Being a desktop distro in Linux world is hard: servers and cloud drive not only the development, but the possibility of development (aka money) too. Enterprise desktop customers do exist, but their goals may be completely opposite to regular users. Same time the demand from regular desktop users is higher then ever and competitors are stronger then ever. And by “regular” I mean non IT specialists, non professionals, or non Unix hackers. Their primary products gone free of charge (macOS) or going to be here (win10). So, being free to download isn’t an advantage anymore. Being open source still is, but it alone doesn’t make a whole product.
There should be a path to drive desktop forward while being helpful for regular users. This implies solving real issues like:
- H/W accelerated video and good battery life
- Working Chrome/Chromium snap (refresh-awareness, xdg-open, passwords, etc)
- HiDPI support (without re-configuring GDM, grub, console fonts, etc)
- Nice store app (maybe a web app from snapcratf.com/store for unified codebase)
- Better H/W support, faster Nvidia driver updates, standalone GUI driver app, fwupd UI
- Easier installation with encryption by default (and one password instead of two?)
- Recovery partition
- Many more
There so many of those that it’s a hard task for a relatively small team (even to find those issues). But there’re clues in what some other small distros do.
Let’s start with allowing any person to help and influence the movement: open a Patreon account only for Desktop team. Let people to contribute $1/2/5/10 a month to the product they love to make it better. Small (1, 2) amounts are important, but even so with thousands of contributions it will make possible to add a couple more of desktop-focused developers on board. And interact with patrons.
You’re a company and probably thinking about doing it without 3rd party and save on fees, but it is not so simple too. Patreon (or similar platform) will give additional media coverage and discoverability (same as Snap store gives to apps) while letting people to see contributions in one place and single payment.
“Desktop Team Updates” is a good candidate for Patreon updates. There could be other useful perks too. Making monthly poll from patrons is one of those. Not only feedback will be better, but there will be more engagement. Doing yearly poll like it’s now is good, but not good enough (especially with half of questions about servers/vms).
Using more established channels like GitHub/Twitter/Discord/YouTube/Reddit and using them more will be appreciated too. Linux power users feel comfortable in IRC, but that’s not how it works now. You can joke about “Maybe we should post TikTok videos too?” but teenage users will not laugh
Maybe even mind blowingly buy a couple of macs and surfaces with everyone one the team required to spend a month a year on another platform to look out of the box.
Anyway, the post is quite long already and there many ways/ideas to make desktop experience great. It only needs a little push.