| "What You See is What You Get" - The Computer Desktop|
Most people do not realize when you look at a computer operating all you see is the Desktop or commonly called the UI (User Interface). This is only a small part of the computer operating system. In the early days of computing no desktop existed. To use Unix was difficult for most people to do anything. It required a devoted person to use Unix which was illogical for most people to understand or use. Unix created almost all of the computing we now use and take for granted. Unix created all the networking principals we use for the Internet and almost all of the concepts we now use for networking or connecting computers together. Linux is basically Unix only with a different name because of copyright issues. There are lots of other things going on with computers other than the desktop. However, most people will reject a Computer Operating System just because of the desktop.
The two other Computer Software Manufacturers base most their TV Ad's and Business models on what their desktop looks like. A major change in the desktop is touted as a new product and a major advance for that company. The reality is that all that has changed is the UI, and slight minor changes in what is under of the covers. All computer Professionals realize that the desktop is just a part of the entire package. These Computer Software manufacturers in some cases sell you basically the same product over and over again, with slight UI changes and a different catchy name. This is the American way of making money, by use of smoke and mirrors.
Linux has had a major problem for years with it's desktop or lack of one. Linux was rejected by many people just based on it's user interface. While under the covers it was a FAR BETTER product than some of the major computer software vendors sell. One major computer manufacturer has switched it's product to run a Open Source Software BSD (Berkley Systems Distribution) kernel and touts every minor change to it's desktop as a improvement to it's product. In most cases all these improvements were just copied from what Linux implemented and had in use for years.
Some Linux Software groups have decided to just rely on changes to their desktop and use standard Linux software under the covers as released by another group. Since Linux is Open Source this is OK. There is no restrictions on what one can use when it comes to Open Source. Ubuntu has done just this. They use the Debian Linux under the covers, with slight changes. The are also plan to compete against The Other Software Manufacturer to be "top dog". Currently Ubuntu is the most popular Linux, based for a large part on their desktop UI and overall performance. Most Linux GuRu's think Ubuntu is the "top dog" in the Linux World. I listen to the Ubuntu Prodcast. This always provides a idea what is happening in the Linux world, not only Ubuntu. Linux software developers often come on this Prodcast sharing their experiences.
There are three desktops in wide use on Linux. They are KDE, Gnome and XFCE. They all have their good and bad attributes. These Linux desktops are a moving target and change almost weekly. They all have themes to emulate the Other Manufacturers Software UI releases. The Linux Desktop developers have almost the same passion as the Other Computer Manufacture has. They play leap frog and try and out do each other as soon as a new product is released. The only difference is that the developers employed by the Other Manufactures receive a pay check for their work, many Linux developers DO NOT! Many Linux developers only hope to receive donations of their work to keep their Internet Connection and to pay expenses.
With the October 2009 announce from of the Other Manufacturer, you can be sure that Linux will have a "theme" which looks exactly like their new product. A theme is a modification to a desktop. You can download hundreds of these themes for all Linux Desktops to emulate what Other Manufacturers release. With a theme you have a choice to modify it to to get the look and feel you enjoy. In most cases it's hard for users to know what kind of software is running on that computer. Here is another theme which converts your desktop to look like the Other Manufacturers Desktop.
Don't ever judge Linux by looking only one UI desktop on one Distribution. It is far more complex than that. Linux is a moving target forever changing. Some of the most talented programmers in the entire world are making daily changes to Linux Desktops. You can be sure what ever conclusion you make about Linux at any moment in time will change.