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Ask Slashdot: Are Linux Desktop Users More Pragmatic Now Or Is It Inertia? 503

David W. White writes "Years ago ago those of us who used any *nix desktop ('every morning when you wake up, the house is a little different') were seen as willing to embrace change and spend hours tinkering and configuring until we got new desktop versions to work the way we wanted, while there was an opposite perception of desktop users over in the Mac world ('it just works') and the Windows world ('it's a familiar interface'). However, a recent article in Datamation concludes that 'for better or worse, [Linux desktop users] know what they want — a classic desktop — and the figures consistently show that is what they are choosing in far greater numbers than GNOME, KDE, or any other single graphical interface.' Has the profile of the Linux desktop user changed to a more pragmatic one? Or is it just the psychology of user inertia at work, when one considers the revolt against changes in the KDE, GNOME, UNITY and Windows 8 interfaces in recent times?"
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Ask Slashdot: Are Linux Desktop Users More Pragmatic Now Or Is It Inertia?

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  • Re:Classic Desktop (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2014 @07:15PM (#46130671)

    I RTFA and didn't quite find the answer to your question.
    I think it means users are conservative. Other than KDE users, most people are using something that undoes GNOME's "upgrades".
    Me, I use KDE. But that doesn't mean I don't use several GNOME apps. Disk space and RAM are cheap enough nowadays that you don't have to choose one or the other.

  • Re:Classic Desktop (Score:4, Informative)

    by aliquis ( 678370 ) <> on Saturday February 01, 2014 @07:20PM (#46130711) Homepage

    Yeah, KDE is a freaking classic desktop. At least as long as you don't switch to the tablet look of it.

    Gnome to has always tried it's best to show a familiar look until 3/shell.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @07:29PM (#46130761)

    Of course, the Mac desktop is just a hi-res version of the Amiga (toolbar at the top for the active window, task bar, ... were all Amiga desktop features).

    Temporal anomaly in your argument. The Mac launched Jan 24th 1984. The Amiga didn't launch till 1985.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2014 @07:30PM (#46130769)

    GNOME: the desktop that COULD be awesome, if only the dev team actually cared about performance, polish and a reasonable feature-set. Overall this desktop has the best feel and most potential, but sadly it is never quite realised.

    KDE: at first this desktop seems powerful and feature-rich, but after a week of using it you realise how little its devs care about usability and sane defaults. Not everybody wants to make a career out of tweaking their desktop.

    Unity: has SOME nice usability aspects, but it is only properly supported on Ubuntu, and Ubuntu is an extremely buggy OS.

    Xfce: fine for very basic use, but lack of proper OS integration (like GNOME) and some annoying bugs make this desktop unusable.

    LXDE: almost total lack of OS integration. It's more like a collection of recommended packages for a minimal X desktop than an actual DE.

    Cinnamon: GNOME done badly. Sure, you get your somewhat classic launcher and panel, but it just feels clunky compared to Windows, GNOME or Unity.

    MATE: what can one say about MATE? It does the job and GNOME 2 was great in its time, but the desktop is starting to show its age. Probably the sanest choice for getting real work done, but not as satisfying as more modern desktops.

    Summary: if GNOME would stop reshuffling the deck chairs and spend a few releases on performance, polish and features real-world people care about, they could easily become the most popular desktop. They've done 99% of the work, but for some reason are blind to that crucial last 1%. Given that this is probably never going to change, the Linux desktop is pretty much an exercise in futility and inefficiency.

  • Counterpoint (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @07:38PM (#46130829)

    I just (five days ago) spent two days huddled with a half dozen other developers in the corner of a large conference room filled with IT people in Chicago. We were testing our various implementations of a new protocol that we expect to see in wide use during the next two years.

    I had brought a brand new laptop, for various unfortunate reasons, on which I had just installed the complete stack of software I needed night before in the hotel room. I put Ubuntu 13.1 on it because I happened to have that particular distro on a flash drive that was at hand just then and I was in a hurry.

    Things worked out. The laptop worked well and I got my part done. Thing is, I spent that rather intense period of time using Unity. For development and testing of software. Really.

    I get it. Unity is fast and effective, particularly on the limited real-estate of a laptop screen where you end up switching rapidly among full screen applications.

    I've avoided Unity like the plague on desktop hardware were I have multiple, large displays, and I think I'll continue doing that. However on a laptop that is not running external displays Unity works pretty well. You can navigate quickly with mouse or keyboard and avoid fussing with things. The fixed position of the large icons (although too large by default) on the sidebar is particularly useful.

    So, bust out the fangs and hate me down with your mod points; I found a use for Unity and said so on Slashdot.

  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:18PM (#46131053)

    Mate devs, however, aren't resting on their laurels. Mate is being adapted to integrate with the OS more, and use more modern, up-to-date, and maintained libraries. No one was maintaining GConf anymore, and GTK+ and Gnome moved on to GSettings with a Dconf backend. Now Mate 1.6 uses Gsettings instead of Gconf. A natural progression (though I wish gsettings used plain text files instead of dconf), and it works well. Also there is movement to migrate Mate to GTK+3.

    Whether or not this duplicates effort with regards to Cinnamon, and if it can be kept up I don't know. But Mate is fairly feature complete even as it stands. GTK+2 still works fine for now. It's not going to stop working on its own accord. Things like Wayland will likely force its abandonment, but time will tell.

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