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Ximian

Inside Ximian 203

Posted by michael
from the dry-erase dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Linux and Main is running a story of a visit to Ximian headquarters and a talk with Nat Friedman, Miguel de Icaza, and Jon Perr about GNOME2, Ximian 2, and getting Linux onto the corporate desktop. Interesting and funny, with lots of details about the place and the guys."
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Inside Ximian

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @04:42PM (#4231522)
    If you kiss Microsoft's ass, you'll contract Mono.
  • Ximian (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jflash (591249)
    And once we're in there, we discover that not all Open Source developers are Dope Smoking Long Haired Linux Hippies...


    Jim
  • by jsonmez (544764) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @04:45PM (#4231545)
    "Oh, yes! Writing code and squashing bugs. I usually get here at 7, 7:30 a.m., and I learned not to turn on the lights, because there are probably people who have been here all night coding, who are asleep on the couch or the floor."
  • by slagdogg (549983) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @04:48PM (#4231580)
    Well, let's hope Ximian has a better year than the Red Sox ...
  • by lakeland (218447) <lakeland@acm.org> on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @04:51PM (#4231608) Homepage
    I've often wondered why people bother with ximian. Are the packages it releases any better than the ones released by gnome itself?

    Sure, it has a pretty autoupdate feature, but then so does debian and mandrake, and it can be added to redhat, .... And if you install it then your installation seems to be not quite compatible with a standard gnome install.

    I can see why people would install gnome2 over kde3, although I personally prefer kde, but why would you install ximian gnome over normal gnome?

    Is it yet another linux company that is going to crash and burn once it runs out of VC? Just what is there to encourage people to pay them money?

    Corrin (sounding really like a troll...)
    • From what I have read, Ximian gets a whole lot of their financing through contracts with Unix companies like Sun to port GNOME to their architecture.
    • two words: ximian connector This is a killer app for us as we are (unfortunately) transitioning to a unified messagin/calandering system based around exchange. While imap will work for messaging something like connector is needed for calandering.
    • by chetohevia (109956) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @05:15PM (#4231782)
      Ximian GNOME has a number of advantages over the standard desktop GNOME that comes with your distro.

      For the desktop itself, we put a lot of effort into making sure it's more attractive, easier to use, and better updated. We focus on the desktop, we're desktop experts, and it shows.

      * If you're using it in a large company, it's cheaper because it's the same on more than one platform: this consistency makes both UNIX and Linux systems less expensive to support. (This portion, by the way, is free).

      * People buy Ximian Connector because they want to be able to connect to Exchange 2000 systems without having to use Outlook Web Access and without having to use a Windows box. Especially in large corporations where engineering is a Linux/UNIX installed base, it's important to be able to schedule with the management and use the shared address books and so forth; if you can't, you might as well not exist.

      * People use the Red Carpet CorporateConnect service in order to have a stable, cross-platform way to ship their own software, plus operating system and desktop software from multiple vendors. They need to manage software installation sets and updates across multiple platforms, without vendor lock-in.

      * Companies like HP and Sun pay us to perform custom development work, including accessibility improvements and platform ports.

      * Individuals like you sign up for Red Carpet Express to get faster downloads.

      * Linux ISVs can ship software through Red Carpet or Red Carpet Express. This isn't a really big business now, but it has potential.

      Is that a reasonable enough answer?

      For more information about Ximian desktop software and other products and services, feel free to visit http://ximian.com, write to us, or fill out the information request form at ximian.com/about_us/contact/information.html.

      Yours,
      Aaron Weber
      Ximian, Inc.
      • You said:
        * Companies like HP and Sun pay us to perform custom development work, including accessibility improvements and platform ports.

        As an honest question (and I'm not trolling here) based on the recent news of Bruce Parens' forced departure from HP and the reasons for a forced departure, does Ximian still do work for HP? By HP's statements it sounds like they now think that Linux is a passing fad.
        • By HP's statements it sounds like they now think that Linux is a passing fad.

