posted by John Munsch on Mon 30th Dec 2002 19:05 UTC

"Pretty Does Count"
Pretty does count.

If you think it doesn't look at people's general distaste for all things Unix/Linux and their current love for the Mac OS X. The Mac OS is BSD with a pretty face. What we are shooting for, what we must shoot for, is Linux with a pretty face and not owned by just one company.

Corrolary: That means all fonts have to be anti-aliased. I hope that's not a news bulletin, but the time for any other option is over.

Jargon is our enemy.

Look at what you are writing. Think about anything the end-user may see. If it talks about computer languages, operating system parts, or tools that were originally intended for sys admins or developers then it may as well be a collection of random words stuck into the sentences like MadLibs.

Here is an actual example of a screen I was presented with when I installed Gnome on a machine running Debian Linux. Keep in mind that while I have virtually no experience with Linux, I am a professional software developer and have been doing PC development under Windows and DOS since 1987. I still had to read it a couple of times to get the gist of what it was telling me.

Image of software install on Debian Linux

If you actually know what defoma, libpango, a symbolic link, and dpkg-reconfigure are, award yourself some special gold stars. Either way, pretend you don't (substituting the words lumptylump for defoma, ruppa for pango, and uwig for dkpg might help) and re-read that screen. It's one of the purest, most unadorned examples of stupid nonsense I've ever been treated to, and it is exactly what you cannot thrust in a user's face.

Games are more important than you realize.

MS-DOS hung on much longer than expected (including Microsoft's expectations). One of the reasons for that was games stayed on MS-DOS. After DirectX was organized and it conformed to the needs of developers (rather than some of Microsoft's earlier attempts which largely conformed to the needs of Microsoft) it began the move of games to Windows. Users came with it.

If there is anything the SDL and OpenGL do not do or do not do well, let's make sure they do it. There needs to be a major program underway to make it easy to have Linux be a painless platform to develop for at the same time the Windows version of a game is being built.

If Linux does not support the hardware they want, users will not support Linux.

That means all hardware. Scanners, printers, joysticks and other gaming devices, video cards (esp. those with 3d capabilities), USB, USB 2.0, Firewire, digital capture cards, web cameras, keyboards (including those ones with all the extra buttons for media control, etc.), digital cameras, pen tablets, mice, etc., etc., etc.

The peripherals all exist, again not because having them is a goal unto itself, but because they facilitate running some program the user actually cares about.

Hardware manufacturers cannot support an operating system if they cannot be sure what they have to support. That's why sound, printing, etc. all need driver standards they can work with and for those standards to be completely adopted so they can be sure that implementing one and only one driver will get them support for all Linux distributions.

Linux sound support is unacceptably fragmented.

Every program should be able to use the sound playback device as though it were the only application attempting to use it. The results of that should be mixed between all inputs.

There should be no other option. The idea that starting up a sound server is something optional is insane. You have to have one, it's as basic as having X to arbitrate the use of the screen.

The plethora of sound solutions should disappear. There has to be one final arbiter of sound for all applications that need to use it. If there is a leading solution now, we should adopt it and add in anything it is missing from some of the secondary systems. That means that the next version of XMMS or KDE doesn't support aRts, eSound, and OSS. Nor do they each pick just one separately. This only works if only one is picked and everybody agrees on which one it is.

Table of contents
  1. "Why?"
  2. "How?"
  3. "Pretty Does Count"
  4. "What Brand?"
  5. "Conclusion"
e p (0)    180 Comment(s)

Technology White Papers

See More