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GUI Software Editorial Linux

Linux vs. Windows: Choice vs. Usability 1083

Posted by michael
from the i-thought-premium-price-meant-premium-service dept.
ThaReetLad writes "In this article at DevX, Executive Editor A. Russell Jones makes the case for a standardised GUI for Linux. He argues that the promotion of choice of GUI as a positive feature of using Linux is detrimental to its chances of attacking Microsoft's home user monopoly. From the article: '...the open source community must recognize that its primary goals: freedom of choice, freedom of source code, and freedom to alter applications, are not the goals of the average user.' In particular he argues that the choice of desktop between KDE, Gnome, IceWM etc, is not one that a former windows user, even a fairly technically competent one, is going to able to make an informed choice on, and that they should not be forced to make that choice in order to get good use out of any applications they might want to use."
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Linux vs. Windows: Choice vs. Usability

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  • Great one. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by intrinsicchaos (652706) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:15AM (#6813599)
    This is a great article. As an user with minimal knowledge of Linux, I'm mystified by the sheer array of OS's available for me. What does KDE/RedHat/Gnome have over each other?

    It's wise to have everyone rally behind one operating system. That makes it more appealing to the masses. Most PCs have Windows, Macs have OS X, and it's worked superb for both areas.

    I run OS X on my iBook, and it is great. However, being an advanced user of THAT, I would definitely be open to installing any other OS on it if I was given the choice.

    Give the newbies one operating system, and leave it up to the advanced users to install their own choice of operating systems. Much like Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic run on a scale of price, run RedHat/Gnome/KDe on a scale of usability, learning curve, and availability of advanced options.

  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:15AM (#6813601) Homepage
    My father-in-law worked as a travel agent at one time. He said travel agents never give more than three choices to a client. If you gave them more, they'd have to go home and think about it.

    People don't like making choices, it takes away time, energy, and they risk being wrong. That's one thing Windows (and Apple) does well, all choices are made for you.

    The problem I have with the post is that it does NOT have to be a zero-sum game. If someone wants to make a distro of linux that provides limited choices, what's stopping them? Why does every distro have to be limited in choices. That mentality makes no sense.

  • Quick few points (Score:2, Interesting)

    by L-s-L69 (700599) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:16AM (#6813610)
    1. I like choice its of of the many reasons im a big linux fan. 2. For most people new to linux KDE or GNOME are both easy enough to pick up and use, as these are the defaults for most large 'desktop' distros either should do the job. 3. The biggest problem with newbies not adapting linux is the 'its not windows' factor. My mom has used mozilla and linux without knowing it. When I told her it was linux she started to lose the plot.
  • by Epistax (544591) <epistax@gmail.LIONcom minus cat> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:16AM (#6813617) Journal
    We have a standard desktop? Not with linux you sure as hell don't. Is KDE the standard desktop? (flamewar insues) is CDE? (flamewar insues). What are the advantages of emacs and vi? (flamewar insues).

    If you can't tell from this why someone who doesn't like geeky things (aka average computer user) is put off by linux...

    On a side note I think would be rather nice of distros of *nix and gui's and etc. would specify what they think they should be used for. A given windows distro explicitly states what it is for: Small business, server, home use, hand held, etc. On linux? You've get twenty distros all trying to do everything. Give these people something to grasp!
  • Re:Oxymoron... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ceyan (668082) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:17AM (#6813630)
    Despite the editor's lack of insight into Linux GUIs, that comment was uncalled for. It's comments like those that stop Windows users (be they simply home users, or actual tech savvy people) from switching over to Linux, whether you mean them or not. Grow up.
  • by BMonger (68213) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:20AM (#6813663)
    I've installed various distros of Linux (Redhat, Pogo?, and one other (maybe Slackware?)) and maybe it was just my total lack of patience but it seemed like I could get something to work on one distro and not on another. Graphics card would/wouldn't work, ethernet would/wouldn't work, sound would/wouldn't work. I actually started keeping a notebook around to write down the methods I got things to work. Sometimes it'd work again and sometimes it wouldn't.

    Then once I got everything working I'd have to figure out which GUI(s) were installed on it. Sometimes they'd work and sometimes they wouldn't. Mostly due to video card issues I'm sure.

    Then if I got the GUI to work I couldn't figure out head from tails how to get programs installed. Most everything that I downloaded it felt like I had to build or download from CVS or some weird junk like that.

    Eventually I gave up on wasting my time and went back into Windows. Then my Windows machine bombed out (CPU overheated I think) so I scrapped it for parts and now am over joyously running Mac OS X. Yeah it's more expensive, yeah I *used* to have a one button mouse, yeah it looks like a lamp... whatever. I know I have a good and solid OS underneath all those fancy widgets (which is why I wanted to install Linux in the first place) and I have those fancy widgets (which is why I always went back to Windows). Everything works and to get applications installed I just copy them into a directory and voila! Yes on occassion some random freeware/shareware program doesn't work for some reason or another. But overall I think it's a good middle ground between Linux and Windows.

    I'm not by any means knocking Linux. I know most a good 25% of the people here probably can get it to run in their sleep and I applaud you for it. But I just don't have the patience I suppose. It's not that I'm afraid of breaking something. It's just that after a weeks worth of trial and error it sorta makes you discouraged.
  • What about Windows ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by subStance (618153) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:21AM (#6813673) Homepage
    Has this guy even talked to the average Windows user ? The most common question I get is "Which Windows version should I use ? NT ? XP ? ME ?".

    The average windows user doesn't even know which *windows* desktop they should use, so it's a bit of a stretch to ask Linux distro vendors to solve a problem that Microsoft hasn't been able to solve - if it's even really a problem at all.
  • by Ducati_749S (646019) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:26AM (#6813758)
    One of the things that does help set a good GUI apart from an OK one is extensive, focused usability testing.
    While the underpinnings of KDE and Gnome continue to advance, I doubt a great deal is being spent along the lines of usability for the GUI. Whatever your feelings may be towards M$, one thing that can't be argued is the amount of research & testing they put into the design of their UI.
    Maybe the next logical step for one of these platforms would be to have a build that focuses on UI design for the non-technical users that makeup the majority of the Windows clientel. Until that happens, I fear these products will fall into the realm of "techie stuff", as my father puts it, for the less sophisticated users.
  • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrXym (126579) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:28AM (#6813794)
    It would be beneficial to both KDE & GNOME if they got together and sorted out a single standard things that both have in common.
    • A theme engine for rendering widgets, scrollbars etc. XP & OS X have this and it's
    • Icons for toolbars
    • Metrics
    • Usability guidelines
    • Menus and icon properties

    At the end of the day, most people don't give a toss what the name of the thing running their desktop is, or why KDE is better than GNOME or vice versa. They just want a consistent desktop and a consistent set of apps running on top of it.


    Of the distributions so far, Red Hat has clearly gotten the message. The RH9 desktop with bluecurve theme throughout is a wonderfully put together desktop. It's only when you contrast it with the slapdash Mandrake desktop for example that you appreciate the difference that consistency makes.

  • by image (13487) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:33AM (#6813875) Homepage
    It is worth considering that "attacking Microsoft's home user monopoly" is not necessarily a core goal of Linux. In fact, one could rightly argue that the one core goal of Linux is the original goal -- to provide a free, open implementation of a UNIX-like operating system. Competing with a huge commercial entity such as Microsoft (or Sun, for that matter) is a incidental goal sponsored by some particular individuals within the Linux community and certain other corporate entities (RedHat, Lindows, IBM, etc).

    Granted, there are huge gains to be seen when Linux-based systems do compete with Microsoft for the home user. The price-point of RedHat, Debian, and even LindowsOS, systems are certainly going to have a positive impact in the market vis-a-vis the pricing and licensing models for MSFT. And the relative security of Linux-based systems vs. Microsoft systems will ultimately force a shift in MSFT's strategy of preferencing convenience and feature-set over security and reliability for the home user.

    But we shouldn't overlook that Linux, as an open-source, community driven project, isn't interested directly in competing with anything. We've seen various products, such as Gnome, KDE, etc., emerge to provide capabilities on top of Linux that do directly compete with MSFT, but it is important to remember that those are not core Linux values, but rather a fortunate by-product of a environment that is legitimately tired of a marketplace almost fully co-opted by a corporation that leverages it's (near) monopoly position to the utmost.
  • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:33AM (#6813879) Journal
    "...the open source community must recognize"
    The open source community must do this, the Free Software community must do that, Slashdot users always say this, blah blah blah..

    I'm sick and tired of people trying to tell everyone what "NEEDS!!!" to be done so that morons using windows will deem our desktops worty enough of them to use.

