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Over 90% Systems Had Flatpak Installed, Says GNOME's Research Report

GNOME's survey data reveals some exciting user preferences. Will this influence GNOME's development decisions in the near future? Only time will tell.

In August 2022, GNOME developed a tool that let users provide anonymous insights about their system configuration, extension, and GNOME-tuned settings.

This was meant to help GNOME learn more about its users' preferences and to make better decisions based on analyzing the data.

Allan Day, a member of the GNOME design team, shared the collected data in a recent blog post. It contains some interesting insights and findings.

Let me take you through it.

Research Report Findings

The research report consists of data from 2,517 users across varying hardware and software configurations.

This data was procured from people who provided their data to GNOME via the gnome-info-collect tool, and does not represent the whole user base of GNOME.

Initially, they had received 2,560 responses, but they had to remove some from the dataset due to them not using a GNOME installation or being on a virtual machine.

What does it contain?: It has anonymized non-sensitive data metrics that show how users were setting up their systems.

This can be of great use to the GNOME team, who can now use this data to make design and developmental decisions.

One such data metric that caught our eye was the percentage of people using Flatpak on their GNOME system.

Over 90% of systems had Flatpak installed.

Of the 2,517 users, a whopping 2,344 users had Flatpak installed on their GNOME system. With 2,102 of them having it fully enabled.

That is a huge number in such a small data set! 🤯

On this, Allan had this to add:

Flatpak and Flathub are both important to GNOME’s strategic direction, so it is useful to know the extent of their adoption. This adoption level is also relevant to the design of GNOME’s Software app.

Other than that, some key takeaways included:

  • The most used default web browser was Mozilla Firefox.
  • The most used distro among the participants with GNOME was Fedora.
  • Google was the account of choice for users using the online account configuration feature.
  • GIMP was one of the most popular apps installed on GNOME, followed closely by VLC.
  • 83% of users had at least one GNOME extension enabled.

I suggest you go through the research report to get an even more in-depth look.

Will This Help Improve the GNOME Experience?

Collecting this data was to improve the desktop experience by analyzing it and providing it to the design and development teams.

However, the data collected is still quite limited and may not represent the majority of GNOME users.

To address that, the blog post mentions:

Overall, the data gives some strong hints about which features should be concentrated on by the GNOME project. It also provides evidence about which features shouldn’t be prioritized.

It needs to be remembered that, while we have evidence here about some of the decisions that some GNOME users are making, the data doesn’t give us much insight into why they are making the decisions that they are.

The GNOME team wants to be cautious about making decisions based on this data. And, surveys like these should give them a better understanding of user preferences and focus on what's more important on a fundamental level.

Of course, it is impossible to cater to every type of user. But, as long as the fundamentals have been taken care of, the desktop experience should eventually improve.

💬 What are your thoughts on these findings? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments down below.

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