I have to say that I'm a bit put off by Miguel de Icaza and his statements about the death of the desktop. To be honest, his proclamation of the death of the desktop is so 'link baitish' that I have to wonder if he didn't do it just for that reason: publicity.
Miguel isn't an idiot and he's been around the Linux community long
enough to know that 'Desktop Linux is Dead!' stories come out about once
a year. They always cause a stir when they do and gets whoever said
them a ton of publicity. With his star fading and nothing really
exciting to keep it bright, is it so tough to believe that Miguel saw
making a proclamation of his own an easy way to a little attention?
Don't get me wrong: he had good points. In fact, anyone who isn't an
absolute rabid fanboy would admit that most of his points are valid. But
Miguel misses the main reason people use Linux in the first place and
_why_ they're willing to put up with the very annoyances he cited:
People love freedom.
People who use Linux realize that they'll have to make sacrifices. They
realize that, sometimes, things break. They realize that, sometimes,
hardware simply stops working after an upgrade. But they're willing to
put up with it because Linux offers them freedom. Of course, Windows
and OS X suffer from these same issues but there's a major difference:
users make the same sacrifices but get nothing in return. No freedom. No
configurability. Nothing. Just a high priced piece of underpowered
I'm not trying to trash OS X here. For the crowd that uses it, it's
probably fine. For people who value freedom, configuration, and control,
it's not acceptable. Miguel has been using Mac for such a long time
that I think he's forgotten why people love and use Linux in the first
place. He's forgotten the passion of the community. He's also probably
not noticed how _good_ Linux is getting lately.
Distro's like Ubuntu are innovating at a much faster rate than OS X.
They aren't' locking themselves down, they aren't putting all sorts of
restrictions on their users. They're just working on making a killer
desktop experience. And if you buy your system from a good vendor like , hardware compatibility issues are pretty much non-existent.
Miguel also talks about "switchers"; those coming from another OS like
Windows. Sure, Mac used to have the upper hand here. Less than two
years ago, I would _never_ have recommended Linux to my newbie friends
and family. I would have recommended OS X. But that's changed. Now, I
routinely recommend Linux and you know what? For the most part, they
_love it_. They love that they can set it up, learn at their own pace,
configure it just to how they like it. They love how much software is
available, how helpful the community is, and how beautiful the desktop
has become. I haven't recommended OS X in months now and I don't see
myself ever recommending it again unless companies like RedHat or
Canonical really screw up and trash their systems.
Personally, I respect de Icazza but I think he's out of touch and not
driven by the same values that a lot of people in the Linux community
are. I'd challenge him to ditch his Mac for a month and work purely in
something like Ubuntu Unity or even KDE then come back and tell us how
he still prefers OS X. I suspect his view might change a little bit if
Miguel does raise some interesting points that the community needs to
address. We need to work harder, we need to constantly innovate, and we
need to face the issues he brought up head on. If we do, desktop Linux
will have a long and happy life and, who knows, we might even see de
Icazza become a fan again.