In my review of the ASUS Eee PC 901 with Xandros Linux pre-installed, I received a comment which disturbed me. The part of the comment which disturbed me was in response to my negative views on modeling the Simple Mode icewm with Microsoft Windows XP themes. The response to my comment on this theme for the window manager was: “And what is the problem with that taking into the account the target user they had in mind? They just want to keep it somewhat familiar and simple. Fair enough.”
My immediate questions back to him were: “So are average end users that “stupid” that they need to be kept in familiar territory only? Will they get lost if it doesn’t look like Microsoft Windows XP? Is this the type of mentality we wish to promote? Whatever happened to PC users before Windows XP?”
I took some time to really think about that response and the more it disturbed me. What are we trying to promote here? As more people are getting introduced to GNU/Linux for the first time, do we want them to believe that nothing in GNU/Linux is original and that it is nothing more than a copy of a “superior and more expensive Microsoft Windows?” Please note that the last comment is facetious. I am sorry that this may come off a little biased but I want GNU/Linux to be able to represent itself and not stand in the shadow of what is another failing operating system. That means I do not wish to deceive end users into thinking that they are using Windows XP or that GNU/Linux is a copycat of Microsoft Windows products. In the same respect I also feel the same way about GNU/Linux using the Mac OS X themes.
Nothing is wrong with these themes as long as the end user likes them enough to install it or set it themselves. In those cases, there is no deception. Sometimes I just wish we could let GNU/Linux just be GNU/Linux. Coming from the open source community most of us already know that GNU/Linux has been doing advanced and impressive things long before Microsoft has copied it into their environment; especially relating to graphical effects and experience. You can find a lot of these impressive videos on YouTube.
This post is not an attack toward Microsoft or Apple or anybody else (including the poster). Call it pride or anything else but I just feel that in order for GNU/Linux to gain wider recognition and be able to hold its own ground on the desktop/laptop market, it needs to be able to stand apart from the competition which is why I cannot respect Xandros’s decision to use a Microsoft Windows XP theme as the default theme for their window manager on the ASUS Eee PCs. People need to know that GNU/Linux is NOT a copycat.