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 …


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@All those who defended or flamed me

Firstly, Goat Jam you are a bigger troll than me ok. You know *exactly* what I'm talking about.

Secondly, Command line interface, I work in a place where there is about 30 or 40 Linux users and I see them all the time using the CLI, it's something I stopped doing in the 90s.

To me it's people trying out-geek each other with their knowledge of the CLI (Or fighting the limitations of the OS) I would rather just get my work done without having to memorise all these commands.

Tom 7 you made a very good point there, a graphics interface doesn't mean the work is more productive, but it's easier for general computer use when it's done right.

We need an OS like Linux to add varierty to what is available, but it has this "Dont apply unless you are a hard-core geek computer God like me" attitude about it.

Happy face, lets all be good about this ok.


Enlightenment 17

The future is here and it's called Enlightenment. It's pure beauty.

And before people start responding "It's Alpha / Beta code", yes it is but I've been running it as my main desktop interface for a couple years now with no issues. So there :-p


New UI's - really?


It is all very simple to say "We need something new and better". But the question is, what?

IMHO, I think that we all should look at what is done most frequently on a computer in a workplace, in the home, and on the move, and work backwards from that (critics may say that this is basing what we want on what we already have, but I think that is easier than trying to get a quantum leap accepted in the general population)

In the workplace, most work is, by necessity, text or number based (even in call centres). Even if we had good voice recognition (and I qualify this later), the speed and accuracy of a keyboard device will prevail. I cannot even see screen or touch-desktop emulations working, because there is something reassuring about a key being pressed to it's end stop, with a slight audible feedback. It's here for the long run, and it's cheap. And you can type and talk at the same time.

I could see the mouse be replaced, but you will always be working on one thing at a time (at least if you are trying to do it well), so focused windows, or virtual sheets of paper with the current one on the top is natural, and easy for "computers-as-tools" users to comprehend. So, touch screen or gestures can work here, but windows themselves will prevail.

Voice recognition is out. Really out, unless you want your office full of chattering fools working in an environment more like the Bird House in London Zoo. It's possible that you could use throat mikes, or lip reading software, but that will require people to learn to talk without making much noise. Difficult. And of course, if we get decent context based speech recognition, much of the call-centre based work would just disappear, a much larger change than that of a computer UI.

In the home, we use computers for web browsing, and entertainment (games, music, photo's etc.) These things could be accessed by a number of new interface technologies, but this will be driven by the home environment and available hardware, not by clever interface. We will be using IR or wireless remote controls (or possibly gestures, maybe our mobile device as the controller) in much the same way as a Windows Media Centre or MythTV (or for that matter a Wii or an Xbox360 with wireless controllers). There will be, of course, a keyboard substitute for those who use mail, blog or tweet, but much of this will be done on a mobile. In the log run, we should be able to interact with the environment with voice command and feedback. This would work in a home environment, because it is quieter than an open-plan office.

Things will be based around a large display device (or even display devices - imagine your home centre being able to display on any TV in the house, so you can keep watching your media as you move between the kitchen and dining room like you used to do with broadcast TV), but will still be mostly single tasking per person in the house, with background multi-tasking and pre-emptive pop-ups. Top layer 'windows' will still be the most natural interface for visual information, although much other stuff could be spoken.

On the move, we use the phone, messaging, and media. We already have iPhone like devices which show much promise. Voice recognition will be limited, because of background noise (although think throat mike again), but gesture based interfaces, like we are now seeing will become the norm. Again, only one thing active at a time, with backgrounded multi-tasking, and pre-emptive popups.

OK so this is my view, but I have always been form-follows-function, and this is how I see people continuing to work in the near future. Until we really get a new Man-Machine interface (HUD or direct like 'Neuromancer' (William Gibson), 'Oath of Feality' (Larry Nivern/Jerry Pournelle), or 'Ghosts in the Shell' (Shirow Masamune)), we're stuck with windows, pointer devices, and some voice recognition.

