Try the Linux desktop of the future

Apps

For the tinkerers and testers, 2010 is shaping up to be a perfect year. Almost every desktop and application we can think of is going to have a major release, and while release dates and roadmaps always have to be taken with a pinch of salt, many of these projects have built technology and enhancements you can play with now. We've selected the few we think are worth keeping an eye on and that can be installed easily, but Linux is littered with applications that are evolving all the time, so we've also tried to guess what the next big things might be.

Take a trip with us on a voyage of discovery to find out exactly what's happening and how the Linux desktop experience is likely to evolve over the next 12 months...

KRunner

KRunner has been part of KDE for long time. It's the tool you see when you press Alt+F2, and is commonly used to run applications quickly by typing their names rather than resorting to the launch menu. In the face of stiff competition from the likes of Gnome Do though, KRunner has had to up its game recently, and there are several neat enhancements for the KDE 4.4 release.

The most obvious change is that the KRunner dialog itself is now at the top of the screen rather than in the middle. This makes more sense, because it's now less likely to tread over some important application information or Slashdot story. You can also close the window again by pressing Alt+F2.

Now that KDE 4.4 has a working search engine, the first new thing you can do with KRunner is search your desktop. Results are listed in the panel below. Everything else more or less looks the same until you click on the small spanner icon.

KRunner is better looking than Gnome Do - it's just a pity it doesn't have its amazing plugin support.

KRunner is better looking than Gnome Do - it's just a pity it doesn't have its amazing plugin support.

KRun to the hills

The window that appears has always hidden the extra features hidden behind KRunner's austere GUI. It lists the type of items that are going to be probed and returned as results in the main window. This version for KDE 4.4 has four new additions. You can now terminate applications by typing kill followed by the name of the application. After you've typed kill, the applications that match the following text will be listed in the results panel. You can change the keyword by reconfiguring the Terminate Applications plugin.

You can also list all removable devices on your system by typing solid, and you should be able to manage virtual desktops by typing window. We couldn't get this to work, despite the plugin being listed in the configuration window. There's still tons over other functionality you can get out of KRunner by using the older plugins, but what we'd really like to see is cross-compatibility with Gnome Do's plugins.

Docky: Next generation panel

Docky started off as an ambitious panel replacement tool integrated into the Gnome Do utility. This was a great partnership, because Gnome Do is fairly technical, requiring its users to understand what they need to do and what their machines are capable of. It also provides relatively little feedback. The Docky component, on the other hand, is a more traditional launch panel that sits at the bottom of your screen. It can be used to display information, launch apps and switch between running programs.

There are alpha packages available for the new standalone version, dubbed version 2, but you can get almost all the same functionality by installing an older version of the Gnome Do package, which is far more likely to be provided by your distribution's package manager. If you do run Docky from Gnome Do, you need to make sure you open the preferences window and change the theme to 'Docky', otherwise it won't be visible.

You can drag apps from your system menu to add them to the Docky panel, from where they can then be launched. Applications that are already running have a small dot beneath their icons, and to the right of the panel you see the information applets. As you move your mouse across the panel, icons will smoothly scale up and down to indicate which is in focus. Right-click on the panel to bring up the preferences panel, from where you can add new applets to do menial tasks such as watch the weather or your CPU resources, or monitor your Google Mail account.

Step by step: Docky In Use

Launch Gnome Do

Launch Gnome Do: Docky needs to be run either from the standalone application or by selecting the Docky theme from Gnome Do.

App management

App management: Drag applications onto the panel. When they're running, hover your mouse over for further information.

Desklets

Desklets: There are several informative applets that are part of Docky. Click on them to reveal further information.

Cutting edges

How do you come up with a revolutionary new desktop while your users are wedded to the old familiar input ideas, tried and tested in the two decades since we all started using a keyboard and mouse? If Linux were run by Apple, the developers would work in secret for years before announcing the availability of their new desktop metaphor. But the open source community doesn't work in the same way. Innovation has to be hammered out on online forums, in developer channels and through software releases. It's trial by committee, and many things can and do go wrong with the process.

Compositing effects are a good example. Almost as soon as David Reveman had finished his initial work on Compiz, patches could be integrated into almost any Linux desktop with no major changes. Users could install Compiz and start rotating their desktops within minutes. But the task of turning these patches into a homogeneous part of the desktop experience has taken considerably longer, and it's an ongoing process four years after the initial release. This is because the path to acceptance for Compiz has been slowed down by the community, with disagreement, forks, apathy and duplication all hindering its progress. And it's the same for many other projects.

If you want to change the way people use their desktops, you have to change the underlying technology behind that desktop. Most developers interpret this to mean that they need a new release, with an all-new API and plenty of new technology for application developers to take advantage of. This is the theory behind KDE 4's glut of new libraries and frameworks, for example, but it also means that it takes time for developers to catch up, if they even feel so inclined.

Gnome development is more pragmatic. Version 2 was released at about the same time as KDE 3 in 2002, and broadly, it's still a version of this release that's the current version of Gnome. There have been no dramatic redesigns, API changes, feature overhauls or debugging marathons. Instead, there's been the steady march of progress, and while Gnome may be missing some of the more experimental aspects of KDE, the latest release, 2.28, is still very different to the 2.0 release.

KDE is still pinning a lot of its hopes on the small, functional applications that the developers are calling Plasmoids.

KDE is still pinning a lot of its hopes on the small, functional applications that the developers are calling Plasmoids.

Topaz

This is partly because Gnome is more of a platform for applications than KDE. The user doesn't need to know that the F-Spot photo manager is written in Mono and uses C#, for example; the only important thing is that each Gnome application presents a standardised front-end by following Gnome's user interface guidelines. It's for this reason that Gnome has been going from strength to strength, even on other platforms and operating systems, and this kind of idea doesn't need to be updated when a new version is released.

Gnome 3.0 is scheduled for release in September of this year, but like all version 2.x releases up to this point, it's unlikely to be a KDE 4-like revolution. Initially, there were plans for dramatic changes to be made, all falling under an umbrella term for Gnome 3.0 - ToPaZ (Three Point Zero). If you look at some of the plans touted for Topaz, especially the results from some of the original brainstorming sessions, you'll see that most of the ideas remain in the current plan.

With the KDE 4 release, most of the development cycle for the revolutionary features that were supposed to make KDE 4 more attractive than version 3 actually occurred after the initial release. If KDE 4 were to be released now it would be hailed as a great success, rather than the stream of bugfixes and updates we've endured since 4.0 hit the mirrors in January 2008. But at the same time, developers have to balance expectation. Would many people still be using the KDE desktop if they had to stick to KDE 3-era applications? Fortunately, with the release of KDE 4.4, most of those criticisms and usability problems have been ironed out, and we finally have a KDE desktop that can replace KDE 3.5.

Next-gen tools: Gnome Do

We don't have to let ourselves be dictated to by desktop developers. We can pick and choose what we want to run regardless of what they bundle as the default environment or what they plan for the next major release. One revolutionary application you ought to consider, despite its omission in the plans for Gnome 3.0, is Gnome Do.

