where have all the desktops gone ?

The title of this post inspired by Paula Cole's song title, but not because of the song itself…

In the past several years, the Unix (and mostly Linux) Desktop field started to have a lot of big changes (The ice age is over ?). The changes are so massive, that people started to immigrate from one environment to another, while companies such as MS do a lot of copy paste to specific features that invented for the Unix desktop (and then they say that Unix desktop is not very user friendly :)).

Most people does not know how to handle changes. They like the icon in the same place, and even if you move it for them only by 2 pixels to the right, it's like a new environment for them, and they do not know what to do. However the desktop changes in Unix are much bigger then moving by 2 pixels away.

Amazingly, I found myself taking the opposite direction of most Linux users today (now you understand the name of my blog ? ;)). At the year of 2,000 when I first owned my own Linux Installation -> Mandrake 7 (prior to that I used Unix's such as Solaris and IAX at work places), I could not find a good desktop environment to work with. I tried KDE 2, Gnome 1 and XFCE 3, and they sucked big time for me. Then KDE 3 came out, and later on, also Gnome 2, and then XFCE 4, and the only environment I found good enough for me was XFCE 4 (I used to work a lot with CDE on Unix), and also found out about WindowMaker (The NeXT like WM), and things was finally good for me.

Then after several years, KDE 4 came out, and I found it to be an amazing desktop environment. But it kept crashing on me (what can you expect from a c++ based system :P). But when it stopped crashing every two mouse movements (like a Microsoft product ;)), it was very clear to me that it is the best desktop environment in the world today.

KDE 4 was back then, the first true productive environment for me. While XFCE 4 was (and still is) fun, and simple enough to not disturb my work, I found out that KDE 4 is actually helping me to work, rather then just stay away and let me work.

And then Gnome 3 came out, and again I found a good system that helps me to work like with XFCE 4, but unlike KDE 4.

Now I find myself to really like two good desktop environment, and waiting for e17 to finally be useful for me without crashing, and enough support for my requirements (such as Bi-Directional and Hebrew support).

But I keep on reading and listening for people crying and wining a lot of how the new desktop environments sucks because they do not act and look like what MS and Apple decided in the 20's century when Mac OS and Windows 95 came out.

KDE 4 and Gnome 3 are far from being perfect, but I expect to have a system that helps me configure itself to be useful for me, rather then to find some developers deciding for me what is good and what is not, and freeze the look and feel for me as they think that is good for work.

That's why both KDE 4 and Gnome 3 are so good imho. They are more flexible then what you think, but the only problem is that you are not that flexible in your mind to understand how to use them properly …

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