Arguing about what should appear on which task bar, how the window borders look, and the fonts and colours is really just a diversion from the real problems , like why do we still not have decent context sensitive speech recognition after nearly 40 years of research and goodness knows how much improvement in CPU power and storage! I would love to be able to 'talk' or otherwise interact with my 'mobile' device, which could then interface to my home or office environment as appropriate (I once read a story about a smart book which could do all these things which developed a personality, but alas, I have forgotten both the title and author).

Time for a beer, I'm sure.


Web interface

That statement would have been directed in part at the likes of Google.

"Go ahead and try the web as the UI for Android. We'll be covering your back."


Ok, I'll bite.

Linux is not Windows ; and hopefully, won't be in any near nor far future. Neither is it Mac OS X. All complaints I read here are comments by people expecting to have a free-as-in-free-beer Windows clone. Not going to happen, better switch to ReactOS now, folks. I admit Mac OS is a decent desktop, but then again, Linux evolution is orthogonal to Apple engineering methods in every respects : open dev / closed dev, all possible hardware and some more / closed platform, etc., and IT IS THE REASON WHY linux and mac os have similar market shares albeit targeting different sectors.

On to the fine points :

- Consistency : Linux is consistent ; more so than windows. The learning curve may be steeper, but it's mostly completely additive. You barely ever re-learn to do something. New methods to do the same things can appear, but when all else fails, you've always got a bash and vi. To enforce consistency business wide, just stick with a major linux vendor, Ubuntu-LTS redhat or novell, and you're warranted consistency for *years*.

- CLI : you can spend months *not* touching a CLI in linux. You do so because it is *faster*. The flip side is you can't use a CLI without knowledge, and knowledge means WORK. So, if you want to pull out guru things in a GUI, you'll always get spanked by the bearded CLI wizard standing at the next desk. It's a common pattern in humanity : cavemen began by small icons on their cave walls, then men went on to hieroglyphs, and then invented alphabet. And thereafter, the CLI was born. GUIs are backward. They slow you down and limit you expression capabilities. You can choose to be lazy, but you can't be both lazy and respected. And this is really the crux of the problem here : everyone with a few tricks up his sleeves can *look like* a Windows wizard, because the whole system is so obfuscated that changing a couple of keys from an internet recipe in the registry gives instant guru status, and sends chill down the spine of normal users. You can't get away like that with Linux. Either you really know what you're doing, either you look like the moron you really are. This removes the carpet under the feet of many individuals among corporations, undermining their little power, and this is clearly not acceptable to them. They'd rather have everyone else struggle with a GUI than losing their position on the social ladder.

Linux has come a long way since its inception. The same debates creep in time after time, but the truth is Linux *is* successful *because* it is *different*, not in spite of being different. Desktops are really only a part of the computing world at large, and in many other sectors linux is on par with the competition. I am personally satisfied I can do all my everyday work with linux, I like KDE 4.3 for what it is, and so far the only desktop application I might need that doesn't really exist is a good OCR. I can live without, though.



OK, the whole "Labyrinthine Windows Install Process" was obviously a bit of an exaggeration, and a funny one too (I think) Nevertheless, I'll bite.

After firing up my WinXP VM I type "pidgin" into the IE address field


The requested URL could not be retrieved


The following error was encountered while trying to retrieve the URL: http://pidgin/

Unable to determine IP address from host name pidgin

The DNS server returned:

Name Error: The domain name does not exist.This means that the cache was not able to resolve the hostname presented in the URL. Check if the address is correct.

Hmmm, It is IE6 after all (I don't use Windows for web browsing and I dont use IE, so I've never bothered to upgrade). Having said that I don't recall ever telling Windows Update NOT to upgrade IE so I'm not sure why I'm still on IE6. I don't take a hell of a lot of notice though because I rarely fire XP up so maybe I did at some point in the past. Shrug, whatever.

In any case, maybe I should try chrome, which I have installed.

Indeed, Chrome does come up with pidgin as the first result. Within the pidgin group is a "Download" link so I click that.

Chrome dutifully informs me "This sort of file can harm your computer, are you sure you want to continue?" My options are "Save" or "Cancel"

I click save.

