Linux Mint's Interface Flexibility Is a Good Model for FOSS Platforms
There has been a lot of talk about Linux Mint lately, including discussion of how some Ubuntu users are jumping ship to adopt it, and a lot of laudatory talk about the new Linux Mint 12. In all the hubbub, one thing that really jumps out is that the new version ships with two desktop interfaces: a brand new desktop built with Gnome 3 and MGSE and a traditional Gnome experience. This is a concept that more open source operating systems of every stripe ought to embrace.
Susan posted about Mint's interface flexibility here. Microsoft and Apple, of course, have by far the most popular desktop operating systems, but it has always been a limitation of their platforms that the desktop interfaces are quite restrictive. In fact, as Windows 8 has moved along in development, many have wondered if Microsoft might open its interface so that it can become flexible.
There are those calling for a much higher level of desktop interface openness for Windows 8. For example, PCMag's John Dvorak writes:
"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."
Now, there are those who say this will never happen because Microsoft would never embark on such on an open path, but reluctance to do so may represent an advantage for open source operating systems and Linux distros that can fairly easily appear with more than one interface.
The Linux Mint site has much more information on how flexible version 12 is with interface options. More Linux distros should offer this level of interface flexibility--yet another way open source platforms can differentiate themselves from proprietary platforms.