An anonymous reader wrote in to tell us, “DesktopLinux.com caught up with Colin Walters of the Debian Desktop subproject. Launched in late October, the project aims to simplify Desktop Linux. Walters discusses the project goal to offer “Software which Just Works” for home and office, new user and expert.” The rest can be found at DesktopLinux.com.
Interview: Colin Walters of the Debian Desktop Subproject
2002-12-18 Debian 17 Comments
Isn’t this what Koppix, Xandros, and like 10,000 other debian based distros are also trying to achive?
“……Debian previously had no focus on the end-user;”
How wonderful it is to finally have a Debian user (much less a Debian developer) speak the pure, unadulterated truth about this distro. This proves what I have been saying all along. I, for one, am pleased.
yeah, but this will be FREE as in bear, while knopix is free as in beer as well, it will make Clouse Knopper’s job easier…besides, Lnopix will not be under super active development unless knopper sees a reason to add something…..atleast, that is what I got from him in the interviews he has done.
I don’t think you can really consider knoppix a serious part in the competition to become a great desktop distribution. I think knoppix is cool, but its goal is just not to be a general desktop distro.
And yes, that is what xandros, lindows, etc are trying to do, but the difference is that they are commercial, and seen from the point of view of the linux developers, they dont matter at all. I don’t care about them, i don’t want any proprietary linux systems thank you, and as i see it, they are trying to profit from linux without giving anything back. No, for many people those distros are irrelevant.
I for one think it is interesting that there will be a non commercial desktop contender. I hope they can supplement and make debian a great desktop distribution. I think that debian is right now a great server os, but if i was to use it as a desktop, i would have to compile everything from X and up manually. It is just too old and too poorly integrated, and too hard to setup as i want it.
Knoppix “www.knopper.net” is great. First distro that recognized all my hardware, including my usb-scanner and usb-webcam. It’s a cd-based distro. Put the cd in, reboot and voilà KDE on your desktop. If you want it on your harddisk, then “ctrl-alt-F1 and when the shell prompt comes up, type “knx-hdinstall”and enter.
I for one think it is interesting that there will be a non commercial desktop contender.
Well, trust me .. there won’t be. As long as there is such a thing as ‘Corporate America’, it just ain’t gonna happen. There are too many greedy corporations that have too much money invested in this industry (desktop computing) to see it taken away by a (perhaps large) group of Linux developers.
The only way it’s going to happen is if a major revolt occurs by ‘consumers’ against The Corporation .. a move that will be far more sweeping than what OS dominates the desktop.
“How wonderful it is to finally have a Debian user (much less a Debian developer) speak the pure, unadulterated truth about this distro. This proves what I have been saying all along. I, for one, am pleased.”
Ain’t that the truth. I’ve had sooo many arguements with Debians users who say things like “gui installers are for newbies”. Yea a lot of good that’s done. Half of their user base fled to either Gentoo or Redhat/Mandrake while they sat on their butts taking forever to release. Honestly the fact that just now an alpha-alpha gui installer is being worked on is amazing.
Ease of use rules, its almost 2003 and if your OS isn’t easy for anyone to sit down and use, your not doing your job. Using an OS should be as easy to use as flipping on a light switch. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either A) delusional or B) a hardass who wants you to “learn the ropes”.
The thing is in many ways Debian is the most important Linux distro. Its the only one that won’t ever be corrupted like say Lindows for example. That’s why I’m so eager to see them finally start to work on usability. When Longhorn requires a retinal scan to boot, and all the other linux distros have either been bankrupted or gone proprietary there will still be Debian. So I can’t wait till they get their act together, its more important then you might think.
What an unfortunate choice of expression, or is it a clever way to introduce some sub-ergonomics ? In such a case this is pointless, Linux is yet a subdesktop ;-)))
Why haven’t they read the Apache Group website before naming it ? Can anybody see a “subproject” here ?
I’m afraid that is too representative of the very bad conception of what is a desktop, when in fact a desktop is an OS itself.
