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10 ways the Linux community can fix the mess on the desktop

The Linux desktop has become somewhat chaotic, thanks in part to Ubuntu Unity. Jack Wallen offers a list of suggestions he says will put the desktop back on track.

I have been a huge fan and user of Linux for well over 10 years. In that time, I have seen just about every piece of drama that can come from a community. Much of that drama has been focused on the desktop. Sometimes users were simply throwing stones as to which desktop was better. But the drama unfolding of late is much worse. The state of the Linux desktop has become a circus that centers around the creation of Ubuntu's Unity desktop. The minute that desktop was announced, things started getting worse.

That, of course, doesn't mean all is lost. Quite the opposite. As has been proved over the years, the Linux community is incredibly agile, so this issue can easily be resolved. Here are some possible solutions.

1: Ubuntu needs to drop Unity

Okay, this one is a bit harsh, but Ubuntu made a huge mistake with Unity. Ubuntu simply needs to admit defeat and use GNOME 3 as its default desktop. I realize that Unity is young, but it's an idea that simply isn't flying with the Linux community and does not improve on what GNOME 3 offers. Because of that, there is little-to-no reason to keep it around. I gave Unity as much of a chance as I could (as did many of the Linux users I know), but it's just too flawed. Although GNOME 3 has not exactly been welcomed with open arms, it will eventually become the standard GNOME.

2: Classic GNOME should be forked

I initially thought that Classic GNOME, like KDE 3, should be retired. This is a good idea with regard to GNOME 3, but it causes problems when machines are low-powered or do not have the graphics hardware to run GNOME 3. So instead of retiring it, fork it so it can exist as a different choice altogether. I have to admit, of all the desktops I have used, the latest classic GNOME is probably the most solid. Not only is it stable, it's not nearly the resource hog that certain other desktop tend to be. Let GNOME live -- but as a fork to ease the burden on the GNOME developers.

3: A uniform compositor should be used

I can't help it; I'm a fan of the compositor. I really enjoy desktop effects, transparency, the cube, you name it! The only problem is that every desktop that can use a compositor uses a different one. At one point, most of them simply employed Compiz. Not the case now. KDE has its own compositor, E17 has Ecomorph, GNOME has Mutter, and so on. Why is this? Compiz, for the longest time, worked with both GNOME and KDE. Why couldn't the desktops simply decide to stick with Compiz and adapt that as needed? There is no reason to reinvent the wheel!

4: Distributions need to make alternate desktops easy to install

Back when I first started using Linux, the installation process allowed the user to choose from a long list of desktops. That was when a Linux installation spanned four to six disks and could take an hour or two to install. Now everything is focused on the Live CD, which does not allow for the inclusion of multiple desktop installation. That can be fixed by simply allowing users to select their desktop of choice and then having the package manager download and install during the operating system installation.

5: Distributions need to stop modifying desktops

This can get really annoying and is a challenge to support. Many distributions decide it best to modify the desktop for whatever reason. This isn't necessary. Distributions should stick with the default configuration of the desktop and leave the configurations to the user. This standardization will go a long way toward simplifying support and will help to ease users into the Linux desktop. If GNOME 3 and KDE are the same across the board, users won't have such trouble when choosing distributions.

6: GNOME Shell should be more configurable

As it stands, GNOME 3 isn't all that configurable. That was one of the great things about Classic GNOME -- users could configure that desktop to their heart's content. Now? Not so much. In fact, GNOME 3 seems to have gone the Apple/MS route and locked the user into the configuration the developers think works the best. That is counter to the heart of the Linux user.

7: Alternate desktops need more exposure

I don't know if you are aware of this, but there are some incredible Linux desktops available. You can find everything from the bare-bones, lightweight desktop to the eye-candy heavy do-it-all desktop. The problem is that most users don't know about them. These alternative desktops really need to make an effort to get the word out that they exist. Instead of settling for living in the fringes, desktops like E17 should be widespread. Xfce is an amazing combination of lightening fast and feature rich -- why don't more people know of this? If these desktops were better known, the GNOME 3/Unity/KDE 4 drama would ease up.

8: All desktops need a more standardized configuration

I've always thought the desktop could use a bit of standardization (while holding on to individuality). This would go a long way toward making the major desktops a bit user friendly. Both KDE and GNOME 3 are trying to go this route and they are almost there... but it needs to be taken further. The "control panel" tool should be easily recognized and accessed by users. KDE calls its tool System Settings, but that could easily lead one to think that user preferences won't be found there. If Microsoft has a patent on the term Control Panel, KDE and GNOME (and E17 and Xfce and...) need to come up with a unified term for this tool so that even new users immediately know what the tool is used for.

