Most days I'm proud to be a member of the Linux community. But recently I had a moment where I was just really irked that such a large amount of the community looked a gift horse in the mouth threatening to blow a very good move by Dell.
Remember a long time ago I brought up the Dell offering Linux on their desktop computers? Well, it's finally happening and Dell has chosen Ubuntu as the flavor of Linux to install. I think that's a very smart move for Dell. I think Ubuntu is one of the most user-friendly distribution and it has the community and the vision that backs up everything Linux has stood for over the years.
My problem is not with Dell. I commend them for their choices. My problem, right now, is with the Linux community (even the Ubuntu-centric Linux community.) Why? As soon as Dell announced the choice the Linux community started getting into the face of Dell demanding their favorite Desktop Environment be default. GNOME, KDE, even the Xfce battle cry was heard.
Think about this: The Linux community has won a huge battle getting their operating system installed, from factory, by a large PC maker. And instead of applauding this, they whine that their favorite proggy won't be used by default.
The Kubuntu community stood up and said "Let their be KDE! Because GNOME isn't user-friendly!"
I would like to say "what difference does it make?" But it does make a difference. There is a enormous difference between GNOME, KDE, Enlightenment, AfterStep, etc. They all do things differently. They all look differently. But, by default, you can't exactly have it all. Or can you?
Is it worth taking up the extra disk space to have every DE known to man on that new Dell? If average Jane were to buy a Dell with Ubuntu pre-installed do you actually think she's going to even know that she can try a different desktop? Hmmmm....maybe that's a selling point for Dell. Install all of the major DEs (and Window Managers) and give the purchaser a nice little instruction manual on how to switch back and forth. Think about the possible marketing....
Don't like the way your computer looks or behaves? Change it with Dell and Ubuntu!
I would think (based on the average computer users I know) users would love to be able to try out something different on their computer. Dell can pre-configure KDE or GNOME to look/behave just like a version of Windows. But then throw in Enlightenment (my fav) or any other window manager and the user might find using their computer fun again!
I know, I know...you're probably thinking that most people could care less about how their desktop looks and feels. But don't you think that's only because they had no idea they could change it?
Dell stands on a precipice of helping to push Linux to another level. Not just selling the OS on a desktop machine, but making people aware of the variety Linux offers. And if the Linux community, instead of whining to get proggy X included, would stand up and say "Let us help you make this really great!" I think Dell could do something really special for Linux.
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.