It's Not About the Distro

This summer, I'm changing our entire 250+ workstation infrastructure from Fedora to Edubuntu. Under the hood, our computers will be very, very different. Not a single one of my users, however, will notice.

Last year, I kept Fedora, but switched the desktop manager from IceWM to XFCE. There was mass chaos, and many of my users were so confused, they couldn't believe they were using the same computers.

For a non-techie person, a computer is only what you see when you log in. While diversity and options are well and good, it does make our job as "Technology Evangelists" more difficult. Think about the number of different window managers in common use. With Windows, you get (1) choice. With OSX, you get (1) choice. One of the wonderful things about Linux is the number of choices you get, but it is truly a double edged sword. How many drastically different desktops can you name off the top of your head? Things like (I'll miss a ton, I know):

  • KDE
  • Gnome
  • Enlightenment
  • IceWM
  • XFCE
  • WindowMaker

I have no intention of starting a Gnome/KDE/other war, but sometimes I wish all the desktop managers for Linux weren't so good! There is no obvious winner, and some are better than others in given situations. Again, that's a strength of Linux. It's just too darn good!

If world domination is truly the desire of the Linux community, our vast number of options will slow us down. I'm not suggesting we standardize, or have a Desktop Deathmatch (fun though that may be) -- but it's silly to pretend we don't struggle a bit because of our diversity.

Superiority is such a burden.

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

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