In a new interview with , The Fourth industrial Revolution, gives his opinions on why the has failed: . He says, "I wish we were better at having a standardised desktop that goes across all the distributions."

While he brings up a fair concern, I think fragmentation is one of Linux's strongest assets; there's something unique for everyone.

What are your thoughts?

@amolith That's been the side of the fence I'm on. The freedom and flexibility of Linux is a double-edged sword in that yes, we have 100% freedom to do with it as we see fit, but it also means that there are dozens of forks which don't really do anything different other than maybe change a font or color scheme from the original, and then we end up with so many essentially useless projects out there that confuse newbies and make it harder for companies to provide support.

@DonMcCollough @amolith I think it's absolutely possible to do both. One standard unified "Linux Desktop Environment" that every graphical distribution ships with by default or is the first choice and fully supported by everyone, and everything else is available in repos or as secondary/community editions of the given distro.

If nothing else I think the major DEs should agree on more common HIGs to keep the experience more similar across everything.

@kungtotte @DonMcCollough @gentoorebel

I could see the benefit of having a central DE for all the distros as well as a central distro (likely Ubuntu) but I could also see that being a detriment as it COULD (not would) take valuable developers away from other DEs as focus shifts from them to this new environment. I could also see the possibility of some lesser-known DEs falling to the wayside as "no one" would really care about them because "everyone" is using the new one.

What's an HIG?

@amolith @kungtotte @gentoorebel Good points, but honestly, non tech savvy people don't give a darn about all that. They just want something that just works OOTB without having to check what does and does not work, etc. because they are used to powering on a Windows machine and having that experience consistently each time they use it, whereas with a Linux system, not all of them work the quite the same (rpm vs deb etc.) from an outsider viewpoint..

@DonMcCollough @kungtotte @gentoorebel

That's part of the reason I typically recommend , @linuxmint, or @elementary to new users. They seem to be the best at "just working" out of the box.

@amolith @kungtotte @gentoorebel @linuxmint @elementary I typically go with *buntu myself and just go for the DE they want such as Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc.

@amolith @kungtotte
I'm looking at the bigger picture. Without competition and choice, users lose. Somewhere along the line, someone in MasterDE is going to refuse to implement something, or implement it in such a way that someone winds up forking it anyway. Them you'll wind up fractured anyways, but without the benefits that were had before convergence.

@DonMcCollough @amolith @gentoorebel HIG is "Human Interface Guidelines", basically rules for how the UI should look. It's something OSX and Windows do well (keeping everything consistent), and it's something that DEs could agree on. E.g. titlebar controls are in the same place and same order, etc.

I don't think it would steal time from existing DEs. People hack on KDE because they like KDE, and they'll keep doing it even in my Utopia. :)

@amolith This is why I stick as close to the main repo/distro as possible. A good example is Ubuntu. Yes it's based on Debian, but geared toward being user friendly and to essentially be a Windows replacement while distros like Mint, PinGuy and other distros based on Ubuntu may have a tweak or two are essentially just a tweaked Ubuntu that don't offer anything besides the tweaks that can be easily added by the user if they wanted to. and yes I know is is a very unpopular opinion.

Fragmentation is critically important. Without it, many pitfalls open up and you risk alienating veteran users. That's far worse than having a hurdle for new users.

Look at systemd. Look, with the benefit of hindsight, at the gnome3 / unity fiasco with Ubuntu years back. Look at consolekit.

Diversity and choice, guided by different priorities, motivations, and ethics, are what have given us the freedom we enjoy today.

@amolith I believe fragmentation didn't play a positive aspect in gaining traction with HW manufactures. Without a defined standard, very few producers dared to adopt it as out of the box OS, and those attempt were not cheap, nor targeting mainstream users, rather geeks looking for quality HW and stickers with TUX.


I certainly see your point but I also have to point out that, in the community at least, there does seem to be a standard; Ubuntu. It's what the vast majority of Linux users start on. While I, personally, dislike Ubuntu (and derivatives), I still recommend it (and others) to people to start with because it just works™️

@amolith I agree with you. All computer desktops are failing, except, maybe chrome. The overall number of desktops is shrinking. Trying to gain dominance in something that is in decline is difficult and probably foolhardy.

@amolith I think the reason is that you can't walk into a Best buy, Walmart... Etc and leave with a computer running GNU/Linux. People who use GNU/Linux are only those who are dissatisfied with their OS that came with their computer and also have the skills to change it. If a distro did some work to get GNU/Linux computers on the shelf, it would change.

@amolith I think Ubuntu is pretty clearly in the forefront when it comes to a first distro that people hear about.

@blaubachn That's exactly what I think too. While Ubuntu isn't my favourite distro, it is by far the most common. I am hoping and praying that some big-name HW vendor goes out on a limb, takes a risk. and start marketing SOME distro on a laptop or PC that targets the masses. I feel like that would start to bring Linux out of the desktop shadows

@amolith It has "failed" because the Linux Foundation's marketing primarily targets server use since that's where the money is. And then, you have members like Micro$oft that aren't going to let up on it either because of Azure. People keep pumping out the "year of the Linux desktop" each year to make desktop software developers happy since anyone worth their salt runs Linux natively. However, web developers pretending to be normal desktop users aren't doing us any favors.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Fosstodon is a Mastodon instance that is open to anyone who is interested in technology; particularly free & open source software.