Change I Can Believe In

When I started out on my Open Source adventure, my desktop looked like this:

Today, it looks like this:


That is all.

  • Jimmy the Geek

    Beeyoouuuuuteeeefulll!! It HAS changed a whole bunch, even since I started fooling around with it in 2001. Who needs Microsoft or Apple?


    Few years down the line there would other person who would be writing a post, who might have started with lucid, can’t even make a wild guess from which device would that person be updating his site from and what state would the OS would have reached then :)

  • Børge A. Roum

    Talking about design change: Time to change the Ubuntu logo down in the right corner here on the blog? :)

  • Toni Korpela

    Yeah, the Linux GUI has changed quite much. 😛

  • Greg Kurts

    Wow! If remember those days… Redhat 5 (the original version 5) was one of my first distros. Things are definitely moving forward!

  • nixternal

    Wow, Qt 1.32 and 1.40 rpm’s, but no kafka rpm? Was that screenshot prior to your KDE developer days?

  • marcus

    So when was the first screenshot taken?

  • Patrikas

    I silently miss these old days.. Way more geeky stuff.

  • Salih Emin

    Some times its is necessary to look back in time to see how much Open Source has evolved for the best of humanity…

    So much effort, time and success… I am proud to be an FOSS user/developer…

  • qnuo

    I see. Back then the progressbar was at the bottom. That’s a fundamental change

  • James Tait

    In many ways, Patrikas, I’m with you. I was running Slackware when I had a desktop like that, and could fit most of the workings of the distro inside my head. I have less free time to tinker now.

  • Robert Lud

    Wow… The old desktop is way better than the new one.

    The window buttons make sense, at least, other than the current “up” and “down” that don’t mean it.

  • Brett Alton

    Ya, it barely looks different…

  • Corfy

    Hmmm… the date on that first picture is Oct. 29, and it is Red Hat. That would probably be too early for 1992, and 2009 would be way too late for that look. So that picture must be circa 1998.

    Yep, long way in 12 years.

  • Kim

    Well, at least they got the window control button position right back then! :)

  • Simon Howard

    Ah, that first screenshot certainly takes me back. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  • ethana2
  • Ddorda

    the first one looks like windows 98, the second one looks like what windows will never be able to be.

  • Rafael

    Hey what’s that nice dock app? Is it docky? Awn? Thanks.

  • ethana2

    Naturally I’ll switch back to Epiphany or Midori from Chrome once they get them.. ..up to speed.

    Chrome for Mac uses the menu bar properly, but Chrome for Linux just gets the Windows treatment. (A random hats-off to the TransmissionBT folks, it’s the only proper multi-platform app I’ve ever seen.)

  • ethana2

    Windows could look like that tomorrow. Vista comes with a dock.

  • nils

    It sure does look fancier. But do you get your work done faster? I usually end up using the command line anyway…

    And for all my graphic stuff I ended up with a mac, gimp is pretty good, f-spot also works, but adobe stuff is just a different league (pricewise for sure, if it weren’t for student versions I never would spend so much money on software)

  • Zeeshan Ali (Khattak)

    If you use another DE than gnome and toolkit other than gtk+, your desktop won’t be any different than the first screenshot.

  • Stu

    Nice nostalgia hit with the original pic from FVWM

  • pt

    yes obama sux

  • waldo

    Ah, so you changed from Red Hat to Ubuntu. Is that it? Thanks for mentioning, I am pretty sure nobody noticed that… 😉

  • Jonathan

    Um…so instead of copying Windows 95, now we copy Mac OSX?

    Improvement? Sure.

    Evolution? Eh.

    Innovation? Hardly.

    Flame away, but as someone who cut his teeth on early Slackware when a functional X desktop was a fantasy and the Linux kernel was at .99pl13, I have watched this all unfold, and I have the right to call it as I see it.

    I suppose you could make the argument that everything that can be done with the desktop paradigm has been done, and Ubuntu/Gnome is just pulling in the best of both worlds…but at least call it what it is.

  • Robert Lud

    Yeah, keep censoring the comments. As if what I wrote was a lie.

    The first screen-shot has decent buttons.

    Protip: I can place the panel in either Left/Right/Up/Down. What happens if I click the minimize/”Down” button and my panel is on the top? That’s right, it doesn’t make any sense. Where are the Ubuntu usability experts now?

  • Brandon Tomlinson

    expanding on good ideas, and making them free (as in whatever you want it to be). Sure the community has taken those ideas and made them better, no one can seriously debate that.

    The evolution is that the current software really does compete with the big alternatives. Lucid’s desktop environment is the most fluid and useful (out of the box) setup I’ve ever seen or used.

    Look at the home directory for an example of this since of ‘we get it!’. When I first started using linux you had your home directory, and it was empty (maybe a few hidden folders and files for things like bashrc and such). Now it’s a user space that show people how to work with its structure. This may seem like a small thing, but for the users who aren’t 5-10 year veterans of the software this effort towards ‘guidance’ goes miles.

    To circle back, sure we’ve absorbed/ripped/stolen/improved ideas from other products… my point is, “what’s your point”?

  • jono


  • jono

    I think you are reading too much into what I am saying: I am merely saying that things have changed for the better.

    I do think we have evolved. I do think we have improved, but have we solved all the problems and have we reached the end of innovation? Hell no…

  • jono

    When I think back to what Linux offered and optimized for in terms of workflow back then and now, I think there has been a huge improvement.

