Linus speaks on user interfaces

bousozoku

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There was some problem with being able to change some printer settings but the people controlling the GNOME interface won't allow certain settings to be shown. Linus responded and you can see the result here: http://mail.gnome.org/archives/usability/2005-December/msg00021.html

I re-iterate my allegiance to Apple interfaces, no matter how blue they are, because they are designed well and sometimes correctly. I've been talking about consistency across an operating system for years, having been lucky enough to design and code easy-to-use interfaces for text terminals.

Linus and several of the Linux' revered seem to set back desktop Linux every day with some remark because they don't believe that consistency is more important than flexible chaos. It's something we saw in early releases of Mac OS X--having to go to the Terminal application and a shell to change options before Apple wrapped a GUI around the problem.

This makes me wonder if desktop Linux will ever be more than a hopeful thought.
 

greatdevourer

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I don't care what we use, as long as we get 1 unified standard. Running KDE next to GNOME makes my PC look a right mess
 

belvdr

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Apple has some things to fix, such as the refresh on windows or icons (HD icon on the desktop as an example) and FTP write capability from Finder.

I do believe Apple is in the lead as far as desktop interfaces, but they aren't perfect in any sense.
 

maestro55

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bousozoku said:
This makes me wonder if desktop Linux will ever be more than a hopeful thought.
Well.. I believe that Linux has come a very very long way even over the past three years with me running it. Sure I like the Macintosh Operating System very well, and I would rank it before Linux any day. Still "consistency" is boring, and being able to go in and change everything, down changing the software, that idea is very much a great one.

For my main computer, I would like to use Macs, because everything will be working without problems, and it won't require much maintance. However, for fun I love Linux, I have learned soo much about Unix/Linux over the past few years, and I just continue to learn. The day when I know enough to design/program my own distro of linux will be one fine day. Right now I still lack a lot of knowledge.

People should not compete with other operating systems, people should continue to make the operating systems better.
 

840quadra

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I use Enlightenment personally. While I like KDE, I prefer the manageability of E. I tend to load and install both KDE and Gnome tools and packages to assist Enlightenment, but E hodgepodge is the closest I can get to OS X on my Dell laptop for work.

It is great to see Linus active in scolding the Gnome team, that interface is a joke, WAY too much like windows, and takes away from the open source experience!
 

belvdr

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840quadra said:
I use Enlightenment personally. While I like KDE, I prefer the manageability of E. I tend to load and install both KDE and Gnome tools and packages to assist Enlightenment, but E hodgepodge is the closest I can get to OS X on my Dell laptop for work.

It is great to see Linus active in scolding the Gnome team, that interface is a joke, WAY too much like windows, and takes away from the open source experience!
I don't think KDE is all that great either. KDE is too blockish. Not very smooth, but useful.

EDIT: I think the scolding should have been sent to the GNOME team, not to a public mailing list. It definitely won't help sway any users to try Linux.

EDIT 2: How does GNOME take away from the open source experience? I guess I am missing the point here.
 

belvdr

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840quadra said:
I don't like KDE better, I use Enlightenment.

http://mail.gnome.org/archives/usability/2005-December/msg00022.html

Linus says it the best himself.
I see what you're saying now. However, I wouldn't say this goes against open source development. I would say this is almost reverse development, if there is such a term. :)

Here's a nice response from Jeff Waugh:

Jeff Waugh said:
Sorry to snip mid-sentence, but this is an important point: We're not aiming
for "powerfully extensible". We're aiming for "Just Works". Some people will
hate that. Some will love it. Personally, I'd rather have passionate users,
lovers and haters, than be than average and ignored, and I think you'll find
most GNOME developers feel the same way.
<snip>
Jump into a GNOME file dialogue some time and just type a filename. :) We
didn't get this 100% right when it first shipped, which was disappointing,
but it's top stuff now. Note the similarity in approach to the OS X 'open'
dialogue. We're not alone here, and this is nothing new.
 

maestro55

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840quadra said:
I use Enlightenment personally. While I like KDE, I prefer the manageability of E.
Having used several Destkop Environments/Window Managers I personally would put Enlightenment on my top list. Though the two main GUI's I have used have been GNOME and KDE. KDE is kind of bulky but friendly, and I used GNOME for awhile to, just because I was trying something different from KDE, and I hadn't heavily used Enlightenment, XFCE, Blackbox, Fluxbox, FVWM, Window Maker, and Ice WM. All of which I had installed on Slackware 9 (and later 10) and used from time to time. Not doing as much as a lot of people do, it didn't really matter for me which one I used. I ended up on Slackware with GNOME, and recently I have been running Slackware without a GUI (Only doing IRC/telnet on the slackware box).

