> The reason popularity matters, even though I have the technical skill to administer any OS competently, is that popularity is the single best incentive to encourage third parties to iron out the kinks on a particular platform.
I prefer a working platform that forces me to read the manual beforehand over a platform where I don’t have to read the manual but random third parties iron out kinks.
Popularity is a measure of quality, but only of quality wrt to the usecases of the people among which the product is popular. My computer usage is very different from my mum’s, and likely from 95% of the population, hence, the popularity of a product among 95% of the population is rather irrelevant to me.
If you’re a single person with a tight budget looking for a car, you don’t look at car popularity among large families owning oil fields, but among people similar (in the relevant ways) to yourself.
Hence, popularity among a large user base is an indicator that the OS is optimised for use by a large part of the population. If you find that this is indicative of the quality you’re looking for, fine.