I thought that I could be harsh on Linux at times, but Liam Proven (of The Register) makes me look like the ‘Mother Teresa‘ of Linux reviewers.

The sad state of Linux desktop diversity: 21 environments, just 2 designs:

You look like Windows, and you look like Windows and you look like Windows …

As a mainstream desktop OS, Linux is doing better than ever. The Year of Linux on the Desktop came some time ago, and it is ChromeOS. But there’s a problem – there is almost no diversity of design.

There’s GNOME, Ubuntu’s Unity somehow still hanging on in there, and Elementary OS’s Pantheon. All have a vaguely macOS-like look: a top panel (woefully underused except by Unity, so mostly wasted space) and a dock, which if you are lucky you can reposition.

So, arguably, that’s… one.

GNOME has multiple extensions and forks. Two come from the GNOME Project itself: Classic and Flashback. Both make GNOME 3 look superficially like GNOME 2. MATE is GNOME 2, forked and updated.

There are lots more. In the Gtk family, there’s Cinnamon, Xfce, and LXDE. In the Qt world, there’s KDE and LXQt, and KDE 4 fork Trinity.

That makes it… two.

Yes, two, because they are all reimplementations of the Windows 95 UI. Taskbar? Check. Start menu? Check. System tray with clock? Check. File manager with a list of locations on the left, and the current one’s contents on the right? Check.

Windows 95 was a popular OS…users loved it, and the ‘Look‘ attracted even more users. ‘Windows 95 introduced numerous functions and features that were featured in later Windows versions, such as the taskbar, notification area, and the “Start” button.‘ Yeah, Windows 95 has always been one of my favorite OSes.

Linux users like to believe that ‘Their‘ Distro is more customizable than Windows OSes, but they are wrong, e.g. a blind person:

An excellent and very simple test of accessibility is to use a desktop PC and just unplug the mouse. Windows remains highly usable with only a keyboard. As standard, without enabling any special accessibility aids, windows can be opened, moved, resized, switched and closed, entirely with the keyboard. There are standard keystrokes for moving from one control in a dialog box to the next and back again, and for exiting without changes, and for closing accepting changes. There are hotkeys for opening menus, navigating them, and closing them.

These work inconsistently across Linux desktops. Some only implement a few of the standard keystrokes; some support most of them. Some implement the majority of the functions, but using different keystrokes. Some desktops banish menu bars completely, some retain them everywhere, some have an inconsistent mixture.

Nothing is as consistent as Windows. Apple’s macOS, iOS, and iPadOS have a rich sets of controls for blind users and are highly accessible – but they do this with a whole new UI.

Who woulda thought that Microsoft has such keyboard options!?

LINUX IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES – you never know what you’re gonna get!