[lpi-discuss] GUI fun (was Server vs. Wrokstation (was Some Objective Feedback)

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Tue Sep 13 23:33:23 EDT 2005

Dan York wrote:

> The beauty of Linux is that you have so many choices for your desktop

Actually, I beg to differ. The consolidation has been underway for a while.

Lycoris was recently acquired by Mandriva, itself a merger of two 
distributions that were better known for their desktop capabilities.

Almost all of the Debian-based desktops (with the notable exception of 
Ubuntu) have agreed on common platform components.

The above, together with the twin heavyweights in Red Hat and Novell, 
use by default a fairly small subset of the available choices in 
horizontal apps. GNOME or KDE, OpenOffice or KOffice, 
Firefox/Konqueror/Evolution. The window manager debate is generally dead.

In some cases, the choices are being narrowed by policy rather than 
technology. The Asianux standard is defining a single common desktop 
platform for a large geographic area, and similar efforts such as 
Latinux are following.

The end result of this is that the "Linux desktop" is becoming less 
diverse over time. Even the LSB has started to dip its toes into the 
not-so-murky waters of desktop standards.

> Six years later, I still don't see how you can do it any differently 
> for the base exams.  I am not sure there ever will be a generic 
> desktop we can test on and as a user I'm actually perfectly okay with 
> that.

Events, such as Sean's announcement here last month, indicate that the 
situation is indeed more generic than some may think. I daresay that 
there are now about as many major divergences on the desktop as exist on 
the server (postfix/sendmail/exim, grub/lilo, distro-specific admin 
tools, and of course rpm/dpkg). Yet LPI seems to be coping with the 
server OK.

Chosen implementations will always upset some who don't see their 
favourite app tested, however the choices made suit a reasonably large 
majority of users. LPI has already done this for the server, and similar 
rational choices can be (and already are, in the case of OpenICDL, 
being) made for the desktop.

The main problem surrounding desktop certification has nothing to do 
with the diversity of apps, and everything to do with delivery. 
Duplicating the MOUS or ICDL programs securely is prohibitively 
expensive (they required huge subsidies from Microsoft and the EU 
respectively) and you just can't test a word processor using multiple 
choice items.

- Evan

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