It's been a rough year for Linux on the desktop. More specifically, it's been a rough year for GNOME-based Linux on the desktop. But a glimmer of hope may have appeared thanks to a Mint-flavoured distribution of the open-source operating system. KDE, XFCE and other desktop interfaces soldiered on in 2012 in their stolid ways, …
Re: We don't mind bugs.
"Yes, I know you dislike Apple products in any guise. Thank you. If you could actually come with some sensible arguments instead of regurgitating the same old rubbish you could even contribute something to a decision process that favours your precious ("preccccioussss") platform."
Hmmm, Distinct whiff of Apple Fanboi, there?
Apple products are, as you say, great for kids and the less technically minded, but that is not for me. I like Linux because I can tinker. That is one of the main reasons long term Linux users like it.
I don't like the way Ubuntu is going with Gnome 3 and Unity. I stated that earlier. Yet you feel the need to "remind" me? It rather looks like you saw the words "walled garden", thought someone was insulting your fruit based God and spewed that diatribe as a result without bothering to read the article (which has nothing to do with Apple) or following the conversations.
Re: We don't mind bugs.
Read the post again. It starts with these words:
the user experience is crippled and enforced by design
.. which is exactly the one thing you cannot accuse OSX of.
Nope. I'm not a fanboi of any brand, I'm a fanboi of things that actually work and help me do my job. I pretty much lost sight of what usability was after using MS from MS DOS 3.1 upwards and Linux from when Slackware came on floppies - until I had to get a Mac for research. I still keep finding shortcuts to do things simpler and better. Rest assured, my *second* choice would still be Linux (well, Mint, not going near Ubuntu right now) but it would remain a poor mans version of the richness of the OSX desktop standards you find reflected in OSX applications. The worst UI I have in OSX software can be found in.. MS Office..
My last experience with Macs was 12 years ago, Mercury (now Cable & Wireless) had Macs with OS 9 and that was *horrific*, so it took some messing around in a shop with a Mac before I felt confident to trust my time to Apple again, and it was worth it. OS9 to OS X is a bit like TIKFAM to Mint :).
If you call facts diatribe it suggests you have the problem rather than me..
My feeling is that Canonical is, as the article says, desperately trying to find sources of revenue for Ubuntu. None of the attempts so far have been anything close to successful,. Someone at Canonical is driving the product direction according to market projections that, time after time, prove to be false. I don't know if that is down to a single individual, a few of them or is all the company at once believing in these promises.
Certainly, one of the problems is that long time Linux/Ubuntu users are confused about Canonical's goals. Looking at how they accept community feedback, it is certainly no longer "Linux for everyone".
It is sad to say this, but likely at some point Shuttleworth will give up. There's a limit on to how much money anyone is willing to throw to a project. And everyone will take that lesson as the final proof that there is no room for Linux on the desktop. A pity, because Ubuntu has made a lot of good things to build the idea that the desktop world is not split between two equally undesirable players (OSX and Windows), and has introduced a lot of people into the Linux "ecosystem"
And in my opinion, there is room for Linux on the desktop. Same as there was room for Linux on the smartphone, or on the server, or in the home router, or in the other multitude of places where it has already won. It is just that nobody has found the right product yet. Again my opinion, the biggest mistake so far is trying to sell the product in terms of what it has inside (Gnome, KDE, xGB of RAM, whatever), not in what the product does.
Re: Spot on
My feeling is that Canonical is, as the article says, desperately trying to find sources of revenue for Ubuntu.
The funny thing is that if they were to provide what lots of us want, they could probably make money by just charging for it. That's worked for other businesses in the past.
Re: Spot on
Double spot on. I've instaled Mint and Made a -small- donation to them. Would not mind doing the same with Ubuntu.
Re: Spot on
"And everyone will take that lesson as the final proof that there is no room for Linux on the desktop."
There is room, perhaps not the biggest room but there is, however Gnome for no good reason decided to throw Gnome2 away and here we are.
Fortunately the rest of the community has reacted the way it always does when under serious threat, forking and developing new solutions: Mate and Cinnamon.
Re: Spot on
Just installed U_12.04 on a home-brew Xeon system. Unity is ... unspeakable ... but the GNOME-3 download is well referenced and includes a **classical** motif very like perfectly functional GNOME-2; good, no change for me! I emailed Canonical saying just that and offered them $60 (that's what RedHat charged for a year of RH_6 support before they crapped out) for Shuttlesworths fine effort ... just send me a mail address.
