My primary desktop system is a Dell 745 with 6GB of RAM and Intel Core 2 1.86 Ghz processors. For Windows 7 that same kind of PC is pretty slow, but for Linux it snaps right along.
I like Mint 11 for my personal system, since they kept the classic Gnome desktop, but the problem with that for the Enterprise desktop is that I wanted the latest and greatest Evolution so I could continue to get the stability and speedups from that project. To be a primary Enterprise desktop, I need my corporate email. As an aside, Mint 12 will have both Gnome 2 and Gnome 3. Excerpt from http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=1845:
Linux Mint 12 “Lisa” will be released in November this year with continued support for Gnome 2 but also with the introduction of Gnome 3. The radical changes introduced by the Gnome project split the community. At the time of releasing Linux Mint 11 we decided it was too early to adopt Gnome 3. This time around, the decision isn’t as simple. Gnome 3.2 is more mature and we can see the potential of this new desktop and use it to implement something that can look and behave better than anything based on Gnome 2. Of course, we’re starting from scratch and this process will take time and span across multiple releases. Until then, it’s important we continue to support the traditional Gnome 2 desktop. We’re likely to release two separate editions, one for Gnome 2.32 and one for Gnome 3.2. We’re also working in cooperation with the MATE project (which is a fork of Gnome 2) at the moment to see if we can make both desktops compatible in an effort to let you run both Gnome 2 (or MATE) and Gnome 3 on the same system, either in Linux Mint 12, or for the future.
I am pretty sure that if I choose to run Gnome 2 in Mint, I will not have Evolution 3.2. And if I run Gnome 3, then I will have the Gnome 3 user interface.
When I upgraded Ubuntu from 10.10 to 11.04, I got a message saying that the hardware was going to run in Classic mode because the graphics card did not support Unity. I thought "Cool! There is a classic mode!"
When I in-line upgraded from 11.04 to 11.10, the box became a twisted up snarled mess of unbootability. According to this post:
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/perlow/why-ubuntu-1110-fills-me-with-rage/19103 , my upgrade issue was not an uncommon problem. near the bottom of the rage is this:
My other problem is that since 11.04, I haven’t been able to do a distribution upgrade cleanly. Indeed, when 11.10 came out two weeks ago, the nice little upgrade reminder popped up in the package manager, and it downloaded all the files when I told it to update to the new version. And it installed all the packages.
And then when I tried to reboot all hell broke loose. The console started spitting out all kinds of errors about missing files.
Fine: I did a clean install from an Xboot USB of 11.10, and unfortunately now the graphics card supported Unity. The upgrade was a downgrade. Unity was my new desktop. I was willing to give it a try, if for no other reason that a fellow long time Linuxer / blogger had originally disliked Unity, and now liked it ( http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/ubuntu-linux-1110-unity-comes-of-age-review/9744 ).
After 24 hours, I was thinking of all the ways I could get rid of Unity and get back to something I wanted to use. I do not know what problem Unity is trying to solve, but it is not desktop usability. On a tablet, sure. I get it. Unity would not be Ice Cream Sandwich or anything, but it would be better than most. Yet apparently Ubuntu is not headed to tablets for some time to come yet: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/ubuntu-linux-heads-to-smartphones-tablets-and-smart-tvs/9834?tag=nl.e539.
Shuttleworth said that he expects a fully-baked and ready to go Ubuntu for all devices will appear in Ubuntu 14.04-April 2014
We are not getting a touchscreen based device till 2014, and we got the tablet user interface now? Worse, the Dell 745 is not a touch screen, and has a spacious monitor. All the big icons and attempts to save desktop real estate just end up slowing me down. Slowing me down is not the way to go. Macs are making their way into the enterprise because they make people more efficient, not less http://www.tuaw.com/2011/10/27/forrester-turns-180-on-macs-in-enterprise-finds-most-productiv/ :
Mac users forced to use Windows laptops find the PCs are "slowing them down."
"Time is the only thing that these fierce competitors can't make more of. ... They're drawn to uncluttered Macs -- especially those with solid-state drives, which are more responsive and boot in seconds."
I know that is a quote about Windows, and this is not about a Windows diss. I think the point is the same for Linux. You put a lot of things in the way of using the computer effectively and you end up with unhappy users, and users have choices.
Linux users more than most.
If you have been following the trials and tribulations of Netflix lately, you know that the the CEO has been talking about trying to change his business ahead of the problems created by the Innovators Dilemma. http://blog.netflix.com/2011/09/explanation-and-some-reflections.html:
Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business. Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover.
