Practical Technology

for practical people.

Are there too many desktop Linuxes?


I like choice. I like being able to pick just the right operating system for the right job. But, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see an ordinary user. I see someone who regularly uses no less 7 different Linux distributions; 3 versions of Windows, and Mac OS X Tiger and Leopard, and I’m not even going to mention the server operating systems. Most people want to use 1 (one) operating system and that’s more than enough for them. And, that may be one of the reasons why desktop Linux has had fits gaining market share.

In a recent feature, Neil McAllister asks whether desktop Linux is too fragmented to succeed. He comments, “Unlike Windows or Mac OS X, each of which is the product of a single vendor, Linux comes in many different distributions that target the desktop, and each has its own look and feel. Some are based on the Gnome desktop environment, while others use KDE, and still others let the user choose between both.”

Again, for people who love choice, that’s great. But, how many people are there really who can tell you the differences between something as ‘obvious’ as KDE 4.2x and GNOME 2.26 desktop interfaces. Perhaps a million in the whole world. That’s not many compared to the hundreds of millions who use Windows on a daily basis.

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