Open Ballot: Has desktop fragmentation gone too far?

TuxRadar

First there was TWM. Then we had multiple window managers. Then KDE came along, and Gnome started as a result of licensing issues. Xfce grew up. And now, after a decade of the three big desktops slugging it out, it's about to get a whole lot more complicated with the addition of Unity and Gnome (3) Shell. Some distros are talking of forking Gnome 2.x to keep the older desktop alive.

We're going to record our next podcast soon, so we want your opinion: has desktop fragmentation gone too far? Is there strength in diversity, and are all these desktops good for the free software ecosystem? Or is it just duplication of effort, a nightmare for Linux documentation writers, and preventing Linux from building a unified front against Windows and OS X?

Tap your musings into the box below, and we'll read out the best in our podcast. Live a little, though, and come up with a better name than Anonymous Penguin. Cheers.

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Your comments

NES (No-Yes)

If Linux wanted to be the most popular desktop then yes - but as the old saying goes variety is what makes Linux GREAT.

No

I believe the problem is not the amount of different desktop environments out there but the fact that they don't share key technology and thus thwart the natural advantage that FLOSS apps hold.

Withholding Judgement for Now

On the one hand you're right when it comes to documentation. But, on the other hand, I find the diversity awesome. For example, a lot of people are getting annoyed at the non-configurability of Gnome Shell. Guess what's configurable? KDE! Xfce! And in the case of Xfce it's GTK so it's almost the same as Gnome 2.x. As someone who has had periods of loving each of the major DEs and some of the more esoteric WMs, I think it's great to have them. Right now I'm loving KDE's activities, their notification system, and the neat stuff they're doing with Akonadi, Nekpomuk and Strigi. Sure, it sucks to have a gtk and QT version of all the major programs, but that's the best way to tie into the DE's special features. Just happened to use Unity for the first time on my netbook over the weekend and I found it to run a lot faster than KDE on the same netbook. And, it wasn't all that bad at all.

In the end - what I believe is bad for FLOSS desktops is not fragmentation, but turf wars. If people treat KDE vs Gnome (or any other pairing) as Manchester United vs Liverpool, then we lose. If they just use whichever one works best for them, then we win. Everyone is happy because they use the one that works best for them!

Main area of strength and weakness in the Linux desktop

This may sound like an odd statement but I fully believe that the desktop defragmentation is one of the key strengths to Linux. It provides the users, possibly for the first time if they are coming from a certain m$ distro, with total freedom and the ability to personalise their coputers to their own pleasure. The scenario is a dream for the experienced user as they can choose their own environment to suit their needs (eg pointless running Gnome/KDE if all you want is a backend for your XBMC media centre).

However for the newbie entering into Linux for the first time, it may be very confusing. To be honest most don't even know what distro they want to choose, far less the perfect desktop environment for them. This may be one of the key features to turn off potential new users. However at the same time it is also what can keep a lot of current users with Linux.

Is all the desktop defragmentation good or bad? For the experienced user it is a major advantage. However for the newbie trying Linux for the first time it is a daunting prospect as it is without adding unecessary further confusion.

diversity!

If the goal is to cater to Aunt Tillie, then it's useful to cull options in favor of a unified desktop. Indeed, it's easy enough to do that today- hand her an Ubuntu CD and be done.

If the goal is to have a vibrant open-source community, where ideas can flourish, people can experiment, and, in general, the stuff that's kept Linux so brazenly awesome can continue, then it's always worth having multiple desktops, just as it's useful to have multiple distros, multiple text editors, multiple browsers, etc.

There needs to be space in Linux for the newbie, who just wants to get to GMail and for the power users with strong preferences, and those who want to try everything under the sun.

I currently have five web browsers installed on my laptop - Firefox 4.0, Chromium, Epiphany, lynx and elinks, and I use them all for different things. If some of those projects were terminated in the name of reducing "fragmentation," I'd be less happy and less productive, not more.