To their credit, they realized that they had made a mistake, but not before they lost 800,000 customers: http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/24/technology/netflix_earnings/index.htm
They understood part of the lesson from Innovators Dilemma, that you have to be ready to manage and properly react to a disruptive technology change in your business model (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_technology), but it seems to me that the lesson was misapplied. You can not anger your current customer set while attempting to engage in the new technology, and in the case of Netflix, they were quite successful in both the new tech and the old, and they did not understand that one of their values was their integration.
Also interesting is just how "old" the established technology of Netflix was: Really they had not been shipping DVD's, and taking apart the brick-and-mortar stores like Blockbuster for all that long before the 'next cool thing' came along.
it seems to me the things like Unity and the new gnome-shell from Gnome 3 are similar things to this: They have seen the new technology, and they are trying to adapt to it, all the while forgetting what made them successful in the first place. They are trying to be innovative but they are losing sight of their value proposition in the process. The siren lure of the tablet and the smartphone made them think we all wanted everything to look like that.
My least favorite part of OS.X 10.7 is where it tried to pretend its an iPad, and puts all the app icons in a grid on the screen. That does not speed my up. That does not make me faster. At least on the Mac I can just ignore it.
Lubuntu / LXDE
Jason Perlows 'rage' quote from above aside (He says he does not want to explore other desktop options), I am a fair weather desktop user. I started on KDE, and switched when KDE 4 drove me off the ranch. Now Gnome-shell from Gnome 3 and Ubuntu's Unity are doing the same thing.
I knew about Lubuntu from a few months ago. I had come into possession of some very old laptops, and I wanted to see how well they would perform with a low-impact Linux desktop. Some googling found Lubuntu: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Lubuntu. Lubuntu is an official spin of Ubuntu as of May, 2011.
Installing Lubuntu was as easy as going into Synaptic, and picking Lubuntu from the menu. a couple hundred packages later, I had a new option when logging in from the chooser. Actually, while I was at it, I installed Afterstep, Enlightenment, KDE, and a few other desktops, just to get a feel for where other desktop option were at these days. I tried the "Gnome Classic" fallback. After a great deal of testing, I decided that, even though LXDE and Lubuntu were missing a few things I liked from Gnome, these were mostly widgets in the task bar I liked, and that I could live without them if it meant not having to use Unity or Gnome-Shell. Classic mode Gnome was missing most of the panel widgets too (things like system temp,memory and disk I/O, and such) so being on Lubuntu was not a loss relative to what I had in Gnome.
Further, Evolution and Davmail and all my needed apps work just fine. X is X to a very large degree. I had all the support libraries and whatnot so that Evolution 3.2 clipped along.
The entire desktop fairly clips along. Lubuntu had worked well on the low resource laptops I had used, so I was pretty sure that it would do well on the Dell. It does. The only issue is that I have so many desktops installed that some of the desktop themes are a little mixed up. I still have the KDE mouse pointer for example.
The new spin of Evolution continues to be a bit faster and a bit more stable with every release. Email is working well with Davmail (http://davmail.sourceforge.net/) against an MS Exchange 2007. My calendar went from working well under Ubuntu 11.04 and the 2.32 version of Evolution, to not working at all though. For calendaring, it is back to using the Web Mail interface to Outlook.
Other than that, everything else about Evolution seems to be speeded up, stabilized, cleaned up. The removal of Bonobo (http://www.go-evolution.org/KillBonobo) really seems to have helped the project.
Ubuntu makes no attempt to package Evolution-EWS, and from what I can see from some basic looking around, it is not ready yet. Not sure what it taking so long. Here is how to add it for the adverturous: http://osdir.com/ml/evolution-list/2011-05/msg00047.html
The other way to access an Exchange server, MAPI, locked me out of my account the first second I tried it. I have not hung on the forums. I do not know how fast MAPI is maturing relative to EWS. For me it is unusable and always has been. I just removed it from the system and use Davmail.
Davmail is at 3.9.6 at the time of this writing. It added a neat "Autodetect" feature in the last point release so that you do not have to know if your Exchange servers webmail interface uses DAV or EWS. Davmail figures it out for you.
In a Nutshell
I do not want to be piling on to the very popular Gnome 3 and Unity bashing bandwagon here. I think the efforts are lost, but maybe they are only lost on me. As a Linux user I have so many other choices that I don't have to remain unhappy. Lubuntu is my new happy place for now, but who knows: Maybe the Fedora spin of LXDE is the place to be: http://spins.fedoraproject.org/lxde/. Or http://spins.fedoraproject.org/xfce/.
Whatever I do next, I only started looking because Ubuntu and Gnome have decided they no longer want to make a desktop that is optimized with a mouse and keyboard, and presorts applications into clickable folders. They appear to think they are tablet interfaces now, and don't get the fundimental difference between a mouse/keyboard interaction and pointing at something with your finger. So I am looking around.
Ubuntu (and Gnome) made me do it.