In the latest skirmish for the desktop at least on the Linux front, Ubuntu has the perceived lead. But there is trouble under the surface. Ubuntu which has the Gnome desktop has the continued backing of the Ubuntu designers while Kubuntu which has the KDE desktop is waning. Seems a little thing but KDE seems not able to keep up with the Ubuntu release schedule. KDE is pushing for version 4.0 to be ready for prime time but it is not soon enough for the next release of Ubuntu coming your way. It is not a good thing to have a large part of your user base cut off. I am so surprised at this situation, it begs for the obvious solution. The Ubuntu folks need to return to the Linux idea.
Return to the idea that any desktop or window manager can be used. The present trend toward integrating a particular desktop into Linux results in moving on to a different distribution by users who don't like the desktop. The desktop is not Linux, only the user interface. In the Ubuntu world it is so apparent that users like the whole Ubuntu scenario but want the desktop of their own choosing. If I were trying to insure the continued success of Ubuntu Linux I would pay attention to what users are demanding, GUI choice and a Linux that will run on anything. Personally I believe that both KDE and Gnome desktops are way too big and try to embrace everything all users want. So, what do I recommend? Make Linux better fit to use any desktop or window manager. You might have to sacrifice integration via libraries and devise a more transparent way for the desktop to access Linux. It is all so complicated because all the players are entrenched in their own development worlds. My final stroke has been to use Xfce desktop which is a little less than either KDE or Gnome but is more gratifying to deal with on a daily basis. Linux should not become like Apple or Microsoft, just a third choice of an homogenized product line. What makes Linux is its ability to be configured to the hardware and to the user. One size does not fit all. What direction will Linux makers and users go is so exciting and a work in progress. Computing is still pretty young as technologies go and it isn't the answer to all man's woes as some have hoped but you have to admit cool things are happening.