For Commercial Success, Yes; For Freedom, No

If the goal of "Linux" is a marketable product, then the fragmentation has long since gone too far, for the same reason that distro proliferation has gone too far: it creates too many "products." A consumer knows what Windows and OS X look like, but what does Linux look like? Well, that depends... An unrecognizable product is difficult to market.

However, I never understood Linux as being a marketable product. This isn't to say that companies such as Red Hat and Canonical haven't successfully made it a marketable product, because clearly, they have. But Linux is, primarily, an idea, maybe even an ideal, and that ideal is freedom. As such, any desktop or distro that anyone wants to introduce is just part of the wild, wonderful, anarchic ride that is freedom. If someone doesn't like a given desktop (cough, Unity, cough), then don't use it. Unlike Windows and OS X, Linux users are not locked into... anything. Freedom. It's kind of a beautiful thing.

Stupidity increasing

At the moment we're in a good position - sure there's a good few WM's, but they're easy to put into niche's. E.g. Xfce for low powered kit, Gnome (2?) for lightly integrated, KDE for more hardcore integration folks.

Gnome3 - afaik - is an attempt to "modernise", so probably will replace the older one. I just can't see the arguments for holding onto Gnome2, certainly once folks have got used to any new ways that Gnome3 introduces.

Unity, on the other hand, just seems like Canonical being different ... because ... they ... can. I've used netbook Unity and it's just a poor interface (for me). So I hope it doesn't take off and hence dies a quick and clean death. Certainly my future Ubuntu installs will be running Gnome2/3 (or KDE if that's not possible).

Is it just me, or is there something ironic that a _divisive_ interface is called "Unity"?

Nope, if someone out there wants to help the desktop, then some common libraries between these WM's would be a damned fine idea.

Yes

Yes, desktop fragmentation has gone too far. There are more choices now as to what you want running on your desktop (which I like as I can choose what to run), but that isn't a good thing for new users who will feel lost and overwhelmed.

No

As time goes on it seems increasingly clear that linux is never going to truly compete with Windows and Mac on the 'standard' desktop. The established brands are too entrenched. Linux's success with the general public comes on devices where there is no single accepted interface and therefore people are more accepting of unfamiliarity.

E.g. Android, TomTom...

Likely that is why Canonical and Gnome have both optomised their interfaces for Tablets. That is where their software has the best chance of making progress, the pc desktop is a battle long lost.

Yes

Definately, maybe, but definately not no. My idea is that everyone should take the best parts of each and work them together in a seamless fashion for a better overall UI, though obviously that's not how software goes, and some parts would cause others to fail miserably, but it would be nice to see each one learning rorm the others (and their own) mistakes

probably

But is there enuf market share between any desktop for the question to be relevant in the first place?

Android Et al and the UI's that sit on top of mobile devices are making Linux; maybe even the Linux Desktop irrelevant.

Some pencil pushing bean counter somewhere has decided that the future is in the mobile device.

Get used to Mobile looking UI's from now on and quit your bitchin.. Bloody nerd's

maybe the future has the answer

the focus is slowly shifting towards the browser - maybe in the future the desktop will disappear and the browser is king and the fight will be between the likes of chrome / firefox / opera et al and this argument will go away (and the browser wars will take over) Atleast the browsers seem to have more brand recognition!

Au contraire

Look at how few DEs we have. Desktop fragmentation - or the other more positive side: Diversity - has not even remotely come far enough.

Oh, Toddy

"Likely that is why Canonical and Gnome have both optomised their interfaces for Tablets. That is where their software has the best chance of making progress, the pc desktop is a battle long lost."

Millions upon millions of us use GNOME on our desktop and like it the way it is. GNOME shoudn't abandon us -- and I don't think it has. Heck, with better support for using just the keyboard as a navigation device, I wonder if GNOME 3 isn't more of hardcore, old school desktop interface than its predecessors in the 2.x line.

Regarding the open ballot and your question about documentation writers, all I can say is thank your lucky stars for the command line. Why bother explaining how to do something in KDE, GNOME, XFCE, etc., when you can just tell somebody one simple command that accomplishes the same thing?