  • jono

    AWN. :-)

  • Chris Cheney

    I tried reinstalling using my original Linux disc, Slackware 2.1.0, but it is so old that VMWare doesn’t even emulate any hardware that kernel 1.1.59 supported for storage. It boots up on the floppies but that is far as I can get it to go. :-\

  • Aaron

    Truly awesome! My linux adventure started with Redhat Linux 5.3. Not only that the look got better, but the ease of use and “desktop comfort” is a lot higher.

  • Robert Lud

    Sorry, didn’t refreshed the browser tab. Jono Bacon DOES NOT censor the comments, unlike his boss (Mark).

  • Kevin van Zonneveld

    Love it! :) Considering the community involvement is a lot bigger now, it really makes you think where we’ll be in another 10 years right?

    Awesome Jono.. Just Awesome.

  • Kartik

    Oops. I forgot to take screenshot of my Gnome desktop when I get started with it around 2001 😛

  • Rahmat

    ubuntu how to make this perfect in OS

  • Rahmat

    I like it emOperation Syst

  • Kai Mast

    I was wondering. Is that Docky oder AWN you use? Are there plans to add a Dock to ubuntu by default?

    I use AWN here (nearly looks like your desktop) and love it…

  • Kai Mast

    Oh sorry i just read that youre using AWN…

  • Observer

    From Windows to Mac OS X.

  • ahahahah

    First it looked like a Windows clone, and now it looks like an OS X clone? Yeah, that could be called progress, i guess..

  • Zac

    An improvement certainly, it has come along way. Still much work to do yet.

    I might give awn a try, looks good.

    I would like more work done on the Software Centre so it would be easier to install/update (downgrade if required) the latest releases of applications/packages and also to make it easy for developers to make available commercial applications.

    I have been testing the out the liveCD of 10.04 and initially I wasn’t too fond of the dark brown titles bars but now I really like it as it brings your attention to the content of the application you are using and also it is less distracting and much easier on the eyes. Good move here. (and buttons on left I like)

    Censoring? Comments that are personal, nasty and contributes nothing to the discussion helps no one and doesn’t make the world a better place. I don’t need or want to come across comments like those. Censoring has its place.

  • Navneeth

    And the window buttons to the right.

  • Yazin Alhamdi

    hi jon ,,

    Red Hat is not open source :)

  • Yazin Alhamdi

    so what will be after 10 years ?

    hard question for some people 😀

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  • Jason

    @ Yazin Alhamdi –

    Red Hat is open source. Red Hat just isn’t free. Cent OS is using the source code based on Red Hat however Cent OS is free.

    Basically if you want enterprise Linux from the RPM side of the spectrum WITH support, Red Hat is where you want to go. If you just want a solid RPM distro to use as your own server or whatever, Cent OS is perfect.

    (the above is assuming you are wanting to use RPM based distros, as there are also many deb distros worthy to compare to that I didn’t bring up)

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  • ranova

    hey, maybe in 10 more years, linux\ubuntu will be as functional and easy to use as Windows or OS X!

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  • Karl

    The windows to mac description sounds fair, but only for the screenshots. I believe the mac os similarities are Ubuntu’s own customizations. If you look at KDE SC 4.4 (which is being shipped with Kubuntu lucid), you will see something similar to Windows. But even with those similarities, its also something completely different.

    You also can’t forget about the other window managers/desktops like enlightenment and xfce.

    It is my feeling that Free Software remains very innovative and unique while at the same time being similar for new users.

    Even if you look at the progress Free Software has made since 3 years ago, it still is a huge improvement. I wonder what it will be like in 5 years from now.

  • Hussam Al-Tayeb

    Definitely a copy of OSX…the dock, the scrollbar in the gtk+ theme, close/minimize buttons on the left, everything. I’m not complaining though because it does look good.

  • anon

    You are right, a lot has changed. But the impression I’m getting from looking at these two screens is that the former looks a lot simpler and cleaner, and the latter looks quite complicated and confusing. Is the modern desktop really that much better? In many ways, yes, but I’m not convinced that every change has been for the better.

  • Zequez

    Open Source OS aren’t the only ones that evolutioned…

    But, still it’s great ^^

  • falso

    looks like it changed from a cheap copy of windows 95, to a cheap copy of osx. go open source!

  • special_person

    At the risk of sounding like flamebait… your desktop went from a Windows 95 clone to an OSX clone. Where is the innovation in the Linux desktop community?

    Not to be a bummer though, I love how far F/OSS has come.

  • localjoost

    Your comment made my day :)

  • Misha

    I started my open source adventure recently with Fedora 12. I am not a geek, just a person who uses a computer to do stuff. I love, love, love my Linux. I would not go back to Windows nor spend the money, if I had it, on Apple. I am so thankful to all the people who work, and have worked, on Linux.

  • James Duncan

    That’s really not just a Windows 95 clone then, or an OSX clone now. Ubuntu has an applications menu, for example.

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  • Kenneth_hedin2001

    I’m sorry… i know this is a little bit late.. but… even a year ago when you made the comment

    “hey, maybe in 10 more years, linuxubuntu will be as functional and easy to use as Windows or OS X!” 

    You were wrong then.  When is the last time you had to go to nVidia’s website to get the driver for your video card in linux.  No some of the software isn’t as easy to use as in Windows, but then again, if all Windows software was easy to use, why would we need classes to teach people how to use Microsoft Word (just an example) 

  • John

    I know this a also late but Red Hat was open source 10 years ago when I used it.

  • Daniel Ruiz

    I started my opensource adventure when i was in highschool, I installed Fedora Core 2 along side my windows 2000 install. Now I’ve got an Archlinux/Windows7 machine.

  • Trabajos Medio Tiempo

    Luv it! Considering the community is getting bigger and bigger and they are really helpful.