I have not heard back from Canonical.
People agreeing with Stallman?
It must be serious!
That 'Lens' thing is a security risk and frankly I used Ubuntu as a convenient distro for years until this which is the last straw.
*Fedora tipped forward*
Re: People agreeing with Stallman?
I don't use Fedora for one reason - it's a bleeding edge distro by design.
it's good to try out where things are going but for an actual end-user desktop system the last thing you want is bleeding edge.
If you can't afford RHEL, then install Centos, or SL or one of the myriad forks.
2 years ago I was all for moving our $orkplace desktops to Ubuntu but the most recent iterations have left me with no choice but to agree to keep using RHEL/KDE - and yes we do pay RH for support. I'd happily pay support to Mint for a stable distro with decent response times (something sadly lacking from RH) if they can provide a UI which keeps my users happy,
Yes, I do spend £1k per machine, but the boxes are expected to work for a living (academic researchers doing memory-hungry number crunching(*)). Winboxes for office work cost less than £300 and are replaced when they die, not according to when the acocuntants say they're valueless.
(*) Up to a point - about 32Gb. There are a few boxes in the server room with 1Tb ram and several Tb of local scratch space for serious array fiddling. I've been pushing to use GPUs to boost raw CPU but the reality is that most of the deployed code wouldn't make use of it and to say the average physicist's coding skills are "somewhat lacking" is a bit like calling Lewis Hamilton a "driver of swift automobiles"
I have also fallen foul of the Unity desktop, I cannot stand it.
Things that used to be easy to do are now incredibly difficult for me. I guess I got used to the way Ubuntu used to work...
As a stop gap, I actually started using Ubuntu Server with XFCE installed (I know there are things like XBuntu etc, but Server just worked for me).
I have always insisted that the biggest stumbling block in recent years to a more widespread adoption of Linux as an OS for most home users was the GUI. Unity and GNOME 3 do not make it any easier for Windows users to make the switch.
Prior to this, I thought the installation procedure was the biggest ball ache (going back a few years), that got fixed. I suppose we now have to wait for a new distro to become the de jour choice. In the meantime, I am happy to use Mint..
Finally did the much needed upgrade from F13 to F17 thinking how bad can it be? I've done well holding out.
I started on KDE, when they borked that (3.5?), I went to XFCE, then Gnome 2, since Gnome 3, I'm back on XFCE - I haven't tried KDE again yet.
With Gnome 3, this is what got me the most, because I was willing to give it a go, the desktop previews in that weird overlay taskbar replacement only show what's on the primary monitor - with no taskbar, this makes knowing what is open on each desktop a chore of switching through them.
That weird overlay (don't actually know what it's proper name is) will only ever show on the primary monitor with no way to move it. Meaning my small left 17" monitor where I want to launch applications from has to be my primary monitor instead of my nice fat 24" right hand monitor.
There are so many little quirks like this it makes using it a nasty and confusing experience which prevents me getting on with what I need to. I can see where they want to go with this UI, but it: a. needs a taskbar and b. needs all of the quirks/missing features ironing out before it's used as widespread as it is being used.
I wouldn't bother trying KDE again (said as someone who used it from before 1.0 until the Semantic Desktop garbage ruined everything)
E17 might be worth a try though; other than the horrible binary format configuration files I find it excellent and it's also finally just been oficially released so should be slightly easier to install. Depends on how much of a "desktop environment" you need as opposed to just a window manager, but IWFM and very efficiently too in every sense of the word. Have to admit I haven't tried it with multiple real displays never mind mis-matched ones, but I'd be interested to know how it turned out...
XFCE is a very decent desktop environment and I have deployed it elsewhere on quite a lot of desktops but not it's quite what I want on my own machine.
I'm a fedora user
And still using 14.(the last Gnome 2 edition)
Because of that Gnome 3 'desktop'
Sure its shiny , bright and new... but the only way to upgrade the UI experience is by incremental upgrades, not throwing the UI under a bus and starting again.
I just want a system that A. works, B does'nt get in the way of my work.
Re: Wants A and B
Might I recommend Windows 8?
Re: Wants A and B
<<<Might I recommend Windows 8?>>>
Might as well suggest bamboo driven up under the fingernails.
