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LinuxPlanet: gnotebook: The Desktop War: A Separate Peace

Jun 02, 2001, 14:56 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)

It's a good day for Progeny users as the distribution releases its own GNOME 1.4 packages, an interesting time for Linux as the community debates its future on the desktop, and a time for reassessment for Michael Hall, as he presents the final edition of gnotebook.

"Accompanying the launch of the two major desktop projects several years ago was the notion that "the desktop" was the next logical target. To that end, we saw installation and configuration become magnitudes easier on the premise that a hurdle Linux needed to clear was how effectively available it was. The desktops were to extend that effective availability further.

It's clear that they've already achieved a lot of success. Linux installation and daily use is now, for the most part, truly simple. It gets easier on a daily basis, too. The landscape has changed to the point that where Red Hat was derided not three or four years ago as a "newbie" distro, you can now scan talkbacks and see readers identifying it as a "serious server distribution," while Mandrake typically receives the nod for a good beginner distro. In fact, I'd go so far as to argue that everybody who wants to try Linux probably has. They certainly have the means, the out-of-the-box tools made available courtesy of the usability consciousness raising the desktop campaign engaged in, and a Linux book market so saturated with assorted "dummy," "idiot," and "fast-n-easy" titles you're reduced to just making sure someone isn't trying to push a two-year-old release of the included distro before collapsing in the face of the incredible selection.

What we're left with is, in fact, the problem with applications availability and some attendant contributing elements: the widespread perception that the Linux desktop community doesn't want to pay, remains hostile to close-source software, and is tardy to embrace the sort of standards mainstream commercial software producers want before they'll venture into the Linux market. I know as well as the average Linux advocate that some of these points are being addressed, and I understand the imperfection of some of the arguments against Linux that point to these concerns. On the other hand, I've decided I'm overwhelmingly apathetic when it comes to whether my neighbor embraces Linux for his day-to-day work. In fact, in terms of Linux's advancement, my hopes largely center on the issues of open standards and a platform-agnostic Internet."

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