9: Distributions should decide who their audiences are

Is Ubuntu for new users only? What about Fedora? Linux Mint? Who do these distributions ultimately target? With this question answered, the choice of desktop would be much easier. If a distribution is truly for new users, would you put GNOME 3, Unity, or KDE 4 on a distribution for them? I would suggest KDE 4. Although the new user might face some challenges, it at least offers a level of familiarity that neither GNOME 3 or Unity offers. Or maybe Xfce would be the ideal desktop for a new user. But ultimately, the distributions need to decide who, precisely, they target.

10: Lightweight versions of EXISTING desktops should be created for low-powered and netbook machines

If Unity were killed, a lightweight version of GNOME 3 would need to be created to satisfy those using low-powered and netbook computers. GNOME 3 is not for old hardware. Although there are plenty of distributions available that can power lesser machines, both GNOME and KDE offer features that would appeal to the modern user (such as integrated Gwibber and other social tools). This could easily be accomplished by removing the compositor and unnecessary packages.

Time for a Linux revolt?

There is no single, ideal solution for the issues at hand. But the Linux desktop situation needs some attention before it gets out of control. I would hate to see a complete revolt against the current crop of desktops, but if it comes down to that, I'm all for a revolution. When that revolution comes, you will most likely see me happily computing away on Bodhi Linux, which offers the best of Ubuntu and E17.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

26 comments
abacrotto
abacrotto

Hello. I have a simple question, that I could not figure out how to solve yet. I upgraded to Fedora 15 with Gnome and all the configurations I had for my desktop and panels were gone. That is not a problem. The problem is I can not relocate or take off the panels that were installed with Fedora 15. I like having one bottom panel like in Windows. Is there a way for me to get that layout again ? Thanks a lot in advance. Ariel.

cerewa
cerewa

Tested Unity. Applications seemed to take an extra second or two to respond, and often buttons and other user-interaction thingies in the Unity environment would do absolutely nothing for half a second when clicked. (using 1.6ghz atom processor and 1gb ram). So i got annoyed and.. Tried out the latest alpha of Kubuntu and its installer would get stuck partway through and refuse to do anything. Tried Xubuntu alpha and it failed to boot. (yeah, that's what I get for trying out an alpha version). Tried Lubuntu alpha; it refused to suspend to RAM. Switched to Bodhi Linux. A lot of things were exactly as I wanted them, and then without warning its networking software broke. ifconfig/iwconfig can't find wired or wireless ethernet devices. My fault for trying out the "latest and greatest". but i never would have bothered with all these alternatives if Ubuntu and GNOME stuck with improving upon GNOME2.

pgit
pgit

With a very stark exception to point #5, Mandriva is pushing ahead on all fronts Jack lists. They're pulling out of the gnome and other upstreams, and leaving packaging of them for the distro to the community. This frees them up to be more tightly involved with upstream KDE. The irony is that at the same time they are defaulting to a highly customized, decidedly non standard environment. Their 2011 release goes so far as to replace the entire task manager and launcher with a custom plasma widget. The jury is out on some of their moves, but they have been abandoning some of their well developed, very useful proprietary tools for the sake of standardization, integrating their "drak" tools into the kde environment. That has huge potential for making kde the "default" Linux desktop, if the target audience is "windows users."

L3l
L3l

Lots of good points made here, and I've banged my head enough times trying to customize things, and having fun doing it. I now have WIndows 7 and Ubuntu 11.0 as a dual boot sharing many programs (thunderbird, mozilla, office, KeePass, directories, etc) and really only use Windows for the Adobe Creative series software since I'm a graphics freelancer. But I also use Xandros Presto (now defunct) on my Thinkpad laptop because Vista takes too long to A) boot up B) get a darn wireless signal, and by that time the battery's dead. Sometimes it times out and refuses to get a signal until I reboot. So different distros for different machines. With all the other 'niche' type distros & desktops it reminds me of the 'long tail' where no one thing pleases everybody NOR SHOULD IT, there's a niche for everyone who doesn't care to go the way of the popular masses. Also as an IT tech, I don't really like it when people customize their Windows beyond recognition, it DOES make phone support difficult. (at Circuit City we used to lock down the desktop for distribution laptops and in some departments where people had too much time on their hands). But: Corporate and Home are two very different things! I agree starting out with more commonality in initial desktop configurations is a good thing, but I don't think Linux Desktop should TRY to be a 'mainstream' product. It could be, but that's not the point. To me, it's satisfying all those other tastes out there that don't care for standardization. My 2c worth : )

