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Making Linux Beautiful

CmdrTaco posted more than 14 years ago | from the stuff-to-read dept.

X 496

intensity writes, "Wired has an interesting read on efforts to 'make Linux pretty.' I originally got into Linux because it gave me total control over what I could do with my desktop through the X Windowing system. That was in 1995, when setting up X was a chore in itself. Is it time to set down a standard GUI for Linux systems? " It's mostly yet another story about Eazel's Nautilis project (AKA the GNOME 2.0 Desktop)

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NO! (0)

Viruz (73343) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246381)

no way should there be a standard , that is what makes linux beautiful as it is.


X (1)

Noctrnl (110574) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246382)

I say more power to em. Make it beautiful.

Clueless! (1)

Hammer (14284) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246383)

Another clueless media evaluation of Linux.

No graphical filemanager??? I have one on my RH 6 box using Gnome/E as window manager.

Are the guys in media all paid by the FUD department as M$?

File manager? (3)

edwazere (87203) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246384)

the article says about KDE and Gnome:
neither has a graphical file manager. Instead of clicking on icons or menus to open and save documents, users must type file names into a command-line interface.

But what about the KFM, KDE does doesn't it?
I didn't just dream about those pretty icons and stuff...

Scarrrrrry (1)

Cyclope (150361) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246385)

Is Linux following the evil path of Windows???

This is where I should write something
intelligent or funny but since I'm

Why Not? (1)

spam368 (43865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246386)

Why not make a standard GUI, but still keep it simple to replace the gui to the user's liking?

Standard? (5)

Hrunting (2191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246387)

Bruce Tognazzini, founder of Apple's famous Human Interface Group and a frequent interface critic, stressed the need for a standard Linux interface and a comprehensive set of interface guidelines to ensure consistency across the system.

Ugh, no. No standards on GUI, please. The great thing about using Linux is that there isn't just one way to do something. If we start forcing GUI standards on people, we'll get bloated window managers that don't serve the needs of particular people. It's very very difficult to make one interface that suits everyone without making it be this huge Swiss Army knife of a program (see emacs, although please, no flames).

The X standard is enough. I think Eazel's efforts are great, but I like the variety that the current crop of window managers provides and if you 'standardize' an interface or the commands it can use, inevitably, something will be included that you don't need and something else will be left out that you do.

Hmmn (0)

jallen02 (124384) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246388)

Why is /. One hour ahead of US EST Time? I thought they were in michigan which is like 1hr behind my timezone which should make the posts appear at 9am, not 11am?

Poorly researched (5)

arthurs_sidekick (41708) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246389)

Although Linux already has a pair of evolving GUIs -- KDE and Gnome -- neither has a graphical file manager. Instead of clicking on icons or menus to open and save documents, users must type file names into a command-line interface.

Err ... yeah ...

uh ... (1)

Ken Williams (28157) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246390)

1984 - Steve Jobs: "Let's make Apple look pretty."

1990 - Steve Balmer: "Let's make Windows look pretty."

Maybe a standard... (1)

blazer1024 (72405) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246391)

I think a standard *for* a GUI would be nice, from the programming perspective anyway. Something like one single API that anyone could use, but then different desktop environments could handle it in whatever way they like. One thing I don't like about some of the "standard" toolkits right now is the obvious gtk+ works best with Gnome, and qt works best with KDE.

I like both desktop environments, personally, but I don't like the separation like that. Is there anything we could do like that, other than have window manager/desktop environment/tk wars?

Re:NO! (2)

jschauma (90259) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246392)

I agree. There should not be a standard. I particularly like chaning the look and feel of my desktop every now and then, playing around with different windowmanagers etc. But I believe it would be a good idea to have a graphical file-manager, not even though but rather because it's more like windows. Not *everything* in windows (or mac gui) is bad. More people will be willing to switch to Linux or other OS OS (Open Source Operating System - how do you write that? OSOS?) if they have the ease of "point and click". Isn't KDE's file manager a graphical file-manager?

Not just sittin' pretty (5)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246393)

I think it's a mistake to think of a GUI as being only useful for "prettying up the OS".

Really, there are a lot of steps in certain routine configurations and obscure syntaxes that I, as a sys admin, would prefer not to have to edit by hand if I didn't have to. For example, I probably add/remove ten DNS records in a given week -- I'd rather have a GUI to do it. I doubt, however, that my boss would want to pay me to develop one and I'll be damned if I'm working on my off hours.

The mistake that most of the command line crowd (myself included) make is viewing the GUI v. command line debate as being an either/or situation. Well, just because that's how MS does it, it doesn't mean that we have to make the same blinding errors.

In any event, any Linux GUI will always beat the hell out on the NT version for one simple reason: setenv DISPLAY tux:0 -- while the rest of my officemates are driving upwards an hour to get to their clients to reset some little thing or the other, I can do anything remotely that I can do in person.


Desktop model is dying. (2)

Rico_Suave (147634) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246394)

Jakob Nielsen is on the money - I think we've reached the point of diminishing returns with the current "desktop" model of UI. Win2K has it refined about as far it will go, and Aqua is really the same old, same old, just amplified and candy coated. We need someone to invent a new style of interface - one that will take advantage of emerging technologies like speech recognition, 3d acceleration, desktop video, etc. I'm not sure what that would *look* like, but it would be a good direction to take.

The Font DeUglification HOWTO (5)

Booker (6173) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246395)

As much as I like Gnome, it is possible to make X a lot nicer looking without signing over your first born to any particular desktop environment... the nice thing about this is it's not "theme beautiful" - just "easy on the eyes" beautiful. :)

The XFree86 Font Deuglification Mini HOWTO [linuxdoc.org]

I saw a ploughman (2)

Jon Peterson (1443) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246396)

I saw an ploughman once who was expending a huge amount of energy making his old horse go faster. He kicked it, and shouted and screamed, and whispered in its ear, and tickled its tail, and spurred it and whipped it and waved a carrot in front of it. But, the horse was dead, so it made no difference.

We can keep on showing each other screenshots of 'the next amazing Linux desktop' and we can revel in the fact that someone somewhere has finally cracked transparent anti-aliased PDF support and found a way to have radial scroll bars and a three dimensional colour picker widget.

But none of it will make any difference, because X-windows is already dead. It died a while back when someone thought "gee, I know, let's make a desktop whose strengths come not from the elegance of the theoretical design of the comittee that programmed it, but from its usefulness to the world at large, and the average human being in particular."

So, from where I'm standing, MacOS X, if it ever gets released for Intel, has got it in the bag.

Re:Linux? Beautiful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246397)

Hey, Foul is Beautiful, man.

Re:Standard? (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246398)

Your missing the point.

Linux needs a standard desktop of the same level as either Windows or the Mac for those who don't know what they are doing.

But, because this is Linux, the user can choose to entirely replace the desktop with what they choose (unlike the Mac or Windows where you have no choice).

So this is a win for both sides. The people who just want to use a computer with a familiar interface get their interface, and the power users get the benefits that increased market penetration bring.

Re:Poorly researched (2)

finkployd (12902) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246399)

Well, one step at a time I guess. Last week, these guys would have insisted that Linux only had a cryptic command line interface.