          No. It's just that they have a strong relationship with MS that bruce was fucking with. That's all. It's strange to imagine anyone thinking it's a fad when that fad just keeps getting BIGGER!
          • A company employs an employee for work. The employee should free to make any political speeches or show leanings s/he likes in their own free time. M$ and everyone surely understands that Bruce was acting on his own behalf, not HP's... So there's no way M$ could confuse his actions with those of HP, thus 'fucking' the relationship. Anything over that is an uncalled for interference by HP/MS in the employee's personal life.

            PS: Yes, I write M$. Using M$ is not "childish" as some /.ers would have us believe. AFAIU, this usage first started because Microsoft (TM) is trademarked.. and so you are supposed to write (TM) every time you wrire Microsoft (not that anyone cares..).

            • Yeaah, but the point was is bagging microsoft WAS his job *until* HP decided to get into bed with M$.
              Oh by the way and totally off topic;-. I filed a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Council about govt aiding and abbetting microsoft by excluding linux from SOE contracts. (Bruce'd probly like that!)
      • by PD (9577) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @05:32PM (#4231910) Homepage Journal
        Thank you for not using the words "productize", "big picture", "methodology", "consumers", "leverage", "methodology", or "proactive" in your description of what your company does. I could actually understand every word of what you wrote.
      • Is it available for OSX and Windows as well?
      • Just for sh1ts and giggles, let's pretend to be a smart VC taking a cold hard look at Ximian's business model.
        If you're using it in a large company, it's cheaper because it's the same on more than one platform: this consistency makes both UNIX and Linux systems less expensive to support. (This portion, by the way, is free).
        So is RedHat's Gnome, so is the default KDE installation, so is the default Gnome installation. This doesn't differentiate Ximian's offering from most of the other ways you can get your hands on Gnome, and since Ximian Gnome is Open Source, there is nothing to stop Redhat or others integrating your work into their product, removing whatever competitive advantage you have.
        People buy Ximian Connector because they want to be able to connect to Exchange 2000 systems without having to use Outlook Web Access and without having to use a Windows box. Especially in large corporations where engineering is a Linux/UNIX installed base, it's important to be able to schedule with the management and use the shared address books and so forth; if you can't, you might as well not exist.
        Fair enough - but it would be better if people used Open Source alternatives, Connector will be useful until a viable Open Source alternative to Exchange becomes popular. Is Connector really a long-term viable revenue generator? Doesn't it pit your Open Source friends against your business model?
        People use the Red Carpet CorporateConnect service in order to have a stable, cross-platform way to ship their own software, plus operating system and desktop software from multiple vendors. They need to manage software installation sets and updates across multiple platforms, without vendor lock-in.
        This is nothing apt-get can't do, but apt-get can do it automatically on a cron job.
        Individuals like you sign up for Red Carpet Express to get faster downloads.
        Is there really a shortage of mirrors and bandwidth for Open Source software distribution? The bandwidth utilization on one popular (and very fast) mirror of a number of distros (mirrors.kernel.org) hardly ever seems to use more than half of its available bandwidth. Why not mirror Ximian at kernel.org and let people get faster downloads for free, or does your business model depend on people only having slow free access to Ximian?
        Linux ISVs can ship software through Red Carpet or Red Carpet Express. This isn't a really big business now, but it has potential.
        You wish. I repeat my point - Red Carpet doesn't really do anything that apt-get with a simple GUI (or running as a cron job) can't do. Hardly the basis for a viable business.
        Is that a reasonable enough answer?
        They are good answers, but something tells me that you would get laughed out of any VC's office that really understood Open Source and Linux.
        • If ever there was a demonstration of the flaws in the moderation system, the way this comment was moderated highlights them. I make a well-informed critique of Ximian (I have done due-dilligence work for a number of Venture Capitalists), but because I happen to be criticizing one of the Sacred Cows of Slashdot - I get an "overrated" and a "flamebait" moderation.

          I hope whoever is responsible for that gets punished in meta-moderation (but I won't hold my breath).

