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A Glimpse at the Linux Desktop of the Future 759

Posted by timothy
from the irxillent dept.
hisham writes "Every now and then we see articles pointing out "what's wrong with Linux on the desktop." This one gives a nice overview not only of the problems we all know, but also where to look for solutions (app dirs, smarter filesystems) and what's out there (projects trying to change the face of Linux, like Klik, Zero Install and GoboLinux). Still, it usually boils down to things that Mac OS X already has or that are/were touted for inclusion on MS Longhorn. Fortunately, the major desktops stopped playing catch and are focusing on forward-looking Linux projects, like KDE Plasma and Gnome Beagle. Interesting times ahead."
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A Glimpse at the Linux Desktop of the Future

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  • Dear Linux (Score:5, Funny)

    by Seumas (6865) * on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:25AM (#12984239)
    Dear Linux,

    At first, I really admired your lofty goals and pure-hearted ambitions. You spoke of freedom. You spoke of choice. You spoke of a world without limits.

    But over the years, you have stagnated. Sure, you make a robust server and I'll always have a place in my heart (and my production racks) for you. But you have failed to thrive on my desktop.

    Why, just last year, I tried to get you to work with my 23" Apple Cinedisplay. I was ready to return to you full-time after a long desktop-linux hiatus, if only you could have displayed properly on that Cinedisplay without screwing up the resolution. I didn't want to run you in 1024x768 on a 1920x1600 screen. Nor did I want to run 1920x1600 worth of desktop in a 1024x768 resolution where I'd have to roll the mouse all over the place to screen-off to the rest of the desktop.

    And should I even mention the fiascos with various sound cards that you just didn't want to play nicely with? Or of the hardware that you were supposed to be "known-good" on that you chose not to work with at the most inopportune moments?

    After seven years of courting, you still didn't achieve desktop prominence in my life. In fact, the only switch you encouraged me to make was away from you and toward a platform that "just works".

    See, I've recently decided to shove you off the desk and turn you into a fileserver for my massive collection of porn, MP3s and ripped movies. Apple has found a way to give me a beautiful, slick, useful, enjoyable interface that makes everything you offer look like a rejected Fisher-Price prototype. And it slaps this onto a powerful BSD core. It's the best of both worlds. More, when I plug something into it - be it an iPod, 23" or 30" cinedisplay or anything else, it just works. I don't have to spend five days playing with LineModes in x86free.conf or massaging device drivers. I don't have to spend more time configuring and installing things than I do using them anymore.

    As I said, you'll always have a place in my production racks. There, we'll always be friends. But when it comes to my desk... I think we should really stop seeing each other. In fact, I already have. I've moved on. And my new desktop is more than you could ever hope to be. Maybe someday you'll grow up and realize that "free as in freedom" and "screw the corporates" rhetoric, nice as it is, doesn't justify sub-par computing.

    Maybe we can try again some day. For now, I need my space.
    • by TheViffer (128272) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:36AM (#12984295)
      The executive summary of this goes something like this ..

      "X-Windows Sucks"

      • Re:Dear Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pseudorand (603231)
        Actually, X-Windows is the only part of the Linux desktop experience that doesn't suck. The ability to have a program display its window on any computer on the network is so awsome that it makes me put up with the rest of the crappy linux desktop shit. Why the heck haven't other desktop platforms picked up on this feature? And don't say RDP because I don't want may whole darn desktop, I just want one program!
      • Re:Dear Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

        by killjoe (766577) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @12:04PM (#12985981)
        Actually it's more like. Linux sux because apple doesn't write a driver for their monitors.

        Typical anti linux rant, blame linux because vendors haven't written a driver for something and worse are using the legal system to prevent other people from writing drivers too.
    • by Andrewkov (140579) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:51AM (#12984777)
      Here's a summary of Slashdot headlines over the past few years:

      1995: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!
      1996: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!
      1997: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!
      1998: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!
      1999: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!
      2000: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!
      2001: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!
      2002: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!
      2003: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!
      2004: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!
      2005: Linux will be ready for the desktop next year!

      I really think 2006 will be our breakthrough year!
  • Pre-Loading Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigtallmofo (695287) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:28AM (#12984253)
    The biggest stumbling block to Linux on the desktop is that it is not pre-loaded by computer manufacturers such as Dell.

    The average user would do just as well with Linux pre-loaded as they do with Windows pre-loaded. Add to that the lack of viruses and spyware and any productivity lost due to being in unfamiliar territory would possibly be more than made up for by the less-attacked environment.
    • by Seumas (6865) * on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:39AM (#12984310)
      The average user would do just as well with Linux pre-loaded as they do with Windows pre-loaded.

      Until they had to install an application, wanted to play their favorite videogame or upgrade their hardware.