Moreover, I was very disappointed when Dru Lavigne's book on PC-BSD spent hundreds of pages on the KDE desktop. Both KDE and GNOME are intuitive -- users can figure them out on their own. Therefore, I don't think fragmentation is too much of an issue.

No

KDE, Gnome Shell and Unity are all fine and fair competition. It's too early to say whenever it is good or bad, and with Gnome Shell and Unity trading ideas, it's still hazy to see which is best.

No

I think the diversity that Linux Desktops offer is one of strong points ony Linux Distro. They are not that diffucult to install and all of them are far more flexible/'themeable' then the windows Desktop is.

My opinion on the matter...
Imagine if all the Gnome,openbox,XFCE,KDE,ect... Desktops suppenly disapeared and all we had was Unity? Would every one be happy? Of course not it would be a disaster!

I think that some of the DE are to simular to be seperate projects and some DE should retire and join foreced with another DE.

We also need to remember that we are never going to get anywhere if we are just going to argue with each other.

Linux is not loosing to Windows becuase Windows is better its loosing becuase the user can be a complete idiot and still 'use' the OS just fine. Put the game dvd in and the autorun/wizard will take care of the rest. Just click the start button and there is all your stuff. Just click the magic e and you 'got internet'.</rant>

So my conclusion. Its good to have diversity a good Linux user should be able to understand this WE CHOSE LINUX BECUASE EVERY ONES COMPUTER CAN BE DIFfERENT... well and its increadible security, stability, diversity...

Good overall

I think it's great.

It allows a level of flexibility and customisation that is simply not possible on closed platforms.

When KDE 4 had it's notorious teething problems in the KDE 4.1/4.2 era I was able to rely upon good old dependable Gnome. Now that KDE 4 is mature I am loving it however.

Now that Gnome 3 is out, undoubtedly some Gnome 2 fans will switch either because the don't like the direction Gnome is going or because Gnome 3 is currently not mature enough for their taste and so can switch to another DE.

For those who like the 'Classic' Desktop or have older hardware or prefer something more light and minimalistic, there is xfce or lxde.

There is something for everyone and the opportunity to switch is fantastic when your previously favourite DE is going through a transitional period or you just fancy a change.

The main disadvantage for me is that, in spite of efforts at better integration, KDE apps feel out of place in Gnome and vice versa because of the use of different toolkits, although overall I believe the diversity of DE's is a good thing.

There is a good desktop for everyone

No, the fragmentation is just a lot of colourful weeds that will die off soon enough.

There is a choice of good, solid desktop for everyone who needs it. The portable device display is still very fluid, but will settle into shape. I guess that the portable device "desktop" will fork off into its own little universe and leave the desktop "desktop" to return to more traditional lines, as in Gnome 3 in fallback mode.

There are a few nice usability features popping out of mobile device interface design, but a lot of the current hype is a hindrance to sitting at a larger screen with a functional keyboard in front of it, where most working people work, as opposed to browse and play.

Survival Of The Fittest

Let all the DES flourish.The more there are the more innovation.Let the end users be the deciders as to who stays and who is a flop

No

It's always the same old argument, but choice is good. Sometimes it's a shame that so much effort is duplicated, but I just love to pick whatever desktop(s) I like best.

For our fathers (see how I'm not stereotyping against mothers) it doesn't matter, as they will start with a fully customised system like Android, Linux Mint or the new Ubuntu (once it becomes usable) anyway. If they become curious l they can switch to KDE, AwesomeWM or Fluxbox later, if not, the standard choice will be fine.

Yes

Haven't used KDE since last version. I'm not interested in the new graphical bells and whistles. Similarly Unity and Gnome 3 offer me nothing that I need or want. What I want is Gnome 2. I expect if forced to use the newer UIs, all of kit will struggle as it's old and cheap. I don't want desktop bling, I want reliable quick simple stuff.

