Linux optimize

Linux design needs to be out of the hands of developers

Why does the Linux desktop suffer so much? Jack Wallen thinks he has the answer to this question that has been in play for a very long time. See if you agree with the conclusion Jack has drawn.

This post has been boiling in the back of my brain for quite some time. It's been one of those that I was never completely sure of, until 2011 saw the influx of emails coming in saying how out of touch the Linux desktop designers were with both reality and the end user. From my perspective, it's a bit strong of a sentiment; but the driving force behind the idea is dead on. After giving this train of thought plenty of time to derail, I decided it was finally time to fully address what I think is actually becoming an issue with the Linux desktop and how other platforms manage to avoid the problem. Although there is no big science behind my conclusions, this issue is something near and dear to me.

So, what gives? Let's talk.

I want to preface this by making a fairly bold statement. We, as a whole, are out of touch. I'm talking about nearly anyone from my generation (think Gen X). Why do I say this? Simple -- read nearly any technology blog and you will inevitably come across mention that no one likes change. Any time a desktop is changed, people don't like it. But the truth is, that really only applies to the older generations. With the younger generations (like my stepchildren), you can hand them a desktop one day, replace it with a completely different desktop the next, and they won't bat an eye. Younger generations laugh at, nay mock, change. Here's a simple example: My youngest stepdaughter (she's 17) has a laptop that was running Ubuntu 10.04. She came to me wanting it updated to the latest version. Naturally my first thought was, "She won't know what to do with Ubuntu 11.10, so I better think of something different." Instead, I decided to install my newest go-to distribution, Linux Mint -- in this case Linux Mint 12. It was New Years Eve. She went to bed early, as did my wife, so I could just get the installation done and let her know about it in the morning.

After the install completed, I wrote down her new password on a piece of paper (in case she woke before me), realizing I was going to have to tell her how to use the new GNOME 3 desktop the next day. Surprisingly enough, I woke up to find her happily using her desktop. Switching from Classic GNOME to GNOME 3 was a total no-brainer for her. The only question she had was regarding the name of the application she needed to install for her web camera. I was going to show her how and she said, "I got it."

Okay, so yeah... younger generations aren't tripped up by change. Older generations? Not so much. And this is where that long thread of thought has led me.

In the world of Microsoft and Apple, you have developers who have to answer to managers, who have to answer to CEOs, who have to answer to shareholders. If the general public cannot use the software, or have trouble using the software, the trickle down will get nasty by the time it reaches the developers. To that end, developers and designers MUST create products that are user-friendly and do NOT cause problems at the hands of the general public. The product (and their jobs) depend upon it.

With Linux, and open source in general, this is not the case. The designers and developers are typically only beholden to their egos, their pride, and the hope their work will finally take Linux to the next level. That leads to the release of things like Ubuntu Unity and GNOME 3. And although younger generations can adapt with lightning quick reflexes, the current majority of users are still stuck in that "change is bad" philosophy. The only way the older generations can adapt to change is if said change is done in micro-steps.

Here's the thing -- Linux designers and developers need to start working on their products as if their livelihood depended upon the immediate success of their product. Only then will they start delivering products that are the equal to their skills. And trust me, some of the most amazing designers and developers in the world work on open source projects.

This is not to say that open source developers need to start thinking as if they are working on proprietary projects. Not at all. It means the designs and developments should be done with the progress and success in mind. Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive. A desktop can be both progressive and successful. There have been minor changes in GNOME 3 that are making a fairly progressive desktop quite successful.

And GNOME 3 is a perfect example of how designers and developers on open source projects need to rethink their plans of attack. What should have happened with GNOME 3 is a wider scope of users should have been taken into consideration before releasing the product. Put the desktop in the hands of new users, old users, skilled users, unskilled users -- a wide cross section of society that could give some fairly immediate input as to whether the desktop was heading in the right direction or if some major changes needed to be made.

