Home > Gnome > New Usability Website with Gnome 2.6 Review New Usability Website with Gnome 2.6 Review Submitted by Jonathan Turner 2004-07-20 Gnome 80 Comments A new UI website just opened its doors. As part of it’s opening, they’ve posted a Gnome 2.6 usability review that includes fairly detailed user experience surveys. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 80 Comments 2004-07-20 2:47 am I have worked tech support and can attest that there are many users who get pissed at their computers when it is not instant, but almost all users I have encountered would at least TRY to use the word processor. it tells me that this person was taught how to use word and not how to use a word processor. 2004-07-20 3:12 am This is a very interesting usability review and also mirrors some of my experience with non-geeks using Linux. I tried to switch my wife over to Linux and it didn’t take. She gets frustrated really quickly and expects the computer to just work without any fuss. Routine tasks were difficult for her in Linux, no matter how much I tweaked the interface or set things up to be as simple as possible. And Debman, you’re right. Some users are taught how to use Word and not how to use a word processor, but that’s just a fact of life. I shudder to think about trying to switch the secretaries in my office to OO.o or Abiword (or to Evolution from Outlook). We would have a mutiny on our hands. 2004-07-20 3:21 am I really like GNOME 2.6, and on Gentoo it isn’t slow as all get out, like on Fedora. The one thing that gives me the irrits though is the new file opener/saver thing (not nautilus, that’s another problem). As far as I can tell, there’s no way to open dotfiles. It seems that the designers of GNOME have made a conscious decision to cater to the average goofball luser and not mention the existence of dotfiles. Thus it is impossible to set my desktop background with and image from my .backgrounds/ directory. Oh dear. Anyone with a fix for this is more than welcome to mention it. 2004-07-20 3:32 am It’s good to see usability websites cropping up for the free desktops. Another good website is http://www.openusability.org/ . Currently, they’ve only done KDE-related work, but is meant for all projects. It’s meant to be the Sourceforge of usability work– but done by professional testers. 2004-07-20 3:33 am “Hostility and indifference. If they even care, it’s only to treat their users like GARBAGE. Those kinds of developers are such f*cking lusers. It’s too bad the OSS dev community is rife with them.” I agree, but I think that your view of opensorce developers much more reflect the past than the present. There was a time when the common view in the developer community was that if it can’t be done with vi it is not worth doing and only sissys used GUIs. Today usability is cool, most large open source projects have mailinglists dealing with usability, and more and more websites turns up on the subject. 2004-07-20 3:41 am The one thing that gives me the irrits though is the new file opener/saver thing (not nautilus, that’s another problem). As far as I can tell, there’s no way to open dotfiles. It seems that the designers of GNOME have made a conscious decision to cater to the average goofball luser and not mention the existence of dotfiles. Thus it is impossible to set my desktop background with and image from my .backgrounds/ directory. Oh dear. Anyone with a fix for this is more than welcome to mention it. You press ctrl-L in the file dialog, then you get a popup where you can fill in whatever filename you want. You are probably right that they did this on purpose as they probably think that dot files should be edited through some gui settings dialog of whatever application that need the dot file in question. 2004-07-20 3:50 am Hostility and indifference. If they even care, it’s only to treat their users like GARBAGE. Those kinds of developers are such f*cking lusers. It’s too bad the OSS dev community is rife with them. There’s probably some of this in gnome community, but of the projects I’ve looked at, all of them have required that patches be HIG compliant (they’ve actually stated in for example the HACKING file, that they won’t accept patches that break HIG compliance). This is one of the largest differences I see between gnome and kde and really the biggest reason I use gnome. You are probably right that they did this on purpose as they probably think that dot files should be edited through some gui settings dialog of whatever application that need the dot file in question. I know a lot of people won’t, but I actually agree with this line of reasoning. .files are meant for preferences. If it’s a gui application, you should set those with the gui and if they’re uncommonly used, then gconf is fine. If it’s a command line app, then it makes sense to use the command line to edit the prefs. Anyway, ls hides .files by default. Is learning the -a option any harder than learning to press ctrl-L? 2004-07-20 3:51 am “I agree, but I think that your view of opensorce developers much more reflect the past than the present. There was a time when the common view in the developer community was that if it can’t be done with vi it is not worth doing and only sissys used GUIs. Today usability is cool, most large open source projects have mailinglists dealing with usability, and more and more websites turns up on the subject.” Let’s hope so. It is clear: open source *is* the future of software. Personally, I don’t want to have people who use the word “user” as an epithet in charge of software that I rely on (and expect certain standards in terms of things like useability from). As it stands, that’s still the reality (though you’re right, it *is* changing). Let’s face it, if a company makes a program and you want something implemented, you can vote with your money. Chances are, a large enough proportion of the userbase could use the feature you want, and it would likely get implemented. What if something goes wrong with the software, causing you to incur material damages? You get to take the maker to court. (Whether or not you’d win is another matter, but at least there’s an entity you can sue.) What happens with open source? Simply put, there is no accountability, no central authority, the buck doesn’t stop anywhere. Methinks that, as OSS becomes more prevelant, you’ll see laws enacted, imposing standards on software engineers. That seems to be the only way to force relevant parties to take responsibility for what they produce. 2004-07-20 4:19 am Can’t say I was that impressed with the usability study. It all boils down to people expect the Microsoft way of doing things, and if it’s different they jump up and down. If you want Microsoft go buy it. No ones stopping you. Just deal with the s**tty licenses. People aren’t taught *how* to use a computer, they just hop on and go click, click and click. If something happens that breaks that cycle they panic because they’re trained monkeys with no conceptual understanding of what is going one or why. They should not be allowed near a computer imho. It’s half the reason why there’s so much spam and viruses out there – idiots using computers who should just not be allowed anywhere near one. Period. Blame Microsoft for making Windows wipe your bum for you as well as making a cup of tea. The ability for people in todays modern society to actual show a grain of original thought is declining at a rapid pace and the software is going downhill at the same rate in many instances. I don’t want my desktop dummed down for some dumbass user who can’t be bothered to learn. Period. There’s an old saying ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the fireplace’. Very applicable. Basically translated ‘if you can’t figure out how to use a computer then don’t use it’. Dave W Pastern 2004-07-20 4:38 am Instead of misdirected whining, these people have done some clear thinking on what tasks are important to a range of users, and provided some real data on how people use GNOME, and the areas it can improve in. Bravo! 