      • > Ximian GNOME has a number of advantages over the standard desktop GNOME that comes with your distro.

        Disclaimer: Ximian has a number of nice touches to GNOME that I really like. Standard GNOME2 kicks ass -- I'm using RH 8.0 beta -- so I'm anxious to see what you guys have done. I have some guesses as to what you've done to "enhance" GNOME2. I'll spare the possibility of being wrong by not stating my hunch. ;-)

        The above is unnecessary fluff to protect against newbie moderators who mod tough questions as "troll". Now, on to my question:

        Why the heck can't you guys work out your dependency conflicts with Debian???

        I *know* you guys love Debian, and a lot of your coders use Debian, so this conflict I do not understand.

        For those not running Debian, the problem is this: install Ximian on a Debian box, and you get circular dependency conflicts... making you feel like you have a RedHat box full of rpm's off Freshmeat. Debian puts a lot of work into their package management, and your .deb packages totally reduce one of Debian's main advantages over other distro's.

        Your packages cause the APT database to think GNOME-related stuff is not installed, or is OLDER than Debian's (sometimes a mix of older AND newer). It's a messy problem.

        The problem is magnified on Debian far worse than Red Hat (which also has the same problem), because it's easier to network-update Debian. When I ran Debian, I'd apt-get a couple times a day. I was an apt junkie ;-)

        OH, and the OTHER large problem with Ximian GNOME is it seems you install your own menu system. This plain STINKS when you have large numbers of GNOME apps installed... those shortcuts are GONE, unless you enable multiple GNOME menus off the "foot button". Grrr.

        -Scott

        BTW, this sentiment was first touched upon in the URL below. Moderators, please consider that post.
        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=39651&c id=4231 772

    • I don't think so really and they really only work on redhat variants. I've found that on debian it really trashes dependancies.
    • by ike42 (596470)
      My research lab has bought Redcarpet subscriptions for all our linux workstations. There are several good reasons for this over the alternatives you suggest:
      1. Ximian's Gnome really is tidiest and most frequently updated Gnome distribution. Although they have fallen behind some others with Gnome2, I expect things to get back to normal when they do release.
      2. Redcarpet does much more than update Gnome; you can use it to manage software installation accross a network. It has channels for updating several linux distros, StarOffice, Codeweavers stuff, VMWare, etc. None of the other automatic update tools really compare in content or in ease of use.
      3. If you purchase you can have automatic updates and use redcarpet to manage installation of your own software.

      If you only manage one computer, and you like to spend your time installing and updating software, then you probably don't really need to pay for Ximian. But it is great if you've got other things to do then worrying about keeping a mess of workstations updated.

      However, if you like a company's product you should buy it. By purchasing from Ximian we are helping to support Gnome development. It is just self-interest. Gnome is good for us, so we pay for Gnome.

    • From the article and other statements they've made, they are really going after corporate desktops with their for-sale products. There's really no reason for an individual user to actually buy the CD since it can be downloaded. If I remember correctly, the whole thing is only 80Mb or so (it installs to around 200Mb), so it's possible even with a modem connection.

      Corporate users who decide to adopt Linux and GNOME for their desktops may indeed decide to buy it, however. If Ximian can really provide a consistent and reliable set of applications, easy updates, and support, then corporations may perceive it as a viable alternative to the endless Microsoft license cycle. If they feel they will get timely support, painless updates, and good consistency, then they will be willing to pay for it; it will still cost them a bundle less than MS.

      Although paying for free software sounds like an oxymoron, corporations are willing to do it if they perceive it buys them consistency and support.

    • Sure, it has a pretty autoupdate feature, but then so does debian and mandrake, and it can be added to redhat, .... And if you install it then your installation seems to be not quite compatible with a standard gnome install.

      The easiest way I've seen to keep Ximian from screwing up things that up2date should do (thanks /. poster who originally wrote this!) is to get a list of ximianized packages, tell up2date to ignore them in /etc/sysconfig/rhn/up2date in the pkgSkipList section.

