Well it’s been a month since my personal Linux experiment began, and it does continue. We’ll say that this is actually many iterations in, and I have had several "personal Linux experiments". This one is lasting longer than the rest.
Perhaps I should clarify, as I have had Linux running here in different capacities for a number of years. So to rephrase, this has been my first successful Linux desktop experiment. I have a Linux machine here running several servers — Samba for file-sharing, FTP for accessing files remotely (music mainly) and for a long while there was a shoutCAST server running on it as well. And in setting up these servers I became very comfortable with Linux the editing configuration files. But the big difference between Linux as a server environment and Linux as a desktop environment is this:
I can set up a server to run properly and then leave it alone. A desktop computer is meant to be used and interacted with on a daily basis. If I’m constantly using the command line to get things done, I become very dissatisfied with the experience. A desktop environment should be quick and intuitive. In fact the more transparent it is to the user, the better.
In a server setting, I would actually prefer to have a bunch of configuration files to be edited than to have to navigate my way around a bunch of windows and menus. I’ll enter users within a command line interface and not care because I only have to do it once. I’ll get fed up pretty quickly in a desktop environment if I have to enter apt-get in a terminal every time I want to install an application.
So my previous Linux desktop experiments failed because of this–not because it was too difficult, but because they were a pain in the ass.
As indicated above I started another iteration of my Linux desktop experiment, and this time I chose Linux Mint 9. Now in that time I have had to edit a couple of configuration files, but it was one of those one-time things which could then be left alone, so I didn’t mind. I haven’t really had to use the command line at all. Configuration options within the GUI are very intuitive. There are also Youtube tutorials now, which is something that I didn’t really have before.
I then installed the KDE desktop environment and I haven’t looked back, especially now with the release of KDE 4.5.1. KDE in its current form is the best desktop environment I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. I like Gnome too, which is very streamlined and perhaps still more intuitive than KDE. But KDE is like interacting with a work of art. It’s just gorgeous! It makes me want to use it.
With this being said, I’m still dual booting between Mint 9 and Windows 7. There are still apps (games actually) that I have to run Windows to use. I really hope that commercial game vendors will in the near future be more willing to release their products for the Linux platform.
There are many in the Linux/open source community that do not want this. This will be a topic for my next post.