Prominent Linux desktop developer: No one wants a new desktop

We don't need a new desktop, Linux or otherwise. We need a new way of thinking about the desktop.

Havoc Pennington has long been one of the pioneers of the Linux desktop movement, and a primary GNOME developer. Once at Red Hat, now at Litl (cool name, by the way), Havoc should be the poster boy for Linux desktop advocacy.

Nope.

In a recent blog post, Havoc rubbished the idea of anyone needing a new (traditional) desktop:

GNOME 2.0 and KDE 4 are bad models for change. They rewrote and broke the code, but from a user-goals perspective, they are the same thing as before. We shouldn't feel bad; Windows Vista made the same mistake. Nobody cares about Vista, because XP allows users to accomplish all the same goals. Even if Vista didn't have a bunch of regressions, nobody would really care about it.

The fact is that people already have a desktop. They don't want a new desktop from GNOME, from Apple, or from Microsoft. Making another desktop does not add anything to the world. On average, people who have GNOME want to keep it, and the same for the other desktops.

I agree. I've long argued that what is needed is not Yet Another Desktop, but rather a novel conception of what "desktop" means. Microsoft won the desktop war. Time to move on to the next battle. It's not about Vista or GNOME. It's about what "office productivity" means and where I do it.

Hint: Not in Office.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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