Where is the Linux Desktop's Aim?

By a very definition, it seems that working for the Linux desktop is like shooting darts in the dark. Obviously, one would not be able to see where the dart goes, neither if you are hitting the target. However you are definitively hitting something, but you do not seem to know what.

In comparison, the Linux desktop aiming at the end user seems to fall under this category. The bigger question will always be, who are we trying to satisfy through our Linux product? Given the vastness of reach that Linux has on thousands of coders, the Linux desktop project is bound to receive a great array of views, ideas and currents of thought that will lead the Linux desktop from one place to the other. Believing that coming together in order to work on a particular project is hard for me. However, projects such as KDE 4 have shown great strength in coming together and creating something revolutionary and beautiful. Other efforts to make the Linux desktop a reality have also come together in order to create similar results to what KDE did. Gnome has followed in the footsteps of KDE and has also gathered its community-enthusiasts and created the new Gnome 3 iteration.

However, the Linux desktop is still immature--I do not say this with malice--in the sense that projects that aim towards a goal seem to center their understanding of what the Linux desktop is in a less opened environment to which they could gather to and understand what it is that simple, non-tech s
savy people understand about the way we have made their graphical environments. I am referring to what the voice of users has to say about the way THEY use their computers as opposed to what we Linux Desktop thinkers believe is good for them.

For example, if I am not mistaken, KDE 4 was an aim that grew deep in the KDE community overtime, believing that their product KDE 3 was outdated and needed to be revamped. All over the internet there were calls for change and some even ventured to creating new ideas about the way KDE 4 was going to be. I remember seeing new icons at the Oxygen Icons website which promised to deliver a new way of interaction with the desktop through their plasma desktop. I was dazzled by the beautiful icons created in order to show the newness of approach that KDE 4 was going to take. It took icons to make people excited over the project.
Gnome followed a similar path. Seeing that KDE 4 has so drastically changed the aspect of its default desktop, it decided to launch their newest major revision, Gnome 3. Their approach came from often-unloved Gnome Shell. Brainstormers created a new way to interact with the desktop based on a combination of very active desktops and windows as well as an ease of access to files and applications.

While all this speaks to the minds of users that projects such as Gnome and KDE did their best in adapting to changing times, the old problem also became apparent. The community effort derived into personal effort, which in turn made it seem as if these projects were put on the shoulders of the few who could make ideas come true through their code as opposed to asking the people, like the rest of us, what WE think of their creation. I am a document developer, and I do not appreciate it when people tell me that my earnest efforts do not fit their life. I become unhappy and probably bitter since all my work was worth nothing in the eyes of users. But alas, this is something that happens in man development teams. It is part of the process to let a rough stone roll down the hill until it becomes smooth. However, efforts coming from KDE and Gnome, although being amazingly written do not seem to tackle non-tech users as well as it does for them, why? because the rest of us are unable to code but they are. We do not have a voice because no one asks us what we think.

Did KDE 4 and Gnome 3 ever conducted surveys to people in order to understand their interaction with computers? Do these two projects ever reach out to the community (non Linux users) in order to find out their needs? If they did, it was little. I hereby advocate a stronger case for the unheard, for the ones who will be placed these great tools in our hands. To these two amazing projects I say, be great listeners, seek out opportunities to understand the rest of us. Do not be like the people in this video giving out a Christmas present that only fits some.

Let's shoot our darts with the lights on. :D

Best wishes, Andy




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