back to article Ubuntu man challenges open source to out-pretty Apple

Billionaire, cosmonaut and founder of the fast-growing Ubuntu Linux distro Mark Shuttleworth dreams impossible dreams. No, not a return to the stars. He believes in something that's far harder for mortal open source engineers to achieve. That dream? To produce a desktop more beautiful to ordinary users than legions of Apple …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Quite a challenge.

    Out of Windows XP, Vista, MacOS and Unbuntu, Unbuntu is left in last place by a long mile, as far as Desktop OS is concerned.

    I spent a whol week just trying to get NVidia desktop acceleration working, and the Wifi configuration was horrendous.

    2 years? 10 more like...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    one can't 'out-pretty' Apple

    If the standard of 'pretty' is what Apple does, then -as time has shown-

    only Apple can be what is pretty. All Job-sonian true believers will never

    accept anything else.

    The End.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    Wohhoooaaaaaa

    Hold on right there.

    Someone acknolowdging Linux has some shortfalls when it comes to end user experience and it's focusued to much on hardcore users.

    Bloody hell, next Gates will be saying Vista was a cock up and Jobs saying Apple hardware is overhyped.

    I need to find a queit room to get over the shock!

  4. Ian Moffatt
    Coat

    Here's a tip

    Get rid of the brown/orange 'jaffa cake' look. It's bloody 'orrible. And sort those manky looking fonts out.

    Mines the orange imitation suede one with the brown fun fur collar ;-)

  5. Thomas Davie
    Jobs Halo

    They don't get it

    Linux users commonly miss the really really simple things that add up to a better user interface. It's not about looking prettier, it's about working better. A perfect example -- ubuntu actually looks pretty damn nice straight out of the box (although a bit brown), but then you right click on a disk, and are given the option to "unmount" it. No one other than a geek actually knows what unmount means -- what's wrong with "eject"?

  6. Drak
    Linux

    how about attracting non-open source apps on Linux first

    Linux is never going to take off and attract serious development until they can create a common software installation standard. As of now most software that runs on Linux is open source so that there is no problem porting it to whatever distro. But commercial software companys can only make software that can only run on one distro. And then there is the problem of dependencys, Linux's version of DLL hell. Thats something that Apple has solved quite well, you dont even have to install software on the Mac, you just paste the app on the HD and it runs. Now that is something that the Linux crowd could learn from.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Ooooh dear...

    Well this sounds like a pipe-dream. Whereas there are 1000's of open source developers out there, this isn't a development problem - it's a design problem. Generally, good designs are either done through intense studies on what a customer wants, prototypes, market research etc. This isn't something your average open-source community will be able to do.

    Ten to one says we'll see a mish-mash of designs that developers find "pretty" - light blue text on a yellow background for example

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Er ?

    Obviously he has never set compiz fusion up properly in conjunction with KDE (gnome is so win 2000 - flames please) - go and have a look at some of the examples in compiz fusion forums.

    However I do agree that there could be better integration but hey wouldn't you miss the long night, 14 cups of coffee and 40 marlies rounded off with a spliff when you eventually nail down that annoying bug ?

    Oh and Mark S. - Subscription and pay - kiss my ass !

    Freetard (that word again) and proud

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    The solution is here

    http://www.earos.dk/

    Already prettier than apple and based on Ubuntu.

    Matthew

  10. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    development tools

    Make Eclipse better than Visual Studio 200* editions (more functional, faster, providing integration with OSS AND proprietary source control systems), including better debugger for C and C++ code. Without it few ISV will consider writing for Linux.

  11. Joey

    I don't see it...

    Linux is produced by a certain type of person for a certain type of person. It does its job - much the way a John Deere tractor or Mack truck does its job. That's fine.

    The Apple experience is created by 'design' for people who don't care about computers and never open the bonnet of their car except to fill up the windscreen washer fluid. They expect it to 'just work'! They get no joy out of tinkering and value ease-of-use and reliability more than speed, horsepower, adaptability - and indeed price.

    Horses for courses.

    The key word here is 'design'. Design has two main aspects. 'Functionalty' and 'Styling'. Functionality is about doing what it is supposed to. Styling is the aesthetic presentation. You can have one without the other but it is less good than getting both right.

    Linux scores pretty highly on functionality - provided you know what you are doing and are prepared to work at it. The very fact that 'open source' is being challenged to 'out-pretty' Apple completely misses the point. It's not about prettyness, its about design. Prettyness is superficial styling. It is eye candy. It does not improve the user experience and misused, as is often the case, can actually get in the way and reduce functionality.

    I am more than happy to use Linux on my Web server. Ubuntu on the desktop I find butt ugly both asthetically and functionally. Why try to be a cheap imitation of Windows or a prettier version of Mac OS X?

    Do what you do best better and the World will flock to your door.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    DLL Hell

    It's worse than that.

    With every Linux revision and new version of libc, you're forced to recompile from source; libraries over a year old are almost certain not to work. I doubt much effort is put into backwards binary compatibility in GCC -- even on Windows Vista, I can run 8 year old programmes without too much trouble.

    A pain in the arse? You betcha, but it conveniently makes closed source on Linux very difficult.

  13. mario
    Linux

    the most beautiful desktop already exists on linux

    and it's called enlightenment. i never have, and perhaps never will see anything quite as brilliant.

  14. Stuart
    IT Angle

    Confused of Buntustan

    Are we talking about the Ubuntu Gnome desktop? Well prettyness is not the problem there - more like functionality.

    Kubuntu (KDE) does have the functionality but is not a pretty sight to other than *nix geeks. Or Xubuntu with XFCE desktop or are we adding another one?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I maintain...

    That one of nux' deadliest shortcomings is that nothing yo buy in a box comes woith software for it. People spend fortunes on camera's, mp3 players, phones, organizers, blackberries, printer multifuctionals anf GPS'. Pretty soon you'll be finding a driver disk with your fridge !

    And NEVER is any 'nux stuff included. End EVERY time Linux supporters jump up and down that stuff can easily be found on the net, and there's wine etc.

    People want a CD in the box with the stuff they just bought, one you chuck into your pc and it installs.

    Als long as the 'nuxers refuse to see an OS as a means instead of an end it'll never happen. Pretty or not.

    Peter R.

  16. Rande Knight

    @They Don't Get it

    Like any old Mac user would know, there's a difference between a disk being unmounted and ejecting the disk.

    In those days of floppy disks, you could eject a disk, but still leave it mounted - the OS would ask for the disk back as needed. To actually unmount the disk, you needed to drag it to the Trashcan.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Hold your horses

    "I think the great task in front of us in the next two years is to lift the experience of the Linux desktop from something stable and usable and not pretty, to something that's art," Shuttleworth said.

    How about concentrating on making it stable and usable first?

    http://arstechnica.com/reviews/os/hardy-heron-review.ars/5

    Then go and find some proper fonts.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Matthew

    Ear OS > Click the updates tab on that site and just look at the number of icons they have stolen from OS X and from Windows there.

    Not been inspired by, not influenced by, but blatantly half inched them

  19. Darren Mansell
    Linux

    KDE 4.1

    But KDE 4.1 already looks nicer than anything Apple I've seen.

  20. Phil Hare

    Standards

    The problem with Open Source is that dispirate coders come up with different solutions to common problems (and then usually call said solutions something stupid. YaST comes to mind).

    What's needed is a community based *solely* on design before coding ever takes place; a community that doesn't worry about the code itself, but specifications of the product and it's interoperability. A community to create an international standard for operating systems, if you will.

    Now THERE'S a pipe dream...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK..So

    Here's a UI improvement suggestion for you: How about making it so I don't have to use the command line to join a wireless network? (Xubunu, downloaded last week, netgear wireless card based on a realtek chipset)

  22. dave lawless
    Pirate

    Hey Steve, try mine

    http://www.proweb.co.uk/~matt/plan9/desktop.gif

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seen it all before

    How about going back in time maybe 10-15 years. The widget wars were over and petty much everything was based on Motif. A little conservative, perhaps, but fast, consistent, and it worked. CDE was becoming much more mainstream giving the user a desktop and further standardising the interface.

    Compare the situation now - you still have Motif for some apps, others are KDE, GNOME or something else. GNOME and KDE are huge codebases in their own right and since you typically need both that is the root cause of much of the bloat present in modern Unices.

    The answer then, is not to introduce yet another UI standard. It is to settle on _one_ of the existing ones. Personally I don't give a fuck about eye candy, I want apps that work well and work consistently first and foremost. This is something to bear in mind whenever someone advocates a new UI metaphor. It doesn't help that they invariably waste twice as much screen space as needed and look like they've been created by a five year old.

  24. Jared Earle

    @Matthew

    "Already prettier than apple and based on Ubuntu."

    Hmm ... you're not familiar with Apple's Front Row then? The Eearos developers certainly are.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    pretty desktops?

    KDE comes with pretty as standard and alot of other things come with more pretty.

    What Linux lacks is an out of the box double click experiance.

    What do I mean? Well in windows at least you double click a document and it opens in something (or tells you that it can't as it doesn't have the stuff needed)you double click an mp3 and it plays, you stick in a dvd and it plays, you double click an avi and it plays. You double click an install file, it asks a question and it installs. You stick a disk in the drive it auto runs. You download a file, double click and it runs.

    Simply put any monkey can get somewhere with a windows machine with little thought or effort - the world is just a desktop icon and a double click away.

    Linux, is not, and until it is it shall never be widly accepted on standard desktops and laptops.

  26. Phil Hare

    Some rules for open source to follow

    Thinking more on the subject, I've come up with some rules (in no particular order) that Open Sourcers might want to adopt:

    1. Command line operation should always be an option, but never a requirement (a GUI gives the user a chance to figure it out for themselves. With CLI you either know it or you don't)

    2. Interface working methods should be as uniform as possible, regardless of objective

    3. Always assume the user knows NOTHING

    4. Functionality is not enough; easy access to functionality is everything

    5. Document everything, and get it proof read!

    There are many more, but there's five to start with. They would increase the overheads of open source development significantly, but that's the price to be paid for an OS that can truly compete.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    I have seen

    some rather pretty Debian installs in my time...

    but i guess debian does not count as its only for the "hardcore"

    Its not *nux thats the problem, its the *nux thats currently popular.

