Are we missing the point when talking about the average user?

Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, RHEL, Fedora, SUSE, openSUSE. Those are the distro’s you would use in a business and that we should probably focus on most if you want Linux DESKTOP to succeed. And I’m just talking about more serious users like developers, content creators, 3d printers and even people who type stuff all day like documents and emails for work. Because that’s desktop use. Watching movies, youtube videos etc. on your desktop/laptop is WEIRD. That’s not something average people do.

We are TOTALLY missing the point when we talk about average “what is a start menu?” people. They only use phones and tablets. The most serious thing they will use is a Chromebook. But we don’t seem to be focusing on that. And sure, people use Windows 10/MacOS but that’s because they already bought something like that in the past. New users would be better off with a Chromebook. Right now distro’s like Mint, Pop!_OS, Manjaro, Solus etc. are still relevant because users are used to Windows/MacOS but will they still be in the future? Businesses don’t take them serious. They want the Debian, Ubuntu, RHEL, CentOS, Fedora, SUSE and openSUSE stuff. So the hobbyists and average users are left. For hobbyists? yes. For average users? no.

My nephew doesn’t want a Windows 7 OS like Mint. He wants something like ChromeOS. But we don’t have a serious alternative to that while my nephew is the future. GalliumOS is not something like ChromeOS. We need a locked down OS with a similar layout that syncs your stuff to Nextcloud instances and things like that instead of Google Drive. We don’t need Linux Mint for the average user in the future. It’s too powerful.

Pine64 is the only one who gets it I guess. But Manjaro is way too powerful for a device like a Pinebook (Pro). Just put a ChromeOS copy on there without the Google stuff but with Nextcloud etc.

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Sure, ChromeOS is popular because of it’s simplicity, but why should an alternative strive to be just as limited? I see Linux heading in exactly the right direction with automatic updates, confined package formats with permission controls, and “app stores” that actually have useful software in them for people to discover tools or even find new hobbies.

Ubuntu and Pop!_OS are certainly in a place where you could hand them to anyone and they could get stuff done. Firefox is already there, Chrome can be downloaded and installed after a quick google search, and then all that’s left is for people to use the services they already know like YouTube or Office 365. The apps people want are coming to Linux too… Spotify, Skype, Discord and Zoom and Steam can all be found in the Pop!_Shop or Ubuntu Software centre.

All this is fine for most people, and the systems don’t need much upkeep… just hit the button that says “update” that will show up when updates are available. All of this stuff is being worked on and keeps getting better all the time. The main shortcoming at the moment is getting the software in the hands of users on a device that they want to use, which is why when I hear Lenovo will be shipping Fedora on some machines, I get exited. When I hear about Gnome working to improve touch screen support, I get exited. When I hear about Pine 64 bringing out a tablet that runs Linux, I get excited.

Sure, I’d use a web browser and Nextcloud from my Pinetab, but why should that be all that’s exposed to the user on a device that’s capable of so much more? Someone who isn’t curious and doesn’t care could use it to watch cat videos and message their friends, but to limit the operating system in my opinion will only limit a non-technical user’s ability to discover what they are actually capable of accomplishing with their device.

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Thanks for your reply,

I get the way you think about this. And it’s not like Linux distros atm are unusable for average people. Not at all. But people like stuff locked down for them by default. I worked at a computer repair shop and people freak out because there’s alot of stuff they don’t understand. The only reason they have a laptop/desktop is because of email/office. You also have people who still do social media and stuff on their laptop/desktop but those are from the older generations most of the time (or people who just don’t like phones/tablets). The younger generations do most on their phone/tablet. Schools use iPads/Chromebooks and that’s what a computer is to them. Giving them a computer with lots of options just to type a document or email doesn’t make sense. 90% or more don’t want to discover things. Everyone uses the same software that their family/friends use or what their local computer shop installed. And the people that do want to discover will find their way to normal linux anyway. But those are mostly hobbyists/enthousiasts. GNOME with dash to dock at the bottom and the terminal and some settings removed by default and having everything sync to nextcloud is great for average people but KDE is horrible because there’s too much options/settings. And yes, Ubuntu/Pop!_OS comes pretty close already. But you can’t buy a system 76 system for $200 with Pop!OS installed that sync to nextcloud servers preconfigured.

  • Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, RHEL, Fedora, SUSE, openSUSE for businesses

  • Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, Mint, Zorin, Elementary, Manjaro, Solus, Arch, Void etc. for Hobbyists/Older generations

  • ChromeOS like distros for newer average generations. We still need this. If we keep saying “you shouldn’t lock down a device because …” then ChromeOS is gonna take over and there’s not gonna be a good opensource privacy friendly alternative. Because people don’t care.

I don’t think most people would say the want something “locked down”… something that “Just Works™” is what I think really sells. Chrome OS allowing the installation of Linux desktop apps I think is a testament to that statement. While a lot of people are certainly content with just a web browser (which is originally what Chrome OS was), a lot of other people want their devices to have some ability to function offline. I think “easy to use” doesn’t have to mean “there are no advanced features”, but rather “the advanced features are not required”. If Google Docs doesn’t cut it, a user goes to the app store and searches for “office” or something along those lines and finds LibreOffice, or MS office (It’s on android… I actually use it on my phone the odd time…) and stuff gets saved locally, with the option of backing up to the cloud later, or accessing a file manager to copy the document to a USB drive.