      "Hi grandma. You did what? You bought Quicken at OfficeMax today? Um... You do realize that doesn't work on linux don't you? No, I'm sorry grandma, that only works on a PC or a Macintosh. No, you totally wasted your money. But it's okay, you can totally get the same kind of program for free on linux! You just have to download it and install it. Well, your bank probably won't support it and it probably won't even connect to your bank and you'll have to do everything manually, but... it's free! . . . . Okay, grandma. You have to su to root and then apt-get update; apt-get upgrade. But first, make sure to edit your apt.sources file to point to the security branch so you'll recieve all of those updates. Okay, done? Good. Alright, now you wanted to get an account ledger application to track your banking, right? Okay, apt-get install aptitude and then run aptitude from the command line. After it loads up, start scrolling through the list of applications until you find something that sounds like it will do what you want. Oh - found one? Awesome, grandma! Now you need to press + and then g and g again . . . . . . . Huh? Wait, what'd it say? . . . . Oh, crap. No, apparently one of the dependancies didn't update properly. Okay, we need to remove and purge it and start all over again. Do you know how to use dpkg grandma?"
      • by PeteDotNu (689884)
        "Hi grandma. What's that? You're having trouble running Quicken? What's the error message? An error occurred? Right, I'm afraid I won't be able to help you out from here. We could try setting up a remote desktop. Okay, right click on My Computer... no, not MY computer, YOUR computer. Sigh."
        • "Hi, Grandma. What's that? You're having trouble running Quicken? ...Are you laundering money [bbc.co.uk] again?"
      • one click (Score:2, Informative)

        by zogger (617870)
        one click app installs exist on linux from places like Linspire, so it's possible that other distros could do it as well. And a front end like synaptic makes it pretty darn easy, and is more advanced than what redmond offers.

        Linux is ready for the desktop,*especially* for grandma, it just needs to be preinstalled and sold like that in the big retail shops. And frankly, with hard drive sizes like there are now, getting a computer with dozens/hundreds of apps preinstalled and available in the GUI menu tree w
      • Re:Pre-Loading Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

        by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:04AM (#12984451) Homepage
        It's only funny because it's true, sadly.

        For projects that use it, one click installs do exist on Linux, via the autopackage installer [autopackage.org]. And they are actually one click too (well, OK, two clicks) because there's no Next->Next->Next style wizards involved. Why not watch the Flash demo [autopackage.org] to get a feel for how it works (it's a bit out of date now, things are slightly slicker these days).

        One of the biggest problems autopackage has is simply that developers don't know about it. Whereas every Linux developer has heard of RPM, virtually none have heard of autopackage because it's so new (it only went stable in April).

        If you like what you see there, spread the word or even better, write patches! The best kind of product is the one that sells itself, after all, and whilst autopackage is already quite nice for the end user we're still busy untangling the ball of wool that software distribution on Linux has become.

      • by McGiraf (196030)
        Well I use GNU/Linux on my desktop and i like it better than windows. it's faster more stable and looks better. I know how to use dpkg. I don't care what anybody's grandma uses. Sure GNU/Linux is not completly ready for the "mainstream" desktop buy for sombody like me who's been using using computer since the apple ][ , looked under the hood of all computer and OS I used, GNU/Linux is actualy easier to use than Windows. Windows confuses me , it behaves in inconsitant ways and the logs are mostly useless to
      • by NotoriousQ (457789) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @10:16AM (#12984982) Homepage
        I blame grandma for having an idiot grandson.

        I would just ssh in, and fix things myself. Over the command line. I believe quicken works with wine. Remote admin (even over slow connection): one of the hidden beauties of linux.

        And if you say that grandma does not have an internet connection, I will say that you are just a greedy bastard. Go buy your grandma an internet connection, and forward her a bunch of pictures. As a bonus she will actually know someone cares.

    • by grumbel (592662)
      ### The biggest stumbling block to Linux on the desktop is that it is not pre-loaded by computer manufacturers such as Dell.

      I doubt it, installing Linux never was a problem, you could even install a Debian for *years* by simply holding the Return-key pressed, its actually quite a lot easier then installing a Windows system from scratch. Partitioning is the only thing that might be hard, but even that is only hard when you want to let the Windows partition survive.

      The hard part is maintaining, using and co
  • Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:28AM (#12984254) Homepage
    Now how about fixing the things that I and others see as the real PITA of linux. Lack of standardization adoption for filesystem layout, software installation and configuration?

    Dont believe me those problems exist? go ahead and enable MDKKDM to allow remote X terminal logins. It's massively different from XDM, GDM and KDM on it's own, oh and where the hell are the config files? certianly not where most other X configs reside (the fault there started with KDM's decision to create a new standar for themselves.)

    to hell with pretty, clickey, easier to use interface. Fix the problems we have that cause even seasoned vetrans to pull their hair out.
    • MDKKDM is at least one year obsolete and Mandriva (former Mandrake) uses standard KDM now. So do not complain about lack of standardization when you opt to use unsupported and obsolete software.
  • Whats wrong? I (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:28AM (#12984255)
    Linux needs to get its act together

    Linux is *not* user friendly, and until it is linux will stay with >1% marketshare.