  28. Edward Rose

    Leave the pretties to the artists. Not developers.

    @Drak

    /usr/local or /opt

    Don't quite get your point, NWN & UT2004 work perfectly across any distro. They come as a complete package and expect to find nothing more than a value stuffed into $HOME.

    However, you do end up losing out on the advantage of common libraries like this. But, it's easily fixed.....

    Each distro should hold a file in /etc called something like 'locations' (or whatever) and list where an installer is expected to install the appropriate files.

    Likewise, have a common db that local installs can list what files they use, so the package manager can check it's own db (regardless of format) and the 'local install' db to see what files are loose. It would be simple to write a script to handle the install of ANY software then.

    I admit some distros do funny things with certain config file locations, but most commercial software shouldn't be touching these config files any way (but, can also be resolved by above method).

    @Gerhardt

    Never seen an update for UT2004 for upgraded Libc, and it still works (he says after not playing it for some time, but meh - never seen an issue like that). So I'm guessing it shouldn't be a huge problem. I am willing to stand corrected here as I am nowhere near being an expert on libc.

    Kernel modules suffer from it though. - So, thinking about it, provided the libraries are 'static' to the program and aren't anything to do with the system you really should be fine (MS _probably/may_ still use the same compiler+faults from years ago).

    How about MS (that's Mark, not Micro) puts some effort into making pretty frontends to stuff like firewalls etc that work on X, and NOT KDE/GNOME. I like the layout of UDE (I would recommend to people who like *different*), therefore don't want all the KDE/GNOME base stuff installed. Autologin for xdm? available for kdm and gdm, but could do with being on all home systems I feel.

  29. florian mosleh
    Boffin

    Kallisti

    this apple goes to the prettiest one :-P

  30. Joe

    It's the little things that need fixing

    Like the fonts, the geeky language, the names...

    "The Gimp" - who the hell would use that over Photoshop? I'm not talking about functionality, I'm talking about not getting funny looks when you mention it to people.

    Gnome? Awful name.

    And the different Ubuntus (Xubuntu, Kubuntu, etc.) just sound dreadful.

    To geeks, techy stuff wins out every time, but I'm sure a big part of Windows success is it's name. Names like Xubuntu or Gnome or Puppy Linux just don't sound good.

  31. Paul Nolan
    Paris Hilton

    I see this ending badly

    It'll probably just miss the point; Apple doesn't just make things pretty for the hell of it - the reason Aqua is so good that, although shiny enough to impress newbies, functionality is still what comes first. (excluding recent cockups with Leopard's menu bar & standard dock obviously - don't know what they were smoking when that happened).

    We're going to end up with another Aero here aren't we?

  32. AJ MacLeod

    Linux drivers with gadgets

    Clearly Peter R is unfamiliar with the massive range of "works out of the box on Linux" devices (cameras, mp3 players - practically everything worth using, in fact).

    Even so, a large proportion of IT items I buy these days come with Linux drivers on the CD, or give instructions on installation under Linux.

    Most Windows users are addicted to shoving CDs full of badly written drivers and awful, bloated and downright unnecessary apps into their machines (I know this, because I often have to sort out the damage they cause).

  33. tony baldwin
    Linux

    mission accompished

    Dump KDE and/or Gnome and/or Xfce, and use Fluxbuntu (and very efficient), and you've already got a beautiful desktop. Or apt-get JWM.

    In either, use a black background and white, green, or blue text.

    All set. Easy on the eyes, and functional.

    (That's what I do on my Linguas OS box, (screenshots available at linguas os site (parentheticals within parentheticals are groOvy)), which also has a fluxbuntu install on another partition, also configured thus: Black w/light blue text...keys file programmed to bring up all of my most used/needed apps (like sakura terminal emulator) with a keystroke. No icons, no clutter, no bloat...light, functional, ergonomic...works for me...)

    Of course, fluxbox is not for your average user.

    In all truth, with all the configurability of KDE, any user can make their desktop pretty (so long as they can tolerate the bloat of KDE, which, is still better than all the bloat of Vista or any other M$ crap).

  34. Mike Fleischmann
    Linux

    LInux missing the point

    I have to go along with Drak and Gerhardt, but with one more twist. I know of at least one business that would switch over to Linux in a heartbeat if (AND ONLY IF) they could get their business software to run on it. (Either by using a Mono-Wine bridge or by having the manufacturer support Linux). The desktop itself is close enough already. They are thoroughly fed up with Micro-dollar and do not want to go to Vista. People need to have the software they rely on working on a new OS before they will switch. That is the largest hurdle that Linux will need to get over if it is to win significant amounts of the market. If I had the dollars to invest I would pour the entire amount into emulation environments until Linux reached such critical mass that developers considered it a MUST platform to support for their products.

  35. vincent himpe
    Stop

    Enough with the eye candy !

    Fix the bloody thing first so it is usable for the common man. ( like , can somebody please write a graphical installer and configurator for apache , php and mysql . manually editing config files is so last century)

    Then fix all the problems with command line installations ( come on , its 2008 , almost 2009 and we still have to use things like apt-get ...)

    Then fix all the different installer formats ? Can we please make 1 installer. double click the file and it self deploys ? windows or mac style ? ( you kow , the friendly graphical window where you click next next next , i agree , finish ... )

    Now there are x different installer systems. this one only works on red hat , that one only on ubntui. There is TOO many flavors or linux that have substantial differences that prevent an enjoyable experience. Right now i have 3 installations simply because i have software that needs specific 'flavors'. How stupid is that ?

    And yes i have the source code , but i am NOT a programmer ! ( just like the other 99.99% of the people who use a computer daily. )

    Then to convince some big powerhouses to release some software that can run on linux. Start with Adobe (Photoshop , Premiere , Lightroom , After effects , Dreamweaver

    Whenever i dabble with linux it seems that all that is going on in the community is developmetn of new GUI , eye candy , color scemes , half finsihed programs, and endless discussions of kde vs gnome and vi vs emacs.

    ENOUGH ! Get the bloody thing to be usable for the 99.99% of people out there !

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's a focus problem...

    Apple has a team of highly paid incredibly focussed individuals with all the R&D they can muster.

    I'll also bet they get motivated in all sorts of other ways - bonuses, kick backs, threats - you name it.

    You can also bet if they produce work even slightly below standard, it gets booted out.

    They also have the benefit of working within a "closed" loop, so to speak.

    The ONLY way Shuttleworth could emulate this success is to copy the methodology - hire the cream of the crop and pay them fantastic salaries to work all hours to get the job done.

    It's not just the pretty, it's the clever too.

    Paris she's a bit like Ubuntu, brown, not too sharp, a bit curvy and ultimately flawed.

  37. David Hicks
    Linux

    Whose fault is that?

    "That one of nux' deadliest shortcomings is that nothing yo buy in a box comes woith software for it. People spend fortunes on camera's, mp3 players...

    And NEVER is any 'nux stuff included. End EVERY time Linux supporters jump up and down that stuff can easily be found on the net, and there's wine etc."

    And that's the fault of the people that develop/support/use Linux? You're accusing them of not putting software in the box of third party commercial hardware? And you think they're being unrealistic about things? Jesus.

    @the guy that said there's no "double click experience"

    Sure there is. try Gnome/Ubuntu and you get desktop icons for your home folder and other important docs. Double click them and you'll get an explorer window. Find a file, double click it and Ubuntu will run it with the default app or ask you what to use if it doesn't know. Right click for more options and an "Open With" style dialogue.

    Pop in a CD and the CD Player app appears.

    Pop in a memory stick and an explorer window appears.

    It's all very similar to windows in these respects. Whether you think that's a good or a bad thing is up to you.

  38. Andy Cadley
    Joke

    Lacking a few $$$

    "Shuttleworth noted the demand is clearly there from companies and individuals for open-source software, but where the money comes from to support such efforts is not clear"

    In layman's terms: the only people who want it are freetards and spongers.

  39. vincent himpe

    @Peter. R. : too late ...

    If you buy an LG fridge with built in TV and web surfing capabilties it does come with a driver cd ...

  40. John Tuffen

    The trouble with Linux...

    ... (or at least one of the troubles) is all of the petty infighting:

    "My desktop is better than yours" KDE vs. Gnome vs. Enlightenment vs. a badger's arse;

    "My installer is better than yours" rpm vs. tar.gz vs. god-knows-what

    Just think. what if all of the Linux developers (and I mean that in the loosest possible terms) actually had a common roadmap? Actually developed to some core standards (directory structure, device naming, 'window manager', fonts, etc. etc.)?

    I can't see that *ever* happening. And that's why Linux will never get to be the mainstream desktop platform.

  41. Natalie Gritpants
    Stop

    Start with kernel.org

    Their banner is 7 months out of date.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Heh!

    Dump the GUI, let's go back to CLI! Hey Linux developers, how about toiling away at some eye candy for no pay? Sounds like a great opportunity to me!

  43. Drak

    so why doesnt Shuttleworth buy Borland IDE

    Everyone knows that the Gnome/KDE GUI toolkits are a mess, so why doesnt Shuttleworth put his money where his mouth is and create a common GUI standard for Linux. Borland has been trying to sell their IDE product division for a long time, that could be a pretty high end starting point. Its already proven as fast and streamlined. And maybe it could be integrated with Eclipse.

    a Reg article about Borland can be seen here:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/10/david_intersimone_embarcadero/

    @Edward Rose

    ----"Likewise, have a common db that local installs can list what files they use, so the package manager can check it's own db (regardless of format) and the 'local install' db to see what files are loose. It would be simple to write a script to handle the install of ANY software then."------

    OK, sounds good, so why doesnt someone in the Linux community do it? I say someone (like Shuttleworth) and not everyone because the average open source dev is only interested do-it-yourself geeky devtools, and not serving the general public. Shuttleworth is going to have to shoulder the burden himself if he wants anything serious to get done.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    black background?

    "use a black background and white, green, or blue text."

    We've been there before, it was called a VT100.

  45. J
    Gates Horns

    @Matthew "The solution is here"

    Yuck... If I wanted a bad knock off of Mac OSX I would just get the original... Too many reflexions (not very well implemented, by the way), getting me dizzy. I'm sticking with Linux, ta.

    @pretty desktops? "double click experiEnce"

    Sounds like you haven't used Linux in, say, 10 years? Sure, it takes installing a few things after the OS, but the same happens with all other OSs I've seen. Actually, less in many Linuces than other OSs, if you consider for example that double clicking a .doc file on freshly-installed Ubuntu immediately opens the file (in OOo), while doing the same in Windows will probably open a dialog saying "Choose a program" -- maybe nowadays it says "Go buy MS Office". Double clicking an MP3 file for the first time gave me a dialog saying that I needed to install whatever to play these things (and briefly explained why), and would I like to do it now? And it did, and it immediately played (***no reboot required, can you imagine it!?***).

    "Simply put any monkey can get somewhere with a windows machine with little thought or effort"

    True, I must admit. Must be why all monkeys use Windows...

  46. Steve
    Coat

    It isn't 'beauty' that's needed

    As other people have danced around above, it's 'elegance'.

  47. Colin Morris
    Stop

    installation and WPA wireless

    I have a Samsung R700 laptop witn a Vista/Ubuntu 8.04.1 dual boot configuration and I really, really want to start using Ubuntu more if for no other reason than to stick two fingers up at Ballmer and is money-grabbing cronies.

    Unfortunately, even for a sys admin like me (windows admin, of course) installation of files on linux/ubuntu can be a right pain in the rear. Until the 'user in the street' can double-click an installation file to install a program (like in Windows) or simply just drag a program folder to the hard-disk and run a program (like an apple user said earlier) Linux/Ubuntu will never properly take off.

    <rant>

    .... oh, and why the fcuk is it that despite jumping through a million hoops and visiting the ubuntu forum a thousand times can I not get WPA wireless working when in windows you can just enter you hidden ESSID and password and be up and running in seconds?

    ... oh, and why the fcuk is it that when I load Ubuntu on my laptop the screen is so dim even though the laptop is connected to the power supply? Why can't anyone on the ubuntu forums give me a straight answer and a straight solution to this? Why can't you adjust the power settings easily like in windows? How the bloody hell is a normal user supposed to stand a chance if I can't do this?

    </rant>

  48. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    @It's the little things that need fixing

    Joe hit the nail right on the head. It's time to drop the stupid naming conventions and the forced acronyms. To me Gimp is a character from Pulp Fiction not a graphics package. Same to 99% of the rest of the planet (well those who've seen Pulp Fiction). Likewise I will not use a Word Processor called "AssRape" or a Spreadsheet called "SheepShagger". And any company that uses the following naming convention: [colour][animal] can fuck right off too.

  49. Thomas Silver badge

    The Linux GUI designers problem...

    ... is that they don't understand the point of them. The main objective of a GUI is discoverability. A secondary objective is portability of knowledge.

    Simply having a graphical box that allows you to enter the same text you'd use at the command prompt does not count. Similarly, putting all the options that a program supports in a drop-down list isn't good enough if it still means having to read a man page to figure out what is going on. And especially not if most of those options aren't applicable to that particular user on that particular machine.

    All technical language should be avoided as far as possible. If two programs do the same thing then they should do it with the same interface - consistency is king. Subtle communications (like the way the red 'close' dot in OS X had a darkened centre if that window has unsaved work in it) are better than conspicuous ones if they relate to things that the user may or may not care about. Conspicuous communications should only be used if you need to communicate something critical.

    Modal interfaces are generally to be avoided. Use context, but not as part of the main program interface. So inspector palettes are good, ribbon interfaces are bad.

    Never, ever use the multiple document interface. People prefer to think in terms of tasks and documents. Forcing them to hunt down their task by program first and document second is not helpful, and in any case it unnecessarily complicates the desktop metaphor and the normal ways of locating what you're doing.

    Feedback should be offered on everything. Even Windows fails here - the default behaviour for keyboard shortcuts like ctrl+c, ctrl+v and ctrl+s is usually to give no feedback. Office adds a collapsing box for ctrl+s but that's an application-specific hack.

    If it's likely that you know what a user wants to do then if it isn't otherwise jarring, just do it. But don't go too far. And don't add f*cking talking paperclips to your office software.

  50. Kwac

    if you want to pay for software

    feel free.

    just don't tell me that because you've paid for it it automatically means it's better (trundle along to your favourite encyclopaedia and look for 'cognitive dissonance').

    As for Vista running programs that are 8 years old - wow, must be good if it runs ALL 8 year old programs.

    No doubt it operates all those 8-year-old periprerals as well?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @@@Matthew "The solution is here" By J

    No, used it today (and everyday for the last 6 years) and despite being pretty it's still crap at being a desktop system.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Double-click installation

    I've got a *IX that has a nice package manager, a standard installation format, and even files you can double-click on from the OS to install them. It even had a nice-looking GUI.

    Think I'm talking about OS X?

    Nope.

    Silicon Graphics had most of it right back in the 90s with IRIX. Sure, it was expensive, and it only ran on their hardware, some of the time, but it was far more polished than Linux is, after a further 8-10 years of development. Download and double-click a .tardist file, and the Software Installation program would launch, run through the prerequisites, and install the software for you. (God help you if any prereqs were missing though...) It worked for both open-source and commercial software, and even handled OS upgrades and patches.

    The free-tards need to get an old Octane and take a long look at it.

    Mine's the one with the pipe-cube on the back of it.

  53. Joey

    Re: if you want to pay for software

    What is wrong with paying for software? Software takes time and skill to write. Time costs money. People have to eat. If you work for nothing, give me your contact details - I have a lot of jobs that need to be done! Nah, forget that, I'd rather have them done properly than for free.

  54. Hywel Thomas

    @Thomas Davie

    Unmount is no worse than Eject. Eject makes sense for a CD or DVD, but makes little sense for a USB or Firewire drive. The only advantage is that it can have a nice recognisable icon. It's harder to make one for 'Release from the clutches of the OS in a controlled manner' or "Liberate Resource to allow safe disconnection"

  55. This post has been deleted by its author

  56. Martin Ingram

    It needs to be simple and consistent

    I've just finished a project where the client asked me to set up a Java dev lab, so I used Linux on the servers and Mac development clients, which was a thoroughly pleasant experience. No BSODs, everything in it's right place and a place for everything.

    I started a new project on Monday and the client had provided brand new RHL clients. I dislike Windoze intensely, so I desperately wanted this to work, but even as a relatively competent sysadmin it took me a day and a half to finally get to a KDE desktop that didn't look like a toddler had designed it, with all the right packages installed. Then I fire up Firefox and Eclipse and both apps totally ignored the KDE settings and were in "butt-ugly mode". Yes, I know there's a GTK fix, but this is the sort of thing that makes average users run a mile.

    As for the other guy who started the same day as me, he's never been near a UNIX box in his life. Understandably, installing Tomcat, Apache, the Ganymede release of Eclipse is a real challenge for him - every time I winced when I felt like saying "just drop into a command prompt and su to root, configure, make and install."

    As others have said, when the GUI can install any app in a simple manner, prompting for the admin password at appropriate times, and everything looks and works the same then we'll be half way towards a Mac OS X experience.

  57. Brian Morrison
    Joke

    @Natalie Gritpants

    No, it isn't out of date, they're commemorating 10 years of kernel.org, not 10 years and 7 months.

    See how us Linux geeks have a sense of humour too?

  58. Cavehomme
    Gates Halo

    Mark Gates

    Linux has its place, and I had great dreams of it replacing Win and Apple. I still use it occasionally.

    Trouble is, a bunch of well meaning people but very nerdish, not succeeding commercially so they have to prove themselves with code to their peers. Its like a bloody bunch of school kids in a science lab. The result is interesting but mostly a bit of a mess.

    Nothing wrong with a nerdish mess, but don't expect miracles or massively popular desktop software in a consumer, commercial world.

    Shuttleworth is right, and I hope he can somehow succeed, with a miracle of course, especially as all the commies will try and shoot him down.

    Bill, because whilst he promoted a not-that-good OS with horrendous security, he at least helped change the world by getting reasonable stuff on everyone's home. He made billions, and has the decency to give most of it back to the poor buggers who have no luck in life. Well done that man. May be Shuttleworth will be next.

  59. Henry
    Flame

    Whining anti-NIX fan boys....

    OK - disclaimer first - I make my living as a Windows Sys Admin, I also administer a dozen Linux servers, and I use a Mac as my primary desktop, so I like to think I am fairly unpartisan.

    <rant>

    Sweet Jesus, Mary Mother of God and all the baby orphans... Where do all these 'tards come from??

    Hint - don't post something that is wrong at worst, and out of date at best....

    1. Double click installs. Debian based OSes are capable of this (through gdebi). 3rd party providers (such as Skype, Adobe, VMware etc) provide .debs and .rpms that are as easy to install as an .exe (although why people think this is a good thing is beyond me!)

    2. My "insert name of hardware here" doesn't work in linux, but it does in Windows.... Bullshit. It works because you are provided with a piece of shit modular driver that is often bundled with shit software that you don't want (Camera & WiFi manufacturers I am looking at you...) The plethora of cheap netbooks, smart phones (where the hell is Android anyway) and soon sub $150 desktops running linux is forcing chip manufacturers to provide specs/code to the kernel team - or face being ruled out of a valuable market.

    3. Linux is all about the CLI - Wrong. Almost anything can be done through a GUI now, the things that can't are often problems like driver issues - see point 2^ . To the Windows Sys Admins out there (I am one of them :) Boy are you in trouble if the only way you can administer a server is through a GUI... Powershell and Exchange 2007 anyone? ;)

    4. Application X is not available on Linux... OK fair point :) I don't buy that Wine is a truly appropriate solution, but why do the manufacturers only release their software for the big 2 platforms?? MARKET SHARE. If the Netbook phenomenom continues I GUARANTEE there will be a version of iTunes and a version of Photoshop for Linux out within 2 years.

