AddABoy features a review of ArkLinux, the new desktop distro from ex-Red Hat employee, Bero. Update: Five new screenshots from the brand new version 1.0.0-alpha6 are available. Its control panel is essentially the same as in Lycoris. Fonts and their rendering look below par though. Update2: The conversation on our commenting section seems to have get around usability and UI again, so here are my two suggestions, including a mockup for the Control Panel used by Ark and Lycoris: suggestion here, mockup here.
Ark Linux Review
2003-01-25 Linux 48 Comments
I like the work that’s been done on this distro, considering that it’s an alpha.
IMO, Keramik still doesn’t look professional enough. Try Bluecurve+Crystal for a clean desktop, if you know what I mean.
Can somebody tell me how it compares to yoper?
This looks like it’s going to be really good. I’m assuming there is no graphical way to configure ethernet and the other things he mentioned using the command line for. But, actually, he really doesn’t say specifically that there isn’t…or perhaps he just went straight to the Konsole out of habit. At any rate, those surely are things that need fixing if it’s for Joe User. For alpha though, it sounds wonderful.
I have serious doubts on new distros. Some standardization would be good, specially for the package system. Do we need more distros? Don’t think so, once you are on KDE every distro looks more or less the same. We are on a spiral of new distro every month while another disappears. Let’s hope we get somewhere soon.
Good luck to the ARK team, and I hope at least they make money of their release but I would like something new.
Oh great. Another Linux Distribution. There was getting to be a terrible shortage of them…
For every linux review I’ve read lately (about 3 a week at the current release rate), the emphasis has been on installation, sometimes solely on installation. Unless the installation is a disaster, it seems like a very trivial thing to concentrate on. What the reviewers (and the developers) need to think about more is the 99.99% of the time users are not installing the software for the first time. What is it like to get a modem running under the new distro? How is the installation of software? How easy is it to change your IP address? How do the fonts look? Etc.
There now is an official ArkLinux screenshot page (http://www.arklinux.org/screenshots.php), which among some nice desktop shots shows ‘Mission Control’ the ArkLinux configuration software (http://www.arklinux.org/images/arklinux-2.png), which looks suprisingly good.
Another intersting information is that Ark supports apt-rpm for package management.
The recent hype is how Linux is not ready for “average users” and keep things stupid and simple bla bla etc.
But what about us poor power users? WE exists too! If Ark Linux is simple beyond imagination, good for them. But I sure don’t hope every distro follows this trend. One of the reasons why I left Windows is because I *want* advanced settings.
No, don’t try to brag about how I need to edit /etc/* every 5 minutes and reading tons of manuals. Configuration is only needed ONCE. After that, everything is as simple and fast as *I* want it to be.
Not everybody is an “average user”, don’t forget that.
Um… you’re forgetting debian. I took 2.5 hours to try and get XFree86 to start. Then I suddenly realised that I could copy my RH8 XF86Config to XF86Config-4 in Debian. Voila!
Yep, you can use Debian for pointless configuring ‘ONCE’.
>>Then I suddenly realised that I could copy my RH8 XF86Config to XF86Config-4 in Debian. Voila!
How did the copying process go? I remember when I tried something similar, it took me a while to get XFree86 up and running [btw: I copied XF86Config-4 from Slackware to Libranet…not ‘pure’ Debian ]
It was only after a bit of reading and a few ‘custom’ XF86Config-4s that I could get what I wanted.
Of course, that was a while ago… Sigh! The good old days
I just talked to the Ark guys on IRC and according to them it does a pretty good job as a power user workstation as well, since it is based on RedHat and in the end still GNU/Linux. Reactivating the normal login takes just a couple of clicks and there are many nice packages for Ark available.
I’m excited to try it out on my laptop…
it says windows/dos but that is a bit ambiguous.
It looks like it comes with battery management pre-configured (see system tray in the picture) :
http://www.arklinux.org/images/arklinux-latest.png whereas I still havent been able to get it to work with my laptop running Suse 8.0
This is what I did. May or may not work.
Started Debian and logged in as root without X-Windows (naturally).
