Linked by Eugenia Loli on Thu 11th Jul 2002 19:00 UTC
KDE KDE 3 was released only a few months ago, and it is, to date, the most successful version of the series, serving more than 50% of the Unix and Linux desktops, surpassing Gnome (~21%) and the rest of the gang. However, KDE is not perfect, and still not as comfortable as the Windows or as sexy as the MacOSX desktops. It lacks two things: integration with the underlying system and UI polishing. Today, I will mostly talk about the polishing part, as a lot has been already said elsewhere about the seemingly unsolvable integration issue (because of the modularity and completely independant/remote software projects.) Update: And as I was just publishing this article, KDE 3.1-Alpha was released. I hope that some of my recommendations will make it to the final version of KDE 3.1.
Order by: Score:
like the ideas...
by Yannick Koehler on Thu 11th Jul 2002 19:38 UTC


I like the ideas proposed even if the one that actually interested me most were the one about the integration or lack of it. I actually wrote something on KDE to ease of the use of portage and then after thinking about it the problem was really the one mentionned by Eugenia, why wouldn't I be able to use single app in a single way to install most kind of software.

On other OS, the native way is use as it fit the best the desktop but this is when the os comes with a desktop solution. Linux is special because the application space without UI is great and is well populated compared to the UI application space.

Therefore Linux UI need to be even better than other OS UI to properly presents all the different app available in a consistent way and all that in a fraction of time it actually took to make those non-UI app.

This is what I would call a Monk's job ;-)

Under X (X-Darwin in fact) My desktop of Choice is http://www.GnuStep.org with windowmaker.
Gnustep will get a boost in its developemnt tools. Apple is really working hard on gcc and has started not so long ago to work on GDB. Apple uses Objective which is what gnusteps need ....

IMHO...
by Mr. Cancelled on Thu 11th Jul 2002 19:51 UTC

Not to re-open old and unanswerable debates, but I feel that X has to die for Linux to make it to the Desktop.

Or at least we need to have some kind of optional replacement that doesn't carry all the baggage that X does.

A lot of what you point out in your article makes sense Eugenia, but even if the folks at KDE did make your suggested changes (not likely... There's a huge difference between what OSS developers want vs. what their users want), I still don't think Linux would make the inroads that it wants to, into Desktop land. KDE might be ready too, but it's underlying foundation is not.

X lacks the easy configurability and universal performance that a desktop OS needs.

Yes, you can login remotely to X. I know, I know... That's what all the die-hards chant whenever this debate comes up. But how often have any of us done this (System Admins don't count)?

Ok.. Now compare how many times you've NOT used X's remote features, as compared to how many times you've wished you could change your resolution easily without rebooting?

And this is the crux of the arguement: Yes, X has some very unique and arguably nice features. FOR SYSTEM ADMINS!

That only serves to reinforce the notion that Linux is only suitable for Server and Legacy applications.

Yes, you can setup some nice dumb terminals and log in remotely to an X-windows system remotely to do your work, but again... Is this what the average desktop user wants??

Not likely. In fact let's see who would want to configure Linux for this purpose... I know! Again, System Admins!

Yes, some use it as their sole desktop OS, but they are the exception. I want to see Linux have the universal appeal and performance that makes the a modern OS what it is. Linux is trying to move there, but until the Linuz zealots get off their soapboxes and admit that X might not be the end-all to everyone, Linux is staying right where it is. Locked into the server/hobbyist niche that it's carved out for itself.

And the funny thing is that although there's tons of people shouting for an X replacement, very little headway's being made on creating one.

So while KDE and Gnome both have grown up nicely (I agree KDE's leading the way though!), they're both also tied to this old behemoth of a display system which pales in comparison to their sleek, high performance GUI's.

While I appreciate the work going into both GUI's (BTW, XFCE's still my preference, even with KDE's recent improvements, largely due to the performance hit that X gives KDE), until X is gone, or there's a compatible alternative with better specs and performance, I don't foresee either taking over the desktops of the average PC user.

Sad too... KDE does have some nice features. Until you want to interact with something that's not a KDE app that is. Then it's a mixed blessing (again, largely due to the lack of a universal, high-performance backend, keybindings, and so on; All of which a good, well-written X replacement would bring to the table.).

Ok X Lovers: Flame away...

Nice!
by Corey O'Connor on Thu 11th Jul 2002 20:05 UTC

I Definitely appreciated this look into kde's I design. I hope they listen.

good article
by stew on Thu 11th Jul 2002 20:10 UTC

Thanks for that, Eugenia. I hope you sent a hint on that to the corresponding KDE mailing lists.

However, allow me a one remark: Why do you reduce the width of your panel? it would make much more sense to reduce the height and increase the width over the full screen width. Yes, kinda like Windows...Microsoft did that for a reason. With the screen corners and edges being the points that are the easiest to reach, take advantage of that and put important objects in the corners and at the edges. In this case, Kicker in any screen corner and the task bar (sorry, I don't know what the KDE name is) and a border, and don't stack items in it! The two-row layout takes away everything you gain from placing it at the edge.

Re: good article
by Eugenia on Thu 11th Jul 2002 20:14 UTC

But I do not reduce the width of my panel. In fact, I make more use of the desktop space!
Everytime a new application opens and creates a new Taskabar entry, Kicker needs to *resize automatically* to the required width (+150 pix)! But today, Kicker does not 'listen' to Taskbar's size requirements. This needs fixing. If they fix that, it is better to have a "dock" like OSX's, and then, as you add more applications, the width will expand to eventually across the screen, as it is in the default setup of Kicker! ;)

Re: good article
by stew on Thu 11th Jul 2002 20:25 UTC

But why do you make it use so much height? Why two rows? Why don't you keep the K menu in a fixed location?

Re: good article
by Eugenia on Thu 11th Jul 2002 20:28 UTC

I like it better this way. The K menu otherwise is extremely small (16pix) and everything looks too flat, uninteresting, and it gives the impression that Kicker is of no importance. Which of course is not the case.
Even the XP menu is a lot "fater" these days in terms of height than it used to be. Same goes for OSX's dock default height.

Re: good article
by stew on Thu 11th Jul 2002 20:45 UTC

You don't need any height when your at the bottom. But you are right, the K menu neeeds some hightlighting. I think just giving it some colour would help here.

Great Article
by linux_baby on Thu 11th Jul 2002 20:54 UTC

Great article, with tons of interesting points. I hope someone listens. The point about default configs is quite important.

And yes, a bit more speed will be nice as well, though I am not sure this is entirely a KDE issue.

> And the funny thing is that although there's
> tons of people shouting for an X replacement,
> very little headway's being made on creating one.

Attempts have been made, but they all remain half-baked. Wishing for a replacement is easy, but writing one, and actually getting it to the point where it is useable, (and able to support existing X apps), is an incredible amount of work. I was hoping that KDE would actually create that replacement eventually, but judging from past interviews, that possiblity would seem to be remote.

Anyways, great article, and kudos to the KDE folks for doing a great job. I hope KDE gets better from here.

KDE linux distro
by TLy on Thu 11th Jul 2002 20:57 UTC

Would it be too much to ask for a Linux distro made specifically for KDE so that it may be optimized for KDE and really integrate KDE into the underlying system?

RE: good article
by TLy on Thu 11th Jul 2002 21:06 UTC

Turn on autohide if KDE is capable of doing it. Then you'll be taking up NO space for the taskbar, but when you need it, it pops back up with all the room you need and then goes away.

Integration, X, and random stuff
by RevAaron on Thu 11th Jul 2002 21:07 UTC

1. People love to go on and on to say why X should die. I used to be one of those people, until I wised up. All the reasons that Mr. C gives has to do with the implementation, and are not inherent to X. People inanely chant "X11 sucks! X11 sucks!" just as much as apologists chant "Remote apps!" There is no reason that a system like Mac OS X couldn't be implemented on top of X11. You could implement Display PostScript (like with GNUstep) or Display PDD (OS X's quartz) on top of X11.

With straight up vanilla X11R6.3, no. It lacks transparency. But there are hacks that deviate that bring transparency to X. We all could be running this X server without it ruining our old apps. Organizing a big push to get all the major distrobution organizations to start using a non-standard X server would be a lot easier (and more practical for all involved parties) than would to have it Berlin (or something akin to it) replace X11.

Your gripe is with Xfree86 and the existing toolkits. The way you change resolution and bit depth is specific to the implementation, in this case XFree86. You do it different on Solaris under OpenWindows. Before you open your mouth to chant the "X11 Sucks!" mantra next time, remember this. Change it to "XFree sucks!" if it's that important. These problems could be fixed within XFree86 itself.

The culture of X11 is somewhat icky. There is no built in widget set- everyone and their grandma has written a new widget set that doesn't work with the other ones, look slightly different, but does pretty much the same damn thing. The way X is, and the fact that Xaw, Xt, and leter Motif suck hard encouraged the emergence of all the new GUI toolkits.

I'm not so much an X supporter as an enemy of ignorance. That is, I'd much rather use something like NeXTSTEP or PicoGUI (http://pgui.sf.net), that has a widget set built into the display server.

Toolkits. The source of many other problems. KDE and GNOME lack integration with themselves. The integration you find in Mac OS. From my observations, most KDE and GNOME people come from a Unix or Windows background, two platforms where there's not all that much consistency and integration. Sure, a shell brings a shred of consistency, but not as much as the shell in VMS. (no, I'm not kidding, do your research before laughing) In Windows, whatever integration and consistency that is there is easily missed, or is convulted to the point that these KDE and GNOME developers must be getting the message that any sort of attempt at integration and consistency just gets in your way- as it often does on Windows.

The Linux OS has a little bit to do with a lack of consistency and integration. However, NeXTSTEP and OpenStep has shown us that a usable *user-oriented* environment can be done on top of Unix. There has to be wrappers around the old interface and some padding, but it can be done. Doing that kind of work is not fun though, oftentimes, and frankly, I don't blame Open Source and Free Software developers for not wanting to do dirty work they see as unnecesary. I am a OSS developer myself, but I must admit sometimes I would much rather just skip to the fun stuff.

It's too bad OS News doesn't have threading, or some way to reply to a specific post. I know that this large editorial will probably go mostly just be drowned in the chorus of yelling, but if anyone wants to write a reply or rebuttal, an email would be welcome.

Re: KDE linux distro
by RevAaron on Thu 11th Jul 2002 21:17 UTC

I totally agree with TLy. There are many strengths in having a generalized distro- but we already have 100 of those. What would be incredible are distrobutions that take a desktop, KDE, GNOME, GNUstep, XFCE, and take the desktop to the next level, basically an OS entirely around KDE. Get rid of all of the Unix cruft that you can, make administration as easy as (bleh) or easier than Winblows, and have it well integrated with the Linux or BSD install below it. Hell, it would be cool if someone created this layer- what goes between the traditional Unix/Linux side and the desktop- and had it so that pretty much any desktop or app could call into it. <sigh> I should just asking for OS X, and switch back to it. ;)

i agree with TLy
by dawn on Thu 11th Jul 2002 21:25 UTC

TLy : "Would it be too much to ask for a Linux distro made specifically for KDE so that it may be optimized for KDE and really integrate KDE into the underlying system?"

i totally have to agree with that, maybe by this way we could gain some speed and stability:)

Re: KDE Linux distro
by stew on Thu 11th Jul 2002 21:29 UTC

There is such a thing. It was called Corel Linux, will be Xandros Linux soon and is also providing the base for Lindows.

Response
by Spark on Thu 11th Jul 2002 21:38 UTC

To the guy saying how bad X is: I agreed with you but not anymore because I learned that performance isn't the only thing that counts and X can be made quite responsive, also looking good. So what's missing is mainly configurability and I believe that it's definetly possible to add this to X (might take some time though but not as much as writing a new display manager from scratch). Of course there is nothing wrong with writing something better, but currently I believe that X will do the trick for now.