Re:Standard? (2)

cara (118378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246400)

I agree, no standard. One of the things I loved about Un*x and X was the customizability of the gui and the different window managers. That is something I miss now that I must work on Windows most of the time. Although I recently discovered Window Blinds [stardock.com] which helps out some.

As long as it's open (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246401)

If there were a graphical interface to do, say 70% of configuring something, that allowed access to the command line for more complex configurations, that would be great. Give me a GUI that will allow me to do most of the things I want to do with an OS, but don't FORCE me to use the GUI. If I prefer to do something on the command line, have the GUI interface inherit the changes I made on the command line, and vice versa. Let the interface live on its merits and provide options. Choosing one is different from having one choice.

Standards or none (2)

noeld (43600) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246402)

This makes it sound like the choice is to have a standard desktop or to not have a standard desktop. Like we can not have both.

Let there be a standard, fixed easy etc desktop. Then my mom can run linux and show her friends how to do stuff.

I can still run what ever I want. Nothing to stop me or you.


RootPrompt.org -- Nothing but Unix [rootprompt.org]

Once word: terminal (1)

pePis (94109) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246403)

Linux's beauty lies in its terminal. Simple, uncluttered, functional, and powerful. That's what Linux is all about. Nice to have GUIs, but again, variety is what makes Linux a beautiful tool set. Linux is about choice!

Re:The Font DeUglification HOWTO (1)

Alpha_Geek (154209) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246404)

Wow, they actually say that windows is good for something in that HOWTO. Pretty cool idea ripping the truetype fonts from Windows to use in X. That and Deuglification is a cool word :)

Not Yet But..... (1)

mattjp (78634) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246405)

It's gonna have to happen eventually. The present situation of competition between the various GUIs is great and necessary until one of them is truly usable (fast, stable, lotsa apps & importantly -- supportable by IT depts). However, while the underlying technologies will continue to be disparate, the GUI must gain at least a baseline standard look & feel.

The reason is simple. Companies and organisations have limited training budgets and trying to support/train for, multiple GUIs for jane/joe staffer is simply not feasable or sustainable as a model.

Long term this is a non-issue as voice command and other hopefully more natural methods of Human/Computer interaction develop. For now though, if Linux wants to make it onto the corp. DT bigtime, it'll need a common look and feel.

That said, I don't think that this is somthing to be decided upon by committee -- rather it should (& will) happen organically, a "decision" will be made, but by the "invisible hand" of competition.

Slap me 'cos I'm wrong....

wired posting garbage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246406)

It's obvious that Leander Kahney has never used a Linux desktop before. SuSe, RedHat, Slackware, Mandrake - all make KDE available. If KDE is there, KFM is there. Even if you use FVWM, you can still use xfm which has a graphical file manager with pretty icons and such. I can't believe wired posts garbage like this. Standards are for marketing people who don't know how to use a product. It's time I go back to using my xterm where I have to "type file names into a command-line interface." =)

agree, clueless (3)

bluGill (862) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246407)

As most other posters (so far) seem to be saying "These people are cluseless about unix."

Okay, there were no graphcisla file mamagers in 1982, but come on people this is 2000. Sun has had graphcics filemanager since they were trying to get everyone to sue their own propritary window system over X. They have had one for X for years. That is over course one example.

I happen to like unix, with the many different approaches that work togather. If they were working on a standard way to make all file managers interoperate (so I can drag a file from KFM to the irix dumpster for example) more power to them. But to say that I should use their file manager over the 100+ out there? Forget it, I'll use a different one just to be contary.

I don't think these people understand that unix still has a following amoung people who don't care if anyone else can use it or not, only that they can get their work done with speed.

To put it anouther way, my prefered default shell is csh Not tcsh, sh, ksh, zsh, bash, or any of a number of less well known choices that all get the job done. Yeah you can make arguements against csh, but I'm used to those idiocryncies and there is no clear advantage of switching. (of course when I'm root I use sh) Likewise I use tcl not perl or python (either of which is better suited) to write my simple scripts. (again, scripts for starting up the system are sh - though now perl is a part of most base systems)

How mass market does Linux really want to be? (3)

nlh (80031) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246408)

"But of all the things in Linux, this is the thing that's missing. It must have a standard interface if they want the revolution to go all the way to consumers."

I by no means have the answer to this, but at the very least I'd like to pose some questions to the crowd: Is our goal as linux users and open source advocates really to take Linux et. al "all the way to consumers"?

My feelings are that we use and love Linux for various reasons - the community, the flexibility, the attitude, the speed, etc. Linux is a more powerful and more stable operating system than Windoze. X helps us visualize that operating system and GNOME/KDE help us build on that visualization.

But frankly, most "mass-market" people don't know, care, or want to know how to use *nix. It's complicated, and that's why, as hackers, enjoy it. The problem arises in that there is an inherent loss of control/power (i.e. Windows/Mac) when a system is "dumbed down" beyond the window manager.

So what do we want? We want acceptance of Linux as an alternative to the norm. We want wider application support. We want games. But I don't necessarily feel that taking Linux "mass-market" is the only way to get those. (And I do agree with the only ways Linux could get really "mass-market" are a) make it really dumbed down or b) make everyone in the world suddenly get a lot more tech saavy - unlikely).

I'd be curious to hear what you all think about this....

How about NOT making Linux more beautiful (2)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246409)

I'm not trying to stop any progress or anything but sometime I feel Linux is way too easy to setup and run compaired to the amount of knowledge it takes to maintain it.

First time I installed Linux took me about 3 days to install the kernal, etc and get X up and running (This is around the time, if I remember correctly, when the kernal was just before 1.0). Recently I did RedHat 6.2, it took me 3hours, and that included a problem with my mouse which took 1 hour to resolve.

Now, to get my new sound card running I had to look up the how-to, realize that my card wasn't supported, find out the how-to was out of date and that it support was just recently available (linux.aureal.com), find the drivers, compile, debug abit and then I got sound.

What I'm trying to say is that X/Gnome/KDE is already nice enough. If its anymore easier (a user never has to know what "ls" does) he might not be suited to maintain a system, even if its just for simple home use. Linux, the core, isn't ready for those users, Windows isn't even ready for that either.

I think that X is good enough as it is. How is it worse than Windows?

What is wired smoking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246410)

Although Linux already has a pair of evolving GUIs -- KDE and Gnome -- neither has a graphical file manager. Instead of clicking on icons or menus to open and save documents, users must type file names into a command-line interface. Taco, any article that starts off this inaccurate isn't worth linking to...

X Windows Text Selections, Copy and Paste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246411)

I don't like the way copying and pasting is handled in X Windows. There is currently no way to replace a selection with the clipboard like I can do in MacOS or Windows. Whenever you select text, that replaces the global clipboard. :( Is there a way to fix X Windows so I can use a Mac/Windows style of copy and paste instead of the middle mouse button?

The're talking GFI not GUI! (2)

Oshu (138629) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246412)

I don't think a standard GUI is all that important, or even desirable. One of the things I love about linux is that I can make my desktop look and feel the way I like.

That said, it seems like this article speaks more toward a standard GFI (Graphical File Interface) or file browser, than a GUI. Sure, having all the programs have the same graphical theme is nice, but I don't think that makes the computer easier to use. Most newbies I know get tripped up when they have to deal with file management.