2004-07-20 4:40 am That’s the reason MSFT has 95% of the marketshare and Apple has much of the rest. They make software for people for whom the computer is a tool to accomplish a task, not an end in and of itself. Do you feel that you have to understand all the tools you use? Should drivers have knowledge about internal combustion, for example? Perhaps only in an ideal world… 2004-07-20 4:40 am I love these sort of things. It’s interesting how the “Start here” icon didn’t attract any of the new users. I know I didn’t use it when I first used Gnome. I agree with icons for each common task. Also, I think it would be better if the user experiences were in paragraphs instead of points though, it’s easier to read.. 2004-07-20 4:47 am QUOTE: Find files based on search criteria, and load them into a single app (e.g. load all of my pictures of Mary into my slideshow application) GNOME 2.6 does not offer meta search functions. Reset a user’s password GNOME 2.6 does not offer user maintenance tools. Block children from accessing certain parts of the system GNOME 2.6 does not offer access controls for lockdown. Block children from accessing certain websites GNOME 2.6 does not offer access controls based on content. Data recovery after power failure (this should be invisible to the beginner, but for worse cases something like this… may fall under system health) GNOME 2.6 does not offer the ability to maintain system health. Explain to me why a DE should be in charge of those things… 2004-07-20 5:19 am Explain to me why a DE should be in charge of those things… Because this was a usability study of the DE, not the command line. If the user has to drop to a terminal to do simple administrative tasks, the deal is off. Period. Both OS X and windows have front-ends for these tasks. There is no reason why they could not be abstracted into the DE. 2004-07-20 5:23 am For those of you who cynically assumed the Free Software community would disregard this article, go check out the comments about the study at gnomedesktop.org. 2004-07-20 5:29 am I like their recommendation to change the default quick launch buttons. Browse filesystem is for advanced users with complicated hierarchies, and the terminal is for advanced uses. It would make much more sense to have links to things like epiphany and evolution. Also what are people here talking about with “gnome does not care about usability”? gnome is one of the few pieces of software open source or proprietary that I have seen really act like they care about usability. They consistently make the hard decisions that enrage their leet users, but enhance usability. Even look at their default theme, they went for the plain but usable one over the flashy but less usable ones that everyone else is choosing. 2004-07-20 5:30 am Because this was a usability study of the DE, not the command line. If the user has to drop to a terminal to do simple administrative tasks, the deal is off. Bingo! 2004-07-20 5:44 am The problem I see with dumbing down an OS too much is that when problems arises, end users know not the know how to fix probs. e.g. If X fails to start, would your Joe or Sue Average used to GUI know how to manage xorgconfig or xf86config via the CLI? Would they even be comfy with looking at something that does NOT even have a hint of color or nice pixies? If one is to encounter kernel panic”…superblock failure at…”, would GUI Only folks know what to do? In such situations, there is NO GUI tool to help you, I mean how to when X can’t even fire up? On the security front, would GUI users know what to edit in the ssh config to prevent remote login? Do they even know that one’s inetd.conf, dhcp servers, ssh can be removed or stop from running if they are on a standalone workstation? There is no GUI tool that can perform as well as rkhunter or chkrookit as yet but without running them or even the knowledge or liking to use such commandline tools, would the end user knows what is and what is not on his/her system? The whole concept of GNU/Linux is different from operating another OS e.g. Windows. It requires a different mindset for the operating philosophy, world view, modus operandi of GNU/Linux are different. GNU/Linux is essentially a DIY OS built with security as as THE MAJOR underpinning concern i.e. NOT so much usability. Despite all the Melissas, Klezes, Sobigs, Sassers, etc have GUI centric users still fail to see the light as yet? How many GUI centric users even know how to deal with such threats without the intervention of friendly advice of securityfocus, anti-virus/firewall solutions vendors? Like it or loathe it, WITHOUT knowing what’s underneath the hood, there is every possibility that the problems that plagues Windows today will just make the switch over to GNU/Linux (i.e. because of end user sloppiness and ignorance). There can just be no substitute for diligence, knowhow and alertness. 2004-07-20 5:57 am What I really really really hate when using the gnome file selector is that fact that it does not respond to key presses. In every other desktop I have used (Windows, KDE, Mac) when opening a file I can type the first few letters of the file I want and it will move the focus to the closest match. In GNOME, you can’t do this. You have to scroll for the file. Really a pain in a directory with a lot of file in it and it really slows me down. 2004-07-20 6:03 am >> Explain to me why a DE should be in charge of >> those things… > Because this was a usability study of the DE, > not the command line. Then why most of the experiences recorded were involved with programs that are (currently) NOT part of the desktop? Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the study and think that it raised good points (start-here, initial setup in general), I just think that if it’s called “Gnome 2.6 Usability Study” it should focus on the official release, not on programs outside the release. For example, two of the users didn’t use the DE provided browser (the simplistic Epiphany) but fired up the vanilla Mozilla. Not that I’d complain about the choice, but how does that give info on the DE? Gladly, the conclusions did focus on the DE as a whole and not on the programs. 