Re: Wants A and B
"Might I recommend Windows 8?"
This may have been intentional sarcasm, but for Windows users, going to Windows 8 is not totally unlike the switch from Gnome 2 to 3. The interface-formerly-known-as-Metro is anathema to power users who want to heavily multitask, and some of the first things such power users do is disable as much of it as possible, which is mostly achieved with 3rd party software, as actual end-user-facing options to disable it do not exist. And the result is still less productive to a multitasking power-user, IMO, than prior versions of the OS.
Re: Wants A and B
Windows 8 is following the same philosphy of Gnome 3 and Unity. Windows 8 GUI is removing advanced desktop features and trying to be more "user friendly" while failing spectacularly at that. It's something that began after XP - when WinHelp was removed for many different systems all slower and less practical than WinHelp, when the little and useful "?" icon in dialogs and tooltip help were removed to give you "online help" usually written for lusers and moslty out of context... or scattering desktop properties among a plethora of different windows, one for change resolution, one for change colors, one for change iconcs, etc. etc.
One of the problems are smartphones and tablets. Their success among lusers made MS, Canonical and others to believe the whole desktop PC experiences has to be "dumbsized" to the level of those users, forgetting that many power users need a PC to make actual work done on that, not only to buy apps or other stuff from onlune stores..
Re: Wants A and B
"as actual end-user-facing options to disable it do not exist"
Not quite true - the windowed mode is still there, and existing Windows programs will continue to use it, without needing any software to modify it. So it's more a case of "continue to use the windowed apps you used before, rather than the 'metro' ones".
(The 3rd party software to modify the UI is more about the new start menu, but that's a separate issue. I'd rather work in a multitasking windowed environment, but the new start menu still works fine for that - but some people don't like it for other reasons. MS have changed the start menu in almost every version of Windows, as usual, some people like it, some people don't.)
Re: Wants A and B
I agree it's annoying when things are dumbed down, but the advanced desktop features aren't removed in Windows 8. It's more that it's set up to be easier for everyday users, which makes sense - the advanced users are the ones who (ought to) know how to get to the advanced features.
The problem in Unity however is that there are things modified in an annoying manner even in the windowed UI. I can't stand the new scrollbars, for example.
Actually I'd say that XP was a more user-friendly dumbed-down version of 2000, and I prefer 7 to XP. (E.g., the fastest way to launch programs or find something in Windows 7 and 8 is just to it the Windows key, and type the name - much faster than in 2000 or XP.)
Re: Coat icon
Bloody hell, here I was thinking my use of "Get's Coat" was verging on shouty re:intentional sarcasm. Almost went with "Love It/Thumbs Up", but that REALLY would have gone over the downvoters' heads. Guess I'll have to settle for "Joke Alert" or "Troll" next time?
Re: Wants A and B
Frankly, I can't stand Win8 pastel flat UI where it's not always clear what is a clickable control and what is not, what is an edit field and what is not, nor I can't stand the all-caps ribbon labels. The whole interface looks to be designed by a five-years old after watching a Teletubbies episode. Too many visual clues are gone for the sake of a children book-like design. It's the same basic principle followed by GNOME, Unity and now Windows 8: they assume the user is an idiot and thereby they have to offer an UI designed for idiots - and in their minds that should increase revenues somehow. The truth is most users are more power user than they think, and delivering dumbside UIs won't help them to sell more. Especially the Linux world can shift more easily to different distros/desktop, but MS too should have learned from the Vista failure that actual operating systems are powerful enough that skipping an upgrade doesn't create any issue to most users. Especially if Surface and WinPhone do not go anywhere - and the beginning is not good, they will find they had crippled their main product for no gain.
Re:Bamboo under the fingernails...
Wouldn't that interfere with my typing?
Re: I'm a fedora user
> And still using 14.(the last Gnome 2 edition)
I've still got a few F14 boxes, but my current favourites are F16 installations with the BlueBubble stuff ported to them.
And they're good.
I briefly tried F17 with the various MATE-style stuff, but it was all a bit buggy for my taste.
 Well, *almost* ported. I've still not finished the job because what I've got is so close I've just not got round to it. So I can't yet put anything on the desktop, but the rest of it looks pretty awesome...
Xubuntu works fine for me.
Have an up vote with your lovely distro.
