Linked by David Adams on Mon 24th Aug 2009 09:21 UTC
Linux A reader asks: Why is Linux still not as user friendly as the two other main OSes with all the people developing for Linux? Is it because it is mainly developed by geeks? My initial feeling when reading this question was that it was kind of a throwaway, kind of a slam in disguise as a genuine question. But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I felt. There truly are a large amount of resources being dedicated to the development of Linux and its operating system halo (DEs, drivers, apps, etc). Some of these resources are from large companies (IBM, Red Hat, Novell). Why isn't Linux more user-friendly? Is this an inherent limitation with open source software?
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"Free software UI" article
by vivainio on Mon 24th Aug 2009 10:11 UTC
vivainio
Member since:
2008-12-26

This is a great article I often refer to:

http://www106.pair.com/rhp/free-software-ui.html

Catchy quote:


Preferences keep people from fixing real bugs. One of the more amusing functions in GNU Emacs is "menu-bar-enable-clipboard." Now that KDE is fixed, Emacs is basically the last remaining X application that insists on having cut and paste that doesn't work correctly. So they have this function "menu-bar-enable-clipboard" which basically means "please make my cut and paste work correctly." Why is this an option? I call this kind of preference the "unbreak my application please" button. Just fix the app and be done with it.

Reply Score: 4

Invincible Cow Member since:
2006-06-24

I agree. It is a common problem in open source that developers do not even want their programs to work correctly.

As a real-world example: XFCE has a bug, developer confirms that it's a bug, knows how to fix it (it's easy, even I could do it), but DOESN'T WANT TO!
The reason for this madness is that the current design is clean and elegant, and any way of fixing it would make the design less elegant and be a "hack".

Linux suffers from this old Unix idiom (quoted from the Unix hater's handbook):
• “Being small and simple is more important than being complete and correct.”

But worse, Linux also suffers from the new Linux idiom:
• “Since everything is already so big and kludgy and full of useless features, one more hack doesn't matter for the obscure feature that I, the developer, wants.”

It really is the worst of two worlds. No one wants to make programs behave correctly and be done with it because the programs would become too complex. Everyone wants their silly feature in regardless.

So we have complex, big programs that don't behave correctly.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: "Free software UI" article
by bm3719 on Mon 24th Aug 2009 15:26 in reply to ""Free software UI" article"
bm3719 Member since:
2006-05-30


Preferences keep people from fixing real bugs. One of the more amusing functions in GNU Emacs is "menu-bar-enable-clipboard." Now that KDE is fixed, Emacs is basically the last remaining X application that insists on having cut and paste that doesn't work correctly. So they have this function "menu-bar-enable-clipboard" which basically means "please make my cut and paste work correctly." Why is this an option? I call this kind of preference the "unbreak my application please" button. Just fix the app and be done with it.


As someone who doesn't use KDE (or Gnome or other such GUIs), I would prefer Emacs didn't make any assumptions about the environment in which I prefer to manage the resources of my computer. I've got no problem with it presenting the option to integrate with them, but to turn it on by default? Emacs already provides a paradigm for killing and yanking text (a far superior one: the kill-ring), the fact that it ignores the gnome or kde clipboards should illustrate how silly it is for a DE to provide its own version of one.

Reply Parent Score: 3

vivainio Member since:
2008-12-26


As someone who doesn't use KDE (or Gnome or other such GUIs), I would prefer Emacs didn't make any assumptions about the environment in which I prefer to manage the resources of my computer. I've got no problem with it presenting the option to integrate with them, but to turn it on by default? Emacs already provides a paradigm for killing and yanking text (a far superior one: the kill-ring), the fact that it ignores the gnome or kde clipboards should illustrate how silly it is for a DE to provide its own version of one.


Yes, there are users that don't want stuff fixed because they like the broken version more for (questionable) philosophical reasons. Fixing stuff like this as "preference" absolutely sucks, Gnome community got that one right. I recommend you read the rest of the linked article as well.

Reply Parent Score: 2