An Official Desktop Standard for GNU/Linux?

by M. David Peterson - Linux experts query uber-desktop

Linux vendors are set to back a new desktop standard, but observers question whether it can really end the problems caused by the diversity of Gnome and KDE.

More than a dozen technology companies, including IBM, Red Hat and Novell will support a desktop Linux standard, included in the newest version of the long standing server specification, Linux Standard Base, and intended to help developers write applications for both the main Linux desktops.

This could make things interesting, although much like the Mac, winning over users to an official GNU/Linux desktop has a lot more to do with support for desktop applications than it does anything else. Still, this is REALLY cool to this effort taking place... It's needed and I don't necessarily believe that the GNU/Linux communities as a whole are all that concerned with winning over the hearts of Windows users, and instead with providing a choice.

Good for them! By definition we need choices to be enabled to choose... keeps the "competition" competing, and results in better products because of it.

Something to keep an eye on for sure!


2006-04-21 06:27:56
I was under the impression that the desktop projects are promoting interoperability of their own accord...see . I'm more inclined to believe that unofficial, collaborative, bottom-up "standards" will have more real-world impact in the free software bazaar than official, committee-written, top-down Standards. On the other hand, if the companies, who pay the developers who do most of the work, decide to get behind a standard, then it could work regardless. Yet if the desktops put out by all the companies work the same, then there's no competitive advantage there...

I agree that many people are not concerned with increasing the number of Windows converts. But if everyone focuses on making the best computing experience for both the geeky and ungeeky (who use computers as a means and not an end), then the converts should happen since in their view the price is right (free).

M. David Peterson
2006-04-21 08:52:47
Hi Reedo,

I agree... However it seems that the unofficial, collaborative, bottom-up standards have had enough of an impact that some pretty significant folks, many of which employ quite a few folks who work on these projects, are now willing to put a good deal of investment into taking things to the next level.

That said, it seems to me that the same group of "unofficial" desktop's will continue to feed the "official" desktop using the same bottom-up, collaborative mechanism's they do now. For the geeks (like you and I :) we will more than likely use the unofficial releases that we continue to hack on here and there to give them the look, feel, and function we both want and demand. My guess is that just as it is now, these hacks will eventually turn into projects, which in turn will either gain community acceptance and get pushed up the stack, or will remain a niche tool for the hacking elite that developed it.

re: the right price: I get the itching suspicion that it won't be all that long from now that the current model of licensing Windows has a free, ad-based release added to the mix. If this were to take place, then with cost no longer a part of the GNU/Linux Desktop advantage, it seems things will really begin to heat up in this space (in a good way) and the result will be a better overall experience for everyone involved.

Of course, all of this is simple speculation... I guess its really a wait-and-see kind of thing.

Thanks for taking the time to comment!