    5. Linux distros don't support DVD, mp3, divx out the box. True... but then neither does Windows XP if you install it yourself does it? Buy your lovely Ubuntu laptop from Dell and the lovely people there will enable all of that for you, in the same way they enable this for OEM Windows.

    </rant>

    Oh and just for some extra flaming, Vista isn't that bad on the right hardware - why won't the freetards give it a break?

  60. Tim Greve
    Alert

    Funny, Just as I read

    I am in the middle of testing and making recommendations for a enterprise desktop solution between OS x and Ubuntu. I am talking about a entire state. I can't believe that Ubuntu did not port authconfig (WTF?). It is a night mare to just get one desktop to play nice with AD and use SSO. Talk about not working in a heterogeneous environment.

  61. jubtastic1
    Flame

    As Drak and others have pointed out

    What Linux needs is closed source, and it's never going to get that no matter how pretty or clever it is until software houses are comfortable that a) they only have to code once and it'll run on any linux distro with no user configuration and b) they can actually make money from the Linux userbase.

    The first requires a rethink of the whole dependancy mess and in these days of Broadband connections and Terabyte HD's the Mac scheme of making the app a directory containing everything it needs to run outside of absolutly guaranteed to exist core frameworks would be a damn good place to start borrowing from.

    Increasing the userbase, and getting that userbase used to paying for software will be no small feat, but I'd suggest splashtop is something that has obvious appeal to new users, add an AppStore for impulse purchases and you may get them off the windows teat and positively expose them to Linux.

    As for the Mac UI as inspiration, copy the principles then make your own pretty.

    Flames for the gall of suggesting Linux needs Closed source.

  62. Charles Manning

    @Colin fcukin Morris

    Technically, hardware tweakery is not really the fault of Linux. I have a laptop running Ubuntu that does not display the problems you mention (using it right now). If your laptop vendor made the appropriate Linux drivers etc, then these problems would go away.

    But, from a practical perspective, it does not matter who is at fault. Ultimately you cannot make your laptop work with Ubuntu. From a Joe Sixpack perspective, the laptop works with Windows, but not with Linux. Therefore Linux is broken.

    The real problem is disconnect between how techies view the problem and how users see the problem. Also, those that could fix the problem are not very motivated to do so.

    Now hardware vendors typically have a hard time keeping their heads above water supporting drivers etc just for Windows. Why would they want to more than double their work just to support Linux - with 1% or so marketshare? That just does not make business sense for many.

    I expect it will be a few years yet before the end user experience with Linux is as slick as it is for Windows.

  63. Craig Vaughton
    Jobs Halo

    Sing from the same songsheet

    I have to work with Windows, I work at home on a Mac, but I also have Linux boxes around for various things.

    Microsoft spent 5 years (was it?) trying to make Windows as "nice" as OS X to use, failing miserably, Vista doesn't come close & thats with M$ money behind it.

    Mr Shuttleworth has a point, getting rid of the mud colour would be a great start, but Linux will always struggle in so many way so long as all these truly talented developers that contribute to Open Source pull in deiiferent directions.

    OS X and Windows programmers have a defined look and feel to code for, using a defined set of API calls and GUI objects. Until someone decides enough is enough and says "this is the standard" Linux will fail to harness the talent that drives it.

  64. J-Wick
    Go

    @Colin Morris (wireless)

    Colin,

    WPA under Ubuntu is a pain. I had to buy a new wireless card for my laptop. Some chipsets don't work. Try the Netgear W511T (the 'T' is important) - it worked for me, 'out of the box'. Doesn't seem to recognise WEP networks, though.

    As much as Iove Ubuntu compared to XP (it's so much snappier & more responsive), it can still be a pain - (though I remember that getting WPA under XP wasn't trival either...)

  65. Kerberos

    All mouth and no trousers.

    I remember there was a mass appeal for designers about 6 months before Hardy was due. Being not so bad at it myself (but not fantastic) I came up with a few designs, refined them based on rather limited user feedback*, and submitted them to the art mailinglist + wiki, and...

    ... nothing happened. A few people said 'that's nice' but thats about it. Nobody with any control over any form of art in the distro had anything to do with the art mailinglist. After some pushing it was made clear that the only way someone whould ever look at it was if I coded it into a theme myself and even then the best I could hope for was some comments on gnome-look.org. eff that.

    If Ubuntu was a customer for me in my day job I would have told them to piss off by now, and that is if they were paying me in the first place. I have no idea how the hell they intend to get anything decent out of any artist if...

    1) They expect them to create the theme, not just the graphics

    2) They expect them to do the above with absolutely no feedback along the way and

    3) They don't even have anyone in a position to do anything about it if they do get something decent.

    With a normal client I'd get feedback based on the work so far, I certainly would never deliver a project without client sign-off at multiple stages, yet the Ubuntu art project expects designers to give them a fully functional theme package before they will even bother to say what they want.

    I for one am certainly not wasting days wrestling with bizarreo theme generators only to find out 'nope, we don't like it'.

    Which brings up the final point, you cant gain OSX style usability with just a skin job, it needs to be started a base level, graphics are just the trimmings, and if they obviously dont care about even the graphics then, I am sorry, it's always going to suck.

    * Feedback was gained by spamming non-related forums as the official sources were useless.

  66. Clyde Boom
    Linux

    Ubuntu Linux Desktop Also Requires Ubuntu Linux Training

    Ubuntu Linux has all the capabilities to be both an attractive and easy-to-use GUI desktop and also a powerfully functional desktop.

    But, people also need Linux desktop training to learn how to use it!

    You can watch free sample Ubuntu Linux Desktop training videos to learn how to use Ubuntu Linux at:

    http://www.iLearnLinux.com/Ubuntu-Linux

    Thanks for the post!

    Clyde Boom, http://www.iLearnLinux.com

    The Easy Linux Training Guy ;) - Easy, self-paced Linux training - in Plain English!

  67. John Savard Silver badge

    One part is a Linux fault

    Every so often, the interface for Linux drivers is changed. This is deliberately done to break old drivers that are distributed only in object code form, and it is done at Linus Torvalds' insistence.

    I know some people would like a system that is made of pure open source. But most people out there would like to be able to buy any make of video card on the market, and have it come with a working driver for the operating system they would like to use - even if it's Linux, and even if the manufacturer wants to keep some of the card's goodies secret.

    So this is Linux shooting itself in the foot, IMO.

    And if third-party developers can't distribute binaries that will install on any Linux computer that meets basic conditions - an i386 CPU instead of Itanium or PowerPC, Linux version later than whatever point zero, has to include a copy of KDE installed - then there's not much chance of going down to your local chemists' shop (big discount one that also sells computers, of course) and seeing lined up ten different versions of the latest game for ten different distros, is there?

    For ordinary users, who aren't going to write their own C or Fortran programs, buying a Linux machine is almost like going with WebTV instead of a computer. Linspire tried to do something about that, but I'm not surprised that the way they chose to go about it hasn't yet worked out.

    Linux is wonderful, say, for people who want to set up their own servers, but for the mass-market home desktop, it doesn't meet the need, even though Linux advocates are right that it comes a lot closer to doing so than people perceive it to. Trouble is, close isn't enough. So the Mac, rather than Linux, will benefit if there are serious enough problems with Vista to shake Microsoft's dominance.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Re: Edward Rose

    Well Edward,

    I've been using the Intel compilers on Fedora and Ubuntu for years, and typically what I've found:

    - GCC refuses to recognise Intel-compiled libraries

    - Should I upgrade my Linux system (and so my version of libc), I have to upgrade my Intel compilers to recognise the newer versions of libc, etc.

    I am forced to ask myself why I have to do this. The API at the source level does not change -- I do not have to alter any source code, simply recompile it; but the binary interface does.

    I am a computational scientist, not a computer scientist. I do not have time to delve into the esoterics of a particular Linux: I have modelling work that needs done, modelling work which pays the bills. Put simply, I would rather just plonk my 64-bit Linux binary on a 64-bit Linux system and have it _work_, without fuss.

    But this is not what happens; instead, I have to make sure that _every_ Linux system used is identical, with a long list of interdependent libraries, which must be of exactly the same version. It's an adminstrative nightmare if you do not have executive control over all those machines, so much so that for the next large project, we may be looking at either XP or one of the BSDs for a more consistent approach. Other than that, several of us have our eye on PCC to save us from this sorry Stallman-infused mess.

    If you still don't believe me, try asking one of the Intel compiler engineers -- I believe the operative phrase was 'playing catchup', but I suspect that may be a professional understatement. *

    [*] Or not as the case may be. After a few beers, I'm sure I'm not the only one prone to dramatic license..

  69. Richard

    Lack of Accountability

    As people have discussed here, there are many, many issues involved in making Linux a viable consumer OS. The largest obstacle to solving these problems is simply this: There is no single person or team of persons ultimately responsible for coordinating and integrating the solutions, and polishing Linux into a consumer-grade operating system platform. Open source is a ragtag collection of volunteer developers and geek heads, and together they've accomplished all sorts of technical wonders. It's also, by design, a competitive ecosystem that leads to hundreds of distros and software branches. But it is the very democratic (or pseudo-democratic) nature of the open source community that prevents Linux from making the jump from a utilitarian, engineering tool to a commercial, consumer-level product. Consumers expect, and demand, that their computers be as easy to use and problem-free as a toaster, television, or automobile. Open source doesn't have the genes to make this happen. There must be a controlling decision maker or leader, and there probably will never be one, because of the inevitable infighting that will ensue. Democracy sucks.

  70. David Hobley
    Unhappy

    Pretty? Usable would be a good start.

    I just installed Ubuntu on my Mac alongside MacOS having read about how much progress it was making. Prettyness is not the issue.