What linux, and all OS's, needs is a groovy way to store, organize, and retrive files. All this nested directory stuff is fine for us people who can "visualize" the tree, but to most people this makes no sense. I have never been inside an office that had file cabinets nested inside file cabinets ad naseum.

We need a way to organize or abstract files such that they are easy to find and make sense to human sensabilities.

I'm beginning to REALLY hate GNOME (4)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246413)

I don't run GNOME on my system because I like the feeling of "raw Linux" and because I don't like how GNOME looks/works/acts/etc. That's entirely up to me and isn't the reason I hate it.

What I hate is all the unnatural dependencies on GNOME on RedHat systems. For instance, last night I upgraded my RH5.2 system to RH6.1. I have a lot of complaints about how this worked (like, why can't I cancel or at least unmount my drive? and why can't password-less users login or at least have root change their passwords), but the relevant complaint is the GNOME deps.

After the install I found that a lot of GNOME stuff had slipped through (another complaint: when I DON'T want to auto-install deps, let me UN-install upward deps). I spent a few minutes rpm -e'ing these, but when I tried to remove gnome-libs it told me that wmconfig needed it. OK, so get rid of wmconfig. Can't, fvwm needs it. WTF? That's just not possible. fvwm is ~8 years old, GNOME is
Actually, the real blame for this goes to RedHat (for stupid dependency defs) and the RPM format (for not allowing "wishlist" vs "gotta-have" deps). So once I get a tape drive I'm going to back my system up and install Debian. I hope it's a little saner and less "user-friendly".

To bring this post marginally on-topic: I don't mind if some (even most) people prefer "pretty", "standardized" Linux as long as two conditions are met:

1) I can still get to the "raw" level that I like.
2) Apps are not written to depend on a "standard" and break when it isn't true. There's a lot of tools on freshmeat that I'd like to use, but they all start with "g" or "K"--so I can't use them.
Here is the result of your Slashdot Purity Test.

Antialiased fonts (4)

stilwebm (129567) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246414)

The biggest advancement Linux/UNIX GUIs need is Antialiased fonts. Apple did it, now its our turn. X has a lot of great features, a lot of nice and easy windows/desktop managers, but text sure does look like shit unless you have a 100+dpi moniter. Even then it isn't very impressive. My girlfriend always asks "why do the letters look like that when they are small?" and I respond, "Because that is the only thing Windows has better than Linux."

Re:Poorly researched (1)

FattMattP (86246) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246415)

Write a letter to the author and CC the technology editor. leander@wired.com is the email address of the author, jgartner@wired.com is the technology editor.

Kindly let them know what you think of poorly researched articles.

Re:Standard? (4)

chadmulligan (87873) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246416)

Ugh, no. No standards on GUI, please. The great thing about using Linux is that there isn't just one way to do something. If we start forcing GUI standards on people, we'll get bloated window managers that don't serve the needs of particular people.

The worst thing about Linux is that there are too many ways to do something, and everybody and his aunt feels free to reinvent the wheel in his own way.

Well, that's not really the _worst_ thing, but it sure holds up people that wish to port some GUI-based application to Linux... if there's no commonly accepted API to call, you either have to include the whole GUI in your app - making it bloated and crash-prone - or you have to tie up to Gnome or KDE or whatever and pray that it either becomes the standard in the future, or at least survives long enough for your purposes.

Notice I'm not talking about visual appearances, but at least standard ways to set up menus, windows, and drag&drop...

no standard (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246417)

alright, if there is no standard, linux will never become as popular as it should. Something that looks better will come out, and linux will stay behind in the industry.

I actually think that open-sourcers enjoy the fact that there is no standard, but for the wrong reasons. They don't want "freedom of choice" or "free speech" software, look at the distro's of linux for instance: having multiple versions of linux means that software developers aren't forced to open source their software, but if they want it to run on "linux", the source usually has to be compiled on each system to run correctly on all systems. So here is my point: every slashdotter that has the "free beer" beliefs, will fight to the end to have no standard, its almost like a type of implied communism.

I dont see why nobody sees this..I think its due to the sheep theory.........

-----------not flaimbait..or a troll..just my opinion

Re:X Windows Text Selections, Copy and Paste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246418)

Yes. Unfortunately, it onvolves reformatting your hard drive and installing Windows. In other words, on the X-level, no, though some applications (KDE, maybe gnome) cupport ctrl-C copying.

What about the OOOSOS? (1)

BNL Psycho (28888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246419)

Ya know, what if someone makes an Object Oriented Open Source Operating System?

we need graphics artists (1)

arty3 (64523) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246420)

The reason that the gui's on linux look don't look as professional as those created by the likes of Apple and of course MS is because those companies employ a large number of graphics artists and the sort who are good at making things look good. Then they put these things in front of people and ask them what they think. This has not been done in the gui's available for linux. While they may be technically sound, after all there is no lack of good programmers working on them, they are not as good looking because these programmers are good at writing code and not designing GUIs. I think there should be some sort of a public feedback system designed to help those working on these projects to make the GUIs look better. Of course people wouldn't always agree, but overall I think it would help. Getting some graphics artists involved in these projects would be of great help too.
Things have definitely improved from a few years ago but we can still do better.

Standards and interfaces (3)

Darth Null (81847) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246421)

There are two kinds of standards: official and consensual (or de facto). To create an official standard GUI for Linux would be near-impossible, because nobody has the authority to dictate what standards must be followed. If Linus doesn't like something, it may not make it into the official kernel, but nobody can be stopped from producing their own GUI.

To create a de facto standard GUI, all you need to do is create a GUI that everyone wants to use. So, standardizing the Linux GUI in this way is easy: just create a GUI that is all things to all people, and *poof* it becomes the de facto standard.

If you think that it's not possible to create a perfect GUI that is all things to all people, then you must abandon all hope of creating a standardized interface. Fortunately, the whole notion is silly anyway; there is absolutely no reason that a myriad of interfaces cannot exist. Just because many exist does not mean that a business cannot internally standardize on one, or that every Linux user must know how to use every single one!

Re:I saw a ploughman (3)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246422)

But none of it will make any difference, because X-windows is already dead. It died a while back when someone thought "gee, I know, let's make a desktop whose strengths come not from the elegance of the theoretical design of the comittee that programmed it, but from its usefulness to the world at large, and the average human being in particular."

The fatal flaw in your argument is that X, in itself, is the user interface. Of course you are quite wrong. The window manager is, and this can be changed and made to act however you want, even like MacOS X if you wish... Just go get enlightenment and the Aqua themes for it and GTK, and you're off and running...

X isn't dead, the popularity of Linux is actualling bringing MORE people into X. X has got to be the best windowing system just because you need a window manager, all other window systems are pretty much static, and you cant change how they behave or look.

So, from where I'm standing, MacOS X, if it ever gets released for Intel, has got it in the bag.

You can stop dreaming, it'll never happen.

-- iCEBaLM

or the SA MoFOS? (2)

BNL Psycho (28888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246423)

Check it [somethingawful.com]

Re:Desktop model is dying. (1)

jallen02 (124384) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246424)

Just as a side note there are a few works such as this in progress. I know of at least one company attempting to design a 3D user environment. Basically everything you do (Research papers, C Source files etc. ) all exist in a 3 Dimensional space and to go grab the paper you have to navigate to it and open it up etc. Its an interesting approach.

