Practical Technology

for practical people.

The old vs. the new Linux desktop

You want to know the funniest thing is about looking back at Corel Linux 1.0, which I used when it was released in 1999, and a typical modern desktop Linux — say, Ubuntu 9.10? How much hasn’t changed.

It’s sort of like comparing the then-current Windows 98 Second Edition and today’s Windows 7: You wouldn’t doubt for a moment that the newer version is much more polished than the earlier edition, but you’d be able to get around in both operating systems and get work done.

What’s far more striking than the differences between, say, Corel’s early and crude KDE interface and Ubuntu’s slick GNOME 2.28 front end is the abundance of finished applications. For example, for practical purposes your only choice back in 1999 for Linux Web browsers was Netscape or a terminal-based browser like Lynx. Today you have your pick of Firefox, Chrome, Opera … heck, thanks to Wine you can even run Internet Explorer on Linux if you really had to.

No, major software vendors like Adobe haven’t brought over flag-ship programs like Photoshop to Linux, but they have brought over their applications that are used almost daily by most users such as Adobe Flash.

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