Also, I don't like the direction that Gnome 3 or unity have taken. What's wrong with the Gnome 2 way of doing things? And if I wanted a Apple style top menu, I'd buy an Apple.

no, never. and never will.

the fragmentation of desktops will never go to far until there are more desktop environments then there are packages in the debian repositories!

Duplication of effort?

I tend to think that the "duplication of effort" argument rather short sighted. Yes, it is true that there is a danger of lots of people re-inventing the wheel, which can bring too much diversity as in the Audio problems that Linux has. But if there was just one distro with just one way of doing things, then there would be an awful lot of other developers who wouldn't have the opportunity to get involved and bring their ideas to the table.

Whilst it may seem there is too much choice and confusion reigns, there is always the added possibility that someone else will come along and pick up the best bits to make there distro that bit better. Duplication of effort - humbug - I see a world of opportunity! Bring on the fresh ideas!!

no

Fragmentation is linux's strengh - that's why we see it from embedded devices to supercomputers. I'm not worried about the *addition* of desktops to linux, but the *loss* of Gnome 2. Institutions currently on the 'classic' XP desktop, possibly considering linux, are going to balk Gnome 3 - whether it's good or not.

No

While I will agree that there are a lot of different desktop choices I don't think that it is too much. I personally am glad to have a wide variety of desktops to choose from. I have actually used the new unity desktop and the gnome 3 as well. I will note that the unity desktop is kind of similar to the new OS X Lion with the launchpad and app store. I am actually a fan of both desktops. I recently setup my MacBook Pro to quad boot OS X,UBUNTU,OPENSUSE and Windows.

Yes

Too much library fragmentation limits portability of applications. Enough of the Windows v. Mac type foolishness. A common library system, maintained and kept up to date with current technology, is needed before the "year of the linux desktop" can ever be realized.

I'll surprise myself and say "Yes!"

I think this is the first time I've ever said "Yes" to whether something has gone too far with more choice, but somehow I think desktop fragmentation has pushed the limit. Let's be realistic: even the huge project Debian can keep the choices down to "unstable", "testing", and "stable" why can't we keep the desktop choices down to something like "lightweight", "glitzy" (for those wanting all that compiz bling), and "ultra-customizable" (for netbook/tablets/all other devices)? I'll probably get burned for saying this, but maybe we could just freeze things for a bit, decide on a single set of libraries like either qt or gtk libraries, and come up with one desktop with a lightweight, glitzy, or ultra-customizable option? I realize this could be a big headache, but so are the needless, overwhelming options. How many ways do we really need to open and read a window? I think we can keep it to three "quickly and memory efficient" (lightweight), "in a manner that fits the device" (ultra-customizable), and "in a blaze fire or ice etc compiz effect" (glitzy). I feel like we've come to a point in linux history similar the decision to keep developing kernel 2.4 and 2.6 simultaneously, or go with a branch and dump the rest. I don't think it would hurt to consolidate the choices.

Howdy, 'fragmentation' A

Howdy,

'fragmentation' A term that does fit well, i suppose. But not for the reason(s) generally assumed. It suggests that, for the most part, the de's exist as sets of incomplete elements that are difficult to combine. And i guess they are really. When it comes to problems with running different applications on different managers. (There are more than 3 environments btw).

As i see it, the main problem is the type that happens when the mind space of the developer(s) has been trained into a MS way of looking at development.

If the environment is designed with a Unix paradigm in place, using generic constructs, then there should never be any problems with intractability.

Whether it's a gtk or qt widget set is not an issue. But when an environment chooses to impose the extensive use of their own libraries for everything else --- the motive becomes obviously one of attempting to 'tie-in' a person to that particular system.

Eric Mesa wrote:
>>
For example, a lot of people are getting annoyed at the non-configurability of Gnome Shell.
>>

(grin), gnome is a bit different. Invented by a MS person for MS people, who should probably have stuck with MS.

Mohan wrote:
>>
but that isn't a good thing for new users who will feel lost and overwhelmed.
>>

The poor things :cry:, hopefully the diversity will help them learn to start thinking a bit. This thing about things having to be dumbed down so that the main herd wont be getting all nervous/upset is a real suck imo.

generics -> no problemo's -> lots of interoperable diversity.

Beats being a rotational fashion victim any day, i reckon.

:)

jm

Somebody stole my air guitar,
but that's ok, 'caurse i've got a spare.

Yes.

I`m with N0Sheds with this reply, and add, with so much diversity in WMs/UIs gives rise to more esoteric help questions on the Help forum(s) that only the users of that particular flavour under their particular OS can answer.

Also Scott about library fragmentation has a good point; I'm surprised that there isn't a(n) ?.so<.some.version.number_sometimes> library for the correct modelling of washing your socks and ironing your pants, but no doubt that will come... ;oD

Maybe this is where GPL fails?

Bazza.

No such thing as duplication of effort

I believe that so-called "duplication of effort" is not a bad thing. Open source allows true evolution of software through cross-pollination of code. When a project tries something new and radical, like a random mutation in a gene it will either catch on or die off.
There aren't too many Desktop Environments, there's gnome shell, KDE and unity. XFCE and LXDE have their fans and the old style gnome will probably drop off in popularity as g3 gets better (as old KDE did)

Bring it on!

I don't think DE fragmentation is a problem, it's the interoperability between them (through common libraries), and standardisation of distros that's the problem.

It doesn't matter how many distros or DEs there are, as long as they are interoperable/standardised, we can use any piece of software on any distro/DE.

Just look at what we have in the DE environment:

Alot of people are not happy with the Gnome 3 changes. Configurability, well it has been released for 2 weeks, give the devs a chance, anyway, you can customise a lot of Gnome 3, it's just there isn't a shiny new GUI for it yet. Time to get that console dirty!

But that's beside the point. A look at the big 3 (KDE, Gnome and Xfce) now gives us 3 completely different ways of working (there were only 2 before Gnome 3 as Xfce and Gnome 2 work in very similar ways), the glitz and glamour of Plasma, Gnome Shell for that minimalist look and Xfce for a more traditional desktop (of course, that can be glitzed up with Compiz, so fans of the compositing master, all is not lost, a look at Xfce will more than likely satisfy your cravings). Throw into the mix the many other WMs and DEs and you can satisfy almost any preferred way of working.

So there you have it, it looks as if the duplicated effort argument for DEs is no longer valid (at least amongst the big 3 - GTK and QT you say, slap a compatibility layer over the top - argh, not another Pulse Audio!!! - and app dev is greatly simplified), as they all look and function in very different ways.

Just get that interoperability/standardisation going, package and market one "generic" (horrible word) distro to the masses, and once they are converted, the world is their oyster!

Cheers!

It doesn't matter - but probably no.

Fragmentation occurs when someone is not satisfied with current offerings. They produce an alternative; either a variant of something that already exists, or else something completely new.
That alternative will either fail and disappear, or it will succeed but in a specialist niche arena, or it will be wonderful for everyone and take over the world.
Whatever the outcome, it's Linux that wins overall, because it provides the scope for better and fitter alternatives to be tried and tested.
I would probably worry if there was no fragmentation - that would suggest that people didn't care any more.

Starting out should be easy

As long as a new user can find their way around whatever desktop their distro comes with, all is well. And that is a software design issue. As they become more adept, the choice will be seen as a plus.

personally, I think they are

personally, I think they are going too fast, and this new desktop is proving it. Its so unstable, many computers cant even install it, never mind use it. It goes live in a week or so it will put people off. Who wants an unstable OS, and little help in getting working.

Linux desktops

As many as the human mind can conceive

Too many desktops

Let there be as many as the human mind can conceive!

A fragmented "Linux" desktop need not prevent FOSS success

Linux will forever be fragmented; that's fine. Specific Linux platforms like Android and Ubuntu will thrive and become the de facto baseline for computing, while "Linux" will remain an experimental, creative, and highly volatile playground for nerds.

"Linux" in the general sense never had a chance. You can't herd ca... well, let's be friendly. You wouldn't want to cage songbirds, or paint them with one color.

The presence of hundreds of tiny, fractious projects need not detract from the success of one. That one is probably Unity. So long as Ubuntu has its growing market share, GNOME, GNOME 2, KDE, Xfce, LDE, E17, Fluxbox, Awesome, Xmonad, forty odd tiling window managers, and Elementary will all remain safely irrelevant.

I think...

that the answer is yes and no to this times open ballot as well.
Yes, it fragments people who really would gain more then they lose by working together and either attempt to ahead to some form of standard(or create one). E.g. I have always thought that installing packages should work/look the same no matter what you are using.
But I don't think its an all that bad idea to have multiple WM's, besides those things that should be the same across the board they really fill out the market well. You have something that can run on really really slow machines or something that request a bit more hardware but in turn looks better and runs a bit more advanced software.

yes

... or it has if it is important to keep attracting new users (home and business) to the Linux desktop.

But perhaps this is not actually that important, any more? I really don't know. I had always felt that it was - not only because new users would benefit from something that offers much more than W***, in a number of respects, but because it would help ensure that manufacturers supplied Linux drivers for printers and other devices.

For myself, I use a Linux desktop all day every day, but for work and not as a hobbyist. As such, I do not want to live especially close to the cutting edge of desktop innovation as my workflow is precious to me. I was dismayed at the speed with which the superbly functional KDE 3 was 'retired' and I am not keen, from what I have seen so far, on taking part in Gnome's current experiment.

I think it is great -- really I do! -- that developers continue to come up with innovative, mould-breaking desktop concepts. However, Linux should work much harder to differentiate experimental or unusual technologies and concepts from 'mainstream' tried and tested ones. Otherwise, I fear desktop Linux will retreat further into 'niche-dom'.

Yes!

There are already far too many desktops and its only going to get worse!

One of the reasons why people never give instructions in GUI form is because Linux has too many desktops. The only consistent thing across distros now is the CLI.

Now Gnome has essentially been split in 2 because Fedora is using Gnome Shell and Ubuntu is using Unity. Of course some distros are even sticking with Gnome 2.32.x, so Gnome has really been split into 3 pieces!

Its in our nature

Linux is an evolution therefore "fragmentation" is natural as natural as natural selection. Survival of the fittest or as Mark put it 'one shell to run them all'. Competition within Linux is the best thing about Linux it fuels innovation and great software, even turf wars have their benefits in that they spur developers on to refine and improve their projects lest they lose. There's always a bright side.

What diversity?

Apart from a couple of mentions of Unity ... and, let's face it, that only got a look in because it's new and people have got a bee in their bonnet about it ... the only DEs anyone mentioned were the same three in the title

Gnome = MacOS

KDE = Windows >= 95

Xfce = Windows >= 95 [1]

Hardly diverse, is it?

Yeah, yeah, there's also any number of CLI based options as well, but no-one mentioned them and they basically boil down to "DOS = Unix CLI"

And you could add Enlightenment, I suppose, but I'm probably the only person in the World who uses it - Or at least it often feels like it

There's hardly even any diversity between the distros themselves, most of them being a respin of one of the majors

Debian

Red Hat

Slackware

Suse

Okay, there are also Arch, Ark, Gentoo, and a few others, but, apart from Arch and Gentoo, they're hardly major players, are they?

And, anyway, the differences between even the majors is pretty minor ... about the only real difference being the package format (deb, rpm, tarball and whatever weirdness Arch uses) and the associated manager

The rest of it just boils down to what software is delivered along with the kernel and the package manager, a control panel or two and the desktop wallpaper / colour scheme

There's barely any more diversity than there is on the political spectrum

In short: No it hasn't gone far enough for my liking

I'd like to see an end to apps optimised for KDE, Gnome or whatever and the start of a generic app appearance that the DE can add its own spin to, if it must, or I can skin *my* way, irrespective of the DE

And I'd like to see something other than the WIMP GUI, for once ... something genuinely *different* - I don't know what, but, just as an example, an FPS environment that I walk around [2]

Until then, I'll stick with Enlightenment - Less desktop clutter, more speed

---

[1] Okay, I've seen Xfce tarted up to work like Enlightenment (e.g. Zenwalk), but it's not exactly a commonplace configuration

[2] Actually, that's *not* what I'd like to see, but you get the point - Something *different*

Haven't you heard? No one uses desktops anymore! That is so 2010

LXDE and Xfce seem to fill the same niche, yet cannot work together. Never mind the more basic window managers.

