As recently as a year ago, the Linux desktop was easy
to describe. GNOME and KDE dominated, both offered an ecosystem of
applications, and neither much different from Windows and OS X in
their goals or design. Xfce was a distant third, with other desktop
environments trailing even further behind.
Now, at the start of 2012, the state of the Linux desktop is
radically altered. GNOME and KDE remain popular, but GNOME has been
fragmented by the rise of Ubuntu's Unity shell.