Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
GNOME GUI Debian Linux Business

Shuttleworth's Take On GNOME 3.0, Coordination with Debian 320

suka writes "In a fresh interview with, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth talks about GNOME 3.0 — its strengths, but also about what he thinks is missing. He also mentions ongoing talks for a common meta-release-cycle with Debian which could delay the next LTS."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Shuttleworth's Take On GNOME 3.0, Coordination with Debian

Comments Filter:
  • by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @04:59AM (#28673661) Homepage
    The only things I really got out of reading TFA were "We have a release coming up" and "Files and folders confuse people". Oh, and "Jaunty was broken but it was Intel's fault and they fixed it." And "Kubuntu will have the same release schedule" which isn't really about Gnome.
  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @05:11AM (#28673715) Homepage Journal

    Yea, and I like how the "Files and folders confuse people" comes across. Seriously, if files and folders confuses you, you might want to reevaluate your need to use a computer.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @05:21AM (#28673787) Journal

    Or you could be less elitist and realise that we're far beyond having to manually file things in this day and age, indeed that is something the computer was meant to eradicate.

    A tagged document repository (with versioning history) would be best. Coupled with desktop search and changing the system file open window to be one that lets you use said search and tags to find the file instead of clicking through folders. Most files people want are more recent, so a default view of reverse chronological for the filetypes the application supports would be best.

    You do, of course, still need a traditional filesystem view of this repository, and that is probably where the work will go in. Sure, tags could be folders, and you could have multiple ways of drilling down to the same file. You'd probably have a folder hierarchy that shows the most used tags at the highest level, then each subfolder is really a tag filter.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @05:43AM (#28673877) Journal


    It would be a file library like itunes is a media library. File management would be done by the implementation instead of directly (unless you wanted to, we shouldn't take functionality away).

    Some applications could use tag-discovery libraries to automate tag generation.

    I'd hope it wouldn't be called "Tagged Document Repository" in the end-user documentation or presentation.

  • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @05:50AM (#28673911)

    Seriously, if files and folders confuses you, you might want to reevaluate your need to use a computer.

    A bit harsh, but I'd agree otherwise. I think the problem is that for those that do understand the concepts of files and directories, they balk at the idea of having to use them.

    Granted it's possible that the average person in daily life has an aversion to organisation, but what I see is a relatively recent and often shrill insistence that their computer (and, by extension, the applications they use) should do their work for them and magically organise everything behind the scenes.

    I consider that kind of thinking sheer laziness. And given that everyone is a system administrator (whether they like it or not), I'd suggest it's also shortsighted.

  • by Homburg ( 213427 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:08AM (#28673979) Homepage

    I'm suprised Shuttleworth didn't mention Zeitgeist [], which is a solution to the difficulty of manually managing files and folders and is, as I understand it, being considered for inclusion in GNOME 3. The basic idea is to group files (and other activities, like web bookmarks and email contents) automatically according to human-relevant criteria, like "edited last week" or "related to this document I'm writing." It's still very much a work in progress, but it looks like it could be pretty great.

  • by Homburg ( 213427 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:12AM (#28673989) Homepage

    Coupled with desktop search and changing the system file open window to be one that lets you use said search.

    The GTK file open windows do in fact integrate desktop search, as well as a recently used file list, although the standard folder view is the default, and the search and recent options are not especially prominent. I've only recently got into the habit of using them, and they certainly are, a lot of the time, far superior to digging through some confusing mess of folders.

  • Re:Gnome, eh ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MrNaz ( 730548 ) * on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:14AM (#28673997) Homepage

    Feeding the troll, I know, but Google Chrome is not using Gnome or KDE because GC is designed to be a minimum functionality netbook distro, not a fully functional desktop. It may *become* a fully functional desktop, if Google is able/willing to take development that far, but whether Google's sprawling managerial structure will be able to concentrate the resources on that one project given their entrenched resource allocation tradition of "spread wide, spread thin" is something I don't think will happen in the near future.

  • by squoozer ( 730327 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:18AM (#28674019)

    The KDE 4.0 release was a total management cock up from start to finish but it did have some positive sides. If they hadn't released it as 4.0 a lot of people wouldn't have tried it out and therefore they wouldn't have found as many issues as they did. They certainly should have worked more closely with the main KDE distributions to make it clear to end users they 4.0 was going to be a dog. With hindsight I think it would have been better to have held off on 4.0 until it was 4.1 quality. That way they would have got most of the user testing but without so much of the "I want to stab you in the eyes for making me ruin my machine".

    I don't hold out much hope for Gnome bringing great new things to the party. I try it out every now and then but it just doesn't do it for me in the same way that KDE does. All the Gnome LAFs look terribly dated dumbed down. While I don't spend my days admiring the widgets used in my applications I prefer to look at something that is pleasing to the eye just like I would rather the view from my house was green fields rather than a rubbish dump.

  • by dyefade ( 735994 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:34AM (#28674085) Homepage Journal

    Sounds great to me - obviously you wouldn't call it that though!
    Consider gmail "labels" vs traditional email/imap folders - labels are both easier to use for novices and more flexible for capable users.

    YMMV, as ever.

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:48AM (#28674165) Homepage Journal
    Since we are going to have non technical people using linux I think it would be better to have everything in / except /home under a folder like /linux. So you would have...
    • /home
    • /home/smithm
    • /linux
    • /linux/etc
    • /linux/bin

    ...and so on

  • by pz ( 113803 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:55AM (#28674203) Journal

    people pick up a .0 release and are surprised its not as polished and featureful as a .5? WTF?

    The kde4.0 snafu really highlighted a problem in ubuntu->KDE communication, other distros got that kde4.0 would be rough around the edges and at least offered kde3.5or shipped their 4.0 with a lot of patches ect. I tend to follow kde developement from afar and I've always know that kde4.3 is the first kde4 that is end user ready.

    No, distribution packagers decided KDE 4.0 was good enough to include in their releases so it got sent out to a lot of people. I don't know if you tried 4.0, but I did. It was horrible. Saying, "it was not as polished and featureful," does not describe what happened with 4.0. KDE 4.0 was a huge, massive step backwards in functionality that should never have been considered for release. It was barely alpha-grade software at release time. It still contains idiotic major achitectural mistakes (like what amounts to an entirely new, and needlessly separate windowing system for the Plasma widgets) and requires a major reorganization to what goes where (I can never find the right submenu / screen to make adjustments because they're split over too many unrelated interfaces).

    Blaming the users is shortsighted. Blaming the distro packagers makes some sense. But placing blame on the KDE team for the total cockup that was 4.0 is putting it where it is due. KDE4 is inching toward consistency and usability, but what we have NOW is what should have been the original release -- ignoring the massive mistakes in the redesign that remain deeply baked into Plasma.

    The message here is simple: if you're going to radically redesign a product with a large user base, don't release the replacement until it's in much better condition than for minimal changes. With 4.0 and the introduction of Plasma, the KDE team should have (beyond being struck repeatedly with a two-by-four for being frelling nincompoops) skipped a release cycle in order to get things into better shape.

  • by quadrox ( 1174915 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:55AM (#28674205)

    you might enjoy this article (or perhaps you've already read it?): []

    I know I did.

  • by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:58AM (#28674215)

    Whats the point of it? my problem with pulseaudio is I'm getting all these bugs but i cant see a singe case where its better than a tricked out alsa setup (well actually it does deal well with simultaneous log-ins, but I'm sure that could have been edged into alsa without as many problems as PA brought). Perhaps the problem is distros have invested a fair bit of time in it, and now they're in the longest que for the bar but don't want to switch because while they would get served sooner, they'd have to accept they just wasted 5minutes in that que.

  • by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @07:06AM (#28674265) Homepage

    In computer-space we have either directories/files or folders/documents.

    In any case, word excel and powerpoint documents can contain multiple sheets of paper, and I see a lot of people take that to extremes - for example having all the day's letters contained in one word document, or every single spreadsheet they work on in one excel document.

  • Same on OS X/PPC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @07:11AM (#28674283) Homepage

    I use that version on OS X, thanks to Fink project. While they don't promise any kind of 'final' version at this state, I can easily keep KDE 4 applications in my OS X Dock, using them instead of iTunes for example.

    They are linked to actual OS X frameworks, down to Quicktime and very interestingly they use far less CPU and resources than regular OS X apps.

    There are similar reports from Windows users who binary installed it and using Amarok 2 etc. right now. While on it, is there any reason why KDE 3.5 given up when KDE 4 installed? I keep using KDE 3.5 suite on OS X too. It doesn't conflict with anything at all including KDE 4.

    I think what KDE 4 is and what a huge revolution it is will be understood in 1-2 years. For example when Nokia and other members of open source Symbian foundation starts using it in some form in their smart phones.

  • by stevied ( 169 ) * on Monday July 13, 2009 @07:14AM (#28674309)
    Arguably a Unix filesystem already is a tagged repository.

    In Unix-y filesystems, you don't put files in folders. You put files in the filesystem, where they get a number (inode number). Then you can set up other special files (directories) to act as indices, linking names to the inode number - as many as you want. Voila - nest-able tags (albeit not versioned in most filesystems.)

    (Actually, if Unix hadn't insisted on banning '/' and NUL from filenames, a directory could in fact link arbitrary binary data to inode numbers. Bit of a missed opportunity there ..)
  • by MancunianMaskMan ( 701642 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @08:18AM (#28674669)
    Wasn't the folder analogy part of GEM and MacOS, predating "Windows" by years?

    Wouldn't surprise me if it goes back to xerox alto.

    That doesn't mean that it's ultimately helpful, but it's so entrenched it seems harder tho change it than to fix it.

  • by lilrobbie ( 1193045 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @08:32AM (#28674761)

    Just to add a bit more information... one way I think of this is in terms of native languages. Most people who learn a second language, always need to translate through their primary language. E.g., if I learnt chinese, it might go: input in chinese => translate to english => concoct reply in english => translate to chinese => output in chinese

    This is a lot of overhead. Compare this to a native chinese-speaker... who simply hears in chinese, and thinks & responds in the same language.

    People who didn't grow up with computers don't develop the ability to "think" in computer terms like those of us "native" speakers. As such, dealing with files & folders, they need to go through this long translation process to a real-world analogy and back.

    The problem is, the files & folders analogy is very thin. Have you ever lost a hand-written letter because the power suddenly went out?! Or mis-placed a single document in a huge huge stack of papers and photographs (e.g., more than 200). The answer to both is probably not... because a stack of paper 200 documents long is unmanageable in the real world... and a hand-written letter autosaves every change you make ;-).

    So yer, from this, a few breaks between the user's expectations of how folders and files work, and pretty soon it seems like a mystical cave. The user doesn't remember the exact folder sequence (after all, you can layer them ridiculously deep), and forgets where things are saved, and pretty soon they create a gnarly mess of their files & folders... and are lost!

    Something that is perhaps more predictable is the idea of time-based or activity-based files (without folders). Gmail tags I find are also far more useful (means the user can simply search as they think of it, such as computer > essay > 2009 > university, or 2009 > university ...etc.)

    Either way, I would highly recommend observing some beginner users discretly if you can... I feel strongly it has helped me better understand how my users may see the programs I write :)

  • by Kartoffel ( 30238 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @08:44AM (#28674841)

    MS-DOS has DIR command, not FOL. Can't blame the early DOS jockeys for this though, cause they just borrowed the convention from VMS.

    At least this is one thing that MS, DEC and Unix can all agree on: "directory" is correct, and "folder" is dumb.

  • by crimperman ( 225941 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @09:08AM (#28675029) Homepage

    In any case, word excel and powerpoint documents can contain multiple sheets of paper, and I see a lot of people take that to extremes - for example having all the day's letters contained in one word document, or every single spreadsheet they work on in one excel document.

    During the late 80s/early 90s I worked for a firm that had a satellite office with a single PC which was running Wordpress on DOS. The secretary there had a single document containing every single letter she had typed over the past three years. She typed letters for an office of 15 engineers and regularly wrote several every day.

    Worse still, when she opened it (fortunately just the once per day) she would press the down cursor key repeatedly until she got to the last line. She spent approximately half an hour doing this I asked her how she found an old letter to check, and she replied it would be in the filing cabinet behind her. No matter ho many times I tried to show her how to use individual files, she went back to this single document. I once discovered we had no backup of this single file (it was saved outside of the document directory) and I still have the occasional nightmares about it.

