Linked by David Adams on Fri 18th Jun 2010 19:17 UTC
Linux Linux Magazine has a profile of Daniel Fore and the Elementary project. Elementary is a Linux distro that's committed to a clean and simple user experience, but it's more than a distro - it's actually a multi-pronged effort to make improvements to the user experience for a whole ecosystem of components, including icons, a GTK theme, Midori improvements, Nautilus, and even Firefox. The work that elementary is doing isn't limited to their own distro, and some of their work is available in current, and perhaps future, Ubuntu releases. The results are really striking, and I think it's probably the handsomest Linux UI I've ever seen.
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RE[3]: rip-off Mac OS X!
by Neolander on Sat 19th Jun 2010 04:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: rip-off Mac OS X!"
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I think a better strategy for the Linux desktop would be to build around a cross development platform (Qt) to attract developers. People turn on a computer to use applications, not screw with the UI. Distros need to work to make life easier for cross-platform, proprietary developers. Stallman's plan of having the people's army code everything has been a failure.

I wouldn't go as far as saying that, since most of the software I use on a daily basis was coded by the people's army and works fairly well. I'd rather say that we don't need proprietary software for everything, but that we should not bar it access either.

Two tasks of a linux distro that are often ignored, in my opinion, is to reach API consistency (instead of GTK here, pulseaudio there, QT up above, and VDPAU somewhere in the wild) and to heavily documentate said API in an easily accessible way.

As an example, for scientific calculations, the combination of Python and some science-oriented APIs is astonishingly getting widespread, but most people still prefer Matlab over Python. (I chose Matlab because contrary to other scientific software like Mathematica and Maple, its syntax is in par with that of Python in terms of awfulness and being inadapted to the job in my opinion)
What are the two top differences, before anything else ? Matlab has got a huge and helpful help system, and its various commands are tightly integrated with each other. To the contrary, with things like Numpy and Scipy, all you get is a bunch of HTML pages (which already feels clunky and unprofessional to start with), and the commands do not feel integrated with each other (as an example, when you want to introduce a formal parameter in python, you can't just use a variable without attributing a value to it, it will get you an "undefined symbol"-like error).

Today, on Linux, when Adobe wants to decode an H.264 stream using the hardware in Flash Player and ask the community which APIs are available, the answer is something like "xv, VA-API, VDPAU, (and some others)".
On OSX, the answer is like "Use api X in the latest safari or fallback to software rendering". Guess which platform gets the most polished release in the end...

In my opinion, by using a single coherent set of APIs and a good documentation that's fully available at a single place, the Linux world would ease the life of both proprietary software developers and amateurs. Better software availability would ensue.

Edited 2010-06-19 04:41 UTC

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