      Something like:
      rpm -qa --queryformat "%{NAME}\t%{VENDOR}\n" | awk '$2 ~ /Ximian/ {print $1}' |sort | perl -pe 's/\n/;/' > ximian.list

      works well for me.

    • Whoa. Deja vu.

      BlackBolt

    • by Sanity (1431)
      ...I found it best to stick with my distro [redhat.com]'s default version of Gnome, and use apt-get [freshrpms.net] to keep my system up-to-date. I found that Ximian's "Red Carpet" software had a nasty habit of screwing up the RPM dependencies on my system, and while visually appealing, I didn't really like its interface (for example, the way you need to click on every single package you want upgraded even if there are 50, 60, or 100 of them).

      I also got the impression that the purpose of Red Carpet was more to-do with providing Ximian with some kind of business model, than actually providing useful functionality to the end-user - otherwise why not just build it around apt-get and give us all some flexibility?

      In the end, I didn't really see any solid advantage to going with Ximian Gnome (although I do like Evolution), and it had the disadvantage of making my rpm dependency tree more complicated than it needs to be.

      • I found that Ximian's "Red Carpet" software had a nasty habit of screwing up the RPM dependencies on my system, and while visually appealing, I didn't really like its interface (for example, the way you need to click on every single package you want upgraded even if there are 50, 60, or 100 of them).

        Umm... I guess you could upgrade each package individually... but why not just click the little "update now" button in the lower right-hand corner of the main screen which applies all pending updates, without having to select or enter anything?
        • Umm... I guess you could upgrade each package individually... but why not just click the little "update now" button in the lower right-hand corner of the main screen which applies all pending updates, without having to select or enter anything?
          What a wonderful piece of user-interface design. And what about adding new packages? Is there a way to do that in bulk? It is a pretty common operation.

          The bottom line is that Red Carpet is redundant, apt-get does everything it does, and in a more flexible way. If you must have a gui, then build the gui around apt-get, and do some usability testing on it.

    • I've often wondered why people bother with ximian.

      You seem to already know the answer to your own question. However, I will point out that the question in your subject line is not the same as this one. I "bother with" Ximian. I don't usually purchase it unless I have a specific need for media (which I've done once).

      Are the packages it releases any better than the ones released by gnome itself?

      Well, for starters, Ximian is more than just Gnome. Most people install Ximian because it's a little bit more "tuned" than the version of Gnome that comes with their OS (or, in the case of Solaris, because their OS does not come with Gnome by default at all). However, Ximian also includes many third-party programs that are not part of Gnome propper (e.g. Evolution, which is a Ximian app, not a Gnome app, and at least under Red Hat the Ximian version of Evolution is far more recent and less buggy than the one that comes with the OS). In the end, you probably won't up the overall package count on your machine by much when you install Ximian, but the quality of the installation will generally improve quite a bit (I know this is true for Debian and Red Hat; feel free to comment for your own OS).

      Sure, it has a pretty autoupdate feature, but then so does debian and mandrake, and it can be added to redhat

      Yep, it can be added to Red Hat quite easily: install Ximian.

      Just what is there to encourage people to pay them money?

      Businesses over a certain size cannot afford to use a desktop which is not maintained by someone else. Red Hat's desktop (and those of the other Linux vendors, from what I've seen) is ok, but generally unusable for anyone who isn't a developer. This leaves the choice of Ximian, MacOS or Winderz for most companies. I think we'll see a lot more MacOS going out onto corporate desktops, but Ximian's share will probably increase the most rapidly for the next couple of years (it's easier to tripple a user-base of 1000 than it is to tripple a user base of 100,000).

      The really interesting gating factor will be what the big Linux Vendors (especially Red Hat, but also Caldera and SuSE), Sun and HP will do with their desktop offerings. Sun could quickly consume the corporate science market, as there's already a big buy-in there. HP could take quite a bit of government seats, as they have some amazingly well entrenched deals with places like the DoT.