pvbrandes
pvbrandes

Great article Jack! I am a Linux newbie and installed Ubuntu 11.04 (64-bit) on my dual boot (Vista 32-bit and Win 7 64-bit on separate drives) system. It didn't take me long to tinker with the compiz settings and break the OS so bad that I had to reinstall it. This happened serveral times until I finally stopped myself from trying to customize the desktop and just use the generic settings that were initially installed. I was incredulous that the OS could be broken so easily, and I didn't find an easy way to fix/restore it. Thus, the reinstallations. I LOVED having an OS that booted up almost instantly, and used it often to just get a quick connection to the web via a browser. But ultimately, I decided to get it off my system. That decision cost me much aggravation as I played the devil trying to get the master boot record back. Most of the directions I found, via Internet searches, to reinstall the MBR, didn't work. So I would NOT recommend trying Ubuntu to anyone who wouldn't know how to use DOS in a command-line terminal, which is a majority of users. In my (lowly) opinion, Ubuntu has a lot of potential. BUT, it has a long way to go to get where Windows stability, customization, and ease of use is-Unfortunately!

Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

I'm here to speak for the Luddites. Some users want lots of glitz, bling, and special effects on their desktop. For them, a fun desktop seems to be the purpose of having a computer. I'm not one of them. Some users want a desktop that is so clean and lean that it???s hard to find anything to do with it, other than admire the elegance of its emptiness. I'm not one of them. Then there are those of us who from time to time actually try to fit a little productive work into the workday. To help me accomplish that, I want a desktop on which I can place icons for my most-used activities, together with a simple menu system for access to less-used activities. For my purposes, the XP/KDE 3.5 style desktop is the perfect fit, but the major distributions have abandoned KDE 3.5. I wish they would reconsider. Since I need to use multiple operating systems, I want a full-fledged configuration editor for the boot manager, which usually is GRUB. Having to manually edit the menu configuration files was acceptable twenty years ago, but manual editing is now an impediment to acceptance of a distribution. Finally, I want fine-grain control over the desktop and the system. Notwithstanding my great respect for those who develop the various desktops, the developers frequently don't see things as I do, or work as I do. So, let me select the elements and functions that work best for me.

kerry.sisler
kerry.sisler

This thread doesn't much help the much offered argument that everyone should stop using MS Windows and embrace the Penguin. Win7 pretty much gives back the performance and stability of 'XP Pro SP3'. Vista really was pretty poor until one works out its issues. So for today, it is back to work on a managed network of MS Windows clients. I'll ponder Linux on the desktop again in a couple of year if that community can gets it cats herded and branded.

adornoe
adornoe

Give this article to a regular, non-techie computer user out there to read, and he'll stop reading after the first couple of paragraphs. It's a non-starter. Granted, I know that it's written for the tech who knows what's happening in the Linux world, but, still, with the many different distributions, and the many different opinions, and the many different iterations of Linux, and with the many factions competing, it appears that there will never be any cohesiveness in Linux, and that is why Linux is not "selling" or being adopted by the regular John and Jane out there. Too many cooks spoil the broth. There are too many opinions with no cohesiveness and no real leadership that will state, once and for all, "Okay, this is how it's going to be". Being the best for the techies is one thing. Being chaotic is manageable by the techies who know how to tweak and configure their systems. But, that can't be expected from the regular users out there.

wuboyblue
wuboyblue

I would still rather suffer through the awkard and occasionally slip shod work of Ubuntu for my desktop, than become an Apple moonie. C'mon guys (Ubuntu, Debian), get it together.

