Make. It. Simple. Linux Desktop Usability 


dbdjre0143

macrumors 6502
Nov 11, 2017
292
313
West Virginia
You can make any Linux UI look however you want.
Honestly, I think that is what is offputting to most. The huge amount of choice is (in part) what makes Linux great, and what makes it intimidating for many. The fact that Windows and OSX have one standard interface per version, and that the interface (generally) changes incrementally, makes it easy for an average user to learn once and keep using. We only have to look at the example of Windows 8 to see that people don't like a drastic change from what they are used to.

With Linux, learning one desktop environment does not necessarily mean that you'll be proficient with another. Its great for we geeks that there is so much customization available, but the lack of a true "standard" is bad for the proliferation of the platform.
 
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timidpimpin

macrumors 6502
Nov 10, 2018
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Cascadia
Honestly, I think that is what is offputting to most. The huge amount of choice is (in part) what makes Linux great, and what makes it intimidating for many. The fact that Windows and OSX have one standard interface per version, and that the interface (generally) changes incrementally, makes it easy for an average user to learn once and keep using. We only have to look at the example of Windows 8 to see that people don't like a drastic change from what they are used to.

With Linux, learning one desktop environment does not necessarily mean that you'll be proficient with another. Its great for we geeks that there is so much customization available, but the lack of a true "standard" is bad for the proliferation of the platform.
All Linux run from the same kernel, and simply changing the look won't change how it behaves.

If people want a Mac OS-like experience out of the box (with Linux) then they should try Elementary OS, but I don't think it supports PowerPC.
 
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Traace

macrumors regular
Jul 21, 2018
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Germany

Linux was a great OS. I say it "was" because in my opinion they lost track about their old goals / philosophy. Its getting slower and slower now. kernel version 4.8 had 22000000 lines of code at 4.13 we reached 24500000 already..

More code to run, means less free cpu cycles while more memory usage.
 

dbdjre0143

macrumors 6502
Nov 11, 2017
292
313
West Virginia
All Linux run from the same kernel, and simply changing the look won't change how it behaves.
I understand that, but it does change how one interacts with it, and that is just as important for the average user.

In addition to that, the user needs to know how to handle package management for their distro. They need to know whether to download a .deb, .rpm, etc. Just because they know to use Aptitude on a Debian derivative doesn't mean they know how to install the program they want on a Fedora/Red Hat based distro.

Yes, the kernel is the same, but the way you actually use the operating system is different by default among distributions, and the option of changing the desktop environment on any given distro adds another level of "difference" to the average person who just wants to use their computer to get something done.
 

amagichnich

macrumors 6502
Feb 3, 2017
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Stuttgart, Germany
All Linux run from the same kernel, and simply changing the look won't change how it behaves.
I couldn't disagree more! What happens on a PC after POST? You see logo/loading screen of the disto. Next comes the login screen: At least 3 different programs are used for that in the common distros and they all behave a little different and look different. You type in your password, you enter your desktop environment. GNOME, KDE, Unity, MATE, Cinnamon, Pantheon, Xfce, Lxde... shall I continue? They all look completely different, behave completely different, come with different standard apps. Speaking of apps - DPKG, RPM, Pacman, YaST - apt, synaptic, dnf, yum. Shall i continue? NOTHING is the same! How much do you actually "see" from the kernel?

Now have a look at Mac OS X or Windows: Every iteration of Mac OS X from 2001 to 2018 is entifiably Mac OS X. Menubar (black font on white/gray background), Dock on the bottom, never changing Apple logo in the upper left, traffic lights on the upper left of every window. Same applies to Windows. Yes, every UI element got bigger, transparency was added, stupid decisions where made to make the taskbar look more like the OS X dock, but in the end it still Windows, because it always workedthe same.

And now turn back to Linux. Take Ubuntu for example. 8.10 was solid, stable and ugly. In short: "Linux". 9.10 looked better, 10.04 changed the look completely, 10.10 changed functionality, then GNOME went and Unity came, banshee and rhytmbox came and went, Amazon dock icon came, the dash was rebuild and looked even worse but worked better, Unity and Mir went and GNOME came back, then wayland came, standard apps changed every now and then. Menubar in the window, global menu bar, hidden global menu bar, hamburger button. Add Software, Ubuntu Store, Gnome Software. Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Gobuntu, MythBuntu, Ubuntu Mate. And that was just Ubuntu! That was only the very same distro in many iterations!
Now do tell me: What has NOT changed in the eye of a not technically adept user?
 

timidpimpin

macrumors 6502
Nov 10, 2018
460
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Cascadia
I couldn't disagree more! What happens on a PC after POST? You see logo/loading screen of the disto. Next comes the login screen: At least 3 different programs are used for that in the common distros and they all behave a little different and look different. You type in your password, you enter your desktop environment. GNOME, KDE, Unity, MATE, Cinnamon, Pantheon, Xfce, Lxde... shall I continue? They all look completely different, behave completely different, come with different standard apps. Speaking of apps - DPKG, RPM, Pacman, YaST - apt, synaptic, dnf, yum. Shall i continue? NOTHING is the same! How much do you actually "see" from the kernel?

