I’ve become less and less enamored with all desktop interfaces lately. When Microsoft Windows updated the kludgey Windows 98 to XP, it was probably the last good move for the Windows desktop. The subsequent versions added work to the simplest tasks and the “security” was ill-conceived and usually got turned off or ignored. With Windows 7, Vista became a tad more useful, but still adds extra steps and complexity to the simplest tasks. It seems that they are trying to hide the OS from the user, especially the powerful parts.
Mac OSX is heading that way, as well, with OSX 10.7 and 10.8. More work to do the simplest task and hide all the powerful tools from the user, lest they actually get to leverage the power of the OS.
This is one of the real reasons that I was lured to the Linux desktop. Despite there being dozens of Window Managers and a few Desktop environments to choose from, you could actually tinker with it, if the default setup wasn’t what you wanted. I settled on the KDE desktop environment for several years, as it had easy power and everything was easy to find. Gnome was simple to use, as well, but it lacked the tools that KDE had.
When Ubuntu took Gnome to the next level and created the tools that were missing, it was the beginning of a good era. Regardless of the distribution I chose, I liked where Gnome had gotten to, thanks to the direction that development took.
And then, there came Gnome 3. Shades of Windows 8/Mountain Lion. There went my ease of use and easy access to the tools of every day use. In one version “evolution”, Gnome has become as difficult to use simply as Windows and Mac OSX had. Ubuntu took their desktop in a different direction with Unity and, still, I felt no joy in using their front end, either. It certainly isn’t designed for 4×3 monitors, like the old CRT I still use, with that button bar permanently on the left of the screen, stealing real estate from my browser.
Its not that these evolutions of the previous desktops wasn’t good looking. On the contrary, if they work, they are all stunning to look at. The thing is that my perfectly good PC has become a sluggish piece of crap, due to the increased system requirements that these bloated desktops require. They all want a 2GHz processor with at least 2 cores. They all want at least 2GB or RAM. Any less and they plug along at a snail’s pace.
Cinnamon, you say? Nope. Just as sluggish as Gnome3 and Unity. What about KDE4? Not really (until maybe now), as the new version was a complete rewrite, just like Gnome, and the features that used to be there haven’t been rewritten yet. MATE? Nope, for the same reasons as KDE. XFCE? Its lite, right? Nope. Just as bad as Gnome.
Where does that leave me? Well, if Android was on a desktop already, I might have installed it, as the GUI is easy to use and there are tools that leverage the power of your device, if you want to.But, can you port a touch screen interface to one that uses a keyboard and mouse? Good question. It didn’t work with Windows 8. Great try for a tablet, but on the desktop? More covers to hide your tools with, I see.
And, why don’t any OS’s play nice when I dual, triple, etc boot? They used to.