Dueling Desktop Interfaces Are Part of Linux's Ongoing Allure
Datamation is out with an interesting question: "Do Novelty Desktops Threaten Linux Adoption?" If you follow the evolution of Linux at all, you can hardly have missed the fine-tuning of customized desktop environments that has gone on for the past several years. We've widely covered the polarization in the user community that Ubuntu's Unity interface has produced. Meanwhile, desktop environments such as KDE and GNOME have also polarized many users in their most recent versions. Still, fragmentation of the desktop environment is part of the natural evolution of Linux, and it's also a key advantage the platform has over Windows and the Mac OS.
"With Windows 8, apparently you will be offered two options. The system will boot to the Windows 8 new GUI or you can go back and operate under a Windows 7 shell. How about this: You can do both and/or you can boot under a third party GUI. Heck, some people may design their own. Applying a modified license that would let Microsoft use any of the third party features in a future release could easily be done, adding incredible versatility to the interface."
"Incredible versatility to the interface." That sounds a lot like what custom desktop environments are bringing to Linux, right? Datamation points out that "it's important to offer a unified experience out of the box for newbies," and notes this:
"...the desire by Ubuntu and Linux Mint developers to break from the established desktop environments indicates a dissatisfaction with the status quo. In other words, what was working for the newbie friendly distributions a year ago is evolving. The old-school desktop environments apparently aren't keeping in step with the vision these distributions have in mind."
Custom desktop interfaces for Linux will improve over time, and the resources they require won't be so demanding over time. It's natural that Linux distributions will offer continuing choice in terms of desktop environments. This isn't a disadvantage. It's an advantage you don't get on the most popular and expensive proprietary platforms.