Gnome cofounder: Desktop Linux is a CHERNOBYL of FAIL

Has been chugging Mac Kool-Aid for months


Gnome project cofounder and current Xamarin CTO Miguel de Icaza says he's done wrestling with Linux on the desktop, and that he now uses Apple kit exclusively for all of his workstation needs.

De Icaza is well known in the open source community for developing a number of client-side technologies for Linux, including the Midnight Commander file shell, the Gnome desktop environment, and the Mono project.

But in a blog post on Tuesday, de Icaza wrote that not only does he no longer use Linux for his day-to-day computing needs, but he hasn't actually booted his Linux workstation since October 2012. In fact, he says, he hasn't even bothered to plug it in.

De Icaza writes that his transition to OS X was a gradual one, and didn't begin in earnest until he took his Mac laptop on a vacation to Brazil around 2008:

Computing-wise that three week vacation turned out to be very relaxing. Machine would suspend and resume without problem, WiFi just worked, audio did not stop working, I spend three weeks without having to recompile the kernel to adjust this or that, nor fighting the video drivers, or deal with the bizarre and random speed degradation that my ThinkPad suffered.

While I missed the comprehensive Linux toolchain and userland, I did not miss having to chase the proper package for my current version of Linux, or beg someone to package something. Binaries just worked.

Even after that experience, de Icaza says, he only used Macs part-time for a long while. He says that during the period that he was employed at Novell, he felt compelled to endure Novell's desktop Linux products as a user would.

"I believed strongly in dogfooding our own products," he writes. "I believed that both me and my team had to use the software we wrote and catch bugs and errors before it reached our users ... I routinely chastised fellow team members that had opted for the easy path and avoided our Linux products."

But when de Icaza and his team were laid off following the purchase of Novell by Attachmate, he says, the incentive to keep "dogfooding" disappeared. Meanwhile, his frustrations with the limitations of Linux on the desktop had been mounting, and he was heading for a full meltdown.

"To me, the fragmentation of Linux as a platform, the multiple incompatible distros, and the incompatibilities across versions of the same distro were my Three Mile Island/Chernobyl," he writes.

These days, de Icaza is working on a different kind of client software ecosystem at Xamarin, producing cross-platform development tools based on the Mono Project for Android, iOS, and Mac OS X. And he says that when friends ask him to recommend a computer for them, he tells them to buy a Mac – just like he says he's always done.

"Linux just never managed to cross the desktop chasm," he concludes. ®

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