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Re: Abandon "Default Desktop"

On Monday 04 May 2009 11:50:47 pm Callum Lerwick wrote:
> On Mon, 2009-05-04 at 23:15 -0400, Trever Fischer wrote:
> > I'm confused. Is this thread about bashing other desktop design
> > philosophies now? I thought this was all originally a thread to introduce
> > a way to put the major desktop environments on even footing.
> My point is putting GNOME and KDE on "even footing" is not advantageous
> to our overall ease of use. Yes, I'm disagreeing with the OP.
> > I think you two should take a step
> > back here and look at what we're trying to accomplish.
> I don't know what you're trying to accomplish, but IMHO ease of use is
> far more advantageous to the distribution's overall health than
> political neutrality that no one but a bunch of nerds cares about.
Mainly, I'm trying to stop this thread from going on too much longer. Its 
getting to be another one of those pulseaudio, or c-a-b threads.

> > Let's just put a big
> > 'ole 3-way radio button in the installer with "GNOME", "KDE", and
> > "Other/None" in the DVD installer and be done with it. I realize that
> > picking a desktop environment probably isn't something a new Linux user
> > is familiar with. But that doesn't mean we can't put some link on the
> > download page explaining the term and the differences between the two.
> And as Joel's essay points out, no amount of explaining or lecturing is
> going to make the user care. You can't make them care. They will never
> care. They want Firefox. They've heard of Firefox. They don't want GNOME
> or KDE, they don't want Epiphany, they don't want Konqueror, they want
> Firefox, they want their Myspace, and they want their webmail.
Its a fact of life that there is more than one desktop environment in linux. 
Linux is about choice. If our target audience doesn't want choice, why are 
they using linux then? You're making this a lot bigger than it really is. 
Choosing a desktop environment is but one choice out of millions that a user 
makes. Let's suppose they chose to buy a copy of Windows Vista. Barring the 
exorbitant pricing, which Vista do they buy?

Consider this as well: Does Aunt Tilly go out and actually buy a copy of 
Vista? No, she just buys a new computer and uses what it comes with. It tends 
to be the more advanced and knowledgeable users who do the research on what 
"edition" they want. Aunt Tilly doesn't care what browser she uses, or why 
free software is superior. She just uses her computer. Chances are, she'll 
never hear about Fedora or even Linux unless her nephew or niece comes over 
and shows her Ubuntu.

I don't think our target audience is really Aunt Tilly. Its nice to keep 
telling ourselves it is, but our target audience is really more along the 
lines of "people who are fed up with choices being made for them because 
someone else thinks its better" AKA Microsoft, Cannocal[1], or Apple. If 
there's a reason to switch to Fedora, thats a popular one. Its 100% true we 
can't make the user care. So why is preventing the majority of people who /do/ 
care to have a choice from having a choice a good thing? If the user doesn't 
care, they'll pick the first one just so they can speed through the installer. 
If we want to target people who don't care, we can advertise a "I don't care 
what software I use, just give me a web browser" spin that contains ratpoison 
and a fullscreen firefox.

It really isn't a huge decision here. The user is asked to slow down and 
consider what kind of experience they want, or they can just keep clicking 
next and hope for the best. GNOME users seem satisfied with the lack of 
customization compared to KDE (not bashing, as I myself rarely twiddle with 
the trillions of options available to me), so if a new user is happy with 
defaults even though there is a choice, they'll pick the first option in the 

I'd like to relate all this to the first time I tried Linux when I installed 
Fedora Core 3. I clicked through the installer and when it got to the package 
selection screen, I was astonished by the sheer volume of choices. GNOME was 
checked as the desktop environment, so I just clicked next and hoped for the 
best. If I had never played around with the KDE3 desktop on Knoppix, I might 
just be a GNOME hacker today. I later installed Fedora Core 4 on another 
desktop and I was happy to be able to pick between GNOME and KDE. Today, I'm 
disappointed that I have to tell my KDE friends to dig through the fedora 
website to find the KDE LiveCD. I'm also disappointed that there are so few KDE 
developers actively involved with Fedora to get all these new features like 
the *Kits and pulseaudio up to par with the GNOME suite. That just makes it 
look like nobody in Fedora likes KDE.
> > The only way I see this being resolved is with:
> >
> > A) We cave in and give the user a choice, which is something few other
> > distros with a graphical installer do (only suse comes to mind), or
> > B) We remain a stick in the mud, staying with the tried and true GNOME
> > desktop.
> >
> > Picking A will almost certainly bring in more KDE users and help make KDE
> > less of a second class citizen in Fedora. Picking B will make one less
> > decision for linux newbies to make when they install Fedora.
> >
> > I believe option A will benefit fedora in the longer run.
> And I disagree. B is better.
So that makes one for A, and one for B. Obviously we must fight to the death :)

[1] I'm not saying they are as evil, but I'm not a fan of the default ubuntu 
settings for some things...

Trever Fischer (tdfischer)
Fedora Ambassador, KDE Hacker
GPG: C40F2998 hkp://wwwkeys.pgp.net

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