    Having an OS that actually works as it is meant to would be a great first start.

    Sound configuration has been a nightmare. From the various forums it looks like pulseaudio was released to 8.04 (Hardy Heron) before it was ready simply because they didn't want to have to support old sound systems for the long term.

    Getting everything working with it has been a problem as well. Skype especially just didn't work out of the box and required significant effort to make it work. Once the sound was configured correctly for Skype, Pulseaudio then needed to be fixed for stuttering.

    Leaving aside the fact the keyboard randomly decides to switch itself into a mode which doesn't allow for typing in anything other than numbers, the fact that the OS keeps hanging is a major issue as well. (Both on a machine which doesn't suffer from either of those issues under MacOS).

    Personally, I prefer the look of Ubuntu (with Compiz enabled etc). But without a solid base which just works, focussing on prettyness is like re-arranging deckchairs (on the Titanic).

    Cheers,

    David

  71. tony trolle

    sounds old ?

    sounds like I've heard this a while ago.

  72. zcat
    Linux

    "What linux needs is closed source software?!!"

    If you want to use closed source software, there's other perfectly good operating systems for that, like Windows. Except it's not 'perfectly good' is it? -- binary drivers come with inconsistent interfaces, crap 'shovelware' applications, and finding updated drivers for existing hardware when you upgrade can be a nightmare. The security model was shit, with Vista it's been patched, hidden and slightly deodorized but you know that underneath it's still the same shit XP had. If Windows was perfect you wouldn't care what Linux was like. And if Linux was more closed-source, binary-only-friendly, it would end up with all the same problems Windows has.. binary-only drivers that only work with one particular kernel branch; security flaws that can't be properly fixed because nobody who cares can get the source code, shovelware packaged with everything.. basically, it would become Windows. I don't want Windows. That's why I run Linux.

  73. Darren Mansell

    @ Tim Greve

    Install likewise-open-* for AD.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm terribly sorry...

    I completely misunderstood the problem. It's not the things I mentioned before ! Well, not all of them anyway...

    It's the zealots that keep ignoring users and maintaining that everything works right away in Linux, and that all software is easily available, and on and on.

    Listen up, wise men of the Penguin ! I tried a new install of buntu a few weeks ago. I even dedicated a machine to it. And then I tried to plug in all the silly stuff I own into it. Oh, and the first Linux I installed was Suse 6. I still have the box.So I'm not a complete newbie.

    And things are NOT as keep shouting. After a lot of work I did get a few things working...for a while. But 'normal' users would have thrown the distro in the bin long before I switched off. Oh, and I do the experiment every time new major releases appear. And always I hope for the best. And everytime I'm disappointed. Not because I can't get it going. But because I know that, again, the bulk of the general public wil be reverting to windows. After about 15 minutes.

    But hey, never mind me. It's just me. Please ignore me, it's not important. But if you are serious about wanting to make Linux a serious alternative for the non-geek you beter start sitting up and taking notes.

    Peter R.

  75. Tom Silver badge

    Thats the trouble with consumers

    - they want it to look pretty. That way they dont have to think about functionality. The IT industry has been selling style without content for too long.

    As an ageing hacker it amazes me that most companies now have thousands of PC's that are millions of times faster that the first computers but very few can use them as effectively to help their businesses than Leo.

    We've come a long way since then. Its prettier here - but a lot less functional.

  76. Andraž Levstik

    GNU+Linux it's here it's now and it's usable

    First a disclaimer: I'm a developer of a GNU+Linux Distribution(and no it's non of the common ones) but I have to deal with normal(those who are used to windows) users of GNU+Linux

    often(family,friends)

    Well as Linux is ONLY the kernel of the entire OS it really shouldn't have any pretty interfaces etc...

    Now a GNU+Linux system that one actually has things to use as a desktop.

    I tried a few things for my mom(50+, can actually use a computer) over the years for her use.

    It ranged from:

    GNOME, KDE, XFCE4, Enlightenment to more simple solutions IceWM, Fluxbox etc...

    I gave her such setups and let her use them. There was always something missing. I.e. not enough

    glue to make it all seamless etc...

    So I recently tried the same using ubuntu/kubuntu/xubuntu..

    Suffice it to say she is now a very happy user of xubuntu and is more than capable of doing

    99% of the operations herself(hell she even updates the system herself).

    I asked her every so often if she has any problems or such. And most often the response is

    no and at times(which actually suprises me) is this actually works better than on Windows.

    There might be a I would like an app that does this or that question so I install that for her

    since I tend to know more apps then her.

    So I belive GNU+Linux on the desktop is there. What needs to be done is only to improve on it.

    I seriously like the way it asks when a certain codec or such is needed to play a file on how to install it.

    To this whole notion of common releases etc...

    It would make projects stagnate since they would only release like once a year in a staggered release fashion and bugs would increase. The only way to reduce the bug count is as ESR(and no I don't like the guy much) says Release early, release often...

    To the make vendors provide GNU+Linux binaries for their apps(i.e. Adobe&co)...

    They are free to do so.. infact they could just work with WINE to provide nice easy wrappers around their tools(that is what wino basically is, it's a windows toolkit) or have a common core then just provide Free Software wrappers around that core to compile a launcher for it.(similar to what the nvidia guys do with the drivers they have a common core and wrappers around it to fit into the kernel). This would solve most incompatibilities almost at once.

    To the we want a windows type installer thing...

    Well there are a few projects in that regard but why bother... Most binary distros nowdays have it setup so that if you double-click the .rpm/.deb/.whatever it will install it automagicaly. Why bother with paths the filesystem is hiearchical... if you need more space distros should provide tools to migrate a certain hiearchy from one disk to the other and then mount it for you automagicaly.

    To the should follow common standards for various things:

    a) directory locations

    it's called FHS - http://www.pathname.com/fhs/

    it specifies most directories on a GNU+Linux system and explanations what they should

    be used for

    b) device naming

    it's been standard for a long time... only with udev people have started to botch with it

    all my devices are always the same on all machines and that's the standard names they have

    c) window managers fents etc... etc...

    There is http://www.freedesktop.org - they are working on common standards for the desktop

    and have for quite a while. This includes fonts and even RAW file handling from digital cameras.

    d) backward compatibility

    actually quite a few projects try to work that out but there are inevitable changes with it

    even microsoft has that... Just think of all the msvb4,5,6 etc... runtimes one needed.

    But as on windows it's the same on GNU+Linux just install the older library along the new one

    and you're done.

    So as you can see there are things that are being worked on or specifically that have existed for years. I still use what I use out of my own personal choice(that would be fvwm, a handfull of terminal apps and a graphical browser that actually behaves consistently(kazehakase) unlike other browsers that get changed by JS/plugins/etc...).

    I'm fed up with all the crap people post... If you are incapable of using a computer don't use it.

    If you want Joe Average the technophobe to use a computer give him something like a minimal 3 app computer like the EeePC.

    General computing for the average user is dead... They need specialised computers that do only what they want with the ability to upgrade when needed... But of course this isn't in the interest of vendors that then can't flog pricey kit onto computer iliterates then sell them classes, support, software etc...

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok can someone explain...

    serious question....

    If I buy some kit, that a friend has, that works happily on Windows XP home edition, I'm pretty sure it will work on XP pro & Server 2003.

    So if said firend has same hardware working instantly on Unbuntu, will it work on another version of Linux, say Red Hat or another distro (what ever the bloody hell one of those is)?

    If not, why not?

    Simple question.

  78. paulc
    Thumb Down

    arghhhhh!!!!!

    "To actually unmount the disk, you needed to drag it to the Trashcan."

    ahh gee, that is so unintuitive... you see normal people would associate that action with deleting the files...

    and as for the common man needing a graphical configurator for apache, mysql and PHP??? wtf... no normal mortal ever needs to install those on a desktop... only admin geeks need to do this on servers... and they already know what they're doing...

  79. Tom
    Alert

    Nice desktop dave lawless, but

    you might have wanted to hide the shemale videos folder before doing the screencap.

  80. A J Stiles

    @ Stu Reeves

    In Linux, all application programs are by design isolated from hardware. Only the kernel can talk directly to hardware; application programs see a unified interface representing idealised versions of the hardware. Actual hardware drivers must be compiled as loadable kernel modules or part of the kernel.

    If your friend has a piece of hardware running on Ubuntu, it **should** run on any other distribution; but it may require a kernel module to be compiled, or -- **in the absolute worst case** -- the whole kernel to be recompiled. If your distribution is reasonably up-to-date, though, the chances are that it will just work.

  81. Kenny Swan
    Coat

    I agree: missing the point

    I've been arsing about with Linux for a few weeks now. I'm used the XP & OSX world but I thought I'd give Ubuntu a whirl. I think there's no end to fancy-schmany utilities I can install that make everything look very pretty. Sometimes overly fancy for no reason. Compiz let me have wobbly windows and all sorts of graphical wizardry. My only issue with Linux is the lack of a unified and easy installation procedure. If I look at installation instructions and they've got me buggering about with the command line and editing config files and downloading dependent files to make sure it works, then I simply give up and don't bother. I like trying things on XP & OSX. Double click, try it out, and either trash it or keep it. Linux is not user friendly in this way. I'd be 100 times happier if I could just download one file and double click to install. You can sometimes, but not always.

  82. David Hicks
    Linux

    @Stu Reeves

    "will it work on another version of Linux ...? If not, why not?"

    Not necessarily. All versions of Linux have different aims. Ubuntus is mass adoption and hardware support. RHEL (which I am typing this post from) don't update to the latest of everything every other day because their aim is to be a rock solid business platform.

    So you might not get the latest, shiniest drivers with RHEL, but that's not their concern as they're selling to businesses with a fairly homogenous hardware estate, and they're selling servers and workstations rather than desktops.

    Debian are in-between, as the basis for ubuntu they have a similarly wide range of software, but their update cycle is slower as they too are interested in stability.

    Something like DSL, Austrumi or Puppy may support even less stuff (and certainly less software), but DSL fits on a 50MB memory stick, it being a portable system and useful "emergency backup" distro.

