Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 27th Aug 2009 19:08 UTC
Linux A complaint you hear quite often is that the Linux desktop environments, which mostly refers to KDE and GNOME, are trying too hard to be like Windows and Mac OS X. Now, even James Bottomley, Distinguished Engineer at Novell, Director of the Linux Foundation, and Chair of its Technical Advisory Board (put that on your business card) states in an interview that he believes the Linux desktop is too much like Windows and Mac.
E-mail Print r 2   · Read More · 80 Comment(s)
Thread beginning with comment 381031
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Member since:

One point missing thus far from the discussion is that GNU/Linux and BSD systems offer their users much more choice than Windows or Mac when it comes to desktop environments.

Don't like Gnome or KDE? No problem. There's also the following, each of which has a look and feel distinct from the two mentioned above:

Xfce (modelled on CDE)


WindowMaker (modelled on NextStep)

Wmii (tiling wm)

Rio (as part of Plan 9 from User Space)

Fluxbox (minimalist, but easy to use and configure)

twm (minimalist, but it may pleasantly suprise you once you master it.)

...and possibly hundreds of other window managers.

Edited 2009-08-27 20:02 UTC

Reply Score: 5

KugelKurt Member since:

Xfce (modelled on CDE)

Not anymore. Xfce in its default setup looks almost 100% like GNOME.
KDE was initially also a CDE-inspired DE, btw.

Reply Parent Score: 4

Delgarde Member since:

Not anymore. Xfce in its default setup looks almost 100% like GNOME.

True, that - the 4.x versions have been gradually migrating further and further from the CDE look, and yes, screenshots of the current versions greatly resemble the default Gnome setup. It's rather lost it's distinct identity, hasn't it?

Edited 2009-08-27 21:34 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

Doc Pain Member since:

"Xfce (modelled on CDE)

Not anymore. Xfce in its default setup looks almost 100% like GNOME.
KDE was initially also a CDE-inspired DE, btw.

That's correct. I had some customers who came from a Solaris/CDR environment and wanted to have something similar, BSD based. My choice was XFCE 3, and with some tweaking, they didn't even find much differences. :-)

Reply Parent Score: 2

markjensen Member since:

And it is this "choice" that I really love! Linux *is* KDE. It *is* GNOME. It *is* fluxbox and e17 and all of the others.

I don't want some "unified" desktop, if it means what some proponents of that cause state: pull development off of the 'side projects' and focus only on the "unified desktop".

Linux can be Windows-like or OSX-like. And, as mentioned before, it must be to give a comfortable environment for newcomers. But Linux can also be exactly what I want it to be - no icons on the desktop, no 'start' button.

If this means Linux won't get above 1-2% marketshare of the desktop users, that is fine by me. As long as it meets my needs perfectly! ;)

Reply Parent Score: 9

Lennie Member since:

I do want more people to use Linux, 1 because I think a lot of people get screwed by companies like Microsoft, but more importantly to me personally, I want more manufacturers to notice people using Linux, so drivers can be written more easily. ;-)

Reply Parent Score: 3

massysett Member since:

I got a new computer and my choice of distros was between Debian, Slackware, and Arch. I went with Slackware -current because I needed a recent xorg server and Intel drivers, and Slackware -current seemed to be the easiest way to get these.

KDE 4.2 was just too unstable and unpolished. Dialog boxes needed to be resized just so I could see all the options. Basic applets like the calendar would crash. And, contrary to reports that QT 4 would speed up KDE, it was just as slow on this brand new computer as KDE 3.5 is on three year old hardware. KDE startup takes forever.

I would have tried GNOME but it's not in Slackware (I know one can get it, but this seems to be a bit of a pain.) I had heard of xmonad and gave it a try. I was instantly hooked. No more sitting around fiddling with the mouse to resize windows just because I want to split my desktop between a terminal and a browser, or two terminals. Configuring it makes you learn Haskell, though.

Xmonad looks nothing like Windows or Mac, and that's what's good about it. There is lots of innovation on Linux. It's not the sort of innovation that will make Linux take over the world, but so what? If a big company like Apple can't take over the world with OS X, why are people silly enough to think that Linux will take over the world?

Reply Parent Score: 3

KugelKurt Member since:

KDE 4.2 was just too unstable and unpolished.

KDE 4.2 was f#cking awesome and 4.3 even beats that.

Reply Parent Score: 5

Doc Pain Member since:

One point missing thus far from the discussion is that GNU/Linux and BSD systems offer their users much more choice than Windows or Mac when it comes to desktop environments.

Users want to choose? Isn't that too complicated for the average desktop user? :-)

No, seriously: I completely agree with you. It's this kind of choice that made me use UNIX for more than 20 years now. I could not imagine to handle it differently. But I have to admit that I do like Mac OS X a lot, but I'm not using it regularly, so maybe I'm just the wrong person to have an opinion there. :-)

A comment on your list: WindowMaker and Wmii are hard to imagine as a desktop environment (DE), they are window managers (WM), and, by the way, excellent ones. WindowMaker is my favourite one for many years now, but the magic of the tiling WMs didn't open up to me yet, but I often hear fellow users praise them.

It's worth mentioning that it's not a good idea to confuse a DE with a WM. A WM is part of a DE, but of course less functional. For a DE, I consider much more programs ("everyday software") to be part of, and maybe even tools for administration.

On Linux / UNIX, DEs are mostly independant from the OS. This means you can use KDE on some Linux distribution, or on a BSD, as well as you can use Gnome on Solaris. The "hard part" is to integrate OS and DE a bit, so you can, for example, use a GUI driven tool to administer your system (OS).

What started with WMs continues with applications. It's no problem to use Firefox with Wmii on BSD, and the same Firefox version with KDE on Linux. There is no barrier that prevents you from combining the best tools.

On "Windows", you are forced to use the WM (can I say it that way?) that comes from MICROS~1. You cannot use a different one. Sure, there are extensions and customization, but you cannot switch "Windows" into a tiling mode, for example, or remove the title bars.

Reply Parent Score: 2

jimmy1971 Member since:

Thanks for the clarification, as it made me revisit and refocus my thoughts on this issue. (While I'm aware of the distinction between a WM and a DE, by default I usually just think of a DE as simply a WM with some extra stuff thrown in.)

If someone chooses a WM, and then installs a file manager and extra widgets, and customizes/creates their own "themes", have they not arrived at a DIY desktop environment?

It seems to me that the pre-packaged DE's (KDE, Gnome, etc.), by buying into the supposed "desktop allegory", doom themselves to seeming very close to Windows or Mac. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, if it helps newcomers migrate from Bill's OS into the world of FOSS by giving them some measure of familiarity.

As someone becomes more advanced at Unix, however, and gets more used to customizing things at a granular level, the less they desire a DE that makes them say "I can't believe this isn't Windows!"

Edited 2009-08-28 14:11 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

uray Member since:

did you know that it's downside of linux?, novice user hate too much choices..

Reply Parent Score: 1

boldingd Member since:

DE choice isn't a bad thing in-and-of-itself; in my humble opinion, the problem is that it's a very significant choice, that effects a lot more than how your windows are themed or what key-combo maximizes them. It can effect what media players, editors, browsers, etc. you can use, and how integrated they will be, and it can effect your selection (and, again, the usability and stability of) your sound system, configuration storage system and network manager, for instance. I think that's the deeper problem, that DE choice effects things that really should be lower-level OS issues.

Reply Parent Score: 1