Fedora Flock 2015 - Year of Linux Desktop Summary

Aug 12th, 2015
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  1. As of right now, the Linux desktop is broken.
  3. 56.26% of the desktop market share is Windows 7. 18.26% is Windows XP (*wince*), 13.52% is Windows 8, 5.26% is OS X, 1.34% is Linux.
  5. Of the Linux distros out there, Mint, Ubuntu, Debian, OpenSUSE, and Fedora are the top 5.
  7. Mobile distros: 84.04% Android, 11.07% iOS, 2.09% Windows Phone, 2.80% is others. So we're doing something right with the mobile market.
  9. What can we learn from this?
  11. Answer: We must be doing something wrong on the desktop!
  13. One reason why Linux doesn't appeal to the masses is the desktop environmentS. There are several different environments which provide different user interfaces and they're all different. An end user can get lost in this as they're not going to care about how it runs under the hood, they just want it to be easy to use and that it's the same every time. Android has about the same UI and it looks about the same every year and every update. Take GNOME 2 to 3, an entire UI change, not much consistency.
  15. They're all different. For developers and people like you and me, this is good because we like choice and decision! But for the end user, this isn't good because they want consistency in how they use their computer. For the masses, the difference is bad.
  17. Perhaps the answer is to never upgrade the computer, but that's bad from a security standpoint and just from a "cool" standpoint and having the latest and greatest in software.
  19. The next big complaint is configuration. There's different configuration applications, different settings, and then sometimes they all don't share the same settings. Again, no consistency. Compare between KDE and Mate, you might configure something like printers in one DE, but then you move to a different DE and they're all lost. You have to go through a painful workaround to reconfigure the same thing twice. This is probably why people love OS X computers because they promise to "just work", which they usually deliver on, at the expense of losing the freedom that a Linux distro would offer.
  21. The next complaint is distributions… we all love choice and variety, but for end users, with so many different distributions, it's another mess. Take installnig Firefox. If you're running Fedora and want to install Firefox, but you found a .deb file, you're not going to have success because it's a Debian package, not an RPM package. If you're a computer newbie, you're likely not going to know (or care) about the distribution that you're running. It'll just end in frustration and confusing for a non-technical end user. They don't want to figure out why it doesn't work or how to fix it, they just want it to work.
  23. Examples of the above being "yum install" on Ubuntu, development packages in Fedora repositories, and… how do I set up my printers? These are reasons why people will switch from Linux back to Windows or OS X.
  25. "The efforts to standardize on a kernel and a set of core libraries were undermined by the Distro of the Day that held the position of power." - Miguel de Icaza
  27. Another frustrating thing about how the kernel can fully support a 4096 processor supercomputer, but a laptop can have difficulties waking up from sleep.
  29. SO, next reason why the year isn't coming soon: VGA / graphics. We miss the "it just works" moments, and sometimes the issues with graphics drivers can be more frustrating and challenging. In the kernel, it was suggested and subsequently dismissed to support graphics via VGA, but for reasons that I wasn't paying 100% attention for, it's not in the interest of the kernel to support the GFX. It's more of the desktop developers that do this.
  31. But part of the issue is also with hardware manufacturer. If hardware manufacturers made their software utilities for Linux, it would allow for more powerful troubleshooting and debugging.
  33. Another reason is backwards compatibility. Win32k… Windows 98 apps can still run on Windows 8. That's 19 years of backwards compatbility. Which as much as we both hate Microsoft, that's pretty incredible. Take GTK and Qt – neither are backwards compatible with older versions. This goes hand in hand with the next point, rate of change. Windows updates its major version every two to three years, sometimes longer. There's usually no big changes in the interim period between major releases. You could be on XP and upgrade service packs and you won't notice anything significant. On the other hand, Linux distros release far more frequently and introduce sometimes major changes, such as GNOME 2/3.
  35. So this is the negatives of the Linux desktop. But there are positives…
  37. The gaming side of Linux is making leaps and bounds, and it's worth noting. Perhaps the most notable example is SteamOS, which is completely based off of Linux. CryTek Engine, Unreal Engine 4.1, all major game design engines are turning to Linux and are encouraging more support for Linux platforms. This is a major pull factor for users.
  39. For hardware, there are also positives. Nvidia is now compatible with bumblebee (I have no idea what that is), and there are many improvements to GPU drivers, things you and I know all about, such as performance, stability, and so much more. Some of the things that make us love Linux as a desktop.
  41. SO, when is our year? The speaker believes it's going to come… one day. Just not soon. There's too many issues in terms of appealing to the masses and making the Linux experience easier for end users.
  43. Now is the Q&A part, a person suggested that the time has come and gone because of the dominance of the mobile market, and that Android is the future more so than any desktop environment can offer.
  45. This was a really interesting talk, I really enjoyed it.
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