Now have a look at Mac OS X or Windows: Every iteration of Mac OS X from 2001 to 2018 is entifiably Mac OS X. Menubar (black font on white/gray background), Dock on the bottom, never changing Apple logo in the upper left, traffic lights on the upper left of every window. Same applies to Windows. Yes, every UI element got bigger, transparency was added, stupid decisions where made to make the taskbar look more like the OS X dock, but in the end it still Windows, because it always workedthe same.

And now turn back to Linux. Take Ubuntu for example. 8.10 was solid, stable and ugly. In short: "Linux". 9.10 looked better, 10.04 changed the look completely, 10.10 changed functionality, then GNOME went and Unity came, banshee and rhytmbox came and went, Amazon dock icon came, the dash was rebuild and looked even worse but worked better, Unity and Mir went and GNOME came back, then wayland came, standard apps changed every now and then. Menubar in the window, global menu bar, hidden global menu bar, hamburger button. Add Software, Ubuntu Store, Gnome Software. Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Gobuntu, MythBuntu, Ubuntu Mate. And that was just Ubuntu! That was only the very same distro in many iterations!
Now do tell me: What has NOT changed in the eye of a not technically adept user?
You misunderstand me. I was only talking about the kernel and UI. An example... if you change the look of GNOME it's still GNOME, and will still behave like it. That's what I mean.
 

mzs.112000

macrumors 6502
Apr 22, 2015
254
119
Linux desktop usability? You can very easily make KDE Plasma(A Linux DE), look and function just like a Mac. If that's not usability, I don't know what is....
 

timidpimpin

macrumors 6502
Nov 10, 2018
460
345
Cascadia
I think the main thing that intimidates most people that are newer to Linux is just how much selection there is for literally everything. Selection in both software as well as far more ways to get things done. It's something Mac and Windows people are simply not used to.

It sure overwhelmed me at first. I run Mint Debian edition on a PC box these days. Some customizations to the GUI's look, but I mostly like MATE as-is.
 
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wicknix

macrumors 6502a
Jun 4, 2017
514
975
Wisconsin, USA
While i agree that there shouldn't be 20 some different package types and package managers, i love the plethora of window managers and desktop environments. I have the freedom to be as minimal or as robust as i want. For instance, my old 2008 macbook is maxed out at 10.7 (or 10.8 with MLPF), so i gave it new life with ubuntu. It is a 2.4ghz machine with 2gb ram which is more than capable of not being stuck on 10.7 in my opinion. Anyway, to the average person walking by, they'd never notice i wasn't running macosx on my macbook.

Cheers

macbook-mate.png
 

556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
1,604
903
I've never liked Linux. The mess that is the modern desktop environment (especially on top of systemd) is what finally killed it for me. Just give me cwm on OpenBSD. Not much is simpler than that.
 

Argyboy

macrumors member
Feb 26, 2017
85
40
Dublin, Ireland
While i agree that there shouldn't be 20 some different package types and package managers, i love the plethora of window managers and desktop environments. I have the freedom to be as minimal or as robust as i want. For instance, my old 2008 macbook is maxed out at 10.7 (or 10.8 with MLPF), so i gave it new life with ubuntu. It is a 2.4ghz machine with 2gb ram which is more than capable of not being stuck on 10.7 in my opinion. Anyway, to the average person walking by, they'd never notice i wasn't running macosx on my macbook.

Cheers

View attachment 807714
Really like that Macbuntu theme and what you've done with the Conky (I assume) sidebar there. Have gone away from Linux a bit lately but I have a Mac Pro 2,1 stuck on El Capitan. Might throw a Linux distro on there and see how it goes!
 
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amagichnich

macrumors 6502
Feb 3, 2017
465
272
Stuttgart, Germany
You misunderstand me. I was only talking about the kernel and UI. An example... if you change the look of GNOME it's still GNOME, and will still behave like it. That's what I mean.
That is where I think you are wrong. You are talking about the kernel, nothing more. Take GNOME 2.xx or it's successor MATE: Take the bottom bar, remove the window panel, add launcher icons and add an icon only minimized windows panel. Then make the bar 30-50 pixels. Make the max min close buttons on the opposite site. Most of the people will not recognize it as GNOME 2.
Or for example add a bottom bar to gnome 3 and add min max buttons and you get a very different behavior and therefore a different usability and "different Linux"