    Take installation. Linux zealots are now saying "oh installing is so easy, just do apt-get install package or emerge package": Yes, because typing in "apt-get" or "emerge" makes so much more sense to new users than double-clicking an icon that says "setup".

    Linux zealots are far too forgiving when judging the difficultly of Linux configuration issues and far too harsh when judging the difficulty of Windows configuration issues. Example comments:

    User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Linux?"
    Zealot: "Oh that's easy! If you have Redhat, you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod +x on the file. Then you have to su to root, make sure you type export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5 but ONLY if you have that latest libc6 installed. If you don't, don't set that environment variable or the installer will dump core. Before you run the installer, make sure you have the GL drivers for X installed. Get them at [some obscure web address], chmod +x the binary, then run it, but make sure you have at least 10MB free in /tmp or the installer will dump core. After the installer is done, edit /etc/X11/XF86Config and add a section called "GL" and put "driver nv" in it. Make sure you have the latest version of X and Linux kernel 2.6 or else X will segfault when you start. OK, run the Quake 3 installer and make sure you set the proper group and setuid permissions on quake3.bin. If you want sound, look here [link to another obscure web site], which is a short HOWTO on how to get sound in Quake 3. That's all there is to it!"

    User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Windows?"
    Zealot: "Oh God, I had to install Quake 3 in Windoze for some lamer friend of mine! God, what a fucking mess! I put in the CD and it took about 3 minutes to copy everything, and then I had to reboot the fucking computer! Jesus Christ! What a retarded operating system!"

    So, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that what seems easy and natural to Linux geeks is definitely not what regular people consider easy and natural. Hence, the preference towards Windows.
    • by obender (546976) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:34AM (#12984289)
      you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod ...

      If only all Linux applications were that simple to install.

    • by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:44AM (#12984342) Homepage Journal
      Sadly, you and I are probably going to get nailed with "flamebait" or "troll", but you are essentially correct. If we were still in the day of DOS where we have to fight with IRQs and DMAs, what you mention would probably be more tolerated by new users. When I taught Solaris, I found that the people who adjusted to it the easiest were (no surprise here) mainframe users! I even taught one lady who was in her 70s how to use Solaris, and she did better than most of the rest of the class!

      As would be expected, the Windows generation had the most difficulty converting. Thanks to Windows' dumbing down of the interface, people have come to expect the simplicity of throwing in a disc, letting it install, reboot if necessary, and the app is there. Issues like permissions, libraries, kernels, and so forth are going to be completely foreign concepts to the last majority of computer users that are out there.

      And can you imagine what most people will think when you tell them that Linux runs X? "You mean, Linux is pornographic?!!" (That's called humor. I know that that's a foreign concept to many Slashdot mods.)

      Obviously, education is the key, but that also assumes that the user is willing to learn. Not all of them are, and that's fine. Let them eat Windows. But until Linux does dumb itself down for those who fear the command line, people will look at it, them look at Windows, and switch back to Windows because of the sake of simplicity.

      Alternately, I wish that more companies would offer PCs with Linux preinstalled right there in the store with a Linux desktop right there. Let the people see what Linux can do; let them get a feel for it in the store. Maybe they wouldn't feel so afraid of it. The Linux desktop is very nice as of late. MEPIS Linux v3.3.1 has one of the best desktops I've seen when it comes to user friendliness. I've actually been able to convert a few people to give Linux a try because of it. (Not many, mind you, but it's better than none.)
      • So it's linux bashing season.. big deal.
        I have Macs and I have been running Linux for over 5 years, desk, rack and laptop. Most of the linux-on-mac folks don't know their tits from their arse (*) so I hardly see how a slash-tit author has any authority to rant about linux.

        Get some real geeks and then we'l talk.

        (*) if they DID, maybe linux on a mac would actually work properly! Just scroll throught the linux-PPC maillists for any major distro and you may notice the level of posting equates roughly to the "
      • ... until Linux does dumb itself down for those who fear the command line,

        Making Linux easier to use is NOT about 'dumbing it down' (losing features in an attempt to appear less intimidating). If anything, the opposite should be true: the OS should become more intelligent, taking care of the tedious stuff so the user can concentrate on doing his job.

        OS X is a good example of how this can be done: you can install some (most?) applications by dragging an icon to the Applications folder. You can still do it
      • Issues like permissions, libraries, kernels, and so forth are going to be completely foreign concepts to the last majority of computer users that are out there.

        But surely, that's exactly how it should be.

        As an ancient (ex) mainframe sysprog myself, I like to know the technical details, but the majority of users just need to get their work done, or be creative, or enjoy their games or whatever.

        Windows and OS-X let them do this, and Linux doesn't, really.