I find this an interesting debate, and could ramble on for ever about my opinions on user experience. Mostly I find over-reliance on an internet connection just to get work done to be frustrating, as do a number of my friends and family members, since rural Ireland still isn’t great as far as connectivity goes. (I myself rely on a mobile connection, which is unlimited but gets throttled if I use more than 80 Gigs in one month)

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I use arch. I’m old.

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I think we need a simple switch from simple to intermediate to advanced somewhere in the settings to progressively expose tweakable setting to make things both accessible and freedom respecting. If the users dont need the depth of Linux, you dont need to lockdown the qsettings for everyone as well.

I personally would not call ChromeOS locked down, unless you are talking about a Chromebook issued to them from a school. I have a Dell 2-in-1 11 inch Chromebook and can download about anything I want, and I use only the store that Google supplies. I don’t consider myself a power user but more of a hobbyist. Just yesterday I installed openSuse Tumbleweed and could not find anything on the openSuse wiki that would actually work to install codecs. I found a one-click install for Tumbleweed that would not work, and I found a way to install in terminal and it didn’t work. I try to read documentation but I agree that the typical user is not going to enjoy that experience.

I think simpler distros like Ubuntu, Manjaro, Mint, (pick your flavor on any of these) will work for most people. The only thing that needs to be done is if that person needs help with something they need to be sent to that distro’s website and find some documentation that is dumbed down so that anybody can understand it. Another problem is that some of these distros have solutions that could be 10 years old that do not work in today’s versions. Look at ArcoLinux. Eric has great of videos but how many of those videos are out of date?

All this could change, but the man hours required to do this would be too great. To me, this will always be a downside of Linux. The cost and labor factor alone would destroy smaller distro’s. The OP mentioned his nephew. Is his nephew a gamer? Without help how is a newcomer going to plug and play games? What about people that watch Netflix or Hulu? A lot of distros don’t include something like widevine or maybe Firefox doesn’t have DRM enabled.

I don’t use Windows 10 any more but what do you see when you click the Windows start button. Along with the clutter you see links to Facebook, the internet browser, Netflix, Hulu, Twitter and maybe a software store. These are the things people expect to see because this is what is on their phones when they buy them, the tablets they buy. A lot of Linux users scoff at these but these are what the average users want, and they want it readily available. On openSuse KDE when you click the menu button you see Firefox, Kontact, Libreoffice, Dolphin, Help and Konsole. If you click on Help you get something that shouts ‘Academic’, not “Welcome to KDE and Lets Get Started”. If you install Ubuntu Mate if I remember right the favorites in the menu is empty, nothing suggested. The Mate Welcome screen does help, which I know a lot of other distros have, but it falls short for a newbie that just wants to learn their way through a new experience.

A lot of people here at DLN got their start in the 90’s where you had to really want to learn Linux, and they had to work hard just to download Linux, much less install Linux. Then they had to configure it. I thought installing Arch was hard but I have no idea what that would have been like. By the time I got on Linux in 2006, it was way better but you had to have patience. Our favorite distros are working on shoe string budgets and depend heavily on volunteers just so we can run their passion projects, created with what most of us would run away from if we had to invest time that if that time had a value put on it would be maybe enough to buy a cup of coffee, if they are lucky.

I am sorry for this rant and bouncing around all over the place but for me Linux is one of the few things I look forward to at the end of the day, well now that I am no longer employed Linux sort of keeps my sanity, kinda, sorta.

TLDR, it comes to this, how bad do we want Linux to be for everybody?

Well, okay maybe locked down isn’t the right way to say it. I’m not saying ChromeOS is better because to me, it sucks. I just wanted to say that we don’t really have something with the simplicity of ChromeOS for as far as I know. Locking all the advanced features behind a switch that you can change in the settings could work.

I’m personally a big advocate of teaching basic computer stuff in schools. I mean, we teach science but most people don’t use that afterwards and something we do all have to use doesn’t get taught in schools. Teaching basic computer maintenance, the differences between Windows/MacOS/Linux/BSD/Android/iOS, basic computer security and best practices etc. would help SO MUCH. But no, let’s give all children an iPad and Chromebook and tell them to press buttons and create another phishing mail clicking/unknowing generation. Unfortunetly I seem to be the only one who thinks about this. And for those unknowing people we really need a very simple distro. We don’t have one besides ChromeOS for as far as I know.

We don’t really have that problem here in the Netherlands but I totally agree with reliance on an internet connection being stupid.

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to put arch in there. Arch is a different thing on it’s own. But still mostly for hobbyists/enthusiasts. Not for average people.