To Eugenia:
About Gtk/Qt, you are a bit wrong with stating that it would be common to run Gtk and Qt apps at the same time. I never do that. Both environments are really mature enough to offer whatever you need. If you don't want to use Gtk Evolution, use Qt KMail. Sure, you might like Evolution better but it's still your decision, you don't have to.
We have to understand that Unix isn't just _one_ desktop environment (and now please don't respond with an upset "that's why Unix will never make it to the desktop") but many. Just like we have Windows, Mac OS and Amiga OS, we have KDE, Gnome, XFCE, etc. All of them can live on their own, some have more applications, some have less. What they all share though, that is X and the ability to run every application if you _need_ it. That's a great advantage that some proprietory DE's don't have. Those applications will never really integrate (this might be sad but it's true), but they will work together. Things like clipboard, etc will work (you said it doesn't work for you, is this still true with Qt3 adn Gtk? Qt2 had a buggy clipboard implementation).

BTW, most "Joe Users" I know have much less problems with the inconsistent looks of Gtk and Qt than I have. For example my father runs all kinds of different applications and he really doesn't care. For example a while ago he had a Go client on Java with this ugly old Motif toolkit and he told me it would look pretty. ;) So it's really not always about the toolkit, especially not when it comes to "special task" applications (anyone know Blender?).

About the UI of KDE, I mostly agree with you (I especially agree that Konqueror doing everything doesn't make him an actually good browser and with the default style beeing bad. Mosfets Liquid is very good, but also very fancy...). Your suggestions are quite reasonable. Although that's really not what makes me shiver when sitting in front of a KDE desk. ;)
My problems with KDE are those:
- Cluttered menubars. As you pointed out, they don't have much space between menu items and I think they have a reason for this. ;) I usually don't get the menu structure of a KDE application, just like I usually don't get the menu structure of a windows application (like Office), so when I need a certain option, I'm usually searching through the menus instead of immidiatly knowing where to look. :/
- A cluttered control center. Same problem as with menubars, when I want to change a certain feature, I usually have to search a while. They just have way too much preferences and I agree with Havoc Pennington's idea that too much preferences are the root of all OSS GUI evil.
- They also copied other UI mistakes from Windows, like MDI. Granted, this is mostly optional so it's not really a problem. But I find many UI parts of KDE to be build with functionality in mind, not usability. So I can do a lot of things, but don't do them efficiently. Example for this is the Konqueror "split view" functionality. It's a great idea, but I could never figure out how to efficiently use this.
- The default kicker settings don't come even close to what I would consider to be an intuitive and efficient desktop interface.

And some other details. Even the tiny detail that "Ok" buttons are shown on the left makes no sense to me anymore. Some people bash Gnome for breaking out of the "norm", I comment them for having the courage to stand up for what they believe in. Those little details really make me enjoy computing, even when I'm used to something else (less intuitive).

I also agree that system tools should be embedded into the desktop. At least the frontends should be provided, so that the backends can be manipulated for certain systems. It should be the responsibility of the system creator (distributor) though to fit everything together so you get exactly the tools you need to manage this certain system and to make sure that they actually work. BTW, the XST Setup Tools (from Ximian) are a very interesting project that could deliver something like that. It would just need more people actually using and supporting them.

Re: Response
by Eugenia on Thu 11th Jul 2002 21:40 UTC

> Mosfets Liquid is very good

I truly hate Liquid. It is way "too much" at all levels. ;)

Anyone know where I can get debs (prefebaly, just by adding something to my sources file) for KDE 3 *or* GNOME 2 for Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 (woody) PowerPC? I'm dying to try them out, but don't want to take all the time to compile and futz with them, or to break my lovely packaged system. ;)

This was a good article, but I'd bet my bottom dollar that most of the advice will be ignored. I'm beginning to think that Linux will *never* be ready for the desktop - there's far too much historical baggage. In no particular order there's the multiplicity of desktops, the lack of standardisation, the software package management situation. Above all else, however, is the lack of design. This article makes that lack very clear.

We all know that most of the developers who write free software do it in their spare time and work only on things which please them. When you get a multiplicity of developers adding "cool" features you ultimately wind up with bloat, with many different ways of doing the same thing and with no standards. That's why Linux on the desktop is doomed.

The thing that keeps me on Windows is that windows doesn't get in my way. I find that KDE and GNOME are consistent in getting in my way when I'm trying to do my work. If I want to play, to fiddle, then I can fiddle to my hearts content - especially on KDE with the many different combinations of changing the look (but not the feel) of the user interface.

The only thing GNOME has going for it is Ximian, where people are paid to pay attention to the types of issues highighted in the article.

At the end of the day, it's a question of usability. If I can't use my computer as a tool because I'm constantly having to fight the interface, then I'll have to use something that allows me to use the computer as a tool and at the moment that something is Windows. Unfourtanately, it's the old 80/20 rule, only in this case Linux desktops are stuck on 80% and Winblows is more like 95/5. That extra 15% adds up to usability and until KDE and GNOME get there, linux won't be ready for the desktop.

IMHO of course.....

Consistency is overrated...
by Archiesteel on Thu 11th Jul 2002 22:03 UTC

...by that I don't mean that it's not a good thing - everyone likes it when things look similar. But inconsistency in UI has not prevented some technologies from becoming dominant.

A few examples:

the WWW (few sites have the exact same navigation, even though trends can be definitely seen)

Video and PC Games (each game has its own menu structure, look, and different use of controller interfaces)

Even Microsoft isn't consistent in its interfaces: look at the difference in menus, toolbars, dialog boxes, etc. between Win95, Win98, Win2k, WinXP, Office 97, Office 2k, Office XP, etc. That's not counting other applications...

So, yeah, consistency is good, it's a plus, but it's not the holy grail that will help Linux on the desktop.

prejudice
by aleksandr on Thu 11th Jul 2002 22:20 UTC

Hmm. I remember a certain review of Gnome 2... where Eugenia said that Gnome 2's defaults weren't good, and didn't even bother to take the effort to realize that the menu panel is easily removable. Then, she gives a two-page summary of how KDE should be changed to make it better. Why not give Gnome the same treatment?

Re: prejudice
by Eugenia on Thu 11th Jul 2002 22:25 UTC

Nothing personal. It was just that the Gnome article came 2 days after the release of Gnome 2. It was a review.
This KDE article was under writting for the last week. It is not a review, it is a feature article.

If I am to write a similar article for Gnome, it would take me much more time. Time that I do not have. Gnome needs even more *basic UI changes* than KDE needs, everywhere in its system. All the developers have to do, is listen to their three UI designers. ;)
After they fix the basics, I promise to do a feature article for Gnome too, that would discuss the further polishing of the UI.

Re: KDE 3 for Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 (woody) PowerPC?
by stew on Thu 11th Jul 2002 22:27 UTC

http://www.hadess.net/
should help you getting Gnome2 on Woody/PPC. I don't know where to get .debs of KDE3 though.

re:Consistency is overrated
by Ez on Thu 11th Jul 2002 22:52 UTC

WWW sites and games are individual productions.
The method of accessing multiple sites is the same - ie you use one browser where the navigation buttons are in the same place etc. The navigation UI doesn't change every time you visit a new site.

IMHO of course...

Ez, Archie, Eugenia
by Spark on Thu 11th Jul 2002 22:55 UTC

"The only thing GNOME has going for it is Ximian, where people are paid to pay attention to the types of issues highighted in the article."

Yes, and people from sun and redhat and...
It really payed off IMO, so far I agree with every Gnome 2 design decision and it's just a joy to use. Just like you said, KDE and Gnome 1.x where great in getting into my way. :/ They made me fiddle around with the system all the day. That was cool and all but I have to live from something. =) So I used Win2k for several months, looking for a free desktop alternative. While Gnome 2.x is "less", I would definetly say that's it's biggest strength. It's great in not getting into my way. ;) I'm really looking forward to the first matured versions of Gnome 2 (like Ximian Gnome 2.2 ;) ), because many people will be surprised... I'm sure of that. And this will set the bar for usability just the tiny bit higher that is needed.


"the WWW (few sites have the exact same navigation, even though trends can be definitely seen)"

Very good point! I still remember the time when I was pissed of Windows because everything looked the same. I wanted original applications and consitency was something that rather annoyed than pleased me. I wanted my system to launch applications, I didn't want the system to be everything I use all day long. So I agree with you that consistency is really overrated. Maybe we are looking in a completely wrong direction. The important thing is, that it _works_.


"If I am to write a similar article for Gnome, it would take me much more time. Time that I do not have."

Stop the trolling. ;)
There isn't really much GUI about Gnome, so even if all if it would suck, it couldn't take so long to write about...

stew:
Alas, no dice with that. According to the Hadess | Idoru page one must "Be running Debian UNSTABLE. Not Woody, not potato, only unstable" to use their GNOME2 debs.

Aaron

Re: Re: prejudice
by Dekkard on Thu 11th Jul 2002 23:00 UTC

All the developers have to do, is listen to their three UI designers. ;)

Do you mean
a)they had 3 UI designers since the beginning, but they didn't listen to them until the complains about Gnome2's UI appeared?
b)they got 3 UI designers after those same complains?

As I know you talked with some of the Gnome2 about those problems, does it mean they listened to your advice and noticed they needed to get good UI designers? ;)

Anyway, I hope you keep making these kind of articles, it sure helps development of open source desktops aimed at users.

yeah...
by kirby on Thu 11th Jul 2002 23:04 UTC

UI...

User Interface

Personal Preference.

again, linux isn't windows, windows isn't linux.

and one person writing 90% of the "articles" opinion, regardless of the pat's on the back by the regulars, doesn't
mean, well, anything.

linux was not, and to my knowledge right now, developed to replace windows on the desktop.

these are all very recent events. so is the concept of
"UI" design standards for a graphical interface for
a computing workstation. i mean really, think about it for more than two minutes or whatever time it takes to make yourself feel special or talented. stuck in the age of the wheel vs. stuck in the age of the taskbar.

yes, feedback is *great* and plentiful options for one's
workstation / enviroment is *great*

everone has and has the right to, an opinion.
but a little perspective, and less personal attachment.

i mean for the love of god, we've watched people prattle on why their platform of windows/macintosh were superior for how long now? shall we continue now with the stupefying
differences between linux distributions? while maintaining
the decade plus old debate as well?

i know i'm wasting text, but it's just plain

sad.

but hey. we'll all keep busy. that's the important thing.

apparetnly.

UI problems with gnome2
by redtuxxx on Thu 11th Jul 2002 23:43 UTC

Eugenia - I read and commented on your gnome2 article and the basic gist I remember was moaning about the themes and fonts - aside from the fact that the install was obviously borked - most of the comments refered to the default layout, so the comment above about fairness in reviews stands.

Personally I think the KDE interface is horrendous.

Kicker actually is pretty crappy
by Mark Hirsch on Thu 11th Jul 2002 23:45 UTC

I've always preferred KDE over GNOME but the GNOME panel is far ahead of kicker.

What I'd like to see in kicker is:
* Ability to have vertical separators between icons
* Kmenu button should automatically have this border on the right/left
* Ability to make drawers a la GNOME
* Did you ever notice that when you have kicker at less than 100% width, you can't activate the desktop menus even though the desktop wallpaper is displayed in the unused space. This is extremely unituitive.
* The ability to have a tasklist which doesn't have text in it, i.e. use the app's icon at whatever size kicker currently is at.
* We need separators in KMenus, too.

BTW Eugenia, I absolutely love having the run menu on the root Desktop menu. This is one of the reasons I choose KDE over its competitors (though WM has it, too). It is one of the most frequently used commands from the desktop menu and it makes no sense to shunt it off into a sub-menu. What would be nice is if everyone could customize the desktop menu to one's liking.

Re: Kicker actually is pretty crappy
by Eugenia on Thu 11th Jul 2002 23:51 UTC

> I absolutely love having the run menu on the root Desktop menu

This wouldn't be necessary if the GUI was intuitive enough and if many system services were able to be easily carried out through the GUI. The "run command" menu under an add-ons menu makes more sense, and it would fit better there, if a whole bunch of that kind of utilities are there too.
Check BeOS's Tracker add-ons to see the kind of utils that people would be able to add on their add-ons dir!
http://www.bebits.com/browse/29

One of the best KDE reviews I have ever seen
by Alex on Thu 11th Jul 2002 23:54 UTC

This is probably one of the best KDE reviews I have ever seen. I agree with everything in it.

