Chris J Powell

Tugging at your Desktop’s Heartstrings

Much debate has been running through the internet about Canonical’s decision to move away from it’s long standing relationship with the developers of Gnome and move to its new Unity Desktop.

For the uninitiated to this Flame War, within the world of Linux there are options for your desktop…many, many options and they go deeper than just changing your desktop icon theme and putting a new skin on your Task Bar like in Windows.  At the heart is the GUI and this is what hooked me years ago, the integration of the Gnome Desktop with Ubuntu just worked.  It had the right flow, the right feel and most importantly…IT WORKED!

For options on the desktop you can enable and install the different forms of the desktop from your Package Manager in any Linux Distribution but you can also find the flavor that you like with near perfect integration at  From their search feature you can narrow your focus on a desktop environment between one of 25 options, the most popular being:

  • Gnome The Default Desktop for Ubuntu and many other Linux Distros…the Push to a more graphic and touch environment has dramatically changed this old work horse
  • KDE Now in its 4th iteration, KDE appears in Kubuntu as the default Desktop and for me it has always been…to Window’s Like.  If you are trying to cut your teeth on Linux and don’t want to make the full leap to one of the other Desktops…looking for a distro that integrates KDE might me the best move.
  • XFCE Known for its connection to a “nimble mouse” XFCE is found with Xubuntu and while is designed to be the lighter cousin of Gnome I never really found any real savings in horsepower when using it.
  • Enlightenment Looking to “MAC” out your old Dell or HP Laptop?  The Enlightenment Desktop Environment bakes in a slick Deskbar and does run a nice light footprint.
  • LXDE A relative new player the developers were looking to build a lightning fast Desktop that would integrate nicely and run smoothly…for the most part I would say that they succeeded but I can’t help but feel just a tad Retro using this desktop.

I was a bit surprised when Canonical announced that they would be replacing the Gnome Desktop with the desktop environment that had been designed for Netbooks but 1 month in (plus several weeks with the Release Candidates) I would say that the move to Unity was a good one.  Has there been teething pains for some…absolutely but after looking at the move that Gnome was making with their latest release…it made a lot of sense and the similarities are quite striking.

Good, Bad or Indifferent…Unity is here to stay and while the move from the 7 and 10 inch screens of Netbooks has caused some unique challenges, I would have to say that with the other projected moves that Mark Shuttleworth and the developers of Ubuntu have planned that this move will assist my beloved OS to be able to hit more mainstream users than the now clunky interface of just 1 year ago.

My favorite feature of Unity is the fact that it has tackled the challenge of multi-touch in one interface.  No extra tweaks to make it ready to go head to head in the world of tablets in fact the much rumored Ubuntu based Tablet has been released and the Geeks have risen and put Ubuntu on the Samsung Galaxy Tab…a replacement of the default Android OS.

As we head into the 2nd half of 2011 I think that we will see a big push of Linux into North America.  The success of Android has more and more of my clients asking me “what do you have on Open Source” and the increase in questions from my colleagues would indicate that this is becoming a ground swell for all industries looking to squeeze out every penny of their budgets but also looking to break the Vendor Lock In that Microsoft has enjoyed for decades.

Move over Balmer…there is a new Kid in Town!

Cheers and have a Great Day,

Chris J Powell

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