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Linus Torvalds on the Linux desktop’s popularity problems


I’m a Linux desktop user. Google’s staff are Linux desktop users. But the Linux desktop itself has never been that popular and Miguel de Icaza, one of the creators of the GNOME’s Linux desktop explained why in What Killed The Linux Desktop. Linux’s creator, Linus Torvalds, and other top Linux developers, had other takes.

De Icaza had argued that Linux desktop’s ‘failure’ was “rooted in the developer culture that was created around it.” Specifically, “Linus, despite being a low-level kernel guy, set the tone for our community years ago when he dismissed binary compatibility for device drivers. The kernel people might have some valid reasons for it, and might have forced the industry to play by their rules, but the Desktop people did not have the power that the kernel people did. But we did keep the attitude.”

By that, de Icaza meant, “The attitude of our community was one of engineering excellence: we do not want deprecated code in our source trees, we do not want to keep broken designs around, we want pure and beautiful designs and we want to eliminate all traces of bad or poorly implemented ideas from our source code trees. … And we did.”

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