Feeds

back to article Linux guru: interface innovation is the challenge

Novell distinguished engineer James Bottomley believes Linux desktop environments need a dose of open source ingenuity rather than ape ideas from Windows and OS X. Bottomley, who also wears the hat of Director of the Linux Foundation and chair of its technical advisory board, says the next challenge for Linux as a whole is to …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Thumb Down

Trailing-edge not Bleedomg-edge.

I couldn't disagree more. What Linux needs in order to succeed is to be *consistent*.

From a business POV, 'agile' and 'innovative' interface-stuff maps directly into "staff-retraining costs" and "excess helpdesk calls".

I really like user-interfaces that stay the same for a decade. Most all my Windows clients are still running XP in "Windows-2000 classic" mode - because it's what their users are trained on!

In the current economic climate, the last thing any business wants is the prospect of £1500-a-head 3-day courses needed to retrain users in understanding a 'new user-interface experience'.

Coat? Mine's the one with the PROFS command-reference foldout in the inside pocket.

0
0
Troll

Here comes the flames...

Never understood Linux myself, from what I have seen of it it just looks like a bad clone of Windows.

Then I go talk to Linux owners and tell them about the latest program I have put on my computer, then the Linux owner says there is a version of the same program for Linux.

So I ask them if they are going to install said program on Linux then watch the colour drain from there faces as they know it will take several hours of hunting around forums trying to find out what gibberish they need to type into the command line to make the damn program work.

OK, time to keep my head down, here it comes...

0
0
WTF?

What does this have to do with Linux?

Linux is just the Kernel. Gnome and KDE do run on other Operating Systems as well...

0
0
Thumb Up

Its true

KDE 4.3 is quite nice, especially opensuse's implementation. Gnome on the other hand looks quite dated. Gnome with compiz can still amaze your average windows user though. KDE 4.3 has a lot of the stuff that compiz does (just not as well done). Enlightenment is starting to look pretty interesting too.

0
0
Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Dude, where is my talking computer?

Spock and Kirk had one in 1966. It's not as though we havn't had the idea in front of us.

What happened to neural networks. Why can't computers learn what we do? what happened to the blinkcam idea, looking at the menus?

Look how clever web sites and games have been inventing other ways to do things.

Dude, where is my anticipating, verbal cues detecting, talking computing? For glod's sake, we have squandered 20 years of hardware extrapolation on doing the same thing as the gem desktop, (and survailence) instead of doing something new.

Paris, 'cos she always welcomes something new

0
0
Grenade

Don't f**k it up!

Microsoft shot themselves in the foot twice in the last couple of years:

1. They released half-baked and inefficient Vista. This made upgrading impossible for many users, increased costs and created frustration (either financially or in load times).

2. The changed the interface to Office 2007 and alienated the existing user base.

At this point, many people, including us, switched to Linux and OpenOffice. The cost of retraining was actually cheaper because OpenOffice was found to be more like Office 2004 than Office 2007... (And we could ditch the licenses too.)

Yes we could use nicer interfaces, but dont wreck the ones we already have.

I kind of expect them to do a U-turn - just like they have with Windows 7 (and to a certain degree, Windows CE on netbooks).

Grenade, for obvious reasons.

0
0
Pint

WIMP

I have thought for a very long time that the 'standard' windows-based environments that we all know and errr... love(?) really belong in the arc.

Whether it is MS Windows, the Mac GUI, X Windows, whatever, dress it up as much as you want with flashy graphical effects and animated this and that, but it basically hasn't changed **AT ALL** since the guys at Xerox invented it!!

It's not as if it's actually a good way of working. I find the whole moving between windows, and selecting focus with the mouse, and then going back to the first window because it's been pushed to the back now and you can't see it, and typing only to find you're in the wrong window, and scroll bars that are actually really tedious to use, etc etc etc, a very slow and very inefficient way of working. On my Mac, I use the command line more than anything else. It's faster. It doesn't do anything unexpected. It doesn't have bells and whistles that generally get in the way. It works!

I'm not suggesting that we all go back to the command line - of course not. But, while the WIMP idea was fantastic back in the early 70's, we really should have moved on quite a lot by now. No, we should have moved on a HUGE amount by now.