All that to say, I like Enlightenment.
 

belvdr

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maestro55 said:
Having used several Destkop Environments/Window Managers I personally would put Enlightenment on my top list. Though the two main GUI's I have used have been GNOME and KDE. KDE is kind of bulky but friendly, and I used GNOME for awhile to, just because I was trying something different from KDE, and I hadn't heavily used Enlightenment, XFCE, Blackbox, Fluxbox, FVWM, Window Maker, and Ice WM. All of which I had installed on Slackware 9 (and later 10) and used from time to time. Not doing as much as a lot of people do, it didn't really matter for me which one I used. I ended up on Slackware with GNOME, and recently I have been running Slackware without a GUI (Only doing IRC/telnet on the slackware box).

All that to say, I like Enlightenment.
I really enjoyed Slackware until the 2.6 kernel came out. Even though they include it in testing, I could never get it to work.
 

LethalWolfe

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maestro55 said:
Well.. I believe that Linux has come a very very long way even over the past three years with me running it. Sure I like the Macintosh Operating System very well, and I would rank it before Linux any day. Still "consistency" is boring, and being able to go in and change everything, down changing the software, that idea is very much a great one.

For my main computer, I would like to use Macs, because everything will be working without problems, and it won't require much maintance.
And that's why the OP (as well as many geeks in general) question Linux's future as viable, mainstream OS. Consistency may be "boring" for a techo-nerd-geek, but consistency is very exciting to people that simply want to their computers to work. That's one of the biggest reasons I switched. I was sick of all the hand-holding and constant maintenance my editing PC required. I want to spend my time editing (especially when I've got a client w/me), not fixing my computer.


Lethal
 

grapes911

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maestro55 said:
...Fluxbox, ...
IMO, Fluxbox is the greatest GUI (for linux anyway). It is the essence of Linux. It is so simple, but still very useable. Nothing else goes on my Linux installs. Yet it is still so far away from being used in the mainstream. My mother would have a cow if she turned on the computer and saw:
 

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maestro55

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grapes911 said:
IMO, Fluxbox is the greatest GUI (for linux anyway). It is the essence of Linux. It is so simple, but still very useable. Nothing else goes on my Linux installs. Yet it is still so far away from being used in the mainstream. My mother would have a cow if she turned on the computer and saw:
Yes, Blackbox is very similar to that. I have asked people at my school what operating system they use, and with lack of knowledge on what an operating system is they tell me "AOL" or "Internet Explorer".. The average person still is behind in computer knowledge. A lot of people have trouble learning new programs, much less giving them a new GUI to look at. However, someone can sit at OS X and they can navigate, and open up what they want and what they need, and it even makes it very easy for them to try new things.

So yes, I am a computer geek and Linux for me is a toy (well SuSe 9.1 is on my main system here at the house, and it does everything I need). When I get a PowerBook (June/July 2006) I will use that as my main system, still I will find time to play with Linux, because my heart is in computers (Even Windows for some stuff).

Still, like I said I don't think Mac OS and Linux should compete but rather Linux can learn from Mac OS, and hopefully can stay open source and become more user friendly, that is what I want to see, and perhaps what I will one day help happen.
 

bousozoku

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grapes911 said:
bousozoku, I think he is calling you a "geek". Are you going to take that? :p
Yes, he was and yes, it's okay. People in Indiana...blah blah blah :p (I hope he didn't move so that works.)

If I hadn't designed so many--let's call them user experiences instead of user interfaces, I wouldn't worry so much about it.

Linux offers what DOS did--twenteen user experiences and I would consider most of them bad, although some of them get to be really bad. I cut my teeth on text terminals and command lines. I edited COBOL code on scrolling text terminals. That almost makes me sound like a math geek but I was never any good at scientific maths.

Remember that the general public didn't want computers with DOS. It wasn't until Win3.1 that the public was interested at all and it took Win95 for strong adoption.

Unified appearance and consistent behaviour mean more than anything else. Apple knew this at one time but they have a memory block right now. Linus can't see beyond his nose.
 

Evangelion

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bousozoku said:
This makes me wonder if desktop Linux will ever be more than a hopeful thought.
Since it's being used on the desktop as we speak, I fail to see what makes it a "hopeful thought".

