Richard Bucker

Would the next generation desktop please stand up!

Posted at — Apr 30, 2012

When we used DOS we wanted more and we received TopView.When we used DesqView and we wanted more we received Windows.When we used Windows and we wanted more we received OS/2.When we used OS/2 and we wanted more we received Windows.When we used Windows and we wanted more we received Mac OS9, others got Next, others got XWindows and a few others.Now we are in 2012 and we use Windows 8, OS/X Mountain Lion and we still want more.I see the current situation in 2 parts. (a) XWindows has not seen any real improvement since it was first released. Sure there are several window managers but they are all built on top of X11 and we still have the same kludgy interface. (1) multiple screens is painful (2) cut and paste is painful (3) programming APIs are worse still (4) it has not seen a true refresh in many years.And in the second part (b) while Microsoft has been keeping the status quo and incrementally added Aero and Metro as part of their recent releases… Apple rewrote the GUI when it deployed OS/X but has not done anything interesting since then. It seems that they have ignored the GUI in order to focus on the core. I’m sure they have reasons same as Microsoft but given hardware technology you’d expect more from the leaders.But going back to (a). X does not really have the advantage of being connected to hardware vendors the way that Microsoft and Apple are. But they have freedom to do anything so why not fix it. Canonical and RedHat have the deep pockets to improve the situation but they would rather shuffle the deck chairs. (Have you tried the setting panel on Ubuntu 12.04? It’s terrible.)Windows 3.1 called and said it wanted it’s BitBlt back!Apple took a lot of heat when it departed from X-11 in order to build it’s desktop. Now, in hindsight, it was a stroke of genius. Clearly the X-11 team is mired in the past, their conferences, meetings, meritocracy, politics and a complete lack of understanding. It’s time for a new and modern desktop for Linux. And if you need X-11, take a hind from team Apple and … “there’s an app for that”.