        I don't consider making something more usab

    • You're comparing apples and oranges and leaving out the orange. "I had to install Quake3, and it said to go get the updated drivers, so I did, but then my screen would only run in 640x480, and the virus software started complaining, and MS Office wouldn't run!"

      No kidding, this is what happened on my game system. It took several rounds of updates and yanking out my good video card and using a cheap one to get the machine bootable with the resulting mess.
    • Since you use the nvidia driver in your linux example, you should do the same in your windows example...

      It goes something like this...

      Me: Ensure you have opengl support else Quake 3 will just open a window and close it again before you even get a chance to read what is wrong..

      User: Oh? OpenGL drivers? Windows recognized my card perfectly well!

      Me: Well, try it.. (user tries and finds out what I just have been saying)

      User: ok, how do I fix this?

      Me: Did you get a CD with the card?

      User: Yes but there was
  • Beagle == Spotlight? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:30AM (#12984265)
    Am I missing something? How can it be forward looking when its already integrated into Mac OS X (Spotlight) and an add on for Windows (Google Desktop search)?
    • by thm76 (718345)

      Well, I am not sure about this, but I think Beagle was available first. I think it is included in the latest SuSE which was earlier on the market than Mac OS 10.4. Don't know about Google Desktop search.

      I have to admit that Beagle is not yet finished (no 1.0 yet) but it'll be ready earlier than Longhorn, I reckon.

      For me Beagle is an example for Linux not playing catch up with Windows anymore but Linux having a useful (probably killer) application first to market.

      Furthermore I think that Linux is in many

  • Unbuntu:

    For some reason IPV4 was non-existant on all 4 Ethernet cards, but ipv6 worked. Tried everything, eventually enlisted the help of 2 friends for a total reinstall. But I had no precious data to backup. Ugh.
  • Choice (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:32AM (#12984278)
    Linux...the CHOICE of a GNU generation!
  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:34AM (#12984285) Homepage

    I can see some of the points here. However, for most applications, I do not go about the ./configure, make, make install routine. I simply load my app manager (YaST), choose the app I want and it is installed.

    I think the KDE and Gnome desktops are very usable with a few minor tweaks. As I often mention, my 60+ year old mother uses KDE just fine. And, hey, she's not gotten any viruses or adware.

    Now, I realize that the *nix desktops are not perfect and there are some serious hardware issues, due to manufacturers bending over for big Bill, but these things are slowly changing.

  • Desktop icons (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:40AM (#12984320) Homepage Journal

    In the bit on desktops he writes:

    Everything else should be kept off the desktop. In particular, it is rather important for the system to NOT have desktop shortcuts in order to prevent the common glut of special offers and installers.

    But everybody I know likes to clutter their desktops with icons. My wife does it in Gnome. My workmates to it in windows and KDE. Everybody does it.

    Yes it may look ugly and cluttered but so is the physical desk I work on. That's life. Shouldn't we stop telling users how to organise their data?

    • Re:Desktop icons (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cyclop (780354)
      Mod parent up.
      I'm really, really fed up to listen to people that think that making things easy for the end user means imprisoning it inside your questionable usability decisions. Users must have maximum flexibility. They want it, they need it, they love it. It is obvious they need reasonable defaults, but they must be free to change them as they like.
      • I do -so- agree! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by trezor (555230)

        I run Windows due to some hardware issues, and I feel like I have put in enough effort trying to make stuff work.

        However there is no ting which annoys the hell out of me in Windows than the pressumed useful and slightly forced data-organization.

        Why on earth would I put my music in a folder called "My music" in a hidden folder called "My Documents" when I obviously want it in a common, shared folder? Not to mention I keep my system and data on clearly seperated partitions, and Windows insists on putti

    • Re:Desktop icons (Score:5, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @11:11AM (#12985456) Homepage Journal
      Hello, Mr. Smith. You might want to reread my article. Immediately after the sentence you quoted is this:

      For the purposes of easy to access files, it is in the user's interest to allow selected files to appear on the Desktop. In the proposed interface, the Desktop would be merely a label used by the system to identify which files should appear. As a result, the right click menu and/or toolbars can provide the user with the option to add or remove the file from the Desktop.


      It tends to help to read the entire article before commenting. Don't worry, though. You're in good company. A large vocal user base has been misinterpreting my ideas since they've been posted. I'm working on a followup blog to see if I can hammer a few of these misunderstanding out. ;-)

      Mods? How about a few points so that this correction will appear on par with parent post?
  • I don't think you need to look at such revolutionary changes as the author suggests to produce a great Linux desktop. The three areas we need to look at first, in order of importance, are:

