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Windows and Linux User Interfaces

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  • by Tet (2721) <slashdot AT astradyne DOT co DOT uk> on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:16AM (#13932177) Homepage Journal
    To gain momentum Linux needs a central installation architecture that all applications must use to properly install and run. The OS should ensure that applications are installed before they can be executed.

    Perhaps there's some truth to this. If Linux is to gain more widespread adoption, then maybe that would help. If so, then I personally hope Linux remains a niche OS. What he doesn't seem to grasp is that some of us would rather remain true to the Unix ideals and philosophy than to chase mass market popularity. I want to just be able to extract an archive and run a binary contained within. I don't want to have to inform the OS that I've done so, and have to "install" the software. I want to be able to compile an app and run it from my home directory. Why should I have to register it with the OS in order to do so?

    • by helix_r (134185) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:24AM (#13932261)

      You can have your cake and eat it too.

      Linux has to made more useable "out of the box", expert users can always strip-down their install or use only certain tools or pick "expert" distros.

      No harm is done (to expert users) if a smart company decides to release a user-friendly linux distro.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Great job, studying the user-interface of a kernel. Very insightful and such.
    • by cortana (588495) <sam@NOSPaM.robots.org.uk> on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:31AM (#13932324) Homepage
      My operating system (Debian) has just such a system (dpkg).
      • by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:47AM (#13932478) Homepage
        There ya go! This is the core of the Linux problem. Everyone sees Linux vs. Windows, and in this battle, I have little doubt Linux would win. But that's just not what it's all about. Linux is a kernel, not an OS. The problem is the Linux OSes fragmentation. There is not one, but many Linuxes fighting for the crown, and this is weakening their common kernel: Linux.

        If only SuSe, Red Hat, Debian and Mandrake could just agree on some STANDARDS !!! For crying out loud, everyone is bashing microsoft for not adopting an "open" standard (actually plenty of them) but the key distros cannot even agree on a common way to distribute and install an application. How can anyone blame Microsoft when the exact same idiocy is happenning in their supposedly "perfect" open-source world?

        </rant> ;)
        • No, I don't think it's really about the fragmentation. It's about the mindset. You can always teach someone to use a modern Linux distro, as many anecdotes have recounted. As long as you're there to answer questions, the users can make it through the difficult parts. The problem is that this isn't 1995 anymore. Back then GUIs were a new thing for the IBM PC, and everyone was willing to seek out a local computer geek to help them make it work. Now that users are comfortable in Windows, however, why should they switch to a completely different system that requires them to relearn how to do everything?

          Apple has answered that question. "If you move to the Mac, your applications are simple to install, your files are well laid out, the computer self-manages itself, the user interface is less confusing, you can quickly search for files, organize them in new way, nearly all maintenence is automatic, the system is free of spyware and viruses, AND you can still use Microsoft Office!."

          The Linux community's answer has been, "Hey, we don't have viruses either! Erm... except for those one or two. But someone released an anti-virus that spread itself to eliminate the first virus! Oh, and did I mention that it's free! And you can have a home server!"

          Unfortunately, the Linux answer has not been very appealing to the market.

          This link [spack.org] contains a great analogy of the situation.
    • Well the problem is addressing these perceived shortcomings of Linux compared to Windows/OS X/whatever is that some people view Linux as the name of a single operating system...but it's not. For the power users, go with something like Gentoo/Slackware or a distro equally technical and 'pure' to the Unix-like roots. If you want a Linux distribution to compete with Windows, then we may be looking at something like a more refined Mandriva/openSUSE flavor.

      But when it comes to installing things to the system, I
    • by mj2k (726937) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:48AM (#13932490)
      "Linux to be 100% RISK FREE. If you don't like it you need to be able to easily uninstall and your computer will be exactly the same as before you started." So linux should use a fat32 fs so it can be "uninstalled"? Try installing XP and "restoring" win98 or win2k. If you want to tryout linux use knoppix, it's stupid to expect _any_ OS to adopt a deprecated fs from another OS in order for a user to be able to "restore" his old OS. Don't put absurd requirements for Linux that the latest MS Windows can't accomplish..
      • by ScuzzMonkey (208981) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @12:14PM (#13932759) Homepage
        Don't put absurd requirements for Linux that the latest MS Windows can't accomplish..

        But that was exactly his point--Linux NEEDS to be able to accomplish things Windows can't accomplish, dramatic and useful things, to overcome the barriers to adoption. I think the risk-free install is a bit pie-in-the-sky, but his point is well-taken... there is an opportunity to do some big, dramatic things to make it easy to adopt Linux on the desktop, because there is no corporate imperative in the way. If you saddle yourself to only to features that the latest Windows can accomplish, you're discarding one of the main advantages in the fight.
      • Actually, Linux can run from FAT32 - sort of. With clever use of a initrd and loopback devices, it's possible to boot Linux from a EXT2 (say) filesystem that actually lives in a file on your Windows partition. (This should also work with NTFS, as long as you create the file from within Windows to start off with.)

        Some of the older Mandrake versions even had a tool to automate the process of setting one up - you just told it what size you wanted, and it created one and rebooted into the installer (via DOS)
    • by aetherspoon (72997) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:49AM (#13932497) Homepage
      I can do the same under Windows, yet Windows has a central installation architecture. Why is that? Dependencies, for one. If a program has no dependencies or externals, I can just extract and run the binary (in fact, a lot more programs under Windows work this way than one would think).

      The OS should ensure that applications are installed before they can be executed.
      I don't know of any OS that requires that one. However, that isn't an arguement against the former part of the excerpt, which is the only part I'm addressing.

      Linux as a whole needs one. Something that lets joeuser download a file (ONE) from the net, run the file, and it installs everything needed for the program downloaded and runs correctly the first time on any modern linux platform. I still can't do that on SUSE even for most programs.
      Compare to the Windows world. You can download a single file (a self-installing executable file) from the net and assume it will work on any modern windows platform (2K/XP/2K3). In fact, the only things I can think of as exceptions off the top of my head are ports from Linux to Windows.
      • What's so difficult to write "yum install application_name"? (and yes - there is GUI also - "yumex").
      • Perhaps you're interested in autopackage? [autopackage.org] We're working very hard on multi-distribution compatibility.
    • To gain momentum Linux needs a central installation architecture that all applications must use to properly install and run. The OS should ensure that applications are installed before they can be executed.