Initially taking its inspiration from an OS X tool called Quicksilver, Gnome Do has quickly become the quickest and most powerful way to access the power of your Linux desktop. It gives you complete control over application launching, but it can also do so much more. Thanks to dozens of separate plugins, you can install applications, open remote connections, play music, browse the internet, send emails, play games, tweet and blog, all without lifting your fingers from the keyboard. And despite its Gnome heritage, it works almost as well on other desktop environments, including KDE.

The last release was a little while ago, and this should mean that even the tardiest distribution should have Gnome Do packages available. After installation, you can normally run it from your system menu, and when it's running you can trigger the main application by pressing a special key combination - normally the Windows key and Spacebar, but this can be changed. This is the point where you might be tempted to discount Gnome Do as all hype and no substance, because there's very little to see - just two opaque boxes on the screen.

But with these two boxes you can accomplish almost anything. Begin typing the name of a bookmark in Firefox, for example, and you should see the full name appear in the box on the left. Pressing Return will then open the page in your browser. If you press Tab, the focus shifts to the box on the right, from where you can choose other options to perform on the URL using the cursor keys. By default, you can make a Tiny URL, open the URL or copy it to the clipboard.

What Gnome Do can do is controlled by a series of plugins. We used the Firefox plugin, and there are dozens of others to install and enable. With the Gnome Do window visible, click on the tiny down arrow in the top-right. This will display a small menu, and you can enable more plugins by clicking on the Preferences option and switching to the Plugins page that appears. To find out how to use each plugin, either click on the About button or take a look at the Gnome Do wiki (http://do.davebsd.com).

Step by step: Tweet from Gnome Do

Account details

Account details: Open up the plugin window, enable the Microblogging plugin and click on Configure to enter your account details.

Read tweets

Read tweets: New tweets will appear on your desktop, and you can post your own by typing a message into Gnome Do and pressing Tab.

Post tweets

Post tweets: Press Tab to switch to the other box and use the cursor keys to choose an action. Select Post To Twitter to perform the function.

User experience

Both Gnome and KDE are putting a great deal of emphasis on something they call 'activities'. These are really an extension of the virtual desktop idea, but rather than each desktop being a disconnected extension to your screen's real estate, activities become associated with a certain task. You might want to create a documentation activity, for example, and for that you'd need a desktop that provided quick access to a text or HTML editor, online resources and perhaps a dictionary or thesaurus. Like most other tasks, setting up this kind of environment would normally require the user to mess around with a launch menu as well as understand a certain amount about your computer's filesystem.

Most developers recognise that this process isn't ideal and that desktops of the future shouldn't require filesystem knowledge, or even an idea of how applications are organised and stored. The process of working with your data should be as intuitive as possible, and both major Linux desktops are trying their best to tackle this issue in their own special ways.

With Gnome, for example, one of the key aims of the upgrade to version 3.0 has been to streamline the user experience. And the central user-facing technology that's going to help this happen is called Gnome Shell. This is an application that has seen rapid development over the last 18 months after Gnome's Vincent Untz posted some observations from discussions at a recent hackfest in late 2008. These observations mentioned that tasks such as finding a window was more difficult than it should be, that workspaces were powerful but not intuitive enough and that launching applications was too hard.

Gnome Shell has been developed to address these problems, as well as take advantage of some of the latest Linux technology. Like Moblin, Gnome Shell uses Clutter, a graphical library that can build smooth transitions and eye candy out of even the most humble graphics hardware.

Tools like Gnome Shell could make the desktop launchbar obsolete.

Tools like Gnome Shell could make the desktop launchbar obsolete.

KDE

The KDE team have been working on similar concepts throughout the entire KDE 4 development process. But it's fair to say that many of ideas touted before the first release were judged too ambitious and too difficult to implement within the first few revisions. KDE 4.4 is designed to redress some of these issues by re-awakening the Nepomuk semantic desktop and by making desktop activities usable.

The Nepomuk semantic desktop, as we've written before, is designed to bridge the gap between online content and content in your hardware. Many components of the web can already be found in KDE applications like Dolphin, where you can add comments, tags and ratings to your own files, but until now there hasn't been a good reason to go to all this effort. With the release of KDE 4.4, you can finally use these fields of rich information to search your content, just as you would search the internet through Google.

Another important aspect to user experience on the KDE desktop is the use of activities. Like Gnome Shell, this the ability to meta-manage the arrangement of virtual desktops and applications according to what you want to work on. It's a feature that has been part of the KDE 4 desktop for a while, but with version 4.4, activities also become first-class citizens on the KDE desktop, perhaps in an attempt to steal some of Gnome's thunder from the wonderful Gnome Shell. But it's not quite as simple or as straightforward to use. Rather than attempting to replace the launch menu and file management duties of the desktop, KDE's activities are better at managing complex environments. It doesn't replace the panel or the launch menu, for example, it just lets you fire up a working environment in the same way that you click on a browser's bookmark. That's not a bad thing, it's just different.

The best thing about Gnome Shell is that you can play with it today. And we'd suggest you give it a go, because it might just change the way you think about Gnome.

Gnome Shell should be straightforward to install through your distribution's package manager. To run it though, you will probably need to open the command line and type gnome-shell --replace. If you've ever manually started Compiz, this command will feel familiar, as the replace argument is used to replace the currently used window manage with both projects. When Gnome Shell is running (depending on the version you've installed), you'll won't see any new windows on your desktop; the only indication that something has changed is the different style of window decoration, and if it's a recent version of Gnome Shell, a quick-launch dock attached to the top-left of your main window.

To see Gnome Shell in action, just move your mouse to the top-right of your screen. You should then see the current view zoom away into the middle distance, and the freed-up screen space used to display other virtual desktops to the right and a minimal launch menu on the right. This launch menu contains applications and files, and you can either click on one to load the corresponding application into the current desktop or drag the icon on to the desktop on which you wish the application to appear. But it's also much cleverer than first glance might suggest. If you drag a text file on to a new desktop, for example, Gnome Shell will automatically load that file into the default application for that file type. Each window on the virtual desktop will update to reflect any changing contents, and you can enlarge any window in the frame by using the mouse wheel while the pointer hovers over the window you want to enlarge.

Make sense of virtual desktops

While the activity functionality has been a part of KDE 4 for a while, it's only with the 4.4 release that it becomes an integral part of the desktop. This is mostly thanks to an addition to the Plasmoid menu, which now includes the Add Activity entry to blank the desktop background. You can now add Plasmoids, change the desktop appearance and launch apps.

The best way we've found to switch between activities is to drag the Activity Bar widget on to the desktop and use this to switch between activities.You'll have to do this for every activity you use, although you can switch between activities by zooming out of the desktop from the Plasma menu or by creating a mouse action (right-click on the desktop background, select Desktop Activity Settings and switch to the Mouse Actions page).

You can also reduce confusion by having multiple virtual desktops and different activities at the same time by combining the two into the same function. Open the Multiple Desktops configuration panel from the System Settings application and click on the Different Activity For Each Desktop checkbox. This will remove the specific virtual desktop functionality, but enable you to switch between activities in the same way, which is a more convenient solution for users who don't need more than one virtual desktop within a single activity.

Step by step: KDE activities

Plasma

Plasma: Click on the Plasma Cashew at the top-right of the screen and select Add Activity. Your desktop will switch to the blank screen.

Populate workspaces

Populate workspaces: You can now add files, folders and desktop widgets to the new activity, and these will appear only on that activity.

