Why is Linux Not More Widely Used Than It Is?

The answer to this question can only truly be answered after a variety of statistical data has been gathered. Other than that, it is anybody’s guess.

Nevertheless, we can make educated guesses from the information we have from history, user feedback, demographic influence, business agendas, etc regarding desktop and laptop workstations so let me get right to it.

Windows Came First + a Different Philosophy

Windows was first released on November 20, 1985, and Linux on August 1993. Both OSes have back stories that give insights into their creation, development, and how they changed the ecosystem. However, since Windows had a long enough head start coupled with a continuous run even after Linux became a thing, its fan base seems to have grown at an exponential rate while that of Linux, relatively linear.

The fact that Windows was first doesn’t mean that Linux couldn’t have outrun it, but both platforms have different philosophies with the former being business-minded and publicizing proprietary software, and the latter being mostly free-minded and publicizing open-source software.

This factored into making the biggest businesses and service providers see Windows as more reliable and accountable than the new kid on the block that was on popular within the “tech community“.

Aesthetics & Applications

Before KDE, GNOME, and other desktop environments came around Linux (specifically Interim Linux) was entirely CLI driven. By this time Macintosh and Windows had fully functional GUI software and those were more appealing to the average user. On this note, Linux got off on the wrong foot and this has come a long way to tarnish its image.

Applications like the ones in Microsoft’s Office Suite and Adobe’s collection are still not available on the Linux platform without some type of hack and since most of mankind cannot be bothered but to try, they go for what they can easily work with.

And although there are close to perfect alternatives in the market, the user needs to have already made up his mind to stick with the distro he’s running. A Linux newbie might get discouraged.

Drivers & Video Games

Driver support is a lot better and gaming is almost as good as it is on Windows platforms with special thanks to Steam, but the idea that one can’t play his favorite game on Linux is already ingrained in the minds of former Linux testers.

Imagine trying out the supposedly latest and coolest OS on the block on releasing you cannot play any games – or that some of the software you need to run for work or personal use cannot because the drivers are not available. This was also the case with printers, scanners, SD cards, cameras, etc.

Like in the case of aesthetics and GUI software, Linux was streamlining its user base. And although this wasn’t the fault of Linux, it has played a major role in its market share.


Linux distros are doing a lot better than before when it comes to standardization. Developers were (and still are) free to package and distribute their apps any way they want and it was left to the users to keep track of all the software distribution methods.

I imagine that back then, most computer users couldn’t be bothered and rather used platforms with a single source for getting software. Of course, this isn’t the case any longer thanks to a variety of software including snap and flatpak, but till this day there are open source apps that are easy to install on macOS and Windows while its Linux version needs to be built from source.

I’m guessing this is based on the assumption that Linux users are command line experts and it’s a double-edged sword.

Marketing & Advertising

Windows and macOS haven’t stayed on top of things by just chilling in the same spot. The companies spend millions of dollars on marketing and advertising – even engaging each other in friendly competition. This is more difficult to do with Linux because it is not a single company.

GNU/Linux is free and accessible to anyone with a computer and internet access. Even if Ubuntu, for example, begins to run expensive campaigns to recruit more users, that will be only Ubuntu’s market share. Granted, it’s still GNU/Linux but they will have a long way to go. Plus how will they generate the fund for such campaigns? Their OS is free. Their software is free. Even when laptops come preinstalled with Linux distros they don’t pay for the OS.

Computers come with Windows or MacOS Preinstalled

When you buy a Mac it comes with Apple’s OS. For HP, ASUS, and other computer brands, they usually come with Windows preinstalled. Clearly, this means that the odds of coming across a new PC with a GNU/Linux installation are already low.

This is changing, though, as companies like Dell now ship with either Windows or Ubuntu installed depending on the user’s choice. They might not be getting as many buys as the Windows versions but at least they’re getting somewhere.

So, whenever you see a Linux user, odds are s/he bought a laptop with Windows preinstalled and then s/he chose a Linux distro to run. From the look of things, the odds are in the favor of Windows by default.

There are definitely more reasons than those listed above so I will let you share your opinion with me on that note. Why is Linux not more widely used than it is? Drop your two cents in the comments section below.

Divine Okoi is a cybersecurity postgrad with a passion for the open-source community. With 700+ articles covering different topics in IT, you can always trust him to inform you about the coolest tech.

Each tutorial at GeeksMint is created by a team of experienced writers so that it meets our high-quality writing standards.

17 thoughts on “Why is Linux Not More Widely Used Than It Is?”

  1. I installed openSUSE on one of my laptops. After installation, WiFi wouldn’t work. It looks like I have to key in things I’ve never had to mess with before just to get connected to the internet. This laptop had Windows 10 installed before and WiFi was no problem. It connected and it worked. If I want to spend my time messing around with something, I’ll turn to my model railroad, not Linux and just use Windows to get things done…

  2. Hey I just wanted to say though I’m a newbie, I bought a new dell 5530 with ubuntu installed out of the factory and I couldn’t be happier!

  3. Yeah, most of the times… for example, while in Windows I can have full support to my hybrid Intel/AMD GPU, and run games like The Witcher 3 or render 4k-quality images through CAD software, the non-existence of a driver for older Intel/AMD “combos” make my Linux desktop so underpowered in comparison to Windows 10 that I am considering switching back.

    Don’t get me wrong, I loath Win10 privacy issues as well as its horrible interface (not to mention updates hell), but in Linux not only 3D acceleration on my dedicated GPU is 4 times worse than the in-built Intel haswell chip, but because I also can’t turn off AMD GPU, my battery life is basically halved in comparison to Windows.

