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Debian Desktop Subproject Launched 387

MrOutlander writes "The Debian Project is now officially addressing its usability on the desktop with the launch of the Debian Desktop subproject. Great to see usability being recognized as a very important part of debian. Other than the sometimes daunting install process, Debian is one of the best linux distributions."
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Debian Desktop Subproject Launched

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:34AM (#4521458)
    okay, I am not trying to troll/flame here, but I have a question about all these different flavors of linux. If they are soooo customizable, then why need 40 different distros? There is one Apple, there is only 1 Windows (okay, there are two, a prof and a home), why have all these different linuxes? why not just one, make it great, and enter into the desktop market? seems like they are all competing more with each other than with the Big Boys.
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:46AM (#4521552)
    Personally, I would pay more attention to the OS8 guidelines that the Aqua guidelines. IMHO, Aqua is a little broke. (Quicktime, anybody?) There's way too much emphasis on making computer controls look like real-life objects and not like computer controls.

    As someone who's used OS8, OS9, Linux, and all the video variants, let me tell you that OS8 comes pretty damn close to being *golden*. Apple spent a lot of time making OS7-9 pleasant and easy to use and it shows.
  • Great! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by e8johan ( 605347 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:47AM (#4521556) Homepage Journal
    This is exactly what is missing if Linux is going to make it to the mainstream desktop.
    As soon as Linux is recognized as a userfriendly, easy-to-use desktop with lots of free (as in beer) software by the average user Windows will get into real problems. Such an opening would generate a *huge* increase in the number of users and thus in the interest in supporting Linux from different companies.

    Two points to avoid flaming: 1) I know that Linux is only the kernel, simply sed 's/Linux/Gnu\\Linux/' and be happy, 2) "as in beer" is how the average user will see it, my mother don't care for open source, she wants to use it as a tool!
  • by larien ( 5608 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:48AM (#4521560) Homepage Journal
    Well, let's compare this to other desktops; XP allows me to do all sorts of stuff with the user I created at initialisation, including create other user accounts. What this is probably aiming for is the same sort of user as XP, i.e. one that doesn't want to know about 'root' he wants things to 'just work'. In any event, it's probably more secure than having the user log in as root with a password of 'password'; how long would that take to crack?

    If you're going to deploy this in any kind of serious setting, you'll have admins to set up scripts to remove the glaring security holes in any case.

  • I Have No Problems. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by _iris ( 92554 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:54AM (#4521617) Homepage
    (disclaimer: I have not installed Debian since 2.2)

    Personally I have no problem with Debian's installer. In fact, it is the best I have seen yet. In a desktop situation you can (with the exception of partitioning a disk and one or two other places) just continually hit [ENTER] and come out with a base Debian install.

    Which installer is better?
  • Ximian Setup Tools (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SmileyBen ( 56580 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:57AM (#4521648) Homepage
    Slightly off-topic, but bear with me: they mention using Ximian Setup Tools, but all mention of this project appears to have dissappeared from Ximian's website. Does anyone know what's happened to it? Are the tools orphaned, abandoned, or just moved (and hidden somewhere)? They were looking very promising, and in terms of achieving what this Debian desktop project is trying to, they seem to fit the bill very well...

  • Re:Daunting? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ace Rimmer ( 179561 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:58AM (#4521652)
    Bah, maybe if you use it for a server. I installed it on a workstation and besides sound, 3d graphics, i18n everything was quite fine (I've chosen minimal instalation and then used apt instead that pigdoggish green spit dselect ;). After a day or two I had everything working fine but mdk or redhat is another story.

    Just try to replace a videocard - what will Debian with default xdm do?
  • by FooBarWidget ( 556006 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:58AM (#4521657)
    What about the GNOME Human Interface Guide []?
  • by Stephen Williams ( 23750 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:01AM (#4521674) Journal
    How much of a performance increase is gained by optimizing the "average"[1] application? I don't mean stuff that bangs the CPU, like bzip2, or an MP3 encoder, or whatnot; I mean something interactive like a mail client, which spends most of its time in an idle state, waiting for the user to press a key or click the mouse.

    Optimizing the kernel for a particular CPU model is almost certainly a win (I'm not a kernel hacker and don't know how much of a win); but it seems to me that the costs of producing and storing multiple optimized versions of an "average" app probably outweigh the benefits. And since i386 is the lowest common denominator, Debian may as well just continue building for that.


    [1]: if indeed there is such a thing as an "average" app.
  • Menus (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PeterClark ( 324270 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:02AM (#4521692) Journal
    One thing I hope that they will do is have better integrated menus for GNOME and KDE programs. I ran KDE in Debian and always hated that by default, there was a "Debian" submenu for non-KDE programs. Ditto under GNOME. Programs ought to be grouped by task, not by desktop.
  • by 3t3rn4l ( 204282 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:23AM (#4521872)
    I just successfully installed Debian on my notebook about a week ago. For the most part, my installation experience was uneventful, but one of the first things I was surprised by is the lack of a graphical installer. ( I flashed back to installing Minix on my A500 and my first install of Slackware back in 1995! :)

    SO WHAT!?! It installed fine.

