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New Desktop for Linux 438

naasking writes, "A new desktop project has been started by former Apple and AOL employees. Their goal is to create a graphical environment for Linux that "your mother could use." The company doing it is called Eazel. " It also is supposed to be based on GNOME. CT: Several people noted that this shell is destined to be the GNOME 2.0 shell/file manager.
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New Desktop for Linux

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is the one area where that Linux really needs help. I have long argued that Linux was a horrible desktop product because of its lack of standards for the user interface. Of course, any time you say anything negative about Linux, the wackos moderate you down. Linux has shown itself to be strong in the serving area against all comers and goers but serving does not require a human interface, only a geek one.

    Apple's 10 year-old MacOS 6 is far more thoughtful to the needs of the basic computer user than the current desktops provided by GNOME and KDE. Mainly because these are products made by geeks for geeks -- your Grandma need not apply.

    Once a real human interface is developed for X, Linux can really break open the holy grail of the home & business desktop. Until then, Linux will be left to the domain of the geek and file serving. Kudoos to eazel!

  • Right you are--I didn't mean to imply that E was part of GNOME, just that E and GNOME may not be the most optimal combination if you're looking for speed. I should have written "...if you're using E..."

    FWIW, I'm not slamming Enlightenment--E is what gets folks drooling over my Linux desktop, so I fully intend to maintain my E configuration and keep installing the latest cool E themes and stuff. When I set up my new laptop I'll probably use the same configuration so when I'm out and about I can grab folks' interest with E, then show them how flexible the "Linux GUI" (the term I use for their benefit since they usually assume that every OS has an integrated GUI) can be by switching to sawmill, WM, etc.

  • I hate to say this, but for *good* quality printing from *nix, I've found the available answers to be 'buy a postscript printer', 'buy a postscript printer', and 'buy a postscript printer'. Unfortunately it's quite hard to justify the cost of a Color Laserjet 4500 or other "low-end" colour laser printers.

    I'd be extremely happy if somebody could tell me how wrong I am.
  • Eep.

    Thanks for that.

    Guess they're sending a hit out for "Wakko Warner" now... :(

    I should have called my account "Steve Balmer".

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • At no point in my original post do I mention any operating systems other than Windows and MacOS. I thought it was readily apparent that Linux's GUI, or lack thereof, wasn't an issue.

    Apparently, to most, it wasn't.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Yes qt 2.0 is supposed to be more open source-ish, but I think that a commercial entity would still have to have some license to sell there product.

    Not to be pedantic, but this is inaccurate.

    They would only need to get the pay license if they want to distribute without source. If/how much they charge, and whether or not they are a "commercial" organization doesn't enter into it.

    It's arguable that QPL is like GPL in this respect, and less like LGPL.

    New XFMail home page []

  • My mom and my grandmother can both read. Both have not problem playing solitary, and they can write down all the nessicay steps to do so. THey could log into a cli, startx, move to the xterm and type xsol -preferences sol.pref -conf sol.conf -other stragne_option. If that is really what it takes. Yeah they'd hate it and wouldn't understand, but they can do this. They can even write down how to log out after words and do it.

    My uncle has 4 kid, the oldest is 6. I setup microsoft networking so he can print on his new computer (via some old 10base2 network that I discarded) to the old 486 that still runs quicken just fine but won't do the games that the kids play. The kids however cannot figgure out how to get past that log in screen. I had to disable that. He is better off using sneaker net (which he can figgure out via written insctructions) so that the kids can play their games.

    The kids can turn the comptuer on, and they can use the mouse to double click the game application on the desktop. Chaninging a CDROM is byond their abilites. (The oldest can do that, but the 3 year old would scratch the cd if they left them in her reach, and yes the three year old plays games on the computer)

    I've heard that KDM is a login that kids have a chance to use, if there is no password on the games account. (I can prevent the games account from loging in via anything but local connection if security is a concern) Can kids use the rest of the system? I've not tried to set my system up that way so I can't make more comments in this area.

    PS, why are their so few kids games for unix? We could use a few decerate the treehouse things that I see the kids enjoying now.

  • In fact, I'd not care if my {insert-non-educated-relative-definition} could use Linux. There's always some windows/AOL for it. What I care for if *I* can use it and if it's convenient for me. GUI firewall configuration is more convenient that ipchains -L/ipchains -A repeated, so I take it. GUI email clients aren't good with me, so I still use pine. That's what I want from Linux - to be me-oriented, not some imaginary super-dumb user-oriented.
  • Because you don't know to use/find right themes. Go and self-educate. BTW, I don't really like that theme - too artistic for everyday work.
    And bringing Mac theme to GNOME is work of few days or even hours. How much it would take to bring GNOME theme on Mac?
  • Never heard that linuxconf ever required me not to touch config files. I touch them all the time and linuxconf seems to cope with it nicely.
  • Maybe it's a secret project like Transmeta...

    Quite seriously, if it's to be useful, it should hardly be characterized as "Just A File Manager."


    • By characterizing what they're working on (whether there's a bit of inaccuracy or not) as a "desktop," this implies that it's intended to become a pretty all-encompassing interface.
    • When it starts getting "smart" enough that applications can get embedded into it, it's no longer as much a "file manager" as it is a document manager.

      And that is where it starts to get interesting.

    The thing about Linux, as it is today, that is kind of scary to people that need to think of computers as "appliances," is that it doesn't have a unified way of treating things as "documents."

    A "document manager" that lets you make sure that stuff doesn't get lost due to it falling into a directory that you didn't know you needed to look at is going to be the killer app of the next decade.

    I agree that Explorer is quite horrifying; I look at it as the "machine gun" of computing.

    People tend to be horrified at this analogy, but its ability to accidentally destroy files quite analagous to the notion of walking around the office carrying an M-60 with finger on trigger. You slip up a bit, and "Oops! I accidentally shot up 15 cubicles and killed 8 coworkers."

    If these guys can do some good HCI work, perhaps taking some of the better concepts from OS/2 and NeXTstep, and actually create a usable and powerful "document manager," this seems to me to be quite a worthy task.

  • You should be able to do that now with the misc binaries support...


  • Both of them do focus mainly on Linux. They do run on other operating systems (the sysadmins in the CS labs here at RIT recently installed KDE on the Solaris boxen) but Linux is still the OS they're most concerned about.
  • What i would like to see (note that I am not a big unix guy - this may already be possible) is a file manager in which 'rules' can be set up for how the content displays in the window for various directories, file types and files.

    (naturally they'd be overridable)

    For a similar thing, consider how readme files appear when ftping to particular directories.

    Various components could exist for html display (a linked library, i'd guess) or flash, or generic ls data, or whatnot. This helps preserve the unix philosophy of many small tools. The rule file merely calls different components according to the info in the rule file.

    CSS would probably be useful in designing the rules - letting the rule styles generally cascade down for consistency.
  • Jakob Neilsen [] has some interesting stuff on his Web site, such as his Death of File Systems [] paper, on why he thinks that the hierarchical directory tree model isn't necessarily what you want to expose to the end user; there's also a paper by him and Don Gentner, Anti-Mac [], with thoughts on what a different-and-possibly-better user interface might look like.

  • One thing that would be good is to add kernel support for Windows binaries so that a Win32 emulator could be made.

    "Kernel support" in what sense? Supporting exec-family calls being able to run Windows binaries (which may just involve telling the kernel to fire up Wine [] on them)? Or support in the kernel as necessary to make Wine work better? Or both?

  • In X, you middle-click to paste highlighted text, or if you have a two-button mouse, press the right and left buttons at the same time.

    But what if you want to paste something other than the highlighted text? What if, for example, you highlighted some block of text, copied it to the clipboard, and then want to replace some other block of text with the copied text, by highlighting that other block of text and then pasting the copied text?

    Paste-current-selection is not, the apparent belief of some UNIX/X users nonwithstanding, the be-all and end-all of cut-and-paste in UNIX/X.

    The problem he had with the KDE editor and Netscape probably stems from Qt not pasting to the damn clipboard; if a Qt application (such as a KDE application) does a paste with a Qt call, it pastes to the primary selection, rather than the clipboard, so that applications that implement "Paste" (not "paste current selection", "Paste") as "paste clipboard" don't work with Qt applications.

