245: What Linux Needs For Desktop Domination


Some really good conversation around what it will take to get Linux “across the line” as it were. I think we could use a few more really good YT personalities talking up Linux stuff, and showing people how to do things. There’s a few good ones out there, but there are also a few that make some good Linux content along with some….other content, that could easily push people away or give them the wrong idea about what us “Linux People” are all about. It would be nice to see some of the people that make really really good content get pushed a little higher in the search results.

I think another thing that helps get people’s attention (I think it was touched on in the episode) is a polished good looking interface, and a clean user experience. As the official “Linux People” we tend to recommend the same distros, Ubuntu, Fedora, but there are a lot of more niche distros, MX, Garuda, etc that make some really clean stuff that some users might really gravitate to.


But I don’t wanna go main-stream! :slight_smile: When the normies discover ANYTHING and it becomes popular, all the problems start, especially corporate greed, spying, monetary things etc. Stay small, stay golden pony boy.


Or Haiku? :wink:


The more Linux goes mainstream, the more geeks of the planet will gradually become Debian Developers. The more Debian Developers there are, I see that as a bulwark against corporate greed taking over the Linux world.


I have to agree, this was a very good episode and will likely stay one of my favorites. Thanks for giving this such good coverage.

I also have to agree with @dasgeek in that, while I use gnome, I don’t really see it presenting the polish that Linux is capable of. But I also disagree that it should be KDE. (as much as i find it sickeningly professional and impressive, and harbor a secret jealousy for its ridiculous volume of options and settings!)

I wonder if Cinnamon would be a better ‘polished front’ to put forth for Linux (once the memory leak issue is sufficiently fixed, of course). It retains a solid start-menu-esk legacy, and has just enough options to scratch a ‘customize’/tweak itch, but not enough to overwhelm a person.

Think of it like a Desktop Environment Restaurant:

  • GNOME = Pancheros (We got (3) things on the menu… but they are all amazing, and why this place is always packed!!!)
  • CINNAMON = Cracker Barrel (Mostly food you recognize and you can pick your sides and SPICES!)
  • KDE = Here’s the ingredient list, nutritional value table, carryout menu, and gas station snack aisle. (just in case someone wanted these options)
  • XFCE = Like a mom & pop diner. People come here because they like it.
  • LFS = Here’s the cook book and a pairing knife.

And Jill’s comment about the membrane keyboard made me think of on-screen keyboards… a similar look, feel, and just as awkward to use. :stuck_out_tongue:

Keep more of these shows coming!!!


I appreciate the comment and now that you mention it, Cinnamon would make a great flagship DE.


Too bad they won’t move forward and support wayland. Unless that stance has finally changed.

Besides what linux should or shouldn’t need there still remains the fact that a lot of people don’t know about it.
Maybe yt or other channels could host more “celebs” talking about it.
Another thing, a major one, afaik, is corporate engagement. I work for a big company and apart from some servers that i know of, everything is being run on windows. From the front to the back. There are linux servers around, i know that, but the majority of the work is being done on microsoft boxes.
Adoption and education of the workforce in the use of linux on the computer, is what is needed.
Many corporate enviroments that i see, are using windows still and don’t have plans to change any time soon.
I understand on the other hand that it’s no easy feat to change your entire back end to switch to linux.

Just spent 30 minutes writing a considered reply in a YT comment only for it to be deleted by some bot. But am stubborn s.o.b. so I joined the forum and here goes again :slight_smile:

The overwhelming problem for Linux DE in terms of general adoption is the perception monster Michael mentioned. Linux users, especially Linux old-timers, typically don’t help with their insistence that beginners plunge into CLI, arguing (with justification) for it’s efficiency and that it’s “how Linux works” but, all too often, making statements such as “Well if you can’t be bothered to learn, you’re using the wrong OS - go back to Windows or Mac!”

Martin Wimpress said it very well when discussing his primary goals for Mate - to paraphrase him: He wanted a distro he could recommend to family and friends he would NOT have to spend hours of his life providing tech support for!

Your typical long time Linux user is very comfortable with CLI, so much so that they struggle to empathise with how profoundly alien it is for newcomers. More than that, almost by definition, such people have not spent years on Mac or Windows and most often, simply do not understand that people can be very nerdy or geeky or have been enormously productive using computers for decades AND not know anything, or want to know anything, about the Linux CLI.

Good examples are your typical Mac-using audio engineer, video editor or graphic designer, i.e. people with highly technical knowledge. Such a Mac user is very likely to have never, or only very rarely, opened up the terminal app - despite the fact that as a ‘unix like’ OS, it’s incredibly powerful what can be done ‘under the hood’. They are professional computer users, not, as Wendell would say, “computer janitors”.

My essential point is that for such advanced, experienced users the CLI is AN option they typically never use with Mac or Windows OS’s. While it is too often presented as THE option they must use if they expect to be productive with Linux DE’s. I’m not saying this is even true - but it is what gets repeated ad nauseam, especially on Linux help forums and especially by the minority CLI snobs.

Whether on Windows or Mac, 99% of what they need to get professional work done and their hardware optimised to do it, is accessible via GUI tools, and from their perspective not having quick and easy access to such tools is a massive backwards step. It is incredibly, unbelievably patronising to suggest to such people that they’ve spent the last 20 or 30 odd years just plain doing it “wrong” or that, if they don’t want to learn Linux CLI, they’re “lazy”.

I’d also argue that those distros that have become increasingly popular in recent years - POP_OS!, Mate, Mint, etc, have become so largely because most new users can get most stuff done with decent GUI’s to support app installation, system updates and typical every day tasks. The CLI has become more ‘optional’ than default, and that’s a good thing! The more polished, user friendly and intuitive the GUI the fewer new users switch back to Mac or Windows.