I know this sounds like common sense and many might say, "They did beta testing." Problem is -- and I know how this works -- within the world of Linux beta testing tends to fall into the hands of those that already know how. Fellow developers, designers, hard core users, people like myself -- we wind up beta testing software and tend to report bugs as well as give feedback on what we think is right or wrong about a design. But we are not the average user who will be looking at this desktop from a completely different perspective.

And this is why I fully believe the design of the desktop should not be in the hands of the developers. Take an average user, ask them what they would like to see in a desktop (how they would like to interact with their desktop), do a mock-up, and send that mock-up to the developers. As much as I respect the open source developers, I can't say they always make the best decisions with design choices.

I was really impressed with my stepdaughter's ability to pick up a completely different desktop and immediately feel at home. And some day, when her generation is running the show, the idea of change not being good will no longer apply. But for now, it does and that means further development of the Linux desktop needs to be handled with serious care and concern for the people who would actually be using the desktop -- the end user.

And finally -- now that it's officially 2012, I want to offer a heart-felt 'thank you' to all my readers and fans for continuing on with this hay ride. I hope this new year brings to you much joy, prosperity, and success.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

118 comments
vepri
vepri

The problem is not with arrogance,- it is with the fact that developers have no idea of real problems that average users experience. I've been working for a medium-sized company as tech support specialist and, while spreading Ubuntu across, had ran into some very weird stuff like "I cannot find Start button,- i cannot use your Linux" (real life - that was XFCE and "Start button" in top left corner) or "The buttons (in OpenOffice) are improperly shaped - i cannot use it- give me Windows !". These, and like, statements came from all levels- from secretaries to bookkeepers. You may find a lot of such stuff at any tech support forum. My favorie is " i have a cursing flasher on my screen..." The point i am trying to make is that the users' training was aimed for the most part at developing reflexes like "press this button - get candy, i.e., word processor" and we have to live with it. On the other hand, try to discuss something with 1-st line tech support of your provider. Highly probable you'll get something like "press Start, go to Network Settings and so on in an uniterruptable flow. Exceptions happen of course on both sides. Returning to the subject of this talk, as technician i have to admit that customisation and tuning of Ubuntu gets harder with every new version. KDE4 was really a nightmare at the beginning. I can google some questions out but, frankly, reading a hundred+ forum pages is sometimes more than i can stand on a regular basis. There had been a couple of discussions about "dumb users" here at TechRepublic and elsewhere. In all these, an important point is missing: never, never make assumptions regarding end user's sanity! Never, never make assumptions about your own ability to understand end users' (or, more broadly, other people's) needs! Be modest, in short. I had learned this lesson long ago when i was writing some interactive stuff for supposedly computer-literate people,- scientists who were writing programs on their own. So, for the time being, the situation resembles fabulous talk of the blind with the deaf. What can be done. 1. Introduce the concept of, say, "usability engineering" in the QA process. 2. Teach developers not users! 3. Steve Jobs was mentioned earlier in this discussion. YES. Good designer, not necesserily computer-literate is very important. He studied calligraphy. 4. Read that forums where techies are mocking at the "dumb users". Actually you'll get fair,- as opposed to techical assignment,- description of real-life problems that users run into. And it's fun... Returning to Linux usability from the user's standpoint, ?? ??????????????, ?????? ?????????? ???????????????? ?????????? ?????????? ???????????? ???????????? ?? ?????????????? ?????? ?????????? ????????????. ?? ???????????????????? ??????????????????????, ??.