Another suggested approach that has received a /. article was a sort of flat 'plane' that you just stick documents and eveyrthing was highly embedded with the desktop. You just navigate to the part of the 'plane' that has your document and you can 'open' it but everything is highly integrated look/feel. Those are some of the more interesting approaches.

Re:Standard? = tradeoffs, good and bad (5)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246425)

Linux will not compete with Windows unless there is a standard interface. However:
  • Linux shouldn't necessarily compete with Windows. And:
  • A standard interface doesn't mean you won't be able to switch to a non-standard interface.
It's kind of like the RedHat distribution. A lot of people mistakenly think RedHat = Linux. While the notion is wrong, if people make their products work with RedHat, there's a good chance you can make it work on any Linux system, and still have all the configurability and customization you'd like.

What I think is that there should be a standard FRAMEWORK. Something where you can write a program to be compatible with the "desktop environment", and not necessarily Gnome or KDE or something else. I would have it be like OpenGL - vendors (in this case GNU or Troll Tech) could add extentions, which might eventually be rolled into the specification for the "desktop environment" if they are widely accepted.

The only problem, as with many open software projects (and can be a drawback) is who ultimately decides what features are required to be compliant with "desktop environment 1.0"

Re:X Windows Text Selections, Copy and Paste (2)

Jon Peterson (1443) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246426)

The only thing worse that X Windows pasting is X Windows font handling.

Oh, and X Windows colour handling is quite dire, too. As is X Windows .... oh never mind.

I guess the best thing you can say about X is that the spec is minimal enough that it leaves plenty of room for the different window managers to screw things up in their own unique way.

Remember - you haven't lived till you seen a computer showing 5 windows all with different types of scroll bar. Hmmmmmmmmm, lovely.

File manager (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246427)

The file manager's layout that's used in the Nautilus (Window explorer-like) is a bad choice. The most intuitive (even for beginners) is a two-pane "orthodox file manager" layout (like Norton Commander and Midnight Commander). I work as a computer training instructor and I know how hard it is for beginners to copy a file from one directory to another. We don't have to emulate Microsoft in this. Explorer generally sucks.

Re:Standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246428)

How is this a standard if it is completely optional ? Sounds like exactly the opposite.

Re:How about NOT making Linux more beautiful (2)

PigleT (28894) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246429)

Hear hear!!

Mind you, the last time I said anything remotely like that I got 8 replies of which 6 were flames, but hey, what do I know?

Anyway. Anything which starts off by asserting that neither KDE nor Gnome has "a file manager" is a crock of shit. Kfm doubling-up as Konqueror is wonderful, as is gmc for gnome. In fact, as soon as you install RedHat 6.1 and log in, you get a view of your home directory in a graphical file manager.
Have they not even right-clicked on a gnome-panel, added a launcher, and changed the type to 'directory'?

*Plonk* Wired will also be up against the wall when the revolution comes! ;8)

Re:Standard? (1)

-brazil- (111867) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246430)

Well, what about KDE? It comes relatively close to fulfilling these requirements. The same is probably true for Gnome.

But what's the point of making it a "standard"?

standardized themes and engines (2)

matman (71405) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246431)

Id really love to see - and i think that linux needs this a bit - is some cross toolkit theming standard. Also, I'd like the toolkits to use similar rendering engines for pixmaps, gradients and stuff. that way you would be able to maintain a theme across multiple toolkits, managed in one place. It'd really make things better :) I mean, the different toolkits have their merrits, but I do think that the user should be able to make them look however they wana. And if thats the case, the user doesnt wana have to do the same thing 10 times. Also, more work could be concentrated on rendering engines if all toolkits used a standard one - to improve rendering times and stuff. I think thats the way that its guna have to go, eventually at least.

If you want ease-of-use over choice, get an iMac (1)

rambone (135825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246432)

I'm not being sarcastic - linux has gone too far down the road of customization to really make a go at standardization - its not even clear that a majority of linux users want GUI standardization.

If uniformity is what you want, you'll be far happier with a G4 running OSX - the standardization runs straight down to hardware (plug and play) - you'll be very happy.

Re:Standard? (5)

Psiren (6145) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246433)

Valid points, but wouldn't it be nicer if all GUI apps played fair and co-operated. I mean *all* apps, not just KDE with KDE and Gnome with Gnome. Just simple things like using the same keybindings for open, save, etc would make life less troublesome. It doesn't matter much if you use QT or GTK based programs then, since they can be made to look similar (with QT's new theme stuff). Its the interfacing that needs to change, not the toolkit.

Creator Types, gah (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246434)

(I'm gardenhose, away from my computer)

Anyway, I saw this in the Wired article:

Nautilus' file system includes a point-and-click file manager that will offer advanced features like the ability to tell the difference between sound files and pictures, and display them accordingly.

Does this scare anyone else? Since most unix files are not strongly 'extensioned', i.e. sound files aren't always .wav or .au (nor should they be), I'm just hoping these ex-Apple guys aren't trying to impose the creator type mess from the Mac onto Linux/Unix.

I recently got a macintosh after using linux and windows for years on end, and although it's very pretty and has great content apps, this creator types business has already screwed with me to no end. For the unfamilar: each file has about 8 bytes of information tagged at the top determining the "creation application" and the "type" of file within that application. Like, sound files aren't sound files, they are Sound Designer II files. Really horrible (and confusing) system, if you ask me. Many applications come with a utility to drag files onto to make the files "owned" by that application.

Even though Windows' extension type database isn't *that much* better, it's still loads less confusing. Creator Types wouldn't be as bad if they more or less normalized to MIME types and didn't have all that proprietary app information encoded into it...

Re:Hmmn (0)

xobes (148202) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246435)

don't be dumb, there is no one living in that timezone...not really, no offense to people who DO live in the ocean, but the eastern time zone is the first one on this continant to see the sun., however, looking at my watch, i see that this was posted in the future by about a half hour. ;-) - AZ

...And One GUI to Rule Them All? (1)

Prof_Dagoski (142697) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246436)

Frankly I just don't understand why there has to be a common GUI for Linux--or any other OS for that matter. The interface layer of an "OS" is very distinct from the layers that do the work of an operating system. Given that, why is it bad to have a whole mess of interfaces floating around? Wired and other articles make it seem like the various GUIs compete with one another and sabotage Linux. Not true at all. The different GUIs make Linux more attractive in my book. I have a good OS, and I'm not stuck with an interface I don't like. In so far as the non technical user getting confused, I just don't see it. The various Linux packagers--Corel, Red Hat Suse, and the others--can and do invest time and money to create simpler and more streamlined interfaces. What this means to the consumer is that he or she has a bunch of good choices. Or will when they're finished developing the interfaces. Granted everything is based on X and that has its problems, but that doesn't have to be. Someone could easily come along and write new completely new display environment that would bolt right onto the underlying OS like X currently does. So, the Linux community isn't even really stuck with X. That kind of versatility makes Linux an even more attractive solution for anyone looking for an OS to drive their hardware product.

Without wanting to start a window manager war.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246437)

Would you not agree that all intelligent people realise that tvtwm rulez and all other window managers suck to a greater or lesser degree.

Thank you.

A common interface is a must for the average Joe ! (3)

Ma´djeurtam (101190) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246438)

There are two trends fighting here : those who think nothing has to be elected as a standard interface , those who think it has to.