#mkdir redhat (or whatever)
#mount -t ext3 /dev/hda2 /mnt/redhat (since /dev/hda2 holds my root partition for Redhat 8)
#cd /mnt/redhat/etc/X11 (this is where RH 8 stores the file)
#rm /etc/X11/XF86Confi* (removes the 2 files : XF86Config and XF86Config-4; back them up if you want)
#cp XF86Config /etc/X11
#cp XF86Config XF86Config-4 (this is if you have to use XFree 4.x, which I use)
Best of Luck!
Well, it worked immediately. (me not sure if it is XF86config instead of XF86Config )
…looks like Lycoris’ Control Panel. Is “Mission Control” a kcontrol replacement/supplement package?
just read the last sentence of the news story…
Look at the ‘mission control’ screenshot…looks like ‘mission control’ is just a
web interface to be managed thru a web browser? Not very impressive IMO…
On the other hand, if it works OK and is reliable, good for them.
It is pretty much a KDE distribution. Nothing really different about the installation and configuration. Not one distribution actually cares about that, maybe Red Hat, but that’s too early to tell.
Well, of course, it is early to say because it is Alpha 1, and on Ark’s website, they don’t really tell what’s their direction.
Meanwhile, while it may be good for newbies, like the blindingly easy installation, Ark Linux, again like many distributions that have the “average user” as their target market, don’t have any advantage from using Windows besides getting away from the evil evil monopoly.
In other words, why would grandma get rid of Windows in favour of Ark Linux? Would she able to do more on the web? If you mention Mozilla, it is available on Windows, so it is easy to install it – so no advantage there. What about multimedia? Methinks buying a Mac for grandma is much better (or at least that $20 Plus! package for Windows XP).
of course, you can bring up things like viruses ans security risks – may I remind you guys that in the past year most viruses attack corporations rather then home computer (in other words, they spread faster on networks).
Is there any reason for Joe Sixpack to move to Ark Linux?
So unless a distribution actually answers this question, there is no real reason to have yet another distribution, right? Besides, most Joe Sixpacks don’t know the meaning of operating system in the first place… 🙂
>Look at the ‘mission control’ screenshot..
I noticed that too. Very unprofessional and completely useless to tell a user that a “page was loaded” while he is looking on modifying his system via the control panel. That status bar is not needed at all on a control panel, even if it based on Konqueror or not. Lycoris should fix that too.
Why is every new distribution (well, almost every) targets the consumer desktop? Even some that say they are targeting the corporate desktop comes out with products that actually targets the consumer desktop? Corporate desktop is where the money is.
For the reasons given above, the consumer desktop won’t take off, at least until the corporate desktop takes off. With the corporate desktop, you have more chances of selling services than to the average Joe.
Of course you can say Ark Linux isn’t a company, they don’t acre about profit. Then they would be stuck forever in a small market – why? No marketing department, funded only by donations and CD sales, being based on volunteer coders cannot really change focus or create a new complementary product without interested developers etc.
So in other words, I don’t really see much of a future for Ark Linux, sorry to say.
I never understood why Lycoris and now Ark Linux needs to use a HTML front end to their control panel, especially when the applets aren’t integrated into it, it is just links to it?
Windows XP introduced it, but as it is now, it is not that good a idea. Windows XP still haven’t integrated fully their stuff into the front end (some applets like the User and Passwords are).
I much prefer the one by Mac OS X, much more intuitive. Just add some good ideas from Windows XP’s one, and viola, there would be something good and really easy to use.
And another thing is why “Mission control”? what’s the mission? Configuring Linux? What’s wrong with just plain “Preferences” or “Settings” or “Control panel” that tells new users exactly what it does?
>I never understood why Lycoris and now Ark Linux needs to use a HTML front end to their control panel
Because it is much easier/faster to develop this way and make changes to it, without the risk of introducing bugs by doing it in C++
>Windows XP introduced it, but as it is now, it is not that good a idea
XP’s control panel works fine. It is much better designed than the Lycoris/Ark one and a simple user would never figure out that this is some kind of HTML. While on Lycoris/Ark all these icons, status bars, frame bars amateurily they have put there, is more than obvious that it is a simple web page loading a program (and in fact, it is really bad when you click on something and the panel does NOT load immediately and there is no visual indication that the app is loading on the backend, making the user clicking on the icons over and over again, so many apps are loading. At least on XP, the cursor becomes a hourglass. Talk about usability, it is *details* like these that make Linux not good on usability).