2004-07-20 6:03 am Hello, I have started a little project which is intended to get the GNOME Desktop back into the right direction again. It’s not aimed for those people who love GNOME as it is now – no, it’s more aimed to those who are experts to unix and who like and wish so many times that changes that went into GNOME never happened. The project was started yesterday and the first patches to *fix* the buttonorder (as one of many ideas and points) were created already. I plan to create the outstanding patches for correcting the buttonorder today and then like to head over to other things that I personally like to see fixed. The project is not aimed to be a cooperation with the core GNOME it’s more my own little private work for my personal own – but if someone is interested he’d like to join in. Please read more here: http://www.akcaagac.com/index_goneme.html 2004-07-20 6:12 am I hate to sound condesending but where did they get those people in the survey? A lot of things in it had me scratching my head as I am thinking if they have that much of a problem with that here I don’t see them having any easier of a time on a different OS. I guess some people just get too used to what they have been using for such a long time that they become inflexible to something new? I don’t even consider this to be that radically new. Like for example, this article says that people generally have a hard time finding their programs to launch them and putting shortcuts to them on the desktop would help that. Most of the “difficulties” was application specific it seemed to me. Another thing is Gnome has menus in the gnome foot either on the “menubar” or one that can be put in a panel that is very similar to a start menu. I find that those menus generally are neatly organized even more so than the windows start menu by default because that organizes by application, not application type like the gnome menu does. Are those menus really that hard? Windows menus don’t get any easier than that. I would also think that the experienced “Unix” user would be flexible enough to not require the applications to be in the right click menu. Anyway I digress.. but I think they need to pick a more wider range of peopl to truly have a good useability study. Also at the end of the article I don’t think that it is a problem for most of the programs that where listed to be “third party” especially The GIMP which is the defacto standard graphics editor on Linux. As long as they are included and do their jobs. However where things DO fall flat is in the arena of installing things but some distributions handle this better than others, as long as the programmr of a desired new program uses such systems. =p 2004-07-20 6:24 am — “I hate to sound condesending but where did they get those people in the survey? A lot of things in it had me scratching my head as I am thinking if they have that much of a problem with that here I don’t see them having any easier of a time on a different OS.” I don’t see the relevence. This was a study and review of Gnome 2.6, not a comparison of Gnome 2.6 to other OSes or DEs. Just because everyone else is just as bad in a certain area, doesn’t mean there is no problem. 2004-07-20 6:27 am I know some of you died in the whool Linux users might boo and hiss me for this but. One more thing I want to add is that while CLI is a very usefull tool to know it should not be required in order to use an operating system. Unless you are so inclined to. While I have fun tooling around with the command line I don’t expect everyone to want to. You also have to realize that Joe user would probably only turn on their computers to do the various tasks presented in this article and then they turn off their computers. In my opinion what “Joe user” needs is a system that comes out of the box with features he probably wouldn’t use such as ssh server OFF or REMOVED by default and probably has “self healing” or some kind of support that wouldn’t tell him that he is an idiot or to rtfm. So in conclusion to all I have said, I think that a person who is say.. “Joe user” or even an experienced user should need to be flexible, but the developer still needs to shoulder the brunt of the weight of improving their software to be more usable more secure, etc. In other words, be more like Mac OSX. 2004-07-20 6:28 am You can autocomplete/type-ahead filenames in Gnome save/open dialogs by using ctrl-l dialog. Still, it would be nice if we wouldn’t have to use ctrl-l all the time. 2004-07-20 6:30 am The thing is these people where inevitebly comparing Gnome to their preferred OS or DE. 2004-07-20 6:42 am Ok just a few points, although the application menu holds a lot of the applications they were looking for, and sometimes named fairly well. How where these people suposed to know that the “foot” is the place to click? And I think I can explain the reason no-one pressed the “Start here” “foler/app” (what is the spacially anyway), they all thought it would be a “next, next, next…” tutorial, or a readme etc. I think one of the things that comes out is the people were given tasks and the interface/desktop/panel did not give them quick access to these common tasks. I am not sure if an app on the desktop breaks the spacial model or not, but I would expect that reading email, surfing the web, opening a document should be single click activities. 2004-07-20 6:46 am Joe user tuns on computer to accomplish certain tasks but what IF he can’t even load his kernel? And no friendly “foolproof” GUI tool to assist him in identifying/remedying the prob at bootup? I mean how can he get to the GUI tools (whatever they may be) if no kernel can load and consequently no X is started? Would he not then have to dive into the CLI then? But before he can do that, must he not know what he can and needs to do from there (e.g. fire up and use nano, pico or vi)? Like it or not, sooner or later one has to dive into the CLI, it could be on the next bootup after doing an ‘apt-get upgrade’ or ‘swaret -u’ or whatever (especially after a major release of X or a newbie friendly DE like KDE or Gnome). The CLI is often the only way for you to save your system and spare you the agony of a fresh install. So better go love your CLI than hate it. Thank the heavens for at least having the option to rectify things fromt he CLI when booting up fails. 80) Some foolproof GUI centric OSes doesn’t even afford this option . 2004-07-20 6:47 am I would really like to see a similar study done with new releases. Give some newbies or not so newbies a few Mandrake, Fedora, Suse and definitely Debian CDs (next release with the new installer) and see what we can learn from that. 2004-07-20 6:50 am That is where a friendly “intelligent repair cd” could come in. Like it or not, software can advance past where it is now. 2004-07-20 7:04 am Let’s say even if they do make a friendly intelligent tool like I mentioned that doesn’t mean you HAVE to use it. So an advanced user who would rather do things the hard way can still drop down to the command line and do their thing. 2004-07-20 7:17 am ….there is a simple feature that I’d really really like to see: At this moment (gnome 2.6) you can’t cut a file in your home dir, navigate to let’s say /usr/lib/mozilla/searchplugins and PASTE. At this moment you need the CLI for copy/paste or you’ve to type: sudo nautilus. This doesn’t make sense! What I’d like to happen is that when you click ‘paste’ you get a password dialog, just as when you run a program with root privileges. Looks like a neat feature to me. BTW: As far as I know none of the filemanager has this feature, weird. 2004-07-20 8:25 am Excellent idea. In fact, any time an application tries to do something that requires additional privileges, a password dialog should appear. Have you reported this to bugzilla.gnome.org? 2004-07-20 8:36 am IRIX 4DWM does this, since 10+ years. So it seems to be possible to implement 🙂 Carsten 2004-07-20 9:22 am Explain to me why a DE should be in charge of those things… Because this was a usability study of the DE, not the command line. If the user has to drop to a terminal to do simple administrative tasks, the deal is off. Period. Both OS X and windows have front-ends for these tasks. There is no reason why they could not be abstracted into the DE. For Christ sake , what CLI are you talking about?Front-ends for these tasks?Check gnomefiles.org for front-ends performing these “trivial” tasks.As for why they were not included in Gnome,this is another story.Yes,people developing Gnome/KDE still have to “learn” what the users wants but it will be just a mater of time until this will happen. And as somebody else said,check my browser/OS I’m logged in util you cry out that I’m a Gnome zealot.I like Gnome,don’t get me wrong(I use it almost every day) and I would like a lot of stuffs from OSX/Win. For me,the thing that bothers me much is accessing cdroms and other mount-able partitions.I like the way is done in KDE.Right click , add device. Now this is what I really miss from Gnome. 