    Is it “Linux fault”? Absolutely not, it is lack of support from Intel/AMD/Dell. However, Linux isn’t perfect (yet) and in some cases it will just don’t do.

  4. The main reason is that Linux – any Linux – is very unfriendly to the common user.

    I have tried several Linux distros over the years. My user experience was
    horrible each and every time. At 1st things seem fine, but after
    installing much needed software the system became slow and glitchy.
    Error and problems became rampant, and the various software “products”
    proved inferior and full of problems.Problems were slow or impossible to
    solve though I have used many forums and boards to get support.

    It seems that Linux developers fail to grasp the idea that the user never, NEVER should
    face CL interface. You may hide everything behind the UI like Android
    and OS X do, but the user must never need it to fix issues. With
    Windows, to solve a problem you Google, find some answers that do not
    require CLI and most of the time get rid of the problems. In Linux this
    approach failed me completely, both with many CLI answers and in the end
    result .

    In my experience Linux is straight-out user-hostile.
    It seems that this what happens when the OS developers are exactly this
    – OS developers, without these horrible focus-groups, designers and so
    forth. There are reasons why these professions are in demand – and
    before you ask – no, I am not one.

  5. I’m a computer repair tech. As a Linux user myself, it surprises me how many people know nothing about it. The majority of my clients first learn of Linux from me. Those who are familiar with Linux still believe the myths of its usability or that it is a computer nerd only OS.

    The range of crazy beliefs is staggering. I guess it surprises me because it seems like everyone should be familiar with Linux.

    Lack of brand recognition is also a problem with Linux. When I decided to switch it was because I was ready for a change. I no longer did much personal computing because of having to deal with Windows on a daily basis. I was initially overwhelmed with the sheer number of distributions.

    While that did not scare me, it definately scares other less tech savvy. With Windows and MacOS, you know what to expect. Different editions aside, Windows is Windows. Professional, Home or whatever. Same with MacOS. The differences between High Sierra and Snow Leopard are negligible.

    Liinux, on the other hand, can vary wildly between distros. KDE is drastically different than Gnome. For Linux users, the differences are not a big deal. We can jump all around and quickly become comfortable. An average user could easily get lost in this wonderful world called Linux.

    A brand new ‘noob’ really only has a handful of distros that would be suitable. Without guidance they would never know where to start.

  6. well, on the desktop market, its true.. other than that, linux is everywhere.. servers, android phones, you name it..

  7. I would say it’s all about us. If we use dual boot we can do both work in same PC/Laptops.As I am using this dual boot system. Whatever I would like to suggest linux developer to think about few common using apps because nowadays few are much needed apps we must have in our phone / Computer. Except all of thinks Linux is boss always because of open source.And I believe we all of us live in a Global village and Linux community is better than any other OS, because you have to know atleast few things to use linux operating system.So, one can say those who use linux they have atleast few knowledge more than a windows user.

  8. Linux is more widely used though. I’d be willing to bet the average person has at least one if not multiple devices running Linux of some form, they just don’t know it. The world is far larger than just some desktop

  9. I’m a computer repair tech. I use Linux on my own computers because its awesome, and because I get enough of Windows working on clients computers.

    One thing I have noticed, is most of my clients are either unaware of Linux or have bought into the myths about it. They think it is for geeks or only operates from the command line. They know little or nothing of Linux. I am always blown away by that. We Linux users often assume everyone knows about Linux.

    I am now a Linux evangelist, so I invite them check it out on my laptop. My Asus has a Deepin 15.5/Linux Mint Cinnamon setup. Some don’t believe it’s really Linux. Others think I’ve somehow installed MacOS on my Asus and am messing with them. (a few Mac users even asked how I was able to get it to work with a standard mouse)

    The clients willing to give Linux a try are always amazed by it. If they wish to switch, Linux Mint is usually what I start them with. I haven’t had any yet requesting a return to Windows.

    My experience tells me that lack of publicity is a big factor for why it is not more popular. Most computers come with Windows and it’s all most people know.

    When Windows works, it isn’t a bad OS. It isn’t Linux, but it isn’t bad. Windows users are as much to blame as Windows itself, for its many issues.

    The average computer user would be better served by Linux because of it’s secure by default nature. So many Windows users do little or nothing about security. Those that do, have far fewer problems.

    They never seem to understand that doing nothing about security and practicing sketchy internet habits, are a recipe for – calling me.

  10. Unfortunately, many of your facts are incorrect. I can attest to using Linux earlier than August 1993. While the kernel was not marked as 1.0, distributions already existed offering many utilities including X windows. Many conclusions were also off the mark. Drivers were not available to Linux partly because of active efforts by Microsoft thru sponsorship of the driver development.

    • “I can attest to using Linux earlier than August 1993” Good for you, but I’m talking about it’s officially announced release. As an example, it’s possible Linus built it in 1899 and claimed to have built it later; an insider shouldn’t blame me for not knowing that.

      “Drivers were not available to Linux partly because of active efforts by Microsoft thru sponsorship of the driver development” – Yes, and Linux took a blow that will affect it till this day.

  11. Very true and a good overview. Most people using Linux have had to make a conscience decision to do so. Many using Windows made no decision at all. I’m just glad that 99% of all the apps and services I use are fully cross-platform (except for Train Sim World) and I move freely between my Windows work laptop, my Macbook and Linux machines at home. Point is it is all quite possible.


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