    1) Bugs
    2) Usability
    3) Performance

    GNOME, for example, seems to be shifting its focus from 'revolution' to these points. The frameworks of several great desktop environments are there, they just need to be finished off,
  • by DrSkwid (118965) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:49AM (#12984375) Homepage Journal
    My plan9 desktop [proweb.co.uk], (at 50% zoom) the open window is a vnc to my X desktop with 9wm running.
  • by ratta (760424) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:51AM (#12984384)
    is that they do not want something that is like windows, they just want windows. I've seen people that prefer to do very complicated things on windows rather than running a couple of unix commands. Most people do not "choose" to use linux, they just learn one way to do thing, and this will be "the way" to do things. They are more sure to use windows than you will ever be to use linux, as a superior entity (the computer seller) imposed it to them. Instead you choosed to use linux, you know that there are many OSes, so you'll never be 100% sure that linux is the right choice over all other OSes. How strange is world we are living...
  • Oh no. Not the Dock. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by brainstyle (752879) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:54AM (#12984403)
    I've never been a big fan of the Dock on OS X. It has a lot of problems, famously enumerated by Tog [asktog.com]. I'm a big fan of OS X for a number of reasons, but the Dock should go.

    If you want the user to be able to determine what Taskbar/Dock type thing they want, you might want to check out DragThing [dragthing.com] as a third option, which lacks the visual style of the Dock but works a whole heck of a lot better.

    I'm not a big fan of highly customizable interfaces, but man I wish I could just turn the Dock off once and for all.

  • by Arthur B. (806360) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:55AM (#12984405)
    I know they are various issues for linux on the Desktop, hardware beeing the most proeminent. I remember the first time I tried to install linux... The installation program asked me: "Do you want me to set the symbolic link ?" ( ln -s /usr/linux-blahblah /usr/linux I guess ) Well, install has gone a good way since. The real problem is not here, the real problem is people. Yep. Most people don't understand crap using a computer... They use learned sequences of actions to use their apps but have absolutely no clue of why they are doing so. Most people WILL get very confused if you switch their windows taskbar from botton to top. Try that, really. They don't know how to orientate in the city, they just know that to go to work they should take right right left left right straight ahead for 100 meters, left left and right. Should they take a wrong turn they will be completly lost. Most people have a hard time with mac or with windows... geez, most people have a hard time with a microwave ! You can't be ahead in technology and easy to use for everyone. It's like asking a quantum physic book to provide new theoretical breakthroughs and then complaining that your grandmother can't understand it.
  • by spockvariant (881611) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:56AM (#12984411)
    One seldom commented disadvantage of tightly integrated desktops like Gnome/KDE is their lack of extensibility. Yes, you read that right:) As a 10+ year Linux user, the biggest advantage I've felt of using Linux is its extensibility in the 'UNIX way' - using pipes, scripts and files. The more you change these interfaces into object-oriented/middleware derived ones, the more difficult and annoying it becomes for UNIX hackers to script them - which destroys one of the main purposes of being on UNIX.

    With the evolving desktop, people stop writing general purpose tools that abstract data and functionalities as simple files and scripts, and instead write their stuff for specific desktops. One good example is synce [sf.net] - a program to sync WinCe devices with Linux, which integrates well into Evolution, but has no 'dangling interface' where you can just snoop in, get your data and do what you want with it. File-oriented interfaces were a given with most Linux apps till very recently. And as their number/dominance diminish, I wonder if Linux hackers will slowly switch to other UNIXes just because they'd be more UNIX-like.
    • One seldom commented disadvantage of tightly integrated desktops like Gnome/KDE is their lack of extensibility.

      It's seldom commented because there is no such thing. The interoperability features that KDE provides are way more advanced than UNIX pipes.

      Case in point: DCOP [wikipedia.org]. Using the console DCOP client, or the DCOP APIs you can control almost every KDE program from your scripts. For example, if you want to pop up the K menu at the mouse cursor, just call `dcop kicker kicker popupKMenu 0`. Want to swi

      • Exactly! I hope the mods notice your reply. It is a common old-school myth that pipes are very powerful and extensible way to connect things. But that is exactly the opposite of the truth, and it is one of the things that holds so many *nix advocates back.

        About 20 years ago, computer scientists realized that a raw stream of formatted data is not the way to go. In the future, when that data format changes then all consumers must also be changed. There's no extensibility or backward compatibility. That
        • Look, take the right tool for the right job. The good thing about pipes is that they make it easy and quick to solve relatively small problems involving formatted streams.

          A couple of simple examples, I'd love to see how you would do them in (real world!) OO.

          df -k | sort -k1n
          kill `ps -ef | grep xyz | grep -v grep | awk '{print $2}'`

          That's what's good about pipes (and command substitution...), you learn how to use them once and you can quickly manipulate data by eyeballing the data and knocking up a one-

  • by cyclop (780354) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:00AM (#12984434) Homepage Journal
    two days ago, i'd like to know what do you think about. [blogspot.com]
  • by LordKaT (619540) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:03AM (#12984448) Homepage Journal
    My biggest complaint isn't with the distributors, but with the software developers: they still hae this 1990's mindset that it's perfectly acceptable to ask the user to compile their package (and about a million obscure dependencies you've never heard of) in order to get their software to work.