I think the whole thing needs a rethink. It's horrible as it is. I have a few ideas (probably none of which are particularly exciting), but a few things I would like to see in a future interface are the ability for the user to be less precise; the mouse pointer thing is simply way too fiddly and slow for much of the time. In fact, why not get rid of the mouse? - it's WAY too inefficient to keep switching between the keyboard and the rodent. And do something about these overlapping windows getting in each others way!

0
0
Linux

@FuzzyDuck

"So I ask them if they are going to install said program on Linux then watch the colour drain from there faces as they know it will take several hours of hunting around forums trying to find out what gibberish they need to type into the command line to make the damn program work."

All of which is, of course, a whopping great lie.

I can't speak for how your imaginary friends fail to cope with Linux, but whenever I've had to install something that isn't already packaged it's the usual configure, make, make install. It takes less time and fewer brain cells than deselecting all the bundled crapware that windows programs often come with.

And you know, there's something to be said for not installing random applications that aren't part of a managed repository ...

0
0
Def
Bronze badge

Re: What does this have to do with Linux?

It has everything to do with Linux because that is what the consumer is being sold on. You ask the average Joe which *version* of Linux they prefer you'll either get an answer like 'Windows' followed by a nervous giggle, or a blank stare. The average consumer doesn't (and shouldn't have to) give a shit about whether a piece of software they pick up in a shop is compatible with their obscure distro or not.

Until Linux has *one* identifiable brand that encompasses the whole OS where everything just works it will never ever succeed on the desktop.

0
0
Stop

What it really needs...

Is a huge reduction in the number of half finished apps that are available for it. If the developers of each of the, for example blog editors, got together and worked together and produced one GOOD product instead of a large handful of OK applications then things would actually be a lot better.

0
0
Grenade

@SmallYellow...

That's true for some programs or something slightly off-the-wall. But for the majority of things - such as Open Office, Amarok (media player), K3B (CD / DVD Burner), Firefox, Xine (movie player) and lots of others, it's usually just a few lines at most - even less if you're running a Package Manager. Apt, Yum, or Emerge can handle downloading and installing apps just fine, and I'm sure there's others.

There's 2 things I can't effectively do on Linux that I can on Windows -

1) Talk to my iPod Touch (specifically the Touch), and

2) Burn a DVD with menus, chapters etc.

Now #2) can be done, but it's a pain in the arse. Using Nero under Windows is a lot easier. Also to my knowledge, there's nothing yet that can handle a iPod Touch because it doesn't have disk mode like previous generation iPods.

So if you have Linux friends who panic at the thought of installing software like what you have under Windows, I suggest you tell them to either get a manual or get a better distro.

Choosing the grenade icon because I just know someone's going to tell me I'm wrong or start yelling "why don't you use Wine?" I know I can use Wine but I prefer to dual-boot for some things.

0
0
Silver badge

Bah!

The problems facing the Linux community are largely of their own making. Linux is a perfectly adequate Unix-like operating system with all that implies: stuff lying around with "known bugs" after 30 odd years because the bunch of accademics that built thebits in question saw something shinier when the job was 95% done. Ask about this and one gets back "good enough" answers. Push harder and you get defensive "well Windows is worse", as though that either made sense or was relevant.

Linux will continue to be a "poor cousin" until the community decides whether it wants to deliver what it oh so often claims - a better computer experience than windows. That will involve many things, amongst them fixing ancient broken stuff, deciding what the desktop should look like and more importantly how it should behave (this last was an awfully long time dawning on the Linux GUI desiner community) so that people can make it work quickly and then push ythe OS details to the back off their heads because (and this is important) most people do not want, and do not enjoy having, to eff-about with their computer OS. They want to do other stuff, like write letters, build spreadsheets and so on.

As I've said before, choice is good but no-one would buy a toaster that required one to define the line voltage, shape of bread and colour of the casing before you could get on with the business of singeing bread.

And you need to get the manufacturers of certain key software packages to port to Linux, (pay attention Linuxfans, another important point coming up) even if you personally have never understood the point of that software. The Novel geek who asked a roomful of people why on earth they'd need a digital camera USB interface two years ago was removing just about everyone on Madison Avenue from the potential audience for Suse 10, and he didn't even know it.

The same geek also said he couldn't see why they needed to add pivot table support to OpenOffice spreadsheets (the obvious answer, that the product they were attempting to usurp offered them was aparently lost on him, as was any intuitive desire to go find out what they were and why so many in the insurance and sales industries use them). With that he'd just told everyone in the room that adopting his product would make their buyers and sales reps angry with the IT boob who did the job. And he said all this proudly. Waytergo Linuxgeek!