And another from me. I'm not interested in spending my time trying to hold together a Debian installation, Mint with Cinnamon is too buggy and KDE has always been too bloated a desktop for my liking. Xubuntu has a stable, 'everything just works' Ubuntu base with a nicely customised and lightweight XFCE desktop. I know I probably sound like a fanboy but as an 'ordinary user' this is what I wanted from Linux (and saw the makings of in Ubuntu 9/10) when I first fully migrated from Windows about 4 years ago.
I'm probably gonna jump that way, too. Need to get my Windows affairs in order first so I don't lose anything.
And another upvote from me...
Have used Debian since about 2000. Normally had Debian on workstation as well as servers.
Bought a Dell laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed because I thought at least Debian should install OK - and eight years later I was still using Ubuntu.
Then came Unity. Slow, buggy and not Gnome 2.
I know respected colleagues who are very happy with Unity - so it's obviously not all bad. Certainly one has installed an icon which copies the Menu button and also installed a Mac like dock. But for me - I installed Xubuntu which has been great.
The question is - we're looking at wiping old trashed Windows machines and putting on a Linux distro to enable ordinary users to be able to carry out the basics - mainly web browsing. What distro should we install.
I was originally thinking of Xubuntu - but maybe mint with Cinnamon would be better - or maybe Ubuntu with a slightly tweaked Unity?
Debian with XFCE as the default desktop.
Re: And another upvote from me...
Power management works in Linux Mint "Maya" - generalising from my Thinkpad X61s and the Asus ION box.
It used to work on the Lenovo - using the last version of Debian - then it got broken. I had to fiddle and tweak a lot to get wireless to work because Debian changed that too. And this "GUUID"thingy for devices?? Eewgh!!
That's why I settled with Mint (even though it is infected with Ubuntu ;)
Agreed. It also has very good support for multiple monitors.
It's the only way to go.
I used Ubuntu for years, prior to that, Slackware.
But what Ubuntu did was turn me onto Debian, although I resisted the urge until... Unity.
I've tried to like unity, in fact, I installed 12.10 on a VM a few days back - an install, that for god knows what reason, took 2 hours to complete. I wrestled with the desktop - I want a shortcut to software I didn't install via the 'super slow' software center and was amazed to find there's no easy way to do this most common and simple of desktop tasks.
The launcher is ok to a point - I don't mind it too much and the spotlight search is reasonably neat, but combining the two together seems an exercise in frustration for my 18 years of using a Desktop OS.
I'm used to doing what *I* want to do - if I want to create shortcuts on the desktop to *anything* I want, let me do it. Don't obstruct my 18 years of experience because *you* think it's better.
But there's choice, always choice - this is good.
I tried Mint, but it annoyed me by screwing up my Chrome google search - why do this kind of shit?
Yeah, so google tracks my searches - who cares. It's default search results screen layout is a damn side better than what Mint serves up - it also screwed with my sync, so every damn install of Chrome I had, ended up with the Mint logo splattered all over my search results. Sure, very easy fix, but WHY dammit, WHY!
This one simple irritant made me dismiss Mint.
So, back to Debian. What a relief. VM install in 15 minutes and so much faster than the bloated Ubuntu 12.10.
The reality is, if your an intermediate to power Linux user, you don't need to go with an 'all singing, all dancing' distribution - just do a base install then add what *you* want, not what someone else reckons is better for you.
Ubuntu, you've done Linux a grave disservice, going from a promising, forward thinking distribution on the back of Debian to a distribution that's completely lost it's way.
I cant understand why we get so analytical about unity. IT IS JUST PLAIN SHIT. Yes, if you boot into a modern windows manager and it is not obvious how to do the most simple task like launch an application it should not be treated otherwise. we just spend too much time explaining it.
Booted into it from a CD on a server to get some hardware info. Needed to look at some files such as cpuinfo and others under /proc and to save a few screen shot and then email them to myself.
After 20 minutes of wrestling with how to start a terminal and Firefox I gave up and have been dismayed at the amount of discussion we have been having about it since. That 20 minutes and the time it took to type this message is more time than it is worth. I wish we could all treat most of the UI "advances" we have seen over the past year or so in the same way.
This proves what I have been saying for years..
Regardless of what you do in technology, the moment you forget that what you do has to work in the hands of ordinary users you're on a downwards slope.