    They're all different and all have differing philosphies behind them. They are not all equivalent. You should pick the one that fits your purpose.

    Think of it this way, would you use Windows XP Home on a web server? You'd pick MS's server OS (2k3 or 2k8) surely? Similarly, your gran probably doesn't want Windows 2008 asking her about server roles at boot time and would be better off with a Desktop "distro" of windows.

  83. Peter Kay

    It's still a long way from matching Windows/OS X user experience

    Heck, I echo what an earlier poster said : look at Irix. Yes, now it's rather creaky, but it's well integrated and shows the sort of base experience that can be built upon.

    However, as a large proportion of Linux distributions won't even load in VirtualPC without hacking X's colour depth, I think there's some way to go, even if ubuntu is quite pretty. I recently went back to the first Linux distribution I used in '92 - Slackware, as it generally seems to favour functionality over cleverness (like insisting on a graphical install when really it isn't necessary).

    Still, I don't think they've got a hope in hell. Most commercial developers don't integrate their apps properly with Windows, they didn't when OS/2 was still alive, and someone expects Linux coders to do so for free..?!

    To play devil's advocate, perhaps the real problem is that there are already user friendly Unix compatible environments : Windows and OS X. OS X is Unix, and can have X installed on it. Vista Ultimate can have the free Subsystem for Unix Applications (Interix) installed, the bundled NFS client, the free XMing X server, it's much easier to use software like tftpd32 rather than hack config files etc..

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    linux should stop aping windoze

    i'm a longterm mac user but i love the ethos behind linux and would love to be able to adopt an open-source desktop OS. however i've yet to see any linux distro that disnae look like it's been beaten half to death with the fugly stick. i think the problem lies in the fact that the 'designers' [and i use the word in its loosest sense] of most linux distros are trying to win over windoze users, so the distros are designed to look 'windoze-like'.

    i also have problems with the attitude so prevalent amongst linux folks [and epitomised by joey's comment - "The Apple experience is created by 'design' for people who don't care about computers and never open the bonnet of their car except to fill up the windscreen washer fluid"] that seems to suggest that using a computer has to be 'painful' or else you're not a proper user.

    well, actually most mac users do care about computers and do know what goes on under the bonnet. when we need to we can drop into a terminal window and get things done, if that's the only way. but you know what? - most of the time i prefer to just click a big button with 'install' written on it, so that five minutes later i can actually be getting on with some work like, oh - i dunno - designing or something.

    for the average linux user, spending the entire day downloading, configuring, making and installing the application itself [and its 101 miscellaneous 'dependencies'] and then getting the fucker to actually run afterwards is the pinnacle of achievement. no wonder they've got no time or energy left to notice that brown and orange colour schemes went out of fashion some time in 1978.

    the whole point of successfully skinning a *nix is so that the end-user doesn't have to be a *nix guru to use it. and all your collective snobbery about mac users being empty-headed devotees of a 'toy' OS deliberately avoids the rather obvious fact that mac OSX is a good-looking, user-friendly, stable *nix.

    @Clyde Boom

    "... Ubuntu Linux has all the capabilities to be both an attractive and easy-to-use GUI desktop..."

    the trouble with using el reg's comments to plug your own website is that, a quick look at it, shows everyone just how unqualified you are to arbitrate on matters of 'attractiveness' or 'ease of use'

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @stu

    if you don't even know what a distro is, I wouldn't really be worrying about hardware compatibility at this stage!

  86. David Hicks
    Thumb Up

    @Kenny

    "I'd be 100 times happier if I could just download one file and double click to install. You can sometimes, but not always."

    Much of the time, especially with Ubuntu, you don't even have to bother with that. Start Synaptic, find the software you want, click install and away you go.

    You don't even have to go out on the web to look for it and all dependencies are done for you.

    If you want software not in the ubuntu repositories you may have more trouble, it's true, but the fact that so much stuff is FOSS now means you can usually find a piece of software to do what you need without having to hunt around or pay anyone a penny. It's great! Easier than windows or Mac by far.

  87. Steve

    Only just realised this?

    $HOME, /usr/root/, bash, GUI, recompile, kernel, .conf, KDE, GNOME, XFCE.....

    These are terms that users do not, should not and will not learn or recongnise. Users shouldn't need to wonder what desktop they are using. They should need to use a terminal EVER unless it's over the phone with guidence from tech support.

    The Linux desktop is a joke. I hate Mac's, but I've got to hand it to Apple that they know how to make a good GUI. I personally feel that Windows is a good balance between technical ability and a usable GUI. None of them are perfect, but Linux is the least user friendly by far.

    Config files, terminal and the such shouldn't ever be a concern of a user when doing something as trivial as installing Java or FF.

  88. Sput
    Stop

    @Peter R

    > People want a CD in the box with the stuff they just bought, one you chuck into your pc and it installs.

    You know what, Peter, I'm a person last time I checked and I really, really don't. I hate the CDs I find with the gadgets I buy. I bought a gadget, I didn't want any software.

    I don't want to use their poxy, bug-riddled, slow, clunky, badly designed software which continually directs me to their web "portal" (read online shop).

    If I get a camera I want to click & drag the photos off it so I can do what I want with them. Same with a camcorder. And, pardon the pun, for Pete's sake I don't want "special software" which allows me to load MY music on to MY mp3 player. I've got the songs on my PC already. I want to plug in the MP3 player, click & drag them across, unplug it, job done. Oh, and it better play oggs (but no-one calls them ogg players!)

    They can take their lock-in software CDs and stuff 'em.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fugly Linux Desktops

    Yeah right, some of the best looking desktop are running on the linux platform.

    Have a look at:

    http://www.kde-look.org/

    http://themes.freshmeat.net/

    Sure, you will have to delve into how they did these desktops (and there is some dross in there as well as many diamonds).

    But, don't think for one minute that X desktops are not capable of far more than other systems, it is one of the most flexible environments and one which has the most knick knacks and tools, you can do anything you like.

    If someone wants to go Linux they can quite easily pay someone for an hours work on their desktop, and have something which is personalized to them.

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Installing Linux Software

    I enjoy tinkering with Linux. I've installed Kubuntu on an old iBook and Debian on an old Powerbook. But tinkering is all I'll ever do unless those responsible for the development of Linux get over themselves and make it MUCH easier to install Linux applications.

    The fact is, I really do have a life and I don't have time for geek-like software fiddling. I want to download and install Linux applications just like I do Mac applications--go to a Web site, click on a link to download software and then run an installer or drag the unzipped application to a specific folder on my computer. Period.

    But this won't ever happen because the Linux geeks won't ever let the "regular" people in the door.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    The thing I find funniest about all this

    Is the guys who obviously haven't used Linux since 1997.

    Package managers actually make it easier than most other OS's to get everything you need installed.

    You know what? As a commercial software programmer, I run into dependency problems with Windows all the time now. Need the latest C runtime? Well not everyone has it and distribution is a bit of an iffy subject We now have problems with Vista and 2k8's UAC.

    Both MS and Linux have "moving target" and "broken api in new versions" problems.

    What's the best platform to develop software against?

    Solaris. By far.

  92. James Anderson
    Thumb Up

    Dont see the problem.

    On UBUNTU you just go to the System Menu -> Install New Apps.

    Might spend a few minutes refreshing the list of available apps the first time (it is a rather large list!). Select a catagory, or, just search for your app by name, select it, press the "install" button and enter your password. Somewhere between 10 seconds and 15 minutes later your software is installed.

    Compare this with buying and installing the lastest office suite on Vista.

    Took me nearly four hours and several flying lessons for the mouse.

  93. Paul Nolan
    Boffin

    @paulc

    That would be true, if the bin didn't change into an eject symbol once you start dragging.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One click install

    Hey muppets who need dummy package install, Suse has 1 click install via YAST

  95. The Other Steve
    Jobs Halo

    @Matt w/r/t ninja dev teams.

    "The ONLY way Shuttleworth could emulate this success is to copy the methodology - hire the cream of the crop and pay them fantastic salaries to work all hours to get the job done."

    Got in one, good call. In fact, I was just mulling over this exact same thing over the last few days as I am in the painful process of installing Ubuntu on a PPC laptop and trying to make it look pretty (Shit, it's a mac, can't have it looking ugly).

    This has led to the usual "check repository, repository versions are dysfunctional, dependencies are broken, cvs, svn ./configure, make, broken, where's my hardware acceleration gone, ARRGH! FFS!" palaver that anyone who has used linux for more than about ten minutes will be familiar with, if they are honest about it.

    All this just to get an OS X style dock to work. At one point I was reduced to editing some really, seriously ugly code. Debugging poorly written C++ (and poorly written in french, at that) at 4AM just to get something to work is not my idea of usable. And this was with the latest 'stable' sources from the SVN server. Lucky for me I can speak C++, if not French. I doubt J Random User would have been able to get this working at all, and as it is it's a horrible lash up.

    I just know someone will spout up that I should send a patch, and if were as simple as changing a few lines of code, I would, but it isn't, the core code for loading plugins is poorly architected and needs the shit refactoring out of it. Certainly I'll be dropping some email on the developers, but I doubt they'll be very receptive to what I have to say to them regarding code quality and regression testing. And why should they be ? It's their pet project, I didn't pay them for it, and I did get it to work after a fashion.

    There's good stuff out there, but none of it is ever really finished, or polished. You don't get well designed, properly architected, polished products unless you have a killer coding team, in one place, and you pay them to work on it full time. All you ever get is 'projects', which is not the same as a 'product' by a long way. 'Project' is on going, 'Product' is finished.

    At the end of the day I like linux, really I do, but it's still by and for geeks. It's a project. It will remain a project until there is a single monolithic distro with a regular RTM schedule, a road map, a proper software installation paradigm*, and all the other kruft that the freetards think is pointless, which will never happen, because no one is in charge. That's fine for the likes of me and thee, free love, free code, yah baby. but not for the millions of hapless ordinary folk who are cruelly forced to use computers every day and frankly couldn't give a rats ass what a kernel module is. Why should they care ?