    If you want to target your software to the desktop (and I mean the windows audience), then give me a goddamn binary and let me use the damn software now, not three hours from now.
    • So what (non-niche, ie for use by a typical non-tech user) packages need compiling? I've been running Ubuntu for the past year or so and I've never needed to compile anything...
  • FYI, this article has already been ripped to shreds in the comments at Linux Today:

    here [linuxtoday.com]

  • Two stories (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:09AM (#12984487) Journal
    1) I recently decided to get with 2002 and buy a USB memory stick. Trying it out on the three platforms I use:
    • MacOS X -- Plug it in, and it works.
    • Windows XP -- Plug it in, and it works.
    • Linux -- Plug it in, grep dmesg for information, create a mount point, guess exactly which partition to mount, and it works. And then I edited /etc/fstab in vi so it'll be even easier next time!

    The crazy thing is that that actually was a huge win for Linux! Dealing with USB devices didn't used to be nearly that easy! But it still is a long way from being usable for any normal person.

    2) My Linux Waterloo, though, is updates. I have two Linux systems: a TiBook with Yellow Dog, that has an irretrievably corupted RPM database, and a Gentoo whitebox that I can't push through to Xorg and 2.6. (The latter was switched to Gentoo after Mandrake package management imploded.)

    It's been a fun ride, but I've spent enough time on treating my computer as a hobby. OS X has pretty much taken over for all my actual computer use outside of work.

    • Re:Two stories (Score:3, Informative)

      by ncw (59013)
      Linux -- Plug it in, grep dmesg for information, create a mount point, guess exactly which partition to mount, and it works. And then I edited /etc/fstab in vi so it'll be even easier next time!

      That's been my experience up until quite recently too.

      However I got a new laptop for my wife recently, so I thought I'd have a go with ubuntu. Ubuntu was a dream to install, and everything just worked with two small exceptions (suspend and xv) which is pretty good for a brand new laptop.

      I was extremely impress

    • Re:Two stories (Score:3, Informative)

      by shish (588640)
      My experience:
      • Ubuntu -- plug it in, it works
      • Windows XP -- plug it in, ~1/20th of the time the drive randomly gets corrupted and locks up any app using it (including scandisk).
      After plugging back into ubuntu and running fsck.vfat, it detects a load of errors but corrects them and it works again in both OSes.
  • by Durzel (137902) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:10AM (#12984493) Homepage
    I recently installed Fedora Core 4 at home to run a local DNS server, DynDNS daemon, MythTV and a few other things. I'm pretty savvy with Linux and sysadmin for a living (as well as programming) so you could say I have an affinity for problem-solving.

    That said, I have struggled in recent days getting everything I've wanted to install working correctly. Largely this has been due to GCC4.0 incompatibilities (many apps just don't compile at all from source without patches), but also because lots of exotic RPMs (Myth being a prime example) have not yet been built for FC4.

    A lot of things I have had to compile manually from sources when I had originally set out to use yum to manage everything (I've recently been converted to the ease-of-use and practicalities of RHEL and Redhat Network).

    Another poster commented that Linux is perfectly capable as a desktop OS - until you need to install an application, play a game or upgrade their hardware. Joking aside, this statement is 100% accurate.

    In my endeavours trying to install all of my "exotic" applications like a movie player (xine), NZB downloader (klibido) I have either run into problems where the currently available RPMs are buggy [sourceforge.net], or the sources just don't compile out of the box. How can any non-technical person be expected to deal with this?

    If you contrast this with Windows, I think the only time I have had a failed installation with a piece of software I have downloaded has been when it has required .NET Framework, and I haven't got it installed. At no time have I ever downloaded something and it started telling me that various specific versions compiled against specific architectures are missing, and I cannot continue.

    Linux will need to standardise itself a lot more if it is going to be a force on the desktop. RPM/yum/apt-get and so on is a step in the right direction, but its still voodoo for most people. Unfortunately I beleive this standardisation is in stark contrast with what most techies (myself included in some way) believe the strength of Linux to be - i.e. diversity and the "joy" of compiling things manually.
  • by corneliusagain (810256) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:11AM (#12984496)
    My experience is that linux hardware support is the killer issue - and it betrays an expert-only attitude in the linux community. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Mostly it almost does and there's some trick you need that, in a commercial OS, would be taken care of, but which in Linux is buried on some website that you might find if you're good at using google - and which will then require, at the very least, command line use and text file editing. The comments will imply that it's a common problem, not to worry, just edit this file... run that command... etc. It's not a bug, it's a feature. Bollocks.

    If I need a new version of a driver, I need to be able to grab it as I can on Windows without recompilation. That's unacceptable. The NDIS wrapper implementation is a good example: it works and mostly well, but to get support you have to mess with the command line and text files or even scarier stuff. What you should do is be told to insert the CD that came with the device and have linux do it for you.

