Re: Popularity an important point?
"What problems are you talking about, though?"
A lack of industry standard-level creative apps. The Adobe suite doesn't run on it, which completely kills of the vast number of creative types: digital artists; graphic designers; graphic artist; photographers, from wedding to portrait to fashion; pretty much the entire publishing industry, from micro-self to global level; a good number of web content creators; videographers; industrial designers...the list of lost users is huge right there.
And NO, the alternatives that you give are NOT the same. Not by a long shot! When you tell me that your Linux app will open a multi-layer PSD, embedded it as an active object into the page layout app, allow exporting the page layout to a IDD file *that other people, like my publishing company, can open and modify if needed*...THEN you can talk to me about the power of Linux Desktop.
And that's just one app range.
Now add in the weak desktop UI, one that almost (still!) requires a user to go into sudoland. Many distros have been addressing this problem yet it has not completely disappeared. The UI needs to be Mac-level elegant or reasonably close to it; in other words, the need to completely hide the command line is still a work in progress. The current power users don't want to hear this, but the command line is a NEGATIVE from the perspective of the common user, not a positive; command line use needs to be optional, not a requirement, before everyman will consider the OS.
"I don't see that as a problem. You do, and that's fair, but not everyone agrees with you."
Because you are probably an administrator or a programmer, both Linux fortes. Writers et al, that is including general office work, can get great results from Linux apps, word processing isn't hard compared to, say, video editing.
"This is where I get confused -- Linux is perfectly fine for the desktop right now, for a huge number of people. I don't see any serious deficiency there at all."
Linux can't do any specialized desktop work at all. By that i mean no special industry-specific apps that work with other things like CAD, inventory sales...it can't even run Quickbooks! The industry standard accounting system!
"And it already does, quite successfully."
As I've shown by not trying to hard: no, no it doesn't. Linux desktop only manages to work for a select number to usage types, not general purpose. I could never use it because it doesn't have the apps i need; my coworker couldn't use it because it can handle the (very different) apps she needs. Not even close.
"Perhaps what you're talking about is trying to make Linux the most popular desktop OS? Personally, I'm not on board with that, because the way to do that is to make it a clone of what most people already know well: Windows. And if we're going there, then we may as well just use Windows.
Linux already has (and has had for years) what it needs in order to be a successful and useful desktop OS -- enough users to make serious development worthwhile. It doesn't need the majority of computer users."
Possibly, but an unusual decision, as most every system wants growth.