    Now OS X, see, that's a product.

    *w/r/t to install paradigms, the only way to support so many disparate platforms vis a vis hardware, architecture, manky libc versions, and so on, would be if someone could up with some sort of "virtual" machine that would be able... oh no, hang on wait. In fact, wait about another ten years until all our boxen are fast enough to make java apps a usable proposition, and a decent standard set of UI paradigms and standards come along. Stop sniggering at the back.

    Jobsy, because well, he actually went and did a unix desktop for the masses, and it's not half bad. Probably because he doesn't have a million tiny 'helpers' fiddling with his codebase.

  96. Doug Glass
    Go

    True Self

    Well, there ya go.

    The man has finally decided he has to make Ubuntu flashy and pretty like Apple. I guess fluff IS more important than substance after all.

    Maybe he needs to hire Britney Spears as the appearance guru. She certain seems to have the knack of falling into the sh*t and coming out smelling like a rose....err...apple blossom.

  97. Doug Glass
    Thumb Up

    If Wishes Were Horses.....

    RE: installation and WPA wireless

    By Colin Morris

    Posted Wednesday 23rd July 2008 16:10 GMT

    Amen brother, amen.

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    It's all the users' fault

    there is no need to change anything about Linux, nothing at all, it's all perfect, instead there's something wrong with the general public, just replace them with geeks, problem solved.

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    @Steve

    >>$HOME, /usr/root/, bash, GUI, recompile, kernel, .conf

    >They should need to use a terminal EVER unless it's over the phone with guidence from tech support.

    Reliance on GUI applications, one click installs etc and god-forbid 'tech support', disempowers the user - every time you dial the phone or start a wizard you deskill a little because others see an opportunity to progress their understanding. Even at the most arcane and complex of levels all that Linux requires is the ability to read and think - it takes 2 seconds to type define: kernel into Google.

    Perhaps its just me, but despite technological immersion and free access to information that my generation couldn't even imagine, younger folk I work with, even developers, most often have frighteningly little grasp of fundamentals which have to be engaged with sooner or later.

    >The Linux desktop is a joke.

    ..but there is no such thing.

    People, home consumers esp, who look to interface bling are always going to turn to Apple/MS both of whom care more about style than the stuff that actually matters - productivity, stability, security etc - its these latter qualities that are pushing Linux into the commercial world, and there user ficklety matters little.

    Main thing I see from these endless flamewars is the lack of imagination of the posters - the idea that OSX, Vista, Gnome or whatever are evenly remotely close to being good is too depressing for words. What matters is where they are going and why....

  100. Drak

    linux drivers and linux kernal

    It should be pointed out that Linux has a monolithic kernal rather than a microkernal like most other OS's. What that means is that most all the functionality of the kernal is in the kernal itself, including drivers. Whereas in a microkernal, only core OS functionality like file handling and process multitasking is handled by the kernal itself and all the rest of the functionality is handled by seperate utilitys. To get past this, there may be a need to fork a new version of LInux. Maybe some big companys like Sun and IBM could sort this out.

  101. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux works if you know how

    So, if businesses want users to use linux then they should use opensource software as a base and produce an OS, it worked for Apple. Most of use kinda like the BSD base in it, makes it much easier to use and communicate with an Apple system.

    But why on earth would anyone make it usable for the average user for nothing, it just sort of happens on some projects, but it should never be the goal. Unless they want to fork and flog it later. Commercial applications are designed for the user, open source is designed for the developer really.

    The person who just wants to use new technology is well catered for by the various Linux distros, but if you want something specific then buy it or code it, asking others to code it for nothing doesn't work.

    Hopefully Shuttleworth knows this, and will just hire the talent required, there is a big pool available, a lot of folks would jump off their project and go commercial with backing or even combine the two, there is loads of flexibility here.

  102. Martin Ingram

    @Mark Scott

    "Hey muppets who need dummy package install, Suse has 1 click install via YAST"

    No no no no NO! Most people are trying to escape Windoze in part because they want to choose what they're running, not have it served up to them by their distro vendor.

    Take Eclipse - I need the full WTP-enabled, J2EE edition of Eclipse, with the CVS plug-in preinstalled etc. Ideally, I'd like the latest Ganymede release. The version served up by Fedora is a rebadged mish-mash of (I think) Europa, with no CVS, no server plugins etc.

    On the Mac (or, dare I say it, Windows) I can just download the Ganymede J2EE fileset, unpack to a folder of my choosing and be off and running. No fiddling about putting it in /usr/local, creating links, then farfing about with the KDE menu system rather than click-and-dragging a shortcut ...

  103. Tom Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Linux is not for the uber geeks

    We gave up a long time ago, and use real unixes like {Free,Open,Net}BSD or Solaris. The command line is your friend, and GUI interfaces are pointless. There will never be a better editor/IDE than vim, autoconf is the work of the devil, Makefiles are easy to write with a bit of practise and GDB is the worlds greatest debugger.

    @Drak

    It is called a 'kernel' btw.

    Micro kernels tend to suck beyond all comprehension when it comes to performance, which is why virtually no-one, anywhere, uses a micro kernel.

    The only OS I know using a micro kernel is GNU/Hurd (lol).

    The OSes using monolithic kernels include most BSD variants, Solaris, Linux, AIX, DOS, Windows 9x.

    OSes using hybrid kernels include OS X, Windows NT, DragonFly BSD.

    There is a clear reason (performance) why you would want to keep large parts of the OS in the kernel rather than in user-mode daemons, which is why there are no real microkernel based OSes, only hybrid kernels that take only minor parts of the kernel and place them in user land.

    Eg, in Windows NT, the window manager, GDI etc, is part of the kernel, where as lots of smaller components - like COM+ (a form of IPC) is entirely userland.

    If you compare that to a supposedly inferior monolithic kernel like FreeBSD or Linux, the window manager is almost entirely userland, with small portions (like DRM - Direct Rendering Module, not Digital Rights Management - which allows fast drawing to the screen through the DRI) are either built into the kernel or provided as loadable modules.

    Paris, because she loves a monolithic kernel.

  104. zcat
    Linux

    Wireless and WPA

    I don't know what you guys are doing wrong, but when I wanted to connect to my access point here I just clicked on the little 'network' icon and choose my access point from the list, it asked me for my WPA password, little dots span around for about ten seconds then it changed into a little bargraph icon that tells me how good or bad the signal is. Oh, and it also set up a 'keyring' to store the password so I won't have to type it again. The only way Windows could be easier is if it uses 'zealous autoconfig' ( http://xkcd.com/416/ ) and figures the password out for itself...

  105. Joe Cincotta
    Dead Vulture

    Please pick a ui to kill... KDE or GNOME.

    Once the dichotomy of UI is dealt with in the Linux - more importantly - the Ubuntu world - the resources dedicated to UI can focus on progress not parallel duplication/variation of a huge slab of end-user functionality.

    KDE in my mind just adds to end user confusion and dilute the focus of Linux as a powerful desktop alternative to commercial players which exist today.

    I think the future for Linux and broad adoption on desktops is 1. focus on end user - that means simplicity, less choice and less options - sure add in an options panel with 5000 options, but that only happens after a user clicks 'advanced settings'. 2. figure out a financial model for the enterprise to feel safe - I personally think its micro-payments, but others would disagree. Either way, by making something free you do not always succeed in making it be adopted; that is the illusion - you need to prove that there is an inherent value and relationship between the enterprise and the 'vendor' - RHEL figured it out to a large degree - a model needs to be found on the desktop which works.

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    @ Tom

    "The only OS I know using a micro kernel is GNU/Hurd (lol)."

    Just because you don't know any others doesn't mean they don't exist.

    There is L4/Linux as well as a number of similar marriages of the L4 kernel with userlands from other OSes.

    The L4 kernel is being used in various projects with great success, it is renowned both for its performance and its reliability. It has found application in embedded devices, even in the aerospace industry. L4, as well as its predecessor L3 is proof that microkernels can be designed such that they perform just as well as monolithic kernels, benchmarks have backed this up.

  107. Phantom Shadow
    Linux

    Installing Software...one more time

    For all those who have previously posted and claim that installing Linux software is easy, please go the following page at Google:

    http://www.google.com/linuxrepositories/debian40.html

    Carefully read the instructions and ask yourself what percent of the computer-using population could POSSIBLY do what it says. I just picked the Debian Google page. It's the same for the other Linux versions if you want to use the Google Linux repositories.

    To me, this one thing embodies the problem with Linux. It's not the GUI. It's not the lack of apps (there are plenty). It's all the little geek things that must be done, on a regular basis, to just use your computer.

    And, assuming you get past the software install problem, what about finding a decent GUI-based utility for smart bootable backups and disk formatting--one that the average person can install and use? Good luck.

    Finally, assuming you do have a bootable backup from a Linux volume, what about actually using it to restore a disk that went bad? Again, picture an average user trying to do it. No chance!

    I own a Linux-based eeePC and have installed two different Linux flavors on two different Apple notebook computers. The idea that my wife or daughter might ever use those computers (both are experienced in Mac OSX) is a joke...a bad joke. They are basically my hobby computers.

    I **WANT** Linux to succeed because 95% of what I do on my computers could be done in Linux--but's it's just too much of a hassle. As it is, I use OpenOffice, Firefox, GIMP and Thunderbird within OSX.

    The world is now facing an unprecedented, once-in-a-generation economic downturn. What better chance to make the case for free Linux. Maybe the powers-that-be behind just one Linux distribution will carefully read all the great comments in this thread and get the message. There's an incredible opportunity out there.

  108. Tom Silver badge

    @AC

    Such controversial comments, that you must hide behind AC..

    If microkernels were at all effective in non-niche markets, it would see more popular support in mainstream OSS. This is *plainly* not the case. From what I've now (briefly) read about L4, its in one qualcomm handset, and makes up a lot of research projects at universities, where as monolithic/hybrid kernels can be found in virtually every computer system, from the embedded world to the mainframe.

