OSCON audio: Linux in Search of the Desktop

ITConversations has posted a second talk from OSCON 2005, Asa Dotzler’s “Linux: In Search of the Desktop”. The talk grew out of a controversial blog posting Asa made, which was then slashdotted.

I agree with most of what he says. I shouldn’t be surprised at the number of people who disagreed with his basic assumption – that Linux has a place in the mainstream desktop computing world – but I am. This argument (“Linux should not try to accommodate regular people”) is, well, stupid. There will always be obscure distributions for people who enjoy being obscure. Or they can move to NetBSD or QNX or unpack their Amiga. I sympathize with the desire – I use Postfix instead of Sendmail, Python instead of Perl, Debian instead of Red Hat, MacOS instead of Windows, Camino instead of Firefox. But if the mainstream OS is Windows, and Windows sucks, then something else needs to move into that space – and devotion to being “alternative” means one is forever marginal by definition.

I disagree with the suggestion that mimicking Windows in order to create comfort is a great idea. (Asa hedges on this at various times, but the inclination is clear.) I think some of the most hopeful things about the open desktop are not cribs (however those might be justified), but have been really thought through from basic principles. GNOME is doing a lot of things right in this regard, and I think it’s no accident that the darling distro of the day, Ubuntu, uses GNOME.

Anyway, it’s definitely worth a listen if you’re interested in the future of the desktop.