A Linux Desktop Battle Brewing?

O.K. I’m on record as saying I hate Linux because it looks ugly. Windows has much cleaner fonts and UI responsiveness (unless you’re doing a lot of disk access in which case you get tons of hesitation, but I digress). That being said, the development tools in Linux are way better, as is traditional with the *nixes of the past. Heck, any operating system that lets me mount a file as a pseudo file system can’t be beat.

So, as the story goes, my laptop is starting to get flaky. It overheats when plugged into my port replicator and shuts down at random times. And I don’t feel like going without it for a few days to get fixed, at least not right now. So I’m just using it without the replicator, meaning I have my LCD screen and keyboard freed up. So with all the hype surrounding Ubuntu 7.10, I upgraded my little Linux box and plugged the LCD into it. I’m now using it as my main development environment leaving my laptop for e-mail and internet radio and stuff.

One thing I noticed right away is that my Linux box has a video card that supports OpenGL (vmware does not). That allowed me to enable the cool compiz desktop enhancements. Now my windows jump onto the screen and scamper off when they’re done. When I move them, they flap in the wind (which is pretty annoying after a while). I managed to get the fonts to the point where I don’t mind them, but they’re still miles away from Windows. But you know, it’s not that bad an environment.

Now I see that Fedora 8 has been released with a whack of new desktop features. Of course, given that both distros are taking software from the same base, it’s not too surprising that Fedora 8 looks just as good. Ubuntu is apparently still better for laptops, especially when plugging and unplugging external displays all the time (which actually worked when I ran vmware on my laptop in full screen mode). I saw a note in the Fedora 9 plan about trying to be as good or better than Ubuntu at that.

So I have to eat my words a bit now on Linux desktop. It’s starting to look pretty good and probably time for me to start taking seriously, especially when Eclipse and the CDT are becoming a favorite IDE for Linux. And with the little competition between Fedora and Ubuntu, the user experience should only get better too.