The big boys cannot agree upon a notifications paradigm.

And now the big boys also wish to tell everybody "hey, you have to use your computer like a tablet now, the desktop is dead." Things smell very much like the emperor's new clothes right now. Some in the desktop space seem to lack the fortitude to leave solved problems solved. Reinventing the wheel is more amusing / cool I guess.

What's coming in the future? Wayland vs HTML5 on the desktop? What mainstream app developers what supposed to support all this diversity rather than be content supplying the larger Microsoft market?

Even in file managers, each seems to have a feature lacking in the others, yet no one thinks "hey, let's combine this all into one file manager." But then if all the projects are run by someone like Shuttleworth ("the trashcan HAS to stay in the bottom left, period"), it's not hard to see how fragmentation begins.

Gnome 2 panel was minimalist enough for me to stay out of my way, and not as ugly as KDE. I hope it gets the equivalent of a Trinity project.

Incidentally, what exactly is the current definition of "older hardware". In what year does "old hardware" become sufficient to run Gnome 2? Maybe at this point at least Xfce and any forthcoming Gnome 2.x fork could merge. I'd like the batch file renaming capability of Thunar in my Gnome 2.x continuation.

Fragmentation is in the DNA of GNU/Linux. It is hopeless.

Of course not.

Yes there are a lot of desktop choices, but everyne knows the only true choice is Enlightenment. So of course not.

Can I submit my own idea for a future open ballot?

I've been wondering lately (maybe due to the Canterbury prank), what if there was one common repository, and an actual common set of libraries, and maybe even a custom build system at that shared repo so one could customize their own disc image before downloading it .... what then would be the role of a "distro" after that convergence? Would just fall back to picking a desktop environment, picking a wallpaper, and then voila, you have a separate distro?

What defines a distro now, and what would define the concept of a distro if some really basic things were shared, and even, dare I say, synced (everyone on version X of library A)?

No

If I don't like one setup I can choose another.

Anyway, who cares about gaining more market share and having a united front? So long as I can use a free operating system legally which doesn't require 10 billion virus checks a second and doesn't break down, I'm happy.

Basically, so long as they aren't riddled with bugs, take as long as Ooo to load or look worse than XP, why not have variety?

(I, for one, find gnome-shell a breath of fresh air, so long as you take the bugs out that is.)

Also the argument that if everybody worked on one desktop it would be better, is void. People only code because they're interested, not because they want to follow a set plan and design; they want to try out new things. If all the effort was somehow concentrated down though, Linux would be a lot more boring.

What fragmentation ?

My desktop isn't fragmented... If it were I think I would have noticed. :)

I've been using the same one now for years, it has improved over time but I have not experienced any fragmentation.

Maybe one day, possibly in the not too distant future, I will consider using something different, but at present why would I.

Kind of

Fragmentation within linux is one of the things that ends up giving it less market share, and because it has less market share, software vendors are more reluctant to release software for the platform, and because software vendors are reluctant to release software for Linux, less people use it...and so the cycle continues.

NO

"The medium is the message"

The more they cannot pin you down the more they have no idea how to embed there capitalist messages into the interface...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Well at one time there were

Well at one time there were a number of desktops for the PC
GEM (Which was crippled by Apple lawsuits)
OS/2 by IBM
several desktops for DOS by HP and others
And don't ever forget Microsoft BOB!

Linux has desktops for everything for old PCs that need a lightweight desktop to all singing and dancing heavyweights for an up to date system - with Linux you do not have to junk your PC when a new version of the OS is issued!

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