2004-07-20 10:13 am “At this moment (gnome 2.6) you can’t cut a file in your home dir, navigate to let’s say /usr/lib/mozilla/searchplugins and PASTE. At this moment you need the CLI for copy/paste or you’ve to type: sudo nautilus. This doesn’t make sense! ” Yeah, Gnome is the frontend for everything else, it should handle file permissions as well, not as it does currently (try copying root files around as a user, try deleting root stuff from a user’s trash). I can’t see why they don’t do this already. 2004-07-20 10:17 am and who says I knew [had to google about Buddy Bounce!] 2004-07-20 10:22 am In fact, any time an application tries to do something that requires additional privileges, a password dialog should appear. Have you reported this to bugzilla.gnome.org? As a newbie who just coverted from WindowsXP to MDK10, no. In fact I’ve no idea how bug filling works, but I’ll definately check it out. 2004-07-20 10:40 am quote: “I know some of you died in the whool Linux users might boo and hiss me for this but. One more thing I want to add is that while CLI is a very usefull tool to know it should not be required in order to use an operating system. Unless you are so inclined to. While I have fun tooling around with the command line I don’t expect everyone to want to” eh? Linux wasn’t intended to be a desktop environment. It’s original design intention was not something for mom and pops dumbass users that typically use Windows. It was designed as a better Unix like operating system to run on the i386 architecture. That it’s morphed into what it is is amazing. As others have posted before myself – Linux prides itself on security and stability. Sure it can be awkward to use – get off your backside and learn. No operating system should ever wipe your bum for you – that’s just a pure invitation to danger and trouble and that’s why Microsoft users are so much trouble. Been there, done that in a helpdesk environment for years thanks. Most end users are trained idiots that have no idea what they are doing. Those are the very sort of people who should be banned from ever using a computer. EVER. Get off your bums and learn instead of being lazy. If you don’t like Linux, or think it’s too hard then go use Windows or Mac OS X. Dave W Pastern PS – having worked at tech support for Apple Australia you’d be surprised at how many fixes require a user to drop to a terminal to fix them. So much for never needing a terminal… 2004-07-20 10:47 am [quote]What I really really really hate when using the gnome file selector is that fact that it does not respond to key presses. In every other desktop I have used (Windows, KDE, Mac) when opening a file I can type the first few letters of the file I want and it will move the focus to the closest match. In GNOME, you can’t do this. You have to scroll for the file. Really a pain in a directory with a lot of file in it and it really slows me down[/quote] EXFUCKINGACTLY ! 2004-07-20 11:03 am A webpage dedicated to usability should not make sentences like this “For more information on the HIG, click here.” (where here is a link). 2004-07-20 11:05 am Nope, you’re wrong. http://www.gnomedesktop.org/article.php?sid=1881&mode=&order=0&thol… Hostility? Indifference? As you can read, some people agree and some people disagree with the study but none of them are hostile. Your vision of the community is totally wrong. It’s people like you who treat the OSS community as garbage, not vice version. And I can easily argue that the *Windows* community is more hostile. And if even the *users* trash a usability study then that says a lot, don’t you think? What you’re doing here is no better than the “hostile developers”: you are trashing users within the OSS community. 2004-07-20 11:07 am “Joe user tuns on computer to accomplish certain tasks but what IF he can’t even load his kernel?” What do you think happens when Windows fails to load it’s kernel? The average user is screwed no matter what OS. And no, having a GUI tool to assist him will not help. 1) Because you *can’t* run any GUI tools if the kernel can’t load and 2) the user will not understand what the heck is going on no matter what GUI you throw at him. 2004-07-20 12:05 pm Look, David, I’m busy. Really busy. You have no idea. I don’t have the TIME to “get off my backside and learn something”. You see, I already do that from 4:30 AM to to 12 midnight with other, more important things. You know, silly things like developing a career, raising a family, being the head of a household, along with the myriad other things that keep me going, literally nonstop, from the time I get up in the morning, till I go to bed at night. Frankly, it’s amazing that I have any resources at all to use Linux. I hate to tell people like you this, but: LINUX IS F*CKING DEMANDING, and disproportionately so. If I had to dedicate the amount of time to Linux to master it, compared to what it took me to master Windows, I’d have to become a recluse hermit on welfare or something. You see, I don’t work in the computer industry, nor do I have a lot of free time to dick around with my OS. Sure, I may have more to do than most people, but most people are busier than people like you think. We’re not all living in trailer parks, sitting on our asses in front of the TV all day and/or night, eating bonbons, and waiting for someone to ‘wipe our asses’ for us. If someone is expected to, for instance, forego physical exercise or reading a good book (or even watching their favorite TV show, for that matter) in order to take the time to learn the bizarre esoteria of their PC’s OS, then you’ve already demanded too much of them. Dave, you may have the time, but most of the rest of the world doesn’t. Frankly, that says more about your situation than it does everyone else’s. 2004-07-20 12:37 pm Well it would certainly seem silly if I were to complain how complicated learning to pilot a Cesna is: darn all those controls, pesky wind-shear, clouds having to take all those flying lessons..! it should be as easy as driving a car..! Um wait, why don’t I just stick to driving a car? Noone is forcing linux on you..windoze and Mac OS are good alternatives IF that’s what you want.. I’m busy too 2004-07-20 1:12 pm >I shudder to think about trying to switch the secretaries in my office to > OO.o Our office (35 workplaces) runs only openpoffice and wordperfect 8.0 on Windows and Linux. Its no big deal people get used to the interface very fast and word & wp marcros can be transferd to Oo. The only problem some people had (under Linux) was that there was no way to use the alt-table for special characters. 2004-07-20 1:17 pm Excellent, well said xVariable! Users who complain about certain difficulties on ‘nix are not always lazy whiners. 