    Some of my minor complaints include:

    Ease of install of Xwindows

    X installation has always been a bitch for me irregardless of the distribution Linux or BSD. It seems that it's something that always needs tinkering. I did get this going fairly quick after some help from my BSD admin guru--thank the Gods for buddies!

    Ease of install of sound

    I still don't have sound working, but I haven't given it the one two punch!

    Ease of install of APM support

    I probably haven't looked in the right place or good documentation doesn't exist. And I'm lazy? :S

    Up to date install documentation

    Let's face it, I think that once most people get their configuration working they don't think about giving back to the community. Something that should definately be reconsidered.

    Package Manager selection at end of install

    Aggravating. I don't want to sit and select then download and install 200M of software after I get it installed, but I DO want an easy way to get back to package management once I hastily exit out if it. I want my cake and I want to eat it too.

    Overall though, my Debian install was a pleasant experience.

    If I didn't have ~10 years of XP working with *NIX as a user and ~20 years of XP working with computers I certainly wouldn't know where to begin. That's why I think better documentation is certainly in order.

    OVERALL, Debian is everything that I would expect it to be for what I consider to be a non-commercial distribution of Linux.
  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:54AM (#4522113) Homepage
    But a plea to you guys -- can we have some co-ordination and co-operation please? Everyone seems to be doing their own thing in many areas.

    It's called the Bazzar. Not the Cathederal. It seems to have worked very well so far to create some really good software. Sorry it might not work as quickly as you or I might like.

    Remember, your competitioin is Microsoft, they have 95% of the desktop market (or there abouts).

    The Bazzar model of development is what will hurt Microsoft. They cannot compete with that.

    Choice is what will undermine Microsoft. They do not offer that.

    Example: hardware vendors should all work together and cooperate. There should be only one single kind of CD drive, one kind of each size of monitor, one kind of CPU, etc.

    The Bazzar seems to work there quite well. Look at hardware prices.

    I agree that it would be bad if the open source world spread its resources too thin. But I don't think it is. Even if it were, there is little you or I can do about it. That is just another condition of the Bazzar.

    You should be teaming together to fight them, not amongst each other.

    I don't think there is any "fighting" going on. I suppose we have seen some bickering amongst KDE and GNOME advocates. (But amongst the developers?)
  • Re:Daunting? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by a3ulafia ( 600025 ) <lee.eds@org> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @11:16AM (#4522286)

    The Yellow Dog Linux installation has a graphical installer (using the Blackbox WM) and it requires you to click through about 10 screens. If you live in the USA, most of the default settings are accaptable.

    After installing both Mac OS X and Windows 2000 many times, I can honestly say that the YDL installer is the most directly functional and the least obtrusive. []

  • by mo wiggley ( 599290 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @11:19AM (#4522301) Journal
    I use Libranet 2.7, and for anyone whos interested in using the basic concept of what this article is talking about, give it a shot. You've got Gnome 2 and KDE 3 very well integrated, a VERY easy text based install, Adminmenu is an excellent system config tool that covers a lot of very important territory like networking, X , software management, security updates, and on and on. No, I have zero relation to them other than as user, but I promise you, it is very well done, and well worth the price for anyone who would like to explore Debian, but for one reason or another cant get it happening. Im not pushing a product, Im just saying, for the sake of those who may be interested, and anyone else can use whatever wonderful distro you use.
  • Re:Daunting? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by batkiwi ( 137781 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @11:28AM (#4522362)
    Redhat (and mandrake) have Kudzu.

    Shut down, swap network cards, boot up. On init, it says something like "Your network card has changed, do you you want to copy your old settings to the new card?"

    Then it does it, and you boot up.
    Same thing with video cards/etc.
  • by Zigg ( 64962 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @12:14PM (#4522828)

    I would have thought Debian could avoid these problems. Hmmm... if some of the smartest Linux developers can't package KDE with any degree of sanity, I think that could possibly indicate that KDE's design is fundamentally broken, in that it's quite impossible to break it down into independent modules.

    In Debian, there is kdebase. It only installs the essentials for KDE. I think it's reasonable to assume that if someone asks for kde, they'd want most of the stuff [] offers.

    Actually, since I started using Debian again, I've been fairly impressed by the work that goes into just pulling in what you actually need.

  • Re:Wrong focus? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sab39 ( 10510 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @12:59PM (#4523243) Homepage
    Mozilla 1.1 has been in unstable for ages, since pretty soon after 1.1 was released. Mozilla 1.1 is the latest stable Mozilla version. Ergo, Debian (unstable at least) is up to date with the latest Mozilla. When 1.2 is released, I bet Debian will get it pretty darn quickly.