I have been using Linux since.... 1998 - 1999 about. And I actually started using it on the desktop, only later I tried it on servers. And the progress it has made during this time is phenomenal. It truly has been. How has things changed in that time? Here are some of my observations (and, as it happens, just about each of these points have been commented over the years by saying something like "until Linux does this, it wont succeed in the desktop". One by one, all issues have been fixed):

- When I started using Linux, the appearance of GUI's were somewhere between Win3.11 and Win95 (remember, this was in 98-99). Today, they look gorgerous. Windows XP? Pffft! OS X? OS X looks very, very good with lots of nifty GUI-effects. But Linux doesn't have to feel embarrassed next to it. Both OS X and Linux blow Windows out of the water, as far as GUI is concerned.

- Related to the above point: fonts. Back then fonts on Linux sucked, and they sucked hard. Last week I booted in to my KDE-installation after prolonged use of OS X. The first thing I noticed was how fabulous the fonts look! Yes, on my machine at least, fonts on Linux look better than fonts on OS X!

- Installation of apps. When I started using Linux, installation of apps was a pain in the ass. If I wanted to install something, I had to install bunch of packages, and I had to do it in the correct order. And all that was done manually in the command line. Today? I install apps with few mouse-clicks. It honestly couldn't be easier.

- Installation of the OS. Dead-simple. Few mouse-clicks, and you can have fully-functional system in 30 minutes.

- Configuring the GUI/X. Back then, this was a nightmare. Hell, if you really screwed up, you could actually damage your monitor. Today, this just works. You can have X up & running with minimium of fuzz, with 3D-acceleration and all.

- Device-support. Back then, it took a lot of work to get devices working. While the device might be installed during the installation of the OS, it was difficult to add devices later-on. Today? Plug it in, and it propably works.

If there's something to be said about Linux-community, is that they are do-ers, not whiners. Over the years I have seen people complain about shortcomings in Linux. And, after a short while, those shortcomings are fixed. No fuzz, no press-releases, things just get fixed.

Is Linux perfect? Nope. Not even close. But neither is OS X or Windows. But I have seen Linux improve and grow so fast, that sometimes I feel like a kid in a candy-store. I have all this great software at my disposal, and it's free. And it just keeps on getting better and better.

And before you reach for your keyboard: I see OS X and Linux co-existing just fine. In fact, they co-exist on my desktop with zero issues :).
 

devman

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What in any way qualifies Torvalds as a user interface/usability expert.

Geez, I know that "everyone knows everything about everything" is faddish these days, but there's still a place for specialization of roles.

I'll take my usability advice from someone other than a kernel developer thanks.
 

Evangelion

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devman said:
What in any way qualifies Torvalds as a user interface/usability expert.
Do you need to be an UI-expert in order to criticize some GUI? Do you need to be a movie-director in order to comment on movies? Do you need to be a musician in order to say "Britney Spears sucks"?

I'll take my usability advice from someone other than a kernel developer thanks.
Like it or not, users can comment on things. And besides being a kernel-developers, Linus is also a GUI-user. And just as someone else can say "I don't like this thing here", so can Linus.
 

MisterMe

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Evangelion said:
....

Like it or not, users can comment on things. And besides being a kernel-developers, Linus is also a GUI-user. And just as someone else can say "I don't like this thing here", so can Linus.
Yes, but Joe User doesn't get coverage for his comments as a user. If Linus made it clear that he was just a GUI-user with no particular expertise in the design or GUIs, would he still get this kind of attention? Should he?
 

Josh

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Linus said:
If this was a one-off, I'd buy it. But I've heard it too damn many times.
And only ever from Gnome.
For some reason, that cracked me up.

I agree w/ him though. If Gnome is constantly dumbed down, it will become less and less powerful, and will essentially hinder the very reason people use linux in the first place.

I prefer KDE over Gnome, but find both a little too bloated as entire packages.

Fluxbox/Blackbox for me (I've even got blackbox on my Windows machine at work :))
 

Evangelion

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MisterMe said:
Yes, but Joe User doesn't get coverage for his comments as a user. If Linus made it clear that he was just a GUI-user with no particular expertise in the design or GUIs, would he still get this kind of attention? Should he?
That's 100% irrelevant. It just happens that many people are interested what Linus thinks of various subjects, espesially if they are Linux-related. It's just human-nature.