2004-07-20 1:24 pm This review confuses two distinct meanings of “useability”. The one is (1)”how easy is it to use?” and the other is (2) “what is in there that I can use?” Case in point: You can’t edit a graphic in Gnome because you first have to install the gimp, a third-party app (see the last appendix). Uhh, yes, and what of it? By that standard, every environment has to include every conceivable app out of the box. So that is meaning (2). But that in itself does not address meaning (1). The idea behind the site is laudable, but they really should decide which of those two meanings they want to address and stick to it. 2004-07-20 1:27 pm Ok, so you’re one of those that doesn’t care whether or not Linux succeeds as a mass desktop OS. No problem, there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s that you say? You *do* want to see Linux gain mass-appeal? Well, it ain’t gonna happen so long as Linux is so demanding and (desktop)user-unfriendly. If you want people to choose you, you have to appeal to them That was the point I was making which you either missed or deliberately ignored. It goes without saying that people are free *not* to choose Linux (duh), but that’s not the choice we want people to make… 2004-07-20 1:27 pm That’s the reason MSFT has 95% of the marketshare and Apple has much of the rest. They make software for people for whom the computer is a tool to accomplish a task, not an end in and of itself. Do you feel that you have to understand all the tools you use? Should drivers have knowledge about internal combustion, for example? Perhaps only in an ideal world… > > Say that when your car dies on the highway because you were stupid enough not buy gas for it…. Oh Wait, it most likely already has. 2004-07-20 1:29 pm Let’s face it, if a company makes a program and you want something implemented, you can vote with your money. Chances are, a large enough proportion of the userbase could use the feature you want, and it would likely get implemented. What if something goes wrong with the software, causing you to incur material damages? You get to take the maker to court. (Whether or not you’d win is another matter, but at least there’s an entity you can sue.) What happens with open source? Simply put, there is no accountability, no central authority, the buck doesn’t stop anywhere. Methinks that, as OSS becomes more prevelant, you’ll see laws enacted, imposing standards on software engineers. That seems to be the only way to force relevant parties to take responsibility for what they produce. Read any EUALAs of non free software lately that indicates tha the company producing software take any kind of responsibility for faults in their products? I think not. I really can’t see what opensource could do to make the situation worse. Quite the contrary actually, as open source products are often personalized by some consultant that would be much easier to drag to court than large software houses if something goes wrong. I’m not even sure customers want that accountability, at least not if they have to pay for it. How about a new Windows XP licence for $10.0000. Anyone? I think that the main problem with software is not that we cant get sombody to be accountable in a court, but rather that we don’t know how to produce good software. Over 70% of all software products fail miserably. They sometimes do so even if they are built by the best people in the trade. If we had the same failure rate in building houses, our streets would look like a warzone. No legislation is going to change that. Whats needed is more reasearch in the process of building software. 2004-07-20 1:30 pm “Look at the utter mess IE and Outlook has made out of Windows because idiots like you from the UI “community” insist MickeySoft is “correct” in claiming that a Web Browser and Email program should be “intergrated” into a DE to the point that you can’t get rid of them in the name of security.” Where did he say that? And why so derogratory toward the “UI community”? I sense a strawman argument there.. “Simply put despite what you Windows and maybe some Mac users may think, FileSystem tools and the like *ARE NOT* something you are supposed to play with on a daily basis with a shiny GUI, and under Linux/Unix/BSD you pretty much *DON’T*. ” What’s wrong with a gui when it does have some advantages Rick? (click faster than typing) No one “plays” with a search gui everyday but it’s useful when you need it. Anyway, you can use fluxbox if you don’t want this stuff. I don’t think anyone’s said anything about Linux needing this or that, it’s Gnome needing this or that, And since gnome is a DE, you’re supposed to be able to interact with the OS GUIically. 2004-07-20 1:33 pm In any case, comparing Windows and OS X to cars and Linux to a plane is a false analogy. The only thing they have in common is that they’re both modes of transportation. In every other respect, however, they’re so different as to be apples and oranges. On the other hand, GNU Linux, Windows and OS X have far, far more in common. It would more valid to describe Linux as a special-purpose car, like a Formula 1 racer or dump truck, depending on your proclivities (;-P !). 2004-07-20 2:02 pm I shudder to think how a fresh windoze user promised that Open source GUI desktops are nearly if not just as friendly as Windoze variants suddenly find himself not being able to boot into X for one reason or another. While he struggle with his situation, he hears of another successfully extricating himself by reconfiguring x via the CLI e.g. editing one’s xorgconfig or XF86Config via nano, pico or vi or running CLI tools like xorconfig and xf86config…he’ll then see the folly of placing only the GUI on high pedestal… But is it too little too late? Reintsall? What if he gives up after but 1 failure to startx? Are we promising too much driving up the expectations of your typical windows migrant only to disappoint them and potentially causing even greater damage to the long term repute of GNU/Linux in doing so? 2004-07-20 2:18 pm Charles, your wife is right. Everyone, even Linux geeks, has a right to expect their tools to “just work” without fuss. It is very important that most people do not enjoy using a computer. They have no more incentive to find a workaround to a problem than they do to crawl under their car to see if they can figure out how to stop the latest rattle. Like auto machanics and cars, geeks enjoy interacting with computers. Every problem represents an enjoyable challenge. For everyone else, its just aggravation. On Word: Of course, people learn to use Word, not word processors. Even challengers like OpenOffice, mimic Word. 2004-07-20 2:34 pm a bit off topic Ogalaxy have started a formal gnome fork… more info here http://www.akcaagac.com/index_goneme.html 2004-07-20 2:38 pm Boy you should never try to get a job on the psychic-hot-line.. No, I don’t really care if linux succeeds and as a desktop IF that means giving up all that makes linux so poweful..a choice of Window-manager, shell kernel..all this is geek stuff and for that reason linux will NEVER become as easy as windows though certain distributions may, a la OS X, hide the unix(don’t get pedantic here) heart of the system. I would like linux to improve, particularly in te area of robustness w.r.t sound and multimedia and that is coming.. A distro that works off the bat is perhaps a minimum requirement for a successfull desktop(minimum of configuration)..Take a look a Knoppix 3.4 It is a huge success in Germany where CDs can be found being sold in corner stores.. Other distros are copying what makes knoppix ticks and we are seeing an exponential increase in useabilty. So maybe linux IS succeeding on the desktop. 