I can't remember where Chrome downloads to but there is a "Show all downloads" button so I click that. It shows me a list of all previous downloads including pidgin.

I click pidgin and am warned again "The publisher could not be verified. Are you sure you want to run this software?" Options are "Run" and "Cancel"

I click run.

It asks me to choose a language. Why? Linux progs NEVER do that. If my system is configured for english then english it shall be. Anyway, I click english.

"Welcome to the Pidgin Installer! It is recommended that you CLOSE ALL OTHER PROGRAMS!"

Ummm, why?

Click next to continue. get presented with the GNU public licence. Click "accept"

The next screen is "Select components to install" complete with a active directory style tree representation with a bunch of items selected or not selected for whatever reason. I'm sure Grandma will have not trouble understanding that screen. Click next.

"Choose Install Location" Why? Surely there is a conventional and consistent place for apps to install to. Why should I choose or care where it goes? Click "Next" because I just don't care. If I want to know where it is later I'll type "which pidgin" into the console and be told.

"Setup will install pidgin into the following folder. To change the folder click browse and select the appropriate folder" Hold on, didn't we just do that? Click "install", watch the purty progress bar.

"Install complete, click finish" Click "Finish"

So, while I agree that I didn't have to reboot or deselect the spyware/toolbars or even reinstall Windows (yet) it wasn't the most granny friendly process ever. It still took FAR longer and was more potentially granny befuddling than Synaptic>Select>Apply was under Linux.

But if you're happy with the way Windows works then more power to you. As soon as I can buy a PC at retail without having to buy Windows I will surely leave you to use the OS of your choice, just as I would like to use the OS of my choice, without paying for one I don't choose to use.

That seems fair to me.


Yes please

Please develop the GUI, find better ways of using the desktop real estate, faster ways of scrolling etc.

Unfortunately, this is not the Linux problem. Make it easy to use. Make installers that work, make uninstallers that work, agree on a standard, get the manufacturer to release drivers for TUX straight away. Those who still pretend that any flavour of Linux just works has not tried to run it on the latest hardware or install software that is not in the repository.

Unfortunately, it is still M$ in front, then Mac and then Linux (despite its superiority as an OS).

At home I run Ubuntu because I love tinkering. At work, its the old M$.


@Fucking right

Are you telling me this

looks like a poor-man's XP??

Enlightenment (something you seem far from having experienced) has always been at the bleeding edge of linux WMs - and before you start saying 'it copied the transparency from windows blah blah blah' it's had transparency since I first encountered it about 10 years ago, when the most exciting UI innovation microsoft could come up with was a colour gradient in the window border!

And as users above have commented on how difficult it can be to achieve things in linux they're obviously taking advice from the wrong forums - the beauty of linux (at least some distros) as it stands is that there is the easy GUI way to do something and the build from source satisfying all your own dependencies rebuild your own sodding kernel way. If people can't see that this is why linux is so powerful and attractive to some users then I'm not entirely sure why they have a register account. Linux has come a long long long way from the days when you had to run xf86config to setup xwindows and just keep your fingers crossed that your monitor wasn't going to blow up.


Still don't see waht all the fuss is about.

I've never understood this obsession with bells and whistles interfaces -- the first thing I do with Windows, KDE or Gnome is turn off any fancy transparency and wobbly effects. I also get rid of any additional task bars that take up real estate. Some things are also much easier and faster using the command line -- that is unless you're too stupid or too lazy to use it (that goes for Windows and Mac users too).

I agree with those who say what Linux needs is to work out of the box on more machines and with more devices. When I talk to people about using Linux that's all they're generally worried about and those that do get it working "out of the box" generally get to like it.

@deegee: You may not use the command line on Windows but enough of us admins do that MS have brought out a new command-line language for us to use called PowerShell. Scripts and the command line are the most efficient way to carry out tasks and Microsoft admits this too.



"What Linux needs is to "just work" like Windows does."

WTF? icon here.

Recently bought a new netbook with Vista on it. Scrubbed Vista, installed XP.

Bad Joke Alert icon here.

This is the bit that earned the fail icon.:

"Everything worked 'cept for WiFi. Quick search, download one .exe file and double click. One re-boot later and WiFi works. Everywhere."

With Intentional Explorer? -Which in this public library has a tick on the [save my short and curlies for the next holder] box, please? And this thing gets wiped at night I think (anyhow it doesn't have WiFi which at least shows someone in the nexus has had his thumbs hammered at least a trillion times.)


@Rich 2 WIMP

For something that does address some of your issues, try RISC OS - written for the ARM cpu.

It ain't perfect, a lack of software development being the main stumbling block, but you can try it under emulation to get a feel for it.

More info here


@northern monkey

Er, TBH that screenshot is pretty crap, like something taken from Mac OS 8 or earlier. I ran Enlightenment about 8 years ago and the version was 0.16 back then, just as it is now. Seems that its development pace is as slow as ever. Anyway Enlightenment has always been big on effects and small on practicality.

I've been running KDE desktops from version 0.8. Just installed 4.3 and am utterly underwhelmed. I'd much rather use my Mac. I gotta agree with the article. Linux desktops should be pushing new boundaries instead of aping the likes of Windows and OS X.



"...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..."

That could be said of Apple during the classic Mac OS era: they had an Humane Interface Group doung actual UI development and testing back then. Nowadays, OS X' desktop is a mess, with lots of glitzy things band-aiding the user experience.



Er, TBH, it sounds like you're never going to be happy with anything unless it comes with an Apple sticker on it (and has a stupidly high price tag and absurdly restrictive licensing to boot). And are you kidding me with that mac os 8.0 comment - it looks like windows 3.1!

And one last thing you're obviously not so good with the reading, that was from Enlightenment 0.17, and it's 0 because much like emacs it's very modest and never wishes to call itself perfect (unlike windows, for instance, which microsoft seemed perfectly happy to charge people an arm and a leg for an alpha copy of version 7 aka vista)


@ Goat Jam

OK, so clearly a version of IE that was released in 2001 (wikipedia) may not make the search and install quite as simple as I stated. Chrome is better, but as it won't allow you to execute a file without downloading it first there is an extra step - you just have to click on the downloaded file in Chrome's status bar, not search through your downloads.

You make some good points - especially about language selection - but these things are only there because the publisher of this installer decided to leave the default settings when creating the install package, they aren't intrinsic to Windows.

In general I'd agree that installing an app from a managed repository is very simple and often better than Windows, but only when the app (or version) you want is in the repo and that you don't get any incomprehensible errors. However, the Pidgin installation I did this morning is typical of well over 95% of my experience with Windows installs. Under Ubuntu I reckon at least a third of my installs can't be done by a simple apt-get.



"Secondly, Command line interface, I work in a place where there is about 30 or 40 Linux users and I see them all the time using the CLI, it's something I stopped doing in the 90s."

Yeah? Even when it might be quicker? There's a bunch of stuff I can do from the command line in the time it takes your favourite GUI to load. It's not a question of having to, but wanting to, for reasons of simplicity and efficiency.


CLI old fashioned?

In real life we all invest years of effort learning linguistic interaction, despite having point and grunt down cold almost immediately. Point and grunt works fine for simple requests, but more complicated and subtle communication requires us to resort to language.


@Dude, where is my talking computer?

I don't know, but if you ever acquire one please let me know.

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

Ah, we had the idea but in order for us, the consuming public to buy this stuff business had to get involved and we all know that business is where life's third-raters go to <strikethrough>die</strikethrough> work.

> What happened to neural networks.

Researchers are still researching them.

> Why can't computers learn what we do?

Because we are very complex, barely understood machines, whereas computers are just stupid entities doing what they're programmed to do.

Hmm. Maybe that should be the other way around?

> What happened to the blinkcam idea, looking at the menus?

Dude, have you seen the size of the headpiece? (

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

Er, maybe I'm wrong but input devices seem to be mainly limited to things you can hold in your hand (mouse, keyboard, game-controller). AFAIK no web site or game has introduced anything as revolutionary as the computer reading your brain waves or responding to your verbal commands. The nearest I get to the latter is repeatedly shouting the same word at telemenu systems.