      Must use? Can use? Mandatory to use but can use other methods as well?

      I think I'd want to lean towards the latter. If there were an install wizard-like method, consistently available across every Linux app (or at least the ones most people want to use) I'm sure a lot of people would like to be able to
    • Why should I have to register it with the OS in order to do so?

      It's apparent that Greg Raiz doesn't "get" Unix, and so his choice of language is open to criticism. Unix is not a monolithic black box intended for narrowly defined use. It's an extensible workbench written by developers for developers.

      That said, Greg has made an intuitive connection with an idea which is very important for any modular operating system, and that is that it should be possible for the modules to be managed in a structured w

    • >> To gain momentum Linux needs a central installation architecture
      >> that all applications must use to properly install and run. The OS
      >> should ensure that applications are installed before they can be
      >> executed.

      > Perhaps there's some truth to this. If Linux is to gain more
      > widespread adoption, then maybe that would help. If so, then I
      > personally hope Linux remains a niche OS. What he doesn't seem to
      > grasp is that some of us would rather remain true to the Unix idea
  • Linux is FINE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Work Account (900793)
    I have been reading about Linux being "ready for the desktop" for like 8 years now.

    I for one am sick of it.

    I use Linux every day on the desktop.

    Yes, at first it was a bit confusing, but over the years it has matured ten-fold.

    My parents use it, my grandmother runs Fedora, and I convert others on a daily basis.

    ENOUGH already with this GUI/desktop debate. It is over and done and we have done it.
    • by baudilus (665036)
      The logical question to ask is: why should Linux (or the Linux community) care if it's more and more widespread? What's wrong with the way it is now? This is not a flame, I'm asking because I'm looking for a good answer, believe it or not.
      • SUPPORT.

        As a Linux developer you and I often deal with companies that will not publish open specifications regarding their hardware.

        As such, it is necessary to "break the law" and reverse engineer these devices in order to create decent Linux drivers that interface between the device and the application/user level software on the GNU/Linux kernel and operating system tools.

        Some say that if Linux slowly gains market share of say 20-30% that manufacturers will stop making Windows-specific devices.

        Another bene
        • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:46AM (#13932462) Homepage Journal
          Welcome to the Chicken and Egg problem. Hardware manufacturers and Software producers are not going to support Linux until it's popular. Yet Linux won't become popular until the Hardware and Software vendors support it. As a result, you need to make the product more attractive to users in another way.

          Apple has the right idea. By pushing the technology far ahead of the competition, they convince users to accept some of the shortcomings in exchange for a large number of features unavailable on other platforms. This increases the Mac user base, forcing the Hardware and Software vendors to support them.

          I know in my own personal case, I could run regularly Linux right now if I wanted to. The problem is that my kids have a large number of educational titles and other kids' software (no, they don't operate correctly under WINE) that they must reboot to use. If I leave the system in Linux, I hear no end of complaining from my wife who has to reboot the next day.

          Now I (and a few others) have suggested methods by which the Linux Desktop could pull ahead of Windows, and possibly even the Mac. My own suggestions would be distro specific and would not harm any existing distros. Yet the community resists such changes strongly, stating that "Linux is perfect the way it is". Many automatically assume things I didn't say, based on their past experience.

          So in the meantime, I and my small team will attempt to implement these ideas whenever we have sufficient time. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to reconcile our schedules, and without more volunteers I fear that the project will not get done in time to make a difference. Which is really too bad, as I feel that it could make Linux a significant competitior in the Desktop market.
      • by BenjyD (316700) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:39AM (#13932406)
        Wider adoption would bring many benefits:
        • More testing - a bigger user base means bugs get spotted and reported more quickly
        • ISV support - more potential customers means more software companies developing for Linux. OSS can't provide everything (games, high end content production for example)
        • Drivers - hardware manufacturers mostly ignore linux at the moment because of its small marketshare
        • More use of open formats - it's much easier to expect people to use open formats that are properly supported on Linux (OpenDoc vs MS Office, Ogg instead of WM[A|V] etc.) if its market share is significant.
    • I'll second the support. I'd rather not spend a whole lot of time retraining a person to a new OS. Then there's the setup, if I forget a detail regarding their needs, then I have to go back and fix it.

      Heck, I connected a higher resolution monitor to an FC4 installation and I couldn't find a way to update the monitor profile. Current consumer OSs (being Windows and Mac OS X) automatically detect a changed monitor and update the resolution profiles.
    • My parents use it, my grandmother runs Fedora, and I convert others on a daily basis.

      Wow you must all be living in your great grand parents' basement ;)
  • I beg to differ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Janitha (817744) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:20AM (#13932221) Homepage
    Linux should stop copying Microsoft feature for feature and embrace the differences and features that advanced users love.

    I would disagree. What about enlightenment, fluxbox, openbox?

    This article doesn't really make much sense overall.
    • Don't forget XFCE, which if you kill the taskbar and pager bar at the bottom can look and feel quite a bit like flux, while still having pretty and easy to use xfce-ness.

      Sorry for the off topic, but I just like a good desktop discussion :-)
  • by aquatone282 (905179) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:21AM (#13932233)

    That's why I'm still booting CP/M [demon.co.uk] on my Commodore 128 [obsoleteco...museum.org]!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:22AM (#13932250)
    Sun seem to be dropping GNOME as their Desktop

    http://www.gnome.org/~gman/blog/02112005 [gnome.org]

    Read more on above link!!!!
    • They didn't say that (Score:4, Informative)

      by g2devi (898503) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:40PM (#13933574)
      If you look at the article being linked to on LXer it says:

      "The Linux desktop has gone way past the excellent product Sun released in December 2003. That desktop offered the Gnome 2.2 desktop and some very nice engineering. Most Linux desktops now offer Gnome 2.12 which has incorporated the nice engineering found in the original Sun project Madhatter. So, no one wants Sun's throwback desktop today. ...
      Don't get your hopes up about the JDS desktop for Linux. They need to prove that they can follow through on something first. So far, the jury remains out. We don't know who would want their desktop anyway: It's old, they changed the look and feel and who will support it?
      "

      Basically, they realized that their Java Desktop has been obsoleted by GNOME and they no longer want to maintain their fork which few people wanted.