This is also valid in security.
Maybe your decision for 2013: listen to the end user? I know it's hard work with some, but trust me on this, it's worth looking at what you do from their perspective.
Re: This proves what I have been saying for years..
The trouble is that there is more than one kind of end user, and Linux has the misfortune to be courting TWO kinds who happen to have competing needs.
Linux's strength is in the power user: the user who knows how to get around a machine so is happy with having tools that let them get into the necessary bits and bobs. And if something happens to break, they also know where to go from there to get things fixed. At worst, they know how to install OS's on their own. To put it in a nutshell, the power user's slogan is, "Gimme the keys!"
And then you've got where everyone is trying to reach: the everyday user. The user who may not be too familiar with computers, who see them more as souped-up TVs than a powerful device. Their attitude is "spare me the details, get me to my stuff". The prevailing philosophy for the everyday user is, "Keep it Simple, Stupid!"
And that can easily fly in the face of the power user. What lights up a power user confuses an everyday user, and in converse, what satisfies an everyday user feels like a strait jacket to the power user. So when you have an environment where you have to court BOTH types of users...AT ONCE, there's going to be some fireworks.
Re: This proves what I have been saying for years..
""Keep it Simple, Stupid!""
There's simple and then there's crippled. For my money Unity, Gnome Shell and TIFKAM are crippled, not simple, hence all the anguish shown when people try to get something done that formerly took one mouse click and which now either is impossible or takes an age to do.
I do note that the Nautilus devs. have taken this trend even further and have been shunned by those Debian based distros. that use it. Including IIRC Ubuntu. There's irony for you!
Re: This proves what I have been saying for years..
> There's simple and then there's crippled.
True, but when it comes to tablets, you probably want an interface designed for crippled people when your legs are tied together by the lack of a keyboard. "Take me to stuff" is pretty much what a tablet is for.
The good thing is, another interface shell is just a few clicks (with keyboard or mouse) away. Pity the poor people lumped with windows 8.
What they should have done is spin a tablet distro and then offer it to the desktop world.
You can put Unity on my desktop when you pry my keyboard from my cold dead hands.
This penguin now prefers a Mint.
"I just want a system that A. works, B doesn't get in the way of my work."
That's why I use Gnome Shell. It does all of that for me. It's fast, clean and efficient for the way I use my computer. I accept it may not be for other people but I don't get why that causes so much hate, I really don't. It's fine. It's just a UI. I use loads of different UIs every day. They all have their issues, they all have their plus points. At least it's not TIFKAM (which is still fine, although a bit less fine). Not one of the non-techie people I've introduced to Gnome Shell have moaned about it, rather they're all commented on how nice and easy it is to use.
This whole "our way or the highway" is such nonsense. Of course that's what happens, someone makes a decision and things happen. You want something different? Fork away. Nobody's stopping you. Just like nobody is stopping you going to the Gnome or Ubuntu developer conferences, joining in the discussions on the mailing lists, proposing other solutions and so on. Eg: Gnome shell doesn't have a great StickyKeys notification system, so I wrote a specification for one, did some graphical mockups, posted a bug report, got a developer interested and it's happening. It's happening pretty much exactly how I wanted it to as well, which is nice. It's happening quite slowly, but then that's consistent with how much I'm paying for it. Which is nothing at all.
tl;dr - Get involved in the process, or stop whining about how you're not part of that process.
"tl;dr - Get involved in the process, or stop whining about how you're not part of that process."
...or hook your wagon up to a cart that *is* travelling in the direction you want to go, which is what most of the posters here seem to have done. As a courtesy, they've also mentioned their reasons for switching.
It sounds like whining because most internet feedback sounds like whining. (I don't know why that is, but it certainly seems to be the case.) If you are relying on internet posts for your feedback then you just need to develop a thick skin. Gnome and Canonical both have thick skins. Neither seems to be particularly wounded even by the most ferocious feedback. They'll survive and so will those users who have left for other distros.
There's certainly an aspect of that, and that's fine. Sure, if X doesn't do what you want, just go with Y - no complaints here. Give reasons if you wish. I'm not saying there aren't people doing that, that's being going on since as long as I've been using linux and probably before too. That's fine - it's how forks happen, how new projects get going and how new (or old, like MATE) projects get started. People moving around with their interests and requirements is part of OSS.