That’s what I would like to see yeah.

openSUSE is meant for more intermediate/advanced users. Manjaro still crashes from time to time and there’s a few other things that make me stay away from it. I wouldn’t recommend that to new users but I do want it to succeed. I just recommend Ubuntu most of the time. If a user wants a Windows experience I recommend Mint and if they wanna game I recommend Pop!_OS. I don’t give them other options. The only thing that’s missing is a ChromeOS like distro. If you need to go to a website to get help then the distro is simply not meant or not ready for beginners. People don’t want to do that. They just want it to work.

He games on his playstation. CSGO, Dota II, Minecraft etc. work out of the box in Linux I believe. With games like GTA V and Witcher III you have to do some tweaking I think. Non native games don’t count in my opinion. If they work and you’re fine with them not being native then sure, go ahead. But I’m not gonna recommend Linux to someone that wants play those while they are not natively supported. Unless they really want to use linux themselves ofcourse. Is Netflix/Hulu etc. still a problem? I don’t think they are. Sure, maybe in Debian, Fedora and openSUSE but not in the beginner friendly distro’s.

People don’t really use their windows for social media and streaming services. Some people still do but that’s not gonna be the case anymore in 10 years or so. They use their phones/tablets for social media and chromecast/apple tv or whatever for the streaming services (and their phone/tablet). They just wanna do mail and documents on their laptop.

I only started in 2016 or something so I’m even newer. I’m not an expert but I could install Arch without any problems just by following the documentation. And I also understand what I’m doing. I just don’t really see the point anymore after doing it 2 times because then it’s just frustrating. I would probably be completely lost if I tried Linux in the 90s xD. Linux desktop is a disorganized mess. If we could just focus on a few distro’s the development would go way faster and you would get more donations as well. Now everything is all over the place. And yes that can be fun because there’s a lot of choice. But at the end of the day, do they really make stuff easier/different? Most don’t. And even though I may try them out and report bugs, I’m not gonna donate money or contribute anything else. I only really support Ubuntu, Mint, Pop!_OS, Manjaro, Solus, Debian, Fedora, openSUSE, Arch, Parabola and QubesOS (which is not even a Linux distro but whatever). Besides desktop distro’s I also really like Tails, Whonix, Kali, Raspbian, LibreELEC and Volumio and a bunch of open source projects like PiHole, Nextcloud, OpenWrt, FreeNAS etc.

I want Linux to be a CHOICE for everybody. But they don’t HAVE TO use it and Linux itself shouldn’t change for it to become for everybody. But a distro that aims at ChromeOS users would be nice. But all of them try to be Windows.

On the topic of something like ChromeOS, I did come across CloudReady OS from Neverware:

It pretty much is Chromium OS, still ties into google services and all that, but If you want to turn an ordinary laptop into a Chromebook and you don’t mind Google this is probably worth a look.

I’d second that… I’m a technical user with a desire to understand the system I’m working on, and I enjoy developing software as a hobby. I don’t mind change though… as long as I could still install a terminal from the software center I wouldn’t be against removing it from the base install… although Windows and Mac both have a terminal preinstalled.

I can remember Alan Pope talked about Ubuntu on linux4everyone and I agree with him. There is Ubuntu, it is the mainstream Linux distribution and works perfectly and I remember Unity as a desktop. It was a pure joy and absolutely intuitive.

I see no point in a ChromeOS clone but that is just me. If you want ChromeOS just buy a Chromebook.

Link to the podcast.

A ChromeOS clone would still have the same roadblock in front as the other distros; As Jason from L4E already said couple of times, as long as you can’t find laptops or tablets or whatever with a linux preinstalled in mainstream shops you remain in the enthusiast/knowledge/… realm.

To me Zorin or Elementary are heading in that mainstream access route and doing it right. Zorin is even trying to enter via the education and is making partnerships for hardware. But it’s still small scale. :man_shrugging:

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I pretty much agree with everything you put forth here. I am actually looking for just such a setup. I actually have PineBook Pro I am testing. I would love to find something that could essentially be similar to Chrome but without the Google. :slight_smile:

I know I could “just build it”, and the way we will most likely go is some form of stripped down Ubuntu or Debian but it would actually be nice to have something even simpler. NextCloud, Citrix, Web, Email, Document editors, and some form of management/MDM. That’s pretty much all we want. :slight_smile:

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Could be useful I guess. But not what I was looking for. I want something without google.

I agree Ubuntu is the way to go but it’s not for everyone. And everyone should have a choice. Being locked into Google because you want something simple is not something I agree with.

That’s why I said I would like it on something like a Pinebook (Pro).

I tested out both before. Zorin was nice but didn’t have a minimal option so came preinstalled with a bunch of programs which I personally don’t like and people install their own software anyway so it would just get messy. Elementary threw around warning boxes all over the place and I had to scroll past 10 paid applications that already exist for free before I could get to the normal apps. And average users don’t care about paying to help the developers. Not that friendly to average people I think. But without those things it would be really nice indeed. I really want to check out Zorin again but sourceforge is SOOOO slow. Dowload speed doesn’t even get above 100Kb but downloading Ubuntu is fine. I’m really looking forward to Zorin Grid as well.

So it wasn’t just for me then :thinking: :sweat_smile: I tried to download Feren and it kept failing…

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