> Dude, where is my anticipating, verbal cues detecting, talking computing?

As far away as a full understanding of the human brain.

Or you could try Naturally Speaking if you particularly like the computer typing all the wrong worms.

> 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.

Yeah, well that's what happens when business gets involved: You just keep getting more of the same.


Gnome Dev idiots

This is typical.

After Gnome developers insisting that incremental upgrades are the way to go, they've now gone all "me too" (after KDE's major revision) and now they want change just for changes sake.

The new supposedly workspace based system they working on is utter, utter crap that doesn't make the slightest bit of sense and makes things far for awkward and difficult (not that they care because, hey, it's new, different and shiny). It's an answer looking for a question that was never asked.

Gnome has great potential, but there are so many outstanding issues that the devs simply refuse to address (or even accept completed patches for) that it feels like it's stagnating. However, that's no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just fix the issues and interface would be significantly improved.

Thumb Down

The penguins just don't get it...

All of this talk about "don't change the interface" and "keep the CLI because [FOR ME] it is faster" etc...

And you wonder why Linux is not being adopted rapidly or more widespread?

The fact is that the average user does NOT want to have to deal with that archaic hassle. There are more average people and users out there than there are IT people and admins, and the average person does NOT want to become an admin. Faster means nothing if you have to learn dozens or hundreds of silly-worded cryptic command strings.

Have you ever wondered why most people don't program the clock on their VCR/DVD? Now you expect these same people to learn and use archaic CLI?

Did any of you even read the article or understand what this is about?

If any of you were using computers back when the GUI started to take over on numerous platforms, removing the use of CLI was one of the main pushes from the entire industry due to massive complaints by all users of the old cryptic DOS-like systems.

And if you are all trying to tell me that Linux is so much faster than Windows and OSX, then why does it take too long for a GUI to load so you need to use the CLI instead?

@Cameron Colley

"You may not use the command line on Windows but enough of us admins do"

I'm a corporate IT person managing three corporations in two cities. There is no reason why I should be forced to use a cmd interface to get things done on a desktop or server computer.

Three or four clicks through ControlPanel or AdminTools to get to what I want via GUI is not that big of a deal, and it makes training, telephone support, etc., considerably easier and faster.


To shut down MS Windows... have to click on a button called 'Start'.


@I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

<me> "What Linux needs is to "just work" like Windows does."

<you> WTF? icon here.

Why WTF? In *MY* experience, Windows just works. I have never had trouble installing hardware or software, installing or re-installing the OS on my own or any other persons PC. I have NEVER been able to get a fully working install of any Linux distro - there's always something that doesn't work. So in *my* experience, Windows "just works" and you are in no position to "WFT" about MY experience.

<me> Recently bought a new netbook with Vista on it. Scrubbed Vista, installed XP.

<you> Bad Joke Alert icon here.

And the bad joke is.....? I prefer XP of Vista. End of.

<me> "Everything worked 'cept for WiFi. Quick search, download one .exe file and double click. One re-boot later and WiFi works. Everywhere."

<you> With Intentional Explorer? -Which in this public library has a tick on the [save my short and curlies for the next holder] box, please? And this thing gets wiped at night I think (anyhow it doesn't have WiFi which at least shows someone in the nexus has had his thumbs hammered at least a trillion times.)

Unfortunately I simply have no clue what you're on about in that last paragraph. I don't recal actually mentioning my browser, public libraries or my short and curlies.


re: CLI Old Fashioned 28th August 2009 13:50 GMT

Interesting arguement but you miss the point ... what happens to it if I say "But a picture paints a 1000 words".

Point and click. Drag and drop ... these are all intuative gestures which is why 3 yr old kids can manage a mouse ... I doubt there are many 3 yr olds that can manage CLI.

It may be more powerful, it may be quicker but it is a pain in the ar$e to try and learn.


My opinion ...

I'm not a big Microsoft fan .. I so wanted Ubuntu to be accepted in my household but it wasn't (and not because of GUI issues). Too many things didn't work properly and to fix each of them took too long trawling forums for contradictary advice and dropping down to CLI? No thanks.