But there's a lot of entitled-sounding whinging too, which is new. This article - much more so than the comments - sounded very whiny, like somehow Canonical/Gnome owed the author what they wanted, not what Gnome/Canonical had decided to do. "It's our way or the highway" isn't strictly true, that Gnome does what it wants regardless of it's users isn't true either - just because someone has decided to not be an active part of the community doesn't mean a project is ignoring the community.
Also it wasn't very well researched, but then the Reg has never let mere facts get in the way of a good nerd-rage-gasm. I use Shell and I alt-tab, I minimise windows (not often, I switch desktops rather than minimise - it's faster and easier), I change GTK and Shell themes and more. I won't get into the difference between Gnome 3 and Gnome Shell as for some reason that not-so-subtle distinction seems beyond almost every tech journalist out there.
many choices of desktop manager
I think this currently means Linux on the desktop is likely to appeal to those like myself who like having such choices, but many users don't, which is also likely to continue excluding Linux from the (declining) mass desktop market. Unless someone with a large share of the hardware market, access to distribution channels, willingness to annoy Microsoft and Apple and who wants to avoid software purchase cost at the expense of greater software support cost decides to sell competitively performing and priced PCs preinstalled. A Google or Canonical tie up with Amazon maybe, or some deal involving all 3 ?
Interestingly that as the desktop declines, to be replaced in many cases by tablets and smart TVs, Linux is doing very well in non desktop computers.
The ironic thing is that Ubuntu made the same mistake as Windows 8. Try to please two audiences with one desktop shell.
Given the ease with which you can change the desktop shell on linux per login it seems rather pointless. It's not like Windows where you have to go and change a registry setting, and then pray you haven't broken your shell and locked yourself out of your own account.
All in all it hasn't been a bad year for Linux despite the fuckups from Ubuntu and Gnome. The gaming industry (at least the indy/PC part of it) seems to be pay a lot more attention to it, and the lack of attention has long been one of Linux's biggests failings when it comes to gaining new users.
On the contrary, Windows 8 has gone the route of offering *two* UIs - for better or worse - one optimised for tablets or non-experienced users, and one for power users or those doing say office work, or applications that aren't available in the new UI yet. It's true that MS's vision appears to make everything use the new UI ultimately - though possibly by then, it'll be more powerful anyway. The annoying thing about Unity was that the changes affected the only UI you had to work with.
"then pray you haven't broken your shell and locked yourself out of your own account."
I'm not sure Linux is immune to these problems either, when things mess up.
"Ubuntu's Jono Bacon called Stallman's tongue-lashing "childish""
I've been following Jono Bacon since he was a columnist in Linux Format. Generally he seems to be on the right track and I agree with a lot of what he says.
However, I see that his job title is "Canonical Community Manager". As Ubuntu no longer seem to have a "community" but just "users" I wonder how he fills his days.
Nobody likes Gnome Shell, that is the one thing people can agree on. Unity was making good progress, however, until it shot itself in the foot with the Amazon spyware. Really spat in the face of the users that gave it a go despite a pretty rough start. Like many other users, I won't be upgrading to 12.10 which I'm pretty sad about. The way forward appears to be KDE + Cairo Dock. No rush though, I am happy for now with 11.10.
Just no. Unity was at NO TIME "making good progress". Its head was up its ass from the day it was conceived.
I would urge you to try an Xfce live CD or USB stick. Then please report anything you really need your DE to do which it DOESN'T do. I couldn't come up with anything when I did that. For now I'm in hog heaven with Gnome2 on CentOS6, but when that stops being updated I sure as hell won't be on Gnome3+CentOS7. Almost Xfce, either on CentOS7 or on something else.
Is it wind up the penguins time?
"This year's GNOME is no place for someone who just wants to get some work done."
Seems OK for my reasonably simple needs. Mind you, so does Unity, XFCE, IceWM (1995 again!) &c. I don't spend that much time in the desktop once I get going. My mode-switching is limited as I write and use statistical software mainly, along with Web 'research' like the missus thinks I'm doing now.
