The year of the Linux desktop (not)

There is an old joke in computer science that “This is the year of the Linux desktop.” It’s a joke because every year people say that, and every year there is a colossal fail in delivering a usable desktop. This is July 2018, about 15 years after I first heard this is the year of the Linux Desktop by default. I just installed Ubuntu on a Thinkpad X1 Carbon, and this is the welcome screen when you boot it up.

There are several things wrong with this:

  1. The splash screen is underlying the icons on the left. Clearly a horse designed by a committee of bumbling idiots.
  2. The UI is still the widely despised Unity desktop. If I had wanted a Mac, I would have overpaid for a Mac and gotten the real thing.
  3. The installation procedure is a voyage to hell. It took me about 6 tries to get a workable install.

The bottom line is that I still prefer it to Windows 10, which just feels like a mess. Now I will hear from my nerd friends saying that “But debian is the thing”, or “You should have installed Fedora”, but they all have warts. The only thing that saves the ass of Linux is that you can customize it to whatever you want – if you have enough patience. When I worked at Google we had relatively stable and usable installations of Linux, but that’s because the corporation supported a team of people to build and maintain them. Once I get Linux to stop looking like the ugly stepsister I’m sure it will be fine.