I am soo Tired of the Endless Desktop Flame Wars - Can we Please all Stop This?
Since the inception of Gnome, there seems to have been a never ending flame war about desktops in the FLOSS community. I am really getting tired of it, because it not only is boring, but also continuously diverts us from being productive.
During a presentation about the Ubuntu Canada LoCo, and an ensuing unconference session at a conference this weekend, valuable time that could have been used trying to discuss ways how the Ubuntu LoCo can be more effective to promote Ubuntu, was instead lost by arguments about Unity and its direction.
The biggest asset of FLOSS is choices for the user. One of the essential aims of the FSF through the GPL is to grant the user rights that enable them to have choices. The right to modify software enables people to fork and to create different directions. The ensuing competition fosters an environment of innovation. This distinguishes us positively from Apple and Microsoft.
I have been sitting on the sidelines about this topic for a long time. I remember the discussions about the original license of the Qt libraries (which were and are an integral part of the KDE desktop) that led to the commencement of the Gnome project - Interestingly, today some Gnome applications use Mono with its patent problems, while Qt is now licensed with FSF promoted GPL licenses.
I also remember, and was in the middle of the change of the KDE desktop from version 3.5 to 4, and the endless discussion at the time about the direction of the KDE desktop.
Unfortunately, the same mistakes seem to be made again and again. And even worse, the effect always seem to be a panic in the community about the ensuing apocalypse.
Please let's put things into perspective! We are engaged in a world of technology. Technology moves in a fast pace. Changes are inevitable, changes are good. Good technology aids people in democratic principles like self-determination and control of their own paths. I will always argue the biggest success of FLOSS, Linux and Ubuntu is the fact that it enables people to have a choice, instead of being locked-in in a world of Microsoft, or Apple.
This choice is realized by the fact that anybody who does not like Unity can easily choose a different desktop on Ubuntu. We have Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Lubuntu. Neither even install Unity. Even when Ubuntu Desktop is installed, it does not take any substantial work to install the Gnome3 shell. If there is a substantial community who wants to keep Gnome2 alive, I am sure, this can be made possible too. I remember, KDE 3.5 being supported for some time after KDE4 originally came out.
I really would like to see people to put their efforts into making the best of an already very good situation. Follow your preference and help more people to do the same. Window and Apple do not grant their users these choices, we have. There is no reason not to promote Ubuntu and its derivatives even if you do not like Unity, or like myself do not use it.