An effort to co-operate for a unified app ecosystem is a valuable long-term mission for the Linux desktop community. Make it happen (along with a unified App Store), and see how the popularity of Linux grows on personal computers.
Linux operating system powers the majority of world’s server computers, and the majority of the world’s mobile devices (Android is built on Linux), but it isn’t so popular on laptop and desktop computers. Microsoft Windows and Apple Macos come with graphical user interfaces for personal computers that we have learned to use without a second thought.
A popular theory why Linux hasn’t made a breakthrough to the mass markets is lack of a single, easy-to-use graphical user interface, or as the Linux community calls it, desktop. Since Linux is open source software and many applications built for it are also open source, there are alternative software suites that deliver the desktop for users. This leads to problems with app compatibility. A calendar application may run on one Linux desktop, but not on another one. Trying to install an essential app like a web browser requires extra work, or may fail completely.
The key choices for Linux desktop software has been for years Gnome and KDE. Now, these two developer communities are making a serious attempt to work together for a unified Linux desktop application ecosystem. The first concrete step is a conference in Barcelona, Spain from 12th to 15th November 2019. The Linux App Summit has yet to publish its program, but it is planning to feature 30 minute prepared talks, and plenty of opportunities for discussion and networking.
Even the father figure of Linux, Linus Torvalds argues that “we were better at having a standardized desktop that goes across the distributions.”
Here is the key point for making Linux desktop software as mass market friendly as possible: discovery and installation of applications must be easy. People are used to App Store kind of user experience. If they have to touch the command prompt, or install a package after package of additional libraries before an application they desire runs on their computer, they say goodbye pretty quickly.
The co-operation initiative between Gnome and KDE is excellent news for the open source movement and to computer users who want alternatives to the Microsoft-Apple domination. Recently, serious privacy and security problems have raised awareness for better solutions and interest in open software.
It is time.