  • FTFAThe core mantra should be: "Simple and easy in everything we do, but give me a command line and I can move the world."

    So does this means M$ core mantra is "Over complicated and flashy in everything we do, but give me a command line so I can get shit done post-BSOD" ?

  • OS X? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deke_kun (695166) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:24AM (#13932266)
    "The core mantra should be: "Simple and easy in everything we do, but give me a command line and I can move the world.""

    I'm guessing he hasnt spent a lot of time in OS X then. Especially since he says in the article that Apple took the simplistic (ie not technical) approach.
    • by Urusai (865560) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @12:23PM (#13932855)
      Time for the FOSS community to start working on OpenOSX.
    • Re:OS X? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BlueStraggler (765543) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @02:18PM (#13933905)
      Indeed. As a switcher from Linux to OS X, I'm starting to get pretty annoyed with the "Mac takes the low road" meme, since it is in every way the most sophisticated desktop OS on the market. The similar "Mac is easier for novices" meme is equally annoying, since historically the Mac has NOT succeeded among casual home users. The markets where Mac has consistently succeeded is among professionals who use very expensive and technical software suites to do their work. It didn't succeed for me in the past because the technical software suite where I do my work is the Unix CLI, a deficiency that Apple remedied in OS X.

      Coming from the Linux world, Windows is so obviously the OS that has dumbed itself down for the novice, whereas the Mac is so obviously the OS that has invested effort into productivity for advanced users on the desktop. But "ease of productivity" for professionals is not the same as "ease of learning how to use a computer" for a novice. Windows has the novice market locked down tight, from the infamous start button, to the desktop populated with application launcher icons, to monolithic applications that want to work in full-screen mode; everything caters to the naive user. The Mac, on the other hand seems to presume that you are working on a large display, with numerous tool and working windows placed where they are convenient to you, and drag-and-drop interoperability between these windows that is reminiscent of using pipes to connect apps on a CLI. That's not novice stuff, and it takes a while to learn to use it. Once you've got the hang of it, though, it's really hard to go back. That's the real reason Mac users are fanatical and loyal, I've concluded, and it has nothing to do with novices. Indeed the whole idea of a fanatic novice is a bit of an oxymoron.

  • Summary. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:26AM (#13932279)
    Make upgrading from windows as easy as possible, Standardize on your widgets, and Make Installing Software Easy and secure.

    I tend to agree with most of the articles comments except for 1 random jab at Apple for choosing the lower ground of loosing functionality for better interface, where I believe that Apples interface is middle ground like windows but it is just better designed so it is easer. But I digress.

    For Installing why can't Most Linux distributions support Loopback files, So they can install Linux on top of a Windows partition and if they don't like linux just delete the ISO file. Also a Non-destructive partition system like Partition-Magic.

    More effort should be put into WINE, and MONO projects. It should be easy to run Windows programs. Just like the migration from Apple OS 9 to OS 10 or from DOS to Windows or Windows 3.1 to 95. People prefer "Optimized" to their OS applications, and will ask for them, but if they can't get it they want to run the old ones. These projects will not make developers think "Well Linux emulates it so we don't need to port it." they will think wow we have xx% of our customers using our product in linux, Perhaps we should make a Linux Version before our competitor does so we don't loose them.

    Standardizing on the User Interface is extremely important. I can't even count the times I have to go to a newbe who is using KDE or GNOME and opens an Application build with the other tool kit or worse a different one like X11 and explain to them that they may have some trouble Copying and Pasting, and oh this is a x application you need to do it this way instead. And your files are by default saved here except for there. It is confusing and they do not comprehend why things are so diverse.

    Installing, I really don't see why Linux can't take a lesson from Apple and improve on it. To install an application drag the folder to where you want to run the application. Have all its files that it needs to run self contained inside itself and uninstalling it is just deleting the directory. And try as much as possible to make the application statically built With Drive space below $1 per gigabyte the extra space lest be a little wasteful to make installation easy. Only spread the files across the OS when you Really-Really Need to.
  • by TWX (665546) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:28AM (#13932293)
    The whole notion of open software creates the opportunity for better collaboration and better end to end solutions.

    - Create a single music solution that is consistent and flows easily from OS to music applications to TV experience.
    - Create a single photo solution that is consistent and flows easily from OS thumbnails to previewing full screen to editing in a photo applications.
    - Create an office suite that can be used as a component in other applications. Anywhere I have rich text editing I should also have red-underline spell checking, thesaurus, and other tools that help me write.
    - There should be a single interface for dealing with contacts, buddies and users, and this should be used consistently across the OS and related programs.
    The problem with the author's first point is that many of the codecs or routines needed to decode media flat-out aren't available legally in the U.S., and until we don't have to rely on the likes of marillat and others to host stuff out of the country then we won't have the ability to do that.

    For the second point, the photo system would be entirely dependent on the window manager and basic shell suite, and I know that Gnome has thumbnailing. I personally almost never use the default photo management stuff, opting for better software than baseline, but I can understand the author's argument.

    The productivity suite one is a difficult one, as it'll require unrelated projects to have some kind of common backbone that may require extensive editing. It also won't be consistent to web-delivered rich-text editors that are common in forums that allow fonts and formatting. Even more annoying would be if it were difficult to remove or supplant with a better productivity suite.

    As for contacts, while I'll agree that a baseline system would be nice, I'm inclined to specifically avoid something that's across-the-board for privacy and security purposes. I'd rather not have some malicious software that gets in through some exploit manage to retrieve my entire list of contacts and their types, only to then try to spread to them or to spam them.