    I have no idea why the folks at Troll Tech decided to do this. It has apparently, on at least two occasions, violated the principle of least surprise (the person to whom you're responding didn't get what they expected, and somebody in another Slashdot thread ages ago had a similar problem, which is what prompted me to go look at the Qt source and discover that it paid no attention to the X clipboard). GTK+, and probably at least some other toolkits (e.g., Motif, that being what the current Netscape uses), behave correctly here. I consider this an example of the sort of inconsistency the person about which the person to whom you're replying was complaining.

    (On the other hand, Quicken 2000 for Windows, for some unknown reason, doesn't use Ctrl-C/Ctrl-X/Ctrl-V for copy/cut/paste, so UNIX/X isn't the only platform with applications that sometimes don't quite match other stuff running on the platform. It's also irritating that the "OK" box in some dialogue boxes in Quicken, such as the one for Split items, doesn't seem to be activated by the key - that key just takes you to the next line, which makes some sense, but I just want to be able to enter the entire damn transaction without taking my hands off the damn keyboard.)

    Yes, using the middle button for paste-current-selection is, in many circumstances, a workaround, and often obviates the need for cut-and-paste or copy-and-paste - but I wouldn't assume that it always obviates the need for it.

  • my plea to the developrs of this system: don't fork Gnome.

    Havoc Pennington, GTK+ developer at Red Hat, said in this article []:

    Eazel is indeed working on GNOME itself, it is not a new desktop project.
  • To switch apps, you would have to walk "outside and down a virtual Main Street to find the correct building/app. yuck...

    That makes "switching apps" even more irritating than it is now. I might personally prefer an interface that exposes "apps" somewhat less - for example, if I'm editing a bit of source code, I wouldn't mind being able to put a link into it to a spec for the protocol it implements or dissects, and be able to click on that link, while editing the source code, to pop up a copy of the spec.

    I've wondered whether a document/hyperlink-based desktop metaphor might work better for my files - source files, specifications, notes to myself, Web pages on other sites, saved netnews articles, saved mail messages, etc., etc. - than the directory-based metaphor used by existing OSes/desktops. I hate having to manually search for the damn mail message/note-to-myself file/whatever that explained how to do XXX....

  • Unix design philosophy makes use of small tools linked together not large software programs doing everything at once.

    I.e., components, such as Nautilus [] and, I think, the KDE 2.0 file manager will use?

    There are other ways to link tools together than to build shell scripts, pipelines, and the like.

  • K and G are the obvious contenders now, but things can change very quickly in computers and while I wish these Eazel people luck

    You are aware (as Havoc Pennington, GTK+ developer at Red Hat, has pointed out several times in various replies to various comments) that Eazel are not doing a new desktop, they're doing the next generation of file manager for the GNOME dekstop, right?

    PS: GNOME supports loads of virtual desktops (in fact 2x2 the default, I don't know what K's default is, it's been a couple of years since I used it, I must try it again actually)

    2x2's the default in KDE, as well.

    Technically, it's a wm feature isn't it?

    The switcher is in the KDE and, I think, GNOME panel, which is a separate program from the wndow manager, so, no, it isn't necessarily a WM feature, although the WM may do some of the work, and one could conceivably run a WM that does its own virtual desktops.

    So, GNOME/KDE support but don't implement them

    As GNOME doesn't (yet?) have a default standard window manager, if some of the virtual desktop switching is done by the WM rather than by the GNOME panel, one could say that GNOME doesn't (yet?) provide all the support for virtual desktops.

    KDE, however, does have a default standard window manager, so it does implement virtual desktops.

  • In addition to the normal "update everything at once" that all GNOME users have to do, he has to go through and patch all the Linux-isms.

    Is he then sending those changes back to the GNOME folks? If not, he should (assuming he hasn't already done that without success). If so, are the GNOME folks then picking them up (assuming they don't break other platforms, say)? If not, they probably should.

    This is one of the problems right now in general, in that the skill of portable programming is fading and many (certainly not all) coders are writing for Linux not Unix.

    Is it fading, or was it not ever there as much as one might like? I.e., is this a case of programmers now writing for Linux rather than, when possible, generic UNIX, or is it a case of programmers now writing for Linux rather than writing for, say, 4.2BSD, or SunOS 4.x, or...?

    (And are they writing for Linux, or for Linux/x86? "I don't have to worry whether this pointer points to an address aligned on a 4-byte boundary, right?" If you want your code to run on all the various non-x86 Linux systems, much less non-x86 non-Linux systems, yes, you do.)

  • Because whatever standard is chosen will be the one that is easiest for complete newbies (no virtual desktops, either 2-button or, god forbid, 1 button).

    Indeed? The two biggest desktop candidates both, as far as I know:

    1. support virtual desktops (KDE definitely, GNOME almost certainly);
    2. support 3 mouse buttons (with the "standard" UNIX/X interpretations for common cases).
  • Anyway, the thing I'm most curious about is why KDE has one default standard windows manager.

    So that somebody can have KDE provide their desktop environment; the window manager provides part of the desktop environment, so KDE includes a window manager.

    Unless that particular one is the most customizable wm ever then i don't see the point.

    Why would it need to be "the most customizable wm ever"? If somebody wants a different window manager, they can choose a different one, although they may have to tweak files by hand to do so, and not all window managers will necessarily support all the KDEisms that the KDE window manager supports.

  • the last comment is the best. "[run windows bins w/o] something idiotic like vmware or wine"


    the only other choice left is wabi.

    here's a little clue. to drive a car you need to learn how do do it. you know now, right? ok, now go drive a semi. or drive a car in a different country - maybe even one where they drive on the other side. drive a forklift. drive a motorcycle.

    they all require training, and all they accomplish is moving you from point a to point b.

    think of windows as steak and potatoes. think of linux as a stew. and think of your skills as a knife and fork. yes, you can eat your linux stew with a knife and fork, but it's hard. it would be easier to just use a spoon.

    finally consider that most people on the planet have never used a computer - it's just as easy for them to get the spoon as the fork and knife. and since they generally don't have a lot of money, which os is the right price for them?
  • Not to nitpick too much, but you should compare apples to apples. Look at the competition in the System 6 era. What was it that was so much better? DOS?

    Note that System 6 can multitask. Look around for information on Multifinder. Given the constraints of the platform at the time, it worked pretty well.

    Also note that each of those limitations has been fixed/changed since System 6, which was replaced nearly 10 years ago, and had been around for quite some time before. Double-clicking on files hasn't been changed (although there is a 'single-click' mode), but I don't exactly consider that a bad thing.

    The thing is, the basic concepts of the original Mac user interface were correct, even though they were constrained in some spots. Nowadays, designers have plenty of rope with which to hang themselves. It may be the original Mac's constraints that HELPED Apple design a simple OS that worked great for the masses.

    And yes, Aqua may very well destroy all that good work. We shall see.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews ( [])
  • Flamebait.

    Please, for those of you out there, this is not the typical Mac user. At least, this Mac user doesn't want to claim any affiliation with this guy...

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews ( [])
  • According to their web page, it's going to be released under the GPL. I like Gnome (and to a lesser extent KDE). However neither appears to be made with the rigid quality control (as in ease-of-use, not stability) found in Apple products.

    So I'm really looking forward to this.

  • Andy Hertzfeld is a good prototype programmer. He wrote Switcher on a dare: how can we make the Mac pseudo-multitask without changing anything underneath?

    The problem is that it's still legacy cruft because, as you say, it's all kludge.

    They should never let the guy write production code. Around about the time of General Magic, people stopped letting him do that and the products got better (Magic Links *rocked*).

  • Speaking of Lusers, a private email from Andy Hertzfeld, in response to my post here, threatened that I was "subject to legal remedy."

    This makes it REALLY REALLY clear that Eazel Does Not Get It.

    Go ahead Andy, feel free. My address for service of process:

    Deirdre Saoirse
    2033 Sharon Road
    Menlo Park, CA 94025

  • We've all seen these before, but compare them and think, "What is Aqua doing that GNOME is not?" Nothing!

    Actually, I can see a few things:

    • Transparency in the menus and dialogs
    • Anti-Aliased text
    • Sharp-looking icons because they are vector- and not pixmap-based, and will scale to any size and still look good.
    There are many improvements that you cannot see from a screenshot, such as the cool way the buttons throb, the 3d way the dialogs slide out of their windows, and the way windows iconize by being "sucked" down, bending and distorting like a genie being pulled into a bottle.

    This is because of Quartz, a new vector-based graphics layer upon which Aqua is built.

    Read the Ars Technica article [] for more info.

  • It sounds like they're building extensions to GNOME... And it's all GPLed... GNOME people can grab whatever theyed like from it. So can KDE people. So if it makes good progress, expect to see pieces of it pop up all over the place, or even see Gnome co-opt it.