The problem isn't the interface. It's cultural. Linux will never be what it's adherents want it to be until the community at large becomes more attuned to what the computer *user* world wants. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck is right, and until he is wrong Linux will not be a serious contender for the workstation of choice stakes in business.

I await the storm of "Stupid Windows Users" posts I usually attract with this sort of posting, but everyone should know I don't use windows or *any* toy computer OS as my yardstick for what constitutes a decent, robust OS.

0
0
Linux

Small changes

@Anonymous Coward: There is a technical definition, and then the colloquial definition, of what Linux is. It will serve you and the rest of the Net if you assume that every time an article says "Linux", they are using the colloquial definition, not the technical one (unless the article specifically says "Linux kernel"). You don't get to make the rules on how a language works, no matter how logical your argument may be.

As far as the article is concerned, I have to agree with some others here. Linux should not be pushing the boundaries of user interface. It really just needs to lose weight. Most of the buttons seem big a bloated, when compared to the slick looking widgets in other OSes. Themes are not a solution, they just push the issue off to the users.

0
0
Silver badge
Linux

KDE at home, Windows/MacOS at work

I use KDE on GNU/Linux by preference, but at work they pay me to work with Windows and MacOS. All I can say is CLUNKY CLUNKY CLUNKY. The work, ones, I mean.

Not that Linux+KDE is THAT great (quite adequate is best I'd rate it), but if I must use a tired old 80's user interface model crudely nailed over a 70's OS-App-Data model, I am certainly not going to pay through the nose for a dumbed-down version of what I can download for free.

@SmallYellowFuzzyDuck - Certainly true at the edge of newness, but for every-day stuff, it is all a few clicks away in the distribution repositories. Think of it as having the entire local software store available for free in your "add-remove programs" control panel.

0
0
Thumb Down

All OS desktops are just fine right now

Windows, OSX, GNOME, KDE, whatever: as Tanuki says, you want consistency in your interactions with a computer. Wasn't there something about the best human interfaces being the 'least surprising' ?

0
0
Flame

More flames

What Linux needs is to "just work" like Windows does. Recently bought a new netbook with Vista on it. Scrubbed Vista, installed XP. Everything worked 'cept for WiFi. Quick search, download one .exe file and double click. One re-boot later and WiFi works. Everywhere.

Tried to install Ubuntu on it. Everything works 'cept WiFi. Googled and found about fifteen different solutions depending on what version of all sorts I was running. Some saying I needed to compile a Kernel or something, others saying I needed to download some script and run it. I'll be honest - I had no clue what I was doing.

I also know for a fact that my printer and scanner won't work (and no - I am not going to go and buy new ones).

So what Linux needs isn't new ways of interacting with the OS, it needs to get organised, stop trying to support fifteen different versions of a hundred different distros and get it's act together in making it a real point and click alternative to Windows.

0
0
Linux

Hey SmallYellowFuzzyDuck

A good version of Linux will have a package manager that takes care of most of the heavy lifting most of the time.

Use synaptic or some other apt GUI (for .deb based Linux) and you don't have to type any command-line "gibberish" at all.

RPM and apt do a good job of chasing down requirements and prerequisites for you.

Granted, you have to wait for a package builder to create a package for the app you want and the version you want.

But, once that's done, 95% of the time it should be just a few mouse clicks away.

You don't even need any external media (no CDs).

0
0
Stop

Which flavour?

As AC above says, Linux is a Kernel, Gnome and KDE are the "stars" of this alternative desktop world. However, it's far easier to have a generic term to use alongside MacOs or Windows.

Unfortunately, the Linux Guru here has failed to see how Apple have taken on the challenge of the desktop interface and ran with it, surpassing anything that has gone before.

Linux would do well to copy where Apple have gone, as a massive amount of research and development has gone into, what many consider to be, the best Desktop experience bar none.

Unfortunately, copying is all that the Linux community is likely to do, until an inspired commercial venture leverages the power of Linux and throws serious money at it.

Ten thousand disparate geeks in garages, bedrooms, small offices and lounges around the globe, whittering away spare time on a hobby, simply cannot compete with a dedicated commercial interest driven by massive egos , perfectionism and huge wads of cash.