    The thing that the author doesn't address is that these responsibilities are the job of the distributions moreseo than the application developers. The distributions could very easily hire their own developers to take a project or application and modify it to meet these requirements. It might cost some money, but that's where RedHat or SuSE can 'value add' their part.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:28AM (#13932295)
    The issue is decent looking fonts. I always have to download the webfonts.sh script http://vigna.dsi.unimi.it/webFonts4Linux/webFonts. sh [unimi.it], and turn off anti-aliasing in order to have a desktop that is a pleasure to work with. Heck ebven the most recent OpenOffice.org release is uglier on Linux than it is on Windows.

    Guys, we need to have an attractive desktop by default in order to make the user experience at least more appealing. In one installation of Ubuntu, I had to tweak the X.org conf file in order to have it display these fonts correctly! And believe me...it took more than 4 hours to get right! Who would have that time in the "real" world?

    • by rco3 (198978) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:42AM (#13932423) Homepage
      My fonts look fine. I live in the "real" world, and have spent approximately zero time screwing with fonts. What, exactly, is the problem with your fonts?
      • > What, exactly, is the problem with your fonts?

        Well, I hope you do not think fonts in OpenOffice.org are generally better looking than their Windows counterparts, do you? In my previous installation, these fonts looked blurry, huge and ugly. I guess I should have broadened the scope of my premise to include the general look and feel of OpenOffice .org. This is fact: This application looks better on Windows than on Linux. Now you tell me it does not.

        • Oh, so what you don't like is the way OO.o looks on Linux? That's not a desktop problem, or a Linux problem - that's an OpenOffice problem. It's a legitimate complaint, and I completely agree with you - but your unhappiness is the result of how OO.o uses system fonts, not the result of poor-looking fonts on Linux. OO.o apparently needs to be tweaked to look nice on linux for a variety of reasons, none of which seem logical to me but I'm not an OO.o developer.

          Linux fonts look fine. OO.o doesn't by defaul
    • It looks like the main problem with font quality at this point is the availability of good free (as in speech) fonts. GNOME, which comes with the Bitstream Vera fonts on FreeBSD, looked great out of the box with zero configuration. KDE, which does not, looked like ass. Until I told KDE to use Vera for everything, at which point it looked pretty good. (The antialiasing routines being used by GNOME seem better.) GNOME actually looked much better than Windows.

      I suspect that if GNOME and KDE had, like Wi

    • I call BS. I'm a graphic designer. I work on a Mac (PS, Illustrator, InDesign) at work, but a Linux box at home. I've done a lot of freelance work on Linux from home lately. I typeset and did all prepress for a 700 page book over the summer using Scribus, Gimp, and Inkscape. I keep hearing about how Linux fonts suck, but they always look great to me. *Much* better than the non-anti-aliased fonts that are the default on Windows. In fact, the only way I can make fonts look half-way decent in Winbl0w$ is to tu
  • Tough guidelines (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChrisF79 (829953) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:30AM (#13932320) Homepage
    That was a pretty good article but the one thing that struck me is that he starts by talking about how much people fear change. Then towards the end he is writing that Linux should be "different." I think it would be pretty difficult to achieve both of those goals. I think right now that the fact that Linux is different is just feeding this fear of change. I'm not advocating that Linux follow suit with Windows and give it the same look/feel but if it becomes too unique, good luck getting people to switch.
  • VB for Linux (Score:4, Informative)

    by obender (546976) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:31AM (#13932327)
    From TFA:

    There is an opportunity for the open source community to create a VB compatible IDE that could compile applications for both to Windows and Linux.

    It is a good commercial idea. But will any FOSS programmers bother implementing VB under Linux? On a more inflamatory note do we even want those VB programmers to develop for Linux?

    • Re:VB for Linux (Score:4, Informative)

      by am 2k (217885) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:54AM (#13932537) Homepage
      Well, not FOSS, but there's already such a thing: RealBASIC [realbasic.com].
  • by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:31AM (#13932332)
    This probably won't be a popular comment, but I think Mac OS will eventually be bigger on the desktop than Linux.

    1) Easier Support - your computer breaks, you know who to go to
    2) Less of a learning curve.
    3) Less confusing in terms of options (there are a lot of types and kinds of Linux, or so it seems).
    4) Media acceptance. Macs are more well known than Linux, which isn't Linux's fault, it's just the fact that OS X has Apple behind it.
    5) Application Support - Things are ported to Mac quicker than to Linux usually. Apple also stands to get more software compatibility when they go to Intel computers.

    ::Braces for "-1 Flamebait"::
    • This probably won't be a popular comment, but I think Mac OS will eventually be bigger on the desktop than Linux.

      IMO, about the only part of that that's open to question is the "eventually". I suspect that right now there are substantially more desktop users running OS X than Linux.

      Granted, it's difficult to tell how many people use what OSes in what situations. It's even more difficult with Linux than most, since sales numbers mean nearly nothing. That leaves more or less apocryphal evidence as abo

  • by FearTheFrail (666535) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:32AM (#13932336)
    To get people to switch you need to get them to try. To do this you need to get Linux to be 100% RISK FREE. If you don't like it you need to be able to easily uninstall and your computer will be exactly the same as before you started.
    ...did I hear you say Knoppix? [knoppix.net]
  • by Crouty (912387) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:34AM (#13932355)
    Greg Raiz suggests to unify user interfaces. Ok, now which widgets should I use?
    • GTK?
    • QT?
    • wxwindows?
  • by Fordiman (689627) *
    - Create a single music solution that is consistent and flows easily from OS to music applications to TV experience.
    - Create a single photo solution that is consistent and flows easily from OS thumbnails to previewing full screen to editing in a photo applications.

    Actually, these are both there already. Sound in general, as well as video, are all handled byty a group of libraries common to most Linux platform audio and video software. I do think, for example, that Kaffiene and amaroK could be integrat
  • I don't see much new here. We even have the traditional misspellings.