Switch activities

Switch activities: You can switch activities by zooming out of the desktop, or using the desktop Plasmoid, or your virtual desktop pager.

Next-generation applications

If you're not already excited about what's coming up in the open source world in the coming 12 months, why not? Here's just a taste of what you can expect...

Xfce

There's no doubt that both Gnome and KDE are stealing the limelight when it comes to feature upgrades for 2010. The other more common Linux desktops don't have any such big upgrades planned, and this is their strength, as they often like to capitalise on their ability to remain stable and relatively lightweight. Xfce is the best example of this: changes from one version to the next are generally small and lack the paradigm shifting-hype of other desktop environments. Xfce 4.8 only entered the planning stage in August last year, and as a result, the feature list is best described as nebulous.

It's hoped that the new version will include an enhanced menu system, icon routines and keyboard handling, but there aren't any ambitious plans to add masses of new features. The new menu system is hopefully going to make it much easier for users to edit the launch menu, a task that currently generates plenty of complaints, according to Xfce developers. Xfce should also been able to jump on to the on-screen notification bandwagon, with Xfce developer Jerome Guelfucci showing off patches that bring Gnome's notification system to the Xfce desktop. It looks really good too. The new file manager, Thunar, is also likely to become more powerful, although one of its great strengths is that it's super quick and not hampered by the cruft that plagues other file managers. The final version of 4.8 is due to be released on 12 April 2010.

Xfce is quickly becoming a Zen-like desktop in the face of KDE and Gnome's growing complexity.

Xfce is quickly becoming a Zen-like desktop in the face of KDE and Gnome's growing complexity.

OpenOffice.org

The most comprehensive open source office suite is likely to go through something of a transformation this year, now that its principal sponsor, Sun Microsystems, is being taken over by Oracle.

At the time of writing, the first release candidate of version 3.2 has just made it on to the mirrors. It promises faster startup times, almost halving the boot time for Writer from just over 11 seconds in version 3 to under six seconds in version 3.2, and should bring much better file compatibility with both the new ODF 1.2 specification as well as proprietary formats and the ability to save password-protected Microsoft Office documents. Version 3.3, which should be available by the end of the year, will be the first release to include the fruit from project Renaissance. This is a noble attempt by OpenOffice.org to overhaul the user interface of the various applications in the suite, hopefully pulling its appearance into the 21st century. This update is promised only for Impress, with the other applications getting the same treatment in later updates, but until we see a screenshot of the new design, we have yet to be convinced.

OpenOffice.org is going to enjoy a complete GUI overhaul later on this year, starting with Impress.

OpenOffice.org is going to enjoy a complete GUI overhaul later on this year, starting with Impress.

Firefox

There's little doubt that the next 12 months are going to be particularly challenging for the Firefox web browser. Once the darling of the open source desktop, Firefox has suffered in the face of competition from Google's Chromium browser and its perceived lack of speed in the face of the growing dominance of WebKit-based browsing. As a result, future development is likely to focus on speed improvements and consolidating the initial reasons for Firefox's success, rather than adding feature after feature on to a browser than many users feel is already bloated.

But so far, the current roadmap for Firefox couldn't exactly be described as exciting. There are several significant updates planned for Firefox this year, starting with version 3.6, which should be out as you read this. Beta versions of version 3.6 have shown decent JavaScript speed improvements as well as support for 'Personas', which is a theming engine similar to the one used in Google's Chrome. Version 3.7, available in the middle of the year should make further performance and include the latest version of the Gecko rendering engine.

Jetpack is also worth a mention. It's a way for web developers to build Firefox add-ons using the same skills they use for website construction, including HTML, CSS and JavaScript. But the best thing about Jetpack is that add-ons can be installed without requiring a tedious restart of Firefox. Finally, there's a small chance that Firefox version 4.0 could be seen on the mirrors before the end of the year. There doesn't seem to be much to get excited about - it's likely to feature the predictable makeover, faster JavaScript and a newer Gecko engine - but it might surprise us.

With any luck, Firefox might not be staying like this forever...

With any luck, Firefox might not be staying like this forever...

Gimp

After years languishing in the pool of applications known as 'loved and lost', Gimp looks like it may finely rise from the ashes of apathy and re-invent itself as the future of pixel editing on the free desktop. Version 2.6, released in October 2009, was a step in the right direction, but it's going to be version 2.8 that hopefully heralds the dawn of a new era. This is mainly because a brand-new, revised and re-imagined GUI is planned, finally consigning its multiple tiny dialogs and windows to the rubbish bin. Gimp 2.8 will include a single-window mode, just like its commercial competitor, and this should go a long way towards making it easier to use for most people.

In the words of one of the main developers on the project, Martin Nordholts, Gimp's UI feels rather cluttered. This is mainly because it uses so many windows, and the single window should solve most of these problems. But it's a big job. There are nine separate tasks required to make the modification work, with this feature alone taking up about 10% of the projected development time for the next release. Most people agree that it's going to be worth it.

The remainder of the development time is going to be spent adding lots of other cool features. You'll be able to type text directly into the image canvas, for example, rather than using a text entry window first. You will also be able to group layers, making larger and more complex images vastly more manageable. But development on Gimp has always been dependent on its relatively small and dedicated team. In the past, this has meant there was a long gap between releases, and it's likely to be the same with 2.8. Martin Nordholts initially estimated that if they included all the features they wanted, 2.8 might not see the light of day until early 2012. He suggested a compromise, pulling ideas like vector layers and unified and free transform tools from the feature plan, and pulling the release forward to before the end of 2010.

Development

There's been a slight shift in recent years from open source project being built purely by the community that uses them, to applications that are developed and sponsored by a commercial endeavour. Google's Chrome browser falls into this category, and so does Nokia's development environment, Qt Creator.

The result is that we've never had a better selection of web browsers, and if you enjoy programming, there are now more Linux-compatible development environments that ever to choose from. If you're a Qt/C++ developer, Qt Creator is going from strength to strength, and is likely to be the best choice if you're thinking of joining the throngs of developers writing applications for Nokia's various mobile phones. In a related field, KDevelop 4 is finally due to be released some time in the first half of 2010. This is one of the final KDE 3-era applications to have made the transition to KDE 4, and we hope it will be good enough to last a few years before the developers decide to start from scratch again.

KDevelop 4 uses CMake for project management, and lets you have more than one project open at a time. There's also some sophisticated refactoring, argument matching and support for distributed version control systems such as Git. But KDevelop will no longer enjoy the wide language support of its predecessor, as it become increasingly adept at the C++/Qt combination - a space now defiantly occupied by Qt Creator.

KDevelop has a lot of catching up to do if it's going to compete with Qt Creator.

KDevelop has a lot of catching up to do if it's going to compete with Qt Creator.

For Gnome developers there are likely to be a couple of releases of the Anjuta IDE, the first of which will be version 2.29.2. MonoDevelop, the multilingual IDE that specialises in C#, is also going from strength to strength, with version 2.2 being released right at the end of the year. There are currently no plans for version 2.4, but at the current rate of released, we'd expect another version before the end of the year.