Because it is much easier/faster to develop this way and make changes to it, without the risk of introducing bugs by doing it in C++
I never mentioned programming method. The whole while I was talking about the user interface. They could use whatever programming language that suites them. Besides, the applets aren’t HTML are they? My point was that these applets should be integrated with the front end.
XP’s control panel works fine.
Yes it works fine. But it isn’t perfect. If you want to copy a feature, make sure it is a good one. Mac OS X have a lot of good ideas with their Preference window, yet they also got some bad ideas. From what I see on Lycoris (I never used Ark) is that they copy the bad ideas, ditching the good ones.
> Besides, the applets aren’t HTML are they?
The apples, most of the time, require to be in C/C++/compiled language. Not everything can be done with a CGI. Besides, writting the pref panels in CGI, would only be amateuristic as well… They wouldn’t look as good, neither they can be modified on the fly without the need of reloading the HTML page (and that’s ugly for a pref panel). So, having the launcher as HTML but the applet as C/C++ is better than having all as HTML.
Stay tuned I am going to propose a change on the pref panel of Lycoris/Ark. I am creating the mockup as we speak.
Ok babe, here it is:
The modified by me:
With the new colors used, yellow color font for the headers, everything is just so much cleaner than the close-to-terrible interface of the default one (IMHO
Also, very important: Even if you adopt this interface, it will still be half-baked if you do not do something to provide FEEDBACK that an applet IS loading the background, so the user won’t keep clicking an applet’s icon thinking that the app is not loading. Because the way it is now, the non-feedback behavior, very often makes the user to keep clicking that icon and he/she ends up with a zillion copies of the applet. OR, just make sure that an applet is only allowing one copy of itself to run at the same time.
I find it completely amaterish and non-thoughtfull, in the default one, to not support 800×600 resolution (which still has more than 20% of the overall resolutions in the world). The current konqueror panel is about 800×680 or something, which simply doesn’t fit on a 800×600 screen.
My suggestion instead, keeps all the information at place, looks way more clean, and STILL manages to be 740×500, fitting perfectly on a 800×600 screen (640 is not used anymore, WinXP doesn’t even support it at all, 800×600 is the new lowest-end, and all these distros AND the KDE project should make sure they fit on 800×600 just fine).
That’s very interesting how all of the programs have short explanations next to the name (as it appears on the recently run section of the KDE Menu). The designers should consider making it a little more standard though. It would be a good idea (imho of course) to have a more standard naming conventions. The word “Program” should not be included in any of those descriptions, or in all of them. IMHO, it should be in none of them because it is implied. Multimedia Player (program). Arts Sound Control (program), etc. Also, an interesting feature would be to allow selection of which is displayed at installation time. Perhaps you could select to only display the “Friendly Names”, both names, or the application names only?
Anyway, just a few ideas, all are my personal views of course, so no flames please. I also have not used ArkLinux, this is just what struck me looking at the various screenshots.
Two more points for Bero’s MissionControl:
1. In the default screenshot, you have a different icon for the “install software” on the left hand side, and a different icon on the right hand side for the “install software” menu entry. This is of course wrong. You use icons so people can memorize icons to actions. When you keep having different icons for the same action, you lose the cause altogether…
2. You use the X11 logo as the icon for “Video & Monitors”. This is of course blatantly wrong from the usability point of view. You are aiming for the desktop you say. This means that your users do not and should not know what X11 is. Have you seen many times MS using the DirectDraw icon for the resolution/monitor pref panel, or have you ever seen Apple use the Quartz icon for the same action? No. Why? Because people don’t have to know what the windowing system is. What they need to know is that they do have the capability to change res/colors on their monitor, and that’s enough for them. Using the X11 logo for something like that and other such details I can find throughout the system, it really shows that the UI has been created by a geek programmer, and not by a UI designer.
“My suggestion instead, keeps all the information at place, looks way more clean, and STILL manages to be
740×500, fitting perfectly on a 800×600 screen (640 is not used anymore, WinXP doesn’t even support it at
all, 800×600 is the new lowest-end, and all these distros AND the KDE project should make sure they fit on
800×600 just fine).”
