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Cobind Desktop Reviewed, With Interview 151

Posted by timothy
from the low-barriers-to-entry dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Cobind Desktop takes a remarkable turn from other Linux distributions by being one of the first to include Mozilla Firefox 0.8 and Mozilla Thunderbird in their first release. Though Cobind Desktop only uses XFce and not the more popular KDE, its entire design is based on a clutter-free workspace. Flexbeta.net took the time to write up a review and conduct an interview with David Watson, Co-Founder and President of Cobind Desktop. He mentions how the entire design concept of Cobind Desktop is based on a book called the Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz, who is a professor at Swarthmore. David Watson believes that this concept can be applied to software design, and produce more usable products as a result." (We mentioned Schwartz's book earlier today.)
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Cobind Desktop Reviewed, With Interview

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    A third article on Paradox of Choice, and this is officially Google/Paradox of Choice Day on Slashdot. Perhaps an article on BOTH Google and Paradox of Choice would be a good one.
  • To many choices make it harder to choose. So, introduce another choice.
    • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:03PM (#8709731)
      No, he's doing the right thing... I dunno if I completely agree with his choice of packages, but it does mesh well with the aims of a basic but complete package. With a little polish applied to the installation, I'd imagine it would work just fine for a lot of people, and they wouldn't have to fret over which word processor they want to use today.

      Fedora and Mandrake et al couldn't get away with dropping half of their packages - the user outcry would be enormous. But a new distro can. Whether many people will actually use it is something else however. Personally, I think the real solution is not rolling a new distro, but providing a reworked installer script that uses an existing distro, like say Mandrake 10. You get the clean interface and small footprint, but you also get the installation base and user support.

      • aims of a basic but complete package

        The reviewer didn't get this at all. He complained about how inconvenient it would be to have to use yum to get OO.o or, a RH disk to install a package not on the Cobind CD. Let me repeat those last three words:

        the Cobind CD

        That's one CD, folks. Uno. Eins. Distros like Cobind, Knoppix, etc. have as a design constraint that they must be able to install (or run) a functioning system from a single CD, rather than RH's 3, or SuSE's you-might-as-well-just-go-with

        • That's one CD, folks. Uno. Eins. Distros like Cobind, Knoppix, etc. have as a design constraint that they must be able to install (or run) a functioning system from a single CD, rather than RH's 3, or SuSE's you-might-as-well-just-go-with-the-DVD ensemble. The idea here is to show that you can get a fronking lot of software on just one CD, when it's written right.

          The OpenBSD installation CD for i386 is just that, one CD that includes KDE and other desktop applications as well.

  • Wonderful. Another /. headline: "Combinddesktop uses XFce rather than the more popular KDE". Yet, of course, XFce uses gtk+, the screenshots ( http://cobind.com/desktop.html ) show firebird and GNOME/gtk+ apps.
    • yes, so very helpful, i never like the wording people use when moaning that something isn't KDE.

      the reviewer could've done with learning how to use PNG instead of GIF, and possibly installed on real hardware, i get the impression(of course i may well be wrong in making the assumption) that this review was conducted through virtual machine/emulation of some sort.
  • Screenshots (Score:1, Insightful)

    by startxxx (733595)
    What's the deal with the screenshots show off, where they show you how nice is gnome, gaim, firefox and openoffice? Shouldn't they show off what they actually wrote?
  • by Drantin (569921) on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:53PM (#8709670)
    an ncurses interface *is* a GUI, it's got buttons, windows, etc. What he seems to mean is that it doesn't have gpm running during the install, nor does it use an X-window, directfb or similar program with the installer.

    a non-gui interface would be one in which you use a command line and have to type all the arguements and paths there...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2004 @08:54PM (#8709672)
    Cobind Desktop takes a remarkable turn from other Linux distributions by being one of the first to include Mozilla Firefox 0.8 and Mozilla Thunderbird in their first release.

    How is that remarkable? I'm sure if Firefox and Thunderbird were around when Slackware or Debian 1.0 were created they would have included them.

    He mentions how the entire design concept of Cobind Desktop is based on a book called the Paradox of Choice

    So this distro set's itself apart by including less packages, then allowing users to download any more that they want.

    As far as i can tell from reading the article, it's based on fedora, but has less packages, and a few more bugs. It fits on one cd, and doesn't ask you to select packages.