    The office apps are already on linux; it's already fast; much of the UI and desktop is already user friendly. Installs have issues, yes, but they're down the line and mostly hidden from the user. The user is neatly kept in their home directory. Hard disk management is complex, but not much more so than Windows and partitioning is nicely automated in most installs.

    I like linux a lot and use it regularly. I don't actually believe, though, that it can currently compete against commercial OSs without a massive change to some of the attitudes about what's acceptable, and a resulting change to the way Linux works. Hardware is the area where those attitudes seem to be totally exposed to the end-user.

  • by kesuki (321456) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:14AM (#12984518) Journal
    Knoppix is a linux distroy anyone can use, the automated hardware detection etc is supurb. The DVD 4.0 version does demonstrate a lot of the incompatability issues he's talking about though. because knoppix has ~6 gigs of applications (they're compressed on the DVD image) many of the applications are broken.

    Debian is the distro Knoppix is based of of, so it has really good hardware detection, but the 'stable' version is using the 'older' proven stable detection routines. That means it doesn't configure everything perfectly, for instance I had to enable DMA on my dvd-rom, and I had to use k3b to 'configure the system' for cd/dvd burning*.

    I also have the advantage of having prior experience, So I know how to install flash support for my secondary browser, and how to configure java, which isn't included in debian because it's not FOSS. Plus I knew that the FOSS drivers suck compared to the proprietary ones, so I knew where to find them, and I knew what settings to set in the 'install' script for them, because I've been messing around with X11 config files for years now...

    So basically, initial set up is probably beyond most users, but the same is true of windows. Most windows users can't even install applications by themselves, and when they try to the end up with a million spyware programs.

    Debian is 'ready' for the desktop. The installer is painless for geeks, and simple enough for rice boys. A few noobs might even get lucky with it. The stable version while old, has a very simple gui based app finder that anyone who can use download.com can learn how to use.

    *= Because i'm lazy. I wasn't going to muck about trying to figure anything out.
  • by mnemonic_ (164550) <jamec@@@umich...edu> on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:21AM (#12984558) Homepage Journal
    Why doesn't someone try to combine the best of linux and make a decent distro? Something like:
    • Gentoo's portage
    • Knoppix's auto hardware detection and configuration
    • Slackware's BSD-style rc.scripts
    • Mandrake's installer and partitioning tool
    There's a lot of stuff in the Linux world that could tackle the most common Linux concerns, but no one has tried combining them. Why not? Linux will not advance on the desktop without some realization that no distro is perfect, but by taking from multiple distros one can get pretty close.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @10:07AM (#12984901) Homepage Journal
    I want my Linux desktop to get away from the focus on "applications". I want to deal with my data, not the tools I use to deal with the data. I want to open "documents", or pages, or multimedia collections of data. I don't want to have to remember which applications I use to edit or view them. I don't want to have to pick one tool, and exclude the rest. If I need to edit the text of a page, retouch the images, then upload it to my server, then serve it, I don't wnat to have to open the page in a series of different, mutually exclusive contexts. I want to open the page, and have combined menu items (or other GUIs) for all the operations from which I'll select to work on that collection of data. Or add new data. I'm really tired of feeling like I'm the janitor for a bunch of applications, finding/opening them in the right sequence, having to choose which app I'm working in, with its shortcut keys, default window positions, and exclusions of operations I'll have to do "later", when I open the other app to do those other operations. Then return to this app when I need to do these kinds of operations again. I can't even keep a single document open in multiple apps, alternately using them on the single doc, because each doc has a single datatype that's tied to a single app (or a few), and each open doc has its own saved instance - which doesn't refresh the open instances in the other apps.

    Linux uses apps which mostly have three tiers: storage, engine and UI. They've got lots of IPC, mostly standardized. The desktops have more IPC options, too. I want a desktop which lets me find multimedia documents by bookmark, metadata searching, or virtual hierarchical views of my storage. When I open a doc, it can include live data, including data updated in realtime from distributed storage (or generation, like web services or streams). I want to work from menus (or other GUIs) that contain all the valid operations for all the valid datatypes in the doc. When I want to add new datatypes, I want to add from GUIs integrated with the doc scope in which I'm working. When I want to store my doc somewhere on the network, either as a resource, or a person, I want to merely send it to that object name, with its default transport (SMB, NFS, email, WebDAV, FTP, HTTP-PUT, SMS/Content-Disposition, whatever) automatic, unless I select another. I want to subscribe to versions of multimedia docs across the network. And I want to diagram how data flows through my document components into each other, including filters and logic, with dataflow/workflow templates that are just other docs that people with whom I work send around.

