Originally Posted by Plan9
That's not entirely true though. GNOME wasn't that popular when I started using Linux. When you look back at the "Ubuntu's" before Ubuntu was released, you can see that many didn't really take GNOME that
seriously (roughly in order of time line):
- Slackware: KDE (still is now)
- Redhat (pre-Fedora) was agnostic towards GNOME
- SuSE: agnostic (though IIRC it favoured KDE)
- Mandrake: favourable towards KDE. But it later became a pretty much KDE distro (by that point Mandrake was called Mandriva)
- Lindows: KDE.
And when talking about "humanized" distros, Mandrake and Lindows were really leading the charge - both of which treated GNOME like a 2nd class citizen.
So I'm not really sure what happened in the mid-00s, but GNOMEs popularity seem to sky rocket from nowhere.
I absolutely agree with you, but that was much before Linux got popular.
I still have my Mandrake 9.2 and will never ever toss it away. ^^ I had Red Hat, too, but never really got to play with it the way it was meant to. And back then KDE > Gnome in terms of usage, however the overall Linux popularity was substantially lower.
That last sentence in your post holds the key - exactly in those years Linux became popular (I am speculating here, but) probably because companies finally saw it as a free OS, no more multi-license. And even the "business" packages cost symbolic in comparison to the M$ schemes. Also, I give credit to the somewhat dropping off of mainstream OEMs into people's homes and some of the vendors that started supporting Linux for their products.
In the last couple of years, I hold no doubts that the smartphone industry helped it's popularity too, I've witnessed friends of mine willing to run Linux when they understood how flexible and customizable it really is.
P.S. Back in the day I actually considered Gnome to be somewhat experimental. This under the fact that I never really gave two ..grits about GUIs and I was a total newbcake to anything unrelated to Microsoft.