    I really don't see a niche for this distro. It seems like the bastard child of a Live CD and a full distro, not really doing either well.
    • As much as I hate responding to an AC, I have to agree with you. My first thought was "great, just what the OSS community needs, ANOTHER Linux startup". Seriously, call me a cynic but I can't see how this can possibly help an already fragmented community. It seems to me like this is just some people who wanted to start a consulting business so they make thier own distro and get a /. story about it. Instant publicity. If they REALLY wanted to help the community they would put thier skills to good use helping
      • having looked at the article, I don't know where this distro fits in:

        its not as whiz-bang good as Xandros/Mandrake/etc.
        it isn't as easy to install as lindows.
        it isn't as customizeable as gentoo/debian/etc.
        Lacks the choices of packages/desktops/etc of all of the above.

        Maybe it has perfect printer/sound/video support out of the box? That would, at least, be something.

        Personally, I think that so many distros is cool, but guys, try to at least come up with a cool name/theme for your distro. I bet most peop
      • Did you see that PayPal donate button on thier site? Does anyone else have a problem with that? Hey, I made my own customized Knoppix CD, maybe I should put a donation button on my homepage.

        Well there's nothing stopping you. Why are you complaining about this? If you don't like Distro X, don't run Distro X. If you don't like (Gnome || KDE || XFCE || Window Manger X) don't run it. And if you don't think the guy deserves money for this distro then don't give it to him.

        If they REALLY wanted to help the
      • Well I don't know if Cobind really adds anything, but there is a real need for a distro that takes responsibility for the user experience and delivers a seamless, resilient, newbie-friendly product. It will take substantial effort, and it wont' appeal to either Unix geeks or Windows power users. Cobind is at least on the trail, with only one of each program.

        I'm disgusted with the total lack of integration in most existing distros. For example, Red Hat's package of lynx tries to use xli to view images, b
        • Open source development is different then proprietary. Bitching about QA does not apply.

          Users and developers do this typically. Most distro's have teams, like a dedicated security team.

          The testers are also important: If I find a problem with lynx (as you describe, a missing dependency) I just file it at bugs.debian.org. I run Experimental (not QA'd version of the distro), so it can be fixed before it is moved to Stable (via Testing).

          There are a LOT of possible dependencies in a full blown distro, I do no
          • I didn't manage to communicate. No, we're not doing fine. And no, I don't report bugs like that. Experience has shown me that my report will be ignored or belittled. I really don't have time to qa my distro. I was happy to pay Red Hat for a relatively polished distro, until they decided they don't want me as a customer anymore. I would have paid twice as much for a more polished distro, but they didn't offer that - they offered overpriced "enterprise support."

            You say that nothing that large is polish
    • So this distro set's itself apart by including less packages, then allowing users to download any more that they want.

      Excellent idea! I've seen more than a few newbies frustrated by the myriad choices that SuSE (as just one example) threw at them. If you can't fit the full distro with packages on a single CD, you're doing something wrong.
  • by Ridgelift (228977) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:03PM (#8709736)
    This 0.1 version of the Cobind Desktop is an alpha release. That means that it has only been tested on a limited number of different hardware platforms and peripherals.

    It seems there's a lot of "news" lately around software that's alpha and even pre-alpha. Maybe folks should remember that Linus never pushed Linux, it grew as small, incremental improvements were made.

    It's easy to make a lot of noise about software you're going to write. It's a lot harder to be quiet and write software that will someday make a lot of noise.
    • It's easy to make a lot of noise about software you're going to write. It's a lot harder to be quiet and write software that will someday make a lot of noise.

      That's right... It would come out worse if the users caught the fanfare but later be disappointed for the lack of features / stability / what have you... IMHO, it's harder to regain someone's trust than to obtain it in the first place.

    • I am pleased to announce the release of Womble Linux 0.001a.

      At the moment its still just Mandrake with a few extra unstable packages, but it will be revolutionary: just you wait and see. Oh yes.

      Exclusively available from:

      That pub that used to be opposite my school
      Southside
      Wimbledon Common
      London SW19
  • by melted (227442) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:04PM (#8709739) Homepage
    Who is this guy and why does he capitalize these words? Can I become President and Founder, too, just because I know how to recompile linux kernel and install KDE on top of it?
  • Funny that... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Funny that I'm a member of the Western-Pennsylvania Linux Users Group [wplug.org] (which serves Pittsburgh, PA... the home town of this distro), and this is the first I've heard of it.

    Too bad they haven't been involved in the local *nix community so far as I can tell.
  • XFCE vs. KDE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hak1du (761835) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:08PM (#8709763) Journal
    Though Cobind Desktop only uses XFce and not the more popular KDE, it's entire design is based on a clutter free workspace.

    That should be:

    Because Cobind Desktop only uses XFce and not the more popular KDE, it's entire design is based on a clutter free workspace.


    Among the different desktops, KDE has to be the most cluttered ("featureful"), by design and by choice. Some people like that, I suppose, but XFCE is a reaction against that kind of approach to building desktop environments.
    • by 7-Vodka (195504)
      Features?
      We ain't got no features.
      We don't need no features!
      We don't need to show you no stinkin features!!

      Tell ya what man. Why don't you do a console log in, then type "XFree86". Biiiingo :)

      • Tell ya what man. Why don't you do a console log in, then type "XFree86". Biiiingo :)

        Actually, I usually log in on the console and then type "xinit". And that usually brings up either icewm or xfce, both of which are excellent and responsive desktop environments.
    • Re:XFCE vs. KDE (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Brandybuck (704397)
      I haven't used XFCE, but last time I looked at it, it was a CDE clone. To me that says "clutter". A busy control panel and icons that minimize to the desktop is visual clutter.

      Hopefully they haven't cloned too many of CDE's mistakes...
      • I haven't used XFCE, but last time I looked at it, it was a CDE clone. To me that says "clutter". A busy control panel and icons that minimize to the desktop is visual clutter.

        Hopefully they haven't cloned too many of CDE's mistakes...

        Just give it a try. It's a nice desktop that works well on older hardware, like my PII laptop. However, the panel and taskbar is not integrated, which is a shame since I'm wasting some screen real estate.....

      • I haven't used XFCE, but last time I looked at it, it was a CDE clone. To me that says "clutter". A busy control panel and icons that minimize to the desktop is visual clutter.

        It looks a little like CDE, but it behaves differently. Minimization to the desktop can be turned off. You can also turn off either or both of the launcher and/or the task list and use menus. Whatever it is, it is much less clutered and complex than KDE.
        • It's good to know XFCE isn't copying the braindead CDE mistake for mistake :-)

          But as it still being less cluttered than KDE, I guess it depends on what your definition of "cluttered" is. Using the screenshot of a default XFCE desktop as a comparison, the clutter is about the same. KDE does add two icons to the desktop on a default install (home, trash). In terms of panels, both KDE's and XFCE's default panels contain thirteen elements, including handles.

          So I guess you're saying, in essence, that because o
          • So I guess you're saying, in essence, that because of those two additional icons in KDE, XFCE is "much less clutered".

            No, that's not what I'm saying. To me, KDE is "cluttered" in many ways; here are some examples:
            • "Did you know..." dialog boxes at startup.
            • Tray icons and lots of tray icon functionality.
            • Deeply nested menus with applications I neither know nor care about.
            • Lots of extra processes that get started up when KDE starts up.
            • Complicated configuration dialogs.
            • Yet another help system.

            Bas

            • I see where you coming from now. I think it's a difference of perspective though. Some things I agree with you on, while others I would defend to keep.

              "Did you know..." dialog boxes at startup.

              I also hate the tips of the day. While some people like this, I find it annoying and I turn it off. But KDE is hardly alone in this regard. The grandaddy of all GTK+ applications, Gimp, has them as well.

              Tray icons and lots of tray icon functionality.

              I run kbiff as a mail notifier. Having it in the systray is m
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Don't you mean kluttered?
  • from the USA today piece, the thing that strikes me is that there's all these choices but none of them mean much - with 80 different pain killers, at some point it becomes about packaging.

    which means that some of us spend a lot of time figuring out what is meaningful difference and what isn't.

    why does this make me think of the 2 party system?

    • The 2-party system isn't really written into the U.S. Constitution -- I guess it is something that has evolved over the years. The 2-party system seems limiting in choice (hence the Green Party, the Libertarians, and others who complain about the two main parties), but it has some merits when you consider the alternatives.

      One alternative is a one-party system -- we all learned in school in the U.S. on how terrible the Soviet system was that they had only one party, and I grew up in Chicago, which with ma

      • You dismiss the multi party system quite fast, just by giving a small, very particular example.

        Most european countries have multiple parties, even if when democracy arrived in 19th century there was only 1 or 2, a few new ones arrived later and now, coalitions are in place for a long time. That doesn't bring any trouble, even religious-based parties are starting to lose their religious characters.

        Like the manager saying : "1 solution means dictating, 2 solution means alternative, 3 or more solutions means
        • Many european countries may have multi-party systems, but you can walk down the list of these states and in every country there are two major parties and a small collection of minor groups whose sole hope is to gain influence by choosing to support a major party at the right time.

          In each case the parties generally break down into "right" or "left" with the minor parties heding off to the extremes. This situation becomes more entrenched as the population of a country gets larger, the only European countries
          • on your first paragraph :

            - Left and right division is dying. Netcraft confirmed it. ;)

            - 2 parties and small collection. Well, actually, for BE and CH, that's 4(+1) parties and a small collection. Much more than 2.

            second paragrpah,
            - 3rd party wielding power : this was the case for the green party in BE (small), FR, DE (big)

            - small is beautifull (disclaimer : I'm belgian)

            Anyway, when I first voted, I definetely had the choice and was able to make a "useful" vote for the party that I feel represented myse
        • by dago (25724)
          Is it possible to metamoderate the moderation on (my) parent as redundant ?
      • That was well written, but it gave me a thought. Have we become so desensitized that exposing "gross wrongdoing" no longer matters? If Nixon were president today, would anyone really care about Watergate?

        Clinton lied, and it was not the innocent action his supporters portray. He was willing for Monica Lewinsky to go through life branded as a liar who made up her affair with the president, and he lied to cover up a record of harrassment. It's becoming pretty clear that Bush lied about the weapons of mas

  • Cobind Desktop takes a remarkable turn from other Linux distributions by being one of the first to include Mozilla Firefox 0.8 and Mozilla Thunderbird in their first release.
    ...other distro leaders and organizers complained "Well, we couldn't exactly include them in our first release because they wern't out yet!" to which the Slashdot community replied "Excuses, excuses."

    (This has been a Daily Show moment with your buddy, Tokerat)
  • uh Vector linux has been out much longer than this and its had Firebird AND its minimalist. Just cause the guys who made the distro didnt mention that damn book they dont get on the main ./ page. How moronic
  • by danharan (714822) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:20PM (#8710216) Journal
    ...you have one more choice: a distro with less choices.

    And you wonder why sticking with XP for now seems like a sensible solution?
  • I'd never really seen it before trying out the freesbie freebsd livecd. XFce combined with rox-filer for the desktop icons is a pretty slick combination.
  • by newdamage (753043) on Monday March 29, 2004 @11:12PM (#8710532) Homepage Journal
    Let's see, a simple distribution that takes the most popular software and gives you that as a single choice. So instead of having Mozilla, Galeon, Konqueror, and such that I don't use, I have Firefox waiting for me. Same goes for Thunderbird.

    Getting rid of the bloat of Gnome and KDE in favor of XFce4 ...this is bad how? XFc3 + gDesklets makes for a very nice desktop.

    So let's review here:
    1 CD? check.
    Basic software package? check.
    Use yum to add whatever else I need? check.

    Once Cobind gets a few more version updates under it's belt, I see it being very popular to those of us that prefer simplicity to the 4 CD monstrousity that is Fedora Core.

    • Agreed. I might not run this on my desktop, but I'll for sure run it on my spare Celeron 333 with 8Mbs of video memory. Fast usability being the name of the game.

      I'm running XFCE4 on it now, and coupled with Menu Maker, it's already a DRASTIC improvement over the lack of usability I was getting out of Gnome or KDE on FC1.

      It might not fill a LOT of niches, but on that machine, it's perfect. I don't want to have to suffer with a source-based distro like Gentoo when I just really don't need the bloat of y
  • media player (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rutulian (171771) on Monday March 29, 2004 @11:27PM (#8710623)
    Yes, multimedia is certainly something we'd like the desktop to do well. However, it's not realistic to expect comprehensive multimedia support from a Linux desktop today with open source software. It's a very difficult and costly problem to solve comprehensively. There are some positive signs, such as helix community, but you don't really have a single piece of software that does it all as well as the Windows variants.

    Ummm...I'm not sure how to respond to this. How about mplayer? That has to be the best movie player I have ever used. And didn't it receive some sort of award [mplayerhq.hu] recently? Or how about Xine?

    Let's see...what else? The GStreamer framework is coming along nicely and will probably mature before the end of the year. There are [xmms.org] several [sourceforge.net] audio [nongnu.org] players [rhythmbox.org] available, some more usable than others, though. There are also more specialized programs like the Bedevilled Audio System. [gtk.org] So I would hardly say linux is deficient in multimedia software.
  • On the one hand this doesn't sound like anything a seasoned linux user couldn't do for her/himself for free. I run icewm, some of what I think are the best apps, and only one app per function ( okay, I have 3 editors installed....but this is *linux* ). However for people who want to support OSS, try an alternative, don't have a lot of time for system futzing around, don't have a lot of tech knowledge, and don't like bloat this could be a nice solution. I see a similar niche for people who want to recycle

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