Canonical is a start, but just look at the flak they get from bearded Linux zealot OS wierdos - Traitors! - how dare you try make money out of this!

So Linux will continue to flounder on the Desktop until serious money and commercial interest is thrown at it - and really, what is so bad about that?

I suppose it depends if your a tofu-eating hippy living in lala land, or a realist who understands economic forces are what drives the wheels of change, for better or worse.

erm, think I need to ease up on the coffee...

0
0
Paris Hilton

What this has to do with Linux

GNOME and KDE are the most commonly-used GUIs for Linux and closely tied to that OS. Pretending otherwise involves needless pedantry. As Tanuki points out, consistency is key. I would add to that the ability to get useful system administration done instead of having to drop to the CLI for virtually any configuration task. Not being fugly would be good, too.

0
1
Pint

Good Article

I couldn't agree more. The windo$e gui is dinosaur technology. Why should we try to emulate it ? Madness !

Open source innovation already gives us great things. The lovely stable Linux kernel for a start, the wealth of applications freely avalailable, for example Audacity - nothing I've seen for Windows only comes close (Audacity is available for windo$e too). Consider also the gui, where you can have multiple desktops in KDE and Gnome, while in windo$e you only get one. Got a lot of windows open ? Pain finding the right one in windo$e isn't it ? NOT SO with KDE/Gnome - you can organise your windows under different desktops, and suddenly you have precise navigation, and a slick user experience.

@Tanuki - you have a sensible argument about consistency and training, but do you really think microsoft are consistent ? What about vista, and why do you think your clients still run xp in 2000 mode ? You are also barking mad if you think that letting this situation persist is acceptable. Sooner or later the hardware that your current user base runs on will fail. What then ? As part of support you have to look to where you're going in the future. I would say that a O/S that is likely to work on pretty much any hardware platform that will be developed is a pretty safe bet. Add to that you have an office application suites that you will also be able to run. Sounds like most of your headaches solved ?You are absolutely right about consistent tools being required to get the shit shovelled, but at the same time we need to advance so either we have better tools, or there is smaller pile of shit to be shovelled. Advances require innovation and that necessitates change. :-)

@SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety! - thanks for the troll alert - never have guessed :-)

0
0
Silver badge
Grenade

Re: SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety! Posted Thursday 27th August 2009 19:08 GMT

Here comes the flames...

" So I ask them if they are going to install said program on Linux then watch the colour drain from there faces as they know it will take several hours of hunting around forums trying to find out what gibberish they need to type into the command line to make the damn program work "

Aye aint that the wonderful thing about linux, that you can goto your distro's forum and ask howto install or configure something and they give you a line something like :

"Rm -r ./ Yum ^$"$%*(&^& Http:repo.linux.rpm. (&*%8644908465t6345!$$$$ "

Then you ask "what about the GUI tool in the popup menu? does'nt that do the same job" and they said "FO newb! GUI tools are for wussies", then they wonder why people dont want to try GNU/Linux

Grenade... because shortly I'll be getting some

0
0

Not easy

Developing good interfaces costs a lot to do properly. Now I can develop a good interface that pleases me and my friends, and I'm sure that many of you can do the same. However (didn't you just know that was coming), to build an interface that appeals to the majority of potential users for an OS is very, very difficult - if you want it to be mainstream that is.

Both Microsoft and Apple spend a huge amount of money on usability testing and have produced what are the de facto standards for mass consumer OS interfaces. Love them or loath them they are what the majority of people are used to using and woe betide anyone who strays too far from that design model, at least for the near future.

Good luck with the innovation, but I've got a sneaking feeling that Windows 13 and Apple Tabby might still be dominant in 2020. I will of course be happy to be proven wrong - because that means someone will have come up with something really special.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@SmallYellowFuzzyDuck

No offense, mate, but you need to stop talking to bleeding out of the ears idiots. Software on Linux is way easier to install. 'apt-get firefox', 'apt-get openoffice'. Nothing that easy on Windows. One shows the level of their intelligence by the company they keep, I guess.

Either that, or I need to stop responding to trolls.

0
0
Pint

Linux's biggest problem

Besides not playing the latest games is that the interface, even with the newest updates, still looks so bourgeois compared to Windows.

Beer, because its Miller Time.