    No more "apps". The Mac paradigm that Jobs swiped from Xerox PARC was supposed to be "doc centric". Apple and IBM started a grand partnership, Taligent, to put "OpenDoc" on every desktop, but they gave up when HTML and the Web supposedly offered a simpler, more popular way to do it. But it's 2005, and I'm more expert in operating a stable of complicated apps, each its own little world (with rickety bridges to some, but not all, other worlds), than I am in my own data. Let's slice up the apps into their features, each with their GUIs hanging out, then rebundle them into a desktop "meta-app". Which is the sole context, representing many different nonmodal contexts, in which I have to work on all my data.
  • Here we go... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VStrider (787148) <giannis_mz&yahoo,co,uk> on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @10:49AM (#12985259)
    The same ol' arguments from windows users. You know what? I've seen people who were clueless about computers, being more perceptive to linux than windows users. Windows users react, because it's different, and they usually refuse to read even a single paragraph of a help file, because that's how they're used to from windows.

    From TFA:

    Installing Applications is complicated
    I hear this argument all the time and it really is starting to annoy me. It's just different from windows, that'a all.

    A typical windows installation:
    You first need to download the installer application or insert the cd where the app resides.
    A window pops up welcoming you to the installation, you click next.
    Then the program's license pops up which you need to click accept and click next.
    Then you need to choose whether you want another installation target folder, other than the default C:\Program Files\ and click next.
    Then you choose the name of the start menu group and click next.
    Then if the program installs any DLLs which are outdated you'll be asked whether you want to keep or overwrite the some2423_app.DLL or not and click next.
    If all goes ok, you'll click next for a few more times before finishing the installation by...clicking Finish

    A typical linux installation:
    Depending on your distribution you type:
    apt-get install thisapp
    or you might have to type yum install thisapp
    or emerge thisapp.
    In all cases, the app will be downloaded and installed for you. That's it.

    Directory structures can be confusing to navigate
    No they're not. It's just different from windows, that'a all.
    /bin for binaries /sbin for system binaries. whats so confusing about it? Oh, I see it now, C:\Program Files for binaries and C:\Windows\System32 for system binaries is better, yes?
    Or maybe the fact that you have your kernel and boot loader in one place under /boot is confusing? maybe it's better to have them scattered all over the place like in C:\boot.ini and in C:\Windows\System32 as well as in the registry?
    Or maybe the slash(/) is confusing? Although you use slash for URLs and pretty much anything, why not use the backslash for browsing directories like in windows, eh? Better, yes?
    I'd say that *nix directory structure is the standard and anything else that uses backslashes and obscure directory structures is plain wrong and confusing.

    Interface is confusing and inconsistent.
    No it's not. You're coming from windows, that's all. Infact I can find hundrends of inconsistencies with the windows interface. Like for example to shut down your pc you need to click Start. Huh?
    And if you're talking about how desktop enviroments are different, like Gnome and KDE, well, they're meant to be different! Use the one you like. There is no reason why everything should look the same. You want simplicity and ease of use? Go with Gnome. You want eye candy and many options to tweak? Go with KDE. You want fast response times(if you're on old hardware)? Go with Fluxbox or IceWM. You want super duper eye candy and fancy effects while you don't care so much on stability? Go with Enlightment.
    There's something for everyone, and I think this is alot better than trying to fit all sizes in one shoe.


    Steep learning curve required to understand system functions.
    Oh, common! How much easier can system functions get? Is it easier on windows? If so, why? Maybe because you've spent so many years learning how to use every system function? Do the same on linux (RTFM/learn) and then come back and tell me if it was at all difficult. You see, it's different but it's not difficult. Don't expect to know-it-all on your 1st day. And don't expect to "just figure it out" without even reading a single sentence of a help file.
    When you started driving, did you just took the car into town, expecting to just figure out things without trying to learn? Didn't think so. But you w
  • SymphonyOS??? (Score:4, Informative)

    by charnov (183495) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @12:21PM (#12986138) Homepage Journal
    I can't believe no one has mentioned Symphony and it's eadically different interface. SymphonyOS [symphonyos.com]
  • Do it right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @02:58PM (#12987657) Homepage Journal
    My input requirements:

    1) Don't confuse eye candy with usability. A corrolary is don't confuse trendy with usability. OSX has a lot of eye candy, but it's usability really isn't all that stunning if you look at it objectively.

    2) Don't make the unwashed newbie your core audience. Newbie friendly isn't synonymous with usability. Everyone grows up, and no one stays a newbie forever. It's hard to believe, but it's true. You don't want to frighten away the newbie, but neither do you want to force him to abandon your desktop in disgust once he graduates to an intermediate or advanced user.

    5) Don't dump legacy functionality. Just because you don't use the network connectivity of X11 doesn't mean no one else does either. If you haven't noticed, "the network" is getting bigger and more heterogenous every day. If I can't use your desktop over the network, it's going to suck.

    4) I don't use Linux, so don't make a Linux-only desktop. Most of you developers know this, but unfortunately there's enough of you that don't to make things a real pain in the butt.

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