    The speed of innovation in any software can be both a boon and a bomb.

    It's easy to drop in the word "framework": with a well-designed framework, you can extend and reuse existing tech. This is why the underlying pipe mechanism in Unix derivatives is so powerful. It's also why it's hard for many to master.

    There's also a point when the framework - which should be strong-yet-supple - can instead ossify, like so much old glue that's set up
  • by quakeroatz (242632) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:38AM (#13932395) Journal
    As a corollary to the first rule, users don't like installing applications. Part of the fragmentation problem for Linux is that the fragmentation forces a problem for software installation. Users are forced to untar, un-gzip, copy, configure and sometimes compile in order to properly install software. To gain momentum Linux needs a central installation architecture that all applications must use to properly install and run. The OS should ensure that applications are installed before they can be executed.

    Wow, I couldn't have described apt or emerge any better. Isn't it common that those who review Linux OS's vs. Windows almost always head to the biggest vendor (Redhat) which is exactly the wrong idea: directly motivated by Microsoft's position on the closed source market? Biggest is best is necessarily a universal philosophy. Also, there are rpm managers in Redhat that do the same thing as apt, I think you can even use apt on Redhat without too much trouble.

    Sure one might say, "How would the avg. Windows user know to apt-get install ?"
    I would answer, "They could figure that out long before they understood how to dl and compile source code, and would certainly require less user knowledge and decisions than going apt-get install , which rarely asks for user input"

    I see a ton of skilled Windows IT folk that are scared away from Linux because they try to compile everything. Apparently they haven't heard, and/or common linux knowledge doesn't include important tips that would make Avg Joe Windows user's first Linux experience much more enjoyable.
  • by 0kComputer (872064) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:39AM (#13932405)
    Microsoft has put most its eggs in the .NET platform and has abandoned tens of thousands of VB developers by pulling support and further development on VB6. There is an opportunity for the open source community to create a VB compatible IDE that could compile applications for both to Windows and Linux. Such an IDE in conjunction with WINE could bring not only applications but also developers to the Linux platform.

    so basically the strategy here is to take the shittiest developers from the windows platform and get them to write garbage code on linux?
    • so basically the strategy here is to take the shittiest developers from the windows platform and get them to write garbage code on linux?

      This kind of attitude I am certain holds back many people who would be adopters and great supporters of Linux. I am certain there are many VB and other 'doze programmers who would be readily willing to help develop the pieces necessary to create a "VB-like" development system under Linux, but I bet they are put off by this attitude.

      I have used and developed on Linux since

  • by taxman_10m (41083) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:47AM (#13932473)
    After a few more days I'm probably going to wipe my linux partition unless I can get my Linksys wireless PCI card working with WPA encryption. Who knew it would take an act of God to configure correctly?

    Fedora Core 4's network configuration gui is worthless. Ndiswrapper hung the machine. And it took me hours and hours to find that I needed some WPA supplicant something.
    • Before you wipe your Linux install completely, try SuSE 10.0 (http://opensuse.org/ [opensuse.org]

      Ndiswrapper, and WPA_supplicant, IIRC are part of the base install. You'll have to use ndiswrapper commandline, but the instructions are in the documentation (avaliable on your Kicker as the help icon). Then use YaST2 to configure your network WPA password.

      SuSE does the best job regarding wireless configuration of all the linux distributions I've tried. It's not perfect; the Kwireless applet they use to a bit clunky for switch
    • WPA support seems to very between distributions - for example, Mandrake didn't support it at all when I was using it! I currently use Gentoo, which means I don't get given a GUI for this sort of thing, but I do get reasonably decent documentation [gentoo.org].

      Oh, and unfortunately getting ndiswrapper working seems to be a matter of luck (it worked for me with the Netgear WG111, quite reliably, but YMMV). Apparently, it doesn't like certain experimental kernel patches, among other things. It's really a bit of a hack a
    • Ndiswrapper is unfortunately a way to work around what is to all intents and purposes broken hardware. You were cheated when you bought that thing. It's always going to be an administration pain in the ass until the manufacturer co-operates with the developers by providing specs. I know you probably don't want to hear that having spent your money (and time) on whatever that card is, but my advice would be to sell it and get a fully supported one. (I actually had to do exactly the same thing).

      W.r.t. Net

  • by starseeker (141897) * on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:47AM (#13932476) Homepage
    I think he makes a good point that the clean solution is always better than trying to support older decisions that turned out to be less than ideal. But the problem is, users aren't interested in details. Details don't matter. They only want something to work, and keep working.

    Most modern interface elements are implemented by most toolkits. I think a solution would be to take the concept of the X server, which implements low level functionality available via byte stream communications, and implement much higher level concepts using the same idea. Rather than linking in libraries (and tying your graphical concepts to one language - C for GTK, C++ + custom weirdness for QT) have an X server analog that can speak in terms of Menus, Canvas w/ Scrollbar, Button, Text Input, Text Output, etc. Instead of Xlib (or clx in Lisp) you would have a much, much higher level communication protocal. Language bindings for C, C++, what have you would build on the primatives and higher level widigets provided by this X-server plus, and themes and other details would no longer be different because of what language binding you happened to be using. Translating code between languages would also be much easier, since concept names in different languages could all build off of the standard in the server.

    Look sometime at the problems people have writing Python bindings for QT. I think the idea of a high level graphical object server with server side theme configuration would take us a long way towards a common desktop look and feel.
  • To take on Microsoft, you'd need an OS that is nearly as easy to install as Windows. It needs to find and auto-configure for common hardware, make reasonable assumptions and continue with the installation without pestering the user unless it's absolutely necessary.
    • by nagora (177841) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @12:04PM (#13932632)
      To take on Microsoft, you'd need an OS that is nearly as easy to install as Windows. It needs to find and auto-configure for common hardware, make reasonable assumptions and continue with the installation without pestering the user unless it's absolutely necessary.

      All of which is easy to do in Linux if you do it the same way that 99.99999% of the world's Windows users install Windows: they just buy a machine with it pre-installed and set up for the hardware in the machine.