Gentoo is so easy to install. I’ve had it up and going for a while, then all of a sudden a simple emerge gcc glib decided that it didn’t want to work anymore. As a developer, I don’t need that.
I’ve used Debian in the past and I have great respect for its wonderful stability and the amount of work that goes into making sure its packaging system “just works”. Sure, Debian is more difficult to learn, install, and understand, but Debian users only install once. Everything else is incremental upgrades. It is a server OS, so it doesn’t have to be as easy to work with as a desktop oriented OS, its for experienced (and experimenting) users only. The Debian developers also prefer known and stable software, hence the Linux 2.2 kernel is in by default. It’ll be interesting to see how they can adapt the massive amounts of work put into Debian to leverage a cutting-edge desktop Distro.
just tell me one other distro out there that can be installed on an old 486 laptop (with no cdrom), and do everything i need, and still have room to spare. Upgraded the thing to 3.0 this weekend, soo nice. Go Debian Go!!!
If Debian could made to turn to evil, they would become a powerful ally /*end of shameless star wars plug*/
Personally I think these are great news. Imagine a Debian easy to install, easy to use, with knoppix like hw-detection and configuration.
It would be THE desktop killer solution.
Darius, I hope Debian can prove you wrong. As for the reasons why commercial distros have some success, for example getting tech sites to review and recommend their products, it would be a good idea for Free Software advocates and developers to understand why that is and not succumb to cynicism and resentment. People generally don’t choose commercial software for ideological reasons, but for practical and emotional reasons, like, for example, they like things working for them, and they dislike being told to RTFM. Debian in its current state is just not geared towards pleasing the masses. Many Debianites like it that way, but there’s no real reason why expert users and less experienced users couldn’t co-exist within Debian. If the Debian desktop project achieves just a handful of its initial goals, “Corporate America” will be powerless to stop it or keep people from using it.
Yeah, I’m bullish on Free Software in the long term.
“……Debian previously had no focus on the end-user;”
It depends which “end-users” you are talking about. Certainly Debian has never tried to be “idiot-proof”, but I think they have tried to be usable by anyone with a modicum of unix and computing knowledge, perhaps including previous experience with another distro. Also, it isn’t like they need to apologize for placing other priorities higher (stability, ease of administration, ability to run on multiple platforms, clear delineation of free vs. non-free software).
“Well, trust me .. there won’t be (a non-commercial desktop contender”.
Corporate America may not be interested in producing a totally free desktop distribution, but they would most definitely be interested in using one if they could save money and they could be confident it met their needs.
“if your OS isn’t easy for anyone to sit down and use, your not doing your job”
They are doing there jobs, but their jobs are not the development of Debian. Debian is a purely volunteer distribution. They shouldn’t have to apologize for lagging behind distributions that actually pay people to add features.
“… and they dislike being told to RTFM. Debian in its current state is just not geared towards pleasing the masses.”
It is extremely un-Debian-like to tell someone to RTFM, at least not using this abusive term. I don’t recall seeing the term “RTFM” on debian-user in the several months I’ve followed it. Sometimes people *do* point others toward relevant documentation as part of replies, but the debian-user list overall is very courteous and very helpful.
You really don’t need to “dumb down” Deb to have it prosper. It is entirely possible to have an expert version for those who like to tinker and a non-expert version for those who just want to switch away from Win but don’t/can’t want to be bothered with how stuff works underneath. The beauty of open source is that people will work on whatever they need, and create the options they need. Btw., some of these goals actually converge. I don’t think that making certain things more rational/easy in Deb would hurt the expert and/or prevent them from working closely with the guts of the system – sometimes what the newbie needs/wants is the same as a more experienced user.
Well, it might not be able to succeed in america, but we dont all live there
Being european probably makes me more sceptical (sp?) of america than what is fair, but if it can just succeed in europe i would be very happy. I still can’t believe our government are trusting non-open software, and especially american software with all their secrets.
It is my hope that linux will do well in the soon to become EU member countries where they don’t have millions to spend mindlessly on computer equipment, and i dont suppose joining the union will mean that they will decrease their administration needs