wuboyblue
wuboyblue

Okay, I've been using Linux since 1998. My RHCE number is in the triple digits. TheLinux UI has had time to evolve and has failed, hell, even Apple, a relative newbie into the open source world (Open Darwin) has it right as far as UI goes. So with UI being a constant drag, we also have DRM issues. My W7 desktop connects to my Xbox. My sound card mysteriously drops from Ubuntu although /proc/pci sees it This being said, everytime it fails to see the sound card, I lose my tosslink connection. /proc/pci correctly sees the card as an EMU20K chip, but somewhere, rattling around in that bloated Gnome interface, some where between init 3 and init 5 it gets lost. I would love to be able to use a variety of video sources but alas, I have no DRM set up, save the pirate stuff. I would pay for DRM, so maybe Linux itself should fork into pay for play and free. The non free repositories are a joke, good for some but not all content. Give me a Linux box with an Open Darwin interface and all the DRM and device recognition of my W7 home premium desktop and my Linux server may come out of the closet and onto my core i7 desktop.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Canonical claims that Ubuntu is for average users. "bring us the masses converting from Windows".. They want the appliance users. Yet.. they do not include closed binary drivers by default. They claim to want the pointy-clicky average users but then make those users jump through hoops just to get hardware support functioning. booo. If you target appliance users as a primary customer. maybe you should make the libre source bias a secondary priority and actually make the choices that support the primary goal of supporting the appliance users. What is Mint's greater benefit over ubuntu? It includes the non-free repository by default and closed binaries and firmware by default. Mint is actually doing what ubuntu should be doing if Win converts and appliance users are indeed it's desired audience. For those want teh "live free or die" libre only source; use Debian. For users like me who have less source bias but want a system builder's distro versus an appliance; use Debian and opt into the non-free repositories. We can have it our way, new users can have it there way. (edit): drat.. meant as a reply to Alpha Dog.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

...but I do have a couple of issues. Most notably, many of your points are two parts of the same issue. 1: Ubuntu needs to drop Unity No argument, but perhaps it should once again be about choice. Gnobuntu anyone? Please? 2: Classic GNOME should be forked Nope. You go on in point 10 that "lightweight versions of EXISTING desktops should be created for low-powered and netbook machines" and you are right. Sorry, I do not see classic Gnome working for a small computer (800MHz embedded or older PIII laptop) better than XFCE or other lightweight window manager. 3: A uniform compositor should be used Big fan of the compositor too. It's probably the most useful and fun part of the Linux experience for me. Nothing beats the look on a Windows user's face when they see the cube in action for the first time. 4: Distributions need to make alternate desktops easy to install No doubt. I want to be able to pop into Ubuntu application center and install any desktop I want. No fuss, no muss, just like everything else. 5: Distributions need to stop modifying desktops Again, we agree. Remember the fuss when Ubuntu moves the window buttons to the left side? Windows Vista or Seven moving the add / remove programs? Little things add up to big things. 6: GNOME Shell should be more configurable I have not played around with Gnome3 enough to comment, but if it is locked in, how long before someone releases a tweak tool? Betcha one is already in the works. 7: Alternate desktops need more exposure This goes back to the ease of installation issue. Make it easy enough to try without having to reload the OS and people will start to play with them. 8: All desktops need a more standardized configuration Okay... I am confused. Jack, do you want more configuration or more standardization, or is it that you want all the defaults to look fairly much alike? I will agree that the menus need standardization and that a common starting point would be helpful in selling the product to corporate or not-so-savvy users, but I don't want to crack open my C++ reference guides to make my window borders transparent. 9: Distributions should decide who their audiences are Ummm... no. The distro should be independent of the window manager. The window manager and default apps determine the target audience, but ultimately its the users who determine which distro fits their use, not the distro that chooses the client. This would be different if marketing dollars were being spent, but this is not the case. While I am sure the developers have a target client in mind and this target shouldn't wander, Linux is built by user demand to scratch an itch, not by companies pandering to the client base market research points them at. 10: Lightweight versions of EXISTING desktops should be created for low-powered and netbook machines I will agree, but rather than reinvent the wheel, just use XFCE or one of those. If you have one of those underpowered early netbooks sitting around (check your bookshelf, they make great book ends), try Xubuntu on it. Time for a Linux revolt? When isn't it? Linux IS a revolt, but rather than a revolt against the tyranny of MS, Mac, or any other convenient "evil empire", I submit to you that Linux is a revolt *for* choice. When someone asks why I run Linux (on everything), my answer is "because I can" not "because you can't". Think of it as a positive benevolent revolution, a constructive, bloodless coup d'etat. Rather than tell people what doesn't work or prevent users from using the tools they are used to, build or find a better mousetrap. My dad used to tell me of the ten shortest words of greatest power: "if it is to be it is up to me". It's the Linux way.

