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Author:  Hollow
October 12, 2008



You know what, I think it might be!

Click to look at the full elemt inspector and page highlights

LXDE Menu a pleasure to use - screenshot

I’m stuck at home this weekend with a cold and a second head (A Cist) sticking out of my cheek, so I started reading through some Linux news reviews on other sites. Low and behold while I was looking through the release announcement for one of my favorite recovery/helper distributions on distrowatch I noticed they had switched from using XFCE (A Very lightweight desktop based on KDE but not particularly pretty and not all that functional IMHO) to LXDE. Now I’d heard of LXDE and seen some write-ups on it before but never considered it to be all that much use to anyone really. This  opinion changed over the course of this weekend.

After installing LXDE on our company laptop (Dual boot HP NX9420 with Windows XP and Kubuntu 8.04) and logging into it, I found an extremely fast (And I’m talking lightning), relatively attractive (Not gorgeous but doesn’t make you want to look the other way in disgust either), useful and functional desktop infront of me.

Chrome Right Click Features

LXDE Clean desktop, fresh load - screenshot

File manager and My Documents - screenshot

File manager and My Documents - screenshot

I decided to delve further with this new Desktop of mine and see where it would fall over, there had to be a problem with it somewhere, it was too fast and too useful at the same time to be perfect. Sure enough it did struggle to load a couple of the KDE apps I had installed but for the most part it actually handled everything very cleanly.

The menu in LXDE is a pleasure to use, it’s simple, straightforward, does what it says on the tin and it’s very functional. This menu doesn’t have all the bloat of more recent modern menus and just allows you to do what you need to with it, without being over the top.

Why haven’t I used this desktop before, I asked myself? Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be using KDE3.5.9 as my main desktop for another 10 – 20 days until the release of Intrepid Ibex comes out from Kubuntu, that’ll have KDE4.1 on it, if that doesn’t please me I may well be switching my main distribution over to Mandriva, but LXDE is definitely staying on the company laptop and going to be used extensively in the coming months.

Adept package manager and Konqueror Home Page - screenshot

A Linux desktop which not only looks quite nice but is actually functional and super fast, I really do think this might be the new KDE in the next year or two. Several people are unhappy with KDE4.1 (Me being one of them, although I have mentioned in my Mandriva 2009.0 review that they’ve done a great job of making me like it) and KDE4.1 is definitely more of a resource hog than KDE3.5.9 was. Given another year or so and I think LXDE might be the default desktop on several distributions. LXDE ALREADY is the default desktop on some distributions but they’re all the minimal distributions, I’m talking about it being the main desktop for Ubuntu in 9.04. This may all be rubbish and the cough syrup might be finally kicking in but I think LXDE could and will go a lot further than it has up to now.

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I’d say it’s already widely used and adopted wouldn’t you?

It seems lately I am being continually advised by various peers and colleagues, that Linux is not widely used and that it will never be fully adopted by the I.T. industry. Well someone here is either very ignorant or incapable of letting go of a concept and I’m not prepared to say whether it’s me or them.

I try to keep my eye on not only current trends in I.T. but also the ongoing industry standards, releases of new software for ALL operating systems that currently exist and previously existed, not to mention market share figures and software adoption press releases for all platforms as well. I have to say that there is most definitely a LOT of propaganda out there for various operating systems, Linux and Windows aren’t the only ones out there and neither are they the only ones putting out THEIR message and trying to ignore or put down the other. I try quite hard to distinguish what is propaganda and what is truthful articles while reading but it can be difficult.

Recently no matter where I look I’m finding articles written by people that I have no reason to believe are anything but impartial journalists, who are quite clearly stating facts and figures as well as self formed projections and opinions, with regard to Linux being adopted at a faster rate than I’ve ever seen before. Almost every day I read that another school or even school district, police department, regional council, global company, small company, charity or farmer and yes even his Collie, have adopted Linux or Open Source Software and that they have made a conscious and very public decision to do so. If I’m to believe that these stories are true then surely my advisors who say Linux just isn’t considered usable or worth the effort must be either very ignorant or just incapable of letting go of the “Microsoft Dream”.

But wait, another reliable, unbiased, impartial journalist has just written an article claiming that he thinks Windows latest server offering is the best thing he’s ever seen and that it’s going to crush the opposition of Linux, Unix, Solaris etc with one fell swoop. In which case surely I’m the one that’s being ignorant or just refusing to let go of my Linux ideals?

Well after you cut through all the bull thats out there from the journalists, and you’ve read through the forums and comments to posts just like this from Linux/Windows/Mac/Solaris etc advocates and you’ve tried REALLY hard to assess the situation as a whole and taken in everyones point of view, all the facts and figures that contradict themselves inside and outside, you come to realize that the old joke “98.5% of all statistics are made up, including this one” is actually less of a joke than it is an actual fact in itself. When it comes to choosing your operating system you have to decide for yourself what suits and it’s as simple as that.

Operating systems come down to personal choice, it really is that simple. Linux was always the underdog in years gone by, pushed to one side and not really considered to be useful for anything but web hosting and super computers, could only be used by uber-techies and rocket scientists. Well those days are past now, Linux is just as easy to use and set up for an average user (In some cases a LOT easier actually) than a Mac, Windows, Solaris, Unix or any other operating system you care to name.

Sure you can buy a Mac, open it up, and as long as you can type your own name and click a few buttons you’re greeted by that glorious Mac Music and a fantastic visual display to make you realize you’ve got something special, and with Windows, most people tend to buy it already installed on a computer and it’s much the same as buying a new Mac when you fire it up, just without the fanfare. With Linux you can buy it pre-installed as well now, not as many shops are selling it just yet as the community would ideally want but it’s really getting there, Dell, HP, Lenovo, just some of the big brands that are selling Linux pre-installed on their computers now.

So when it comes to pre-installed OS’s Linux is definitely a competitor these days and my personal belief is that it will continue to be just that, a competitor. I have no dreams of Linux crushing Apple or Microsoft, all I ask is that Linux gets given the recognition it deserves as what is now at the very least an equal and worthy opponent.

The area of Linux that really shines for me is it’s ability to boot up from a CD or USB key instead of insisting that it be installed on the very FIRST hard drive of a computer, install the majority of hardware in that CD or USB boot environment, with at the very least generic driver support, allowing you to use it without harming your computer, use the internet and play games etc WHILST installing it and because of all this it can be used to recover broken systems which natively are run by a completely different operating system that has become disabled somehow.

So to wrap this up do I think that Linux will really be widely used and fully adopted? Well no, I don’t think it will, it already is, when the two biggest retailers of pre-installed computers (Dell and HP) are releasing it pre-loaded and constantly announcing growth of sales in that area each year and the majority of the stock markets around the world are running it, NASA is running it and schools are starting to teach with it, I’d say it’s already widely used and adopted wouldn’t you? Besides that, how would you fancy watching Disney Pixars films without special effects? Or seeing action movies with smaller explosions, how about all you sci-fi fans missing out on all the really cool effects? Yup that’s right, the majority of all films made today are using Linux for their special effects generation. Go checkout LinuxMovies.org for more of an idea.

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