    1. I hate to break it to you but the 'open source community' doesn't all write software for the same reason. I'm sure most individual developers could give a rat's ass if people migrate from windows or not, as long as they are happy with their work.
    2. We are not one person with one attitude, the strength of FREE SOFTWARE is in the collaboration of people with different motivations. Free Software is like a ratchet. People pull in all sorts of directions but the GPL makes sure *the software* keeps going in one direction -->> improving.
    3. If we standardize, we loose our strength which lies in DIVERSITY, without which the above would loose momentum.
    4. There is NO way to standardize, how are we going to forbid distros from adding other wms?
    5. He's arguing we should give up the one ideal the majority of us agree upon, freedom, just to get some useless users to switch?
  • Re:A thought (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ClippyHater (638515) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:41AM (#6813974) Journal
    Do we then really want to take over the desktop?

    I think having a majority of desktops running Linux would be a huge boon! No more searching to see if ALSA supports your latest/greatest sound card, no more searching to see if the latest/greatest graphics card is supported and has full hardware acceleration in 2D and 3D. When you "own" the desktop, suddenly device manufacturers find it prudent to write the drivers for you.

    No more Wine/what-have-you to run some of those fantastic commercial apps under Linux (and spottily at best for some). The manufacturers will find it in their best interest to do a straight port to Linux to get to the most users.

    So, IMO, yes, we do want to own the desktop

    If we have to become like Microsoft to defeat Microsoft, then what's the point?

    If by "become like Microsoft" you mean suddenly having questionable business practices, then obviously you don't. If you mean writing easily breakable software, you don't have to do that either. Why would we have to become like Microsoft??
  • lifestyle gumdrops (Score:3, Interesting)

    by epine (68316) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:45AM (#6814034)

    There are two things I hate about this article. The first is that it is a straw man attack. The second is his premise that no one think too hard. The users won't think hard, he won't think hard, so why should anyone else? I can agree with the first two, but I don't think it follows for the third group, those of us who conduct the development process.

    I've never had any patience for the "take over the desktop" mantra. Satisfying the general public is the most difficult task in programming. Where this does this notion come from that importance is measured in eyeballs? I thought we ditched that one after the dotcom implosion.

    The general population is not a fixed target. What was "obvious" to a non technical person in 1985 is far different than what is "obvious" to such a person now. Even if we all agreed that "one size fits all" would improve the landscape (over my dead body) "one size" is a moving target.

    Finally, uniformity is a marketing process, not a development process. Leave the developers alone. For once, Apple had the right idea when they packaged FreeBSD in a translucent gumdrop (the gumdrop stands for the amalgam of two incompatible user interfaces, one nested inside the other).

    Let's get down to brass tackies: there is a large segment of the population which is relatively careless about where they double click (beer goggles, teenage pregnancy, reality TV). These people are well served by Outlook and Explorer. There is another group that is more fastidious about how they conduct themselves. These people are better served by any other mail client and Opera/Mozilla.

    The choice is not about windows managers, it's about lifestyle, and that choice doesn't go away no matter how you package the underlying technology.
  • by gosand (234100) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:47AM (#6814052)
    Would it be fair to say then, that Red Hat has the right idea trying to make a standardised GUI using the bets bits of (predominantly) GNOME and KDE? Having used Bluecurve'd GNOME over other versions of GNOME, it really is a superb piece of work.. definately the way forward imho, and a huge improvement over the standard.

    Please note my minor but very important corrections to your statements:

    Would it be fair to say then, that Red Hat has a right idea trying to make a standardised GUI using the bets bits of (predominantly) GNOME and KDE? Having used Bluecurve'd GNOME over other versions of GNOME, it really is a superb piece of work.. definately one way forward imho, and a huge improvement over the standard.

    Choice is one of the critical strengths of Linux. Standardizing the GUI (if that were even possible) for everyone would weaken it. No matter how you standardized it, someone would lose out. I have thought at times that Gnome and KDE should merge and work together. But that would kill off parts of each one of them.

    I personally don't like RedHat's Bluecurve, but I do appreciate what they are trying to do with it. Hey, if it takes off, then maybe RedHat would become the "average-user-friendly" distro because of it. But talking about standardizing the GUI for all of the Linux world is just crazy talk. I found Bluecurve more confusing because I can tell the difference between KDE and Gnome. You put the same front-end on both, and it would be harder to explain to a non-computer user what the differences are. At least if they are separate, they can see the differences.

    From the article header:
    the open source community must recognize that its primary goals: freedom of choice, freedom of source code, and freedom to alter applications, are not the goals of the average user.

    I think it is very important that the open source community recognize this too - but I don't think they have to do anything about it. Why compromize the primary goals and strengths to simply appease the average user? Linux didn't get to where it is by appeasing the average user, why start now? I am not being elitest, I just think that there is no reason to dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator. You want to make a dumbed-down distro - go for it. Challenge Microsoft's desktop, take it over. Win over the average computer user. Just make sure you don't stomp on those primary goals in the process. Having installed older distros, I can absolutely appreciate the advances that have taken place in newer distros. There are still things that can be improved upon as well. But none of these have or will compromize the strengths of Linux.

    As OJ says, that would be ludacrisp. :-)

  • by cK-Gunslinger (443452) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:47AM (#6814059) Journal
    I don't want to sound like a elitist Linux user (I'm not), but if you had to switch from XP to 98 because the interface confused you and you were lost, then *NO* current or near-future version of Linux will be beneficial to you.

    Every single time a new KDE or Gnome version is released, a *lot* of things change, especially configuration utilities (Control Panels.)
  • target newer users (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b17bmbr (608864) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:48AM (#6814064)
    Where I teach,I hear fellow teachers, and even students, look befuddled and apprehensive (ah the big words) when using windows. Most of these are for want of a better term, newbies. They are computer illiterate. So they haven't become dependent on the windows GUI. Plus, since they know so little about comptuers, anything is going to be difficult, UNTIL, they learn how. Linux will have a harder time in users who are used to, but not savvy with, windows. They know where their apps are, where their files are, and not much else. They will be unwilling to "change". However, most of this "is linux desktop ready" is crap, because, if you put somehting in front of a worker, er um, employee, and say, use it, they most likely will. As long as microsoft can have mindshare, that PC=windows, then it will be tough. But, newer users are not going to have the problem. "Oh, you click on the big K. Thanks"
  • by Cthefuture (665326) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:49AM (#6814082)
    If I had to choose, I would vote for KDE.

    Gtk (GNOME) is free and open. It has a "safe" feeling. However, it's not really cross-platform* and is not very polished (the C API sucks and the gtkmm interface is still rough around the edges). It is a valid choice because of it's freeness. Hence the reason why we have GNOME.

    QT (KDE) is not free and in fact it is way too expensive for most normal uses*. Not everyone wants to release their stuff as GPL. However, it's the best cross-platform GUI toolkit available and feels polished. The applications made with QT are typically more professional feeling than Gtk applications. It is a valid choice because it works really well (better than Gtk).

    So those are the two sides. You have "rough and free" versus "polished and expensive". Because both are equally valid this is why we have the split.

    And I agree with you. If I had to pick who will win the GUI war I would say KDE. But only if Trolltech lowers their prices will KDE survive in the commercial market. As I've mentioned many times, Microsoft's developer prices are way lower (for more stuff) and that's part of the reason why they rule the desktop.

    * Gtk has always run like crap on Windows and on OSX it has to run in the X11 layer.

    * Come on Trolltech, give us a sub-$1000 cross-platform QT.
  • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AntiOrganic (650691) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @10:55AM (#6814143) Homepage
    KDE has Human Interface Guidelines already, and they're really completely nondescript and aren't very cohesive at all. Gnome 2's are really much better and even match Apple's fairly well, in my opinion.
  • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arivanov (12034) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @11:11AM (#6814342) Homepage
    Blah, blah, blah, blah using different GUIs blah, blah, blah.

    Well, a Windows user is capable of making a choice. Do not consider a windows user to be a moron by definition as he/she aint.

    I have several ex-windows users around me which are by all means linux users now. When I say by all means they are using it. They are not administering it, configuring it, tweaking it or in any other way wasting their time. They actually use the machine for work.

    And guess what they use - good ole Windowmaker with the standard brushsteel Debian theme (yes they have tried Gnome, Kde, XFCe, whateverE and they hated every moment of it). After all, people severely understimate the extent to which people like their machine being fast (even when it is a PIV at 2.4) with half a gig of RAM.

  • Re:Good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quarters (18322) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @11:58AM (#6814859)
    Apple's guidelines were born of a lot of time, R&D effort, and sheer determination. The were an excellent source for Apple developers up through MacOS 9.x. With OSX Apple themselves seem to be turning their back on the HIG and doing things in a haphazard, way with no thought towards re-use of GUI ideas or code or following any sort of standard UI practice. Apple's HIG documents are quickly becoming useless dinosaurs----by no one's fault but Apple's.
  • true but. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dash2 (155223) <<davidhughjones> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:00PM (#6814889) Homepage Journal
    This guy is completely right, but it's not as bad as he thinks.


    First, there are serious efforts being made to interoperate between the major desktop - e.g. freedesktop.org [freedesktop.org].


    Second, Linux's first desktop target, according to industry analysts, is very large corporate desktops - where Linux's security, the ability to have defaults set by a sysadmin, and low TCO are winners. In this space, Linux doesn't have to be perfect - nor does it have to allow users to install "any old application". It just has to be good enough.


    I suspect that as Linux desktop developers' experience grows from these initial big installs, they will develop the capabilities to move into the mainstream home market - which is much more picky, has user demand for much more varied apps, and also doesn't make much cash. But even if this doesn't happen, I don't mind if Windows maintains market share here. So long as its total monopoly is broken, that is the main thing.

  • by brettlbecker (596407) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:04PM (#6814950) Homepage
    I don't know about anyone else (and from the amount of Linux vs. Windows articles here, it seems I'm in the minority), but I am getting sick and tired of having Linux compared to Windows. I'm tired of the "battle for the desktop"; I'm tired of "Linux needs to be able to be used by my grandma". I'm tied of "Linux needs a single desktop so it's more friendly to new converts".

    From the beginning, Linux has been about choice. That is one of the main, major features of the free software movement. I hate it when people constantly say, "well, we need to make it easier for people who use Windows to switch to Linux..." No we don't. I used to use Windows. I got sick of it. I switched. I wasn't all that tech-savvy... I didn't even know about the different desktops. I just picked one, tried it, look at another, tried it... went back to the first one. Along the way, I've learned about all of this stuff, but at the beginning it was the idea that something was out there that did things *differently* from Windows that was appealing.

    Linux, the whole free software movement, has come this far on the merits of stability, cost, scalability, and user *choice*. We don't have to bribe people from Windows by making Linux look and feel the same way--I hate how Windows looks and feels. This community just has to keep on with what got it here in the first place, and people will continue to switch.

    And if they don't, well, fine. Because it's a choice. And, frankly, I couldn't care less if your grandma can use Linux or not. Same with Joe Sixpack, whoever that moron is.

    Stop with the articles that try to tell the free software community that it's better to be like Windows, that it's better to unify this and unify that and make everything all even-keeled and solidified. The antithesis of a single answer, the opposite track of Windows is what started it off on the road upon which it has come so far.

    B
  • by n1k0 (553546) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:23PM (#6815148)
    > What did you have trouble adjusting?

    The panel was most annoying. Can I make my GNOME panel look like this [chemlab.org]?

    In general, GNOME's UI is just barren compared to KDE's. When you view the properties of KDE components, there are generally lots of configurables. In my experience with GNOME, I found the opposite to be true. Walk through KDE's control center, and then through GNOME's. I hope you'll see what I mean.

    Another issue was how badly Konqueror kicks the crap out of Mozilla when it comes to speed and responsiveness. I'm not knocking one or the other, I like them both and I realize Mozilla's design as a cross-platform application framework contributes to this. But Mozilla has tangible performance problems, and GNOME integrates Mozilla. This is a problem for me.

    > When was the last time you used it?

    I used it about a week ago and went back to KDE after a few hours. I was pretty disappointed because, as I said, I really want to like GNOME.

    -Nick
  • Re:Good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by qtp (461286) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:03PM (#6815538) Journal
    "To close this window, I need to find the X. It was on the right last time, but that's a Circle. Oh, there it is on the left. Click."

    But in my expirience, users will choose a window manager that suits them and then stay with that. Your argument would be valid if you were not talking about a feature that is consistant throughout a given windowing environment, but is reduiculous if you are claiming that the choice of windowmanager makes using Linux (more accurately, X11) more difficult.

    If you had used the example of menus in applications, then perhaps you would have a valid argument, but only if MacIntosh were your standard. Among Microsoft applications (AFAIK, the most widely used apps) there ios little GUI standardization between different programs and different versions of the same program. Similar features are in different menus depending upon if you are using Publisher, Word, or Frontpage (yes, I know that these programs are for different purposes, but the argument still holds). Upgrading to a new vesion of Word leaves users searching for the new locations of commonly used functions and configurations.

    Different software publishers are successful on the windows platform even though thier interfaces differ from Microsoft's (example: Adobe).

    The argument that Linux needs some kind of standardization on this front flies in the face of the history of the software business and has no real grounding in reason.

    Pick a reasonable default, let the users customize thier environments, choose thier WM, and allow them their choice of apps (as long as the file formats are transparently compatible) and let the Linux programmers program as they see fit.

  • Re:Exactly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:11PM (#6815623)
    I'm a Gnome user myself, but let's face it, KDE is more similar to Win32.

    Many companies actually choose GNOME for exactly that reason - it's NOT like Win32. KDE looks too similar to Windows, and users expect it to behave in exactly the same manner (which, of course, is impossible). GNOME keeps a clean, consistant interface with far fewer options and commands than KDE, as well as easier to spell and pronounce names (Konquerer? Kontour?). GNOME doesn't look like windows, and it doesn't act like windows - so users expect it to behave differently and are forced to learn instead of being confused by the small differences.

    Or, at least that's what UI professionals tell me.
  • by Laur (673497) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:19PM (#6815720)
    It certainly appears that Pro-E [ptc.com] runs on Linux. I believe Unigraphics does as well, but their site was much more difficult to navigate. At least something [eds.com] from them runs on Linux. CATIA doesn't appear to run on linux yet, but with IBM as the main US distributor hopefully that will change soon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:20PM (#6815730)

    Sorry to be so blunt but I'm sick to death of this crap. And if he had half a brain-cell he would be able to recognize this as such.

    Why am I being such a prick? Becuase I've seen what is happening to RedHat and ESPECIALLY SuSE and can only say that what he is suggesting is already happening.

    Take a look as SuSE, they are an excellent example. They have an entire distribution, packaged and ready to go, that is very heavily, if not totally, based upon KDE. They do offer alternatives, but precious few, they don't work as well, and they don't integrate with what SuSE has chosen to provide in the software distribution

    Because of the decisions that SuSE has made, the user is presented with a form of Linux which is:

    • Well Supported as long as you follow the Default.
    • Easy to use and easy to understand for a Windows User.
    • Highly integrated and standardized.

    My point being this. If you are going to make the choice of a Linux Distribution which is geared to the Corporate User or a user who is not interested tweaking Linux then the very moment that you make the choice, be it RedHat, Mandrake, SuSE, you have defined and confined yourself into a default window manager with will provide a common, universal GUI interface for as long as you use that distribution. In a Corporation, if they choose one distribution then every desk will appear to be the same insofar as that user chooses to go with the defaults. This is not any different from Windows today.

    It is only in the more varied and more interesting distributions that you have the variety and choice to make the GUI a complexity of life. But even those like Debian and Gentoo, which are less trivial to configure yet provide infinite variety, have basic default options which, within their own space of being Debian or Gentoo is universally common with everyone else and probably common with many of the rest.

    What I have seen is that the people who do not care to learn the interface and want things brain-dead simple will always choose KDE. People who want things to be different for their own reasons: speed, resources, appearance, features, will choose one that best suits them beit Gnome, WindowMaker, or whatever.

    But to think that Linux will become better by having only one WindowManager available to everyone is just Corporate DumbAss thinking. This variety is what is required for Linux to remain a viable entity, to EVOLVE there must be variety and not all of them will survive the next generation.