Bill Day
Bill Day

I am a regular, non-technical guy who uses Linux. I prefer it because, with a bit of application on my part, it lets me do things I cannot do -- or cannot afford to do -- on Windows. I guess I am weird, but I like Gnome 3. I don't mind so much if Linux is not the dominant OS so long as it is reasonably interoperable and continues to offer a wide range of software (easily downloaded through a package manager). I like the fact that I can tinker, and I am afraid that if Linux ever supplanted Windows, it would become the thing it replaced. As for design philosophy, quite a few people have cited Steve Jobs. I believe that Jobs' philosophy was along the lines of design what the users will want before they know they want it. Designers may incorrectly anticipate users' needs, but good design is not going to flow from a vast committee of ignorant users. In my opinion, it flows from a few people of talent and vision.

roger.allen216
roger.allen216

I think Jack raised a very important point. Looking thro' all the posts, they are from what could be called "enthusiasts" - they wouldn't post otherwise. This in itself shows the problem . Desktop Linux (or a distro) has to decide whether it wants to be bumbling footnote to software history for the enthusiast, or become a useable alternative to other OS's. If it follows this second option, then all the points made in the blogs about useability etc etc etc will have to be addressed. It looks like the first option is being pursued.

Rambo Tribble
Rambo Tribble

End users can have some good ideas, but lack the knowledge beyond their own particular use case to make good design choices. Developers, on the other hand, lack the real world experience to formulate comprehensive solutions. Largely missing in the open source development model is the layer of personnel that educates and supports end users. It is individuals such as these who have the breadth and depth of knowledge to understand what constitutes a workable solution. In the early days of desktop computing, market support representatives filled this gap. Successful open source companies, like Red Hat, have benefited from having such a support infrastructure. The result can be seen in their market valuation.

wyattbiker
wyattbiker

About 2 years ago I went from Windows XP to Mac OS X. I gave Vista and even Windows 7 a chance. I couldn't understand why they reorganized everything but provided almost nothing in return. Many of my customers hate Windows but they have no choice. Mac OS X is a breeze to work with. So far every update I have done has been without drama. I can run any application you can think of. And here is a bonus. The command line is Linux. I can perform every Linux command on the Mac. However I am waiting for a Linux desktop that is similar to Mac OS X. Then I wouldn't have to pay for expensive hardware. Microsoft does not get it. You need to upgrade people, by changing them in small increments. Not using a wrecking ball.

Chris_Clay
Chris_Clay

You basically said it point blank in this article, the next generation of users can easily adapt to change, and as such GNU/Linux is going to thrive in the future. New developers of open source and GNU/Linux appear continuously, and bring fresh and new ideas to the table. Everybody is different, but I agree with you that people do not like change. But for computers, we must adapt. Even Windows is vastly different from version to version. So I do agree somewhat but when you compare Windows XP to Windows 7, even those versions have vast differences even though a lot of the core has not changed. Gnome 3 will get there eventually and will succeed, but I think a lot of distributions have jumped to Gnome 3 too early. In time, it will become more feature rich and at that point you should hopefully see a continuation of users migrate to GNU/Linux from other operating systems.

ap3s
ap3s

Hi, great, great post!!!! despite all the criticism .... from all linux distro (fellows) developers i personal advocate that linux must have all the good things that MS Windows have! ... simple to use ... familiar look and feel this why, at Open Xange, we continue to try to give users,a linux distro no so fare way of what the MS window users are use to.

AbdulRahiem
AbdulRahiem

Just one of your points I do not agree with: that older people do not like change. I am of retirement age and have no problem in adjusting to new lay-outs and structures as such. What does frustrate me, however, is when frequently used applications get hidden away in places where one only finds them if one happens to stumple upon them by chance and then they still turn out to be inaccessible. Enough has been said about Unity on Ubuntu, but it is a case in point.

parkerkael
parkerkael

Your comment that we (I was born in the 50s) don't like change sounds a lot like typecasting to me. Change is good when it has a purpose. See, my first computer was a Mac Plus in the later 80s, no hard drive, system and Microsoft Word all on a 400 floppy. Where were you then? I thought so. When I find a system interface that works, I don't appreciate having to relearn a new interface just to get my work done. I have better things to do. But until Ubuntu Unity appeared, I was gung ho about Ubuntu; now, they can put it where the sun doesn't shine, as far as I am concerned. I am looking for Android to take Linux's place in the user market, and then some. Yay, tablets! Now Siri needs to take computers where they were already on James Kirk's ship way back when...

Freebird54
Freebird54

I am not quite sure in whose hands the development should be left, but the fact remains that change - while not always going in the direction of true progress - is necessary for any advancement at all. Its absence would have left us with such wonderful UIs as that shipped with the Commodore 64... effective, but hardly sufficient or efficient! It can take many iterations, including down what may turn out to be false pathways, before true progress can be identified. A couple of examples may help to illustrate my point. The AmigaOS had what I consider still to be the best combination of GUI and shell we have ever had - the scripting was extremely powerful (especially after ARexx was added to it) - but more accessible than any CLI I can think of currently in general use. Linux at least shares the ability to run any program from either interface - but I have seen nothing similar to the abilities to control one program from another that were so accessible on the Amiga. But that branch died out. Then Linux arrived, giving the experimenter somewhere to go. Its mandate to 'be' Unix-like constricted it somewhat, but look at the variety of user experiences you can find now! I certainly think that somewhere the best interface will eventually arise in this 'marketplace'. Unity is a great example, by the way, of the fact that many of the interfaces are NOT in the hands of developers in the sense of this article - they are in the hands of the corporate sponsors of the interface. And, surprisingly enough, it is becoming quite capable - and may well be heading in a good direction. Certainly the workflow you can construct is very efficient if you take the time to try it thoroughly. (it may currently be oversimplified, but it IS capable, and easy to learn if coming at it without 'it should be this way' dominating your responses). Yet, even though NOT developed without direction, it gets more 'charges' of arrogance and stupidity than most - almost as if were Metro! Of course perfection will not be attained until the DWIM command set becomes the standard UI for all 'enabled' devices - yes, that stands for 'Do What I Mean' - the dream ever since WIMP interfaces and voice command were first proposed. Until then, I intend to embrace diversity - and to keep trying until *I* get it right too!

winstonchalmer
winstonchalmer

Hi. Got my first computer from Stepfather in 2000 he built it himself ran Windows98 now I did not know diddly about computers him and mother gave me a few instructions and turned me loose, good thing I had an install disc,1st I experiment till I get what I like,2nd W98 chrashed enough that I learnd how to do and not do installs of other programs, had things running ok then at local Goodwill store I saw A book Redhat Linux picked it up had an install disc in back tryed in but to confusing THEN Ubuntu came along have been happy with Linux till Latest 11.10 I reverted to Gnome Classic after I found out how,but they need to keep an updated version of it or offer and not have to go digging for the solution That said I still login with Unity interface every now and then so as to not be completly lost Thes should have gradually changed or something. Thanks for your time thats all This Old f@#t has left and Happy New Year To all

willjamr
willjamr

OK, Jack. Someone other than the developers controls the design. Who are you going to get to write the code? Because the developers you just threw out won't do it.

Aysgarth
Aysgarth

If you let the lowest common denominator dictate your user interface you end up with dumbed down rubbish. To paraphrase an old Unix saying "Linux is user friendly, it is just choosy who it's friends are". If you stick with the old then you are stuck in the old. Gnome 3 Shell with javascript extensions is the most innovative thing I have seen in desktops for years. What is truly different in the user interface of Windows 7 compared with Windows95. Prettier, more functionality sure, but still a desktop with a toolbar on the bottom and a start menu.

