The user does not matter and that should change (Opinion)

The user does not matter

Waiting for the arrival of the year of Linux on the desktop is, and I allow myself to steal the phrase from Chesterton, something that requires more patience than the job of fishing. For many of us, more than a goal is a joke, although there are some true believers who still do not lose hope.

The truth is that somehow the discussion became abstract. With a slight delay caused by the pandemic, the decline of desktop computers seems unstoppable. Higher-power mobiles and Chromebook-type devices should be the majority devices in the coming years. And, in both the winners have been defined for a long time

Linux is left with the consolation of dominance in cloud services and supercomputers.

But, the debate is still interesting on one point. Understanding what we didn't do (and what Apple and Google did) will allow us to be ready for the next paradigm shift.

What would be the year of Linux on the desktop?

To guide the discussion, let us agree on what the expected response would be.

We can define it in two ways; From a technical maturity point of view, it would be the moment when there is a Linux distribution capable of being installed by the average user and allowing them to do exactly the same as they do with Windows or macOS.

The second way is market share.

The great obstacle for the supporters of the first position is the games. TO Despite the fact that the number of titles is constantly expanding and there are technologies that allow running Windows games, the result for the moment is quite mediocre.

The user doesn't care. Why should he?

Some time ago a person took the trouble to make a video responding to one of my articles. His argument was that Linux shouldn't worry about having more users. If they don't want to accept it as it is, keep using Windows or macOS.

We are seeing the flaw in his argument these days. Burned developers, projects with serious security problems, and companies making money off the work of others. All this is the result of the same problem. The free and open source software community does not care about the end userl. As a consequence, the end user is not interested in free software.

Let me make it clearer:

Number of users = money = developers dedicated full time to developing free software.

Colleague José Miguel from the Tecno y Soft blog summarizes clearly the problem:

What is the common user looking for?
A recognizable and easy-to-use operating system, available on the market and with its own name: Windows. That is what it sells, considering that because it is free software and respecting the user's rights it would be something significant, it has been a mistake. With all this, I am not saying that issues such as free software, respect for user rights or sustainability are not important, but they have not been, nor are they enough to cause a drift to our beloved desktop. That change has not occurred, more than anything, because despite everything this is not a matter of consciousness. It is the real lack of need for change that has caused and is causing the stagnation of the Linux desktop.

What are we giving the home user?

A huge (and often incompatible) offering of distributions each with their own set of pre-installed libraries and drivers and software. There is a reasonable chance that a program built for Windows 8 will work on Windows 11, and quite the contrary that a program that works on Ubuntu will do the same on the version of Fedora released a month later. Even in the same version of the same distribution, but with a different desktop, problems can occur.

As the market share is so small, there is no incentive for independent developers or companies to go to the trouble of porting their applications. As there is not a wide range of applications, the number of users does not increase.

The solution.

The solution lies in the creation of a new entity (The Linux Foundation is too much influenced by the same companies interested in keeping everything as it is and the Free Software Foundation is too involved in the ideological aspects of free software). This new entity should aim to expand the free and open source software market starting with Linux distributions. For this, it must investigate the market, and support the development of innovative products that respond to the result of that research and can be self-financing in the future.

This means letting go of egos and shifting the focus from where developers and their programming skills are at the top of the pyramid to one where problem solving and user wishes come first.


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6 comments, leave yours

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  1.   Stendall said

    If we focus development more on what users want, we will end up like in Windows, where regardless of how important a component is from a functional or security point of view, if it does not serve to sell the product then it is not developed. .

    For example, I have been using Linux for more than 25 years and one of the main reasons I use it is because things go at the pace they need to be done well, to be maintainable, scalable and secure.

    At the moment the focus is placed on the user more than what is currently the case, what you achieve in practice is that it is the user (normally without knowledge of the ins and outs) who decides the focus of the development. And you have to keep in mind that for the average Linux user there are a million things that are not important to him because he doesn't see them, but that are much more important for the operation of Linux than the things that the user does see ( basically desktop and GUI applications).
    Moreover, if years ago the focus had been on what the user wants, today Linux would not be what it is.

    Nowadays Linux is used for everything, CERN, internet, NASA, military, air traffic control, High speed trading, satellites, rovers, top 500 supercomputers, etc. apart from phones, routers, watches, smart TVs, cars, etc…
    If the decision had been made in time to give more focus to what users want, today we would not have any of that and instead we would be fighting with Windows for the desktop user market.
    I think it's better for everyone that Linux stays good at what it's good at. And there is no problem that the bulk of desktop users continue to use Windows. In sin they carry penance.

    1.    Diego German Gonzalez said

      Thinking of the user is not asking him what he wants, but showing him that you are giving him what he needs.

  2.   vicfabgar said

    2025 the year of GNU/Linux on the desktop thanks to the invaluable collaboration of Satya Nadella. I pray he doesn't get his ass kicked before then, which is what he deserves.

    Greetings.

  3.   German klenner said

    Hello:
    It would be great to achieve standardization as that would go a long way.
    Beyond what you point out, which seems very coherent to me, it seems to me that you are ignoring the state's commitment to the promotion, support and development of free software.
    To show a button, in my country students are given a computer to help them with their homework. However, it does not come, as one might expect, with Gnu Linux, but rather with Windows. It is very important, if we want things to begin to change, that students become familiar with Gnu Linux from an early age. I had a hard time getting a computer in the computer room to have Zorin Os installed, so that the students realized that there is life beyond Windows.
    Considering the activities carried out by most of the students, the alternative programs to Windows that exist in Gnu Linux are more than enough.
    Greetings.

  4.   PROSPEROUS ANTONIO PEREZ PEREZ said

    Impossible better explained, EVERYTHING YOU SAID IS TRUE. I consider myself an end user. many years using microsoft (windows 95) until in windows 10 I get tired of paying every six or eight months. so i switched to linux ubuntu 16.04, and i thought it was great to be able to install what i wanted and customize everything. I was fascinated with everything free and easy, today I am in kde neon 25th anniversary. but what about the games… and the controllers. I congratulate you, I hope I don't die without seeing a linux that beats a windons in terms of end users.

    1.    Diego German Gonzalez said

      Thank you