    An effort like this has needed to be started for a long time... Unfortunately it doesn't seem like enough of an idea to base a business on. Look: If it doesn't amount to anything, then no one want's it. IF it becomes the greatest thing since sliced bread, then it ends up being taken over or absorbed into Gnome, and in turn gets distributed with all the major distro's... Not much revenue for the original authors/concept people.
  • A good GUI means next to nothing until WINE is more up to the task of emulating windows... Pretty interfaces don't win desktops, plentiful, usable applications do. Witness Windows 3.1: Aweful in terface compared to Macs and OS/2... Incredibly unstable. Lots more apps. Guess who won the battle for the desktop?
  • Most people use windows because they're required to.

    Company's standardize on windows because the programs they want are available. Schools standardize on windows to help students use what they'll one day use. Homes standardize on windows because so students can stay compatible with their schools computers, parents can bring home work. That plus when they have problems, there's huge amounts more of Windows users that may be able to help them out...

    I don't think people use Linux because they're lazy... Unless laziness is not wanting to switch from what gets the job done to something they've just been hearing about for the past year...
  • A "GUI" that I would love to see for Linux would be one based on the Quake 1

    A few months back, there was a slashdot article [] about exactly this sort of thing. Well, sort of. It's here []

    I know that SGI had a similar thing for IRIX as seen in Jurassic Park

    Yeah, that was real.. And so were the dinosaurs. :) As others noted, it was a model for a tool. Much like the T-rex. I did get the warm-and-fuzzies when the 12 year old girl said: This is UNIX... I KNOW THIS!
  • It is interesting that they chose to build on top of gnome. I guess the fact that if they decide to sell there stuff and it was based on kde there could be potential qt license issues. Yes qt 2.0 is supposed to be more open source-ish, but I think that a commercial entity would still have to have some license to sell there product. GNOME does not come with that kind of baggage. GNOME is also in C (AFAIK), so I wonder if they have C++ wrappers for it. (or do they already). My guess is that someone sees holes in the GNOME UI and they want to fill them. I have noticed that there are things that linuxconf do not do, that would be nice for sys admin. I still find myself editing many of my config files. There is no FE to hdparm, and modprobe.

    I do know that Linux has come a long way in the years that I have been using it and much of what I used to have to do by hand is now automagically done (ethernet was easy as is ppp). I look forward to the coming years and seeing the progression. I think that the more companies that get involved with Linux will be good for Linux. I already see more driver for Linux and support of some kind from hardware manufactures, the next thing I'd love to see is shockwave support, yes I have flash, but I want shockwave too. It would also be nice to see stuff apearing on Linux first and windows second. I hope I hope.

    I always have to laugh when my friends using windows have problems, and my Linux box is rock solid.........

    send flames > /dev/null

  • that other desktop manager that i saw posted here last month? like the one that was going to be seen as the alternative to KDE and GNOME.

    I can't remember it too well, except that it was apparently based on the Acorn interface (i think?) and it was based almost entirely on the drag&drop metaphor.

    Anyone who knows what this was want to correct me? I was really excited about this, i was hoping a linux file manager would come around that would embrace drag&drop-- right now the only GUI that has a truly developed idea of how drag&drop _should_ work (drag from ANYTHING to ANYTHING and have the software figure out how that amkes sense..)is the Mac OS. It would be nice to see more OSes that really understand drag&drop (which Windows never will..)

    Especially now that apple seems to be heading away from an application-based view of things (layers, the applications menu) and toward a window-based view of things (maximisation, minimising individual windows, the Dock, "virtual desktops" ala E or WM). forced "maximising" is not only in my eyes the worst thing ever to happen to GUI design, but it is the natural enemy of drag&drop. If my worst fears about Aqua come true.. bah, never mind, i'm rambling.

    Anyone rememebr the acornish thing's name?
  • Despite their lacking business model, and the problems of creating a Linux frontend that anyone's Mom (excepting Dilbert's) could use without maybe interpreting Windows-keypresses as pipe functions, they get points in my book. On their front page, they say they're hiring hackers. And the mean CODE-hackers, not security experts, not white-hats, but honest-to-god, code-monkey hacks. What a concept.
  • Sounds like a bunch of folks with some decent professional GUI experience. Hopefully, they'll focus more on usability than widgetry.
  • 3.Get rid of the UNIX model. Yeah, no more user IDs, passwords or any of that. It can be too confusing on your grandma to have more names and numbers to remember.

    4.Get rid of GNU. Yeah, that's right, drop the command line utilities that you know and love, and lose all that power. If granny can't remember her password how's she supposed to remember arcane commands?

    5.The gui must be the OS. This means, goodbye X. Most of the newbies who ask me for help request help with setting up X (well, networking comes close). X must disappear, or it must become so much a part of Linux that it's just there, and it just works, no matter what video card, RAMDac, or whatever the user has on their machine.

    Sounds like an "updated" version of windows or a working OS X to me.

    While that's what you may want, or you may want for the unwashed masses, I won't be using it (and neither will hundreds of thousands of other people who are the core of the Linux community). Some of us choose to use Linux for more than just the ideological reasons. Removing the ability to get under the hood and manipulate the system removes a very big reason for using Linux.

    Removing the user and permissioning model may make it easy for grandma to use, but it also reverts to the "useful only as an appliance" paradigm. If there is only one user then that user can do anything to the system (which is why "try reinstalling windows" is the most common final tech support answer), and if you restrict the capabilities of the user to damage the system you then create an appliance/toy that is of little use to most of us.

    Part of the problem with "the gui is the OS" is that in nearly every implementation I've ever seen, if the GUI has a problem you're left high and dry with no way to fix the problem -- because the GUI, which *is* the OS, is hosed.

    I would venture to say that you don't "get" Linux (or any UNIX or Unix-workalike).

  • She's about as computer literate as a house plant.

    Hey now! I'll have you know my house plant contributed patches to the 2.3.x series of kernels! :)

  • If these guys can do some good HCI work, perhaps taking some of the better concepts from OS/2 and NeXTstep, and actually create a usable and powerful "document manager," this seems to me to be quite a worthy task.

    Remember, these "top designers" worked on General Magic's cumbersome "Main Street" UI metaphor. To switch apps, you would have to walk "outside and down a virtual Main Street to find the correct building/app. yuck...

  • Before someone says, "oh yeah can just add a purty theme for GNOME/KDE/X", I've never seen an X theme that doesn't look like Windows 3.1. Because the X themes and apps are so disconnected, there cannot be smoothly integrated. Maybe GNOME is working on this..??
  • In the current Linux Magazine, Dave Whittinger has a piece that takes a very controversial stand. And it has bearing on the issue at hand.

    He says, in order for Linux to succeed on the desktop, stuff like Eazel has to happen. However, he also says that either KDE or Gnome has to go. Developers have to band together and concentrate on one GUI library. He told distros to pick one or the other desktop and make it the standard.

    Now, the presence of a couple dozen different window managers, a couple dozen different file managers, a dozen widget libraries, and half a dozen desktops is way to much for a newbie to deal with. However, paring all this down to just ONE choice is the wrong way to go (let alone being completely unrealistic). It also ignores the fact that Gnome, GTK+, KDE and Qt are *NOT* for Linux. They are for X, and that means all of Unix, plus OS/2 and any other OS that has an X port.

    Many GTK+ developers abhor Qt and will never ever use it. And vice versa. Ditto for Gnome and KDE. I know people that will switch back to fvwm rather than *use* KDE. There are a few ecumenical souls out there who actually support both Qt and GTK+ interfaces, but they are rare.

    But Dave is correct about some things. It confusing even for experts when every other application has its own inteface. And every distro that is even vaguely geared towards newbies needs to pick a default desktop and leave the alternates on CD #2. And developers need to have good reasons before they start duplicating applications. Just saying "it's like kfoo but for gnome" isn't good enough.

    Although fifty or sixty standards are too much, I believe that Linux/BSD/Unix/X is big enough for two desktops and two widget libraries. But those desktops are going to have to learn how to work together smoothly.
  • Taking your shell script analogy further, think of Nautilus or Konqueror as a shell. Then the component model makes sense. Konqueror does just one thing, and it does it well: it browses. It doesn't matter if I browse a file system, an ftp site or a web page. I'm still browsing. I'm still browsing in exactly the same way.