Tron was a cutting edge film in its day but now it looks shite. Around the same time I was carefully typing out Basic programs from magazines to get computers to do stuff ... why should I still have to do that?


Useful features ignored because "too much like Windows"

"X11-based systems are a whole lot more configurable."

Maybe for geeky things, but for simple everday things, I'm not so sure. Several examples come to mind.

Example 1. You can't drag-select multiple items in list-view in Ubuntu (Gnome, Nautilus), and none of the developers seem to care.

Nearest workaround I've been able to find is the clunky idiotic click-shift-click workaround, but for Christ's sake, I've been able to drag-select list-view items on my old Macs for almost forever, and Windows has that functionality too, so why can't Ubuntu do it? Ubuntu allows drag-select in icon view, so why can't they do it in list view too? (And who in their right mind uses icon view anyway, unless it's for pictures or something, but I do all picture-editing stuff on my old Macs.)

Is it too complicated for the non-paid hobbyist programmers to figure out, or are they just being stubborn because it would be "too much like Mac" or "too much like Windows"?

I've actually *seen* one instance where a developer actually cited "too much like Windows" as a reason for not including a different (unrelated) much-requested feature that many Linux users wanted. He even came right out and admitted that yes the requested feature would be useful and good, but since it might remind people of a Windows functionality, it would be uncool for Linux to have it too. Nothing to do with copyrights or patents or anything, just plain foolish pride. Cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Seems to be one of the drawbacks of not getting much/any financial rewards from their efforts, is that evidently many developers don't give a rat's ass what users want. Must be an ego trip or something, why they even bother to write software in the first place. Or, just boredom, aka something to do.

Example 2. In Ubuntu + Gnome, or in KDE for that matter, how does one adjust the height of window title-bar thingies, and size/height of menu items, etc? I can easily do all that in Windows XP Pro (I like to make most of those things tiny, to give me more room on my already-big monitor or "just because"). Is it just something I missed in Linux, or is there an obscure command-line way to do that, or is there in fact *no* way to custom fine-tune such GUI things in Linux? It's easy in Windows, only a few clicks.

Although I suspect that most Windows users never change any of that stuff and probably aren't even aware that it's possible (some users have so sense of curiosity and never poke around in menus etc), but for those who do want to customize such things, it's nice to have the option. But as far as I can tell it's *not* configurable in the Linux distros I've tried.

Example 3. Last I checked (a few months ago), I still could not find a mere-mortal-understandable way to make keyboard shortcuts (for opening apps) in Ubuntu *except* for the very limited number of things that appear in System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts. It would be nice to have an easy quick way (as in Windows XP Pro) to make keyboard shortcuts to open gedit or Geany or even the silly Gnome solitaire game (which seems to be much more winnable than the Windows version, hmm), or the System Monitor or whatever else. Yes, it allows me to set keyboard shorcuts for browser, calculator, email (useless since I only use webmail), log out, and a whole sh1tload of useless audio stuff (I don't do any audio whatsoever on Linux - again that's what my old Macs are for), and a few other minor things. One time, somewhere, I read of some arcane convoluted complicated way to make keyboard shortcuts, complete with other users complaining that such things shouldn't be necessary since it's ridiculously easy in Windows - I seem to recall that when I read the instructions, my eyes glazed over and I fell into a stupor ;) and haven't pursued it since.

But once again the too-often heard open-source attitude seems to be "STFU you whiney moron lusers, it's either our way or the highway, write your own if you don't like it, or go screw yourself and quit complaining, or go back to your loser PC or preschooler Mac" or whatever. :(

So much for open-source innovation and Linux GUI improvements.

Example 4. Screenshots. Why do I have to jump through ridiculous hoops just to get a screenshot of a pulldown menu? If evil horrible Windows ;) can do it automatically, why in the hell can't Ubuntu?

Seems to me that some open-source developers (Windows as well as Linux) are just being stubborn and *deliberately* withholding useful asked-for features in some sort of sadistic passive-aggressive attempt to spite the users.

