Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 27th Aug 2006 09:25 UTC
Linux "When OSDL announced the first release of its Portland initiative at LinuxWorld Boston in April, heralding it 'a breakthrough in desktop Linux', I muttered my skepticism to a co-worker. He expressed surprise at my reaction, noting that the initiative employs extremely smart people. I don't doubt their intelligence, or their sincerity, but I wouldn't bet a penny on the project living up to its initial claim, because you can't conjure a silver bullet out of intelligence and sincerity." KDE developer Kevin Krammer replies: "There is an article over at linux.com which predicts that the Portland initiative will fail to reach its goal of 'unifying the Linux desktop'. Unfortunately the author somehow missed that 'unifying the Linux desktop' is not the goal of Portland."
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Torsten Rahn
Member since:
2005-08-20

> then another, is because all the pedals, the
> steering wheel, gear stick, handbrake etc. are
> all in the same place - or pretty much the same
> place. You have enough commonality between cars
> to drive them.

One could argue that the same is true for desktop environments: Every one of those has an application menu, application windows, a mouse pointer, a basic set of applications and a small set of common rules that enable you to navigate the whole thing.

> There are a multitude of tasks to perform,

Well, turning left on one road is different from turning left in another. However just like "different" tasks in a desktop environment those two tasks have enough in common to make the user turn left without problems no matter where he is. If there are specific gotchas for some task then maybe it needs some further rethinking in terms of usability.

> and a multitude of different software packages
> to run on them with many, many complex APIs that

I would argue that Portland doesn't deal with every tiny detail of the API but with the most important basic tasks (which are still in the same kind of magnitude as tasks that might have to be managed in a car).

Concerning the unaffected technical complexity behind: I'm quite sure that people who build cars will disagree with you. A car these days _is_ an extremely complex thing as well under the hood.

> The only reason you'd buy one car over another
> is for things which are not related in any way
> your being able to drive it.

Look and feel is an important thing for anything human beings evaluate to make them feel comfortable: both is important for desktops as well as cars. Then there is regional preference for certain products and several other things.

Yes there are things where cars differ from desktops. but I don't think that they have any significant impact on the analogy as a whole.

Proof that I'm probably right is the recent increased success of XFCE as well as the countless flavours of KDE as well as Gnome which you will find in different distributions. Those "flavours" sometimes get so much altered from the original, that it's hard to tell where they are coming from. All of those distributors do have good reasons to make their very own desktops look and feel different (of course "better" from their point of view) and certainly to use different frameworks as their employees have different preferences and different knowledge (insert your favourite C vs. C++ / Gtk vs.Qt flamewar here).

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