What about users with poor vision who need a low resolution display?
Surely any interface should scale properly down to at least 640×480.
IMO 320×240 should be supported too.
Fixed size windows and graphics should not be used.
The changes you made suddenly made the whole thing click. I’ve looked at Ark and Lycoris’ control centers before and though “it just don’t look right”. Your simple changes make it realy clean. I’d like to see the Ark and Lycoris teams take the hint.
A ‘Desktop’-linux system with fonts looking as ugly as this? I hope it’s a joke. And why does everything have to look like Windows XP?
Please look at the image labeled *-latest. It appears to have freetype2 (I’m just guessing) enabled, and looks much better.
“A ‘Desktop’-linux system with fonts looking as ugly as this? I hope it’s a joke. And why does everything have to look like Windows XP?”
Because people love XP. People always tell how XP is still lightyears ahead of Linux usability-wise and how stable and beautiful and consistent it is. It would be wrong NOT to copy XP because the majority loves XP.
Win 2K is far more usable.
My suggestion would be for you guys to put forward the above posts to someone at Ark Linux. That would REALLY help.
Eugenia: The apples, most of the time, require to be in C/C++/compiled language.
Not really. For Mandrake for example, most of the applets are in Perl, Red Hat’s are in Python.
Besides, my point wasn’t to use HTML for the applets. My point was to ditch HTML for the entire front end.
Eugenia: So, having the launcher as HTML but the applet as C/C++ is better than having all as HTML.
What I’m saying is that there shouldn’t be a launcher in the first place, nor the applets. They should be in one application. Like Mac OS X. This is possible under KDE, for example, you can have a Python front end, and some Python applets as well as some C applets and C++ applets, all work in the front end via KParts.
Eugenia: My suggestion instead, keeps all the information at place, looks way more clean, and STILL manages to be 740×500, fitting perfectly on a 800×600 screen
Eugenia: or have you ever seen Apple use the Quartz icon for the same action?
Actually, they use it for Quartz Extreme preferences (IIRC), but QuartzExtreme, unlike X11 and DirectDraw have been hyped and advertise so much, it doesn’t matter.
Don Cox: What about users with poor vision who need a low resolution display?
Get a bigger monitor and use a very low resolution (e.g. 19″ CRT with 800×600).
Anonymous: People always tell how XP is still lightyears ahead of Linux usability-wise and how stable and beautiful and consistent it is.
Yes, XP is much more usable than any distribution I used. Yes, it is stable (enough for home and workstation users that would even think of using Windows in the first place). But consistent? Have you ever tried to shut down the computer while there is other people logged in? What dialog is that? Windows 9x style, right? Same style does Command Prompt uses? Administration tools (those also found on Win2k, but hidden away in XP)?
As for beautiful, I think that is very relative. I only like Silver. Some like the default, some even like (yuck) Olive. Some like Classic. But majority of the people I know prefer Silver. But what I noticed is that these distributions don’t give such choices to their users.
Pete: Win 2K is far more usable.
Hahahahahaha… hehehehehehehe…. hahahah… you crack me up.
I don’t really see what’s in this distribution that sets it apart from others aimed at the desktop, such as Mandrake. IMO existing installation and config tools aren’t too bad, they certainly aren’t what made me switch back to Windows.
Does it do anything to solve complex and problematic installation of new software and hardware drivers? Or do anything to fix the lack of a consistent GUI?
Why is everybody pounding on the GUI when much work should be done in other parts of the OS…
Add / Remove application should work right, no need for tarball or compiling or anything like that. The installation should be able to create their group and icons on the start menu of KDE and Gnome.
It’s Linux, the software installation procedure should be the same for all distro.
You need GUI, ok then, GUI all the things that one needs to configure to make Linux run and do it simple. For most ditro, just changing screeen resolution is a nightmare. KDE 3.1 seem to get this right. All of these thing where easy to do back in Windows 95…
I don’t think that putting a pretty face on Linux is going to make it easyer to use. You don’t need to make Linux an XP look alike but just make it simple to use.
It’s my .02 cents.
