt the best machine I've ever had, but it was issued by the company I work for and it arrived in the office with Windows 10 on it, and we had to re-build it. Dell actually do offer Linux on the XPS13, but go to this page and look at the "operating systems" list on the left, it's not there. You have to select the machine with Windows and then customise it to chose Linux. What's more they only let you do that on one specific machine! Despite the fact that Ubuntu works perfectly on the XPS15, they won't sell it to you.

      2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: It is the UI

        > that look like this ${array[${#array[@]}-1]^^}

        Which magic spell do you use to get monospaced-coding-style front on el-reg?

        For the rest of your comment: Indeed, the "surfing, email, browser-games, look at pictures and videos from phone" works with every OS, this is were linux works great as desktop.

        But Windows does have it's magic spells too. And I am not talking about powershell, which is readable and better than bash, I talk about .CMD perversions which make bash look like "object oriented programming".

        1. theOtherJT Silver badge

          Re: It is the UI

          I was informed (in a way that I think was intended as an insult, but never mind) that for those of us with enough comment history to prove we're not bots that El Reg supports a small set of HTML tags. In this instance the one you want is code.

          And yes, there's plenty of weird arcane shit in Windows, but Linux has a reputation for this stuff. Probably not really deserved at this point, but it's definitely there - especially amongst people who perhaps flirted with the thing a bit back in the early 2000s and were traumatized by being expected to occasionally do things in bash and swore "never again".

          I personally love it, but bash is very much a product of a different era and to the average person it looks like fucking voodoo.

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            Re: It is the UI

            > In this instance the one you want is code.

            Oh, so that's what I need to use. I tried pre and many other things, but not code.

            This "limited set of html" is a not-so-clear description, it is missing the list of supported tags - at least by the time I got notified that I am eligible to "limited set of html"...

            1. theOtherJT Silver badge

              Re: It is the UI

              I'd give you the full list, but I'm afraid I can't find it. It's a bit like the rules for the badges. I've definitely seen it, but I have trouble finding it any time someone asks about it. The things I know work are i b strike code a sub sup q ul li blockquote but there might be others.

              1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge
          2. Ace2 Silver badge

            Re: It is the UI

            Back in 2000 or so I spent hours trying to figure out how to fix all of the delete & backspace mapping issues I was having.

            Now, $WORK is generally all Linux, all day, but based on that earlier experience I still have no interest in ever using it as a daily driver.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Colin Bull 1

        Re: It is the UI

        " it's remarkably hard to do so. Most vendors will sell you Windows or Windows, and if you try and convince them to sell you a machine with no OS at all, because you don't want Windows, they just plain won't."

        3 upvotes for this. But as much as I like PCspecialist, I have found their CPUs are 6 months behind the curve of the major PC suppliers.

        Dell will supply PCs without Windows but I am completely flummoxed as to how to do this. I am sure the Competition and Markets authority should be doing something about this but I guess the FOSS eco system is not geared up to dishing out the brown envelopes. Every time I buy a PC I shudder at having to pay the MS tax and not get any benefit.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: It is the UI

      "and nearly ONLY the UI which prevents good sales."

      Nothing to do with the cost of replacing perfectly serviceable H/W every time Microsoft says "jump!"? And they've fixed the buggy updates?

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: It is the UI

        The masses don't "jump" when the upgrade says "nope, too old PC". They get it with new hardware when the old hardware dies. Except for a few ultra-nerds who need Nested-V for AMD (here), robocopy.exe /iorate (here), WSL (dontcare), containers (dontcare) or similar non-ui-related feature, no one jumps. (Yes, I forgot those who jump on every newest thing just o show off that they have the newest whatever thing, but I love to forget them on purpose)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: It is the UI

          So it really is the H/W replacement that's preventing new sales?

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            Re: It is the UI

            It is not always a boolean operator as you VERY often try to paint it. See "Thou shall NOT reduce the argument down to two possibilities", aka "False Dichotomy".

        2. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

          Re: It is the UI

          >>(Yes, I forgot those who jump on every newest thing just o show off that they have the newest whatever thing, but I love to forget them on purpose)

          You shouldn't forget them - they are paying the R&D/Marketing costs for your new kit 5/15/50 (whatever) years down the road.

          Thank them for the sacrifice of their wallet to your pleasure... if you manage to talk to one of the "got to have the latest" crowd about that aspect their compulsion they tend to get a little, err, tense.

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            Re: It is the UI

            > if you manage to talk to one of the "got to have the latest" crowd about that aspect their compulsion they tend to get a little, err, tense.

            But I am lucky. Those I know personally, which are of that type, are honest. They clearly say that they like the newest stuff, and just for the fun of it, even if it does not make actual sense. Same goes for some Germans which drive oversized or speedy cars, they either say "of course a fun car, what else?" or "of course to size up my d*** and get women, what else?".

        3. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: It is the UI

          [Author here]

          > They get it with new hardware when the old hardware dies.

          Indeed. This is an application of Max Planck's observation:

          "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

  7. Julian 8 Silver badge

    Would love to, but...

    I have 2 issues which will keep me tied for now.

    First, we have a multi user subscription of M365 and the 1TB of OneDrive, that we all use to auto backup phones (mainly images) and then download to our laptops to have a local copy (other copies take place too). One of said users LIKES going onto their laptop and looking at the images locally as they are constantly clearing space on their phone and well, photo looking is good fun and on a decent size screen is better than the phone..

    So no OneDrive is a bit of a pain - and it just needs to work - I have seen options for rSync and other options, but the potential to go wrong is not good - IMHO

    2nd, the above user is remote, and even now requires quite a bit of hand holding. Some of that comes from the SWMBO, so needs familiarty with the OS, and then I often get involved. SWMBO is not a real techy and it is often the blind leading the blind when I hear the "support conversation", so that is not an area I want to get into - let alone try to do remote support with an OS that I am not 100% familiar with.

    W11 is making me WANT to move over (probably to Mint), but OneDrive is the biggest hurdle

    I also recall I was looking at WINE, but seems there are many potential packages and a couple of sites warned about not getting the wrong one as undoing what may have been installed can be painful and sometimes quicker to reinstall.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Would love to, but...

      Regarding Wine: Try PlayOnLinux. It allows multiple side-by-side Wine versions, with options and other software (like winetricks) installed per program. So you could have one program run using a really old Wine version but no other customizations, while another is running the latest plus several customizations, simultaneously. (And once set up, you just select the program from the list and hit Run. Don't have to redo everything each time.)

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Would love to, but...

      "OneDrive is the biggest hurdle"

      So you can do without the rest of MS 365-- and just need the cloud storage? There are competitors to OneDrive. I have been using Dropbox for over 10 years and it works great on Linux, I can highly recommend it.

      I also use rsync :) Because cloud and backup are not the same thing. But I wouldn't recommend rsync to the average user.

      There are many, many cloud storage competitors. Read the reviews online, then read the comments below the reviews, then scroll down in the search results and read some more, then finally take your pick.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Would love to, but...

        I use BackBlaze for cloud-based backups (via Duplicity). Very barebones, but that's what I have in mind; let my software copy to and from their storage, I don't need or want any other features. And they're cheap, too.

      2. chololennon
        Linux

        Re: Would love to, but...

        > "OneDrive is the biggest hurdle"

        In one of my openSUSE machines, I use the docker version of this "OneDrive Client for Linux" -> https://abraunegg.github.io/ no problems at all.

    3. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Would love to, but...

      There's a OneDrive client for Linux. I am using it on my work machine. While most of our employees use Windows 10/11, we have some Linux machines.

      https://github.com/abraunegg/onedrive

      Get a spare machine, and test it.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Would love to, but...

        Or use a VM or dual boot on the existing Windows machine.

    4. Pomgolian
      Linux

      Re: Would love top, but...

      I'm a fan of pCloud. Not only do they have an app for Android that automatically pushes pictures and videos up to the cloud but they have a Linux GUI application and also a Linux command line client that works really well. Any photos I take are on my PC which runs Linux Mint a few moments after I've taken them.

      I run the command line client on a couple of servers for backup purposes all from the same account. No need for OneDrive here!

  8. Pete Sdev Bronze badge
    Headmaster

    At that time, Statcounter's estimates for the Google distro were 4.15 percent. In other words, it was doing rather better than Linux itself,..

    ChromeOS is Linux, it's just not GNU/Linux.

    I'll contend that OS > Kernel, but then we should be more accurate when refering to GNU/Linux OSes.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      The author made that point, as well as bringing the old classic that Android is Linux. To me, these are weird things to be proud about, but I've argued against the celebrations of Linux's success on the backs of Android and Chrome OS and it doesn't change the minds of Liam or others like him. To me, the number of Linux kernels running isn't the goal, but the benefits that Linux tends to provide in the areas of system openness, user choice, and hardware and software longevity. Three goals that Chrome OS and Android don't share and deliver badly.

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Yeah if number of running kernels was the goal then we should celebrate MINIX 3 as the most popular OS given that it is what all these management engines built into CPUs run.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Precisely, the issue isn't about Linux under the hood. It's about Linux in everyday use, with everyday software utilities. On desks, doing work stuff.

      3. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        [Author here]

        > To me, the number of Linux kernels running isn't the goal, but the benefits that Linux tends to provide in the areas of system openness

        I think you're missing the points here.

        The points are:

        1. It's already won, on sheer numbers, or by unit sales, or by value of sales, or by number of users, or by almost any other metric you can suggest.

        2. The war is not for the desktop and never was: that's a red herring. The desktop is one battle in a war, which is arguably for user eyeballs, or bums on seats. To win against an entrenched opponent with a secure base, *move the conflict somewhere else*. (There is probably some Sun Tzu aphorism about this.)

        3. The real success story is FOSS over proprietary software. Software is just ideas how to do things, written down. When everyone knows how to do those things, the rivalry becomes religious not rational: "around here, we do things *this* way, not that way!" You can't readily defeat ideology with logic. But in the end you usually can with money: when it costs much more to follow one ideology than another, the expensive one loses out.

        4. From #3 we can see that arguing intensely over ideological purity is fun but futile. It doesn't matter. What matters is now "how free is this?" or "how pure is this?" They are Jesuitical debates of little real significance. The real question is: do more people use FOSS than proprietary software? And the answer is now yes, they do.

        5. The bigger point in terms of Linux adoption was in my final paragraph. That needs breaking down:

        [a] Servers:

        Those millions of Linux servers are mostly ephemeral. They are instantiated from a template, run, and then deleted. The distros and tools that make that [a] easiest [b] cheapest win, and nobody cares very much. Effectively, I suspect but cannot prove, most people run Debian in some form, but the less-technologically-adept companies run RHEL, which by the nature of FOSS pays for most of the R&D in Debian.

        This is how FOSS ends up beating proprietary, and Linux ends up beating *BSD. R&D by one vendor mostly helps all the vendors.

        [b] Client devices:

        There are billions of Android phones in use. That means that *the majority of the human race* now communicates via devices running Android, and Android runs on Linux.

        And the devices are lasting longer:

        https://www.theregister.com/2024/01/23/second_hand_device_market/

        What this means for Linux is that Linux *is good enough*. It works, it's reliable, most of the world runs on it.

        But most of the world _doesn't_ run on Linux distros. They are not good enough. They are too hard.

        The real question is: who will find a way to bring the reliability and simplicity of Android to desktop devices?

        One day, somehow, someone will. And they will win.

        1. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

          The real question is: who will find a way to bring the reliability and simplicity of Android to desktop devices?

          Whoever persuades PC/laptop manufacturers and/or retailers to sell machines with GNU/Linux pre-installed, installation being the largest hurdle.

          Whoever is able to offer support contacts for corporate users.

          Distros like Mint already provide reliability* and relative ease of use, once you've got it up and running.

          * Dammed pulseaudio not withstanding.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          "I think you're missing the points here."

          I think I'm entirely understanding the points you're making, I just think they're meaningless or useless. For example:

          "1. It's already won, on sheer numbers, or by unit sales, or by value of sales, or by number of users, or by almost any other metric you can suggest."

          Except the metrics I mentioned above, the ones I actually care about: system openness, user choice, and hardware and software longevity. All of your things really do boil down to "number of kernel installs on [some market segment]". I don't care about that. You clearly do, but that just demonstrates that we have differing goals.

          "2. [...] The desktop is one battle in a war, which is arguably for user eyeballs, or bums on seats."

          As I see that war, Linux is losing it. Linux may be beneath Android, but nobody says "I'm running a Linux phone". They say they're running Android, and that's what they have. Linux does not get user attention, doesn't convince the average user to do anything, and matters little to them. If their phone switched to Android on Fuchsia but looked the same, they wouldn't care. If it switched to any mobile Linux, they would be incensed.

          "3. The real success story is FOSS over proprietary software."

          Chrome OS and Android do not prove that. Large chunks are proprietary, the open chunks are frequently violating the spirit and sometimes the letter of the GPL, bootloaders are often closed source and locked down. But it is Linux, so we can call the entire thing FOSS when it doesn't bring much of the freedom or openness.

  9. thames

    We've been through this before

    I can recall when WordPerfect and Lotus 123 were the corporate standards on every business desktop and most office workers where I am had never heard of let alone seen Microsoft Word or Excel. We used email and calendaring software from somebody else whom I can't recall at this point, and project management software from some other company whom I also can't recall. Accounting had a set of custom Lotus 123 macros which were deeply knitted into their accounting process.

    However, the large manufacturing company that I worked for at the time got sold from one multinational to another multinational, and the new owners had a blanket license deal with Microsoft covering a wide range of products, including everything on the corporate "standard desktop". About a year after the company changed hands the edict came down from above that we were all to change to the new standard for cost saving reasons. The new bundle from Microsoft was slightly cheaper to license than the old bundle from a collection of other vendors.

    The general opinion of the users was that all the new stuff was worse than the old stuff and nobody knew how to use the new stuff. The new stuff from Microsoft was slow, buggy, hard to use, and didn't have all the functionality of the old stuff.

    However, none of that mattered. The new stuff was deemed to be cheaper as a bundle, so we were changing whether the users liked it or not (not that anybody actually asked us of course). This shouldn't be too surprising, as it's no different from how any other business decision was made.

    Training was not an issue. If you needed training you were given the phone number of a company which did training and you could go get yourself trained on your own time (the company would pay for it though). If you couldn't get use to the new stuff, well, you could be easily replaced.

    Your work quota of course would not be reduced by one iota during the transition. Just work longer (for no extra pay) if you were having any trouble with the transition.

    Accounting depended heavily on Lotus 123 macros. They got told "sucks to be you" and were given the phone number of a local consultant whom they could hire to rewrite their macros to work with MS Excel.

    I don't know how hard it was for the accounting people, but everybody else in engineering, sales, logistics, etc. figured things out for themselves and within a few weeks any remaining problems had faded into the background noise. The main problem remaining was that Outlook was buggy as hell and email and calendaring were not as smooth and as well integrated as the old solution (and still hadn't caught up years later when I left that company). We just had to live with it though.

    So, we've been through this before, and the usual reasons cited by people for why we can't switch from Windows to Linux were not seen as any sort of barrier when we switched from non-Microsoft products to Microsoft products when the latter were seen as being a cheaper alternative to the then industry standards.

    The real reason that Microsoft is dominant on the corporate desktop has to do with they have the global business connections to make these sorts of deals with businesses and developers. None of the large "Linux" companies are really interested in tying up their capital to duplicate these business connections in what they seen as a stagnant "legacy" market when the real market growth is elsewhere.

    Windows is the IBM mainframe of the desktop. It's not going away any time soon, regardless of how much better the alternatives are (and Linux, at least in the form of Ubuntu, is definitely better on the desktop than Windows from a user perspective).

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: We've been through this before

      [Author here]

      > I can recall when WordPerfect and Lotus 123 were the corporate standards on every business desktop

      Me too. I started my career supporting WordStar and Multimate and 1-2-3. Shifted to WordPerfect later than that (!). And I am not _that_ old: my child hasn't started primary school yet.

      The *micro* computer industry has already gone through multiple total replacement cycles.

      1. 8080 and Z80 kit running CP/M from floppies. WordStar, VuCalc, SuperCalc, dBase.

      2. The PC era: 8088/8086 kit running DOS. Sometimes from floppies, often running apps ported from CP/M, but bought over again. WordStar, 1-2-3, dBase III.

      3. The AT era: 286 kit running DOS from hard disks and 680x0 Macs. We all buy a new wave of more advanced apps swept away the CP/M stalwarts. WordPerfect, etc. We didn't look back.

      (Lots of things that didn't revolutionise the industry then: Concurrent DOS, OS/2 1.x, DESQview, Geos, Amiga, Atari ST, Acorn RISC kit...)

      4. The 386 era: standalone 32-bit PCs running DOS-based Windows 3.x and Windows for Workgroups. No TCP/IP anywhere, no internet, but some Netware LANs and things.

      All the apps got replaced again. MS Office wins. Most of the big DOS names didn't make the transition.

      5. The 486 era: networked 486s and Pentiums, Windows 9x for the poor and Windows NT for the richer. NT Server kills off Netware. New 32-bit apps for everyone!

      6. The noughties: Internet-connected P6-family kit everywhere, and XP finally displaces Win9x. The rise of Web technology means Linux making big inroads into servers, but nobody notices. Apple switches to its new Unix OS with lots of FreeBSD and Linux tech under the water surface and invisible.

      All the proprietary networking goes away, replaced by TCP/IP. Nobody notices. All new server apps!

      Moving business server workloads to "the CLOUD" wounds lots of server software vendors. Nobody notices that either.

      7. The twenty-teens. We all move to multicore 64-bit machines. Vista flops, 7 succeeds. Apple moves to Intel. Another wave of app replacements, but fewer big brand changes. Nobody notices.

      Now most of what ordinary users need can be done in the cloud and a machine with 1 app, a web browser, is enough.

  10. werdsmith Silver badge

    I installed linux mint and it was amazing. The sun came out, winter changed to spring and there were rainbows everywhere, cute little fawns and the rivers ran with fine ale.

    Absolutely amazing it was.

    1. LionelB Silver badge

      Are you sure that wasn't Windows XP?

  11. LionelB Silver badge
    Stop

    Here we go again...

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, history tells us that the fabled Year of Linux on the Desktop will never arrive (for personal as opposed to business computing) until such time as Linux is commercially promoted and mass-marketed by the big vendors pre-installed on the hardware. Like, y'know, Windows, Mac OS, Android, or iOS. This has precisely nought to do with the qualities of the OS itself and all to do with marketing. Quite simply, no non-tech user is ever going to be arsed to install an alternative OS (even if they knew that were an option, which they probably don't), because, well, why should they? What came pre-installed works - at least to their (arguably low) expectations.

    Whether and when this will ever happen I'm not so sure. Perhaps MS will crawl so far up their cloudy/AI/subscriptions arse that some major vendor considers it worth their while to take a punt on a Linux machine, perhaps with a Windows-y bespoke distro that is tailored to work seamlessly out of the box with the hardware. (Dell made some half-hearted moves in that direction some years ago, IIRC; as far as I can make out, nowadays they offer a few OS-less machines, and some Ubuntu or Red Hat workstations, but they hardly shout about those.)