A couple of years ago I spent quite a few months (almost a year I think) using KDE, and it seemed rather needlessly idiotic too, although for different reasons which I don't remember now. I found myself cussing at the damn thing quite frequently.

Never did understand the "KDE is like Windows" thing - didn't seem that way to me.

KDE seemed kind of dumbed-down and not very configurable at all, and I only used it out of desperation when a Windows virus made me all paranoid about Windows.

So, because of all the above (and other things) I have yet to be convinced that Linux is "more configurable" than other OSes. Compared to, for instance, XP Pro, Linux seems far *less* configurable in the things that matter to ordinary users.

Also, trying to get rid of all the bloat (System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager) to delete crap that is absolutely useless to me, such as all the stupid Evolution and Pidgin space-wasting stuff (that Linux partition is fairly small at the moment, and besides it's the principle of the thing), is an exercise in futility besides wearing out my hand from way too much clicking on stuff only to find out it's part of something else which probably shouldn't be deleted.

I'm sorry, but as to rolling my own Linux, I'm not a genius, and unless I can go to the library (or find online) a COMPLETE and 100-percent ACCURATE and highly detailed STEP-BY-STEP instruction-manual-for-dummies ;) on how to put together my own Linux thingie without all the bloat, that will remain out of reach.

What's with all those frickin' dependencies, anyway? And why do I have to keep *all* the Gnome games when I only want *one* of them?

I haven't yet got up enough nerve to see what happens if I delete important sounding stuff such as "ubuntu-desktop" - sounds rather serious, and at the moment I'm not in the mood to have to reinstall the whole damn thing again.

Although, to be fair - at least Linux complete reinstalls are much faster than Windows reinstalls, but that's only because I don't have to install very much in Linux, since it's only used for browsing, downloading offline Windows anti-virus updates ;) for the Windows box, quickie webpage edits if I'm too lazy to transfer files to one of my other OSes, and that's about it (seeing as how Photoshop and Corel Painter don't run on Linux, and my printer doesn't work with Linux either).

The only reason I was ever interested in Linux at all, is because I needed a modern OS for online stuff, and I don't regard Windows as sufficiently secure (even when tweaked, running under a Limited account, etc.). So I put up with Linux crap, for the time being anyway, because I haven't yet found any other satisfactory semi-secure alternatives. (Or, at least the *illusion* of security, not sure which it is.) After way too much experimentation with different distros, I 'settled' for Ubuntu (which is still awful, although not as bad as it used to be) because it was the only distro that had good hardware support for my silly little old PC - at least the video works at the proper screen res without having to fight the damn thing (unlike other distros), so it's not *all* bad :)

I *still* would like to be able to drag-select items for copying to a flashdrive though (sorry to harp on that again), to transfer to other machines. But the legendary Linux configurability (or lack of) makes such a simple take-for-granted-on-other-OSes thing *not* possible. Yes, it's trivial, but...

It's all the little things that add up to make a complete picture as far as usability and user happiness ;) and - as an extension of that - probably OS marketshare too.

Now, what *I* want to know is, why isn't there a Reg icon for a Devil Penguin? There's a Devil Bill Gates icon, and a Devil Steve Jobs icon, but no Devil Penguin... hmmm... Is it because it's "not fair to pick on the underdog"? I suppose that's a good a reason as any...


By Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 28th August 2009 10:09 GMT


in defense of smallyellowfuzzyduck #

By Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 28th August 2009 10:09 GMT

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!


Once more someone who doesn't know what they are talking about. Without even leaving the file manager I can go to the Firefox download site and download the file firefox-3.5.2.tar.bz2 uncompress it then run the program and when the next version comes out I delete the old directory and do the same again.


The Aqua shell can't be matched

Apple sets the stage when it comes to desktop design, more than ever. The open source world will never match the, because it has no unity of vision and no professional designers. Why a non-developer bother with a Linux desktop? Because at first sight it seems to be free. That is not very relevant, however, for a tool that will be used for several years.

I would even advise developers to use Mac OS X if they want a proper UNIX system.



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