      Windows is not easy to install in the sense of it automatically sensing everything and never having to download drivers etc. But noone cares because almost noone actually ever installs Windows.

      And, THAT is why Microsoft leans so hard on people like Dell and others to prevent them selling computers with Linux or even FreeDOS on them.

      TWW

  • by diablo-d3 (175104)
    According to this insider's blog [blogspot.com], Microsoft has stole Gorm, among other open source software.
  • I've read Asa Dotzler [slashdot.org] and you, sir, you are no Asa Dotzler. For one thing, he actually had experience with what he was talking about. This isn't to say I agreed with Asa on most points (I do run desktop Linux), but his arguments didn't seem to be from 10 years ago. Has Greg actually run Linux? Which distro? Where are his credentials?
  • FOSSing VB (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChaoticCoyote (195677) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @12:01PM (#13932604) Homepage
    Microsoft has put most its eggs in the .NET platform and has abandoned tens of thousands of VB developers by pulling support and further development on VB6. There is an opportunity for the open source community to create a VB compatible IDE that could compile applications for both to Windows and Linux. Such an IDE in conjunction with WINE could bring not only applications but also developers to the Linux platform.

    He makes it sound so simple, doesn't he?

    Writing a complete VB clone isn;t as simple as writing an IDE. VB 6 worked because of the underlying Windows infrastructure — ADO, Access, COM, and all those other acronyms that could be glued together with VB to make an application. VB provides a great environment for hacking together in-house and vertical market applications. It's good for rapid prototyping, too.

    The Unix world has some very strong biases that make cloning VB difficult, not the least of which is a general prejudice that all VB code sucks. I've worked in shops with VB programmers (I'm a C++ guy), and saw some darned ugly code; the anti-VB prejudice has some basis in fact. Be that as it may, VB is a powerful force that locks many developers into Windows. If any of this code is to move to Linux, we would need to replicate the entire foundation of acronyms used in VB programs — a daunting task that most Unix-oriented folk will find unpalatable.

    In part, Mono was trying to accomplish Windows-Linux interoperability, albeit using .Net as the foundation. Mono, however, does not address the vast quantity of VB 6 applications. And Mono's viability is still open for debate, given Microsoft's proprietary attitudes.

    A while back, I was tried to sell the idea of a FOSS Access and VB to several major Linux "players", without success. Perhaps my pitch just wasn't that good, or maybe, just maybe, Unix people really are letting their prejudices get in the way of a Really Good Idea.

  • Out of touch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by reed (19777) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @12:09PM (#13932700) Homepage
    Some good ideas, but Greg is really out of touch with Linux and free software development in general.

    He seems to miss the idea that (a) we can't throw out diversity of applications. It's confusion, but it's also a fact. (b) There *are* different distribution brands, though they try to lean on the common Linux name (RedHat Linux, Debian GNU/Linux, Gentoo Linux). (c) Most importantly, it's up to independent distributions to make the system into a cohesive user experience, and the success of GNU/Linux systems is precicely *because* of the ability for lots of independent developers to create software packages for it, not some central Linux authority. Linux *is* just the kernel,. It's up to other people to make more complete systems. He makes the very common mistake of confusing "Linux" with "OS consisting of a Linux kernel and GNU libraries and other tools with some user-oriented desktop environment".

    There can be no Linux Inc. creating The One And Only Linux Desktop System. It shouldn't happen, and it fundamentally *can't*. There can only be a variety of Desktop Systems that are based on GNU/Linux.
  • by SWroclawski (95770) <serge.wroclawski@org> on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @12:17PM (#13932794) Homepage
    This is yet another article saying that "If only Linux was a single unified force, it would be good." with a few sentences about interfaces at the front.

    Let me dispell some of the myths. First, people don't want things to change. It's wrong.

    If that were true, no one would have moved to OS X. "iPod, what's an iPod? I listen to music on my walkman."

    People aren't going to change to GNU/Linux for no reason, but once they make the switch, we don't need it to look and behave like Windows. We have our own interfaces, and they work. OS X doesn't look like Microsoft Windows and people don't have that much trouble using it.

    Some of the interface integration ideas he presents are allright- some of them are already in place, and others will take more work.

    But the idea we need to drop KDE or GNOME, and drop distributions is old and tiring.

    The simple fact is that when you consolodate for the sake of a unified force, you remove what makes the Free Software world great- competition.

    If we'd all consolodated with Slackware in 92, we wouldn't have had packages. If we'd consolodated behind, say GNUStep, we wouldn't have had KDE, or GNOME, and so on.

    The idea of lots of distributions and lots of interfaces and lots of every app is to let them all go, find which work best, borrow ideas, and, in the end, everyone benefits.

    If we'd decided to "consolodate" and make an incompatible change, then that change would have to be left out. Once that happens, progress stops, and then someone else comes along and steals the rug from right under us.

    Even "Consolodated" OSes like FreeBSD are, like GNU/Linux, collections of programs from other places.

    I can't believe these articles still make it to Slashdot. They're old and tired.
  • My favorite line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by robertjw (728654) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @12:17PM (#13932795) Homepage
    There is an opportunity for the open source community to create a VB compatible IDE that could compile applications for both to Windows and Linux.

    TFA is OK up until this point. Is this guy off his rocker? No self respecting Open Source geek is going to implement anything for VB. He would get laughed off of slashdot, sourceforge and every OSS community on the net in seconds.
  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @12:38PM (#13932975) Homepage Journal
    Yay, more misconceptions. Can I flame now, mommy?

    ``For years the open-source Linux community has been competing with Microsoft to become the dominant desktop operating system.''

    Some have, but more have been writing great software regardless of what Microsoft did, and Linux has moved into several domains where Windows isn't a realistic option. The Linux community is not just about toppling Microsoft, and I don't even think that's the most important goal.