Now, my standard advice: GNU/Linux is an operating system. A distribution of GNU/Linux is a convenient collection of software, and a coherent system for adding and updating software, linked to repositories that exist online. Some distributions are aimed at home users, some at server use. Some distributions emphasise stability and change slowly, others track the current state of applications more closely, at the cost of some integration issues. Most distributions come with a set of default packages that provide a useable system on installation, but support a huge array of choice of almost every aspect of the system. We Penguins seem to spend a lot of time arguing about defaults. We seem to like doing that, and you can't do that if you use Windows* or MacOS X/iOS
Stable, Gnome 2 based distributions with long term support: RHEL6 clones such as CentOS, Scientific Linux, Springfield Linux (aka PUIAS Linux). CentOS now has some sponsorship and paid project leadership. Scientific Linux and Springfield Linux are University sponsored projects designed for local use but made available to all. There is paid maintenance of packages. The desktops provided by these RHEL clones tend to be conservative, functional, sort of what your average BOFH would think end users could be trusted with. They work. There are live images available. There are full updates until 2017, so you can have your Gnome 2.x desktops for 4 more years. I have CentOS on a refurbished thinkpad x200s and it does fine, and I'm leaving it there until the laptop dies. If you want Gnome 2.x on your GNU/Linux just install one of those. STOP moaning about Ubuntu and Shuttleworth. Let them try mad things.
Stable 'modern' distribution with long term support (until 2017.04): Gnome 3/GS/Unity based: Ubuntu 12.04. I actually rather like the 12.04 version of Unity. I'd recommend Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with gnome-fallback installed for people who want to start GNU/Linux to get more use out of XP/SP3 vintage hardware. We shall see what happens with Unity. Expect some further 'pivoting' when the hardware manufacturers don't beat down the doors of Canonical's HQ. I would love to be wrong on that one.
Stable medium term 'modern': , Debian Wheezy when it becomes stable, OpenSuse, various remixes of Ubuntu 12.04 including Mint.
Bleeding edge/minority: Rolling distributions, designed to be customised by people who know about computers and like to spend time customising individual machines. Current Ubuntu, Arch, Slackware Archslack &c, Crunchbang/Antix (a favourate of mine for the Spartist forum). ElementaryOS for a new take on GS. Bodhi Linux for low end hardware and people who miss Aero.
Bonkers: Dynebolic linux, a live distribution with a lot of music software preconfigured. When I retire and no longer have to do stuff, I'm going to make some large boxes, put 15 inch paper cones in them (4 each side), string up some KT88s in class A push-pull and make a lot of noise with dynebolic on a laptop and a decent audio interface. Dynebolic is sponsored by FSF. I think RHS is hipper than we give him credit for.
Coat icon: I'm off out before I get downvoted to smithereens. Its choices all the way down.
Fedora 14, then CentOS 6
After trying out Gnome 3 in both Fedora and Ubuntu, I came to the conclusion that their default interfaces were just plain awful compared to Gnome 2 equivalents. Hence, I stuck with Fedora 14 for quite a while and then jumped to the "obvious" long-term haven for Gnome 2 users - one sadly not mentioned in the article or comments - namely CentOS 6.
For those not in the know, CentOS is a free clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and, like its RHEL parent, has 10 years of free updates! Yep, that means GNOME 2 (and the OS itself) will be supported until an astonishing 30th Nov 2020, which for unheard of for any free OS.
CentOS 6.3 gives you a mature Gnome 2.28 experience, Grub 1 (far easier to use then Grub 2, IMHO), good old System 5 init scripts (which are being phased out in Fedora) and a rock solid kernel that has had a lot of Red Hat testing. As a "serious" free desktop, it's easily the best out there.
Yes, I've installed Firefox beta (that can be updated within the browser's About box) and also occasionally download an update to LibreOffice (I hate their packaging - over 50 RPMs and you often have to uninstall the old version first manually because of stupid package naming!), but there's very little maintenance otherwise (a yum update from time to time, but even that can be automated). It is literally a desktop that "just works".
Re: Fedora 14, then CentOS 6
I also am enjoying CentOS6+Gnome2. But when CentOS7 comes out sometime in 2013 or early 2014 it will be based on Fedora 18 and you-know-what. I sure as hell won't ever be on CentOS7+Gnome3.
It is sad that, while CentOS packages KDE as an alternative to Gnome, it doesn't do the same with Xfce. You have to enable the epel repo to get Xfce. Fingers crossed they will see the light and package Xfce as an alternative to you-know-what with CentOS7.
(Yes, I realize, all these decisions are actually made "upstream" - in RHEL)
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