Years ago Mandrake and Suse were the best established European distros. Europe is where Linux first really made inroads (think IBM net servers, huge legal damages against M$). Suse was always into server and
desktop development. HP would've sought a solid corporate Linux option, and Novell absorbed Suse. Allied Silicon Valley business interests. Scratch our backs and we'll scratch yours.
Hardware recognition and drivers has always been a core challenge of open source. What is most daunting these days is the accelerated speed of change in bus architecture and obsolescence of CPUs/graphics/connecting peripheral protocols/telecomms/wireless etc, the range of computing devices, and the vast (and still growing) scale of manufacturing and merchandising. As an example, the Chinese Foxconn plant (the one where workers assembling Mac's are paid $5 for a 12 hour shift, where several suicides have occurred) employs no less than 400,000 workers at that site alone!
Recycling older computers, passing 'em on to the needy, keeping 'em from ending up in landfill etc. All that achieved largely due to lean, fast, stable, well-sorted Linux distros. And PClinuxOS LXDE rates up there with the best.
Desktops will survive. Heck, we need custom hardware, don't we? Video/music recording/editing, graphic design, hardcore gaming, net servers, CAD, architecture, engineering, aeronautics, etc. Embedded Linux devices are proliferating in many consumer-driven markets. Android is now a benchmark mobile OS. Linux everywhere. Love it.