0
0
J 3
Linux

Interface advancements?

Always welcome. But then the retards come out in force, complaining (more like flaming) that no one will use it because "it's different" (yes), "it's difficult" (no, they just know other type of difficult), etc. Which are both true in a form or another. If on the other hand the interface just mimics the most popular things, then the retards (are they the same as before or a different set, I wonder) yell that it's just imitation, no innovation, why use it if it's the same as before, etc. etc. Which is also true in some form.

Can't really win there.

So, the real way to "win" is to use the "Microsoft way", regardless of the qualities or other merits of the software itself.

0
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Unhappy

The problem as i see it

Tanuki is dead right. Every system is so customisable there is no standard layout. You can't say "Goto the start button". In having KDE and Gnome you've already lost the consistancy MS has. In addition to the different window managers, every application has a different interface, with different styles of widgets depending on the framework the program was written with. And all of them are different from the corresponding "mainstream" windows program. This is one area where MS has the edge. All windows programs follow the same layout - menu bar, buttons, tabs, window style - everything matched (until recently, but don't get me started on vista or the ribbon).

This is only one of the major areas that needs to be addressed though.

The other essential issue to me is the lack of support from software and hardware companies. I have a webcam which doesn't work under linux. I have a server with a RAID card thats as much use to me under linux as a chocolate teapot. When you buy hardware, can you be sure it'll be supported? No? Well, I'll plump for Windows then. When can I install Adobe CS4 on it? MS Office? How about all the lovely specialist software the business i work at uses?

I admit this is not the fault of distribustions or contributors, but more a chicken and egg situation. When linux gets more users on the desktop, more companies will support it, but until the companies support it, it won't get a good market share. Who's gonna break the cycle?

0
0

Yes, consistency first

That's right the interface should stay the same across the time, nonetheless, if you don't want to know or to understand so, IT is not for you.

There are always some "unexpected events" when you use a computer.

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

@smallfuzzyduck

I couldn't be bothered with flames, but I will point out that your trolling attempt was lame and not based in reality.

For example. Got to work this morning, read my emails. One of them was from Linux Magazine and one article said this.

"A Little Empathy For Pidgin

With the integration of the Telepathy framework into GNOME, most distributions are dropping the old instant messaging favorite Pidgin, for the new upstream application Empathy. It's a reminder of the important role that distributions play in making choices for us all."

Cool I thought. I use Pidgin, never heard of empathy, I wonder what that is like?

Now, I could have dropped to a command prompt and typed "sudo apt-get install empathy" but that would have been far too difficult, so what I did was click

System>Administration>Synaptic Package Manger

I then typed "empathy" in the Quick Search box, click on the empathy entry which tells me;

"Empathy consists of a rich set of reusable instant messaging widgets, and a

GNOME client using those widgets."

Place a tick in the box and click "apply", thirty seconds later empathy has downloaded and installed itself and I now have "Empathy Instant Messenger" in what you Windozers would call my "Start Menu".

Meanwhile a Windows user would still be somewhere inside the Labyrinthine Windows Install process;

Find Website>Find Download Page>Enter Email Details>Download File>Navigate to Download Folder>Click Downloaded File>Reassure Windows That You Know The File Is Safe Even Though You Really Don't>Go Through Installer Process, Making Sure You Untick All The Partner Toolbars And Other Crap>Reboot System>Trawl Through Start Menu Trying To Find The Launcher Which Is In Folder Named After The Company That Produced It And Not The Actual Name Of The App>Start The App>Discover It Is Nagware And You Have to Pay To Get The Not Annoying Version>Navigate To Control Panel>Click Add/Remove Software>Find and Click The Uninstaller>Discover That The Uninstaller Doesn't Work>Try To Recall How Long IT Has Been Since Your Last Windows Reinstall And Count All The Other Orphaned Apps That Couldn't Be Removed From Past Such Adventures>If Orphaned Apps > 10 Then Reinstall Windows.

So, please try and refrain from trolling forums with your lies about installing apps under linux. It might have been true back in 1994 but guess what, we've moved on since then. It's about time Windows did likewise don't you think?

0
0
Flame

Chuckle

So they want some fancy interface? Why? Do they expect normal people (i.e. not readers of the reg) - to actually use it? One false move and they'll be exposed to the core only fetishists and command line tweakers get off on.