    The business market is another issue - more about legacy software and historical lock-in (and again nought to do with the qualities of the OS).

    Personally, I'm not particularly invested in the issue; I can't seem to find reasons to care much about who uses which OS (except, of course, in my capacity as de facto family tech support). Just here for the banter, most of which seems to miss the point entirely (see above).

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Here we go again...

      [Author here]

      > the fabled Year of Linux on the Desktop will never arrive

      I think this is both right and wrong at once. :-)

      > the big vendors pre-installed on the hardware

      They do. They're called ChromeBooks.

      So, on one hand, Linux *has* taken the desktop. It's here now and has been for 5+ years, since when ChromeBooks have been outselling Macs.

      ChromeOS is GNU/Linux, to borrow someone's observation upthread.

      One the second hand, does it matter what is happening on the desktop when 70-80% of phones and 70-80% of servers run Linux?

      On the gripping hand, the PC industry is something like a quarter or a fifth of the size of the phone industry. More smartphones sell *per quarter* than PCs per year.

      It doesn't *matter* what takes over the desktop when a different computing model has overtaken and replaced "the desktop."

      1. LionelB Silver badge

        Re: Here we go again...

        > They do. They're called ChromeBooks.

        Sure, I take your point - which, as the most commercially successful desktop manifestation of Linux (no, I'm not going to get into nitpicking about Android, which to my mind doesn't cut it as "desktop" anyway) I think rather bolsters my general contention about OSes.

        > It doesn't *matter* what takes over the desktop when a different computing model has overtaken and replaced "the desktop."

        Not that it ever mattered to me personally anyway, but broadly agreed on the demise -- or at least re-imagining -- of desktop computing. (Perhaps the gaming sector is an exception to this trend, but I've never been a gamer, so can't really comment sensibly.)

      2. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

        > when a different computing model has overtaken and replaced "the desktop."

        As a Christmas gift just recently, I bought my nephew a cheapish portable display to use with his laptop as a second monitor. It accepts input from your choice of the mini-HDMI and USB-C ports on the device.

        Out of curiosity, I used the included USB-C cable to plug the display into my Samsung Galaxy S10 (now a 5 year old device, which still works great, though it no longer gets any OS or security updates).

        The phone detected the display and automatically switched to the "DeX" desktop mode, and the phone touch screen became a touchpad for this desktop environment. With an external keyboard, this would have been sufficient for many home users. Cool stuff!

  12. CosmicTourist

    While I have been a user of Microsoft operating systems since the late 1970's, and an occasional user of Apple's MacOS, I find both environments to be increasingly working toward an environment where every device you own will be connected to every other device on the planet in some fashion, whether you want it or not. I can't speak for ChromeOS as I do not own any devices that use it, but I suspect that the upper muckity-mucks at Google have much the same agenda for that platform and its bastard child Android.

    Basically, I do NOT want every piece of information about me and my online activities that can be stolen or gleaned from my computers, phones and tablets to be sold to anyone on Earth who wants to buy them. And I feel that is where Microsoft, Apple and Google, assisted by Meta, X, TikTok, etc. want to take us.

    To me, the real advantage of Linux is that there is no mega-corporation whose masters have as their sole ambition to invade my privacy and monetize my information without my informed consent. It's as simple as that.

    I have Linux dual-booting on all my PC's now, and when Windows 10 reaches end-of-life, I will delete the Windows partitions on all but one of the computers and move solely to Linux. I will retain a small Windows presence only to run any applications for which there is no acceptable Linux alternative. Right now the only app I see meeting that criterion is TurboTax desktop, but if I am convinced that preparing my taxes using the web-based version of TurboTax is acceptable, I may not even need a Windows partition at all.

    We will see...

    1. BPontius

      Even if you had never used a computer or gotten online, your information would sill be collected, stolen, sold and traded. Have you signed up for a shopping discount membership\card, a membership, magazine\newspaper subscription, use debit\credit cards for purchases, own a car, own a home and/or land, rent a condo\apartment\storage unit, purchased home & car insurance, are a registered voter, have a drivers license (the FBI was caught stealing drivers license pictures and data for facial recognition), health\dental insurance, buy\take prescription drugs, have a bank account(s), employed, get mail (all mail is photographed), have a phone, pay water, sewer, power and cable\satellite, file income tax...etc? There are few activities that don't involve your personal data, our whole society and economy is a giant spying and data collecting monster. Moving to Linux will not curb the data collecting from websites, advertising, search engines, social media...etc. Privacy is a Unicorn, pure fantasy!!!

      Sweet dreams

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        While you have a point, seems like limiting that information gathering where possible (what the previous poster was talking about) is a good thing. Like removing a source of data (like browsing history, installed software, frequency of use of software, what features of software you use, etc.) that would be difficult to get any other way.

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        @ BPontius

        A while ago (as her will executor in addition to son) I had to deal with building society bereavement office to close mum's accounts via phone..

        Part of the process (despite me already being power of attorney on her accounts due to her being infirm the last few years of her life) involved me answering security questions (from Experian IIRC)

        .. However there was no security question as they did not have enough data* on me to produce a valid question.

        So it is possible to have a relatively small "stolen information" footprint.

        * Side effect is I probably have an awful credit rating, but I don't care about that. The overwhelming majority pf purchases I make are via cash.

  13. Cloudy Day

    When I was at Microsoft….

    Nothing amused us more than reading the posts from Linux on the PC desktop zealots. We would have wagers about how long the decision would take to be reversed on the rare occasions a large company announced a move to open office.

    By most metrics, Linux has already won most markets.

    But these ‘on the desktop’ type articles serve only to stoke the sense of failure in the Linux community, and superiority in the MS community and in my view, they delay the inevitable

    1. ldo

      Re: When I was at Microsoft….

      So, were you there when WSL was introduced?

      Seems the “amusement” has worn off a bit, hasn’t it?

  14. ldo

    The Desktop Is Only 25% Of The Computing Market

    Linux dominates the other 75%.

  15. jaypyahoo

    Year of the BSD on desktop will soon by pass Linux in market share.

    1. ldo

      Re: Year of the BSD on desktop

      If only the BSDs would get their act together. There are maybe half a dozen currently viable BSD variants, versus about 50× that number of Linux distros. Yet it is easier to move among Linux distros than it is to switch BSD variants.

      Linux offers lots of variety with minimal fragmentation, while BSD offers lots of fragmentation with minimal variety.

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: Year of the BSD on desktop

        There are only two Linux variants that I know of that are popular, the mainline kernel and the Android kernel fork. Nearly all distros use one of those.

        1. ldo

          Re: only two Linux variants

          Android is still the same Linux kernel. That’s how an emulator like Waydroid is able to run under a conventional Linux distro, not as a full VM, but just as a container.

          See what I mean about variety without fragmentation?

  16. hh121

    Familiarity and compatibility

    I put the stickiness down to familiarity, with a side of no awareness. People know Windows and Office, and can't be bothered learning something new, and they probably dont know or care about Linux/Open Office etc anyway. Maybe its a marketing problem after all. I go back to Lotus 123 days too, and made that transition, I could do it again but why would I want to?

    Also there's compatibility. If I'm working with partners or customers who are using Word and Excel, I have to be certain that whatever I'm using isn't going to bork their files. A long time ago someone at Microsoft demoed Open Office against Microsoft's standard internal expenses spreadsheet. As it opened, the existing data was corrupted, and when it was immediately saved without any changes it was corrupted again but differently. That's many versions ago and i'm certain it'll have improved, but who's on the hook if anything like that happened today? Ignoring evil old MS making something obscure and complicated, people need that to 'just work'.

    And as has been noted, the browser UI for Office isn't much better than Notepad. It doesn't take long for me to hit the features that aren't present, so I have to use the desktop client apps. I've had documents fatally corrupted by Word in the browser and spent a lot of time fixing them on the desktop. Now I don't even bother trying to use it.

    Finally, as of today OneDrive capacity for E3 subscribers is 'unlimited' (search for "e3 onedrive storage capacity"), if you have more than 5 subscribers. The initial default cap per user is 5TB, but if you jump through some hoops (calling support etc) it will be raised. Whether you want your users potentially syncing multiple TB to their laptop's 256GB SSD drive (accidentally or deliberately) is one for the philosophers.

    1. gerryg

      Re: Familiarity and compatibility

      "A long time ago someone at Microsoft demoed Open Office against Microsoft's standard internal expenses spreadsheet. As it opened, the existing data was corrupted"

      Of course it did. Why else would someone from Microsoft run the demonstration?

      c.f. MS-DOS/WordPerfect

      c.f. ISO 29500 "transitional"

      1. hh121

        Re: Familiarity and compatibility

        Your suspicion is entirely justified, I was at MS at the time, but the context of it was "here's what happens on one of our regular business spreadsheet templates", a template that had been in use for many years and was on every MS consultant's laptop, nothing rigged about it. I think the marketing droid who found it was surprised, it wasn't even that complicated a spreadsheet. Rate lookups and locked cells mostly.

        Then again, a lot of the issues could easily be in the older versions of Excel that were still being supported for backward compatibility. If they cut the cruft free they'd get hammered for that instead (by their customers instead of the commentariat).

        But this example was so long ago it was probably early on in the open source game too. Times change, compatibility will have certainly improved (I'd bet MS's stds compliance will have too, but many would probably bet not), and if someone can guarantee the compatibility you *might* get the decision makers onside. Good luck with the coloured pencil department. You can't be surprised by risk aversion though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Familiarity and compatibility

          Last time I tried to open a LibreOffice Calc file in Excel, it opened fine - but every calculation had been replaced with just the current value. Excel totally trashed the LOCalc file. The reverse works fine - I've traded Excel files between MS Office and LOCalc a number of times without trouble; Calc can read and write them just fine. That's very obviously a Microsoft issue, and I strongly suspect an intentional one. "See, it's not compatible!" (Yes it is, yours isn't.)

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Familiarity and compatibility

      Onedrive is a mysterious beast to me.

      When I've used it to sync important files to their cloud it promptly creates a new set of files on my HDD - that I've already got on my HDD, which is why they are meant to be duplicating to the cloud

      The last time I tried it (I'd forgotten that bit of stupidity) and had reverse it I found that it had also hijacked my desktop and all my icons had vanished from the screen. They were still in the original location but OneDrive had moved the pointer into it's own folder ffs. They still didn't show up when I changed the location setting back to where it was meant to be!

      I literally had to cut and paste the files from the correct folder back into the correct folder before Windows would accept that they were there.

      Which is a long winded way of saying that OneDrive is a sack of sh*t.

    3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: Familiarity and compatibility

      > I put the stickiness down to familiarity, with a side of no awareness. People know Windows and Office, and can't be bothered

      No, that is way too simple preconception. I know many who use Libreoffice on Windows. The reality are all other programs, many over 20 years old, which still work with the same binary on Windows 11. Extreme example: You can copy calc.exe (any many others) from Windows NT 3.51 to Windows 11 and it just works (calc.exe what for? Get rid of 7.345e-4 notation and show 0.0007345). And then there are games from before the year 2000 which still setup and work with only minor weirdness (Microsoft Fury 3, aka Microsoft Terminal Velocity, as my latest test).

      > Also there's compatibility. If I'm working with partners or customers who are using Word and Excel

      I agree on that. Only rare cases show weirdness, like Office 2010 to Office 2021, and usually it is only minor formatting.

  17. TheMeerkat

    The company I work for mandates use of centrally administered Lunix on their laptops. It is Ubuntu.

    While I like Lunix on servers, the desktop-related functionality is crap (at least compared to Mac, I am not a Windows user).

    Before relatively recent upgrade my laptop had to be restarted every time I brought it into the office because it would not recognise that it was connected to an external screen. After the upgrade it keeps forgetting to take the size of the side bar after screen is locked resulting in maximised windows partially obstructed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I use Ubuntu on a daily basis at home as my desktop environment. It works quite well, particularly compared to Windows.

      With the exception of the very bug you just mentioned - maximized windows being partly behind the side bar!

  18. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
    Linux

    Outdated phraseology

    "Linux on the Desktop" is starting to sound like "Linux on the Mainframe" to my ears.

    Linux on the Laptop is what the conversation should be about.

    Or, possibly, when will there be a decent desktop for Linux?

    1. LionelB Silver badge

      Re: Outdated phraseology

      My understanding would be that "desktop" here includes laptops - it refers to the UI style.

      > Or, possibly, when will there be a decent desktop for Linux?

      There are plenty of good ones to choose from (of course, being Linux, unlike e.g., Windows or Mac OS you have a choice). To my mind Xfce, Cinnamon and Mate, to name a few, are pretty decent - and rather Windows-y, if that floats your boat. (Personally not a big KDE or Gnome fan -- I favour minimalist Window Managers like black/flux/openbox and no "desktpop" at all -- but there you go... choice.)

      1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

        Re: Outdated phraseology

        JWM here. Usually booting Puppy from a CD or USB stick. Why install anything?

  19. sabroni Silver badge
    Happy

    Why isn't it the year of the linux desktop?

    Just read the comments here and find out.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Why isn't it the year of the linux desktop?

      Some truths are just not popular round here, including what I like, others might not like.

    2. Excused Boots Bronze badge

      Re: Why isn't it the year of the linux desktop?

      It’s always the Year of Linux on the desktop, just as we have always been at war with Eurasia.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Repeat after me" guy here ...

    - most commentards already kow that it's MS Office - in particular Outlook - that is missing and will forever condemn a Linux Desktop to an oddity.

    Now *we* all know you could cobble something together with FOSS, that isn't going to fly when it gets round to the wider workforce. Bearing in mind even if your organisation is big enough to have it's own MS "licensing consultant", any such moves would be countered with a byzantine bill twist that accounts have a "Special moment" over and which will consign your "it will cost <x> man-hours to roll out" to the annals of corporate history.

    It is beyond comprehension how - over 19 years - there hasn't been a single outfit that has taken the idea of Linux desktop and produced an integrated setup that can be swapped over a standard Windows desktop setup. And I say that knowing that someone has put the effort into playing Doom on a toaster. Mint isn't a bad example of a polished Linux desktop. But it clearly is not - and never was and never will be - a suitable corporate replacement for Windows.

    Surely today, with all the POWER OF COPILOT* it would be a trivial task to build a Winux** desktop distribution

    *Other snake-oil pattern matching suites are available

    ** maybe the lack of progress is because we lack a snappy name ? Winux (Why-nucks) seems as good as any. We could have TikTok street battles with the losers who say "Win-ux" ...

    1. LionelB Silver badge

      Re: "Repeat after me" guy here ...

      > most commentards already kow that it's MS Office - in particular Outlook - that is missing

      In the business sector that's probably true, because of historical lock-in. For home users... well, there are already perfectly viable (some would say better) FOSS alternatives to MS Office - apart from Outlook, which is an abomination I can't imagine any self-respecting home user actually wants/needs.

      > and will forever condemn a Linux Desktop to an oddity.

      Oddity? Nothing particularly odd about it I can think of - in my own field, HPC and scientific computing, for instance, it has been de facto standard on the desktop for decades.

      > It is beyond comprehension how - over 19 years - there hasn't been a single outfit that has taken the idea of Linux desktop and produced an integrated setup that can be swapped over a standard Windows desktop setup. ... Mint isn't a bad example

      Notwithstanding the whiff of self-contradiction there, and much as I do like Mint, you make the unwarranted assumption that to gain significant market share an OS needs to be in the image of Windows. As Liam pointed out in a previous thread, it has already been The Year of Linux on the Desktop for many years - that'll be ChromeOS.

      1. hh121

        Re: "Repeat after me" guy here ...

        I remember one bank of my acquaintance nixing a Foss email proposal because it lacked a delegation feature, so executives would have had to do all their own email. The horror. Outlook/Exchange prevailed. No idea if that's still an issue.

  21. captain semtex
    Windows

    Embrace, not replace!

    It's been decades since an OS upgrade has mandated a hardware upgrade. By the end of this year, millions of Windows 10 users will find themselves with perfectly good computers, but with an unsupported Windows OS. Many will reluctantly upgrade their hardware because they don't want to loose their favourite Windows app. Many won't know that Windows apps can run under Linux via Wine... and all that new hardware will result in a lot of unnecessary e-waste.

    But what if there was a distro aimed at this market... a distro with a familiar Windows look and feel... a distro that embraced running Windows apps via Wine instead of forcing users to find a FOSS replacement? Get these users over to Linux and allow them to run their favorite Windows apps. Once happy with Linux, in time they will naturally explore and discover that many FOSS alternatives are better than the Windows versions.

    But having to install Linux and decide which office suite should I install instead of MS Office, which email client looks like Outlook, which media app should I use to replace iTunes, is there even anything on Linux that can replace Fusion 360 or Mixcraft Pro Studio... it's all just too much and most won't even bother.

    But a distro with pre-installed tools than embraces running Windows apps insteading of forcing people to replace them... that could be a winner.

  22. RDPeter

    Linux is not major depression friendly

    I suffer from major depression and I bought the hype of "Ubuntu linux is an easy distro for beginners m8". So many issues though. Bloody Ubuntu made my depression worse. Now I'm contemplating switching to Linux Mint.

    Is linux mint depression and laptop hardware friendly?

    1. Col_Panek

      Re: Linux is not major depression friendly

      Linux Mint is friendly to this laptop, a 2013 model Chromebook Pixel with touch screen. I dunno about being depression friendly but it cheers me up.

  23. TheBadja

    It's the people, stupid

    I've worked in larger organisations my whole career, and Linux on the desktop is dead in large organisations, not because of the technology but because of the people.

    Repeat after me - LINUX IS NOT FREE.

    When you hire a new worker, the most important thing is to get them productive ASAP. 95% of new office workers already know Windows, some sort of email, Word, Excel and perhaps PowerPoint. So you don't need to train them in these office fundamental tools. Probably they know O365, but if not, anyone in the office can sit down with them and in a couple of hours cross-train them over to O365.

    Give them Linux and they are already starting to worry that they have made a mistake in taking on this job. How do you do this, how do you do that? For the first couple of weeks they are struggling - call that $2000 of lost productivity, plus the support costs (as much again?). That's assuming they haven't decided they don't want to be here.

    Even if Linux and the associated tools were BETTER than Microsoft, they are unfamiliar to new starters so person+Microsoft is productive FASTER than person+Linux. And Managers want productive staff NOW. Any everyone knows that when they go to their next job, they'll be back on Microsoft anyway, so why bother learning these new tools.

    I've worked in one larger organisation who tried standardising on Google Tools. But every time they exchanged a document with an external vendor, they had to convert it onm the way in, and then back to Microsoft on the way out. And the format wasn't always right, or that formula didn't carry across. Dangerous and risking when we were talking multi-million dollar contracts.

    This is why Microsoft owns larger businesses, and any business who wants to do business with larger businesses.

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