  • Not again... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kwiqsilver (585008) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:27PM (#6815796)
    A couple times a year, somebody writes an article about a unified GUI. It's a bunch of crap.
    • You don't have to choose a GUI with the distros that cater to these windows converts. Distros like Mandrake and Lindows install one by default, only advanced users can figure out how to get a choice.
    • Companies using a GNU/Linux desktop will probably use the default as well.
    • Many of us don't want to use KDE or GNOME: If I wanted a slow, bloated interface that looks like windows, I'd run windows.
    • It's not possible. The nature of an open OS is such that you can't force somebody to use a particular component. Rasterman isn't going to stop developing Enlightenment, just because some journalist doesn't want his grandmother see it. And I won't stop using it.
    • Screw grandma! Why cripple the rest of us, forcing us to run a UI designed to be usable with IQ of 50 (see comment about using windows above).
    • Choice is always a good thing. It's nice that automakers standardized on the clutch-brake-throttle positions, but there's no need to have the knobs for the AC and stereo in the same spot. The people who are afraid of choice sit down at the computer thinking it's too complicated for them, and that's why it is. Choice is what makes GNU great.
    • Competition in the production of interchangeable commodity components is a key element of capitalism. One size fits all design is socialism. One creates advancement, one creates stagnation. Look at the advancement of FS/OS browsers over the past few years, versus the advancement of proprietary browsers (i.e. IE) in that same period. If a similar movement made mozilla the only browser, do you think it would advance as quickly without konqueror, firebird, galeon, etc. challenging it?
  • by Nicolai Haehnle (609575) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:37PM (#6815907)
    Since I don't have any moderator points to mod you up, I'll point out that I agree with you and add a slightly longer post in the hope to catch a little more attention for an important subject ;)

    It's kind of sad that so many people rant on about problems of the Linux desktop without knowing about Freedesktop.

    It's true: The biggest problem Linux has on the desktop is one of interoperability. There are still some applications that don't get Copy&Paste right (it's gotten a *lot* better though), and Drag&Drop across toolkits is mostly a disaster (but there are already numerous cases where it works).

    Some people want to magically fix that by removing all toolkits except for one. Newsflash: This is never going to work. Even if you were to remove all toolkits except for one today, somebody would start writing a completely new one tomorrow.
    The real problem is that there were no (or unclear) inter-application communication standards. That's what the Freedesktop project tries to fix - and it does so successfully.

    The nice thing is that Freedesktop works through evolution, rather than revolution.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2003 @02:04PM (#6816207)
    This pundit obviously knows nothing about how software is developed. The developers will end up using the best library/GUI for their needs. If were talking about a serious commercial application, then the $1000 commercial license for QT (which also gives you cross platform porting!) is really nothing.

    If a gaggle of commercial developers start using KDE because they can write one app for Linux, Mac OS X and Winblows then the users wont have any choice. They will be running the KDE/QT libraries even if they are running some other window manager such as WindowMaker (my reigning non-kde-gnome fave).

    Having said that, I prefer the KDE environment. Sometimes I even use Konqueror under Windowmaker. At some point the great majority of applications will decide on KDE or Gnome. The others will fade and it's possible that the importance of X itself will fade from history. Quite soon there may be non-X versions of KDE running on Linux. The big roadblock is video card drivers (could they be converted?).

    Having been a developer in C and C++ and GUI's for about 20+ years now I'll have to say that KDE is by far the better architecture. No serious developer will ever start a new, large application/GUI project in C anymore. I know GNOME/GTK has a C++ interface, but its not well supported if not actually deprecated. The whole move by the Gnome chief towards cloning .net is foolish and a distraction from what should be his main focus.

    The only real concern in my book is that the Canopy group has a minority share in Trolltech. Of course, after IBM and RedHat scatter SCO and Canopy to the four winds they would no doubt own, not just the SysV source code, but the Canopy's interest in TrollTech. That would work out nicely considering IBM is a big proponent of KDE and the cross-platform capability of KDE would help IBM's partner in Mac OS X hardware, Apple. It would also help Apple since they use Konqueror in Safari.

    End game: IBM buys the rest of Trolltech and removes cross-platform license fees. Commercial use of KDE/QT would be under LGPL or maybe just the GPL. IBM slices off a chunk of money and creates the QT foundation. They pay QT developers to develop it forever and the original Trolltech developers are rich because they got bought out. Excellent all around.

    Until then we have Mac OS X, which is the best damn graphic environment around bar none. Of course, there is a little bit of evil over at Apple with MS being a part owner.

    In the end, some form of PDF-like environment will be worked out on the KDE side and even Mac OS will fade from view.

  • by tgd (2822) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @02:19PM (#6816371)
    It computes just fine if it makes me more productive. Speed isn't everything, and most people would never notice the difference between a 1.2 ghz and a 2.6ghz processor.
  • by Jon Abbott (723) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @02:19PM (#6816375) Homepage
    If you want an entry level Apple, you can get an iBook laptop for $950 (education price), or an eMac for $749 (also the education price). That isn't too cost-prohibitive for what you are getting, especially considering that both of these machines will run OS X faster than my 1.5 year old Powerbook G4...

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