    If you take DragonflyBSD as an example, it is an incredibley ambitious project that quickly abandoned the micro kernel as a concept, even though it was one of the initial aims of the project. Microkernels are simply interesting research tools, that tell us hybrid kernels are the way forward, and that blindly sticking everything in kernel-space isn't ideal.

  109. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Tom

    Your apparent need to use the fact that I value my online privacy as an argument against what I posted is an indication that you didn't find anything else to counter the point I made. You are making the same kind of mistake you did in your first post where you tried to use lack of knowledge of existence as an argument to support your opinion. Now, you offer low yield of material on a precursory glimpse as an argument for the same.

    I repeat it once more for you: Just because you don't know of certain things doesn't mean they do not exist, likewise just because you don't find much information on something you didn't know anything about 15 minutes prior, doesn't mean that subject matter is dismissible.

    If you are seriously interested in the subject matter, I suggest you study the academic papers by Jochen Liedtke, the researcher behind the L4 family of kernels. Until his untimely death in 2001 he had demonstrated a series of microkernels over several generations which were not beaten in performance by any of their contemporary monolithic kernels. Though it was a great loss for the microkernel research community to lose such a bright researcher, his legacy not only lives on but it is actively pursued with success. The L4 kernel was developed by those who continued after him and there are no significant differences in performance between L4 and modern monolithic kernels. To dismiss this outright simply because it isn't mainstream is just foolish.

    Note that I didn't say microkernels are better than monolithic kernels, I simply stated that there is at least one microkernel which doesn't fit the description that this technology is outright inferior or obsolete. There are people who know more about kernel design than you and me who take this stuff seriously, so maybe you might want to consider taking it a bit more serious, too.

    And yes indeed, I value my online privacy over all else. You obviously haven't had people stick their noses into your private life using the internet as a tool, because if you had, you wouldn't post as "Tom" whether it is your real name or not.

  110. Stuart Castle

    RE: Pretty os

    OSX doesn't succeed because it is pretty. It succeeds because the system has been designed from the ground up to be well integrated and both logical (once you get used to it) and simple to use. In fact, it isn't pretty in all areas.

    The whole enlightment desktop thing (although judging from the screenshots I have seen, I wouldn't say enlightenment is "beautiful" at all) shows one of the problems of Linux. Someone comes up with a new desktop, so what do the Linux bods do?

    Do they ensure that the new desktop provides a consistant and easy to follow user interface? Err, no.

    Do they work to ensure that apps will work without alteration on this new desktop? Err, no.

    Do they work to ensure that apps have consistant user interfaces, with certain common operations in apps having the same menu options/shortcut keys (e.g. "Save" always being in the "File" menu and help accessible by pressing F1). Not in my experience.

    Do they work to ensure that some of the more confusing aspects of Linux are hidden but still available to those who know where to look? Not judging by what I have seen.

    No, they create a whole new distrubution of Ubuntu to run it. So, they add another Linux distribution to a market that's already flooded with multiple Linux distros and offers no indication to the non-technical newbie which they should chose.

    I mention the non-technical newbie because this is the market that Linux has to penetrate if it is to succeed as a consumer OS. These people are not interested in the technical aspects of the OS. They just want a computer that they can operate fairly simply. They want something that will surf the web, play the odd video on Youtube, let them send email, do the household accounts and word process. They may also be the sort of people who are actually scared by options that look too technical.

    You can moan about OSX and Windows all you want, but with both OSes, you can be fairly sure that if you download an app, it will work on your version of the OS, and will have at least some aspects of the user interface that you recognise.

    This isn't an anti-linux post. I like Linux. The problem Linux has is that it is maintained by a load of geeks who seem to have little concept of what the average user needs from an OS.

    Microsoft and Apple both have the advantage that they can afford to establish huge research labs specifically to design user interfaces and they can pour millions of pounds into this research. Linux doesn't really have that.

    The other problem LInux has is that the only companies who do have capital to invest in it (Redhat, Novell, Canonical) who *could* be investing in UI design are either not interested (Step forward Redhat and Novell), or are totally misjudging people's needs (Canonical), and think that people want a "pretty" OS rather than a usable one.

    However, if by "Beautiful", he means a well-integrated and easy to follow user interface, he is right. If he means the same as a lot of orther Linux users (a user interface with funky graphics and special fx), he is wrong. Funky graphics and special fx can look god, but after a few days of use, they can become an irritating waste of resources.

  111. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Modern microkernels significantly faster than monolithic kernels

    "In the 1980s a lot of truly mediocre work was done on microkernels (which are similar to modern capability systems), and some equally bad analysis concluded that the problem was with microkernels in general rather than with the flaws of particular implementations. We now have examples of microkernels that are significantly faster than conventional operating systems, and at least one example of a capability system that is so."

    emphasis on "examples" (in plural) and "significantly faster".

    Jonathan Shapiro of Hopkins University in his essay on capabilities

  112. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Stuart Castle

    "So, they add another Linux distribution to a market that's already flooded with multiple Linux distros ..."

    You are confusing kernels with operating systems. Linux is a kernel. It is an open source kernel with a license that allows folks to use it and build an operating system around it. And that's what people do. Consequently there is no such thing as one single Linux OS. Every Linux distribution is a separate operating system, there are similar under the hood because they use the same kernel and a set of common APIs, still they are different operating systems and should be recognised as such.

    Obviously, you couldn't do anything similar with Microsoft's kernel because it is a closed source kernel. However, Apple's kernel is open source, so you could do the same kind of thing the Linux distributions do: take the kernel and build your own OS around it. In fact, there are a few projects which have just done that. I remember one project which used the Darwin kernel together with a Gentoo derived userland.

    You wouldn't expect a Darwin/Gentoo OS or any other such OS based on the Darwin kernel to be fully compatible with MacOSX, or would you?

    The reason why there are so many Linux based operating systems is simply that the Linux kernel is very popular with independent builders of operating systems.

    What else do you think you would be doing if you had a vision for a different kind of operating system? The fact that you want to do something different means you are in disagreement with the way many others do things. For some time you may try to convince those others to change things but often you reach a point where it is far more practical to start anew. So, you build your own operating system, probably using many of the components that others are using, but you will be doing things differently where your vision is different. If your vision is good and you are doing a good job turning that vision into reality, then you stand a chance that your operating system may set a new standard and perhaps other projects will then follow and adapt your ways of doing things. This is how open source works. The reasoning behind this is that competing ideas will lead to good ones to eventually survive and bad ones to eventually die. Like anything else, there are both advantages and disadvantages, the disadvantage being that evolutionary processes often take time, yet it may turn out to be more successful in the long (or very long) term, only time will tell.

  113. Tim Greve
    IT Angle

    Thanks Darren Mansell

    Thanks for suggesting likewise-open Darren. It just doesn't measure up to authconfig. To bad too. We are talking about 40k+ desktops here. It has to be simple enough for beginner tier one folks do handle without any real effort.

  114. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tim Greve

    "Thanks for suggesting likewise-open Darren. It just doesn't measure up to authconfig. To bad too. We are talking about 40k+ desktops here. It has to be simple enough for beginner tier one folks do handle without any real effort."

    Why? If you've got that many desktops you should be administering them through puppet, not forcing users to muck about with GUI configurators. One of the really big advantages of Linux over Windows is Linux's low cost in systems administration when the number of deployed machines starts to get largish and you don't want to miss out on that. (40,000 desktops is only just entering the "large" space if you consider the number of machines Akamai and Google administer).

    If you can't use puppet then at least control your site-specific configuration using the package manager. That is, you put as dependencies the software in your "standard operating environment" and you reach out and configure authentication, etc. Then as your environment changes you issue new packages and they are pulled in like any other software update. For example, we point our users to own own repo and ask them to install

    example-all

    which pulls in

    example-software-list, example-software-authentication, example-configuration-authentication, example-security-configuration, example-corporate-software and so on. Some of these have dependencies, such as example-corporate-bookmarks. All these packages populate and configure the computer with the standard operating environment.

    Users which need to do their own thing can easily blacklist any packages causing problems (which they usually don't, since we take some care not to be Nazis). Some groups issue their own packages containing their own software lists and configurations (eg, EDA or accounting setups). We host these on the same repo to minimise the amount of work for users.

    One trick that's worked really well is to add a "live bookmark" (XML feed) for corporate notices and events. This is less intrusive and more interesting than company-wide e-mails.

  115. daniel
    Flame

    @Hywel Thomas

    For the common luser, "unmount" is what you do when you get off a horse.

    "Remove" or "unplug" is what you do when ou pull a USB key out of a socket.

    "Eject" is what you do when you want the computer to give your CD or DVD back to you so that you can put it away.

    The programmers use technical terms... but forget that the users want it to "just work". installing for example: A user does not want to use the source. A user does not want to compile as generally it will not compile and you cannot find out why.

    Linux came from minisystems to the desktop for systems admins and other geeks.... Linux was not designed to replace the desktop... originally.

    A good linux is one that boots first time, installs almost all drivers, can update and can be configured without ever *EVER* having to use :

    - A command line

    - A man page

    - tools that no-one but the programmer can understand.

    For headless servers, Linux has no equal. For desktops, sorry, Linux is not even at the stage of stability and usability of Windows 3.1 and MS DOS, even if it may be a bit prettier on the eye candy size.

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ daniel

    "For headless servers, Linux has no equal"

    That's an opinion and not everybody will agree with this opinion. I for one believe that BSD is superior as a server platform, then again, my buddy thinks Solaris has no equal as a server platform and another buddy thinks so about VMS. All opinions based on preferences, just don't sell them as facts like you did.

  117. Kevin Daly

    Microsoft should treat it as useful marketing

    The corporate lawyers are no doubt flying on autopilot, but if this app is of decent quality then it's actually free viral advertising for Vista (and Microsoft have previously taken a completely different stance when people have replicated large gobs of the Vista UI online).

    On the other hand I can easily see the Apple legal machine moving into action to smite him for the perceived desecration.

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