r_bigcat
r_bigcat

Mr. Wallen; your article is well conceived and in my opinion pretty much spot on. The beauty of Linux and living in the US is every one can express their opinion. I think you left out a very important paragraph in your blog. If fact, it is the most critical point. When are you rolling up your sleeves and getting to work on your ideas? Individuals making a contribution is the most important element of all. I agree you have to have an idea before you can implement it. But there is no shortage of blogs and ideas out there. I personally admire the folks who sit down behind their keyboards / computers and actually write, test and fix code or any of a thousand other contributions. Thank you to each and every one of you! Thank you, Mr. Wallen, for your article and giving me a chance to express my ideas.

Craigthd
Craigthd

I know few people liked Unity for stability or features reasons. But the fact is, Unity shipped with Ubuntu 11.04 was the first time I thought "Eeeh ? Maybe my mother could use it.". Let it grow, I don't think it's the open-source's spirit to say "It was not great on the first time, let's definitely drop it.". I came back to Gnome but I'll make sure to keep an eye on Unity.

mathan_gm
mathan_gm

Do you want more exposure to alternate desktops by killing a good desktop like Unity? I have used GNOME 3 and Unity. Gnome 3 is a pain to use. Unity is really good to start and will evolve into a desktop with great user experience than any other available in Linux

bobc4012
bobc4012

I would suggest installing Ubuntu into a Windows directory (creates an "ubuntu" directory). The performance degradation is not significant - the code runs native and uses "virtual disks". Unless there was something special in 11.04, I would have recommended going with 10.04 (an LTS) until 12.04 (an LTS) becomes available. You can upgrade directly from LTS to LTS. If you ran with 11.04, skipping 11.10 and then wanted to upgrade to 12.04, you would have to upgrade to 11.10 before moving to 12.04 (or re-install). The other advantage is removal of Ubuntu is like any other Windows app uninstall (there is an uninstall file the ubuntu directory). Since you said you basically wanted a "quick boot" to connect to the internet, this is a lot easier than partitioning and creating multiple boots. Also, it shouldn't interfere with the MBR. In an XP system, it adds a couple of files to the "root" (C:) disk and adds a line to the Windows boot.ini file (to boot into Ubuntu code). I am not sure of the process for Vista and Win. 7 (and in the case of dual booting).

itadmin
itadmin

Just think what could have been if all effort had gone into one product. Of course, there's difference of opinion, and if there's no strong unifying factor - if we leave to pursue our way, our pay will stop - factions result. Factions in competition with each other. A house divided against itself, will fall.

CFWhitman
CFWhitman

Several times I have seen a sound card just stop working in Windows for no reason. Removing and reinstalling the sound card doesn't help (software and/or hardware). You get to the point where you believe the sound card must have stopped working, but then it turns out that if you reinstall Windows the sound card magically starts working again. In Linux, the problem you are having is because there is not a fully working driver for that sound chipset in ALSA as of yet. So there's no real surprise that it's not working correctly. It would be possible to change your sound server from ALSA to a new version of OSS that has support for that card, but it would probably be easier just to get a different sound card if you really wanted to run Linux on that hardware. This is thanks to Creative's 'when they feel like it' support for Linux. You never know what they'll support and what they won't bother with at least for a while. Eventually it will almost certainly work perfectly, but I like my hardware to work when new, so I tend to favor other brands of cards. Only for gaming are Creative cards really good anyway. For other uses you are better off with Asus or M-Audio, and they are pretty good for gaming too. Apple's GUI is certainly not open source, only the system underneath. You can run OpenDarwin if you want (you have to compile it yourself though), but you will be using a conventional Unix compatible GUI like KDE, GNOME, XFCE, etc. I don't like GNOME, but it's no more bloated than the Windows Vista/7 GUI. Personally, I find that XFCE, Fluxbox, IceWM, and/or other window managers work fine depending on the circumstances I want to use them under. DRM is always a problem because it's designed to stop you from copying the media which is a problem when you want to be able to put it on any one of a number of your personal devices. I generally only use media that I can obtain or create a non-DRM version of so that I can use it where I want to (not so I can upload it to a "warez" site).