It's quite simple, though : if the goal is to make Linux only accessible to the happy few who know how to use a computer, and how this computer works internaly, choice is a good thing, no wonder about that.

But if the target audience is (as it tends to be these days) the non-computers-professionnal, the lawyer, the doctor, the student, with their precise needs, a common interface is a must !

I used to work in a netcafé during my holidays. The OS used there was Win9x. One day, a member of the staff decided to move the icon for IE some pixels at the right. A lots of customers complained because it was "impossible to surf the net anymore !".

Most non-computer-litterate users are lost when you slighlty move an icon, what happens if there's a different desktop on every computer ?

Then again, that only applies for those who want Linux to become a popular, widespread OS for the average Joe.


Linux only needs one thing: more apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246439)

Linux is ready. Bring on the applications, such
as MS Office for Linux.

Re:Standard? (1)

Psion (2244) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246440)

Maybe AC's point is for an "out of the box" standard that is intended to make Linux more useful to newbies, but could be replaced easily later on as the user got more experienced.

Re:Standard? (2)

Battra (65036) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246441)

I think a standard desktop could be a real detriment to Linux. We are seeing Linux adopted in embedded systems, handhelds, supercomputers, and desktop machines. An interface that works for one of these applications may not work at all for another.

That's the whole reason behind the failing of WinCE and Windows for Pen-Based Computing before it. The Windows interface does not transfer well to a handheld and that frustrates users much more than learning an "unfamiliar" interface like the Palm OS.

Having some apps that work with KDE and others that work only with Gnome can be a pain. However, I think we should be careful not to tie Linux too closely to a single interface paradigm in case it causes problems for the whole range of Linux devices.

Question the assumptions (2)

Analog (564) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246442)

Let me say up front that I think this whole 'computer as toaster' ease of use mantra is a crock. Computers are not toasters. They do require some thought to use. Nothing is going to change that. Trying to make 'one standard' in service of that is a mistake. Does this mean that GUI's are bad, or making computers easier to use is wrong? Not at all. But it does mean that to use a computer properly, you will always need to know something about how it works.

I would also point out that most of the people saying 'Linux needs a standardized desktop' are from companies hoping to be the ones to control that desktop; and don't make the mistake of thinking that because the standard desktop is GPL'ed, one company can't control it. All it takes is one company's version of GNOME or KDE to get substantial market share, and they can do whatever they want with it and the market will follow. The community can make whatever changes and additions they want, but if nobody uses them, what good will they be?

Having said that, I think that five years from now, the people that this mythical 'easy to use standard desktop' that everybody is trying to remake Linux for are going to be using something fitting the model of 'internet appliance'. It'll be a black box with defined functions, one way to accomplish those functions, and a user interface simple enough to use while driving (not that that will be recommended practice ;).

The way to get your grandmother into computing is not to try to shoehorn the computer into a model it doesn't fit. It's to build a new kind of computer that fits that model from the beginning.

Re:I saw a ploughman (2)

James Ojaste (12446) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246443)

The X Window System is no more a desktop than your pencil. The mistake you make is not with the death of the horse, but that you seem anxious to bury the harness with the beast!

X Windows is an underlying layer upon which a desktop may be built - you could easily build a MacOS X clone on top of it, if you were of such a mind. Presumably, then, you have an objection to one or more of the window managers (desktops) currently available for X Windows (such as TVM, FVWM and Enlightenment).

While many people see the MacOS desktops as "pretty", that's not my only criterion (or even my primary criterion) for a desktop. I like to play. I like to make *my* desktop work the way I do; I don't want people dictating how I should be moving windows or switching between virtual desktops - I want to configure things according to my whim. As such, the Windows and MacOS window managers bug me with the limitations they force me to endure.

MacOS X won't get *me* in the bag.

My fat fanny! (2)

Skald (140034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246444)

You know, I'm gettin' darned sick of all this bunk from the self-appointed human interface gurus.

I know a lot of people... non-geek people... who have mastered their environment. The sad thing is, they've become experts in manipulating the AOL mail system, or some other slave-to-the-mouse torture device, and their skills don't transfer anywhere.

Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, I don't think most people are really all that dumb. Most of them truly do need something less intimidating than a command line until they get some confidence. But locking them into some *standardized* environment where what they learn is grossly abstracted from the reality of what they're doing is just bad.

There is no reason at all to hide the filesystem hierarchy. Heck, when I started using Unix, I didn't know you could go up from your home directory, so how confused could I get?

And if a lay user has to say, "I'm sorry, I don't know Gnome, I only know WindowMaker," how is that different from, "Sorry, I don't know Windows, I only know Mac"? At least the OS is capable of switching window managers to whatever the user knows.

Yeah, yeah, X needs to be more friendly. No doubt. Contributions to that end are welcome, at least if they're GPLed. But I really don't think the totalitarian culture from Apple has much of a place in the Free Software world. It's not just information that wants to be free.

i corrected him/her (0)

PHroD (1018) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246445)

I mailed the author of that article and informed him/her that he/she was basically totally misinformed about the above-mentioned file manager issue. Unless you dont think GNOME and KDE have fully operational FMs, and I persoanally think they are pretty well done FMs, you cant say they have none. I'm guessing the author has never touched a linux box and was just being a typical journalist.

"There is no spoon"-Neo, The Matrix
"SPOOOOOOOOON!"-The Tick, The Tick

ahem - YES! (2)

Lx (12170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246446)

A crucial element of having a GUI is that there is a common look and feel among the applications. In Linux, there's 4+ widget sets, a couple desktop environments, and countless window managers - and each distro comes set up differently. At the very least, a widget set should be made standard, and a default windowmanager/desktop environment should be chosen.

This lack of consistent interface is one of the major things that the X environment ugly as hell, along with things like having no anti-aliasing, that should be replaced in the next release.


Re:Standard? (1)

Psion (2244) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246447)

Yes! A standard set of GUI protocols that would form a set of minimum tools a user can expect to find on all graphical interfaces. It wouldn't have to be as comprehensive as anything found in Gnome or KDE.

Agreed - its all about the web browser now anyway. (1)

rambone (135825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246448)

Frankly, the only interface that matters to me in any substantial way is the web browser.

Once agian linux chases the tail-lights, trying to figure out how to get to the desktop model Microsoft introduced in 1995.

No Standards == No Future (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246449)

One of the major factors that keeps Linux off the desktops of non-geek home and office users is the lack of interface standards. Without standards, users are constantly having to retrain themselves on how to deal with the interface. This is not a productive action. It slows their productivity and increases the frustration factor. Computers users should not be forced to start out at square one everytime they encounter a new program. There should be elements that they are already familar.

As for visual esthetics, The desktops currently available for Linux through its various distros are just plain "butt ugly". Enlightenment, however, is the most visually appealing removing the "butt", leaving it just plain ugly. To the average user, the lame Windows 95 interface and interoperation between applications is a far better user interface than what is available for Linux -- even the Win 95 knock-off desktops.

