vs. Linux GUI: Owen found an interview that really, really hits the nail on the head about a big problem with Linux.
Right now, the Linux community values “diversity” too highly to ever get a single, consistent GUI, let alone a good one. At the same time, it holds on doggedly to its (often ancient) Unix-rooted traditions and conventions.
Finally, it’s hard to get a really large group of Linux developers to do much of anything beyond a single “project.” A GUI is not a “project.” It’s the whole OS from the user’s perspective, and it must be from the creators’ perspective too or it will fail.
This is so true. One thing that has always bothered me about Linux is the lack of a consistent file structure. One distribution puts certain files in one place, and another puts them somewhere else.
This was such a big problem, in fact, that the United Linux consoritum was put together specifically to define a common file system. However, Red Hat didn’t play ball, and that really marginalized any chance of success.
As for the GUI problem discussed above: Gnome or KDE? Why? Why don’t they get together and build the GUI to end all GUIs and just make life simpler for everyone? The different Linux distributions and GUI essentially create multiple “virtual OSs.” You’re running Fedora and KDE, or SuSE and Gnome, or Slackware and something else.
You also see this when installing software. I’m using Red Hat Fedora, so I need to find an RPM specifically for my distribution. This isn’t the same thing that will run in SuSE or other distributions. In fact, they may not use RPMs at all. You may need to compile them from source, etc.
About 18 months ago, I made a concerted effort at using Linux on the desktop. I posted here about the lack of consistency:
While I appreciate the cowboy, wild-west, open-source attitude as much as the next guy, I also appreciate not having to relearn an interface for every new app. With Linux apps, Lord only knows what the menu commands are going to be. Right-clicking on the workspace may reboot the machine for all you know. CTRL-A works in some apps, not in others. Double-clicking has all sorts of different behaviors as well.
Let me say that I haven’t found this issue to be the case with Fedora, but the premise holds true. Linux developers look at their one little corner of the OS. They are tactical. No one is looking at the big picture — the strategic picture.
Perhaps the best thing to happen to Linux would be for Red Hat to destroy all competitors and become the Microsoft of Linux. If everyone was using Red Hat, and there was one monolithic entity working on developing the platform, maybe this would provide the cohesion the OS needs to make real inroads on the desktop.
Far be it for me to agree with Owen about anything, but this interview is right on the money.