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More fish in the sea

  • February 20, 2001
  • By Brian Proffitt

This is, of course, not all of the window managers and desktop environments that are out there for X. I'm sure some were unintentionally missed, and I trust that users will be quick to notify me of omitted window managers.

While this was hopefully to be a comprehensive look at X window managers, there was a larger not-so-subtle purpose to this series. One of the big things that needs to get across to users new or experienced is that if you use X, you have choices.

This point especially needs to get driven home to newer users, who look at the desktop flame wars and dread the thought of wading into that mess to figure out which desktop is truly "better."

KDE and GNOME are just two choices among many that you can use for your desktop. If they work for your needs, then great, you're all set. But if something else will fit the bill, then use it!

The very fact that there are so many window managers and desktop environments for X is one of X's greatest strengths, and by association, one of Linux's strengths as well. Competitors will decry this diversity of weakness, but the fact of the matter is that rigid interfaces such as Windows and MacOS will always alienate some users for some reason. The choices in X give it the ability to satisfy the needs of all users who want a graphical interface.

X, critics contend, still has a long way to go in terms of speed and stability. I would argue the extremes at which these people portray X, especially when their motives are usually suspect.

But I think no one could argue there isn't room for improvement in X, no matter how big of an X advocate they are.

To improve X, we must look at the collective offerings of every environment X has to offer, not just KDE and GNOME. We can then choose from the good and toss out the bad, creating stronger environments all around.

With the pending battles Linux is about to face with Microsoft and other OSes, we must stop paying mere lip service to one of the truisms of Linux: that strength does come from diversity.

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