apotheon
apotheon

People think they've done something right the first time, and no further testing will reveal any flaws in their assumptions. People think that because they like something it's the best for everyone. People think they know what end users want. People think others will just accept every change thrown at them because they love you so very much that they cannot imagine going anywhere else. People think the new thing is so great everyone will overlook a couple bugs. People think their dominant position in a given market niche is unassailable. People think everyone will agree with their ideals, if only they explain them one more time (and wow am I guilty of that one from time to time). People think that attempts to funnel everyone into a single set of defaults will never backfire. People think that once power has been concentrated in a particular locality, nobody who would abuse that power will ever replace whoever's already there (and you can see this in effect in US national politics any day of the week). People think that their own immediate pet issues trump all other concerns. People think that everyone who disagrees with them is evil (and, thus, become evil themselves). People think that those who will not accept the (apparent) genius of their new ideas are just obsolete fuddy-duddies. The list goes on. All of these are incredibly arrogant qualities, and they are all relevant to the hell that is the Linux desktop today: NetworkManager, The Fifth Horseman Of The Apocalinux http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/opensource/?p=2429

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

The problem with Linux is marketing, not development. It's a rock solid OS, the best OS you never heard of. You can run it from a live disk, installation is a breeze, drivers are widely available and with many applicaitons moving to the cloud it makes more sense then ever to use Linux. Windows isn't more widley used because windows designers and developers are creating a better product. It's marketing.

damyankee007
damyankee007

i have tried to down load it several times and i have not been able to use it. it does not seem to want to down load any help

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

Here I am a boomer, and took to reasonable change and innovation like a fish to water... in fact I built a business on it. I have found that gen-Xers and to a lesser degree Yers seem to have a little trouble adapting if you set their world on its ear. I always thought it would be the old farts like me that get stuck in our ways.

kirk_augustin
kirk_augustin

Sorry, but you GenerationX people were the only ones who could not deal with change. The previous baby boomers were all about constant change, and in the 1970s and 1980s had way better GUIs, like GEOS, the Amiga OS, the Mac, Turbo Pascale, Borland OWL, etc. I used to program in XWindows for UNIX, and although I did not like it, at least it was predictable, unlike GNome, KDE, Unity, or whatever. The solution is simple. Either build the GUI toolkit into the OS, or go to web browser and html for the GUI. It is the lack of standardization that is killing Linux. Any GUI toolkit is not hard to adapt to, but there has to be only one. We all want change, change back to the innovative and integrated development environment everyone else had over 20 years ago. GUI development all happened in the 1980's, and for some reason UNIX/Linux people never seemed to catch on. Only when I see programmers editing, compiling, running, and debugging from the same GUI, will I think they finally got what the rest of us knew 20 years ago. You don't ADD a GUI to a product, but use the OS GUI for everything you do, especially developing. If you don't use a GUI to develop, you won't know how to develop a product with a GUI. And I don't mean just a text editor either. The GenerationXers just did not get it, and still don't. The GUI interface has to be built in, consistent, and always there.

pauldoyle98
pauldoyle98

Comparing Ubuntu's "Unity" interface to Apple's OS X is utterly laughable. OS X is the Sistine Chapel. "Unity" is a water color painted by a blind chimpanzee wearing boxing gloves and with two broken arms...tied behind his back.

ITonStandby
ITonStandby

Being from Generation X myself (born 1967) and being in the I.T. world for all of my adult life, it's easy to understand why "us old guys" don't embrace change so easily. Just because it's new doesn't mean it's better. And, if I am happy with what works and it is solid for me, it will cost me time, money, and effort to just jump to something else without a thought to the consequences. This may sound old school, but it's actually just being wise. However, that does not mean that I will not embrace change if it's indeed better. For example, I've worked with DOS since version 1.0, the PC since the first one, and every version of Windows to date. But, four years ago I had enough of MS patches and antivirus updates taking up valuable time so, after careful research of what was available I switched to Apple - mostly out of frustration with MS (as stated above) and Linux because it changes so much that the learning curve is often not feasible. Going to the Mac has been a great decision - for me. I'm not an Apple evangelist. And, I still work with Windows nearly daily for my clients purposes. My last point - unless you're some genius visionary like Steve Jobs was and can create products people didn't know they wanted but have to own, don't try making something and hoping the masses will follow. Turn it around. Find out what people want and give it to them. That said, unpaid Linux developers may not be motivated to do it that way. But, the corporate world is. Apple has already demonstrated that they can make a better mouse trap from a Linux-like core. Oracle is desperately trying to do it. So is Google with Chrome OS and Android. Is the world a better place because of Linux? Absolutely. Does that mean Linux developers can keep the status quo? I don't think so. Do you?

Slayer_
Slayer_

I can use the same example on myself, Windows 7 bothers me at work because I need to interact with the operating system more. Windows 7 on my personal laptop looks a lot like the default setting, because I just load a browser, email and Steam and play games and stuff, almost never using the OS GUI directly. As a personal machine, it doesn't bother me, as a work machine, it does. When I judged Mint, I did so for work usage, and I found the GUI changes for Gnome 3 to be worse than Gnome 2's. In comparison, I did not complain when Windows 95 desktop update added and changed functionality (later became windows 98 desktop) in the OS's GUI. Because generally the changes were for the better. I did not mind the task pane in XP's folder views because it gave easy access to functions and information, yes it used screen real-estate and I could live without it, but it was nice. I also liked filmstrip view, it made browsing for pictures easy. I like Win7's extra large for thumbnails. At home I like Win7's breadcrumb like folder navigation, while I am organizing documents, or navigating the system, it works well, however, at work, its a pain as it becomes almost useless, more often I need to switch between drives or deep paths that cant be displayed as buttons. I might want to switch from the J drive to the R drive, but maintain the folder structure, this can only be done in win7 by changing the text, same as XP, but its an extra click away each time. Not a big deal, but its not an improvement either.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

in who's hands will it be. Remembering that the ones who bang this drum the loudest, don't contribute, don't want to contribute and have no intention of contributing.... So come on Jack,. If "I" can't develop what I want, when I want, how I want, why am I going to do it? What happened to "not free as in beer Jack?"

ddalley
ddalley

If Linux people want it to advance, then they have to make it more convenient, and they need to make sure things work before release. I've been having trouble with the latest LinuxMint (which supports lots of media formats out of the box) and tried to deal with Fedora (which doesn't). It has been a while since I've tried to get a distro like this one back up to speed (my speed). I spent all of last night trying to figure out how to get the default video player working and had to install Totem, some time around sun-up. I think it works - maybe. I was too tired to really test it, even for sound. It played a few video files, until it black-screened crashed and I had to turn the power off (my same problem with LM 12). Fedora should have a one-button "press me for all of the media-rights stuff you need" to be installed, hands-off, but they don't (other distros are not much better, or worse). You have to learn about RPMFusion, and find and install and test, ad nausium. Grrr! My printer is attached to my NAS box's USB port, but Fedora 16 Xfce doesn't even come with SAMBA installed. Hello! I want to put a file onto the box, but I have no file access yet, even after I installed what I thought was enough of SAMBA. Hello! My Blackberry PlayBook isn't even recognised when it is plugged into the USB port and, while it is seen on the network, I still can't transfer files back and forth, so that it has some media or content on it. Hello! These things have nothing to do, and shouldn't have anything to do, with my abilities, gender or my age.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I don't think "Linux" is all one product unless one is specifically talking about a particular OS kernel. In context of the kernel, it does not really apply since development keeps pretty well focused on the current and next kernel versions; no fragmentation there due to developers. In the context of an OS distribution (ie. kernel plus the parts that make a usable desktop environment), they do not all compete against each other or even over the retail space. Distributions are very different products that can have very different target consumers. Ubuntu vs Backtrack; not even close to competing for the same market or target customer. You simply can't talk about "Linux" as all one single fragmented distribution. That representation does not accurately match reality. The distribution is what the consumer receives. The distribution is the level where commodity parts have been assembled into a usable product. The distribution is the level where manufacturers have control over part selection, target customer and product assembly. Where I think Jack's solid point remains is with distributions focusing on a market growth. If one's intent is to compete in the retail space attracting Microsoft and Apple customers then you'd better be shipping a Windows and osX competitive level of UI polish system defaults. I think that is obvious for any business though; develop for your target customer or loose to your competition (in general). Here's hoping for less aversion to change with future generations also. There are good reasons to avoid change but "because it's not the same" should never be among them. I'm still running into younger generations that react badly to change though so I remain skeptical; some kids are good at tech and some kids are not. The "are not" kids will still hate whatever tech change you interrupt there day with. More standardization across distros would not be a bad thing at all. I just don't think "Linux as to all be one thing" is the right approach though.

apotheon
apotheon

I don't think the statement that developers have no idea of real problems that average users experience contradicts the arrogance explanation at all. In fact, it's largely arrogance that prevents people from questioning their own suppositions and seeking out information that might contradict their assumptions.

apotheon
apotheon

I just wish people wouldn't believe any jackass who comes along and claims to have talent and vision. Lennart Poettering is a pretty good example of "any jackass who comes along and claims to have talent and vision" then proceeds to screw up everything he touches.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

This is not intended to take away from your comment. Just a passing correction. osX would be a AppleBSD rather than Apple Linux. osX is based on the BSD family of distributions not a Linux distribution. But, since BSD distros, osX, Linux distros are all Unix like OS, they have tend toward a common Unix like shell environment. I'm not sure if it's just that the basic command set porvides a standard base or if the Posix standard has any affect. What makes it awsome though is that these Unix skills become so transferable between distributions and OS. osX made a lot more sense the moment I saw a command line. Some Unix knowledge even transfers directly to Windows use if not indirectly.

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

I dropped it when I upgraded to 11.01 as well. Used Kubuntu for awhile then switched back on 11.10. Still not thrilled with it, but it's better than the initial release.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

That article was actually the straw that finally pushed me back to cli management. I'm still loving cli ifconfig/wpa_supplicant since I yanked that GUI manage back of the system. Not that this relates greatly to the topic.

pgit
pgit

I've used your "fifth horseman" comment a lot out here in the intartubes. I've linked your blog post dozens of times. I hope not a few of the hits have been sent from my recommendation. Alas the horse's armor has been bolstered. I was able for a time to eliminate networkmanager and use older tools that just plain worked, and provide far more configuration options and information... but no more. Somewhere along the line an update or something has finally killed off the draxtools-network system... may it rest in peace. Glad to see you around. Always a thoughtful morning when there's your posts to read.

apotheon
apotheon

I do not find any Linux distribution to be the best OS of which I had ever heard. How many OSes have you actually tried? I do, however, agree that MS Windows doesn't win on quality. Its marketing is actually quite remarkably unsophisticated. It is, in fact, very ham-handed in a lot of ways, and often incoherent. It is full of false starts and self-contradiction. I wondered for a long time how the heck they kept making stupid blunders with their marketing, but then I recently realized they might be doing it exactly right. See, the most recognizable aspect of MS Windows marketing is that it tends to be a bad impression of what other, "cooler" (also bad but more slick and coherent) advertising campaigns accomplish. It works, though, because that's exactly what appeals to the market niche where MS Windows is strongest -- basically, a slightly older crowd that wants to feel cool and relevant, but doesn't entirely get what makes the stuff they observe "cool" to younger generations. This is why, when a joint HP/Microsoft ad for a laptop that was designed with amateur music production in mind was put together, the rapper they made the centerpiece of the whole thing was an over-the-hill guy from the '80s (Dr. Dre, a legend but essentially irrelevant now). This is why Microsoft advertised something related to making and sharing videos by making the middle-aged guy dancing like a dork the center of a commercial, instead of the younger people recording video of him and uploading it. The focus is on stuff that blends old-people cool with young-people cool to target people who want to be cool like the youngsters -- not to target the youngsters themselves. So . . . maybe Microsoft really is brilliant at marketing, even more so than Apple. Sure, the marketing looks like a blunt instrument beside the subtlety and elegance of Apple marketing, but it targets a vulnerable market segment in a way that will better appeal to that segment. Imagine you're a fifty-five year old American suburbanite who is barely computer literate at all next time you watch one of those atrocious Microsoft ads, and see if it doesn't seem much more relevant and effective. Of course, that's all in relation to the mass-media marketing. The backroom business channel marketing has always been Microsoft's strong suit.