Does it matter in the end what Linus thinks of GNOME? No. And GNOME will survive just fine. But Linus'es comments have brought up an issue that has been brewing up for some time already. Many people feel that GNOME is taking the simplification too far. They have talked about it in various places, but it hasn't reached broad attention. Now that Linus speaks of it, it does get more attention. Hopefully something good comes from it.
 

Evangelion

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maestro55 said:
Today...

Apt-get :)
Synaptic rather (which does use apt-get as it's engine). Or Portage. Or Yast. Or Klik. Anyway, application-installation has become really, really easy on Linux.
 

floyde

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Linus said:
If you think your users are idiots, only idiots will
use it.
Likewise, if you think your users are geeks who have nothing better to do than configure their machines (as opposed to using them for the productive activites for which they were intended), then only geeks will use it.
Linux is great, but its creators have been systematically marginalizing it to the point where the "Linux Grandma" is simply not possible anymore. Linux has become the very exclusive club of the computer-savvy, and it doesn't seem to be steering any other way (in spite of all the recent advances in most Unix desktops).
I think it's a shame when someone like Linus (who has contributed so much) engages in such childish behavior. If the Linux community ceased all the name-calling and actually contributed with each other (and thus standardized), then they would certainly come up with something to compete with Microsoft and probably put an end to this lack-of-software-quality-due-to-lack-of-competition monopoly nightmare in which we live in. But hey, why have something useful when we can have choice? :rolleyes: :D
 

Evangelion

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floyde said:
Likewise, if you think your users are geeks who have nothing better to do than configure their machines (as opposed to using them for the productive activites for which they were intended), then only geeks will use it.
There are lots of Linux-distros where that is not required. (K)Ubuntu and SUSE comes to mind. An extreme example of that would be Knoppix where you just put CD in the CD-drive, boot the machine and use it. Of course you CAN configure everything, but if you don't want to do it, then don't do it.

Linux is great, but its creators have been systematically marginalizing it to the point where the "Linux Grandma" is simply not possible anymore. Linux has become the very exclusive club of the computer-savvy, and it doesn't seem to be steering any other way (in spite of all the recent advances in most Unix desktops).
Uh, not quite. There are lots of uber-easy stuff out there that uses Linux. The thing just is that many times the person using the system doesn't even know he's using Linux.

An example: I was just today reading a review of Sony Vaio VGN-TX1XP laptop. This laptop has a multimedia-subsystem where the user can watch movies and listen to music without actually using the computer at all. The multimedia subsystem runs on Linux. But the person using it doesn't necessarily even know he's using Linux.

Linux can be used, and often IS used for very easy to use devices. But you seem to think that if something uses Linux, is has to be complex and hard to use. This particular product is built on Linux. Are you saying that it's hard to use?

I think it's a shame when someone like Linus (who has contributed so much) engages in such childish behavior. If the Linux community ceased all the name-calling and actually contributed with each other (and thus standardized)
What "childish behavior"? Criticizing one particular GUI in Linux? What's so childish in that?

What is this "stanardizing" you talk about? Forcing people to use some particular system? How on earth would that work? Linux-people use and work on things that they like. You can't order them to work on something else. And there IS lots of relevant standardizing going on. They are standardizing on file-formats. They are standardizing on protocols. They are standardizing on configuration. What else do you want? A standardized GUI? Sorry, not gonna happen. People who use GNOME use it because they like it. People who use KDE use it because they like it. What would you want to do? Force them to use something else instead?

Should we "standardize" on Coca-Cola and Nissans as well? I mean, surely things would be better if we standardized on just one thing? Why not standardize on Windows and PC's while we are at it? By your logic, things would be so much better then, right?

It's quite clear to me that you don't know how these things work. You can't force people to do something they do not want to do. And since Linux offers the the freedom to choose from several alternatives, they take advantage of that alternative. And there's no taking away that freedom.

But hey, why have something useful when we can have choice? :rolleyes: :D
Are you saying that Linux-software is not useful? I find my KDE-desktop to be very useful indeed (in fact, I started to use it more, after I noticed that mail.app on OS X didn't do the things I wanted it to do. So OS X was not useful for me there). Are you saying that if we only had one piece of software to choose from, things would be better? Notice how well that has worked for Microsoft and IE for example.

In short: you are seriosuly advocating the removal of choice? I guess that would be batural way of thinking for Mac-users, where everything is decided by one authority (Apple). Linux doesn't work that way. If you dislike the Linux-way (where people can use whatever they want to use), then go ahead and use something else. I respect your freedom of choice, even if that means that you do not choose Linux.