    Keeping everything small in the Unix model only makes sense if you're going to *USE* them. And you use them by putting them together with redirection, pipes, tees or scripts. That design philosophy can be restated as "componentize". That's exactly what konqueror is.
  • Then keep your file windows small and your browser windows large. Nobody's stopping you. No one's forcing you to type an internet URL in you file manager.
  • Really. Having a choice is OK.

  • This is such a common, and utterly stupid complain. Go with the evolution - Nautilius is componentized. It IS no web browser, it simply HAS a web component which allows it to understand HTML, sometimes over HTTP. Building components for Nautilus will bloat it no more than kernel modules bloats the kernel.

    In fact, Nautilus isn't even a file manager, however it does have one among it's components, so it can be used as one if you feel like it.

    This is the way it's done these days, both in Gnome, KDE (esp. in the new Konqueror in KDE2), on the Mac and even in old (shrug) Windows.

    Here that sound? That's the sound of a thousand components coming this way.

  • Is this a good thing or a bad thing for us overall? Linux was always a hacker's system. If you didn't know how to compile something, you weren't likely to get far. RedHat fixed that bug.

    Now our desktop is too difficult to use? Which desktop? we have over 50 or so window managers, and 2 object models. I can see something based on gnome helping out, but what happens when JoeRandomNewbie loads up his pretty desktop and it proceeds to segfault? What if XDM drops him to a standard login prompt like when Windows can't load all of its dll's?

    Suddenly, cold hard reality sets in. This isn't MacOS. For it to be close, they would have to somehow castrate the shell interface. You can't really do much in BeOS until you drop to a command line. MacOS is good for new users because they CAN'T go to that level. Everything is taken in graphically, just as our minds tend to work.

    I once worked at Egghead. On the week following WIN95 going on sale, fielded many questions. One of the people there wondered if he had to use "DOS words" When I asked hem what he meant by that, he said "like name _period_ dat dat dat" and It dawned on me he was referring to filenames! This seems to be a common thought pattern among users out there.

    Linux not getting new users is all about the CLI. New users are afraid of it. If a "newbie" distribution is made, it would be accepted quickly, but what happens if it fails out of the GUI? Or if a release goes out that has something broken in it? And the usual questions like "does it run Word" comes to mind. Heck, if it runs on Intel hardware, and so does Windows, why can't it run Windows applications? You will have a lot of Linux users on paper but not in life. They would be Eazel users.

    While innovation is great, I think this project may do more harm than good. It will be good in the sense that a lot of UI work would be done. It would be great if it could be downloaded for free and used under any distro as a window manager. But how will Eazel make money if it is a company. There's the obvious support, but even RedHat sells a physical product.

    If they put it up for sale it may not reach full adoption like standard libraries such as GTK or tcl/tk or X protocol. But they probably have a plan to take care of this. I could be wrong, but they could just be the first with an idea.

    I know that the OS to most of us isn't the sum of its GUI and ease of use. It's the kernel and the applications. I hope the Eazel foks remember that. It's a different paradigm.

  • Is this GNOME's fault. I've never thought about it before but does GNOME and/or KDE work on anything other than Linux.

    GNOME and KDE both work on FreeBSD and I believe Net and Open as well. Is it easy to keep GNOME updated? It's hard as hell as I'm sure the FreeBSD GNOME port maintainer will tell you. In addition to the normal "update everything at once" that all GNOME users have to do, he has to go through and patch all the Linux-isms.

    This is one of the problems right now in general, in that the skill of portable programming is fading and many (certainly not all) coders are writing for Linux not Unix. This shows up in Linux specific system calls when there are other calls that work fine for all Unices.

  • -- I know that SGI had a similar thing for IRIX as seen in Jurassic Park, but there is AFAIK nothing like this for Linux. --

    What you saw in Jurassic Park was a little demo that SGI put together called "File System Navigator" that basically displayed your UNIX filesystem in 3D using OpenGL. You could see the directories, files, sizes of files/dirs, etc.

    It was never part of the O/S or 4Dwm, and it wasn't really useful apart from the "cute" factor.

  • After giving my 86-year-old Grandmother a Windows box, I've learned a lot about how easy GUIs are to use. Or aren't, as the case may be.

    We talk a lot about "inituitive" GUIs, but that intuition has to be learned a click at a time.

    The whole single-click vs. double-click vs. click-drag is fairly arbitrary in the Windows world. For example, why are toolbars single-click, while desktop icons double-click? It's easy for people who understand the difference, but it's not easy to learn if this is all new and frightening.

    And especially for someone with coordination limitations, it's a real challenge to navigate and use Windows. Putting it into 640x480 mode on a 17" monitor helps, since it makes the icons bigger and easier to see. Putting the mouse on lowest sensitivity helps, except for the click/double-click timing issue.

    I think that if we want to get the largest audience, a purely menu-driven system (like old BBSes, or DOS using Peter Norton's menuing utilities from the days when Peter himself was writing 'em) might be the way to go. I dunno.
  • Now, I realize that choice is a good thing. I think it's a good thing that Linux has two major consumer desktops (KDE, Gnome) and all of the standalone WMs that form much of the workstation market (AfterStep, CDE, etc). But really, is it better to start a new project for this kind of activity?

    I think it would be better for these developers to contribute to the existing projects. It's kind of a waste of man-hours to go about writing another window manager if Sawmill, Blackbox or E will meet their needs. Similarly, I think it's kind of a waste of man hours to go about trying to build another project with similar goals to KDE and Gnome.

    Besides, it may be special that they're starting to build this product, but who really believes that it will surpass Gnome/KDE? Even if they take the existing Gnome codebase and add modifications, I think it's unreasonable to expect that anyone else will be able to improve Gnome faster than the Gnome team. Both Gnome and KDE have built communities of developers and users, which help them develop better products. I don't think that this new entry will be able to do any more than the existing products, or advance at a quicker pace.

    Of course, I could be wrong. Actually, I hope I am. Best of luck, guys.

  • Not to be rude, but:

    - What's the key combination to print something in Windows?

    Alt F-P

    - What's the key combination to close a window?

    Depends on what you mean. Alt F-C to close a document. Alt-F4 to close the entire application.

    - What's the key combination to save a file?

    Alt F-S

    - Where does Game X install itself in the Start menu?

    Usually under the game name. Where did apache choose to install itself? :)

  • ****But no, your Grandmother doesn't care. All she wants to do is to be able to surf the web, send email, find where she put her files, and MAYBE hook up a scanner, printer, or cable modem. ****

    Yes that's true, however Grandma also wants to make a bunch of those really neat/creative homade greetings cards... unfortunatly printing with Linux has a ways to go also.

    Granted I haven't tried tooooo hard, but I have never had anything that resembles *good* quality when printing from Star Office or The Gimp or Word Perfect or Emacs...etc... Any suggestions on filters...etc that will improve my printing performance would be appreciated (HP desjet 693)

    My point is that there are stil more than a few rough edges that need to be worked out before Linux can be targeted at the Grandmother crowd. I think we (a broad large blanket being thrown over the Linux community) can't get tooo hung up on the whole ease-of-use/eye-candy trap(crap) when there are still funnctionality issues that need to be dealt with.

    After all, the whole Linux idea is supposed to be based upon functionality, not overtaking the evil competition.
  • I won't flame you for linux being already "easy to use", but I do ask: why is "easy to use" synonymous with "good" in so many folks' views? Why is it seen that it "must" appeal to the desktop luser as well as everyone else?

    Isn't the idea of "winning the OS war" that (a) there is no war (b) it's the strength of quality signal that counts, not count(bums_on_seats)??
  • Hey, luckily for you, there already exists an OS that is exactly what you want: Win 98 by Microsoft. Why reinvent the wheel?

    Heresy you say? Well, lets look at your points.

    1. Installation: Win98 is pre-installed on >90% of all new computers so that's no problem. If the user is brave enough, I've found it will install with little user interaction in about 1.5 hrs or so.
    2. Hardware Support: Companies must provide drivers for Win98 or their products (consumer stuff) won't be used.
    3. Unix Model problems: Don't worry, be happy. No UN*X model here.
    4. GNU: No GNU stuff (on OS CD) either.
    5. GUI intergration: GUI! Hell, even the web browser is tightly intergrated with the OS. Perfect! :)
    6. GUI slickness: Well, as customizable and slick a GUI may start, I've found that most users will make a good mess out of it in short order. For instance, many people love dragging tons of shortcuts onto the desktop, making it a imperceptible tangle of icons. Most users consider customizing the OS changing the screen saver or desktop image. Anything beyond that is voodoo magic and scary.
    7. It must work: Everything is installed and working from the retailer.

    Now, answer a question for me, WHY must Linux run on a every single desktop on the earth? Is this important? Some people seem to think that for Linux to survive an idiot-proof, warm and cozy version of the system must be assembled for "the masses." This way, Linux can achieve total world domination.

    Now, I'm not a programmer, nor do I play one on TV. But after using Linux on my 2nd computer for year, I've come to some conclusions. The thing that makes Linux great (for me) is the open source ideals and the community the springs from around that. This is why I hang around, but the people you want to target with your magic-OS couldn't give a rats-ass about these ideals or the community. They just want appliance that works, and a close-source binary system would work well here.

    In closing, there is no one-size-fits-all computer, for all users are different. And Linux isn't the be-all end-all of OSes and doesn't seem to try to be, but maybe the community behind is something neat.

  • and I hope it works and they make a lot of money. This type of thing is exactly what the GPL creates. When no one owns the basics they have to compete like hell to sell you the extras. More users = more apps = more users = more money for programmers/admins = more time to code = better code = more users.

  • This is not a fork. Nautilus is the REPLACEMENT for gmc. It will be part of GNOME 2.0. I actually had not heard of Eazel until today, but I knew of the existence of nautilus and that the Gnome project wanted to replace MC/GMC with a brand spanking new file manager.
  • It'll end up being a complete distrobution when they're done. Then they'll sell the cd's and the documentation and support for the entire distro. Remember, this isn't being aimed at people who want to download the software off the net and install it themselves -- it wouldn't do to say "Here's a filemanager for all you novices out there, but you'll have to install it over an existing scary-to-install installation.

    Corel's distro is basically Debian + a filemanager. There's no reason for this company to do differently.
  • by / ( 33804 )
    The people who want it to be easy to use are asking for it to be easy to use because they want it to be easy to use -- they find it hard and would like it to be easier. They want the stability and the low hardware requirements and the neat apps and the security and all the other stuff without having to invest a lot more effort. They themselves want this for their own purposes, and they're happy when someone comes along and says: "Sure, I can give you that." Some people simply don't do complex things, and it's usually not prudent/fair to make them learn how to handle complex tasks that don't arise for them.

    It's not the number of seats that matters so much (although I could present arguments as to why it does matter) but the satisfaction and happiness of the people who fill them. If Linux doesn't serve their needs perfectly but could do so if someone out there wrote some software to accomodate them, then let that programmer go ahead and do so.; especially if that software is just a shell wrapped around all the technical and gritty details that remain inside for people to play with if they so choose.

    Linux isn't just about making an operating system that's fun for hackers to play with. It's supposed about making an operating system that can be extended to fit people's needs as they arise and if someone wants to address them. One of those needs is a click 'n drool interface. You can safely ignore it if it doesn't suit your needs.
  • Why is it seen that it "must" appeal to the desktop luser as well as everyone else?

    I have many friends and relatives who you would probably put into the category of "desktop lusers."

    Just because someone doesn't care about their computer for its own sake doesn't mean they should be forced to use an inferior operating system. I would very much like to be able to recommend linux to my friends, but right now although I use it myself, I would definitely not recommend it to most of my friends.

  • GNOME is also in C (AFAIK), so I wonder if they have C++ wrappers for it. (or do they already)?

    Yes. There's several. I've been using Gtk-- (available on soureforce) for a year now and like it a alot; it's nice to be able to use real inheritance rather than the casting madness Gtk+ makes you go through.

  • For me winning the OS war will be when we really have a choice. At home I have and I can impress my friends with my system. But at work it is a whole different story. Here, I'll have the choice when we have all the apps I need (and Lotus Notes is one of the necessary ones) and to have the apps, we need to have the audience and as the audience is the "dumb"...

    At work all we have is Windows and AIX. AIX to run Baan and Domino and Windows to do almost everything else. A few NT servers could be replaced, but... *sigh* I won't start while I'm still in a good mood. :-)

    IMHO, winning is *not* having quality. It has never been quality and it never will be. I really think that in case to win, we need to crush MS. Its share on the desktop needs to be less than half of what they have right now, otherwise they'll still be too powerfull and be a too-save choice. A breakup of MS will help too. :-)

  • The zsh can do something similar, with it's help key facilty. It runs a man* on which ever program you're entering.

    * = or any other program.

  • For those that haven't found the link: []. From their changelog it sounds like they're developing (or planning to in v1.1) system administration stuff. So, while GTK is platform-agnostic, I am thinking Eazel is focusing exclusively on Linux. OTOH, it will be GPL'ed, so you can port their tools...

    engineers never lie; we just approximate the truth.
  • Ask anyone what program they use most every day, and they will probably answer NS/IE.

    Actually, I most often get this answer when asking people who their ISP is. :-)
  • heh-heh-heh, ex AOL workers, someone had to say it.

  • Everything is taken in graphically, just as our minds tend to work.
    Funny - my mind tends to work verbally, especailly when I'm making commands or requests. My mind thinks "remove all the object files", and rm *.o is closer to that than any GUI sequence I can think of.

    All other things being equal, a CLI is better when you want to ask the machine to do something. A GUI is better when you want to do something yourself and use the machine to replace a manual tool such as a paintbrush. Problem is, CLIs are too cryptic. Maybe we need a more natural-language CLI - I've got it! In addition to the Doom-like or Quake-like GUIs that have been suggested, we need a Zork-like CLI!


    I see no object files here!

    GO TO ./OBJ

    This is the object file directory. Messy bunches of ones and zeros are all over the floor.


    You see:
    - an object file named xyz.o
    - an object file named foobar.o



  • I did get the warm-and-fuzzies when the 12 year old girl said: This is UNIX... I KNOW THIS!
    Not as good as the bit in Wayne's World 2, though:

    Garth: Hey, that's a Unix book. [I do believe it was a copy of Steven's Unix Network Programming.]
    Garthette: Yeah.
    Garth: Cool...[They smile shyly at each other.]

  • by davie ( 191 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:42AM (#1264964) Journal

    I used to hold the same opinion of GNOME, but after updating all the modules to the latest stable versions it became pretty solid.

    Part of the problem with GNOME may be Enlightenment as the wm. I love E, don't get me wrong--it's the sexiest wm out there IMO, but it's just too much for my everyday use. I just recently built and installed sawmill [], and the result is a smaller, quicker desktop that is very clean and configurable. With E, my 128 meg machine was consitently using about 40 MB swap, with most of that being X. The GUI was syrupy and just didn't feel right (prob. just some stupid configuration decision on my part). With sawmill, I'm using about 5-10 MB swap and everything's snappy. Now if I want to show off to friends, I use E, but when I'm working it's sawmill all the way.

  • by Christopher B. Brown ( 1267 ) <> on Thursday February 17, 2000 @09:28AM (#1264965) Homepage
    What they're building is effectively an "all encompassing file manager," called Nautilus.

    There's no particular reason for this to represent a "duplication of effort," at least from the standpoint of the GNOME project. After all, they needed a better file manager. GMC has not been all that satisfactory.

    What their application amounts to is one that unifies files and remote objects (via HTTP/FTP) together, and lets methods be invoked on them.

    By using the Bonobo [] interface, they can pull in all sorts of GNOME objects. That's certainly not duplication.

    It may be duplicative if you're a developer working on the Kconq file manager for KDE that has similar scope; it's not duplicative within the context of GNOME.

    I'd say that this is the most important component to have some serious HCI people take a look at; that's the only hope of it being usable to the "Bubba" users. (No offense intended to other than Presidents of the United States :-) ...)

    It's important that this get HCI attention in that if it succeeds, Nautilus would become the front-end for a whole lot of users to get at "system stuff."

  • by Jerky McNaughty ( 1391 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:33AM (#1264966)
    It appears they're just writing a new file manager/explorer type application for GNOME and releasing it under the GPL. I don't see a way for them to make money doing this (after all, neither support nor documentation should be an issue for something like a file manager).

    How do they expect to make money?
  • by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <> on Thursday February 17, 2000 @02:18PM (#1264967)
    GNOME and KDE are good for newbies - no question.

    But it's not something that a real UNIX pro would use.

    Define "use".

    I've done UNIX development, both kernel and userland, since 1977-1978 or so.

    I use a KDE desktop on my machine at home, including using, shock horror, the file manager for some things (I have a few PDF standards documents, and I find it more convenient to have a "Standards" folder on my desktop, and click it open, and then click on the relevant subdirectory and click on the document I'm interested in, than to go find an xterm not running something or put what's running there in the background, pushd to the appropriate directory, and fire up Acroread on the file in question). I also have another desktop icon to fire up xmms and have it play a local radio station.

    Now, for administrative stuff (on the rare occasion that it's necessary), I'll just go tweak the config files directly, blah blah blah - but there are, your apparent belief to the contrary nonwithstanding, reasons why "a real UNIX pro" might well use a file manager (why should I waste a perfectly good xterm firing up Acroread, when I could be using it to do compiles, or greps, or...? :-)).

  • by otis wildflower ( 4889 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @10:05AM (#1264968) Homepage
    OTOH, the rush to World Domination has often led me to wonder -- will the presence of the clueless millions "improve" Linux the same way the opening of AOL's floodgates "improved" the Internet?

    Please let me get a little evil here for a minute. What, in the end, has the popularization of the Internet gotten us, as nerds? LOTS OF MONEY for doing the shit we'd be doing for free anyway. Who here really has to work for a living, in the way our parents had to work at jobs they hated?

    Not only do we get the money, we get the POWER: WE understand this shit, and they do NOT. We are scary powerful in this realm, and our ideals and methods are influencing the general community because of the public Internet. Is this bad? For us, no.

    Similarly, what happens when Linux is made available and accessible to the masses? WE GAIN POWER as we again are the happy few who UNDERSTAND this shit.. Not only that, but our influence on people's computing grows, and for us again, this is not bad. It means we can use the software we like, and get paid for it. WE craft the rules and determine how things are done.

    This is NOT megalomania speaking here: this is thinking big. World Domination is about not having to put up with Micro$oft shit because everyone uses it. It's about being able to fix the problems with our systems when they appear. It's about freedom of speech as well as freedom of beer. It's about getting paid big bucks to work on cool shit you'd have done for free anyway, and who better to get those big bucks, you or those fratboy jocks who were such big shit way back when but who are now, if they're lucky, hapless NT techs?

    Like I said, it was going to be evil and self serving, but I hope there were a few kernels of truth in there, or at least a spark or two..

    Your Working Boy,
  • by 8Complex ( 10701 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @10:40AM (#1264969)
    I speak as a person who has tried to use Linux for everyday use and went BACK to Windows...

    If you made it easy to learn, then that is one thing, if you make it completely easy, that is yet another. It seems to be that noone in the Linux community (and I mean NOONE) is attempting to make a GOOD set of troubleshooting tools and a help system that is at least decent. 'man' only goes so far, and is rather pathetic all things considered. man will tell you everything in the world about the topic you asked about... LITERALLY. I've never seen a man page that explained what the topic was in any small amount of space. It rambles and rambles until you have no desire to do whatever you were trying to in the first place.

    As for making the desktop easier to use, I'm all for it. How about support for fonts that actually look good without having to run in circles to get a font server running and then somehow tieing it into the desktop environment or window manager (something I've given up on several times). How about a configuration tool that actually works? linuxconf sure doesn't. Redhat's control-panel is a start but it is still lacking something... like maybe words telling you what button does what. Who was the genius who thought of that one? He must've been really impressed with Tooltips...

    Back onto the topic of learning... Don't you realize that some people out here in the real world don't have time to sit and learn how to use console-based configuration utils that don't work in the end to set up a couple of NIC's that don't work after 2 weeks of trying? Or maybe you'd just like to tell those people that have video problems in X that they are idiots because they just have to change settings in this .conf file and restart X. Or how about those people that can't get hardware working because Linux's precious kernel doesn't support it? -- but a module does!! Well how do you install the module? Recompile your kernel? You're kidding me, right?

    I got another one for ya... How about those people that go out and get situated on Linux, and get it working correctly, and want some of this free software they keep hearing about. How are you going to explain to them that they will have to un-tar.gz it and then compile it themselves and THEN install it? But wait, there's more! Libraries are missing, out-of-date, or even worse - they're NEWER then the source needs to compile!! What then? Get the needed libraries, compile them, install them (if there aren't any more conflicts, that is) and then finally go back to compiling that program, and then installing it? That is a LOT of work for something equalled in Windows by clicking an .EXE file and following instructions on where it will be installed and watching it make icons so you can actually find the program to use it (which, I'd like to add, the install scripts don't give you a chance to tell it where to put anything in Linux).

    You want to complain about people unwilling to learn? I think you should recompile your brain's kernel so it's not so one-sided.

    I before said that I left Linux for Windows... I will go back as soon as Linux is decent to use for everyday use (and maybe when I can run binaries from Windows under it natively rather then using something idiotic like VMWare or WINE).

    - 8Complex
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @11:09AM (#1264970)
    Sometimes, Apple UI's seem to be unuseable without the mouse. Please, don't forget the keyboard support. It's not exactly rocket science any more.

    That means:

    Full navigation with the keyboard

    All window management functions accessible via the keyboard alone

    A way of moving the mouse pointer and simulating mouse clicks with the keyboard - for that one time your mouse is broken but you still have to navigate the gui, no matter how slowly.

    Proper keyboard focus control. 99% of the time you should not have to use the mouse to put the keyboard focus where it ought to be

    *Integration* between keyboard and mouse scrolling in all text widgets and the like - none of this snapping to somewhere in the file you didn't expect to be just because you positioned first with the mouse, then moved with the cursor keys.

    A lot of other things I've forgotten, but we all know what they are when they're not there

    Even my mother can type!

  • by eyeball ( 17206 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @10:33AM (#1264971) Journal
    There's a much better desktop and OS than this Eazel/Nautilus thing, one that my mother could definately use. Screenshot []

  • by cpeterso ( 19082 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @12:28PM (#1264972) Homepage
    Even with the best window managers out there, linux still ends up looking like shit compare to the MacOS, BeOS, or even Win2K.

    I completely agree, but why is this? Why do all X themes look butt ugly?

    We've all seen these before, but compare them and think, "What is Aqua doing that GNOME is not?" Nothing! Both screenshots are simple desktop+explorer shots. Yet somehow the Aqua screen looks like da bomb and GNOME looks like shite.

  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @11:10AM (#1264973) Homepage Journal
    Cool. Now check out Konqueror in action...
  • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Thursday February 17, 2000 @12:11PM (#1264974) Homepage Journal
    >> Our goal is to establish Linux as the desktop of choice for millions of users
    >Why just Linux. If they have there head screwed on they should be able to get it to compile on other Un*x's. FreeBSD at least.
    Is this GNOME's fault. I've never thought about it before but does GNOME and/or KDE work on anything other than Linux.

    The KDE team takes pride in the number of systems that will run KDE -- they claim more than any other windowing system. Quite a bit of work has gone into both system irrelavance (bigendian or littleendian), and language irrelivance (16 bit strings, and text automatically paints left to right or right to left depending on the language it is written in... neat watching it's accuracy with Hebrew sentences quoting English and visa versa).

    I know that the Japanese KDE is fully featured and translated. I know a fellow who uses it, along with his mother, who dosen't speak english (well, almost none).

    Several of the main developers use Solaris, and BSD is common on the developer list, so the "big three" are represented well, along with AIX and a few others that I can't recall off the top of my head.


  • by noeld ( 43600 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @09:39AM (#1264975) Homepage
    They say that their top tech guy is Andy Hertzfeld.

    Read more about Andy Hertzfeld [] in this old wired article from when he was working at General Magic. My favorite line is:

    "Are you guys going to be here ten years from now?" I ask Bill and Andy.

    "Yeah," says Bill.

    Andy looks startled. "At General Magic?"

    "Oh, I don't know," says Bill.

    "I don't think I'll be at General Magic," says Andy, "because I'm better at starting things.... There'll be new adventures - "

    "I would guess that General Magic will have been taken over by weird people who don't know what they've got," concedes Bill.

    "It's not so much that," says Andy. "I don't know if I have the wherewithal inside me as a person in his forties to try and start another platform. I think it's most likely for me to want to go work as an independent artist."

    Guess he is starting with a new platform after all.

    Noel -- Nothing but Unix []

  • by imac.usr ( 58845 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:32AM (#1264976) Homepage
    Jeez, and I just submitted this, too... :-]

    BTW, one of the employees on the project is Andy Hertzfeld. It will therefore NOT suck. (Andy is about the closest thing to a Linus the Mac OS has, other than Bill Atkinson and a select few others.)

    For Mac users reading this, try this experiment. Find a copy of PepsiCaps. Run it in the OS X blue box. Marvel that a 15-year-old Mac application still works on today's machines, even if it does deviate slightly from the human interface guidelines.

  • by KGBear ( 71109 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:37AM (#1264977) Homepage

    ...And we'll do it in a way that appeals to today's Linux users and to mere mortals...

    I'll believe it when I see it. What "mere mortals" want is auto-everything. For auto-everything to work the system has to make assumptions, or rather the programmers behind the systems make assumptions. My experience is that they almost never make the same assumptions I would make, which always leads me to disable all the auto-everything stuff the system will let me disable.

    Another thing "mere mortals" want is an all-graphics interface; everything point and click. Hmm, I can't see how something like:

    rm `ls -l|awk '{print $3}'|grep "juser"`

    could be graphical, not with the same flexibility and any kind of Unix without the pipe/redirect capabilities would be kinda stupid.

    Another thing, admin tools (like linuxconf) require that you refrain from touching the config files by hand, or things will preety soon get out of sync.

    So, it will take quite a piece of software to convince me it can be useful and enjoyable both for current Linux users and for "mere mortals"; if any software does convince me, though, it'll be amazing.

  • by G27 Radio ( 78394 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @02:41PM (#1264978)

    1. A bulletproof install. It must work, out of the box, no questions asked.
    2.Hardware support for everything. Drivers need to be there for the hardware and they have to be installed automatically. Don't make the user guess what brand of video or sound card they have, 'cause generally, they don't know.

    This would be great. Yet no PC operating system I've used yet has either of these features. Yet I have seen systems that come pre-installed, and come with a bullet-resistant install disk tailored for that system. However, upgrading your hardware might 'break' such an install disk.

    3. Get rid of the UNIX model. Yeah, no more user IDs, passwords or any of that. It can be too confusing on your grandma to have more names and numbers to remember.
    4. Get rid of GNU. Yeah, that's right, drop the command line utilities that you know and love, and lose all that power. If granny can't remember her password how's she supposed to remember arcane commands?

    What's this "get rid of" stuff about? The built-in support for multiple users is incredibly useful in a household where more than one person uses the computer. eg: I can screw up my stuff without screwing up everyone elses. Of course, if granny lives alone she might want the option to allow it to automatically log her on. And the Gnu tools are great for some things that a GUI couldn't easily emulate. I do agree forcing someone to use them is not ideal. There should be an alternative.

    5. The gui must be the OS. This means, goodbye X. Most of the newbies who ask me for help request help with setting up X (well, networking comes close). X must disappear, or it must become so much a part of Linux that it's just there, and it just works, no matter what video card, RAMDac, or whatever the user has on their machine.

    I'm not especially attached to X, but making the GUI part of the kernel or even a built-in part of of the OS just seems like a bad idea to me. If you actually meant that it should be seemless, then yeah, this would be great. As far as it "just [working], no matter what video card..." -- well, keep dreaming & see response to 1 and 2. Video cards (and other hardware) change over the years, so the drivers need to change. The best way to keep your install bulletproof is to buy specifically supported hardware.

    6. This GUI must be slicker than whale shit in an ice flow. Yeah, it must blow all other existing GUIs out of the water for ease of use, configurability, etc.
    7. Did I mention that this stuff must work, right out of the box? It has to be so simple that the user can install it and configure it without a thought.


    What the world really needs is a new OS (perhaps based on the Linux kernel, perhaps not) that bundles ease of use and robustness in a single package.

    I don't know that we need a whole new OS. There are more than just one OS with rock solid foundations to build a nice user interface on. No, linux, the kernel, does not need this GUI. What people, like our grandmothers, need is an easy-to-use, visually appealing user interface with a stable foundation. And that GUI needs Linux or a similar stable and open kernel beneath it.

  • This is exactly the sort of thing that is needed for Linux to be accepted by the mainstream public.
    For all our talk as Linux users about the "dumbing down of Linux" as an OS Linux really needs something like this.
    For instance I could teach most of KDE or GNOME to my mother but what would she do if the print spool wouldn't clear after trying the Printer Control? Or what if she wanted someone else in the family to be able to use her system but not touch her stuff? Both of these tasks require administrative skills that she does not have and would most likely be unwilling to have to learn. Unfortunately for those of the Linux community there is no substitute for the Windows Control Panel. (yet)

    Remember what people have said for years about software and business management - Programmers want an infintely wide interface, middle managers want an 8-bit interface because that's all they can handle, and upper management wants a 2 bit interface - Yes/No.

    Most (I use the word loosely) users in America today can handle the 8-bit interface but due to the increased "dumbing-down" of our culture we're forcing people down to the level of a 2-bit interface. (Unfortunate but true.) Thus we're left with the situation that "Anything that is simpler for the user is the solution."

    We may not like it but there it is and we do have to accept it until we can change it.

    Also for those of you about to rally to the "We'll force them to learn!" flag - might I suggest you look at your own reactions when someone "forced" you to do something such as use an M$ product. ;-)

    The Tick - "Spoon!"
  • by Tim Behrendsen ( 89573 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @09:58AM (#1264980)

    Because a lot us have better things to do with our time than figure out crufty interfaces. I've configured zillions of ascii-based configuration files. As the lounge singer said, "the thrill is gone, baby."


  • by bero-rh ( 98815 ) <bero@re d h> on Thursday February 17, 2000 @02:07PM (#1264981) Homepage
    KDE can't modify the file system - therefore we can't add MIME types as file attributes (at least not without ugly kludges like creating .mimetypes files in every directory, containing a directory listing and mime types).
    That would require major kernel and glibc changes, and of course break compatibility.

    Old hardware, while not the most important thing, also needs to be supported - many people are running 486s or Pentium 60s as LAN fileservers or IP masquerading servers.

    Windows binaries: that's already supported. An emulator (not perfect yet) is available at, and you can use BINFMT_MISC for the possibility to simply run them as if they were Linux binaries.
  • by Sunracer ( 103819 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @09:24AM (#1264982)
    I guess that if they ever decide to go Windows, it would be called Weazel... ;-)
  • by lavaboy ( 21282 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:21AM (#1264983)
    Take a look at the nautilus screenshots here ...

  • by EverCode ( 60025 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:41AM (#1264984) Homepage
    1. Distribution contracts
    2. Integrated XML using Gecko
    3. Integrated Internet functions
    4. Web bases software installation and updates
    5. Hidden complexity, but still accessable to Geeks
    6. Parallels with BeOS interface

    Now, I much prefer BeOS over Linux, but this will be a step in the right direction for Linux being useable for the average person.

    Please don't flame me about how Linux is already easy to use, because there are many rough edges.

    Have a good one.
  • by raptwithal ( 134137 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:27AM (#1264985)
    I think this is great news. Although some people might not like the idea of a 'dumbing- down' of Linux, I think it's really good news as this will doubtless help convince other people that Linux really is one of the best choices (if not the best choice) around.

    I tried to convince a friend of mine to switch to Linux a while ago, and he was dismayed at having to _type_ in the name of a file in the WM menu configurator instead of being able to browse for it. I consider it a trivial inconvenience, but to him it's still a big deal.

    Let's face it folks, most people out there use Windows at least partly because they're lazy. (I didn't say all!) And from what we've heard about Windows 2000 I think it's clear that it's not all that unstable. Plus it's more user- friendly than any desktop we have . . . I still prefer Linux, but an easy- to use GUI would be welcome.

    Unless it comes with a one button mouse.
  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @09:15AM (#1264986) Homepage Journal
    Ask anyone unfamiliar with computers: Windows is a horrible GUI to master, because of the simple fact that it's so damned inconsistent. The Interface Hall of Shame has a lot to say in this regard, but, to give some examples:

    - What's the key combination to print something in Windows?
    - What's the key combination to close a window?
    - What's the key combination to save a file?
    - Where does Game X install itself in the Start menu?

    Ask 10 people and you'll probably get at least 5 different answers, simply because every application is allowed to do things differently. This makes the learning curve exponentially greater because you need to learn the shortcuts for _every_ application!

    As much as I hate the MacOS from a technical standpoint, it really does have everything else beat hands-down when it comes to simplicity and consistency. (Or at least it did -- Aqua looks pretty hideous...)

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:29AM (#1264987)
    There seem to be a lot of misunderstandings about this.

    1) It doesn't seem to be a fork on Gnome, but rather an extension of it (perhaps a set of modules for it?)
    2) It is NOT being developed by Apple or AOL. These are a bunch of people who used to work for Apple and AOL, but neither company is itself directly involved.
    3) I know a lot of people are just going to post without reading the article, so I might as well reiterate it here: yes, it's GPL'd.
    4) Once again, this is NOT Apple doing this. But I wouldn't be surprised if some of the people from the now-defunct Human Interface team there are now working on it.

    Now, my own views on the project: I hope it works out. GNOME and KDE are both making good progress towards bringing a good, usable GUI to Linux, but both still have a long way to go. A boost, particularly from people who've designed UI's professionally before, would be a great help.
  • by panda ( 10044 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @11:33AM (#1264988) Homepage Journal

    I see a lot of posts on here that pretty much parrot the line: "this is what Linux really needs." That's a load of crap.

    If you want Linux to succeed in a mass market where the majority of VCRs silently blink 12:00 into infinity, then it must have something truly compelling to offer over the competition. This means that Linux needs to be simplified to the extreme. Sticking some pretty eye-candy on top of X isn't going to do it. To wit:

    1. A bulletproof install. It must work, out of the box, no questions asked.
    2. Hardware support for everything. Drivers need to be there for the hardware and they have to be installed automatically. Don't make the user guess what brand of video or sound card they have, 'cause generally, they don't know.
    3. Get rid of the UNIX model. Yeah, no more user IDs, passwords or any of that. It can be too confusing on your grandma to have more names and numbers to remember.
    4. Get rid of GNU. Yeah, that's right, drop the command line utilities that you know and love, and lose all that power. If granny can't remember her password how's she supposed to remember arcane commands?
    5. The gui must be the OS. This means, goodbye X. Most of the newbies who ask me for help request help with setting up X (well, networking comes close). X must disappear, or it must become so much a part of Linux that it's just there, and it just works, no matter what video card, RAMDac, or whatever the user has on their machine.
    6. This GUI must be slicker than whale shit in an ice flow. Yeah, it must blow all other existing GUIs out of the water for ease of use, configurability, etc.
    7. Did I mention that this stuff must work, right out of the box? It has to be so simple that the user can install it and configure it without a thought.

    In short, Linux needs to be something totally different from what it is.

    I use GNU/Linux because it works for me. I've used various flavors of UNIX, MacOS, and MS Windows as a professional programmer, student, home computer user, and employee. I've set up, installed, configured, even built machines targeted at all three operating systems. I use GNU/Linux at home (while my wife uses MacOS). I don't expect everyone to have the technical knowledge that I do, nor have the desire to acquire that knowledge. I mean, look, I do this stuff for a living, it's my business to know, but my doctor doesn't do this stuff for a living, so I don't expect him to want to learn to operate a computer just to get his work done, and neither should you.

    What the world really needs is a new OS (perhaps based on the Linux kernel, perhaps not) that bundles ease of use and robustness in a single package.

    It's high time some of you stopped deluding yourselves into thinking that GNU/Linux is the be-all and end-all of Operating Systems.

  • by deeny ( 10239 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:43AM (#1264989) Homepage
    No, not so much a flame as a caveat. One Eazel employee told, at a recent bay area Linux gathering, of how harsh the management is about prospective employees.

    And several prominent Bay Area Linux people with heavy GUI backgrounds (like myself) were snubbed by Eazel to hire much less expensive neophyte programmers. Yeah, I was one of them, but I don't care as I found a great-paying and good job elsewhere. I was much more surprised when several other friends with good credentials were ALSO snubbed.

    Basically, they'd be willing to pay a premium for a big name, but I sincerely doubt the employees will be treated well.

    My vote on Eazel: nice concept, wrong company.

  • by EvlG ( 24576 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:32AM (#1264990)
    ...but it's going to take a lot of work. We need apps that my mom can use, and lots of them. Financial apps, word processing and spreadsheet apps, and a good web browser (Unix Netscape just sucks today).
    Some of the pieces are already being worked on, and a few already exist. You might say StarOffice is good enough for mom to use, despite the fact that it doesn't always import MS formats properly. The financial apps are pretty poor right now. All the Free ones listed on freshmeat are so feature-poor, it's hard to use them for anything but the simplest checkbook balancing. When/If Intuit ports Quicken to Linux, things will be different.
    As for the web browser, this is probably the "killer app" for most people. Ask anyone what program they use most every day, and they will probably answer NS/IE. The problem is that web browsing on Linux sucks. Unix Netscape on the whole is just crap. Its more unstable than Win32 Netscape, and X just makes the fonts look like shit. The text is unreadable and ugly. Furthermore, plugin and Java support in NS on Linux is abysmal. This is a serious problem. Mozilla looks to change all that, by providing a high quality, standard web browser implementation cross-platform. That would be quite a feat! Unfortunately, that's also quite a ways off.
    In sum, I think efforts like these are nice, but I really believe that it's a little early to be making things mom can use. In many ways, right now we don't even have stuff WE can use.
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @09:37AM (#1264991)
    This is the best thing that could have happened to Linux. The problem with other desktop environments to date is that they're being developed by people bent on one-upping windows. They may not even realize it, but they're taking all the user interface decisions that Microsoft has made--many of them fundamentally wrong--and are duplicating them. For example, human interface designers have been been very vocal about the problems of "nested expand-to-the-right" pull down menus (a la the Start menu). And yet this a fundamental feature of KDE (not to pick on it too hard).

    What Linux needs is some fresh air; some people who are more than just coders looking for a project, and who have their own ideas they want to bring to life. There has been much research and are many available books and papers on interface design that don't follow the Mac/Windows paradigms that we've been seeing on personal computers for sixteen years now.

    Something to note here is that there are some real gurus behind this effort. This is much different than two college students with little historical perspective trying to outdo Microsoft in a "me too!" sort of way.
  • by Dharzhak ( 124289 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @08:54AM (#1264992)
    Heh. Getting my mother to use Linux wouldn't be that difficult. My fiancee is another matter entirely. She's about as computer literate as a house plant. Which is why I hope they suceed. I'd like to be able to discuss Unix and Linux issues without her eyes glazing over.

    That said, making Linux an easier pill for John Q. Public to take requires more than a GUI.

    It's going to require a "Plug and Play" ability for peripherials...or at least better automatic detection and mounting. The latter is mostly an issue of better driver support. The former is a much more drastic change.

    It's also going to require a increased ability to set things up from the desktop graphic tools. Don't get me wrong. I'm a command line evangelist. As a systems admin, the command line tools give me a better insight to how the system works. John Q. Public, OTOH, really doesn't give a flying fsck how the system works. John Q. Public wants to run his Quicken 2000, Office 2000 (two products that, if ported, would make a lot of converts), games and web surf for cheap airline tickets and pr0n. What he doesn't want to do is kernel tuning, add patches (or service packs), manually add zip disks, etc. A computer is a tool. If the average user can't figure out how to use our tool or gets continually frustrated, he'll buy one that he can use a lot easier...Macs and Win 9x.

    What we really ought to be doing is not beta testing with other techies, but beta testing with people like my fiancee. Those that have no clue and really don't want one. If it passes that test, then it will be ready for prime time as a home computer OS.

  • by False Data ( 153793 ) on Thursday February 17, 2000 @09:04AM (#1264993)
    What "mere mortals" want is auto-everything.

    I agree with you here.

    Another thing "mere mortals" want is an all-graphics interface; everything point and click.

    I disagree here. I suspect what "mere mortals" want is a tool, as opposed to today's scaled-down mainframes. It's been very instructive watching my father use my computer, and having to explain what a window is, what a scroll thumb is, the fact that page-up and page-down keys exist and what they do, and how to use a word processor. (Ever tried to explain the margin feature that manages indentation on most word processors? How about auto-numbering? I finally switched him to a word processor with fewer features because they kept getting in the way of his getting things done.) A windowed interface is intuitive for me, but I grew up on computers. He didn't.

    I'd argue that what "mere mortals" want is to get a job done, and any interface that does that for them is what they're looking for. For instance, the interface my father would really like to have is a secretary. He'd like to be able to say to the computer "take this hand-written note and get it to Joe", which the computer should interpret as "turn on the scanner, scan this piece of paper, perform OCR, ask me about anything that looks misspelled, out of context, or just plain wierd, perform the corrections, figure out how best to reach Joe - fax, email, whatever - and get this message to him." Sorting through a file structure to find a file is a distraction for him, and having to configure a PPP auto-dialer is right out. The closest thing I've seen that even tries to approach this level of usability is MIT's Oxygen project.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"