Just go back to playing with your distro's and leave the real world alone....

0
0

@Rich 2

What you describe is exactly what I hate whenever I have to work on Windows or Mac. Regarding the latter I was very, very disappointed, given the good things I've heard about it.

Fortunately, X11-based systems are a whole lot more configurable. And have been since before Linus ever started hacking a kernel. Much more usable! In fact some of the windows/Mac-like crap wasn't even default until a few years ago, and presumably came as the KDE and Gnome developers decided they had to look-and-feel familiar to Windows users.

Recommended reading: http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2008/04/settling-osx-focus-follows-mouse-debate.html

0
0
Linux

@ people responding to small yellow

He's a shill, people. Ignorance and misinformation like that doesn't come cheap, and no doubt he's well-paid to post it.

0
0
Go

other issues first

I agree that Linux does imho require some serious interface redesign, but I feel there are more pressing matters:

- I should NEVER have to use a command-line for ANYTHING. It is so 1980's. This is the 21st century already. Computers are supposed to make my life easier. I don't want to have to memorize piles of ancient archaic text cmd garbage or look it up whenever it is needed. I will admit that Linux has been getting better over the years, but it is taking way too long to get over this.

On Windows desktop and server OSs I'm lucky if I have to go to a prompt twice in one year, everything can be done in dialogs, where it belongs. And this is for over 10 years already with Windows.

- The OS file system layout and naming is terrible. There should not be dozens of folders with obscure three and four letter names to them, filled with dozens of three and four letter files (slight exaggeration to make a point).

To some degree XP, but moreso Vista and 7, have got this correct [better]. Long folder and file names, and the entire drive folder layout from root down is more logical and cleaner.

I can hear the Linux fanbois screaming at this one... :-)

- I should not have to worry about issues with every distro and every build if I want to install/use/upgrade software etc. Linux-fanbois like to flame MS for the number of Windows versions and SKUs, but truth be told the Linux marketplace is worse and needs a cleanup (which will never happen though).

Regarding the UI, if Linux wants to actually do something new and better, they need to leap beyond Apple and Microsoft by at least 5 to 10 years and move into a fully-accelerated fully-3D interface. I was hoping MS would push this way with 7, but alas they did not, only adding a few changes over Vista (albeit welcomed changes).

As a software developer and lead programmer with previous OS development experience, concepts for a full 3D interface is something I have discussed many times with a small group of peers, but it is out of the range of my bank-account to develop.

0
0
Pint

@Goat Jam

"So, please try and refrain from trolling forums with your lies about installing apps under linux"...

And you say this after the garbage [and lies] you posted about installing apps under Windows?

You sir need to come up from under your troll-bridge and be flogged. :-p

0
0
Bronze badge

Fear of Change

There's certainly reasons to worry about the cost of a change in the UI. But there's a difference between a machine in a business environment, with some sort of centralised management which limits the way a user can change things, and a more personal machine for which user and admin are the same person.

Linux, we have a choice, and it's not just between Gnome and KDE. Pick one, and you still have a choice in the UI--consider the NBR option, a bit more than just a "theme".

In the end, I reckon there's a simple answer to all the fears of a new UI.

New UI, new name. Simples.

Now, why are Microsoft still calling their UI "Windows"?

(I think I know why I'm imagining a meekat complaining about all the people asking about computers on the website he runs which deals with architectural daylight admission features.)

0
0
Happy

window managers

@rich 2: agree with you about windows hiding each other, etc. this is what I think: gnome & kde should take a look at tiling window managers like awesome, ion3 etc. Just because they only target themselves at uebergeeks right now doesn't mean the principle of tiling windows is a geeky thing, in fact I guess it is more like what you would expect if you had never used a computer.

I am an office-type worker, not a dev or anything but I use awesome window manager (awm) on ubuntu and find it a hilarious waste of time if I have to use a non-tiling window manager on another box.

Course, all awm & co need friendlifying.

Smiley, because trying to get a bit constructive on improving UIs rather than indulging in flamewars

0
0
Silver badge

good interfaces lead to bad computing

as a command line programmer I found it amusing when drag and drop came to windows and I could watch people spend ages dragging files over to different directories rather than struggling with a couple of scripts that would do the job for eternity - even on Windows.

Just a small example but people take the line of least resistance even if its not necessarily in the right direction.

Its nice just to plug your camera in and have all the pictures automatically downloaded, but then you have to spend the rest of your life winging on forums about trying to get faster broadband so you can e-mail them to people who don't really want to see them because you never learned about compression.

I must admit its nice, working in an office, to be able to write a document or a spreadsheet that no-one else will really read and tick off a task but it doesn't really get anything done.

People love easy interface like the Iphones - but check for any improvement in real productivity.

0
0
FAIL

@Goat Jam

"... I will point out that your trolling attempt was lame and not based in reality."

Neither is yours.

Empathy doesn't come in a Windows flavour, but Pidgin does. This is how you install it on Windows: type pidgin into the address bar of IE and press enter; the Pidgin site is the first result returned; select the download link that appears in your search results, click to download and execute the installer; answer some sensible questions about the components that you want and where they should be saved; job done.

0
0
FAIL

Ahh, the well known arguments from the penguinistas

"He's a shill, people. Ignorance and misinformation like that doesn't come cheap, and no doubt he's well-paid to post it."

This is the usual answer when someone criticises their religion^wkernel.

Well... I'll bite. What Linux needs sorely is a unified structure. No (sane) application developer will ever dream of porting a major thing like Adobes "Creative Suite" (or similarly sized package) onto a target that often has a so complex dependancy structure you're not surprised if the patch you need is kept under a rock, deep in the woods, and a chiseled-in-stone copy is available on personal request.

And before you flame me, note the following:

-I'm used to FreeBSD, Windows, and earlier in life Irix, ache (AIX) and Solaris. (and H-pukes)

-I know that militant penguinistas are even more dangerous than iFanbois.

-I've donned my asbestos longjohns before writing this post.

//Svein

0
0
Silver badge

Meanwhile, .... on the Master Pilot Flight Deck

For those who know Absolutely Nothing or far too Little about Cloud IT Command and Control for Virtualising Power to Astute Subversioning Systems .... The Internet is the OS, the World Wide Web is the MetaDataBase Source/Information Store and Intelligence the Innovative Driver, with Man the Virtual Machine being Phormed and Manipulated Imaginatively.

And that would also support the Ages Old Adage, IT is not about what you have got, but all about how well you use IT. And all those bells and whistles for sale, well they are just designed as White Noise to make the Sound of Ignorant Silence, Painfully Profitable?!.

0
0
Gold badge
Headmaster

@Rich 2

"....really belong in the arc."

Is that your way of saying that they're behind the curve?

0
0
Linux

Focus on the positive

In my experience, the things that Linux (word used in it's all-encompassing mode) does best are the things that it does differently from Windows. Take Office software - Open Office tries to copy MS Office and is just as big a PITA to use. On the other hand, look at installing software. Using software depositories in Linux is a joy, despite what the trolls say. Open the package manager, search for what you want to do, tick the package you want and your PC nips off, finds it, downloads it and installs it. No hunting round web sites, no registration, no nag screens, no unwanted extras installed that you then spend hours trying to remove. I could go on with similar examples of things done right in Linux (filesystem, updates, Compiz, scripting...), but I won't.

Basically, what I'm saying is, please don't make Linux like Windows to try to lure away people who don't really want to be lured. I moved away from Windows because I wanted something different. Give people a real alternative, let them see that it's better for themselves and let them migrate, if they want to.

And ignore the trolls. Come on - if Linux really was as bad as they say, no-one would use it, would they?

0
0
Flame

@Rich 2

Good God!!!! Alt-Tab to change focus - who on earth uses a mouse for that?

Meanwhile, a proper user interface, where real work gets done looks like this:

Menu Options View Utilities Compilers Help

-------------------------------------------------

DSLIST - Data Sets Matching CEE.**.H

Command ===>

Command - Enter "/" to select action

-------------------------------------------------

CEE.SCEEH.ARPA.H

CEE.SCEEH.H

CEE.SCEEH.NET.H

CEE.SCEEH.NETINET.H

CEE.SCEEH.SYS.H

***************************** End of Data Set list

I suppose that if nothing else, the GUI paradigm has allowed sufficient numbers into the biz, that we can have silly religious debates which miss the point of the article again!

