Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 27th Aug 2009 19:08 UTC
Linux A complaint you hear quite often is that the Linux desktop environments, which mostly refers to KDE and GNOME, are trying too hard to be like Windows and Mac OS X. Now, even James Bottomley, Distinguished Engineer at Novell, Director of the Linux Foundation, and Chair of its Technical Advisory Board (put that on your business card) states in an interview that he believes the Linux desktop is too much like Windows and Mac.
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RE[2]: Yeah...
by Doc Pain on Thu 27th Aug 2009 20:22 UTC in reply to "RE: Yeah..."
Doc Pain
Member since:
2006-10-08

The fact is that the current general desktop metaphor is confusing for regular users, has been since 1984 and continues to be so even today when I deal with customers buying new computers. Computers are simply difficult to operate.


You say it. Computers aren't easy, or at least they are not as easy as advertisement wants them to be. You often see this even in our "modern" time where users who operate PCs for several years cannot tell the difference from the PC ("modem") and the screen ("TV"), or the speakers ("brain").

You don‘t get in your car and expect it to operate like your desktop computer, or phone, or television?


People like car analogies, and I do like this one. But, allow me to mention this, people expect cars to follow some specific rules, even if they never drove one. For example, where is the steering wheel, how do you use it, where are brakes, where to shift gears, where to honk. This applies in a similar way to desktop environments. Due to specific "education" people got in their career, they expect the desktop to behave in a certain way. This of course differs from user to user. Those who grew up with CDE often find things ununderstandable in "Windows", and those who are familiar with using the keyboard as the primary input device -- we remember now that few decades ago PCs were operated by ordinary people through a keyboard where they pressed keys in order to communicate their "wishes" to the system -- may find problems in KDE or Gnome.

In order to operate a car, a phone or a PC, you need some basic knowledge. Without this knowledge, you will run into problems, sooner or later. All OSes and DEs seem to have this in common.

Following some standardization among all the different DEs often is a lot of help. On the other hand, it often limits functionality and productivity. Things like "focus follows mouse" and "focus doesn't imply foreground", as well as combining mouse and keyboard support come into mind. But finally, it's possible to admit that those things doesn't belong to the primary interests of the home users who seem to make up the main target group.

A radically different OS can be, if designed right, easier than Windows. Nobody has found the universal formula that scales properly though.


We can still wait (or hope) for it.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: Yeah...
by Peter Besenbruch on Thu 27th Aug 2009 21:25 in reply to "RE[2]: Yeah..."
Peter Besenbruch Member since:
2006-03-13

People like car analogies, and I do like this one. But, allow me to mention this, people expect cars to follow some specific rules, even if they never drove one. For example, where is the steering wheel, how do you use it, where are brakes, where to shift gears, where to honk.


The worst experience I ever had driving was when I rented a Ford Mondeo in England this Summer. The rental company gave me a manual diesel. Not only was it a struggle to drive such a hulking car with poor visibility on the wrong side of the too narrow road, I was also expected to shift the blasted thing left handed.

If only the English would give us a proper driving interface. ;)

In order to operate a car, a phone or a PC, you need some basic knowledge. Without this knowledge, you will run into problems, sooner or later. All OSes and DEs seem to have this in common.


There is a fair bit in common when using a point and click interface, partly because it wasn't developed by anyone who is still a player today. The point and click interface was developed by Xerox in the late 70s. Each later implementation shares certain basic assumptions. It's almost a language of movement. Hence, I can use Windows, the various Linux/Unix desktop environments, or Macs. I may not always use them gracefully, but I can get by.

"A radically different OS can be, if designed right, easier than Windows. Nobody has found the universal formula that scales properly though.


We can still wait (or hope) for it.
"

I'm still waiting for Apple to improve its interface some more. The underlying OS isn't bad, but Apple could sure improve OS X's interface by making it more like KDE 3.5, or something. Using Apple is as bad a driving in England. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: Yeah...
by Sparrowhawk on Fri 28th Aug 2009 12:59 in reply to "RE[3]: Yeah..."
Sparrowhawk Member since:
2005-07-11


The worst experience I ever had driving was when I rented a Ford Mondeo in England this Summer.