Someone asked earlier why there are so many new “Desktop Linux”. Well I think one possible answer is that an enterprise (server/workstation) linux requires serious testing nad validation processes, something that most projects won’t be able to provide in their first versions. Also, what company will deploy “Joe’s Linux” in their server’s.
But it is true that there are too many Desktop Linux and most of them offers marginal advantages. Now the motto it seems that if “I don’t like Red Hat’s Control Panel” I better make my own distro. I think that’s a waste of resources. Many people will go over and over again the process of create installers, icons, and whatever else is needed just to create the feature they wanted to.
My personal belief is that a solution is to create a kind of Linux Plus concept (I hope MS don’t sue me for this). Instead of building the whole distro, just create a package that will enhance the existing distribution with the features that you really worked on. Think something like “Red Hat 8 Multimedia Plus” or “Mandrake 9 Nice Fonts Plus” or “Eugenia’s Modifications Plus for Ark Linux”.
This will need to deal with different configurations and other problems, but may be it could lead to a some additional degree of standarization in distros (well may be just a dream)
I downloaded Ark, when I tried to install it didn’t see my usb mouse (logitech) or my usb keyboard, if it doesn’t have good usb support it is useless in this day and age.
I like what you did to the control center thing. Looks great. Much more intuitive.
>>…And why does everything have to look like Windows XP?<<
>>…And why does everything have to look like Windows XP?<<
Oh stop it. Stop circulating old discussions. We have talked about it a ZILLION times regarding Lycoris decision to resemble XP. It is a business decision for them, for the kind of users they are after. End of story.
Isn’t it easy to chose different window decorations if you don’t like the XP look? It seems like a strange thing to be so bothered about if you can easily change it.
Eugenia, you are right on the money, everything looks so much better without the crap. Now if only they would make distro’sthat also do not contain large large amounts of crap we might end up with a linux os that is productive and worth using
In windows if you rename a .html file to .hta and then double-click on it will appear without the status bar, the menus and the toolbars, in fact, you’ll just get the page and window borders, i don’t know if that would work in linux though… hope it help’s
As always your improvements are nice, but I don’t think they should stop there. The icons for the left most preferences all suck except for the internet and networking one, which kind of matches the whole feel of the icons except it looks like the globe next to the monitor is sitting on a small gray platter which looks kind of out-of-place to me. The accessability icon in the right set kind of matches, but then someone decided that it didn’t look qnx-ish enough and put the double width black pixels around it. I think that the icons should be changed, and imo the next/prev arrows should be on the bottom instead of the top as most people who are trained by the web would kind of expect them to be at the bottom of a view unless the buttons are on a button bar, which was already removed for good reason.
WRT the buttons on the blue curve theme, am I the only one that doesn’t like the tops of the buttons? The light source appears to be from above, which fades out the top of the icon making it look kind of bizare. It actually looks like the tops of the buttons have been flared out on purpose, which looks kind of nasty to me. But that’s just me.
Proud BeOS User
We have talked about it a ZILLION times regarding Lycoris decision to resemble XP.
We talk far more times about Mac vs. PCs, yet we still do that, don’t we?
It is a business decision for them, for the kind of users they are after.
The consumer market doesn’t go after familarity, otherwise Windows XP would fail horribly (its icons, for example, looks very different than in its previous version). However, they are attracted to the fancy. Lycoris isn’t fancy. You can be fancy without cloning Windows’ UI.
Mac OS X have attracted a lot of consumers. The only reason why it isn’t more is because of hardware prices. Besides, people in general tend to badly regard things that looks like clones. For example, if I create a restaraunt opposite of McDonalds and call it McClone, using the same colors and theme but keeping them different enough to keep it legal. Would consumers flock to my joint even if my burgers are 90% cheaper?
>We talk far more times about Mac vs. PCs, yet we still do that, don’t we?
That’s way more important, and for more people.
>The consumer market doesn’t go after familarity, otherwise Windows XP would fail horribly
XP has the 25% of the overall market and growing. That’s familiar enough to try to clone it.
>Would consumers flock to my joint even if my burgers are 90% cheaper?
A lot of them will. Enough of them to keep the company alive maybe. And that’s enough for a company like Lycoris, which has less than 5 employees.