he Linux market share continues to flatline. Here’s a piece on why. My explanation? Same as for a lot of things: People are morons, by and large. The article linked to mentions very good reasons that Linux should indeed not be adopted by others. But most of those reasons actually apply to other OS’s as well, so why are THEY adopted? Most of the reasons people give for not even trying Linux are references to things that simply are not true.

There is another aspect of this phenomenon tht should be mentioned. We Linux users don’t want the rest of you using Linux. Most of us formerly used Windows, and we were constantly being bugged by other Windows users to make their computers work. Now, we just say: “Oh, I use Linux. Would you like me to install it on your system?” and then kinda rub our runny nose with the back of our hand and snort while scratching our arm pit. Then the person goes away and never bothers us again for help with their computers.

Bonus items:

Here is a very nice summary of how to use tar for all the usual purposes.

“…what is the advantage of object oriented programming (OOP) over procedural programming (PP)? ” Click here to discuss.

What the heck happened to the location bar in Nautilus???? (I loved the location bar!!!) (Also in this video, yet another way to mispronounce UBUNTU.)

And finally, this piece on geek girls at google’s summer of code.


  1. #1 Rorschach
    August 30, 2010

    My explanation? Same as for a lot of things: People are morons, by and large. The article linked to mentions very good reasons that Linux should indeed not be adopted by others. But most of those reasons actually apply to other OS’s as well, so why are THEY adopted?

    It’s the same old story : Until you get more PC builders to put a Linux OS on their computers, it will be difficult.As long as certain Wireless and other bleeding edge technology still is not supported until some nice guy writes a hack in his basement, it will be difficult.It’s much better now as compared to say 5 years ago, but it’s still not dumbo-proof, hence not mainstream.(Don’t get me started on my EeePC wireless lol)

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    August 30, 2010

    That’s true. As I’ve blogged before, if everyone had to make their own windows system by buying hardware designed to run some other system then installing windows on it, they would all think Windows sucked.

    Linux hurts istself with the drivers. Using a combination of wrappers, OS and propitiatory (but free) drivers, Linux can run on anything, certainly on more computers than Mac OS or Windows Vista.

    But when you install certain versions of Ubuntu on certain hardware, you have to fiddle to make the drivers work because of the philosophy, not the technology, of the distribution.

    Overall, though, it is simply true that if you don’t let this philosophical issue interfere, Linux has fewer, not more, problems than Windows.

    Every single day my wife opens up her school-supported Windows laptop to do some work, and I open up my reconditioned Dell running Linus to do some work. I get my work done. She spends half her time waiting for booting, and documenting what doesn’t work to bring the problems to her IT staff so they can fix it, and then maybe gets some work done. Other than that wireless driver issue (which I solved in 90 seconds because I happen to know the magic trick) thin install of Linux was flawless and everything works fine. As usual.

    Linux. It just works.

    But I am glad that only a few people use it. I don’t want all those other people using it. I like being a member of an exclusive club and all.

  3. #3 Mu
    August 30, 2010

    Greg, have you actually looked at the latest Windows version? You’d be surprised, it too just works. You can even change partitions on the fly now (very nice when your new machine comes with a single 1 TB partition), and it does no longer crash. You can hook up two machines, come back an hour later, and the new one has learned all there was from the old one, including the way you like to have your bookmarks arranged by color. You can say what you want about Bill Gates and his inherent evil, but his shop sometimes learns from its mistakes, which is why they have been leading the OS business for 20 years (and Office can still read my thesis written in Word for Windows 2.0).

  4. #4 Pierce R. Butler
    August 30, 2010

    The reason nobody uses Linux is obviously because the open-source community doesn’t have accommodationists ready and willing to step up and proclaim, with a wide pearly smile, what a meanie Greg Laden is!

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    August 30, 2010

    Mu, the machine my wife uses is “the latest version”

    I’m sure, though, that it is better than Vista. But I must say, if I was a regular windows user and then had to endure Vista, it would be along time before I’d go back to that company, no matter what their next version was, as long as there was an excellent product like Linux (or for that matter Apple) out there.

    Pierce, you might have something there.

  6. #6 Mu
    August 30, 2010

    I skipped Vista, that might have clouded my vision ;).

  7. #7 MadScientist
    August 30, 2010

    Linux is even below OSX? What consumer group are they looking at? Joe Average and his laptop computer?

    Linux is my contemporary version of the HP calculator – it’s fantastic because people ask to borrow your computer and they never bother you again. Of course there are bad situations – with the HP calculator if you had those filthy engineers around they seemed to love it (never lend a RPN calculator to an engineer) and with Linux you have to be sure it’s not a UNIX geek wanting to sit in front of your computer – unless of course you can fire up VirtualBox in full screen mode and bring up MSWin before handing over the machine …

    Personally I think the biggest reason Linux isn’t popular with Average Joe is that “everybody knows” the MS has the best shit. It’s also likely they’ve used MS products exclusively and don’t want to spend their time learning to use something else – they’d rather bleed money than try out something different. People also make up all sorts of funny excuses to justify their faulty decisions (not only with operating systems but pretty much anything). If people tell themselves the lie often enough, they’ll believe it too – and then spread the gospel about what a piece of shit Linux is.

  8. #8 MadScientist
    August 30, 2010

    @Greg: I don’t agree that Linux hurts because of the drivers. Just last week I had one USB device which I plugged in and it simply worked. It took 2 hours to get the damned thing working on WinXP. W7 I imagine would have even fewer viable drivers than XP even though you can bet all new(er) hardware will have a W7 driver.

    I agree though that wireless is a pain in the ass – but that’s partly because MS has abused its dominance to create secret connection methods. So you have almost a dozen schemes (including schemes by MS and other parties) for establishing a wireless connection, of which only 4 or 5 are supported in Linux.

  9. #9 D. C. Sessions
    August 30, 2010

    When people ask me for help on their computers, I tend to give them an evil grin and say, “I can fix that for you.” No takers.

    On the other hand, the cow-orkers who constantly complain about their problems getting the $COMPANY laptops to work don’t even ask me about stuff, ’cause they know I use both personal and $COMPANY linux boxen. At least half of them are running Linux systems at home, so no explanation required — and one has stripped MS off of the company laptop and put Fedora on the hardware with MS in a VirtualBox image (IMHO the only way anyone but a twitch gamer would run MS stuff).

    None of this, of course, shows up on the “market share” statistics.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    August 30, 2010

    So, here we are again. I’m using my Linux computer for stuff, and Amanda is trying to get her stuff done with her Windows computer and it is not going well. The latest:

    No, the computer did not crash, but some Exel file did, apparently , because when she tries to open it she is given the choice between two recovered versions. The differences between the versions is described and she needs to chose which one to save. But the information is not visible to her … it runs off to the side of a non-resizable dialog box

    (windows users …. did you know that virtually all dialog boxes in Linux Gnome desktop are resizable? Ha!)

    So she has to use the Eeny Meeny Miney Moe method to decide which of the two versions of the task critical files to erase and which to keep.

    No, the new version of Windows is not impressing me.

  11. #11 MadScientist
    August 31, 2010

    Oh great – some spam to delete. For some reason I read the spammer’s name as “Mooney Mantra”.

  12. #12 IanW
    August 31, 2010

    It couldn’t be flat because various species of the Linux system, such as Ubuntu, have pretty much the same basic problems that Windows has, if we’re honest about it, could it? It couldn’t be that Linux programmers can be ultimately just as user-unfriendly as the Microsoft programmers are?

    Yes, if you’re a skilled programmer, you can get in there and change Linux brands to your liking, which you can’t readily do with Windows, but how many would-be users of Linux have that kind of skill? How many have that kind of time?

    Excel is more buggy than an Amish community; everyone knows that, but does everyone know that, for example, Ubuntu hates RTF format word processing files, and that Open Office crashes when you open an RTF, make a change, and try to save it? This isn’t a Microsoft trait, it’s a bad programming trait.

    Yes, Ubuntu is free, but free to do what? There is no black and white here (except when Ubuntu turns your screen grey scale apparently because it gets tired and needs to lock you out for some time until it’s had a rest). One operating system is as good/bad as another, but some, such as linux, are cheaper than others and some, such as Snow Leopard are more integrated than others.

    Ultimately it comes down to useability. I only use Ubuntu because I hate Microsoft more than Ubuntu irritates me. If something better came along I’d abandon Linux just as quickly as I abandoned Microsoft.

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    August 31, 2010

    IanW, I’m sure your experiences are entirely your own fault, and you are totally wrong in everything you just said. Anyway, you are one of the people who should not be using our exclusive, private operating system, so please reinstall Windows. Thank you very much.

  14. #14 csrster
    August 31, 2010

    I used to keep a Windows machine around to watch ECB cricket coverage which used Windows DRM. Then they sold the rights to ESPN who use flash which works great on Linux. Hooray! Except that at the same time eurosport switched from flash to silverlight which means I still need windows to watch the tennis.

    Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in again!

  15. #15 Greg Fish
    August 31, 2010

    when you install certain versions of Ubuntu on certain hardware, you have to fiddle to make the drivers work because of the philosophy, not the technology, of the distribution…

    Just think of it. If only I could code what I wanted, how I wanted, then gave it to the user, and when the user had problems and asked for my help, I could simply blame the “philosophy” of the user’s machine rather than my inability to ensure that the drivers would work, or failure to provide the necessary drivers with the installation. Debugging? UAT? Designing for the user? Feh, who needs it. It’s all about the philosophy baby!

  16. #16 lylebot
    August 31, 2010

    If I had to guess relative market share based on what I see computer science grad students/faculty/researchers using, I’d put Mac OS X way, way above anything else. Even knowing that the computer scientists I associate with aren’t representative of anything, I’m amazed that it’s actually so low.