itadmin
itadmin

Which masses converting from Windows? Windows has reached critical mass. Now it's very hard to unseat from the top spot. Bill Gates astutely decided, long ago, to go for the great unwashed, those as thick as two bricks, because there (note, not their) are so many of them. As long as the thick outnumber the intelligent, and that will be always, Windows will be it. They will loudly complain about the price of Windows software and steal it in great numbers, but they'll stick with Windows. Oh, those beautiful graphics. And things presented as charts, icons and whatever, so long as they don't have to read. How they do hate reading. I see and work with them everyday, the dull light of ignorance burning brightly in their eyes. And do they know better! No, Linux will always be a niche operating system on the desktop. I have no problem with Gnome on Debian. A few configuration changes and it's to my taste.

pgit
pgit

3: A uniform compositor should be used Big fan of the compositor too. It's probably the most useful and fun part of the Linux experience for me. Nothing beats the look on a Windows user's face when they see the cube in action for the first time. I've said the same many times. Just yesterday I deployed a shiny new KDE machine in an office. The person I was training saw the cube switch, and was amazed. She ducked out and dragged a bunch of coworkers in to see it. (a few of them weren't as impressed) I'm a fan of compositing, too. I firmly believe making the environment fun and pleasing to use is a huge plus on the productivity side.

lk_bellsouth.net
lk_bellsouth.net

"My dad used to tell me of the ten shortest words of greatest power: "if it is to be it is up to me". Your father was a wise man. You are fortunate to have had the benefit of his experience. Thanks for sharing this. I appreciate it. --- Lee

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I believe what Jack means is things like the project to standardize common traits between desktops. Gnome and KDE used to deal with entries in the program menus very differently. A program could install it's icon link into the KDE menu looking all well and good then be completely missing from the Gnome program menu. These days, they both generate the program menu from the same set of links. A program can drop it's link into one common location and apear in both KDE and Gnome program menus. I think there is also some standardization in how things are drag/dropped and such so you can drag from a KDE app and drop into a Gnome app where in the past the two frameworks wouldn't share information as easily. I'm less clear on this one though. Basically, there is a lot desktop environments could standardize that is common to all desktops while still retaining the indaviduality in apearance and handling of things not common between desktops.

pgit
pgit

An illustration of why "the problem" exists: I love gnome 3 and found unity a pain to use. I agree, don't kill unity, or reduce diversity in any manner. But underlying the general advancement of Linux as a whole with just a couple key standardizations would be a good move.

pvbrandes
pvbrandes

Thank you for your comments. I did think about the option of installing Ubuntu inside of Windows 7. But wouldn't that require Windows to boot before being able to access Ubuntu? I liked being able to hit my power button, and in a few seconds, select my OS, and a few seconds more be into Ubuntu. I think, eventually, I'll reformat the Vista drive and put Ubuntu back on, but I'd love to know a way to install it without having the GRUB installed. I prefer Windows to display my OS choices. [Later] After writting this initial reply I got curious about reinstalling Ubuntu and took bobc4012's advice and installed Ubuntu 10.04 as a Windows application. Thanks again bobc4012, it worked exactly the way I wanted. I get the Windows OS choice list and it boots into Ubuntu in just over 1 minute! The only caveat is, when I launched Firefox and went to my favorite site (http://www.live365.com/index.live) I got an error message that the Adobe Flash version needed to be updated to 10. I spent the next few hours exercising in futility trying to accomplish that very simple task -- and gave up! But, I will continue to tinker with Ubuntu, and hope that it'll blossom into a truly great OS.

adornoe
adornoe

Take pride in how "intelligent" you and the Linux crowd are. Meanwhile, the real intelligence is in those that know how to cater to what the people really want. All of the people at Microsoft, and even at Apple, used their intelligence to capture the eyes and support and marketshare and money from about 99% of the "unwashed" masses. Linux on the desktop and laptop won't ever be making any headway as long as people like you continue "thinking" the way you do. .

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

I agree that there should be a standard default, but the ability to customize from there must be held sacred. Simply put, a distro is a tool. Like any other tool, it may NOT limit what I can and cannot do, or else it is replaced by another tool which fits my usage pattern. At the user level though, standardization is a big deal as it impacts support. I am using 10.10 on our desktop installations and I am evaluating Mint, Bodhi, and Xubuntu for company wide deployments. I agree with your assessment of Debian, but I need something easy enough to support via telephone. The broadband here in Southern Colorado is spotty enough here that RDP sessions don't work as well as they could and my client base spans 500 miles north to south and about 300 east to west, so driving to fix a screensaver issue is NOT an option. :/