Re: yeah...
by Jay on Fri 12th Jul 2002 00:03 UTC

kirby, there isn't much of anything that makes my blood pressure rise when it comes to talking about OS's because it is fun to talk about them. But, when someone spends quite a bit of time to write a feature article dealing with something that, I'm sure, the vast majority of us here are very interested in and then to have smug replies such as yours (with bad spelling to boot), that does get my pressure up a little bit.

To me, when it became obvious that Be was going nowhere, the idea of Linux for the desktop became the most exciting thing in computing. It is obvious that many other people feel that way - that's why we talk about it.

This situation is so different than the history of the major desktop OS's - with Apple and Microsoft, for example, they poured who knows what kind of resources into propping up OS's with weak underpinnings, until they finally had to totally move to something with a strong foundation. Here, we have a different situation - we have the underpinnings. We have the kernel, we have X. The foundation has already been laid and it is important to criticize, review, suggest and hash out how this can be made better. If you are bored by all of that, that's your right. But, if people had the attitude you do, we would, indeed, still be in the age of the wheel.

UGLY BUT EASY
by emey on Fri 12th Jul 2002 00:17 UTC

That title didn't meant for KDE. I use KDE most of the time on Linux, however I just want to mention again about EDE (Equinox Desktop Environment).

In my opinion this DE got the concept of user friendliness, responsive and fast. However the look is quite ugly. I think if KDE could address the issue of crowded menu items, slow responsiveness and long launching time (including application) it will become the best DE for Linux.

If they don't, other DE will catchup and I think EDE could do it soon. Want to know about latest EDE? Just go to http://ede.sourceforge.net

Disagreements With the Article
by Chris Gore on Fri 12th Jul 2002 00:58 UTC

The article states that normal users should not be allowed to use the quick browser for the / directory. Why? This would be just plain annoying. If they are allowed to acces a directory, then they are allowed to access a directory. If they aren't, they still aren't. Try browsing to some directory you are locked out of, and you get Failed to read directory, which works.

I also disagree with the replacement for the menu tear-off option. The dotted option may be archaic looking, but what the article suggests as a replacement is not clear as a tear-off option. The only reason why I knew what it was is due to the direct comparison to the tear-off dots. Perhaps a jagged-edge to look like torn paper? Also, having it show up only at an OnMouseOver would mean that many people wouldn't even know it is there.

Finally, I disagree with this being posted as an actual usability assessment, as opposed to the personal opinions of someone who just happens to be a UI specialist. A proper usability assessment allows several "Joe User"s (to use the author's rather perjorative term) to attempt to perform tasks, and records reactions from them. With 50 -- 100 people attempting to perform tasks with a system, mostly (if not all) people who are unfamiliar with the product, one can make halfway-decent inferences.

re: UGLY BUT EASY
by Alex on Fri 12th Jul 2002 01:00 UTC

Equinox Desktop Environment? I didn't know about this one. Anyway, that's not ugly, it looks similar to Windows 9x (the UI elements) and also to KDE (the icons on the desktop). I didn't know about this DE so thanks for mentioning it. I looked at the screen shots, it looks amazning! I am so excited, I want to try something new, I am gonna give this DE a try and hopefully I will keep it. Whenever I use KDE, I get sick of it, as I said, I agree with all the things pointed out in the article, and KDE always makes me go back to Windows.

http://www.equinox.szm.com/screenshots.html

Integration
by Steve on Fri 12th Jul 2002 01:05 UTC

Some interesting UI ideas, but I'm more interested in the OS integration issues mentioned:
Linus has *no* work to do about nVidia drivers - I have a nVidia card on one machine, and it's a PITA. Definitely not a Linus/Linux problem, though, just a p*ss-poor driver from a 3rd party. That's comparable to saying, "Windows sucks, it crashes whenever I plug in <some specific hw item>"... 3rd party driver problems are not an issue for the UI or OS teams. nVidia just need to catch up.
The other biggie mentioned is apt-get / rpm / etc... again, this is not KDE's problem to solve, for the next year or longer, this is *not* going to be solved. Sure, from the Linux<==>JoeUser point of view, it'd be nice, but getting political consensus from all the different distros (and their users - many of whom are well-paying customers, who are tied in to .deb, rpm, etc) is not something I would wish upon my worst enemy.
These "integration" issues sound more like "isn't it nice when everything's controlled from a single source (eg MS / Apple) ... the Linux desktop should be like that". Linux would not *exist* if it were like that ... as the author acknowledges, the development is mainly done by volunteers, who (like it or not) would revolt en-masse were a single entity (person/company/whatever) to start dictating how the kernel, UI, packaging, etc should function.
Linux *isn't* going to be like that.
The environment required for what the author asks, is: a single non-benevolent dictator who spends 90% of their time listening to usability experts, 9% on interaction with developers, and (let's be charitable) 1% left for actually keeping up with the technology.
The developers must then, in this environment, have some reason to reject superior technology in deference to the dictator and focus groups.
If an OS could be developed in this way (and maybe it could, who am I to say?), I would certainly not be interested in using for either desktops or servers.

Re: Disagreements With the Article
by Eugenia on Fri 12th Jul 2002 01:08 UTC

> The article states that normal users should not be allowed to use the quick browser for the / directory.

Not via the desktop menu, no. Remember, this is a multiuser environment, and users should stay at Home (no matter if no one does at their home installations of Linux). The root user should be able to do user /.

> but what the article suggests as a replacement is not clear as a tear-off option

Tear off menus is not a great idea altogether for all the users (although useful at times), and therefore it should not be encouraged as much. My replacement was a 5-minute idea. Point is, it needs replacement with mine, yours, someone's elses... Thing is, it looks truly ugly as it is now.

> I disagree with this being posted as an actual usability assessment, as opposed to the personal opinions of someone who just happens to be a UI specialist.

I think you did not read the article. Please don't get me overboard, and I am in a pretty good mood today.
This IS my personal opinion! Read the first 3-4 paragraphs.

> A proper usability assessment allows several "Joe User"s

Yes, but I am only one. And if I count my husband, we are two. That's all I can offer for now. When we get children, I will make sure that I will publish a "usability assessment". Duh.

I totally agree with this article
by Richard on Fri 12th Jul 2002 01:10 UTC

(wo)Man, It could've been me who wrote this article.. I'm feeling exactly the same way about it ;)

I really hope the KDE developers and artists will use these comments to improve KDE!

K Menu editing needs to be easier
by Paul Eggleton on Fri 12th Jul 2002 01:13 UTC

I agree with everything you said about Kicker. To me, this is the most under-improved part of KDE 3 - it doesn't seem like anything has been improved on it recently. I also turn off the zooming.

What I would like to see most though is making editing the K menu (and the Kicker quick launch icons as you mention) a whole lot easier. Drag & drop/editing on the menu itself (like the Windows start menu) would be nice, for starters.

Re: Integration
by Eugenia on Fri 12th Jul 2002 01:17 UTC

> Linus has *no* work to do about nVidia drivers - I have a nVidia card on one machine, and it's a PITA.

You misanderstood what I meant with the nVidia example:
1. Linux drivers are losing compatibility with each sub-version of the same version kernel, making binary/object drivers like nVidias to require either re-compilation for your kernel, or to download a version made specifically for the sub-version of your kernel. That is a big problem for the third parties and it should be solved in the Linux kernel. The Linux kernel SHOULD NOT lose binary compatibility with itself every 2 months. It is a big problem for the OEMs and the developers!
Read this Joen On Software on the topic as well:
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/StrategyLetterV.html

Secondly, I will describe my personal problem with the issue:
I have Red Hat Linux here, and I have three kernels booting on and off. I am a developer too, so I get to test stuff and play with new stuff as well. So, we bought that nVidia GeForce2MX400 card to replace the onboard crappy SavagePRO+. Problem is:
1. I have to recompile the nvidia drivers THREE times, for my THREE kernels.
2. Problem is, I have upgraded to these kernels 1.5 months ago, and since then, surprise, I upgraded to GCC 3.1. Now, the nVidia driver REFUSES to compile itself, because it says that the kernel was compiled with a different compiler, so I will need to either downgrade my compiler to the same one I did the kernels (GCC 2.95.x), or recompile all my kernels with GCC 3.1, in order to retry compile the nvidia driver.

These my friend, are not nVidia's problems. Are Linux's, library hell, gcc etc etc etc. The whole damned system's on how it was created and maintained.

Re: KDE3 for Debian Unstable
by Out of the blue on Fri 12th Jul 2002 01:31 UTC

I know, I know, it's not what you asked for, but here's where you can find KDE 3 debs for debian unstable/sid:

http://calc.cx/kde.txt

I haven't tried it btw.

it still sux
by Dr. Love on Fri 12th Jul 2002 01:48 UTC

biggest problems in my opinion are:
1. stupid defaults
2. poor drivers
Although KDE is now very feature rich, graphics is still very flat.
OSX, Windows are IRIX could not be seriously compared to KDE or Gnome, until free alternatives will concentrate on basic graphics instead of new featues.

Good article
by ifthenelse on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:01 UTC

I definately like your suggestion for the rip off menus. It looks a lot better. I really liked the Mac's way of just holding down the mouse while mousing out of the menu to rip them off.
I also like the first screen shot where you have the big K and pencil and have the other icons small in Kicker. That should definately be the default look. Is that possible to arrange it that way in KDE2?
I like having the file type show up by right clicking on the file instead of having it under properties but I do think they should combine some things. They should combine the screensaver and configure desktop.
In talking about wording, I think the desktop menu should say "new folder" instead of "new directory".
I also wish they would have Kpm as an option when right clicking on Kicker. I use this constantly in windows and in KDE.

The two things I hate most are copy and paste and moving files!!!
If I copy something and then highlight something else, it should not have overwritten my copy. When I highlight and drag something, it should not copy it. It should move the highlighted text.
When I drag a file to another directory it should just move it, it shouldn't ask me if I want to copy it or move it. 90% of the time I just want to move it. I also wish they had spring loaded folders to make moving things even easier.
Also, find increase font and decrease font should not all have magnifying glasses for icons.
They should also redesign the control panel. They should combine the features of Mandrake's Control Center, KDE control center and linuxconf. In the KDE control center they should remove the Web Browsing portion and File browsing keeping them in Konquerer's preferences only.
Looking at new KDE 3.0 and 3.1 screenshots, KDE definately looks a lot nicer.

Linux driver compatibility
by Spark on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:01 UTC

"These my friend, are not nVidia's problems. Are Linux's, library hell, gcc etc etc etc. The whole damned system's on how it was created and maintained."

Huh? I wanted to agree with you until I read this sentence. Now what have library hell and gcc to do with this issue? What do you expect when upgrading to a new gcc major release.
The only real problem I see here is the lack of a frozen driver API for (at least) stable Linux releases. Unfortunatly I don't think this will change anytime soon because Linus and Co constantly state that they don't plan to keep the API stable. This makes me wonder all the time because I don't get what's such a big deal in doing those API changes only for development drivers.
Almost everyone gets this right (even AtheOS), why not Linux. ;) It would solve one major problem for Linux on the desktop. The only problem that really belongs to the kernel.

ifthenelse
by Spark on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:16 UTC

"If I copy something and then highlight something else, it should not have overwritten my copy."

This shouldn't happen anymore with Qt3 and never happened in Gtk. The way it should be is, when you copy something (with CTRL+C for example) it will be copied to one clipboard, if select something, it will copy to another clipboard. Middlemousebutton will always paste from your second clipboard and CTRL+V, menu, etc will always paste from your first clipboard. Try it. ;)
Qt3 and Gtk both have excellent clipboard support.


"When I highlight and drag something, it should not copy it. It should move the highlighted text."

Good point, that's also how it works in Gtk2 (it will be moved). Maybe this would be a good suggestion for KDE's bug tracking system.

My Favorite KDE snafu...
by Ashari on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:18 UTC

My favorite KDE snafu is under the "System Notifications" section of the Sound kontrol center section. If you look at the available notification settings, you will see that there are 8 different sounds that you can apply to the virtual desktops, while you can have 16 virtual desktops... someone needs to run kalc and do some math ;-)

Good article.. I agree with everything except the preview being on the left in the file open / save dialog box.

Have a great day!

package installation
by theorz on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:22 UTC

To me the best solution would be for kde to have a package installer that does the ./configure; make; checkinstall; (replace checkinstall with something for your distro's package system) for the user. The user would not have to see the details. The distro's pakage manager would have to help with dependancies, but it would solve a bunch of problems. A single package could work across many distros since most of the director/library version/compiler differences problems would be avoided. Options could be easily set from the gui and passed to configure.

The problems I can see with this are: speed, and having to write plugins to make it work with all the native package systems. Speed is not a big problem in my mind, since if binary releases should work fine within this system if they are needed. For distro support I think if something the size of kde puts its weight behind something like this I believe the distros will do their part.

I could see this working well for nvidia's driver at least. One package for all ditros, download, click on it, hit next a few times and you have installed a driver that works with your kernel.

There is an X alternative
by Craig Williamson on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:36 UTC

There is a project called DirectFB (www.directfb.org) that basically replaces X. If a lot more attention was placed into getting DirectFB out there faster as an X replacement, it will be one step in the right direction.

The lack of hardware support is the real hassle at the moment. If we tackle DirectFB with the hardware manufactures (ATi, nVidia, Matrox, etc) it will improve a lot faster than what it is now.

On the software side, the Gnome guys are porting the Gnome/GTK framework to DirectFB. No word on KDE though. Maybe it would be a good idea to start on a unified desktop for running under DirectFB. Are the KDE and Gnome developers reading this!!!

I hope this spurs some conversation. Because it could be Linux's saving grace.

Re: package installation
by Spark on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:39 UTC

Nonono, something like this doesn't work. The trouble of compiling something isn't typing "./configure; make; make install", it's figuring out why it doesn't work. ;)
For example to make the NVidia example work with your kernel, you need the kernel headers installed and you need to compile the module against your installed kernel (so binary packages of kernels aren't sufficient anymore). Gentoo has this solved quite nicely, because you compile your kernel anyway, they can also compile the NVidia kernel module "on the fly", so you just have to type "emerge nvidia-kernel". But not everyone wants to (and shouldn't have to) compile his/her own kernel.
But maybe it could work if binary releases of drivers would be delivered together with those headers and what else is neccesasry to compile a compatible kernel module. Than a system like portage could compile the kernel module.
Hm. That's why I think that a portage-like system could solve a lot of Linux problems because Linux is much more friendly to source compilations than binary installations IMO.

Do we need icons everywhere?
by m on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:43 UTC

That's one of the most annoying things I find in KDE, the abuse of icons like no other desktop UI does. So many icons get in my way, in KDE icons are like gremlins, it's an invasion.

Eugenia, I like more your Desktop Context Menu than the default KDE one, I'd like it even more if I was given the option (like in GNOME) of disabling any icons in context menus.

In sort, more or less, I'd like to have the KDE3 functionality within GNOME2 desing.

Design is the worst part of KDE, it needs a completely new, clean and polished interface, preserving all the fucntionality achieved with KDE3. I don't expect that change from the KDE team, that would be asking too much having in mind they do it just for fun, or so they say. But I sincerely hope the change is brought from companies who put their money at risk like the coming Xandros Linux. As a matter of fact, I wished KDE would stop being mainly a hobby project and companies like Xandros and United Linux take on.

Windows95 looks better than KDE3, and that sucks. It isn't about eye candy, it's about interface desing. The KDE team has made a great achievement taking the GUI to do what it does given the lack of economical resources. Now it needs a modern interface, a clean one. Themes are something else.

KDE is looking better now
by slackware on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:55 UTC

I think this newer version of KDE is looking better than the last 3.x version. The bottom bar seems a lot less cluttered. It looks a bit more interesting. Personally, I find KDE too slow on my computer. I much prefer a window manager only like WindowMaker or Enlightenment.

Hmmm. DirectFB looks interesting. What about Xi Graphic's accelerated X servers? Are they also a good extension to X, I've never tried it before.

As to replacing X altogether, well thats a novel idea but the purpose of X was to make and extensible GUI for all system architectures running Linux and Unix. Seeing as it was made in the 80's, I think its still doing a great job. If you scratch it entirely now, you'd either need backwords compatibility or new apps altogether which is a coding nightmae.

Great article but it makes a fundamental flaw
by David on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:56 UTC

I love the article but it has one flaw. The suggestion to remove X because no one needs its features. To be a successful replacement any new system should have the exact same capabilities as the old one before adding new ones. Right now only administrators use X log on because only they usually have multiple machines to work with running Linux. Even when home users have several computers it's usually one Linux one windows etc. Lets say in the future Linux starts getting a 30% market share on the desktop wouldn't it be nice to use your old 800 MHz computer X logged int to a brand new 3000? MHz computer and have two amazingly fast computers. That is one of the strongest and most beautiful points of Linux, Nothing gets wasted. Don't advocate throwing away some of the features that make Linux so great just for short term gain.

DirectFB
by Spark on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:56 UTC

Last I checked DirectFB was mainly for embedded devices. I know that Gtk2 runs on DirectFB, but Gnome? Where did you hear that? I don't believe that this is true until I have proof. ;)
What could be interesting though is XDirectFB, that's basically X but runs on DirectFB. The advantages are that it starts up MUCH faster, doesn't have this ugly "X" background, features alpha blending (you can make inactive windows fade into transparency for example) and features hardware accelleration. It's very premature yet though and crashes for me everytime I load a Gtk2 application. :/ TWM, Mozilla, etc work fine though (didn't try KDE3). I also couldn't get my framebuffer to run at 1600x1200 yet...

Great article but it makes a fundamental flaw
by Eugenia on Fri 12th Jul 2002 02:57 UTC

> I love the article but it has one flaw. The suggestion to remove X because no one needs its features.

Ermm... the article does not say anything about removing X. What are you talking about?


> Yes, you can login remotely to X. I know, I know...
> That's what all the die-hards chant whenever this debate
> comes up. But how often have any of us done this

I use this very frequently. (To fix other peoples' computers, to test code on specialized machines, to access the computer lab from home)

However, I don't think that remote login and network transparency should be stumbling blocks for an X replacement. Looking at things like VNC (and TightVNC, an enhanced version, available at http://www.tightvnc.org), these use an RFB protocol (Remote Frame Buffer), which seems much more flexible. Clients and servers are available for a multitude of platforms.

I use it on both Linux and Windows. I can even remotely view hardware accelerated DirectX applications, because it's occurring on the frame buffer's level. (The only thing I've found to not work are overlays)

This technology eliminates the need for X's networking features. At this point, I see backwards compatibility as the primary problem facing an X replacement.

> But there are hacks that deviate that bring transparency to X.

What are the hacks and where are they available?

More DirectFB
by Spark on Fri 12th Jul 2002 03:34 UTC

Now I'm getting a little bit excited over here. It seems that they are serious about it. When I understood this correctly (from a mail from their mailinglist), the plan is to provide multi application support for DirectFB and then allow one process to be the XDirectFB server to load "legacy" applications. This really sounds like a great plan and the fact that they are rarely talking about it and much more coding makes me believe that they could actually reach this goal.
Another thing I just learned was, how the framebuffer actually works. The drivers are all compiled in and at boottime, it detects your card and loads the appropriate drivers (or VESA if nothing else fits).
Woooooooooo.
http://www.directfb.org/screenshots/XDirectFB-MultiApp.png
*drool*

The magnify glass icon
by Another matthew on Fri 12th Jul 2002 03:54 UTC

Also, find increase font and decrease font should not all have magnifying glasses for icons.

Goodness yes. Magnify means look at something that isn't changing sizes in the real world. Changing font size is about changing the physical size of it - zoom is a separate issue.

In some windows applications that I have seen they have a speed blur of a growing capital 'A' with an arrow pointing up and right. The shrink involves a speed blur with an arrow leading down and left.

That's the kind of thing that deserves an animated icon.

OSnews.com website
by Tim on Fri 12th Jul 2002 03:54 UTC

I think OSnews should use slascode (or simmilar) no for the moderation thing, but for the sake of threaded coments.
PS. I posted once but don't know what happened to my post.

UI
by Jay on Fri 12th Jul 2002 05:40 UTC

I think Eugenia's article really showed how much can be pared away off of KDE to get to the most intuitive form it can be. LOL, there's a whole lot that can be pared away. For Joe User, the Lycoris Control Center is the best thing I've seen yet - and I don't mean because it looks like XP, but because it is easy to use and friendly looking. You know, I wonder if it can ever be that an OS will have a system folder UI like Mac OS 9? I'm not talking about operating systems, but strictly UI. Even mid-level users of OS 9 have no fear of going into the System Folder after learning a few tricks. They know to go into the Control Panel Folder, the Extensions Folder and look for culprits there, know that a Preference, like the Finder Preferences might be corrupted and know to trash it and re-start. Just drag fonts to the System Folder to install them and it goes on and on. People can argue operating systems, of course, but I really do wonder if we'll ever see anything that easy again.

Dispose Xwindows?
by emey on Fri 12th Jul 2002 06:23 UTC

There are few mentioning about disposing X. I totaly disagree with that since currently there are no viable alternative to it. Yeaaah, there are few project like PicoGUI, Microwindows, Berlin, OpenGUI, QtEmbedded, DirectFB etc but none of it reach a usable state for Joe user.

I've tried those and agree they are fast (especially PicoGUI and Microwindows) but lack of function except Qt Embedded give that more function but far behind compare to Xwindows. Xwindows also got other advance function that not availabe on others including Window$.

If any of you think X is the cause of the slow response, you better try EDE. No other DE in Linux world that very responsive and start faster (for me it start less that 1 second from the KDM login) whereas KDE itself spend more than 5 second. Is it really Xwindows fault or others?

Great ideas - but for one
by Eberhard Hafermalz on Fri 12th Jul 2002 06:54 UTC

I wholeheartedly agree with Eugenia - except for the "automatic disappearance" idea. IMHO there should be one basic rule of most basic rules: don't outguess the user. Transparency is needed at every level. Unauthorized changes are one of the main reason Windows and other MS stuff irk me so much.

The HELP item may be unimportant for many users, but chances are those who start using KDE don't use help for that first month you mentioned, Eugenia, and right in the second month they would like to take a peek at it - and it's gone.

To be sure - I'm not a friend of those "Are you sure ... ?" etc. requesters either that Windows bombards you with perpetually. Changes the user initiated do not need confirmation unless something vital is going to be affected. BeOS's Tracker may be a good example again for how to handle that.

RE: More DirectFB
by tof on Fri 12th Jul 2002 08:56 UTC

Qt Embedded works on FB and some KDE applications can already run without X (like Konqueror/Embedded and Korganizer/Embedded)

Do the same for gnome
by MArk on Fri 12th Jul 2002 09:20 UTC

I love the authors constructive crtizism of KDE and as a GNOME user I would love to see a review of GNOME2 - bearing in mind that some bugs hinder usibility.

Dragging text is evil.
by binford2k on Fri 12th Jul 2002 09:44 UTC

When I highlight and drag something, it should not copy it. It should move the highlighted text.

I hate this with a passion. It it FAR too easy to bork up a document (or worse, code) with an accidental drag and not even notice it until later.


When I drag a file to another directory it should just move it, it shouldn't ask me if I want to copy it or move it. 90% of the time I just want to move it.


When I drag a file, regardless of the file manager I am using, I always right-click-drag to ensure that it asks if I want to move or copy.

I also wish they had spring loaded folders to make moving things even easier.

But I do agree with this ;)

Why I don't like KDE
by Sam Trenholme on Fri 12th Jul 2002 09:51 UTC

The reason I do not like KDE3.0 is because it is too configurable; this results in there being too many possible permutations to be tested.

I can understand why the KDE developers did this; they are UNIX users who enjoy the fact that X can be customized for every user's taste. This result in having an option like allowing applications to either have graphical or text icons. Unfrotunatly, the person who wrote the game "Konquest" failed to test their application with text icons. As a result of this, "Konquest" has some of the window hidden when run with text icons.

Another option that KDE3 has which has not been well tested is the ability to remove the desktop icons. When this is done, and one changes the desktop wallpaper, one still sees the old wallpaper until one hides and reshows the portion of the wallpaper in question, usually by opening and closing an application with a large window.

Another bug is that active desktop borders are buggy; when first turned on, it can be difficiult to use the active desktop border underneath the kicker.

I also have had issues with how Kwin allows non-KDE applications to open up windows which are partially hidden by the kicker; in fact, I wrote a patch which resolves this issue [1] with my particular setup.

KDE is a very impressive piece of work. I find it very attractive, and deeply appreciate all of the hard work the developers have done on KDE. I hope, if a KDE developer reads this, that they do not mistake my comments as personal insults.

When people make applications for end users, it is important to listen to the UI guidelines that UI experts have. Someone who knows C (like myself) is usually not a UI expert (like Eugenia).

- Sam (http://www.samiam.org)

[1] http://www.samiam.org/screenshots/kde3/kdebase-3.0-kwin.patch

X11 & Remote Use
by Anonymous on Fri 12th Jul 2002 10:44 UTC

Concering usability of X11 for remote use: yes, right now it's mostly for sysadmins. But even a feature only for sysadmins can be useful... beside that, all that's lacking currently is the right frontend for end-users. There will be one in KDE, but in KDE 3.2 or later.

...
by rajan r on Fri 12th Jul 2002 12:05 UTC

Attempts have been made, but they all remain half-baked. Wishing for a replacement is easy, but writing one, and actually getting it to the point where it is useable, (and able to support existing X apps), is an incredible amount of work. I was hoping that KDE would actually create that replacement eventually, but judging from past interviews, that possiblity would seem to be remote.

I don't think being usable means running X applications. What is the use of bring inconsitency into the GUI again? It is not like there is such important applications Joe Users use that aren't available else where. Running X applications shouldn't at all be a goal, you would be just another extended X implementation (remember Metro? The offered some really cool stuff but nobody wrote for it).

And the only way for these "half baked" graphics servers are GNOME and KDE supporting it. By porting their desktops there, making their apps consistent and so on would do great for it.

Turn on autohide if KDE is capable of doing it. Then you'll be taking up NO space for the taskbar, but when you need it, it pops back up with all the room you need and then goes away

Defaults remember? Eugenia made a point that not much people changes the defaults.

There is no reason that a system like Mac OS X couldn't be implemented on top of X11. You could implement Display PostScript (like with GNUstep) or Display PDD (OS X's quartz) on top of X11.

Actually, no. Mac OS X's Aqua couldn't have possibly be implemented on X. Firstly, Quartz is a vector windowing system, as oppose to X's raster self (though a lot of raster-based stuff like the icons are there). Secondly, a lot of features OS X had implemented couldn't had possibly worked on X11's plain vanilla specifications, for example Unicode (X11r6 doesn't support it) or true alpha blending (X only recently got it with copying the background of the object and blending it in, quite slow).

Organizing a big push to get all the major distrobution organizations to start using a non-standard X server would be a lot easier (and more practical for all involved parties) than would to have it Berlin (or something akin to it) replace X11.

Believe it or not, Fresco/Berlin is not here to replace X11. Heck, before 1998, Berlin was written in assembler, and Fresco for a X11 toolkit. Fresco differs a lot from X11, like it is being a pure vector window system, as oppose to being a raster system. Sounds good? Not really, with current hardware technology, it is slower.

We have to understand that Unix isn't just _one_ desktop environment (and now please don't respond with an upset "that's why Unix will never make it to the desktop") but many. Just like we have Windows, Mac OS and Amiga OS, we have KDE, Gnome, XFCE, etc.

Notice on Windows, you could switch the entire desktop to say, LiteStep or Object Desktop, and all applications that properly supports the Windows UI instead of cloning it in their applications can blend in. What Eugenia wants is that to happen on Linux.

Even Microsoft isn't consistent in its interfaces: look at the difference in menus, toolbars, dialog boxes, etc. between Win95, Win98, Win2k, WinXP, Office 97, Office 2k, Office XP, etc. That's not counting other applications...

That is one of the problems of Office, it doesn't use Windows' UI.

Personally I think the KDE interface is horrendous.

Counter-flame: It is, but I think GNOME's is worse.
(Haha, I just use KDE cause it is the one that suites me best. I like Window Maker's look best).

The article states that normal users should not be allowed to use the quick browser for the / directory. Why? This would be just plain annoying. If they are allowed to acces a directory, then they are allowed to access a directory. If they aren't, they still aren't. Try browsing to some directory you are locked out of, and you get Failed to read directory, which works.

For normal Joe User (why Joe? Who's Joe anyway?), i don't think / is a good thing to show. Sure, for geeks like us, it is hell if we were blocked from it, but from them, they would wonder what the heck is /usr or /dev (never go there on a Mandrake machine with nautilus 2..)

Linus has *no* work to do about nVidia drivers - I have a nVidia card on one machine, and it's a PITA. Definitely not a Linus/Linux problem, though, just a p*ss-poor driver from a 3rd party. That's comparable to saying, "Windows sucks, it crashes whenever I plug in <some specific hw item>"... 3rd party driver problems are not an issue for the UI or OS teams. nVidia just need to catch up.

No, the problem is with the Linux kernel. It breaks binary compatible so often. NVIDIA has an policy of non-open source drivers, which makes it hard for users of newer kernel to use NVIDIA cards.

On the software side, the Gnome guys are porting the Gnome/GTK framework to DirectFB. No word on KDE though. Maybe it would be a good idea to start on a unified desktop for running under DirectFB. Are the KDE and Gnome developers reading this!!!

KDE would be ported there as soon as there is a stable Qt implementation there, under a free Software license. And until now, there isn't such a thing. Or perhaps a toolkit better than Qt that does C++ the way Qt does and makes porting easier from Qt to that.

...companies like Xandros and United Linux take on.

The last I checked, UL is for the enterprise... I see no need for KDE there...

Do the same for Gnome2 Eugenia!
by lu_zero on Fri 12th Jul 2002 13:18 UTC

Your suggestion are quite good, but since as you say gnome2 is what you feel need more improvement, please make an suggestion article for it too ^^

Integration with underlying system
by Anonymous Coward on Fri 12th Jul 2002 14:00 UTC

Great article on the UI, but I disagree with the proposed approach to integration:

You can't and shouldn't just use DrakConf, Yast2, or apt-get, or portage. These are just tools for four distros, tools incompatible between them! There are more than 10 important distributions today! What about these rest of distros? There has to be found a unified way, a way that works universally to all these distros, a way endorsed via the desktop environment.

Reader comments:
To me the best solution would be for kde to have a package installer that does the ./configure; make; checkinstall; (replace checkinstall with something for your distro's package system) for the user. The user would not have to see the details

The trouble of compiling something isn't typing "./configure; make; make install", it's figuring out why it doesn't work.

1. Ordinary users will install and remove software as packages. What they need is a good GUI tool for managing packages. rpmdrake and kpackage are good; possibly some users would benefit from a system where they can opt not to see most of the huge number of packages on the system, unless they cause a dependency problem, for example.

2. Ordinary users should NEVER, EVER, EVER, need to build software using ./configure, make, make install: at worst, they should build from a source package, via the GUI front end to the package manager. The most common reasons why ordinary users need to build from source tarballs are:
(a) the software is only provided in that format;
(b) the software is provided as an RPM, but the dependency mechanism does not work because different distributions use different names for the same packages.

We need to tackle these two problems, not try to create a workaround so that non-technical users can attempt to build software, without even knowing whether the correct libraries are present, or what to do if there is an error.

Please join the kde-usability list
by Eric Ellsworth on Fri 12th Jul 2002 14:10 UTC

This articles points are well taken, and many of them I agree with. As someone who has worked on KDE usability, via mailing lists, it rather frustrating to read yet another laundry list of criticisms (however well reasoned) of KDE without many answers on how to fix them and how to recruit someone to get the fixes made. KDE has a forum for this kind of work: kde-usability at kde.org. Please consider joining this list. Otherwise your points will remain academic until someone decides to do something about them.
You probably see pretty quickly on the list that a) things are kicked around for a while, as not everyone agrees, and b) it's usually up to the person with the idea to recruit a developer (or code their idea themselves).

Cheers,

Eric

fresco
by aleksandr on Fri 12th Jul 2002 15:36 UTC

Of course, the irony in all of this is that Gnome and KDE, Windows clones, are progressing more every day, while the truly revolutionary graphics engine Fresco (formerly Berlin) is moving slowly. With Fresco, the developers had the bright idea that a graphics engine could be made that supported both network transparency and easy resolution-switching; and also transparency, and the whole thing works at a much higher level.

All the developers working on imlib, gdk, gtk, glib, etc. should stop immediately, and begin working on Fresco. Then, all developers from either KDE, Gnome, or other desktop environments on non-graphics parts of the libraries (such as drag-and-drop) should join into a single group under the domain of FreeDesktop.

With luck, 6 months from now we'd be able to have Fresco 1.0. No longer would Gnome and KDE be separated by different languages and toolkits. You could finally use konqueror and gnome-panel interchangeably if you wanted, and they wouldn't look any different. You'd only need one set of libs.

Oh, why can't anyone but the Fresco and OBOS guys have any foresight... do they lose it once their project gains significance? Linux used to be innovative, and now it's just hanging onto old standards and copying Windows. Let's hope BlueEyedOS fails before it's ever released. ;)

Re: Please join the kde-usability list
by Eugenia on Fri 12th Jul 2002 16:12 UTC

I already have. I joined the discussion yesterday. ;)

Some other ideas I'd propose adding
by Tony Lovell on Fri 12th Jul 2002 16:28 UTC


1. "Mounting" a disk or other media needs a more friendly word. No one but a Unix-head has ever heard of mounting a disk... as it hails from old tape drives (?)

"Detect" (for mounting) or "Remove" (for unmount) might be a superior starting point.

2. "Kblah", "KBlatz", "KBlooie".. get OFF it. The K prefix promotes a weak core brand notion at the expense of legible, clear names for applications and utilities. Toss it as a naming quirk.

tone

Did you submit this elsewhere?
by BG on Fri 12th Jul 2002 16:33 UTC

I hope you submitted your comments to the KDE usability team as well. I think you have a lot of good ideas about KDE and Linux in general, but it might appear that you're doing much asking and not much doing. Of course I have no idea if that is true or not, but it would be good to mention in the article or in the feedback here if you've done anything to help out with the problems you see.

Re: Did you submit this elsewhere?
by Eugenia on Fri 12th Jul 2002 16:35 UTC

Both the KDE-devel-Core and KDE-Usability mailing list people are aware of the article. They are discussing it, as we speak.

Qt/GTK+ Collaboration
by Kevin on Fri 12th Jul 2002 16:48 UTC

Very nice article!

I have a comment on the Qt/GTK collaboration idea though:
I think it would be easier if the KDE people wrote a Qt/KDE Style that mimicks GTK appearance than writing a GTK theme that looks like KDE.
Same for the other side.

And actually I think it should be possible to make a Qt style that looks almost exactly like GKT.
Qt was designed to look like another GUI.

Cheers,
Kevin


Re: Qt/GTK+ Collaboration
by Eugenia on Fri 12th Jul 2002 16:52 UTC

> it would be easier if the KDE people wrote a Qt/KDE Style that mimicks GTK appearance than writing a GTK theme that looks like KDE.

This does not make sense at all. Think a bit. Why would someone want to mimick GTK+ on a KDE desktop? What we are trying to achieve here is consistency, consistency with ones desktop, not with the other's.

Integration my arse!
by Justin Hibbits on Fri 12th Jul 2002 16:55 UTC

Ok, for one thing, UNIX WASN'T MADE FOR INTEGRATION!!!!

Now that I got that out of my system, here's some real info for you. If you want to install new software w/o using cmmi, just use Mandrake. Its urpmi works wonders for that kind of stuff. And you have confused "Device driver" and "software" so much that I wonder if you really are a *NIX user. Device drivers are KERNEL MODULES! These can't be installed with just a simple front-end installer, it's just plain stupid. If you want to administer a system you must understand the system. And a PBN Sysadmin (That's "Paint By Number System administration" for you to comprehend) is NOT system administration. Therefore, if installing device drivers is a sysadmin's task, then the sysadmin should know what's going on. Instead of just pointing and clicking 'install this thing that I'm too stupid to know how to install', you just run a VERY SIMPLE command line (I'll show you, since you don't seem to have the IQ to understand it):

modprobe <module_name>

where <module_name> is the name of the device driver module name. Now, beware, that is a linux command, so it won't work on any other OS.


Oh, and by the way, integrating the GUI with a Unix kernel is the WORSE possible thing you could think of. The whole point of ANY unix is to be command-line based. Now, I know that Apple did it with the MacOSX, but even they layered it, so that it is a microkernel, and therefore can decrease full system crashes. As a note, take a look at the earlier MacOS's and Windows{NT,2k,XP}....they experience crashes that destroy the entire OS. This is NOT something you want with a Unix OS.

Ok, enough rant, time for lunch.


Justin Hibbits

Re: Qt/GTK+ Collaboration
by Kevin on Fri 12th Jul 2002 17:16 UTC

> Why would someone want to mimick GTK+ on a KDE desktop?

Let me rephrase it.
If the KDR developers made a Style that looks like GTk, KDE apps could use this style when running under a GTK desktop and thus look like GTK apps then.

I just wanted to point out that it might be easier for KDE developers to write such a KDE style than it would be for GTK developers.
The latter was my interpreteation fo what you wrote in your article.

Cheers,
Kevin

Re: Qt/GTK+ Collaboration
by Eugenia on Fri 12th Jul 2002 17:20 UTC

Ah, now it does make more sense. ;)
However, we never know if the KDE guys write such a style if it will ever be used by the Gnome 2.x guys (you see, this team will need to work to tell the KDE apps to load a specific theme). And of course, the opposite also applies for Gnome apps on KDE. The KDE guys need to make sure that the do load the right theme.
And with your idea, there is antoher problem. Not all the people will have the new KDE or Gnome version that includes the GTK+ and Qt themes. So, it is better for the KDE team to write the GTK+ theme and load it on demand, and the Gnome team to write the Qt theme, than the opposite!

BTW, I tried to email you earlier, you address does not work.

Re: Qt/GTK+ Collaboration
by Kevin on Fri 12th Jul 2002 17:34 UTC

> this team will need to work to tell the KDE apps to load a specific theme

Right. I think every KDE app has a commandline option --style that tells it witch style to use.
Perhaps this could be automated, again by KDE developers, if KApplication checked on startup if it is running on, lets say GNOME, and apply the GTK style then.

> Not all the people will have the new KDE or Gnome version that includes the GTK+ and Qt themes

Ah, I see. I also think the other project should distribute it.
I just think that writing a KDE Style is far easier for a developer who has KDE experience.
And those are more leikely be found in the KDE developer group.
Same for the GTK side.

Well, that is if GTK has something like the style engine of Qt.
(Qt styles are compiled plugins)

> BTW, I tried to email you earlier, you address does not work.

I am sorry, I didn't know that the account got closed.
HAve changed to a working address now.

Cheers,
Kevin

Modprobe my arse
by DCMonkey on Fri 12th Jul 2002 17:35 UTC

So you are saying that Unix based/like systems are no place for the average non-sysadmin user that needs to maintain thier own system (ie: not at work where they have an IT dept. for such things). Fine, see where that gets Linux on the desktop.

As for modprobe, why couldn't you have a 'Module folder' that, when a module is dropped in it, will automagically call modprobe <module_name>? As a bonus, it would also show loaded modules. As a bonus bonus it could show more friendly info than the typical module name. If that sounds too much like the classic Mac OS system folder, well ... it is supposed to. They were on to something there with regards to simplifying system maintenance tasks.

What about the pager?
by PARENA on Fri 12th Jul 2002 17:53 UTC

Why don't I ever hear anybody about KPager. I WANT PREVIEWS IN MY KICKER! I don't want to click a button and then see an extra window with my desktops. I want to see them right in my kicker, previewed and all. That's what I loved of Gnome's panel... dock... I forgot what it was called, but I loved it. ;)

Re: Modprobe my arse
by Justin Hibbits on Fri 12th Jul 2002 17:53 UTC

What you are suggesting is a change in the Linux kernel. In order to support the 'system folder', you have to patch all the modules to give a detailed description of what they do. I'm probably one of the few people who actually believe that Linux shouldn't take over the desktop. My reasons are that Unix is Unix. Therefore since Linux is a Unix clone, Linux is Unix. And if you think back to the design of Unix, user-friendliness was not their top priority, it was getting work done. And going through a point-and-click interface is NOT getting work done, it's wasting time. The goal of a system administrator is to get the system up and running, and to keep it running. Therefore, he must be able to quickly load and unload modules (hence modprobe), which navigating the directory tree to find the 'system folder' is a waste of time. I can load a module 10x faster through a command line than I ever could with the POS GUI module loader/configurator that comes with the distros (forgot which one, prolly redhat).

As another argument, non-sysadmins wouldn't be installing hardware, they would take their system to a 'qualified technician' to get it installed. Either that, or they would (like my sister) ask a geek relative to do it. but either way, adding device drivers is not the job of someone who doesn't know what he/she is doing.

I do have a feeling that I'll get flamed for this, but I really don't care. These are my views. Linux wasn't designed to be used by someone who only knows how to bootup and use IE to browse for pr0n. It was designed as a pet project for this guy who just wanted a non-M$ command line to mess around with.

Re: Qt/GTK+ Collaboration
by Spark on Fri 12th Jul 2002 17:58 UTC

Maybe I would be motivated to write a Gtk-style for Qt if I were using any Qt application but as long as that's not the case, this is not gonna happen. =) The main reason I try to avoid Qt btw is not about different looks (I couldn't care less) but because those are slow and take some extra memory when running in a Gtk environment, especially KDE applications (Konqueror loads slower (10 seconds) than Mozilla (3 seconds), on first launch that is).
I'm pretty sure that this is the reason why the idea of integration comes up often, but then gets forgotten when people really investigate into the problem. IMO the better idea is to seperate those systems more and let them grow each on their own (while keeping functional compatibility).
I think as soon as KDE has something like Gimp (Gimp2 will be a bit more toolkit independent, maybe someone writes a KDE frontend), both desktops should have everything a typical user needs.

Re: Modprobe my arse
by Spark on Fri 12th Jul 2002 18:06 UTC

That is bullshit, making a hardware work is not the job of a so-called "geek" or a "qualified technician".

The problem isn't modprobe. Distributions can autodetect hardware and then modprobe them without a problem. The "discover" application can do this even silently at boot time.
The problem is only when installing a _new_ driver. You can't just download the binary and place it into your /lib/modules folder because there is no such binary compatibility. You have to compile the module against your kernel and this depends that you actually compiled your kernel. Distributions can offer such modules compiled against a specific version of their kernel but it's really a mess.

You say that Unix wasn't done with userfriendlieness in mind, but don't forget that we are using GNU (and GNU is _not_ Unix as we all know ;) ) and GNU actually has userfriendlieness as one of their top priorities.

Re: Modprobe my arse
by Justin Hibbits on Fri 12th Jul 2002 18:47 UTC

Hrm...I'm using GNU? I didn't know that....Lesse....compiler is GNU, debugger is GNU, binutils are GNU...sh-compatible shell is pdksh, login shell is tcsh, editor is vim, GUI is X w/ windowmaker (GPL, but NOT GNU), mail client is mutt, sed is ssed, tar is star. Most of my base software is NOT GNU. it's either BSD or my own, or other software. As you can see, my system can't be GNU (oh, I am using glibc until I can get a viable alternative to compile and work properly...had problems with uClibc).

as for the Bullshit you're speaking of, I'm coming from experience. The only people who install hardware around me are either me or someone else who's competent with computers, NOT the Joe IELuser who just uses the computer to surf the web, play games, do taxes, and write some wordprocessor documents. Now, your experience may be quite different, but I'm going off of experience.

And you can continue to use GNU, I'm gonna continue to use my hacked-up Linux-based system, while I continue working on my Gold project ( www.gold-project.org ) to completely eliminate all GNU stuff.

Justin Hibbits

RE: KDE linux distro
by Charles on Fri 12th Jul 2002 18:55 UTC

TLy : "Would it be too much to ask for a Linux distro made specifically for KDE so that it may be optimized for KDE and really integrate KDE into the underlying system?"

That's exactly what I'm working on!

It's basically RH 7.3, with 100% Qt/KDE, a slightly simplified GUI (I will incorporate some of the comments from this article), more KDE integration with the underlying OS (this is what still needs the most work), and a perfectionist's attention to detail.

Splitting the non-Qt stuff out of RH 7.3 was a major undertaking by itself.

I (perhaps facetiously, perhaps just hopefully) started calling it "Project: Real Choice". That got shortened to "Perc", as in "Perc Linux".

I also think clean APIs are important. I have been impressed by some APIs (Qt, BeOS, even libowfat), and utterly disgusted by others (libc / ancient *NIX). And I have also been disgusted by the lack of APIs in certain areas of Linux (run levels, disk detection, the /proc interface being treated as an API, ...) Ideally, as time goes on, I'd like to clean some of this up and make a tighter system.

In case you can't tell, I love Linux, yet hate it. And that's what's driving this project for me.

I've got www.percos.org registered, but no server for it yet.

I have SRPMS, docs, rants, TODO lists, and more. I've got more ideas than I have time.

I am so used to hearing fellow Linux people insist that it's the users who are stupid, rather than Linux that is stupid, that I haven't shared this with anyone. For now it's just for my computers... but if anyone actually is interested, let me know. We could at least start by sharing docs/ideas/TODOs...

A consistent UI
by Dave K on Fri 12th Jul 2002 19:11 UTC

Personally I can live with a badly designed and limited UI more easily than I can live with a mess of different apps that all work in different ways. In a lot of ways KDE has a better designed and more powerful UI than Windows. But until there are KDE apps that do everything I want I have to mix in apps created with other toolkits. Even the real basics like cut/copy/paste and drag&drop are often totally different and incompatible between different apps. Windows has it's annoyances, but there's nothing even close to being as bad as that in it's GUI.

Maybe someday KOffice, Konqueror and other KDE apps can replace OpenOffice, Opera, Evolution, GIMP, etc. and I can have a consistent GUI in Linux. But until then I don't consider it to be as good a desktop OS as Windows despite the Linux advantages.

Re: Modprobe my arse
by Spark on Fri 12th Jul 2002 19:47 UTC

I wasn't talking about you specifically but what we are talking about here. If you prefer to use something different, fine, go on! Your language and intolerance against people who prefer something different than you really fits with your project pages description. ;)

Re: Modprod my arse
by Joe User on Fri 12th Jul 2002 20:51 UTC

Pace Mr. Hibbits, out here in the real world ordinary people often must install hardware, without the benefit of friendly geeks. I know I've had to, and if it wasn't for plug and play, I wouldn't have been able to. And installing new hardware is exactly the sort of thing an ordinary user should be able to do without calling for a service technician. The entire purpose of a desktop computer is to allow ordinary people to do more without technical knowledge. Real power is power you can use, or else it's meaningless. You Linux guys are arguing over ease-of-use issues that were settled a long time ago, as far as Microsoft and Apple are concerned. If the Linux community really wants Linux on the desktop, the whole community -- developers and users alike -- must get over their conceit of themselves as an elite.

Where do we find your modified .NET theme?
by James on Fri 12th Jul 2002 20:58 UTC

I was just wondering, where could we find the modified .NET theme you mentioned in the article? Thanks.

Re: Where do we find your modified .NET theme?
by Eugenia on Fri 12th Jul 2002 21:01 UTC

On my hard drive... ;-)
Or, you could edit the source yourself and recompile it.

RE: Integration my arse!
by TLy on Fri 12th Jul 2002 21:08 UTC

If you can look past the flames and smoke coming out of your eyes, you might see a group of people right here as well as everywhere, who are trying to make their favorite OS better. The computer industry is not run by sys admins. It's the little people that buy products and services and pays the big companies that pay your DAMN salary.

I don't particularly care what you think Unix was made to be like. This is not about what Unix is, this is about what Unix will become. You can't expect it to be in command line forever. All this effort to make a user friendly desktop with Unix underneath is to prolong the life of Unix, not change it and destroy it.

As far as stability goes, we're not suggesting the merge of UI code into the kernel thus increasing the chances of system wide crashes as you have described. Instead, we're suggesting a more standardized way of doing things, a way that is easier to use and not have to carry with it the burdens of Unix.

Apple had the right idea of using a BSD microkernel wrapped around a Mac shell. When I first mentioned integrating KDE into Linux I was thinking of exactly this. Pretend it was the Linux kernel instead of FreeBSD, XFree instead of Quartz, and KDE instead of Aqua. That is what I want to see.

XP-Style Context in Konqueror/KFM
by Anonymous on Fri 12th Jul 2002 21:46 UTC

What I would love to see is something like XP's active context elements when using browsing your hard disk. Having a context menu at a RMB click is nice, but it is so much nicer to have context-aware options just one click away and VISIBLE on the screen. Same goes for searching...

This could be integrated in the sidebar but could also be placed directly inside the browsing window (see XP).

I know some people will hate this idea, but despite me being an absolute fan of KDE, when I first worked with XP that feature really hit me as being great for both beginners and experienced users.

Wide menus
by Alex on Fri 12th Jul 2002 22:59 UTC

Why are KDE/GNOME menus so wide? They take so much space unlike the Windows ones. For example, the right click menu for a text box, or the desktop, just see how wide it is.

Look at the Run Command diolog in the following screen shot, the context menu for the Edit box, just look how wide it is, it takes so much space.

http://static.kdenews.org/mirrors/qwertz/kde31alpha/2329-1.png

That is common with all menus and dialogs. Things which in Windows can be fit in a very nice small dialog box, in KDE, the same dialog box will be almost as big as the screen in a 800x600 resolution.



Well
by Kevin on Sat 13th Jul 2002 00:27 UTC

Well, i've been waitng for the 100th post to say this. I thought the article had alot of good ideas, and hopfully the KDE people will implement some of the ideas in the article. I especially liked the part about kicker, which i've always thought could use a lot of work.

I'm a computer user for a long time... And I remember when I used MS-DOS...
"THE PC IS READY FOR THE DESKTOP" Everybody said... Usign Proffesional Write, WordStar or MS Word for DOS for word-processing and Lotus 123 as spreadsheet...
Then... Windows 3.1 came to the Arena... and everyone said "THE PC IS READY FOR THE DESKTOP"... But... compared with "archaic" X-Window interfaces such as FVWM, WindowMaker or AfterStep... is SO ugly !!! But... Windows was ready for desktop and the "X" alternatives not...
The same Story with Windows 9x, WinMe and now WinXP... Allways they were ready for desktop... But the "old fashioned" FVWM, AfterStep, WindowMaker, and the newest Gnome and KDE releases no !!! While MS-DOS and their succesors were !!!
Stop kidding !!!! As a KDE user consider these points:

A- KDE (and Gnome) is Free Software and it's 100% Cooperative... A lot of people spend their spare time to give us the best they do: Programs... "If someone gave you a horse as a gift, don't look its teeth" says everyone in my country (Argentina).

B-Those idea that "Joe User" can do everything in a pc with no knowledge of the "know-how" is a lie... Macro viruses, system hangs and a lot of things are so popular in the Windows arena because "Joe user" doesn't know why they occur and what are their causes. He must know how to use a PC, even he uses windows or linux to do the things in the right way.

C-"Joe user" in the most of the cases uses illegal software and a closer person of him, is an experimented user and THAT person is the one who solves the problems of Joe user, doing the hard job of a Microsoft's User support dept... Read this if you're not convinced: http://pinsa.escomposlinux.org/sromero/linux/pringao/techslacky.htm...

D- If you are a car owner... Are you a car mechanic ??? The less you know is how to turn on your car, how to drive it and how you need full your gas tank... Joe user is the same: The less he knows is how to turn on the PC and how do the things he need... When he has a problem, he calls a tecnician or he calls to his personal "tech-slacky"... So... is SO needed to give him the full power to solve the whole of problems on a PC ??? I don't imagine myself changing a broken piston of my car... And...

D- A PC isn't a Game console or a microwave: Is something more complex that needs some knowledge to use it in a proper way, instead which OS uses the PC... but "Joe User" doesn't want spend his free time learning how to use his computer... AND THIS... IS THE REASON WHY LINUX IS READY FOR DESKTOP... JOE USER, WHATEVER OS HE USES, HE MUST LEARN !!! AND IS THE SAME TO LEARN TO USE WINDOWS OR USE KDE... ('cause Joe user for a long time (or never) doesn't want to know the backends of a PC...)

It's only my opinion... KDE is so ready for desktop... It could be better... but it's ready... Possibly "Joe user" isn't ready to sit himself in front of a computer.

KDE usability is a joke
by Ilan Volow on Sat 13th Jul 2002 07:33 UTC

If we take a look at Jakob Nielsen's ten usability heuristics (pay special attention to #2)

http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/heuristic_list.html

And then we look at the type of nonsense you typically find in KDE:

http://lists.kde.org/?l=kde-usability&m=102650798104375&w=2

We have our answer as to why KDE (and linux in general) has been having so many usability problems. Don't bother wasting your time, Eugenia. You'd get better results talking to a wall. If some people want to sequester themselves in their server closet, command-line ghettos and have their asses perpetually kicked by microsoft, then by all means let them do so.

But enough bitching on my part. I once thought my idea of getting together a bunch of fellow macintosh enthusiasts to produce the world's most usable linux desktop which would be based on macos UI conventions was a silly duplication of existing efforts. Now I realize that it will be the most sanest, logical, and effective course of action.

Who knows. Maybe my project will one day grace the headlines of OSNews.

Simplify it and unclutter it
by Jesper Juhl on Sat 13th Jul 2002 14:19 UTC


While I like a lot of your suggestions about fixing up context menus, improving the default colour scheemes etc. What I would really like to see from KDE is more simplicity. A good example is Fluxbox (http://fluxbox.sourceforge.net/) - while Fluxbox takes simplicity to the extreme and is too simple for KDE, it is very nice to have a desktop completely free of clutter. KDE should work on removing a lot of stuff from the default settings that will only be used by few or advanced users - keeping the desktop as simple as possible for normal users will help make the desktop more easy to use. A lot of context menus, tons of icons to do everything under the sun is nice, but it confuses a new user, so it should be removed by default (but be possible to add for a more advanced user).

just a few comments ;)

philisophical comment
by Laurence Pithie on Sat 13th Jul 2002 22:15 UTC

I have no major gripes with the arguments presented in the article. While my personal preferences may differ from the proposed solutions in some respects. I have to say that what we are talking about here is a human machine interface. there can be no simple or indeed singuar solution to this question. If that is what is pursued in this thread then eventually all we will succeed in doing is trying to isolate the user from the machine. While corporations may welcome this as a reduction in investment in employee education it is in the end a futile and self limiting exercise. If you wish 'joe user' to use a machine you have to teach them to use it. A computer is no different from a handsaw in that respect. it is just a tool. If the O/S allows the user to perform the tasks required more effectively (and how THAT is measured is still a huge area of debate). Configurability has to remain one of the first and most easily obtainable options. Integration with the underlying O/S is desirable but not if it cripples the O/S (to address the call for a kde only distro. If anybody wants a practical demo of what that entails see http://www/microsoft.com <g>)

Don't edit my directories!
by Jack Saunders on Sun 14th Jul 2002 11:44 UTC

I agree with almost all of your article. The only bit that made me think "hmm?" is the part where you suggested a My Music and a My Downloads folder. I've already got places for that sort of thing and don't want kde to add some additional ones.
With the issue of configuration, I think the beauty of linux is that you don't have to use a GUI. If you want you can edit your own files, issue your own commands to compile things and generally do everything independent of X. Personally, I do all file operations via the console (through konsole/xterm) and hardly ever use the directory browser in kde. However, new users do.
The reason I like using Linux instead of Microsoft Windows is the way that every day brings a new challenge, there's an element of Do It Yourself. I don't won't that taken away from me.
My final point, and it's a classic, is the way you have new users saying "I'm using Linux 7.3", "Is there a way in Linux you can add an option to the start menu?" (i.e. linux is a kernel and therefore doesn't have a start/k menu)
So, in general, kde should have close, but optional, intregation with the system. A compromise between keeping us geeks happy and keeping newbies from windows happy until they work out how linux works.

Re: Don't edit my directories!
by rajan r on Sun 14th Jul 2002 11:50 UTC

I agree with almost all of your article. The only bit that made me think "hmm?" is the part where you suggested a My Music and a My Downloads folder. I've already got places for that sort of thing and don't want kde to add some additional ones.

You could always delete KDE's one. Or even move your stuff to these KDE directories.

Where did you get your numbers!?
by Dan on Sun 14th Jul 2002 13:23 UTC

50% of all linux and unix desktops run kde3? ridiculous. compared to ~21% for gnome. Only if you think all linux and unix desktop users are braindead. You must have gotten those number from a poll on a KDE site.

KDE
by Martin on Sun 14th Jul 2002 16:47 UTC


we won't fall prey to the popular "KDE developers do not care about the users" mentality that has headlined [http://www.linuxandmain.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=...] several news sites lately.

- I don't like their anti-KDE stuff. Don't take them that serious.

I hope that some of my recommendations will make it to the final version of KDE 3.1.

- I hope you used the KDE bug report system, post your comments to the developers.

, this context menu is bloated with too many options in the root level

- right. That's because there are many ways people who like to customize their desktop. There is no UI - guideline, esp. context menus are really sad. Many applications in the panel are without icons.

- What do you think about polls?: How would you like KDE to look by default.

," places: My Music, My Downloads and other options as found appropriate.

- Oh no! That's silly.

. Toolbar icons should be by default on 16x16. The current default 22x22 is possibly a bit too big. But this is just a personal preference, I guess

- I agree. I like very small buttons. But most users, beginners like it more.

While KDE has a lot of users, Gnome has a lot of developers.
- Look at the numbers...

Qt/GTK+ Collaboration
- Same: Java, X11 Apps, console apps (fonts too small and ugly)

1. Important! The menu entries on every KDE's applications are extremely close to each other. Give it 4-5 more pixels please! The new Gnome 2.0 does it lovely and correctly in this respect.

- KDE looks better.
- The grey 4 virtual windows on the kicker look ugly.

KDE is today the leading X11 desktop environment, there is no denying in that. With great success, great responsibilities are coming as well. In order to be compared to WindowsXP and MacOSX, it needs to do solve some or all of the above problems.

- You imply that KDE was inferior. I don't think so. No desktop may be customized like KDE.

Trolltech and KDE

- Trolltech isn't that important. But a big problem is that KDE API and QT are not quite the same. Trolltech is *very good* in developer's documentation while KDE is worse. Trolltech doesn't sell KDE, they sell QT.

- The KDe bug reporting system may increase its usability. Bug reports must be made easier.

- Important: KDevelop has to improve its UI. UI - guidelines shall be included into Trolltechs QT-Designer.

- Important: Most Screenshots of OSS/FS-programs show very strange desktops, the ones of the developers. There has to be a linux info base, where the system is introduced for users only. Users are not interested in features, XML-support and strange bug fixes, They want to know that they can do word processing, use their word files, browse the internet ecc. So there have to be more user-oriented press releases.

There was a good article in the german computer magazine PCDirekt:
http://www.vnunet.de/pdf/upload/PCDIREKT_03-02_Linux.pdf


"Joe Users"
by Tosh on Sun 14th Jul 2002 20:52 UTC

>> "Also, it is important to remember and understand that most Joe Users never ever modify their desktops".

What you are basically saying here is what any MS designer would say, nothing new really. And you as most others talk warmly about the beaten path, "when are KDE going to come to it's senses, big userbase brings responsebility" (for whom?) bla, bla, etc, etc.. when will you all realise that KDE is not "a person" or "entity" that can be shown the "right" way? KDE and Gnu/Linux is an (r)evolutionary process in the world of technology and can't be "told" what is should do.

- Tosh

...
by rajan r on Mon 15th Jul 2002 07:32 UTC

50% of all linux and unix desktops run kde3? ridiculous. compared to ~21% for gnome. Only if you think all linux and unix desktop users are braindead. You must have gotten those number from a poll on a KDE site.

The poll was from here. It is pretty consistent with other polls done on KDE websites, and non-KDE UNIX-related sites.

What you are basically saying here is what any MS designer would say, nothing new really.

Well, they are pretty true. A lot of users, those using their workplace systems, aren't allowed to customize their machines. A lot of home users don't customize their machines because they rarely use them. It is only geeks that customize their stuff. For a normal user, the most they would do is change the background picture and probably add some icons on the Quick Launch and/or desktop.

Some of your observations are spot on others...

While we should try to improve KDE, we should not bend-over backwards just to accomodate Joe-Sixpack. We should require that Joe-Sixpack respect our community, by LEARNING something about OUR OS -- LINUX should not be a knock off off Win XP OR the Mac OS-X. If someone can't lear that the way you change screen resolution is Ctl+Alt+(+)(-) then they should not being using a LINUX system. I use that feature several times every day.

2) Let us not in the process of making all these changes end up with a bloated kernel. Every time I hear the word "integration" I think of how M$ has "integrated" every thing into the kernel. What that has produced is a kernal that is huge buggy, and bloated. Let's not follow M$ steps in order to attract Joe Sixpack.

3) Let's give the public some credit for some intelligence. People can learn a new OS if they want. Please don't tell me that Win XP GUI is something to brag about -- its not. CHOICE should be the thing that distinguishes LINUX from Windows. If people are put off by KDE default and are unwilling to learn that they can change it to suit their taste, then we don't really need them. Cosmetic changes are one thing but let's not destroy that which makes LINUX unique.

You might think that the "tear off" looks bad, any idiot knows what it means, "this "mouse over" symbol??? I'd never have guessed what that was unless I played with it. That is a really POOR idea.

While I agree with you on some points, you are WRONG on many others. Lets us not follow M$ down the road of ruin, let's remember that the issue is choice, not assimulation, let's require that if Joe Sixpack wants to use a LINUX system, he needs to LEARN what a LINUX system is, and it starts not with accepting a bloated buggy OS due to integration, and and a GUI put together by corporate focus groups, but with CHOICE. If Joe Sixpack is unwilling to accept personal responsibilty for what he looks at PLEASE TELL HIM TO STAY WITH THE BRAIN DEAD DRONES OF MICROSOFT!!

Bobcat

KDE App. Installer
by Bill Berggren on Mon 15th Jul 2002 12:38 UTC

I read an article on a Linux guy went back to Windows. Basically he went back because he hated installing things from .rpms and source. So regardless of the GUI, Linux will always suck!

Well not to stop there I decided to try and offer a solution. I began playing with emulators visualboyadvanced, and the games work perfectly with no install. Emulator games are the bet games for Linux. Then it hit me. What is needed are rom kde-x applications. No install, no microsoft installations either, just download a rom click on it, and it will run.

Put it in usr/bin, and it will run for everybody.

Re: Integration my arse
by Justin Hibbits on Mon 15th Jul 2002 13:14 UTC

Interesting notion you have there. However, if Joe User just wants to push the pretty buttons, he shouldn't even be USING a computer. And why do you want KDE to be the only desktop for linux, which you are implying? After all, there are CHOICES! I want to know how long KDE will last if it becomes the same as M$ Windows. I mean, they're already nearly identical in appearance. And if they integrate full system management into it, they'll become the next Windows. Yay! Just what I want! Another desktop crushing the others just because someone decided to integrate it with the Linux kernel and make it one big OS that is pretty much a black box inside. No thanks, I advocate that KDE does NOT become the only DE with linux.

And going back to my original flame to Eugenia, I was saying that her 'requirements' are just plain stupid. Asking all this from a bunch of guys working in their spare time on this project is like asking someone who manages their garden after work to plant potatoes instead of tomatoes. (And yes, I know that analogy may not fit 100%, but you should get its intent).

Enough of my ranting, I'm through with this thread.

Justin Hibbits

Are you all on Acid?
by Shawn on Mon 15th Jul 2002 19:00 UTC

Pure X11 is a protocol, designed for network transparency. All of you seem to missing the point. We are not dealing with just a GUI here. KDE and GNOME (I use GNOME) are at the far end of user space, Blaming there problems on X is utter foolishness, and only goes to emphasize a persons ignorance about what X is.

Does any one remember twm. Now even on a P75 you can get it up and running. Does all your windowing, and has non of the frills and dills that come with KDE or GNOME. Run it on one of these speed up the wazoo computers and with it X will scream from speed.

The strength of X is in its ability to mold and shape itself to our needs and desires, just because a bunch of toolkit programmers have forgotten the fundamentals, does not mean that X is bad, it means the programmers suck. (I am one of those sucky programmers ) But this is what happens when people start looking for features instead of productivity and stability.

no need to kill X , and linux kernel ALREADY do many things : use them
by Michel Galle on Mon 15th Jul 2002 19:39 UTC

please please ; no more X must die

X is a GOOD client/server environnement

but X needs IMPROVMENTS

no MORE "we have to burn the world to do a better world"

X CAN be improved. by example, to do a good interface to configure it and to allow dynamic change of configuration
(no more stop X, start X )

see ?

about drivers

I think the easier way is distribution to ALWAYS install ALL drivers
ALL

and to kde/gnome interface to allow to load the good drivess when it's needed

in fact, it's a kernel linux things
and it's already there

you need usb-mass storage ? and HOP linux load it

you need the creative soundblaster module ? hop linux load it.
you see ?

of course, gnome,kde interface need to be dynamic

in fact, if someone plug a usb zip drive
linux see that (it's already done in 2.4)
a good distribution have to use "usb-hotplug"

usb-hotplug load usb-storage module
kde/gnome interface need to read the kernel message of linux
and to understand -> "haha! a new drive is plug ! and I see there a disk in it ! okay ! I put a nice desktop icon )

dynamic answer.
in a good gui, the interface do the mount

maybe a configuration option disable that, to allow "mount" command in terminal , for expert

but default, have to do mount automatically

like the cdrom is managed in redhat 7.2/7.3 thanks to the "magicdev" deamon

you put a CD , the deamon see that, and nautilus (gnome) add a nice desktop icon, the cd is already mounted

and linux already know how to do that for usb, firewire and every other type of disk.

linux kernel already can do that, interface gnome and kde don't use it. it's a shame


I come back to X
X is not dynamic, you plug a usb wacom table
the kernel see that, it's says "hey! a wacom usb interface. ! and it needs the wacom module ! I load it ,it's reaaady"
but X doesn't care.. X only read XFreeconfig...

X needs to be able to react to kernels events and changes it's configuration dynamically (at launch and after )

and no, it's not "X must die" ,it's "X is good, we can do it better!"


It would be soooo simpler if X could be accept my new usb mouse dynamically, like OSX

thanks to read me

Question about .Net modified style
by Osho on Tue 16th Jul 2002 02:52 UTC

Great article. I agree with most of the points and seriosly hope that KDE 3.1 will address many of the points you have mentioned.

Have you created .Net modified style yourself? If yes, please consider putting it on www.kde-look.org or other such place.

I also like different background (slightly gray) for icons in the menus. I checked a lot of themes out at www.kde-look.org but couldn't find any which has that. Could you tell what needs to be changed in a style to enable that ?

> please please ; no more X must die
> X is a GOOD client/server environnement
> but X needs IMPROVMENTS
> no MORE "we have to burn the world to do a better world"
> X CAN be improved. by example, to do a good interface to
> configure it and to allow dynamic change of configuration
> (no more stop X, start X )
> see ?

Agreed. Finally someone, who doesn't repeat mantra "X must die".

> about drivers
> I think the easier way is distribution to ALWAYS install
> ALL drivers
> ALL

This is the way BeOS did. There were only few drivers for BeOS, so they were installed all, and system loaded relevant drivers as-needed.

One nice sideeffect of this is, that you can pull harddrive from computer, put it into another, and everything works without reinstalling. When you put the harddrive into original computer, the system is not damaged beyond recognition.

You can also put system on read-only medium, like CD, and it still works as expected. You could boot into gui with full hardware support from CD.

> (few points deleted)

> kde/gnome interface need to read the kernel message of
> linux and to understand -> "haha! a new drive is plug ! and
> I see there a disk in it ! okay ! I put a nice desktop icon

With drives - it would be nice, if they put the icon on the desktop ONLY IF the device contains medium (if the device is removable). They should also automount them. After umounting they should eject them and delete icon from desktop. Also, the icons should NOT be named "cdrom" or "floppy", use volume labels instead - that's what they are for! (It would be nice touch to dynamicaly create mountpoints with volume labels, instead of /mnt/cdrom, for example MacOS X does this in /Volumes directory).

They should NOT display icons for empty drives. Users will click them and get error messages.

The only problem I can see is PC floppy. It doesn't support either insert notification nor media locking (to prevent users eject media while mounted). So floppy drives should either improve or die.

Currenly in KDE, user has to create "CD file" or "Floppy file" and manually mount the devices. This is as user-unfriendly as it gets.

> (more good points deleted).

> I come back to X
> X is not dynamic, you plug a usb wacom table
> the kernel see that, it's says "hey! a wacom usb interface.
> and it needs the wacom module ! I load it ,it's reaaady"
> but X doesn't care.. X only read XFreeconfig...

There are rumors, that XF5 should be able to work without XF86Config and figure out everything for itself, delegating config file for tweakers. We should persuade the developers to monitor for dynamic hardware configuration changed too.

> and no, it's not "X must die" ,it's "X is good, we can do
> it better!"

X is great system for what it does. When I was young&stupid, I also thought, that X is horrible. After learning more about X, I think it is excellent.

X's architecture is so well-thought, that things like using hardware surfaces with z-depth for top-level windows, different color-depths for different windows or at least server-provided backing store for obsured windows are possible. It just needs to be implemented and Eugenia would get her smooth window monving (no, it's not vsynced).

> It would be soooo simpler if X could be accept my new usb
> mouse dynamically, like OSX

falls into "monitoring for dynamic hardware configuration changes"

> thanks to read me
You are welcome :-)

@Bill B
by Bert on Tue 16th Jul 2002 14:11 UTC

I agree: It's not the GUI. We need binary compatibility. Installation is worse, that's the point.

Linux integration?
by WinStop on Wed 17th Jul 2002 16:48 UTC

Beware! IMHO there already are too many Linux-related things tied to kde. Please separate any system-related stuff into special packages.

Imagine what you linux users would say if an "Install software" option would take you to a collection of solaris-pkgs or hpux-depots!

By the way: a couple of times the article mentiones a desirable behaviour for the root user ... no please! Don't allow applications to be executed as root at all! Maybe do it the Mac OS X way: certain applications can offer one-time sudo-access by entering the password.

Create new SymLink.. Please..
by Duncan on Fri 19th Jul 2002 19:12 UTC

Create new link to app, and create new link to location, are great, but the single thing I find my self wishing for most often is create new symlink. I find myself either opening midnight commander to do it, or having to browse in konqueror and drag, then use the Link Here, that pops up. Create new symlink (preferably with a browse button in the resulting dialog) would be SO much easier!

Also, a context menu copy/move to dialog, like MS added to W9x with their powertoys, would be great, but I believe I read that is in 3.1-alpha/CVS.