    I suspect that the reason it's not in testing is because someone found a bug in it that's considered release-critical.

    Oh, and GNOME2 (the bits that aren't already in unstable, cf gnome-terminal) is apparently going into unstable this weekend (according to the gtk-gnome list archives). The holdup was transition scripts so that it wouldn't completely throw away all your existing configuration settings from GNOME1 (remember that the two can't coexist cleanly!). They're going to hold it out of testing artificially until these transition scripts have been tested a little more.

    Personally I'm extremely glad of that, because I use GNOME to get real work done and I went so far as to artificially downgrade my sid machine to sarge specifically to avoid gnome-terminal and other GNOME2 packages. If GNOME2 had gone into Debian any sooner, I'd have been terribly unhappy.

    I'd like to see xft/fontconfig make it into Debian, but the X maintainer has made a good case for holding off on that until X 4.3ish. When you're Red Hat and do one release a year, ongoing changes aren't a problem because you can ignore them until your next release. When you're Debian and do one release a day, ongoing changes hurt!

  • Re:Start Here: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pmz ( 462998 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @01:49PM (#4523623) Homepage
    The Gnome Usability Report

    On the first page of the report, I noticed something odd. All of the study's (largely non-hacker) participants rated themselves as "expert" Windows users but utterly helpless at UNIX. Interesting thing is, to a pure end user, CDE/GNOME/KDE aren't too far removed from Windows as far as available tools, etc., go--the main difference is that Windows is flashy and expertly marketed. I think that people, in general, perceive UNIX as "hard" regardless whether it actually is. This psychological barrier is artificial, yet it makes up the biggest obstacle to getting through to most people about UNIX and Linux.

    Me thinks Sun and the GNOME foundation need to crank up their respective marketing machines to further dismantle Microsoft's dominance in the global perception about computers and software. Whenever Sun is ready with their GNOME/Linux business PCs, they should get full page ads in the major PHB-oriented and business-oriented periodicals. The word really needs to get out there.
  • by FooBarWidget ( 556006 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:02PM (#4523765)
    Another "X sucks" post again.
    Yeah sure, you claim that X* will never cut it in the desktop world. Why? OK, network transparency is not imporant to you, but it doesn't hurt you either! What's so wrong with X that it needs to be replaced?
    It's got support for lots of video cards, 2D graphics, 3D hardware acceleration (OpenGL/DRI), hardware YUV acceleration (XVideo), video mode switching (XVidMode), translucent rendering (Xrender), antialiasing (Xft), and soon root window resizing (RandR) and perhaps translucent windows.
    And most important of all: X is designed to be extensible!
    All the other 'replacements' are big jokes. DirectFB/GGI/Berlin don't support nearly as many video cards and aren't nearly as mature.

    * It's the X window System, or just X! NOT "X-windows", "X-window", "X windows" or "X window".
  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @02:43PM (#4524071)
    X-Windows is never going to cut it in the desktop world.

    X-Windows is going to totally kick ass in the desktop world. Network transparency is the BIGGEST deal ever. Why?

    You can run thin clients - for corporates this is a good thing, as it means they get control of their own machines again. Thin client setups are easier to administer, and can work out cheaper than having thousands of breakable PCs that have to be upgraded by hand every few years.

    People can try out Linux with only an X server. No really, I've done this several times for people on IRC - they install a Windows X server and I launch a few apps to them to play with. It's a first taste, and often gets them interested. It's how I started

    People can "swap" apps between machines on home networks. Well, OK, right now xmove is slightly broken, but the XFree developers are definately considering repairing it and then integrating it into X. Let's say you have 3 computers. One of them has a music setup, as a member of your family is a musician. Another is in the lounge, and another is in a bedroom. You're working on a document in the study, when your eldest daughter wants to come in and write some bangin' tuneage. No problem, you just click in the control button in the window and "Move screen" it to the computer in the lounge, where you can talk to your wife at the same time. A few hours later, she wants to watch TV, so you move again to the bedroom. No need to restart the app. This is easy with X, near impossible with anything else.

    You can have logins within a window. XNest lets you do this easily. Can Windows or MacOS do this? No, I think not.

    Dude, X-Windows is going to cut up the desktop market. Network transparency is useful to everybody, it's just we've never really had it before so nobody can think of why it's useful to them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:26PM (#4524823)
    Okay, step by step:

    First: Debian is the only FREE Distro, that is distributed as Open Source/Free Software and assembled by volunteers.
    Second: Debian is a special distribution that is famous for its stability. For professional servers many high qualified people use Debian.
    Thrird: Lindows, Xandros, Knoppix are based on Debian. So Debian is a good meta platform
    fourth: Debian is very famous for its package format. apt get is said to be easy for professionals.
    5th: Debian provides very high quality and a text based installer. Many professionlas dislike graphic installers.
    6. Variety is strength.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears