If Linux is so good, why doesn’t anyone use it?

The open source software of GNU/Linux is considered secure, efficient and it is also freely available. Still, most people use Windows or Apple OS on their desktop computers. Why is that?

Linux celebrated its 30th birthday in 2021. Founder Linus Torvalds announced the first kernel in 1991 as a “free system” – but also as something he only wanted to develop as a hobby and not professionally.

Three decades later, Linux is still often mentioned in the same breath as the desktop operating systems Windows and Apple’s OS – and even praised by many as the better system. But if the system is so good, why does hardly anyone use it on the desktop?

Linux: Vanishingly low market share

The question is, of course, provocatively formulated. In fact, there are quite a few loyal fans. Developers in particular appreciate the distributions. But compared to operating systems such as Windows or OS X, the proportion is small.

According to surveys by the statistics portal Global Stats Statcounters, the desktop market share of Linux in 2021 was around two percent (even if Linux is not strictly speaking an operating system). By comparison, Windows’ market share among desktop operating systems was around 75 percent.

Why is Linux’s market share so small?

The reasons for the low market share are manifold.

1. Too cumbersome

The main reason is quite simple: convenience. Most people use a Windows desktop computer or an Apple device. In both cases, a good, functional operating system is pre-installed. Who sits down to install another system?

Very few. Or only those who are either convinced of Linux or want to use it for specific applications. These are, for example, developers who do not want to spend a lot of money on certain licenses or users who need high performance.

At the same time, the open source software is not necessarily intuitive for users who are not familiar with computers. If you want to use it, you have to deal with it a bit. The interest in this is certainly not very high among the masses.

2. Microsoft Office

If you install Linux on your desktop computer, you will quickly notice that certain applications cannot be used with it. This includes the editing software Final Cut,but also Microsoft Office. For many users, this is a big problem.

There are open source alternatives to Microsoft Office, such as Open Office. However, some of the applications are reduced or non-existent. It is possible to replace individual applications such as Excel with specialized programs.

But this requires time, research and familiarization with various programs. For most people, this is far too time-consuming if they can simply use a pre-installed program instead.

3. Gaming

The same goes for games. Most games are not supported and thus the open source distribution is already eliminated for many users, even if developers are currently working on solutions here.

The low usage of Linux is therefore not due to the quality. Rather, it is usage habits, convenience or simply ignorance that are behind it.

Almost all people use Linux without knowing it

At the same time, the low market share applies primarily to use on the desktop. Because in addition, billions of people use Linux without knowing it.

So Android is a Linux distribution. All people who own an Android smartphone work with Linux. And even Apple users, according to some, cannot do without the system.

The iOS operating system of the iPhones is based on Nextstep. This system, in turn, is based on Unix. In the early days of the Internet, a Unix license cost thousands of dollars, which is why Linus Torvalds developed Linux – a fairly accurate copy of Unix.

In this sense, iOS and Linux are based on the same foundations.

96 percent of web servers rely on Linux

And even if you use the Internet, you can’t get around Linux. It is estimated that 96.3 percent of all web servers run on Linux. And what many don’t know: 90 percent of the cloud structure is built on top of the system, while 100 percent of the 500 largest supercomputers useit.

For a software that was actually only intended as a hobby project, this is quite remarkable.

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