"Summer"? We had a summer? Must have passed me right by. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Yeah...
by setec_astronomy on Thu 27th Aug 2009 22:45 in reply to "RE[2]: Yeah..."
setec_astronomy Member since:
2007-11-17

People like car analogies, and I do like this one. But, allow me to mention this, people expect cars to follow some specific rules, even if they never drove one. For example, where is the steering wheel, how do you use it, where are brakes, where to shift gears, where to honk.


There is something about this whole "using car analogies for computer related scenarios" that I always thought of as kind of odd:

What is the equivalent of the driving license in relation to computers in this picture?

I don't know about the situation in different countries, but where I live taking (and passing) theoretical and practical courses is mandatory in order to receive a driving license. This courses include a very brief introduction to the inner workings of a car, (e.g. ignoring the oil pressure warning light while you drive is not exactly a good idea, how to roughly evaluate the safeness of your cars breaking system, which type of fuel is for which engine, how to estimate the necessary time and distance for (emergency) breaks, etc.) a laughable short first aid course and of course a rather detailed introduction to the topic of traffic rules.

In the 12 years since I got my driving license, I had to deal with at least six different ways to shift into the reverse gear (VWs try-to-push-the-gear-stick-down-and-then-select-the-first-gear method proved difficult to figure out the first time using the schematic on the gear sticks head while standing downhill rather close to a concrete wall, for example). And just don't get me started on the airplane-like cockpits of contemporary tractors and harvesters.

My theory: With minimal - and proper - training, people can adapt to the surprisingly large number of variations that occur in the operation of vehicles.

Edited 2009-08-27 22:48 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: Yeah...
by Doc Pain on Thu 27th Aug 2009 23:40 in reply to "RE[3]: Yeah..."
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

What is the equivalent of the driving license in relation to computers in this picture?


There is none. Every idiot (sorry) can buy a car (credit-wise) and drive it, causing traffic collapses and accidents... erm, oops, I wanted to talk about computers. So... every... can buy... cause accidents... you get the picture. :-)

My theory: With minimal - and proper - training, people can adapt to the surprisingly large number of variations that occur in the operation of vehicles.


The circle closes: With minimal - and proper - training, people can adapt to the surprisingly large number of variations that occur in the operation of a PC, its operating system and its application programs.

Do you remember DOS? Do you know that "ordinary people" had less problems using DOS in the past? Or go back to the mainframe era: "Ordinary people" sat infront of 3270 text mode terminals with 122 key keyboards - and could get their work done. It's hard to imagine that people have gotten so much dumber.

Today, they are often not able to change the margins of a printed report, or save their files in the directory they are told 100 times.

What I want to say with this: Proper education, done very early in the "IT career", should make the individuum able to see the fundamental basics in each OS or especially DE. For example, if you know WHAT something is called (e. g. the white stripe on the paper edges are called margins) and HOW to find the corresponding setting (e. g. by looking through the menues for the correct option, or using "handles" in the ruler of the word processor), then there are no problems. And it even does not matter which program you use to teach those basics! Even more, most of such basics are completely independent of the DE and even the OS.

I found that so many people who have "learned" word processing with "Office 97" do not have any clue how to operate MICROS~1's newest "Office" products. They don't understand concepts, because they are trained to click on certain pictures they know by mind, or search for specific menu or option names where they know the location by mind. Those are the same people that cannot use "Windows Vista" when they had used "NT" before - why? Because it has "different pictures" than they know. And they don't find the concepts they should be familiar with, for example after having used a PC for more than 10 years. You can even achieve a similar effect with re-arranging the icons on the desktop - it can stop the whole productivity process even if "nothing" has changed.

(The term "pictures" is often used by Germans to describe how a GUI looks like, such as in "I want the same pictures at home as I have them in the office.")

Reply Parent Score: 5