First published in Linux Format

First published in Linux Format magazine

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Your comments

So, your vision of the future...

is pretty much Apple's vision of now. Well done. No, really...

now now Gentlemen

Ok Guys .... I agree ... but lets not forget ... linux is pretty much doing Apple's usability testing .... linux is just trying to catch up to how pretty Apple OS looks ... and if linux had a team of highly paid graphic artists it might make it ..... till then welcome to the bleeding edge..

t

Interesting

It would appear as though the next year or two will determine whether or not linux can ever make any serious inroads on the Micro$oft dynasty. As to complaints about the GUI looking too much like Apple's, who cares? If they have the most usable interface, steal it blind. Many people who have only used Windoze wouldn't know or care. If it works, go for it.

KDE4 <> OSX

I really don't know anything about Gnome, but KDE 4 is nothing like Apple's desktop. (in as much as any of them differ significantly in how they do the basics).

I'm currently typing this on an AAO, which is completely trouble free. If any manufacturer were to take Gnome or KDE (preferably, obviously... :) ) seriously, then together with the underlying hot stuff (Linux et al) there'd be a serious alternative to anything out there at the moment.

It took a little bit of time (a few years ago, now) to cut and shape my distro to my hardware but I'm getting the full KDE experience on a 7yr old 32 bit machine.

I think the real challenge is that it would be harder to on-sell or get people to buy new hardware.

e17

You can get some ideas of "fuuture" from The Enlightenment Project too...

gnome shell stinks

When Gnome 3.0 comes out, with the gnome-shell as its UI, I will be switching to Xfce or Lxde. I can't believe they are going to force this worthless glitz on people. It takes TWICE as much effort to do anything with it. But they don't care, they are hypnotized by the glitz.

KDE vs Gnome

I am not M$ fan, but I grew up as a Windows user.
Gnome made it easy for me to switch to Linux and love Linux.
Maybe KDE4 will help the fan's to switch?
No I don't think so. How could anyone think that?

there isnt much of a future

linux is not the future and there wont be a year of the desktop for linux. Until there is a coherent direction and a unity of developers instead of them all just going anyu which way they want with whatever they want. Fact is linux was beter 5 years ago than it is now. The major distros and desktop are forcing things down our throats yet forget to make the little things work like pulseaudio or graphics cards. Until one can go to the store and purchase whatever hardware one wants to there will be little headway made into the M$ or apple world. Its a shame I had really high hopes for Linux as I have been using it for over 10 years now but as time has progressed it has just gotten worse and worse speed and simplicity are gone and the zealots have taken over. Just look at any mailing list out there when someone says they have a problem with a nvidia card or a creative audigy card or some other form of hardware that the zealots deem unfit. Instead of trying to help they flame and chase new users away from linux. It has truly been a slow spiral down the drain for linux the past few years maybe not in the server room but as far as the desktop is concerned I see no future for linux. Yeah its free and its cheap but the communities have gotten worse and worse over the years and so has the infighting between camps and the other morons who believe everything in the world should be free. Until these pot smoking dumbass leftover hippies from the 60's are expunged from the linux landscape linux will be nothing more than a tinkerer's os. Truly a shame.

@Loston

I disagree completely with your assertion that Linux is getting worse, not only in hardware and simplicity, but also in community. You paint a revisionist history and fail to see things the way they really were.

I remember a time when I had to physically open my computer case to read information off devices for a Mandrake install, and that was only 10 years ago.

I don't think drivers support has gotten worse; instead, people's expectations have gotten much higher. Between Intel and Nvidia offering official drivers for most of their hardware, now has never been a better time for driver support. We now have all the drivers we had 5 years ago, plus all the official ones, plus all the new free ones that have been written since then.

Don't forget that we are going through a painful consumer transition to 64 bit right now, and that hasn't helped matters.

I just bought a brand spanking new laptop that had only been available for a week when I ordered, and I have to wait a month or two for the drivers to catch up, but I not only know that they will be available, but also when, something you couldn't say 5 years ago.

As far as the communities going to the rubbish bin, well I guess that is your own personal opinion. It is a shame to see new people being treated poorly, but a few bad apples do not make the orchard. I have converted several people over to Linux, including a guy I never met in real life over the Internet. He emails me sometimes with problems or questions, and I always take the time to write out well crafted replies to help him and point him in the direction of where he can find even more help, which usually includes this site and the LFX magazines.

Linux has always been about freedom, which ultimately means choice. You can't shoo away the people on the fringe just because you don't like them. I don't personally care for the FSF brand of doing things, but they should be allowed to have a seat at the table the same as Novell and anybody else in the middle. Often times their independent work ends up being merged somewhere down the line anyways and we get to enjoy the fruits of all the labor.

As far as I am concerned there has never been a better time to be a Linux user.

the year of linux revolution is 2011!

@andrew cole
I was ready to reply to Loston till i saw your answer!
You just told the truth and nothing but the truth!
There have never been a better time to be a linux user!
When i first tried to install linux 5 years ago i didn't succeed.Now i can easily install the ubuntu in dozens of different computers and easily convert people to linux.
The immutable fact that LINUX is free, open and legal to copy and modify, the maturity of gnome and kde, the rapid evolution of its universe, the tens of thousands of opensource programs ready to be installed automatically through repositories,the different panels and desktops, the compizconfig magick,the ability to be installed in every computer system ranging from the tiny mobiles to the huge supercomputers,the sense of freedom away from viruses,trojans,spywares and other windows malware,the freedom to share,to own,to inspect,to modify the code,the sense of community ALL THESE and so many more empower LINUX to dominate sometime (like it already does in the area of supercomputers).
Considering the fact how much rapidly Linux advances, it is reasonable to suggest that the next year will be a turning point.Windows and mac are closed,restricted and fenced.
You pay for them only to gain some irrational and very limited rights of use.You are not allowed there to share, to modify, to see its code to copy the OS.
Stop to be suckers!Smash the windows!

re: Dear iFanboy...

Very constructive. How about going away and coming back when you've grown up a little?

As for the OP, they have a point. One need's to remember that Apple have had essentially 22 years of development on this OS. It all started with NeXTStep, which had the most advanced window manager available for a long time, in 1988. Only BeOS had anything that was close to being as good. My point is that GNOME and KDE are both relatively young in development terms. These two do pose another problem for GNU/Linux as an OS; choice is great, but too much choice isn't. It's confusing and if consumer acceptance is what you want, then quite a bit of consolidation is required. I'd go as far to say that Mac is a little too restrictive and Windows actually has the balance just about right. Both OSX and Windows 7 are leaps and bounds ahead of KDE and GNOME in terms of user experience, but that's another debate...

Use your brain for one

Use your brain for one minute to realize that Windows, Apple, & Linux all use some variant of X. They all have the same presentation potential, don't fool yourself they all have more in common with GNOME than KDE. Windows even had fade effects and such, so they are all fairly even visually, but KDE is the more technically advanced of the bunch right now, due only to their relationship with Nokia. The create the software and the framework that constitutes it.

I have seen the future

and the future is the Rat Poison Window Manager!

Electrolysis, anyone?

This is one of the best things Firefox has going in the very near future(further down the road we might see something come of Ubiquity, but for know, that project has been subsumed a bit to the awesome bar). Right now, if you check out the electrolysis branch of ff 3.7(I'm using it right now) you'll have process separation of flash(using 32bit, so you 64bit wanks can sit down -- I'm aware of the separation you get when you run 64bit ff). This is supposed to eventually provide complete separation between the browser and plugins processes.
Also, you have to include the recent change in ff's javascript interpreter from jf... to apple's Nitro(well, the actual execution part, not the tracing part). From their initial efforts, the devs have seen an increase in speed of up to 40% without any optimizations. Now keep in mind, this is just the part that executes the js, the tracing is still done by Trace Monkey. Apparently, ff's js engine hadn't been changed since 2007, so this should be quite a nice improvement.
Regarding those who haven't liked Gnome Shell yet: try it again in a month or two. The animation used to switch windows when you go to overlay is going to get tweaked, most likely(if you use alt-tab, there really is no animation to speak). Additionally, if you are used to Gnome-Do, try hitting just the WIN/Super key and type. You should get similar results to Gnome-Do (minus the nice plugins). This should improve as Tracker gets integrated, I would assume.

Very good article, thanks.

Very good article, thanks. Well written and informative.

I used Kubuntu/KDE 3 for 2 years, then couldn't get to like early KDE4 and switched to Ubuntu/Gnome. Yes, some stupid problems with sound and stupid file manager apps (why can't they have a simple button for mkdir?). But overall a very good user experience and it's great to be on a Unix system and be able to use Unix commands, perl, C, etc.

> Would many people still be

> Would many people still be using the KDE desktop if they had to stick to KDE 3-era applications?

Yes.

I'm doing so right now.

> Fortunately, with the release of KDE 4.4, most of those criticisms and usability problems have been ironed out,

Nope, just told in no uncertain terms that my criticisms and loss of usability are not going to be fixed or addressed, ever, because KDE4 is as it is. Period.

> and we finally have a KDE desktop that can replace KDE 3.5.

Nope again. It _will_ replace KDE3.5, not because it is better but because KDE3.5 has been abandoned.

I'll be using Xfce.

kde lover before, switched to gnome a few years ago

KDE is getting lost I still feel, since switched to gnome I have never turned back.

KDE and GNOME

Nice article. It's inspiring being shown your visions of the future. I hope Kubuntu will become as integrated and easy as Ubuntu (e.g. Ubuntu One, the update manager, etc), because of which I have started to use GNOME more nowadays. But KDE is still very cool, and even more so soon,I and I like that a lot, and might switch back someday. I haven't tried GNOME's new features out for myself yet but I am assured that they are "awesome".

Glad Linux Is Here

I have been using Linux, in various incarnations, and developing applications that run on Linux servers for over 10 years. I have been pleased to see it go from a OS for technogeeks to a something that can be used comfortably by my technophobe wife. Every time I have to boot my Windows box, (My customers have Windows desktops and I have to see what the applications look like to them.) and I am confronted by the Windows Genuine Advantage nagware trying to get me to commit to a legal agreement that I find intrusive and onerous, I'm glad that I have the choice to use Linux. I have really begun to belive that there is something genuinly evil about M$ since even though I remove the nagware it reloads itself whenever there is an automatic "update". Where would be be if the only choces were Windows and Apple? Long Live Linux!

KDE, GNOME, WINDOWS...

I started out using Gnome back around Red Hat 6 or so, then came Knoppix so I started using KDE, the came Ubuntu and back to Gnome, sometimes LXDE, sometimes XFCE, Blackbox, e17...Ubuntu has been getting on my nerves so I'll go back to Debian soon afterall I am not a Linux newbe. The point is I can choose which Desktop or Distro I use and generally without hardware compatibility issues.

My thoughts of Linux world supremacy, who cares it's a big world and if Linux becomes cool to the masses it will most likely screw up a good thing- be careful what you pray for.

Usability

As a Mac owner, I don't agree at all that OS-X is "years ahead of Gnome and KDE" for user experience. I have a Leopard iMac, two home-built boxes with several Linux and BSD installs on them, and a couple of Ubuntu laptops, one of which also dual-boots Windows XP. All of them are pretty equivalent for the kinds of things that ordinary folks do with computers, with the exception of spotty Flash support on the free software platforms. I just don't see much difference.

As programming platforms, XP seems totally brain-dead, at least for cross-platform development. The Mac is halfway brain-dead for cross-platform work, but usable.

Also, the Mac kind of "just works" for folks with little computer knowledge, but I find it frustrating to try to troubleshoot. Apple seems to think that not only should users not need to know anything about computers, they shouldn't even be allowed to learn anything about computers. One pet peeve I have is that it is hard to distinguish running apps from the shortcuts on the shelf at the bottom. My wife and daughter wind up leaving everything running, because the icons look almost identical, until someone yells "Dad, the Mac is slow again" because all the memory is swapped out.

I don't think OS-X is anything special.

No doubt that linux desktop is progressing

I used Linux on and off since 2000.
back in 2000 I compared it to Silicon Graphics Irix and it was "years behind".

Then I tried Linux Fedora 3 around 2003. It was really bad, wifi was a big pain. I ended up hardcoding the wifi key in ifcfg-eth0 if you see what I mean ...

Then around 2007 I switched to fedora 9, it was usable, wifi was fine, but I could not suspend the pc. I had to tune grub.conf to disable some graphic feature and then the laptop could be suspended. Audio was a pain, you could not have skype, vlc and youtube all running (only one could use sound). I updated to Fedora 10 and saw some improvements.

I'm now using Fedora 11 and have zero problems with it. compiz works fine, laptop is suspended easily, audio just works. In fact it works so well that i don't even want to switch to Fedora 12!

I'll switch to latest Fedora when redhat stops updating Fedora 11, or i get a new PC.

Now if I compare to Windows, the user interface of Fedora has about the quality of Windows XP or Vista.
But what is great is the openness of Linux, the way I'm never locked, installing software using yum, never get a damn toolbar when installing a software, the good old bash shell, etc ...

The only thing I would like under Linux is a Microsoft Office port. Too many times my colleagues tell me that my Word or Excel files don't display correctly on their M$ box.

KDE Rocks

No mention of the KDE's new netbook shell. Well it's awesome :) Also it appears that lots of people just doesn't understand how flexible KDE4 is these days and just judges it by those couple of default screenshots from some article. A pity really.

For crying out loud you can make it look like windows 98 if you wish to. :D

>For crying out loud you can

>For crying out loud you can make it look like windows 98 if you wish to. :D

Pics or it didn't happen.

Meaning, prove it and post a screenshot.

yawn

Is there really anything that pushes the state of the art in user interface design here?

No. Copy, Copy, Copy.

It's 2010, are these interfaces really the open source's best idea of what human computer interfaces should be?

As much as I hate to say it, Linux on the desktop continues to lose. It won't replace windows. It won't replace Mac OS. Unlike the kernel community it's not pushing innovation in it's problem space, it's stuck in catchup mode.

Unlike the kernel which over the past 10 years has reaped major investments from many companies to improve the kernel and make it sing on a wide variety of hardware. The same level of effort hasn't been invested on the desktop.

My hat off to the many in the community working on the variety of desktop oriented projects. The problem is, you can sit down and use something other than Linux, be it OSX, soon to be the iPad, Windows (shudder) and be in the presence of the original that works and works better today, rather than wait for an open source copy which should be available tomorrow, that's a pretty sad state of affairs.

Seriously. Stop copying windows. Stop copying OSX. Do something BETTER. Every time you copy, you're copying something that's already out there, already in use and by the time you're done with the copy, you're years late and those other guys are working away in their closed dark cave already on the next best thing.

Mistake

"The F-Spot photo manager is written in Mono and uses C#"

Maybe this seems like nit-picking, but that statement is just plain wrong.
Mono is not a programming language, it is a run-time environment.
The sentence should read: "The F-Spot photo manager is written in C# and uses Mono."

Missing the Point?

Don't get me wrong, because I am a devout Linux supporter and promoter, but Linux will never make any great inroads into the desktop community at large because of the way that M$ is now entrenched into Government organisations, from there it sends its tendrils into Business and the Education System.

We have central government organisations running systems that 'require' users/subscribers to run either Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office 2003 or 2007 in order to use them (they are not supported on Firefox or Open Office). This means that councils who use these systems are already tied into the M$ platform from above because they need to use these systems for their every day function - they have no choice.

In the education system they pay only a token cost of the price of a license and M$ 'pushers' offer sweeteners to migrate onto their systems. For example, in higher education Windows 7 comes in at £12 a pop. When you have all the youngsters being taught on an M$ platform from 'the cradle' then its no surprise that they want to use the same platform to 'the grave'.

I believe in Linux, I want it to compete with the M$ monolith, but it can't compete on a level playing field, not while M$ use financial leverage (and any other) to gain the upper hand.

Gotta love the Linux

I love Linux. My favourite desktop distro is currently Linux Mint 8, while on servers I use Ubuntu Server. I love the way it's so easy to search for and install software.

What about Google's Chrome OS? Will this be the Linux desktop of the future? I can imagine a large number of users who simply want to use their computers for every day stuff (movies, web, emails etc.) migrating to Chrome OS.

Interesting comments.....

Okay - so here is the truth according to me :)

OpenSource will not replace M$ or other commercial vendors for two simple reasons.

1) Roadmap... where will OpenSource be in 1 year or 5 years nobody really knows but the commercial vendors need to be able to plan for that and generally communicate this to their customers / prospects. Whereas in the OpenSource world people develop according to need at the time and as we all know this can lead to people doing some stuff then getting bored and moving on...

2)The second reason is why would we want to???? OpenSource is greatly supported by Commercial organisations. Look at Apache most of the work / improvements are being done by commercial vendors to support their products. So here we have a situation where Vendors are successfully leverage the work of the OS community and end up putting more back in. Dare i say it but even M$ is starting to put something into the Opensource world!!

As to the standard of the community I only have one comment. I work in both the commercial and open source world and what i continually see is people trying to reinvent the wheel out of idealism and bloodymindedness as oppose to accepting that there is a place for both. Indeed one cannot survive without the other...

If you want to hate M$ for being successful go and join an anti-capitalist demonstration. But don't give me any bull***t that they are evil anymore than Ford / GM are evil for building cars and not sharing their technology.

:)

some comments on activities

Hi,

overall your article is interesting but I think there are a few small ommisions/misunderstandings. Most important of these would be the activities. The difference between gnome's idea of 'activities' (just virtual desktops) and KDE's vision in that area is huge. For KDE, activities represent - well, activities. Things you're doing. You should be able to fully optimize your environment (from application to desktop) to each activity separately. You should be able to save and load activities and re-arrange them.

In other words, it's entirely different from virtual desktops - which is just a bunch of windows. Applications need to be aware of and work with activities, be able to change and save state on the changing or saving/closing of activities. The plasma workspace itself (be it netbook, mobile or desktop) also adapts, as you described, as it can have an unique layout on each activity in terms of widgets, background etcetera.

So activities for KDE go much deeper than you described, and I think it's worth noting that. It's a rather revolutionary concept which makes many ppl mis-understand it, so we appreciate any articles about it but I'd recommend contacting someone 'in the know' about it before publishing. We're entirely open to that, you can contact us on kde-promo@kde.org (or feel free contact the individual developers if you want).

And when talking about what's to come, I'm surprised not to see Project Silk being mentioned, nor the new plasma workspaces like mobile and probably mediacenter. Of course those might not make it this year already, true... ;-)

I think a lot can be expected from the painting app Krita, even though painting is of course a far smaller niche than photo editing like gimp. But Krita, and the rest of KOffice, will release a more stable product later this year, and maybe do another release in 2010.

Meanwhile, KRunner is being integrated in other places like the application menu in Plasma and Plasma 4.4 introduced the ability to have stand-alone 'runners' on your desktop (pick one runner plugin and have it as a dedicated widget).

Then there is the move to Akonadi in the next version of KDE PIM, really new stuff will probably only come in the version after that (which will be part of KDE Software Compilation 4.6 januari next year) but with some luck 3rd parties will create nice plugins.

And there is Plasmate, of course, 0.1 has been released now. It's a wicked cool tool to develop plasmoids so easy it's just hard to imagine. Fire it up, choose a plasmoid from the whole online repository through gethotnewstuff, edit it, and upload it again, all from the same interface. No packaging, no manual downloading, unpacking, or uploading. Pretty neath.

And there is more going on, if anyone is interested I'm always willing to help find someone to talk to, interview, ask about this etc. Just contact us on kde-promo :D

Linux has improved a lot and overall progressing well

I am not a long time Linux user and I still use Windows XP / Windows 7 for certain applications. Nevertheless using Linux (Ubuntu, Kubuntu and OpenSuse) has become a pleasurable and actually exciting experience. For general users like me, it has become far easier to use and configure most hardware devices. The user interface has really made some progress, though KDE 4 has been far more drastic than Gnome (I think most people will agree to it). More people are using it for common day tasks like web browsing, document editing, watching movies and listening to songs and even photo editing. OpenShot has made video editing a reality in Linux and it will surely get even better and I think in a short period of time.
Yes, I wish KDE 4 improves performance and usage problems in the sound section.. I still face occasional problems with sound cards. Video cards in general (I use Nvidia) work without a lot of fiddling.
The biggest advantage I think is that Linus works so well with old hardware. Windows XP seems to get slower and slower with my existing hardware as time progresses, even though I am sure my computer is free of viruses and malware. On the same piece of hardware I would say Linux offers double or triple the performance over Windows XP. Windows 7 is expensive and who knows, maybe its performance will degrade over time.
Overall I'd say I am happy with Linux as an average user and I am doing a lot more with and using it more for my day to day to tasks than I have ever in the past. For people who can afford newer and more expensive hardware and software, I suppose they will find the other OSes more suited to them.
Cheers to the people who have made Linux a better experience with the passing years. Good luck and you have the support of many more people like me.

Cherry upon cherry upon cherry

I am not a developer. I am a user. I use maybe 20% of the feature set of any particular software program. I would imagine it is the same 20% used by other "average users". I have little interest in incremental improvements. Rotating desktops to me are sort of like 3D in movies. It is the script and acting that make a movie, not the effects.

I'm an old guy having been involved in computers since 1980. The advent of GUI over command line was for me the last great improvement in user interface allowing for mouse selecting options instead of writing scripts and an easier way of working with graphic oriented programs.

Automation, speed, ease of use are for me the holy trinity of any computer work pretty much in that order.

It seems there has been a generational shift. Automation of repetitive tasks has given way to a more impulsive ad hoc way of working, multi-tasking if you will. Though there is evidence a plenty that multi-tasking, for the human brain at least, is less productive than single tasking (even the brain has a cost associated with it when it comes to communication between processes), multi-tasking is necessary at times and the trade off in focus is to the positive overall. However, societal pressures for increased multi-tasking have changed the nature of the human computer interface.

If we are to define work as a productive activity, we should be able to see that computing today is not so much about productivity (though that is often espoused) as it is about eyeball capture. Computing has seen its main goal of processing as a substitution of machine for human productivity being subordinated to the overall goal of providing a pleasing aesthetic.

It is no wonder then that despite massive improvements in hardware over a long period, the interaction between human and machine has been static with people complaining about load times, crashes, flaky drivers and what seems to be a replay of our automobile industry in the fifties and sixties with its emphasis on chrome and fins over engines and drive trains.

Those who say that Apple has shown the importance of aesthetics in computing in my mind are missing the boat. Apple has shown the importance of positioning a product in the mind of the consumer in order to sell that product at a higher "perceived" value and establishing outsourcing partners that it can rely on to fit within its overall corporate strategy.

All the talk of Linux on the desktop is really about Linux as a consumer operating system. Linux is not a consumer operating system (although I am a consumer and have used it for many years I know that I am not the kind of person that fits the target demographic for consumer oriented companies).

Linux should focus on being the backbone not the interface. If it ever loses that focus we will find that other systems, less capable and with agendas that are more narrow, making inroads. For those of us using Linux, we are fortunate that we can take advantage of its reliability and the amazing work that developers are doing for our benefit. Not everything that is the computing fashion of the day needs to be incorporated into Linux in my opinion.

Those who live in the Apple and Windows world will find out soon enough that those corporations, though they may appear to be consumer oriented, are using that as a smoke screen for an agenda that will not be in the best interests of consumers.

The consumer mind has a short attention span. It is easily distracted by the clean, new, shiny and sparkling but like the evil archaeologist in Raiders of the Lost Ark, they will eventually see that those smiling angelic spirits have another face. Where will they run when this becomes apparent? Hopefully, Linux if it hasn't already itself become one of those spirits.

One day all operating systems will be made this way

Today Linux is good, no question about it.

I ran a M$oft IT company for 20 years, progressing from DOS to Windows in all its versions. I continued using XP after I left the IT industry and I learned to dislike Windows and M$oft more every year. I disliked the crashes, the reboots, the viruses, the upgrades that cause more damage than they fix and the creeping slowness. Don't tell me that M$oft can't make a better OS; there is mutual profit for the hardware and software industries in keeping things going the same old way.

I was quite Unix literate in the 80s and 90s, working with SCO and, in recent years, I too thought that Linux was just for geeks. However, 15 months ago, a daughter's laptop was so corrupted by a virus that I couldn't fix it and so, after many days of frustration, I looked for an alternative that would let a student do the usual PC tasks; and I came across Ubuntu. Since then I have installed over 20 various ~buntus, on old, middling and new PCs, for young, middle-aged and old users. In each case they first came to me with a broken Windows OS; in each case they have had no problems since moving to Linux: no viruses, no crashes, no usability problems that were any greater than you get with Windows. And in each case they say they would never go back to Windows for just those same reasons.

Linux is so good that Apple, darling of the cool generation, changed over to it even though they try to hide the fact. Google's Chrome OS is Linux. Intel's Moblin is Linux. IBM is a true Open Source believer, investing millions of dollars. Apple and IBM have reinvented themselves on the back of Linux, to counter the dominance of M$oft, and Micro$oft has never had a competitor like Google before.

As more people discover it they will move; in the coming economic crisis, by which I mean the real economic crisis, consumers will not be able to buy the latest product every time their laptop becomes frustratingly slow. The time for Linux is coming. The anti-Linux, anti-open source propaganda coming from M$oft and, strangely, Apple, is proof enough. (Remember what Ghandi said: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ")

Do you doubt me? Who would have believed that Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect would one day vanish from computers. Windows will not vanish like that, M$oft will not disappear; but users will discover that they have a choice and Linux, in all (or most) of its distros, is easily good enough to be that choice.

Blender

Another program that's getting a major overhaul for 2010 and onward is Blender. With a hugely overhauled GUI (which is actually already functional in current alphas) it's going to be a whole of a lot easier to do 3D modeling than it used to be, and it's finally going to compete with its commercial competitors.

By the way, I found you made an unusual amount of typos in this article... Bit tired? :)

whatever

Man you guys sound like a bunch of brainwashed cultists. You even call yourselves "devout" and "evangelical".

It's just a computer, get over yourselves.

user friendliness

I am an ubuntu user for about 6 months and I quite like the experience. I struggled initially as I was a windows user before and couldnt grasp why the dependancy resolvement problem arose every time. As i had no internet it was a pain in the neck. But eventually i got through it and now its fine for me. But still I think that if developers could provide GUI frontend for many apps and commands it could be more user friendly.

not a people's os

Let me ask the following question to all the linux conspiracy theorists. How many products that you use in your daily life do you make for yourself. You simply buy most of these stuffs ranging from toothpaste to the cooked meat at the canteen from someone who devotes his/her professional life, making these. They maintain a quality to keep you devoted to their product. Call it marketing, brand loyalty or whatever, but the underlying quality of the product that ensures satisfaction is a requisite not to be underestimated, or worse, forgotten. The fact is right in front of the eyes of linux experts to see. Win and Mac are really good OS because of similar reasons. They are not perfect. BUt in an imperfect world, this is practical. Not every one has the urge to look at the source codes.

People talk about how good open source stuffs are. After using a pirated Office 2007 for two years, I was forced to move to Open Office by the OGA. I gave it a shot. (I had given it a shot long before this. The then existing version lacked features and was buggy compared to the Office 97). I spent one month getting familiarized and trying to get similar work done on it. But the gap between OO and Office 07 is really huge and O7 is a really damn good software. I felt as if i went back to the office 97. Being an enduser of a computer for specific purposes like presentations, I felt I needed a specialists help. Which meant buying Office 2007.

I have been a windows user since 98 and have used win98, win me, xp and now vista. You would say I am naturally biased towards win OS. Last year, I tried out Mac OSX on my friend's macbook. But, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease with which the OSX introduced me to its system. I do realize that I can never peer into mac os, while windows allows only limited access into its box. But how many common people do you meet with with this urge to look at the OS code.

For ten years I have been hearing this story about how linux will ultimately free this world (no pun intended) and Ubuntu now seems enticing. In its early days, merely mounting a cd seemed like preparing to launch a rocket. Nowadays its like getting your bluetooth working or graphics card to work. The gurus scoffed at you for using GUI. Look where they have reached now. The niggles continue. Another neglected area is the gaming support. When you have blockbuster games like COD Modern warfare, crysis , mass effect, oblivion etc earning humongous revenues (despite piracy, COD MW 2 raked in a billion dollars). Despite the appearance of dedicated consoles, PC remains favourite platform for gaming. Doesnt it say something We love games and we play them on PCs. Linux and macbooks needs windows to play games.

I would say find an OS suited to your needs. Not everyone needs a OS that can work on a supercomputer and gives you access to its source codes. For now hoping that either windows OS becomes more stable or macs support gaming or like a giant waking out of it slumber, a linux OS to commit the sin of increased gaming support.

For now its better for linux to advertise itself as a programmer's OS rather than people's OS (If you want to live in a state of denial, feel free to do so. But the number and stats are stacked against linux OSes. Perhaps linux can learn from the current fate of firefox browser.

The problem is the people more than the OS

The Peoples OS implies a couple of things for me. If you have the ability to fold, twist, bend or mutilate it, you can or you can push the button and take what ever is before you. This point of view is from the developer's side. The user, especially Linux users are all very touchy. We've been convinced it is our Linux yet it is never exactly what we want. We mostly yell when developers decide to group together a set of features we don't all agree with.

Ever wonder how there is 400+ distros and 30+ GUIs and/or desktops? It is not that no one's satisfied, it's that Linux is an open development platform not hidden away behind intellectual property rights of some brand-name company. We all can change it or just talk about it.

We users like war, OS war, distro war and GUI war. We like flaming and dissing each other. KDE is lame for a while, then Gnome is lame for a while. But if you like one the other is lame for a while. We do take it personal.

For me KDE is too fidgety, not simple. Gnome is a tad too simple, then Gnome Shell appeared, to me this was fresh air. Ive seen one page desktops or browser based desktops. How do you put my file browser, app browser and workspace management on one page. Gnome Shell worked for me, but I do have some delete/add criticisms. I hope Gnome Shell gets done and put in the session options.

The truth about Mac OS it that it is easy as an application launcher. If you go deeper than that it gets involved, go figure, it's Unix underneath. Sounds like Linux or Win*! You got to stop quoting ad lines. If you learn it, you love it and will promote it and you will curse me for loving something else.

But a People's OS usually is only about the application launcher part. It is simple to click an icon on the desktop. That's the part anybody can do. That part is habit forming. The advertising extends that description to the rest of the OS. That is deceptive.

Quality, Quantity and Unity

I'm a big linux fan and can find uses for it in many areas (mainly as a development workstation and web servers) but the reality is linux is opensource and desktop users will not adopt it fully until their favourite commercial app is ported over. Opensource developers don't have millions of dollars invested in them to push out a polished opensource application such as office 2007, adobe anything etc... Gimp and OpenOffice are the closest we've come and they're still leaps and bounds away from their competitor MS/Adobe. Opensource is opensource and once you begin to use closed source applications on linux you kind of defeat the purpose anyway. This is why linux could never complete with Windows and Apple now and in the future. The future of the linux desktop will be no more than the engine that will drive web/cloud computing and eliminate the need for local run software (example ChromeOS...finally!!). Ubuntu is awesome there's no denying that but once the romance is over, most people boot back into their osx/windows partition to get their work done. I see this pattern over and over again. The quality, quantity and unity is just not there! Stop putting linux up against Windows and Mac it doesn't have to be black and white. Redhat realized this and soon canonical will too if not already.

what i am seeing here are

what i am seeing here are people who have tried linux and for one reason or another ( photoshop / office ....etc) have decided that linux is just not going to do. what you people need to do is actually ask someone who uses linux on a regular basis questions like, when was the last time you had a non hardware related crash :O, how does it feel to update 99% of your software with out a reboot, is it really that nice to be able to install system drivers with out a reboot?,
what do you mean you can fix it through an alternate terminal ( eg. ctrl+alt+f1 - f6), you can stop an unruly program with killall or xkill?,.... basically when it comes down to it, you are using windows for gaming, or you screwed something up in your distro by change something you had no knowledge of.
@old ben knobi .. most people dont ask they just assume ,
mac users , oddly enough dislike linux. go figure.
any way you people need to stop and think,
your world would really suck without linux making it work.

Quit whining about what it wont do for you and get off your lazy _ _ _ and contribute to your future.
Oh yea that's right you don't help people unless your getting paid, huh.
that's the real down fall of linux. you people don't think that anything less than a half a weeks pay, and agreeing to something that says you don't own anything in your possession is worth your time.
bet you bitch at the poor dweeb who wiped and reloaded your pc about it slowing down again after only a couple of weeks. how dare he not remove the boogyman from the internet for you. LOL<--- for quite a while. ;P

>yawn

>Anonymous Penguin (not verified) - March 9, 2010 @ 10:03pm
>
>Is there really anything that pushes the state of the art in >user interface design here?
>
>No. Copy, Copy, Copy.

...

This is a huge misunderstanding. It is not developers copy windows/osx design, at least not most of the them. THat's many users love to mod up their systems so their desktop looks like windows or osx.

In fact, it's a thing of linux. We have better operating system under the hood, yet at the same time new users can choose an interface familiar to them. Hell if you don't like win/osx "copy", you can always use awesome or wmii.

At your service..

The desktop of for instance Gnome/KDE is right.
It needs no change. It can do everything one wants.

But the problems are support (simple to the point tutorials and help), software has to be 'not tricky' or 'not dangerous' or 'not lacking a lot'. When I use unetbootin it has to work. Simly as that. When I want a bootable usb-key it has to work. And when it doesn't there must be a nice way tot get it done.
No fine ad-text when the application is not right etc.

Backup (img or ISO) for the sytem as a whole has to be perfect (remastersys, remaster, mylivecd etc. and not some crappy thing which leaves you with a peetsy broken system or something by wich you can't figure out how things work, think of reconstructor or live magic. I don't know how to let it work correctly?). Etcetera.

Updates have to be right. Communication with the user has to be much better.

I love Linux and the Philosophy behind it which is simple: give people an alternative at no of very little expense.
But help is needed in all thinkable ways.
To fight with a peace of software for months (wich had many times with Linux) is no option for 'the people'.
To change ext3 to ext4 en also Grub1 to Grub2 and no program to deal under the hood with it for instance, when one has a multiboot system, is no option!

Don't kill Linux.. please?

And...

And.. make Moonlight always work like in MS which it doesn't..
Fail is no option in this environment.

I now use Linux for about eight years (after Windows 95 and Windows ME, which was rich with virusses and other crap). I hope I can for another eight years and maybe more..!
But sometimes I doubt it when I see 'those plans' because there is 'the smartphone and the 'i-'). Hope for the best.

Linux will live on

I'm 16 years old. Not a geek I might add. I just prefer the freedom, the freedom to be able to change, customise and learn more about how os's work. and programing, which will all become nigh essential for Multiple high powered jobs in the future (engineering, computer science, architectural models, physics.....).

The Point is that Linux is the only (slightly mainstream) os out there that can teach people these skills.

(I just realised how geeky that sounded)

Salvator Linux

When I see what is coming to us in tablets and netbooks, in Gnome3, KDE etc. I know people will be awfully dumb. Or 'they the makers' are trying to get it this far.

Glitter is only a tiny part of computing and real life. But some hard- and software-makers will hammer it in your heads with dollars in their eyes.

In the meantime I will use as long as it will be possible the desktop PC with for instance Xfce or Lxde, so a rather old form of computing with no overload memory- and processor-power. In the hope the new things will become better and more productive then the old.

I think that can take 10, 15 years before we will be there.
A pity is people then are used to the new crap of now.

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