    ``Progress has been quick to match features with Redmond but this type of progress will only allow Linux to play catch-up, never to lead. In order to break away Linux has to do the things that Microsoft hasnt done or perhaps will never do''

    I don't know how one can write that down without spontaneously disintegrating. Linux has done things that Microsoft won't do from the beginning, and has had features Microsoft has been copying for a long time. Sure, if you come from a Windows-only world, you probably see only how Linux performs worse or better on the features that Windows has, but if you look at it from the other direction, you can see the lead that Linux still has.

    Shell scripting? Ability to run software originally developed for Unix? Open source options for every part of the system? Ability to absolutely customize anything and everything? Ability to have multiple users work on the system at the same time? Ability to adapt to any environment, no matter if it has keyboard, mouse, display, or anything of the sort? Need I go on?

    ``New Operating Systems break old applications''

    Maybe new Microsoft operating systems do, but it seems to me that Linux can still run a lot of software that was developed for other Unix systems before Linux even existed, and I certainly don't know many applications that worked on Linux 2.0 that don't work on 2.6 anymore. This is all about standards; Linux can run old Unix software, because it the same APIs that have matured over the years. Microsoft tried to roll their own, and the need to go back and correct the mistakes is what makes new releases break old software. That, and the fact that no recompiling is done.

    ``This means users cant be expected to untar, unzip and burn ISO images, they also cant be expected to properly partition their hard drive.''

    That suggests that this is currently expected of them. You can get Linux on CDs for free (from Ubuntu, among many others), and you don't need to manually partition your hard drive; you can use a live CD, or use any of the distributions that have an automatic partitioning option and use that.

    ``Creating compatibility through Wine and similar efforts is a great way to bootstrap an operating system with existing application but its not a long term solution. Linux not only has to migrate applications they have to migrate application developers.''

    As if Windows is the only platform that applications are available for and that developers are writing for. Linux can stand on it's own with the applications it has just fine; it's just the types who want to run the exact same software that runs on Windows that WINE is good for. There are plenty of developers who write software for Linux, or did anyone think that Debian got their 20000 or so packages from Santa Claus?

    ``There is an opportunity for the open source community to create a VB compatible IDE that could compile applications for both to Windows and Linux''

    Thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather have no developers than the whole VB crowd, much less only those VB devs who will only work with something that is exactly like what they already have. VB offers a low barrier entry into programming, which is great, because that's what enables a great hacker culture from forming around a platform; but if people won't use the tools that Linux already has to offer here, I'd say Linux is the better for it.

    ``Microsoft will struggle to innovate because its competing with previous versions of Windows (not linux.)''

    Yeah, right. That's why they have those shared
  • by Tom (822) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @12:53PM (#13933143) Homepage Journal
    Some of his comments are good, some are abysmal:

    There is an opportunity for the open source community to create a VB compatible IDE that could compile applications for both to Windows and Linux.
    Please, by all the gods you believe in, NO!. The very last thing we need is all this crappy VB stuff on Linux. VB is - by rights - famous for the shoddy software created with it. And don't tell me you can write good software with VB, the fact is that the vast majority of VB software are abominations that should've never left the author's imagination.

    Entice users with well thought out end to end solutions
    That entire chapter would've been much shorter if he had simply written: "Look to OSX for ideas on how to do it right, and to Windos for ideas on what to avoid at all costs".

    Users are forced to untar, un-gzip, copy, configure and sometimes compile in order to properly install software.
    Has the dude used any Linux distribution during the past 5 years or so? Now I do compile stuff occasionally, but then I want to be on the bleeding edge and some of that stuff was written by me. Almost all actual applications I use rely much more on apt-get and dselect than on tar and gzip.

    Linux should stop copying Microsoft feature for feature and embrace the differences and features that advanced users love.
    YES. Besides some of the stupid comments, he's got the basics right. Hey, wait. Some of us have been saying this for years. The problem is that too many decision makers in both KDE and Gnome believe copying windos is the road to heaven.
  • by johansalk (818687) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:00PM (#13933206)
    A week ago I started learning 'Unix' and all related stuff. I'm surprised at how fast I'm progressing. I'm also impressed by what I'm learning. I can use LaTeX and ConTeXt instead of MSWord, and they really kick MSWord's ass big time. I can use gnumeric and R project for statistics, and they really, really kick MSExcel's ass (I can cite studies where gnumeric proved far much superior and accurate, but I don't want their sites slashdotted). I can use grep, sed, awk and perl for parsing text. I can use vim for editing. I can use the superior cdraw, imagemagick for images (I can cite studies where cdraw and imagemagick proved much better in quality of results than photoshop, but I don't want their sites slashdotted). Soon I'll be able to use avisynth on linux.
    Here's my point, people don't need to be beginners all their friggin' life. They should learn a little computing if they're going to use the computer for hours everyday. I wish I had done this much earlier, but had I not considered a switch to linux I wouldn't have; I have been using MS platform and related applications for 20 yeras and now I feel I have been encouraged to remain dumb for 20 years. In my experience, linux is the clear winner platform. I wish they'd teach linux skills in school - had kids learnt to use Bash, LaTex, Python, and R, this would be a much, much better world.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:35PM (#13933527) Homepage Journal
    There are many areas where GNU/Linux distros (and the other *nix-like OSes) go far beyond anything that is possible in Windows or on the MacOS in terms of features. Many of these "beyond" areas would be VERY attractive to the average user. Unfortunately many of them are obscured behind the CLI or very complicated concepts. A few examples:

    1. The xmdx extension for X window system (X.org) which would allow multiple machines to act as one shared screen over the network. Combined with the proper simple user interface and an xmdx aware pager, A user could execute their web browser on Machine A and go surfing. They could then drag-and-drop the browser to Machine B's desktop and keep on going down there. If this was further combined with an xmdx aware sound server, A music player could be made to follow it's user from machine to machine without ever stopping.

    2. Virtualization might seem like a concept that would be useless to grandma, but you're not thinking straight if you believe that. If a GNU/Linux distro were set up to to run on top of a Xen paravirtualization environment in a transparent way and across multiple machines, imagine the user friendliness... To grandma, it looks like a desktop that is always where she left it and it never stops. She can shut her machine down and the Xen domain would migrate to the central home computer/data store.