0
0
Thumb Up

Audacity

"for example Audacity - nothing I've seen for Windows only comes close"

There are better commercial (not necessarily 'Windows-only', but certainly not available as native Linux) DAW packages than Audacity but they're only worthwhile buying it if you're a power user working to tight deadlines. For the rest of us (myself included now that I'm no longer working in a commercial audio environment), Audacity is a fantastic piece of software.

0
0
Stop

Could I just say....?

An OS is just that - an operating system; it's not a religion.

Oh, and don't feed the trolls.

0
0
Boffin

the universal tool

for startera I'm a Plan9 user. We don't have a WIMP interface and we get serious nerd types moaning about it so if they can't cope without icons, what hope for the average computer dolt.

what i think you will see is the death of the general purpose computer.

UI innovation does not win the commodity marketplace, it is up to the incumbents to die.

0
0
Go

Need art students

My reading of Linux is that technical people get invovled with it when they are at college as it lets them develop their skills and make things the way they want to.

What I believe is needed is for the same thing to happen in art colleges.

I bet most computer based students students only know Photoshop and Illustrator and only consider doing work for real world or web, not for the desktop.

In this environment I also expect that there would be far fewer advocates for Open Source, so the students are not naturally introduced to the alternative.

If there was a program to introduce GIMP, InkScape, Blender,...(pick your fave) to design/art students with some information on how they can actually get their work seen I expect some will try it and get into it.

Ubunut is trying with their media examples competition for the distribution, but I only see it targetted at the people who already know Open Source. Why not put posters in colleges, promote on art/design websites.

Get the designers and artists excited and it will happen. Expecting coders to do design is a dangerous thing...

0
0
Grenade

Fucking right

I think it's pathetic that Linux desktops always look like a poor man's Windows XP. Can they really not do any better than that? Jeez.

0
0
Bronze badge

Not so sure...

From talking to end users I find that most have Windows at home because it's what they are used to at work. As such familiarity is what people are looking for. So what Linux needs is a UI that's familiar to users if it wants to grab any significant market share. Most of our users are on XP these days and stick with the 2000 GUI. Those who are on Vista have something that looks very much like XP. For that reason I like the fact that Gnome comes without all the bells and whistles of KDE4, if they want to stick bells and whistles on there that's fine but best to keep them switched off by default or at least have a simple way of switching the whole lot off and running in "classic mode".

Innovation in the UI might get the developers all moist, but users don't really care for it. Look at your washing machine, the main control is probably a big dial because that's what people got used to with automatic washers of old. Manufacturers could put a very clever UI on the front of their computer controlled machines, but they don't because people are used to a big dial and a handful of buttons. The same is true of all sorts of devices that people use every day. The market research people in these industries know their customers. The market researchers for the IT industry speak to the wrong focus groups. They pick on geeks who make up an ever decreasing fraction of the user base. Geeks like their gadgets, real people don't.

Where this UI "innovation" is forced on users, they are not happy. I don't know a single BMW driver who doesn't think that iDrive hasn't made their car harder to live with than the old model.

The worst bit about the whole issue of GUI "innovation" is that there is no real innovation, all we are seeing is various bells and whistles stuck on top of the same old GUI. So the best bet for developers of all GUIs? Enough with your gadgets and widgets already. Stop. Take a step back and look at the GUI as whole and see if there's any way to make it an easier and more pleasent experience for the user while not removing the familiarity. If you can manage that go right ahead. If you can't just leave it the fuck alone.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

in defense of smallyellowfuzzyduck

the installations are one of the reasons why i find linux too annoying to use as well.

Lets say, for example, the firefox guys release firefox 4 tomorrow and it's going to completely revolutionise the web. With windows i got to the firefox site, click get firefox. double click the installer file that downloads, press next a couple of times and i'm using it.

for linux, if it's in the package manager then great, it's really straightforward, probably, update the list and click install.

Of course if, by some strange happenstance, the repository for that distro hasn't been updated yet, thats when the problems start, i go to the firefox site and am presented with 2 or 3 different types of package files, and a load of source code. Probably for 6 different versions. stable builds, experimental branch builds etc. i download one of the packages hoping it's the right one, and double click it, 9/10 times, if anything happens at all, the package manager launches and i get told i need something else, a library with a cryptic name also not in the repository, before it can be installed. If you have to compile it, yes make/make install might work, if you happen to have all the right headers installed already, but why shoudl you have to compile it!

Somehow, just double clicking on a file and pressing next, seems simpler to me!

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.