To me it is an unfortunate trend that Linux is heading to a path of convergence with Windows. Several months ago I was at The Peninsula Linux Users' Group and there was a conversation discussing Linux's functionality as a desktop in comparison to WinXP.
The conversation went something like this:
"We need widget integration across application"
"We need full compatibility with MS Office"
"All system configurations should be handled via a graphical user interface"
And on and on...
I just sat there and bit my lip.
It seems to me that both of the the two main Linux Desktops are rapidly trying to position themselves somewhere between OS-X and XP with lots of whiz-bang eye candy and the RAM use to prove it -- systemr equirements be damned.
I know I am offending some here, but why concentrate on a desktop that runs poorly with a 1GHz processor and 256M of ram? The way Linux will gain a foothold is by running well on legacy hardware, Linux desktops should run well on hardware that is at least 5 years old.
Obviously, it can be done, and the experienced Linux user can set up basically any distribution with hand picked applications and windowing environment. But the typical newbie isn't going to do that -- he's going to put Mandrake or Fedora on his old 500MHz P2 with less than 128MB of ram with the default KDE or Gnome. Right, it is going to run like a pig, and the newbie is going to say, "I thought Linux was suppose to be efficient?" and walk away.
It goes past this too, I feel like "First World" OS developers are turning their backs on the Developing World, what main stream Linux distribution would be a good desktop choice for the typical computer found in Brazil or rural South Africa?