  • by slim ( 1652 ) <> on Monday July 13, 2009 @09:25AM (#28675185) Homepage

    I don't think so. How many times have you heard someone say: "Put that paper in the file" or indeed, "Put those papers in the folder".
    You'll find people are more likely to say: "Do you have those files?", or "What's in that folder?".

    We *may* have stumbled on a US vs UK issue here. Where the rest of the world sits, who knows?

    Definitely in the UK, you would go to a stationer's and buy a "file" in which to keep paperwork. "Put that paper in a file" is something you'd expect to hear, and is exactly equivalent to "Put that paper in a folder".

  • by slim ( 1652 ) <> on Monday July 13, 2009 @09:34AM (#28675291) Homepage

    The problem isn't actually with the system. It's actually with users who cannot and will not adopt any method or organisation over their own files. Admittedly, the default folders most programs obnoxiously set complicates things, but the proof of the pudding is when you ask someone where their files are and they give you a helpless stare. Sometimes they have been using computers, and these very files, for years. yet they have absolutely no idea what a file is, where their files are, or even of their existence outside of the context of the exact program that manipulates them.

    This is true, and in a way the "File->Save" UI reinforces it. You type in a name, you don't think about where the CWD is, and when you "File->Open..." all your documents are there.

    Sun's old OpenWindows had a nice UI which might have helped with this. The text editor app had an icon in the corner representing the file you had open. To save, you dragged that icon to a file window. To open, you dragged an icon from the file window on to that part of the text editor. It means your save is not separate from your filesystem.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Monday July 13, 2009 @09:38AM (#28675357)

    What's it with this "i am too stupid to put a file in a folder, and therefore it is too difficult" "philosophy"?

    I have tested every single one of those "automatic" and "intelligent" file management methods, and they always resulted in massive chaos, that was never the case with simple file systems and soft links. The problem was, that you could never be sure if a file was completely gone, in what "folders/categories/tags/whatevers" is still existed, sometimes moving files was a major hassle, and sometimes it was completely impossible to organize the files in they way I wanted (and always did with normal files and folders), because those "intelligent" methods were way to stupid, simple, and yet overly complicated. Or in other words: They had the elegance of a hillbilly Godzilla in high heels, stumbling down a red carpet at the Oscars.

    If you want to make it actually better, create an ontology. Make it a semantic system. Just let it be elegant, clean and efficient at the core. And then add a properly fitting new UI concept to it, that completely throws the old models and analog-analogies away.

    Then you will get a system that makes sense.

    I still wait for someone doing such an ontology right.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2009 @09:55AM (#28675547)

    This is due to the technologies under both desktops.

    On GNOME, the productivity is very low. No, let's be honest, there is no such things as productivity when developing on GNOME. So developers tends to plan carefully any features and try to do the minimum required feature set to minimize the pain of coding. The guys of GNOME need to drop GTK, stop digging their grave with Mono, and move toward more flexibility for the development.

    On KDE, the flexibility is high. So developers tends to code every feature they can imagine. In the end, we have 50% of totally useless features in each releases of KDE.
    The guys of KDE need to admit when an idea was wrong and just drop the code. KDE 4 could be made much better just by dropping features...

  • The pathetic thing is that I've never had trouble with it because I go to the website and read the Pulseaudio/Perfectsetup document. It's too bad none of the distribution or even package maintainers seem to want to read it, ESPECIALLY Ubuntu which does things WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

  • by spitzak ( 4019 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @01:15PM (#28678969) Homepage

    I think the word 'file' has its roots from the days when a 'record' was still a fundamental concept. So a 'record' is a sheet of paper, a 'file' contains a bundle of records.

    This makes sense, some historical information can be found by looking at the ASCII control character assignments. Look at the end of the control characters, in reverse order they were supposed to be larger and larger block separators:

    SPACE (word separator)
    US (unit separator, like between columns in a table)
    RS (record separator, a row in a table)
    GS (group separator, equivalent to an XML grouping, but they never thought of hierarchy?)
    FS (file separator)

    I think the figuring was that any larger grouping than "bunch of files" would be "a different tape" so there was no need for a larger separator.

    I think it would be nice to reuse these control characters for markup so we don't have to worry about escaping things all the time, too.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.