    3. Clustering. Again, a lot of people would think it's a dumb idea for "Joe Average" to have a cluster. But is it REALLY a dumb idea? I say no. Why should people be forced to throw away old computer systems once the latest version of Windows won't install? Why can't they just have an automatic cluster solution with a very transparent UI that provides them with MORE power than they would ever get from a single Windows box?

    Just in general, the key should be to take very advanced concepts that don't even exist in the Windows world and make them available to the end-user in a very simple, transparent way. This is all possible with Linux. But most Linux folks don't think this way and therein lies the problem.
  • by Inoshiro (71693) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @01:58PM (#13933710) Homepage
    I don't think you know what it means.

    "If you make the interface too simple you may loose some functionality that advanced users will like."

    It's funny that unleashing the functionality that advanced users will like is apparently the result of simplifying the interface. I'm pretty sure the author did not intend this, but I'd say that the sentence is correct with such examples as Automator introduced in Mac OS 10.4 -- by making the interface simpler for advanced tasks, you make all users more advanced!

  • Asinine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel&hotmail,com> on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @02:16PM (#13933893) Homepage Journal
    "For years the open-source Linux community has been competing with Microsoft to become the dominant desktop operating system."

    Opening statement. Really.

    Greg doesn't get it. Linux (FOSS) *does not* compete with Microsoft (or anyone else). We do software, sure, and that's about it.

    If Microsoft (or anyone else) actually feels THREATENED, they should do something about it. Improve their product? Adopt a FOSS solution? Whatever. As long as it makes money, I don't care.

    But, we (FOSS) don't compete with them. It is competely ludicrous to assume that. I have put out some FOSS projects... and have received NO MONEY from them. I didn't EXPECT money. On the other hand, I am a Microsoft shareholder. I get very upset when Microsoft gives stuff away. I bought those shares for a reason -- to make me money.

    What the two share is "software". Sort of like a car manufacturer vs. a kit car home builder.

    I will summarize:

    Microsoft's final product is money (shareholder value). FOSS final product is software. These are not the same.

    Please Greg, get a clue... I know you worked at Microsoft 'n stuff, and it may make it difficult to get a handle on FOSS, but I am sure you can wrap your brain around this.

    Ratboy.
  • by MBoffin (259181) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @02:32PM (#13934057) Homepage
    Here's what I wrote on my blog...

    Greg's Head [raizlabs.com] is part of my daily reading and he always has interesting things to say about the field of user interfaces. His latest post is Linux Thoughts [raizlabs.com]. While the post has some very shrewd observations, there was something that nagged at me while I read it.

    Going back through the post, I think his basic premise is wrong. The first paragraph of the post opens with,

    For years the open-source Linux community has been competing with Microsoft to become the dominant desktop operating system.

    And I think that's where he's wrong. I think there are definitely players in the Linux arena who want to use Linux to compete with Microsoft, but I don't think that's true for Linux as a whole. The drive behind Linux isn't to compete with Microsoft, to replace Windows, or even to provide a mom-and-pop OS to the mainstream. As with almost all open source software, the drive behind Linux is the scratching of an itch. No more, no less.

    Looking from that point of view greatly changes some of the things Greg had to say. For instance,

    Right now there are dozens and perhaps even hundreds of different Linux distributions. Each one has its own quirks, bugs and issues. Linux is currently an idea it's not a brand. There doesn't seem to be a central floodgate to dictate the standard interface. Each distribution creates its own icons, interface elements, configurations and sometimes even their own shell. To gain momentum some level of standardization is necessary to be called "Linux."

    If Linux was trying to be a brand, this would hold very true. However, from the standpoint that Linux progress comes from people scratching an itch, it doesn't hold any water. Part of why Linux is where it is today is because there are "dozens and perhaps even hundreds of different Linux distributions."

    If you are trying to understand how Microsoft could compete against Linux, it becomes easier if you take the viewpoint that Linux is trying to be a brand that is competing back against Microsoft. But I believe you would be fooling yourself to take that viewpoint. The simple fact that it's not trying to be a brand is why it's so hard to compete against Linux.

    As I said before, there are players in the Linux arena who would like to use Linux to compete against Microsoft, and the most obvious player that comes to mind is Novell. With Linux as a whole, though, there's nothing really for Microsoft to compete against. Microsoft could crush SuSe into the dust and it wouldn't really affect Linux.

    Keeping all that in mind, I want to stress that this does not invalidate anything Greg has said about Linux in his post. He brings up some excellent points, lays some very good directions for Linux developers to take, and really hits the nail on the head with a lot of things with regard to how Linux could expand to the masses. But...

    As long as there are a handful of programmers who are happy with their Linux distribution and are continuing to tinker with it, Linux will be wildly successful. Why? Because that handful of programmers are scratching an itch. It's as simple as that.
  • by JonToycrafter (210501) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @03:03PM (#13934374) Homepage Journal
    The "get people to switch from Windows" debate is raging again here - it reminded me that I wanted to know if there was a Linux-to-Windows conversion tool to ease the process. If not, let me say what I'm thinking.

    I'd like a Windows executable that will scan my system, identify settings (TCP/IP settings, SMTP settings, dialup/VPN, background desktop image, you name it), and burn a CD of my settings. Then, I want a Linux executable that will read those settings, and set me up in Linux as close as possible to Windows.

    This tool should ideally also work Windows-to-Windows for moving to a new computer. Ideally it should have a plugin architecture so folks can write add-ons. The XMMS folks can write a plugin to suck in my Winamp settings and so on. Done correctly, this tool could even analyze my installed programs and suggest what programs I'm going to need. "I see you have Yahoo Messenger - you'll want to get Yahoo Messenger for Linux or Gaim. Once it's installed, I'll pre-populate your settings."

    Throw it all on a live CD and you have a great way to convince folks that switching to Linux is easy.

    I'm not a developer, but I'm a Windows power user (the key demographic, yes?) who'd be happy to be on a team of folks interested in this.

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