There once was a time, in the not so distant path, that Linux users where a minority. Well, to be honest, they where a small group of really really big Nerds. Yes, beard-wearing, spectacle sporting, maternal basement dwelling single guys (and the occasional female) They would stare at their command prompts all night long, browsing newsgroups and irc channels where they could flame new Linux users and have their snickers chase away their own loneliness. With a completely misplaced superiority complex they would make up funny acronyms that nobody understood and look down on users who where ignorant of their nerdy inside jokes. Whenever a question about something the the KDE or Gnome interface would pop up on the newsgroup, they would be the first to flame that user shouting “Who needs a GUI ! Use the command line , you Newbie !” Linux was for the Nerd Elite and the average new user was NOT welcome.
These days its a whole different story. All the nerds have grown out of this childish behavior (All except One ! Yes, thats YOU i’m referring to Mr Stallman) and the Linux community is a happier one. With the new ‘rules of conduct’ pioneered by Ubuntu Linux, that “old” behavior is now frowned upon. And even the old flame posts stating that the command line interface is the only thing Linux really needs, are no longer relevant. These days progress has caught up with them like a jetplane overtakes a turtle. We have rejoiced at the fact that stable user graphical user interfaces have emerged over the last five years. In stead of a crummy X server with windows that look like they came from a Commodore Amiga, we even had our own Gnome Vs Kde wars where complete graphical user interfaces battled for the users preference. These battles sparked progress of course and the ‘terminal’ became a window INSIDE a GUI desktop, instead of a screen filling item.
However, when watching the buzz in the Linux Community when Ubuntu shifted the ‘window buttons’ from the left to the right .. I thought I had somehow slipped into an alternate reality ! This was the same “community” that flamed GUI’s 10 years ago ! Now they where going all mental over a button change ? Amazing. Suddenly the “look and feel” of Linux became extremely important. Sure, the major issues of stability and ‘ease of use’ have been all but covered, but this is amazing. Its like meeting a coal-miner who pays attention to the color of his eyeshadow ! Amazing. But “Looks and Feels” are very very important. So when Ubuntu decided to DROP their Gnome interface for Unity (a Different looking interface) the whole community was up in arms again. “What was Ubuntu thinking ?” “This is outrageous! ” , and my all time favorite ” Ubuntu wants to make Linux look more like OSX”. But hey, as Linux users we ALWAYS have a choice. We could always choose to use KDE, a plethora of other obscure GUI’s or even just classic Gnome.. Right ? We didn’t HAVE to use Canonical’s option of Unity, Especially with the new Gnome 3 coming out ? Right ?
Well, figure my amazement when I saw the new demo video’s of Gnome 3 and (as a complete lamen) spotted that Gnome 3 looks a LOT like Unity and that Unity looks a lot like OSX. Somehow the entire community made a big pooha about “losing Gnome” and “getting Unity” while Gnome3 has a lot of resemblance to Unity.
This debate is of course purely for the Nerds. The average user won’t recognize it and I know that when I roll out the Ubuntu Granny’s new laptop she won’t know the difference between Gnome 3 or Unity for that matter. But it IS funny to see that all of these “different” operating systems (Different GUI’s, Os’s etc) are all starting to “melt together” into one general standard. Osx, Gnome3, Unity, all of them are starting to adopt simular features. As a cross platform slider I think that’s pretty cool and it ALSO proves my theory that the OS is just a shell, just a platform and should be as transparant as possible to allow the user to interact with their data and just ‘”get things done”. By eliminating the harsh differences between the different plaforms its easier for users to “transfer” over to another OS. But I do hope this does not get in the way of progress or ‘innovative thinking’ because in the Tech world, everybody is trying to be like the other guy. Google wants to be more like Facebook, Facebook wants to me more like Twitter and so forth. I do hope this doesn’t happen to the Linux distribution. For ” common features ” are good, but “imitation” is just .. boring.