apotheon
apotheon

Tell us how you really feel.

apotheon
apotheon

It's always nice to hear my articles have had a positive impact in someone's computing life (or in their lives in general).

apotheon
apotheon

I've found a way to get around the NetworkManager-centric design of Linux-based systems within the context of Debian, so that I can get by without it, and scoured NetworkManager out of the system after putting a lot of elbow grease into scrubbing at every nook and cranny where it grew roots like mold in grout. Unfortunately, I don't think my experience here would be of much use to you on Mandriva (I assume that's your platform of choice, given the reference to draxtools), thanks to the differences in basic tools provided in Debian vs. those in Mandriva. My preference, of course, would be to just give up on Debian on this system altogether and have the saner basic network tools setup of FreeBSD available to me on this laptop, but the hardware support I need (and expected to arrive in FreeBSD 9.0) has been pushed back to FreeBSD 9.1, so I've got a few months to go before there's a usable development branch for me, I guess. If you happen to figure out how to make networking work with basic tools on Mandriva, avoiding all the high-abstraction options like NetworkManager, please let me know. I'm considering writing a portable network management toolset that won't try to make users' decisions for them. It'll probably have to come after things like rolling up a gem of a library and utility set I'm working on, a couple of email pull/push tools, an enhancement to a web browser project that shows promise, and whatever else I have in the queue that escapes my memory right now, but maybe frustration with the current state of things will make it jump up my priority list soon.

CFWhitman
CFWhitman

He said that Linux was "the best OS you never heard of," not "ever heard of." He's claiming that Linux is plenty good enough to use if only anyone knew what it was or how to get it on their computer. Incidentally, I have a few old laptops at home running Linux. When my nieces and nephews come over I let them use them for entertainment purposes. The fact that they are running Linux doesn't phase them at all. Some have Xfce, one has Enlightenment 17, and one has LXDE on it, and those kids don't bat an eyelash at using them, even if the next week it ends up being something different.

apotheon
apotheon

I'm just saying that claiming Linux is the best obscure OS is a pretty bold claim.

apotheon
apotheon

Most people make mistakes from time to time -- even me. I suppose you're immune, though.

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

Apparently I'm an old computer illiterate that lives in the suburbs. I will give you credit, at least you are reading what I actually write now.

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

you would like me to comment on some other obscure OS that is not related to the subject of the article in this thread? Let me know which one.

apotheon
apotheon

You're an awfully sarcastic person, from what I've seen so far. How's that working out for you?

apotheon
apotheon

Quote: My comment may or may not apply to more obscure OS flavors, I don't know since they are not mentioned anywhere in any conversation. Funny -- some were mentioned in discussion here.

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

I'm sure that's true, my comment was not meant to be taken litteral and was directed at the implication of the article that the issues with Linux success would be resolved by taking it out of the hands of the developers. My comment may or may not apply to more obscure OS flavors, I don't know since they are not mentioned anywhere in any conversation.

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

I was pretty sure I wrote that in english, I'll capitalize NEVER, from now on.

apotheon
apotheon

I'm looking forward to the day I can recommend it to "average" users.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

They had some nice advancements with the last release I saw too.

apotheon
apotheon

You're aware of Haiku -- the new, open source BeOS standard-bearer. Right?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

(someone had to say it for the OS nerds in the group :D )

apotheon
apotheon

I misread that. Even so . . . I think that's incorrect. There are more obscure OSes out there that are even better.