2004-07-20 2:42 pm A good piece. Open source needs more of this. I’d like ask: What’s the “Start Here” icon for? That name implies that clicking on it will take the user to some destination. A naive user might well expect to use “Start Here” to begin every session with the computer. A more experienced used might expect to use it to perfom initial configuration tasks. Instead, clicking “Start Here” opens a window with more icons. One, “Applications’, duplicates the list of applications available on the menu. A “Desktop Preferences” icon is visible, but it, too, is also accessible from the menu. To really confuse people, another “Start Here” icon is also revealed. Clicking on it brings up an error message: “There is no action associated with ‘Start Here'”. That makes no sense. Why does clicking on one “Start Here” icon lead to a second “Start Here” icon? Why does clicking on the second “Start Here” icon produce an unhelpful and cryptic message that users have every right to assume means Gnome is broken. (E.g., Why hasn’t Gnome already associated an action with ‘Start Here’? What the hell does ‘associate’ mean?) Back inside the “Start Here” window: There is a “Server Setting” icon. Clicking it creates another window with a single icon: “Server Settings”. Why? Is the second “Server Setting” icon different from the first? How are we supposed to know if it is? Clicking on the second icon produces another “No action is associated…” error message. As before, the message offers to associated actions with file types. Huh, asks the user? How is the user supposed to know what the correct association is for this icon? Why isn’t it configured correctly by default? Finally, the same scenario repeats with the “Systems Setting” icon. Users will not see these occurances as examples of Gnome’s flexibility. They will see them as examples of Gnome being broken. (On a related point: This same “No action is associated…” message appears when selecting “open” from the contect menu of text files Gnome doesn’t recognize. I usually just want to do a one-off read of this single file, not associated an action with an entire caregory of file. Has anyone figured out how to convince Gnome to do that?) 2004-07-20 2:50 pm Your reasoning doesn’t follow logically. Firstly, how, specifically, does Linux becoming more user-friendly preclude it from remaining as powerful as it is now? Surely the strength of Linux is its ability to be all things, computing-wise, to all people. Indeed, that is exactly the case. You say it isn’t, but you cite no specific examples. Your argument here doesn’t follow, and it’s a strawman argument to boot. Secondly, how does making Linux more user friendly mean that you lose choice over things like DE/WM and shell (BTW, there is only *ONE* kernel in Linux, its namesake. Given that you say you want a choice of kernels, I get the feeling you are just arguing for the sake of argument). I can’t really determine why you are arguing or really what you’re arguing *for* at this point, really. 2004-07-20 2:55 pm .. is that the vast majority can’t be bothered to step back and take a view of the whole picture. They all let one, or a few, small issues block the view. If any of you self proclaimed experts and knowitalls had a clue you’d know that * This is great and it’s EXACTLY what OSS needs. * The developers do care. At least most of the GNOMErs. * The difference between a typical user and someone with half a clue is humongus (just read the review). A typical user can’t be bothered with anything, they just give up and scream for help or get angry. I’d wager a lot of money that unless you actually work on an everyday basis with actual users you don’t know jack sh*t about a typical user – and no, you aren’t a user. Most (all?) readers of OS News are way more computer litterate than a typical user. This report is great stuff. Especially the stuff about GAIM. GAIM usability sucks for precisely the reasons the article mentions – and then some. If you actually manage to log on that is… (just try to figure out your current status). 2004-07-20 3:26 pm Agreed! I’m glad there’s at least *one* other person here who can think straight. 2004-07-20 3:50 pm The devs of the programs mentioned would do well to give the articale a read, I think. Great points! 2004-07-20 4:27 pm Gnome 1.x was cool, you could configure everything to suit your needs. But on the 2.x series they decided to dumb it down and implement that abomination called gconf. It’s a noble task to make it usable by Joe Sixpack, but not at the cost of pissing advanced users off. 2.x is also an order of magnitude slower. I still can’t believe they burned $11 million to create the Nautilus junk. 2004-07-20 4:36 pm “Joe user tuns on computer to accomplish certain tasks but what IF he can’t even load his kernel? And no friendly “foolproof” GUI tool to assist him in identifying/remedying the prob at bootup? I mean how can he get to the GUI tools (whatever they may be) if no kernel can load and consequently no X is started? Would he not then have to dive into the CLI then? But before he can do that, must he not know what he can and needs to do from there (e.g. fire up and use nano, pico or vi)? “ The same Joe user turns on his computer and the kernel won’t boot and he has a blue screen. There is no GUI to assist him, and he has no idea about how to fix the problem. The same scenario with the exception that the OS in use is Windows and not a Linux Distro. What do they do?? They call tech support. Joe user does not generally correct issues with thier PC not booting. That is an administration task, not a user task. So to answer your question, no, they do not need to know to fire up emacs or vi, rather they only need to know the phone number for tech support. 2004-07-20 4:54 pm “Gnome 1.x was cool” It was crap. “you could configure everything to suit your needs” Like what? what *exactly* do you need to configure? “But on the 2.x series they decided to dumb it down and implement that abomination called gconf.” Yes, having a diferent config file syntax for each gnome app would be much better. “It’s a noble task to make it usable by Joe Sixpack, but not at the cost of pissing advanced users off” and “I still can’t believe they burned $11 million to create the Nautilus junk. “ yeah, lets spend millions on gnome development so half a dozen geeks can enjoy it. “2.x is also an order of magnitude slower.” http://evilwm.sourceforge.net/ much faster 2004-07-20 5:49 pm If a Windows user decides to try Linux, only to find that it doesn’t even boot, the first thing that user is going to do is not call tech support (and that is making the generous assumption that his distribution actually has a tech support department to call.) No, the first thing that user is going to do is reinstall Windows and toss Linux in the trash. Linux will not win converts if its adherents paper over shortcomings by asserting that Windows is no better. Linux has to be demonstrably better than Windows. 2004-07-20 6:00 pm > > But on the 2.x series they decided to dumb it down and implement that abomination > > called gconf. > > Yes, having a different config file syntax for each gnome app would be much better. Which of course you are wrong. Before GConf there was ‘gnome-config’ which did save the settings in a keypair manner like ini files to your .gnome directory. Every (or better the majority) of GNOME applications used it. 2004-07-20 6:07 pm “No, the first thing that user is going to do is reinstall Windows and toss Linux in the trash.” No, because the installation procedure of Windows really isn’t that user-friendly. I mean, the first part is even text-mode, and the completely idiotic key mappings make me think the NetBSD installer is actually better than that of Windows. And if he manages to install Windows, many drivers will be missing, with some bad luck those for the modem or PCMCIA card so that he also can’t download them, applications will be missing too, so no, installing Windows isn’t exactly newbie-friendly. System recovery is very important, though. To see how it should be, buy an old Macintosh Performa with its system software CD and see for yourself how the entire system can be repaired with two mouse clicks. I think this is what Linux needs, and it is also exactly this of which I think that Linux will never succeed, simply because with Linux user-friendlyness was an afterthought, a layer that needs user-unfriendly layers below it to work properly. The only way in which I think Linux can really get desktop-ready, is replacing init (and all processes it invokes) with something that is designed to be user-friendly, and keep the gcc compiler and other console tools somewhere deeply hidden in such a way that power users can still use the console, but also in such a way that it is not essential for the system to work without problems. 2004-07-20 6:48 pm >The only way in which I think Linux can really get >desktop-ready, is replacing init (and all processes it >invokes) with something that is designed to be >user-friendly, and keep the gcc compiler and other console >tools somewhere deeply hidden in such a way that power >users can still use the console, but also in such a way that >it is not essential for the system to work without problems. You just described almost any modern Linux distro. Suse, Xandros, Mandrake, LinSpire. 2004-07-20 7:01 pm Linux works just GREAT for my significant other. She studies and has written dozens of nice looking reports using Open Office. She hasn’t had to deal with a single crash or bug that caused any data loss whatsoever since I installed this machine over a year ago, and that’s on the same PC that won’t even run Windows 2000 properly for three hours without Word crashing or the system simply freezing up completely.. which does mean data loss. Now I do know my way around Windows very well, have been an admin of it since the 3.11 “for workgroups” days and sometimes it just hits a bad combination of hardware. This machine is probably not fit to run Windows hardware-wise, but it shines with Linux.. as does my gf. But god forbid if she ever had to fix something “under the hood” herself. But I don’t blame her. When my car sounds funny, I immediately call a mechanic without even trying to fix it myself. This little anecdote serves to illustrate that Linux is indeed ready for the desktop, but this desktop needs to be properly managed. A friend of mine had no problem whatsoever with Windows XP, and he’s even still running a beta of that OS (he’s happy with it, so it’s ok with me). However his machine recently succumbed to desktop clutter and his rabid downloading habits (it required a major cleanup, but no reinstall). The same would happen to any Linux machine without the right knowledge. Either the user needs to know what makes computers tick, or the user should have someone nearby who does. Untrained users are like a time bomb to any desktop computer. Things like quotas and policy settings only go so far to curb behavior that slowly kills a running system.. and too draconian policies make the system unusable for regular work, it’s a tradeoff. 2004-07-20 7:33 pm I’m not sure, but it sounds like they were using an old version of Gaim. Within the last few versions the preferences have been cleaned up immensely and WYSIWYG editing has been more-or-less perfected so that what you type is actually how it appears when sent. 2004-07-20 8:03 pm If the user tries to move from a working Windows installation to Linux, it seems a safe assumption that the user can go back to a working Windows installation. You are, however, missing the point: We should not excuse shortcomings and weaknesses in Linux by pointing to similar failures in Windows. Linux distributions have made great strides in terms of installation and initial configuration, but there is still room for improvement. The yardstick for success should not be Windows. Why? Because “as good as Windows” also means “no better than Windows”. 2004-07-20 8:10 pm JoeLinux you are sounding like a broken record, and you are completely ignoring what I had said. So I’ll do the broken record thing and say (for the last time): Tools can be made, software CAN be advanced and it will advance if that means it has to take you and other died in the whool people who have their feet and heads stuck in the sand. Truth of the matter is the major OS’ are still pretty immature when compard to other technology. And it can only get better, not stagnate. Plus there is nothing to say that if better software or software that could aid the new user or even the casual user who just wants to get some work done in a stable and “secure” environment that it can’t be made to be uninstalleable or a choice not to install it in the first place. Or be made unobtrusive so you an ignore it if you so wanted to have it as an option but don’t want to uninstall it. Or that in the case of the repair cd I had talked about earlier you can throw it away if you don’t want it. And the kind of stuff I talk about is not a windows versus Linux kinda thing it’s a progress versus stagnation kind of thing. So let’s say the kernel can’t boot, for any system.. the typical user should have a few choices as to what they can do before resorting to reinstalling their system.. such as: a. drop down to CLI and fix things manually (that’s if the CLI doesn’t run on top of said busted kernel) there’s nothing wrong with this if it’s your cup of tea. I myself don’t mind but again I don’t expect EVERYONE to. b. pop in intelligent cd which would run a diagnostic and fix whatever is wrong (Daan has the idea) c. Get their friendly tech support. And if Linux where to succeed to get onto everyone’s desktop like I hear people wanting it to (i.e. Is linux ready for the desktop?) then like it or not they will need tech support. Perhaps advanced users could step up to the plate and be such tech support. If they are up to the challenge and if they would get over their superiority complex. There’s nothing wrong with helping a fellow human in their time of need. Like for example, I help out my family with their computer when they need it. Also, one more thing is when I talk about stuff like what I’m talking about above I’m not talking about myself. I am trying to think of more people other than myself. And if Linux where as diverse as people make it out to be it should be able to cater not only to the old Unix geek, but also other types of people as well. Otherwise, most people are better off getting a Mac or Windows and leaving OS’ like Linux for those old Unix geeks and which then MS and Apple would forever rule the OS roost and people would forever be talking about whether Linux is ready for the desktop or not. 2004-07-20 8:44 pm ” Which of course you are wrong. Before GConf there was ‘gnome-config’ which did save the settings in a keypair manner like ini files to your .gnome directory. Every (or better the majority) of GNOME applications used it. ” and what about problems like file locking and instant apply and different backends or migration? did you bother to read the rationale behind gconf. you compare it to the windows registry which is architecturally very different. its a binary blurb which also combines system data with user settings. gconf is nothing like that. go find people to join your project. i assure you the project is going to just die like the freekde one 2004-07-20 9:03 pm > did you bother to read the rationale behind gconf. Yes, I even use it technically in one of my own projects. > go find people to join your project. i assure you the project is going to just die like the freekde one. Why do you bother ? You obviously seem to be the wrong audience. My projects is mainly meant for my very personal usage (as many projects are build up like that). I only think that some people might be interested in my work for their own personal usage. I am in no competition, nor am I bound to pressure or time nor am I getting paid for what I do. This is just fun and if I think my approach and attempt was wrong I can easily rm -rf what I did. Today I work on this, tomorrow it could be something else again. Oh and FreeKDE obviously can’t die if its roots is based upon Open Source or Free Software – everyone can come along and hook up there and continue or adopt parts of it for their own project. 2004-07-20 9:07 pm GNOME 2.6 does not provide a means of switching users quickly. Quite so. If you look in the “System” menu, you get the option to start a new X Server, and to start an xnest session (I don’t know the exact wordings of the menu items). But it is true that there is no real “fast user switching” like in Windows or Mac OS X, although it should be technically possible. GNOME 2.6 does not offer the ability to rip cds. This function is available via a third party application called grip. There is an excellent and slick GTK2 application called sound-juicer. Why use grip? Ah right, people hate it because last time i checked, there was no preference to set the encoding quality. The default is quite well, and this shouldn’t be a problem for the average user with his/her crappy ? 10 speakers (“multimedia speakers”). 2004-07-20 9:35 pm umm yes Linux is demanding. Did I say it wasn’t? You’ve mastered Microsoft Windows? wow. So you can read binary on the run? I mean, mastering Windows means you’re really good with editing the Windows registry (a travesty if ever I saw one). The windows registry is a pile of propriety crap designed to discourage the average user from fixing issues with their systems, and allowing useless crap to be hoarded without the users knowledge. Ever had to spent 10 hours to fix a dumbass users computer because their kids click on everything and d/l viruses and spyware like no tommorrow? Obviously not. These are the ‘average’ users. Sure – I get paid for fixing their idiocy, but hey, I have a life as well. How good is Windows UI? Not very. The main problem is that people are used to the Windows way. Their either too dumb or too lazy to learn anything else that is different. Apple has provided a much better UI for years – but Windows users still have fun with apple bashing. Sorry, but I don’t have time for people like that. If you want to be lazy and not put in the *effort* to learn then so be it, but don’t whine. I work as well and I still find time amongst all the other myraid things in my life. You make time. There’s a lot of other Linux users who learn. Who don’t whine. Who are happy with things as they are, and don’t see the need to change. I don’t want a pretty system that does everything auto, I want a system that is reliable, stable and secure and that I can make do what I want. Gnome or KDE are not difficult Desktop environments to use. If you really are having that much trouble then you really shouldn’t be using a computer, or stick to Microsoft Windows. Dave W Pastern 2004-07-20 9:42 pm enloop’s comments about the “Start Here” icon crystallizes a lot of my objections to Gnome. It often manges to be simple, maddeningly opaque, and brain dead at the same time. I love IceWM’s simplicity, but usually return to the magnificent clutter of KDE. Perhaps, it’s because you can fix things like clutter, but flaws like the “Start Here” icon linger on. KDE has also tried, with varying degrees of success, to implement front ends for CLI system maintenance. Here, I tend to disagree with those who clamor for better tools for “n00bs.” Such users seldom, if ever used the tools available in Windows. No, a clueless user should not have to do much, if any configuration, and Gnome’s lack of attention to configuration tools is fine by me. I have set up Linux systems for a number of people, and can appreciate the frustration involved in any switch. That said, the calls eventually stop as the user gets used to the new system. At this point Linux’s strengths take over. System performance does not degrade over time. Virus and spyware trouble are a thing of the past. People complain about the menu organization in Gnome and KDE, but at least there is some. In Windows, the start menu is arranged in a bizarre melange of category and company, with each new piece of software clamoring for space on the Desktop, the Start Menu, and the Quick launch bar. In short, I don’t mind supporting Linux systems, as the amount of support needed tails off quickly. On the Windows side…? Let’s just say I got an e-mail today from a guy who had his hard drive reformatted, had everything reinstalled, and expressed satisfaction that the system was much faster, and that the porn pop-ups had quit. The user agent string in the message header? Outlook Express 6.0. Such folks are a support black hole. 2004-07-20 11:28 pm You really need a course in reading skills bud.. I never said making linux user-friendly DID preclude it’s power only that it could..that is the meaning of the big “IF” in my article.. It’s you who is arguing for no good reason.. 2004-07-21 12:24 am Both require dropping into CLI when the OS get’s f-ed up completely. Most drop kick Windows Support techs will tell you to reformat your drive and re-install but most WindowsXP problems can be fixed with the repair CLI from your install disk much like Linux. Both OS’s require user intervention in either setting up or maintaining, nothing new here. Anyone telling you otherwise is full of it. Linux, you need to read a little and take some time preparing to set it up but once done it just works and is easy to maintain, pending on distro. Windows, comes setup (albeit bloody poorly) on most PC’s although a self install is just as time consuming and maintaining requires quite a slice of weekly time to do properly. GUI/CLI both get used no matter which OS if the person knows how to use them properly. Any OS is going to suffer from running issues if the user does nothing to keep them maintained. You don’t go and buy a car and then run the bloody thing into the ground do you? No, for the most, people take them into a service repair shop on regular intervals to ensure they are running properly. Computers, no difference, they aren’t T.V. sets after all. Gnome 2.6 I like it, it has some issues like when copying a folder with some updated files over an existing folder, Gnome wipes all the files in the existing folder instead of just replacing the files being updated and like windows confirming the replacement. Just bugs that need ironing out. Now if I could get CubaseSX for Linux/Gnome I would not need windows at all (no, rose-garden isn’t there yet).