The marketing for a distro that would sweep Windows aside like dry leaves would be very simple:
“I’ve been using “xxxxxxx” Linux distro for over a year and I haven’t HAD to open a terminal window once!”

I think that statement is very probably true for many thousands of Linux users, and that needs to be seen as a huge step forward for Linux and celebrated very loudly, not seen as being any sort of ‘dumbed down’ retrograde step.

I also think that the potential for new users to come to Linux in the next year is bigger than ever previously - the ducks are lining up! Whether it’s Steam Deck and Proton for gamers, people getting sickened with M$ Win 11 b.s., or the enormous potential of Pipewire to bring over professional audio and video people - the winning distros will be those that provide GUI tools to get the important stuff done quickly and easily. CLI will always be there for when people feel curious or want to ‘lift the hood’.


Welcome @awediohead

Spot on i think with the cli comments. That is not the way to go if you want to have people switching from a lifetime of clicking icons in windows or mac.
Those should be available (and are) in any DE as well.
I’ve had succes in switching several people from windows (after the xth time of formatting the hard drive and the “where’s your serial key and software” mambo.) to linux.
One that helped a lot is Mint. Say what you want, but it’s great for people looking into Linux. It’s somewhat familiar and get’s the job done.
And that’s how it should be done, imho, especially for starters. Make the transistion as smooth as possible. After a while, they can choose to switch to another DE or not.


When they made computers “idiot proof,” every idiot bought a computer.

You know I’m right.

So, there will have to be a distro that is focused on idiots – meaning the distro will have to have an all-encompassing, intuitive GUI with self-healing code under the hood.


But why should I use that distro when I can just use macOS instead and still have all my professional tools available to me?

Desktop Linux doesn’t just need user friendliness to gain users, it needs application support. It won’t get application support unless it has users (kind of chicken and egg problem). It also would get application support if a Linux using company with deep pockets were willing to make deals.

I don’t see IBM striking a deal with Adobe to port its Creative Suite to RHEL because I don’t believe IBM cares much about desktop Linux. Linux is a server OS to them and it sells IBM server hardware.


macOS is not self-healing. While I’m not a MAC OS user and can’t speak from experience, I know too many MAC users who, in desperation, took their machines to the Apple Store to get it fixed. Plus I don’t think freedom is defined in the high-walled garden with monolithic hardware known as the “Apple Experience.” This is not just about out “windowing” windows – it’s also about out “MACing” MAC (with a wider hardware footprint).

When the user base is there in sufficient numbers, the applications (money) will follow.

Adobe is already getting a significant challenge from FOSS. Once the idiot users show up, IMHO it’s a given.

Mint 16 was my first introduction to Linux… Gosh! Have I been using linux for 5 years now?!? It makes a fantastic first impression, and it is brimming with small features that just make things approachable. (Take the ‘Computer’ icon on the desktop, for example… Open it up and you can see all of your drives at a glance.) Things like this seem small, but speaking for myself, I panicked when I couldn’t find the 'C:' drive!

Mint is a good solid suggestion.


Hey there, I’d like to throw my suggestions for what Linux needs for desktop domination. 1) Advertise on TV and / or magazines; 2) Sell Linux computers in brick and mortor stores, not just online so people can actually see what Linux looks like in person; and 3) Bring back Linux on CDs in brick and mortar stores, so people who have never looked for a Linux distro online can still try it out. Basically, Linux needs to be seen physically. Thanx, and keep up the great work Destination Linux Network !

When I read through some of the posts I already can find a very good reason to wholeheartedly recommend Linux Mint. The more “elitist” community members in the Linux ecosystem do not want to admit it but in my opinion it does so many things right apart from the typical mainstream application problems (Adobe etc) and not everybody is a professional in design and music production.
I really do not think that a recent Linux convert will be into Fedora or OpenSUSE to name some of the big players.

Will it suffice to dominate the desktop, probably not but I think the desktop is already a niche. People prefer to use their phones nowadays. I think the Linux desktop should focus on its current users and developers that already enjoy the platform and some companies are already there, Tuxedo, System76 and so on.
Isn’t Apple also just focusing on its usual clients apart from getting some new people onto their platform. I know here in Germany the majority uses Windows products and a minority with “special interests” and higher income buys into the Apple ecosystem.

That does not mean that newcomers will not enjoy Debian or Arch if they dig deep into Linux. People that are interested will and it is happening, even here on the forums.
Didn’t we all come to Linux for different reasons and here we are geeking out on it.

I think we often talk about an imagined “new” and “computer illiterate user”.

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I think about these the little tweaks that need to be made to make the desktop top experience notch for users. I do help some people locally that run Linux and my biggest issue has only been initial setup and every so often they put it in airplane and not know how to turn the network back on. I think I have been to deep in the Linux world to really KNOW what the problems really are for new users.

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That Windows domination, what is the market share, you have in mind 2%, 3% or even a whopping 5% ?

Great to start fighting as nerds between each other about the desktop to use! Great Marketing for Linux!! Keep proving that Linux is for nerds only. Keep talking about pipewire, it is typically what Dell or HP buyers of $300/$750 desktops/laptops are worried about.

A message without a budget and without discipline is useless, so don’t talk about what is wrong with Gnome and Pipewire implementations.

If you want to convince people to give linux a try, you’ll do fine if you keep certain things untill later in the process.
Details can be discussed when they’ve settled down a bit and got used to the new enviroment.
Fights between nerds will always occur, in any given distro. (windows, linux, mac…).