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Archer Allstars
Archer Allstars

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Does Linux desktop market share matter?

It doesn't matter if you use and will only use Windows, macOS, or even Chrome OS indefinitely. Basically, if you don't want to have a free alternative operating system to those threes, you should be fine without Linux - the only true technology available behind today's many free and open-source desktop operating systems.

But wait, do you even have to buy an OS?

Framework Laptop

To be fair, most laptops these days have Windows pre-installed. Also, both MacBook and Chromebook have their operating system pre-installed, macOS and Chrome OS respectively. Therefore, it's not common anymore to pay for an operating system. This is especially true when you don't know that you had already paid for it without any option to opt-out.

However, if you buy a fully customizable laptop like the one sold by Framework, you'll have an option to only pay for the hardware (laptop) while the operating system (Windows) can be bought separately. This is due to the fact that their laptop is fully functional on Linux while many other laptops out there will only work with Windows, thus can't be sold at a ready-to-use state without Windows.

Why would you want to install Linux on your laptop?

A crazy man

Well, let's say you can buy Windows without any economic difficulties. Then, what's the point of going through all the hassles to install Linux on your laptop? Just to have a choice? Nope. Windows and Linux are not alike. They both have pros and cons.

In general, Windows is for movies and games since you'll only get a full experienced Netflix in Windows, with 1080p, HDR, and hardware video acceleration out-of-the-box. And if YouTube is your favorite, you would get a much better experience since all web browsers on Windows support hardware video acceleration out-of-the-box. Then, what about gaming? On Windows, you can play every game on Steam and Epic Games Store. End of story.

On the other hand, there's no Netflix app in Linux yet. Neither 1080p Netflix nor an easy and sure way to enable hardware video acceleration is in Linux out-of-the-box. Moreover, even without all those issues, it's not likely that Linux will be able to output HDR color anytime soon, hence making your HDR monitor/TV worthless. For gaming, let's hope that the release of Steam Deck will advance Proton a lot, hence benefiting Linux users as a whole.

Now, let's talk about Linux advantages. Linux uses your system resource more efficiently. It has many filesystems for you to choose from depending on your needs. You can unlock the full potential of your laptop, especially, if you mainly use open-source software in your working pipeline, you may find out that they run better on Linux. For instance, Blender works faster on Linux. Also, in Inkscape, you may find bugs that only occur on Windows but not on Linux. And it could be many more. But since I can't use Linux as my primary operating system on my laptop, I don't know.

Market share does matter for Linux.

Motherboard Image

Linux could get much better support if it gains more market share. The reason that many hardware manufacturers, as well as many third-party software developers and services, don't support Linux (yet) is always because of Linux's little market share, at least in the desktop market. They just don't see any ROI in supporting Linux.

There're many reasons why Linux has little desktop market share. The most important one is that very few hardware, especially laptops, would work on Linux at all. That means, even for potential users, it's simply impossible to use Linux on their devices. Considering laptops are being sold nearly 3 times more than desktop PCs already, Linux market share could be even worse if things don't change, hence making it harder to get supports from third-party hardware/software developers.

It's a death lock situation. The only way out is to support Linux laptop manufacturers. But to be honest, other than Framework laptop, I don't see any Linux laptop brand that I would ever buy. They look ugly even in their ads, with no effort in branding or whatsoever.

Once the hardware support issue is solved, there will be more Linux users, and more software support will definitely come. The overall UX will be refined later on through the actual users' feedback. Then, Linux will finally be a true alternative to Windows or macOS in the desktop space, hence benefiting many people.

Cover photo by Eduardo Soares on Unsplash.

Man photo by Javi Hoffens on Unsplash.

Motherboard photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

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