If Linux desktop designers want a clue on how to design the desktop for the non-geek world, take a gander at the human interface standards at Apple. While not perfect, Apple has developed UI design to an art. Common application actions are standardized. Learn one application, you already have developed a skill set that will carry through to the next application presented. In addition, if you look at the screenshots of MacOS X DP3 that have been posted online (and mentioned on Slashdot), one can see that an attractive interface can be placed on a UNIX variant. In fact, if Apple has its act together with MacOS X, Linux is pretty much sunk as the UNIX variant for the common man/woman because of the 20 years of UI design under Apple's belt. Plus, as everyone knows, BSD > Linux. :P

-- SJ

Re:Poorly researched (2)

Col. Panic (90528) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246450)

Thanks for the addresses; I will have to write them. Obviously the author has never actually used the KDE file manager.

Re:Standard? (1)

mong (64682) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246451)

We DO need a standard. A basic look and feel which is default upon installation of any of the Window Managers. What does it need to look like? It needs to look a bit like Windows. I know, it hurts to hear this, but if we want to see Linux/BSD on the Desktop, we need to provide a comfortable migration for the legions of Windows users.

KDE and Gnome should have "Windows" as the default scheme. I know the very idea is not especially likeable, but...

This is not to say that we can't completely customise our desktops - of course we should be able to! But we need a "standard" interface which is entirely accesible by the average Windows user.

I use both, Windows is a lot more intuituve. Still.

Oh, and the "graphical file manager" thing - I guess he's talking about MC?

*Note* All comments here are the authors,and should not be seen to represent the feelings of /. in general :P


* Paul Madley ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *

Extremist (3)

aav (117550) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246452)

Just for the records I would like to say that there are a couple of mistakes (lack of information ?) in the article, the first and weirdest one being that there are no graphical file managers for Linux. At the moment I am typing I am using Kruiser (and I have been using it for a couple of months now) which looks a lot like the Explorer of NT4 (only that it is better).
So don't tell me that there aren't any file managers
On the other hand (and here I speak for myself) I wouldn't even consider not having the CLI since sometimes it is more useful that any graphical tool (mainly because I can type faster than I can move the mouse - and I am really good at that too).
So, in my opinion, and I won't be the first to say this, a system that can be acccessed only via GUI is deemed to be a Windows. No matter of what is under the hood. And I'll give you an example. Say you have a huge list of files that you want to rename (e.g. from Prefix-*******.something to ******.something). I'd like to see the average user doing this by hand (especially if you have 1000 files or more). Of course, any Unix/Linux user could tell me to use awk (at least I would) and do the job in a few seconds. Where is the use of the GUI here ?
The second part (and I like to dream, only that this article was too much) is about a system that plays the secretary. Come on, guys, I've been working with computers since '90 and I can tell you that there is no machine stupider that this one. And believe me, as long as we don't find something really revolutionary (i.e. understand the human brain and imitate it in AI) it won't be possible to have this sort of GUI. I mean, look at the search engines. I happens so often to return weird results even when your query is quite well constructed. And of course, what you need is there, in the result, only that it is in the 2nd or even 3rd page. So, no matter how much I would like an intelligent interface, I think that allowing the computer to filter the information and hide some of it is very risky. It is very likely that an important message will be purged without giving you the chance to do anything about it. And this is only an example
Don't take my considerations as pesimistic - I simply don't think we can do this yet.
And, of course : the most important part of all. No, there shouldn't be only one interface. We are saying that in the bussiness a monopoly is harmful and leads to stagnation. Well, don't you think this is true in almost every situation ? Including GUIs ?
Or the author of the article is under the influence of the Apple strategy : we are the owners, we produce a unitary product, we offer only one choice. Period. Oh, I forgot : you are not allowed to modify anything.
How does this fit in the GPL/GNU/Linux/... scheme ?

Re:X Windows Text Selections, Copy and Paste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246453)

I think this is one of the big things holding back the GUI development of X Windows! If they fixed some fundamental problems like this, a lot more developers would be interested in porting their programs. Personally, I have a hell of a time programming in X Windows - Nedit helps the situation, all in all text handling is a disaster in X Windows!

Re:Poorly researched (2)

schporto (20516) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246454)

Emphasis on that KINDLY. Do not flame. Be nice. Something along the lines of...
"I noticed a mistake in your article at URL. In which you said MISTAKE. This is not true because REASONS. For examples of this see URL OF EXAMPLES."

Re:Standard? (2)

mr3038 (121693) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246455)

No standards on GUI looks - Yes, I fully agree with that.

On the other hand, "a comprehensive set of interface guidelines" doesn't really need to specify looks. For example I really want

  • menus of every program to look the same. Best way to achieve this would be to require menu support from wm (I hate when one of my programs has GTK+ style menu whereas another has Gnome or QT or Mozilla style menu),
  • keyboard shortcuts (at least for window management - if I'm used to alt-f4 to close window, it should work automatically after changing window manager and if i have configured alt-ctrl-1 for desktop 1 it should work in *every* wm I have)
  • standard default keys: one for cancel (e.g. ESC) and one for default action (e.g. ENTER). These should be required from every form.
  • copy-paste (IMHO current X protocol sucks a lot - after you have closed window you have copied from you cannot paste anymore! This isn't really part of interface, at least in traditional sense, but this should be fixed),
and these can be achieved by those "guidelines".

Re:Not just sittin' pretty (1)

GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246456)

and I'll be damned if I'm working on my off hours.

< sarcasm >
Yea, me too. I bet Linus, Miguel and RMS all feel the same way as well. Screw working for free for the community. I mean if those bastards don't want to pay for my talent, let them twist in the wind!
I mean what has anyone done for me lately? Those losers on Freshmeat are just suckers anyway.
< /sarcasm >


rambone (135825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246457)

Nor will he ever. Linux is never going to capture the desktop market - even current efforts are well behind what Microsoft and Apple have been supporting for nearly a decade. Linux is not Joe Sixpack's OS, and I fear linux users are going to shipwreck the OS learning this lesson the hard way.

Emacs strengthens your point... (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246458)

I'd agree that having one GUI standard for everything is bad. But your point about Emacs was odd - sure it's a large program that can perform many tasks, but they are all performed through one very simple interface.

In fact I'd say that they way Emacs works really drives the point about standard GUI's home - for what Emacs does (work with text in the most contextually approriate way possible) it provides one of the more optimal interfaces to do whatever you want very quickly using only the keyboard. The interface Emacs presents is not what you would want for all programs, but in its own area it works quite well.

I'd say we are starting to head toward more specialized task-oriented GUIs. A GUI I want for programming might be a lot different than one I'd use for graphics work or playing games.

Re:Not just sittin' pretty (1)

Steve Burnap (155427) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246459)

The trouble has always been that GUI developers also get into the either/or thing. My problem with both Macs and Windows isn't so much the GUI but the lack of good command line options. (Though 4NT for Windows isn't too bad.) There are things that the GUI makes easier, but there are many things it makes much harder. Many times I've found myself in the "Click, drag, click yes" loop, wishing I could have just entered a simple command.

GUIs are basically good for doing simple, straightforward stuff. They can be a dream for that. But they are lousy at doing really complex stuff. Command lines are great for that. The key is to have both, and learn when to use each.

I don't like the thought of "standard window manager" because it implies less choice, however, rather than worrying about standardizing the big stuff like look and feel, I'd really like to see the simple stuff standardized. About ten years ago, there was a move towards standard keypresses and the like. It seems to have died. Nothing irritates more than having to remember that it is "Ctrl-F" to search in IE and "Alt-F" to search in Netscape. (And even worse, the "SHIFT-INS" command used to paste in IE seems to crash Netscape on Linux.) What I'd really like to see is standard keys for help, search, copy, paste, del, and pretty much anything else common.

That sort of thing would be far more useful than whether or not minimized icons go to the task bar, or the desktop, or the icon box. That sort of stuff is easy to move back and forth between.

Of course, much of this is more an application thing, rather than a GUI thing. One thing that makes both Windows and the Mac nice is having standard keypresses and standard menu locations. You never have to hunt to find the "Open File" menu option. This is the sort of thing to standardize because in truth, no one really cares about it as long as it is consistant.

The look, on the other hand, is the sort of thing people easily adapt to. I use WindowsNT at work, and Enlightenment at home, and I never have the slightest trouble moving between the GUIs. The reason is that the GUI itself is visual, providing all the clues my brain needs to adapt to things like start bars and task lists. No need to standardize there. It is the unconcious things like different keypresses that'll drive you bats.

Is Console Not Pretty Enough? (1)

Greasy311 (91246) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246460)

the only reason i use X is so i can copy and paste stuff around and talk to my windows friends with gaim and licq (ok i have a spammmable hotmail account too) linux was not designed to be a pretty desktop OS all u people that _need_ a GUI should be happy with what you have (if u use window maker of course) maybe if someone wants a pretty desktop *nix they should talk to apple and port OSX over to x86...


Kenny Sabarese
Left Ear Music

MacOS X? *spits out milk* BWAHAHAHAHA (1)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246461)

If MacOS X succeeds it will be precisely BECAUSE it is so similar to Unix. Even Apple knows this--that's why they based it on BSD. So why not beat the rush and use Unix now?

As for the rest of your argument I agree: except for the part about X being dead. X is more alive than ever. Think about it. What are the two biggest fields of CS of the 90's (and beyond)? Networking and GUIs. What is X? A networked GUI (framework). Yeah, that's totally obsolete...
Here is the result of your Slashdot Purity Test.

Re:Standards and interfaces (1)

tweek (18111) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246462)

This is a great point and should be moderated as such. While the article did make a quote that a standard GUI goes against the unix way of doing things, some people still seem to be missing the point. If you standardize a GUI for linux, it looses a bit of its appeal (at least to me). One of the reasons I like linux so much is the fact that I can make it LOOK and BEHAVE anyway I want. And I'm not just talking about window managers. If I want my linux box to be a firewall with no gui and only run on 300 megs of space, I can do it. If I want it to be a point of sale machine, I can do it.

The current structure of window managers I think works just fine with newer players entering down the road.

KDE-> Great for people migrating into the X world form Windows

WindowMaker/Blackbox-> Great for people with no previous bias towards mouse usage. I guess people who aren't hung up on position of buttons on titlebars and what not.

Enlightenment-> Great for people who want to customize out the ass and don't mind getting into some detail to do it.

Sawmill->Great for people who want every window to look different from every other window or who think lisp is god's gift ;) (I personally use sawmill and meet niether of those descriptions)

Just a few thoughts on my side.

Re:What about the OOOSOS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246463)

OOOSOS? How do you pronounce that? "Oozes?"

Re:The Font DeUglification HOWTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246464)

Windows has font anti-aliasing. Linux doesn't, ergo Linux sucks sweaty balls.

GUI and command line (1)

doublem (118724) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246465)

If you really want a nice GUI that has a command line full of power try BEos.

Varsion 5.0 will be a free download for personal use.

Comes out in March


Re:I'm beginning to REALLY hate GNOME (1)

xpurple (1227) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246466)

I have the same feelings. But it goes deeper. Gnome, KDE, junk that I don't need. Hell, I rarely even touch X. I also don't use rpms. I belive that the whole idea behind RPM is the dumbing down of linux. I don't see the point of installing any software that I don't know what's going to do. Much prefer to read through the source to make shure it's not going to fry my box or something else wierd. My current box sadly enough was origonaly redhat 5.0, but as I have updated most of the software on here I can't even use RPMS anymore ;) Not that it bothers me much. Hmm, I hope nobody moderates me down for this rant...Oh, and if you want to make X look like a mac, do it the right way. Use mlvwm, great window manager (plus it uses little ram).

Microsoft introduced the desktop model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246467)

Once agian linux chases the tail-lights, trying to figure out how to get to the desktop model Microsoft introduced in 1995.

Err... yeah. Microsoft introduced the desktop model in 1995. That's why the users of other platforms (e.g. Mac, Amiga, OS/2, et al.) were all so frustrated: the computers they had been using for years, didn't exist yet. Uh huh.

Re:Desktop model is dying. (2)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246468)

Frankly, I've always been skeptical of 3D desktop environments. I've yet to see one that I'd even want to try, let alone use on a regular basis. A lot of the time, they consist mostly of nausea-inducing zooming in of 3D icons - I see this as being like "expanding windows" on a desktop, only more annoying.

Actually, one of the best quasi-3D interfaces I ever saw was in Homeworld [homeworld.net] , but it was for a game, and basically "special purpose."

I'm pretty convinced that the reason for this is that we're trained to reduce problems to 2D representations wherever possible, if only because they're so easy to manipulate. (I got my training with crayons in nursery school - how about you?)

If a 3D GUI is gonna work, it'd have to be done by making the three dimensional space not only easy to navigate, but non-annoying. I see possibilities for something that looks like an orthagonal map (maybe rotatable & scalable), but that's about it.

This thread is scaring me (5)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246469)

Many of the responses to this article tend to go like this:

"Who needs a fancy schmancy interface? Raw Xwindows is great!"
"We don't want to make Linux easier to use!"

Look, Linux started out as a private hack that went public and has grown into a very stable operating system kernel. But the long line of open source development and bleeding edge kernels is not the means, not an end. The goal is not for Linux to be the OS of the 3/_33t who like recompiling kernels and hacking X windows config files. If you want to be able to graduate and not have to use Windows on the job, then Linux has to progress beyond the embryonic stage.

Quite frankly, we need the expertise of people like those at Eazel. I recently tried out OS X for the Mac (which runs on a Mach kernel), and it's far from perfect but it's so far above and beyond anything for X, including MacOS-like themes, that you can't make valid comparisons.

Vector (4)

TheTomcat (53158) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246470)

You know, I think Apple has hit the nail directly on the head with their PDF engine for MacOSX. Vector based interfaces will be the future. Even if that vector art is rendered all purty-like to the point that it looks like raster art, I still believe that a vector based interface will prevail.

Why? I have a 19" Monitor at home that I use on my production machine at 1600x1200x32Bit. One of my roommates on the other hand, has a 14" monitor that he runs at 800x600x16bit. Look at Flash on the web. If I look at a properly done flash site, I can view it at full resolution, stretched to fill my screen, while he can do the same, and they look pretty much identical -- with the same piece of flash 'code'. I don't get pixel-chunky curves when the plugin 'stretches' the flash to full screen for me, and he doesn't lose too much quality when he views it at 1/4 my size, thanks to anti-aliasing.

As monitors get bigger and bigger, faster and faster, and we still need to (at least somewhat) support legacy displays, Vector based interfaces will play a large part in how we view our 'desktop'.

No, X does blow (Was:I saw a ploughman) (1)

nosferatu-man (13652) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246471)

The fatal flaw in your argument is that X, in itself, is the user interface. Of course you are quite wrong.

This is the standard X apologist's canard, and it's nonsense. The problems with the X based GUI are /fundamental/ to the current implementation of X, and no window manager that you chose to run on it will overcome those, no matter how flash the "skins" are.

Where's the cut and paste? Where's the colorspace management? Where's the font handling? Where's the vectorized graphics engine? Where's the unified print/display model? This stuff isn't mysterious; it's been available for years.

X does one thing well: open terminals on remote machines. That the GNOME/KDE folks have built something that implements about 10% of a modern GUI is commendable. Themable window managers, however, are not a replacement for usable ones.

You can stop dreaming, it'll never happen.

You're right about Mac OS X for Intel, though, which is a shame; the current DP runs like a champ and shows what a modern Unix can do when connected to a /real/ user interface.


Re:How mass market does Linux really want to be? (1)

evilphish (128599) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246472)

I agree with you. Although I would love to see linux on more and more computers, I understand that as it continues to grow more and more joe consumers, are going ot buy it try to install it and screw something up. I've already seen it happen, people who have no background/patience to use a unix workalike but want to get on the linux bandwagon are going to end up in a bad posistion. I almost want Linux to stay with us geeks.

Gentleman, you can't fight in here, this is the war room..

More comments on their Screw-Up. (1)

fleckster (136683) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246473)

Although Linux already has a pair of evolving GUIs -- KDE [kde.org] and Gnome [gnome.org] -- neither has a graphical file manager. Instead of clicking on icons or menus to open and save documents, users must type file names into a command-line interface.

Not to mention: "We've never used either desktop, and if we have, then we didn't really know what we were doing! We're just talking out of our collective asses ... in an attempt to make this seem like bigger, more important news."

WHY?! Because they BOTH have graphical file managers and they BOTH offer cute little icons to click on, AND shortcuts, and much more...

However, there is some good stuff missing. First of all, it's not easy to do half of the stuff when it comes to icons and junk. In KDE, it's very difficult to chose an icon unless it's in one of the specified directories, and it also only supports XPM; GNOME supports a little more than that. So, yes, there is still work to be done.

Re:ahem - YES! (2)

radja (58949) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246474)

I disagree with you I guess. the big strength of X is the ability to choose your own look and feel. windoze annoys me because of the complete lack to set my own feel to the GUI, so I am a strong advocate for choice. choice in wm, apps, editors (even emacs if you are so inclined). I don't like to be forced to use some distro's favourite wm, I like to change it to my own tastes.


Re:Not just sittin' pretty (1)

_Mustang (96904) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246475)

The mistake that most of the command line crowd (myself included) make is viewing the GUI v. command line debate as being an either/or situation. Well, just because that's how MS does it, it doesn't mean that we have to make the same blinding errors.
That is exactly the attitude needed. Surely no one in the community is so stupid to think that MS purposely did things badly? It wasn't lack of pride on the part of the developers at Microsoft that led to useless/cluttered and downright fluff for UI, it was directives issues by management/marketers to do things in as expedient a manner as possible. And why- because the target market (consumers) haven't a clue nor care about the technical issues involved.
There is most assuredly a need for more solid UI standards- perhaps even -a- standard for Linux; that is the only way that we will see the numbers in terms of apps (all kinds) that is needed to make Linux King of the Roost. My question to the community is why assume that because there is a UI method in addition to a command-line that suddenly Linux becomes Windows? All I'm hearing is that it can't be done, it can't be done. How about not crying about how badly Windows did the job and writing the killer UI architecture standard to do the job th right way.
Write it and everyone benefits - well maybe except for MS..

Re:Standard? (1)

Rozzin (9910) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246476)

Why does it matter whether unrelated projects use the same API or not?
You choose the GUI and API that you fid most pleasant, or that best suits your application.
If my application can interact with other applications in all of the important ways, why should I care what API the other guy is using? It doesn't affect me.

This sounds like another holy war.
Jeez. I use emacs. The guy next to me is using VIM. What do I care? I can still read and write each other's files, right?

Already Beautiful and Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246477)

Sheesh! What do those guys want. Right now I'm running GNOME and Sawmill. Its straighforward, free, good looking (I use the MinEGTK theme and the microGUI theme and it looks, feels and is better than Windows or the Mac). Sawmill is fast, programmable, extensible etc. Lets just keep going the way were going. Seems like the Johnny-come-lately people from Apple are trying to make our system into theirs. BTW: Screw the file manager. Most people dont use it that much anyway in UNIX. I will say that Gnome/KDE need standardization in dialog boxes and all the usual areas of interaction.) Lets not re-invent the Mac. Lets make it better. PS: I was *not* impressed with what I saw on the Snapshot page. It looked overdone and confusing. Jim Burnes jburnes @ net.savvis (reverse the last two)

Re:Creator Types, gah (1)

Psion (2244) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246478)

I don't see where they necessarily have to do it as a data and resource fork arrangement like Mac uses, although considering these fellows come from that platform, I guess that is the most likely outcome.

It should be possible to build a minimal expert system that recognizes file types based on cues taken from the files themselves. The Amiga, running Directory Opus, had this ability, and could even be taught new file types on the fly by the user.

Re:Not just sittin' pretty (5)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 14 years ago | (#1246479)

The administration issue is still a gaping black hole in the Linux usability picture. Yes, you can make your desktop "beautiful" with themes and whatnot; Yes, the installer is easier than Windows 98's. But, no, nobody has really tackled the administration issue -- things like linuxconf and the other tools you find seem to be shaky or ill supported at best.

The root of the situation seems to be ultimately cultural. Most people use Linux because they want a unix system, and unix systems have a long standing tradition of obscure administration practices. Folks have made your suggestion this board that you can have your cake and eat it too, that admin functionality can be integrated into the pretty GUI without minimizing or removing the unix environment. These suggestions are usually met with disdain -- the community as a whole seems either happy with the way things are now, or afraid of 'windozification'.

For some folks like me, it's part of the fun. But it does bring up the question of whether World Domination is really the goal or not. Widespread deployment of Linux, even on the server level, is going to require the enlistment and education of the current minimally skilled small server admin crowd. It's a tough problem -- the average MS certified goon isn't even qualified to run a mid-sized NT installation (I know, I've interviewed these guys, and apparently MS will certify you even if you don't understand basics like WINS or domain controllers), and now these guys are being asked to wade into quagmire of a unix installation without any tradition or dummies books to guide them.

Small and medium sized businesses are seriously considering Linux as an alternative to Windows, but even at zero cost, it can't do them a lot of good if they can't find/afford anyone to run the system. The barbarians are the gates -- the question is are they going to find a soft landing when they get in, or is the potential configuration nightmare of a unix system going to kill the prospect of widespread Linux deployment? Is World Domination really what people want, or is Linux best suited to the traditional unix niches of academics, ISPs, and glass houses? It's a tough problem, there's no clear answer, and it's something that may well lead to a fork in the community.

Can't happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1246480)

A universal interface standard cannot be imposed on Linux users, because we have Freedom to choose the interface we prefer. As long as the source is out there, people will develop their own interfaces.
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