This week my crystal ball tells me that Linux is due for a major makeover and not just another pretty theme: A real makeover. It's time for Linux developers to stop following the Windows and Mac Desktop deveopers and get creative on their own. I understand the argument against this change in direction. The argument goes something like this: Make Linux look and act like familiar OSs so that migration to it will be easier for end users. My argument is to make Linux better by creating an intuitive interface that doesn't look or act like Windows or Mac.

KDE and GNOME, the leading Linux Window Managers, mimic the look and feel of Windows and older versions of the Mac OS with customizable themes, desktop icons, cascading menus and so on. The Enlightenment Window Manager is interesting and is on the right path but still falls into familiar territory for my taste.

But what about a look that's distinctly Linux?

If I want to use something that looks and acts just like Windows, I can, in fact, use Windows. If I want to use the Mac OS, I can spend an extra thousand dollars or so for a Mac computer and have the Mac OS. Am I forever destined to stick with a terminal window because all the window managers are too somebody else?

Perhaps the biggest problem with Linux desktop adoption is that there isn't enough of a perceived difference between Windows and Linux or Mac and Linux.

My prediction is that others who feel like me will get together to demand a new Linux-only Windowed Interface. Let the others copy us for a while. Linux, it's time to lead the way for a brave new desktop interface--code name Miranda (Only the most literate amongst you will get that).

The time has come for Linux to step ahead of the pack and bring something new to the desktop--an interface that reflects how we want to work and why we want to work with Linux.

And do you have any great ideas? Look at how the KDE developers are being tarred and feathered for relatively *minor* adjustments to the classic WIMP model. It's not enough to be different, it has to actually be a good idea as well.

About the only really compelling interface design I've seen in years is the ZUI. If we could get some folks going in that direction, it'd be great. KDE4 seems to have rudimentary ZUI capabilities, though I haven't figured out how to use them.

What I think the big problem with Free and Open Source Software desktop offerings is that people are not being encouraged to focus on what REALLY matters ... cohesion. Not that so many of them aren't already doing so such as the,, KDE, Gnome, Enlightenment and Kernel amongst themselves, but what a notice happening is the the vocal minority of obviously clandestine detractors are given a voice held greater regard than others. So what if Pundit A thinks that the current new and untested direction will surely fail, I say simply keep those words of caution in mind, consider the risk and move on. Quite often while they are saying no, don't they are silently rooting to the opposition. The whole premise of Open Source I thought was that if you don't like the direction things are going in you had the 'freedom' to change it and not being restricted to what has be determined on your behalf. Granted there are some times when the over riding prevailing winds will send development down the horribly wrong direction, as I fear the GNOME camp may have found themselves in, as their innovation and improvements 'appears' to have slowed (although, and I'm hoping that, they are focusing on performance and stability). What I do find funny though is that KDE 4.1 guys are catching flak for desktop innovation which even windows developers are doing and being heralded as ground breaking. Check out ( and tell me what in that is so unachievable by the KDE 4 and E17 develpers. And trust me teams like Enlightenment have been demoing technology like this for a long time. We just need to let the desktop innovators do their thing and encourage them to continue working more and more together. And by all means do start that project Miranda.