      And then there's Red Hat. I see Red Hat eating up the educational niche over the next 5-10 years. There's a lot of software that doesn't exist yet, but these places just can't afford to keep playing ball with MS.
      • I'm curious as to why you think someone needs to "maintain the desktop"?

        Do you mean the literal desktop, like the UI of your window manager, or do you mean the whole computer?

        And what "managing" do you get from Ximian that you don't get from Mandrake, or SUSE, or Redhat, or whoever?

        My old work (since gone except for the embedded-apps department) switched to Linux in an interesting way, they stopped forbidding people to run Linux... The two lead coders had it installed within a week, within a month *everyone* in the engineering wing had it installed, even the guys in S&H (using internal web-apps and Open Office.) This is with just default Red Hat, nothing special, nothing managed.

        The only thing that would help them would be the Evolution pluggin. Occasionally management schedules them for a meeting and they wouldn't know, except that they run VMWare (for testing the apps from Windows) and they keep Outlook open in it. I imagine Evolution would work more quickly than VMWare so it'd be a win.
  • by ekrout (139379) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @04:52PM (#4231609) Journal
    1) Does it have to be aesthetically-pleasing to the eye?

    Yes.

    2) Does it have to be just like MS Windows?

    No. Working with any computer's interface is a learned behavior. People learned about the _ [ ] X buttons at the top right of their programs because every computer they sat down at was running Windows. They soon realized that the X closed a window, the _ made it temporarily dissappear.

    Many studies say that modern day UI must "look like a Microsoft product". Sorry to break it to you, Sun et al., but this simply isn't true.
    • by mackstann (586043) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @05:02PM (#4231691) Homepage

      Many studies say that modern day UI must "look like a Microsoft product". Sorry to break it to you, Sun et al., but this simply isn't true.

      If only UI developers would take that to heart....I look at Gnome, I see a windows knock-off. I look at KDE, I see a pretty windows knock-off, with OSX knock-off bitmaps.

      Why can't the open source desktop people come up with something innovative and useful instead of trying to build a cradle for all of the MS converts?

      • I've found WindowMaker (or AfterStep) does quite well in this regard. Sure, it's another knockoff (of a truly innovative OS), but it's nothing like Windows. It's also quite stable and much faster than GNOME or KDE. It just isn't as intuitive for first-time users, and since it doesn't behave like Windows and thus doesn't meet the demands of idiots and corporate types who think Linux needs a standard GUI, all the development effort and publicity goes into GNOME and KDE.
      • Why can't the open source desktop people come up with something innovative and useful instead of trying to build a cradle for all of the MS converts?


        Because they're trying to sell to MS converts. Believe it or not, but most people have better things to do than to learn how to use a new GUI.
      • Why can't the open source desktop people come up with something innovative and useful instead of trying to build a cradle for all of the MS converts?

        Let's turn that around. How about you show me a user interface that you consider innovative and useful, and then we'll see how it compares with GNOME 2 and Windows.

        Any desktop interface that I would want to use will have certain elements in common: windows I can resize, that can overlap, and that can be dragged around; title bars that help me sort out which window is which; some indicator of what apps I have running and a way to switch among them; etc. GNOME 2 does many of these things the same way Windows does, and that's fine with me.

        Don't forget that Microsoft has hired usability experts and done usability testing; some of their features really are the best way to do things.

        So, as a starting point, a Windows-ish interface isn't bad. And GNOME 2 lets you customize things your way. Do you want the Mac OS X "traffic light" buttons in the upper-left of each window? You can do that. Do you hate the "foot" menu (the GNOME answer to the "Start" menu)? Get rid of it; you can, easily. So far, GNOME lets me do everything I actually want to do.

        steveha
      • ``I look at Gnome, I see a windows knock-off. I look at KDE, I see a pretty windows knock-off, with OSX knock-off bitmaps.
        Why can't the open source desktop people come up with something innovative and useful instead of trying to build a cradle for all of the MS converts?''

        Because you're looking at the mainstream-aimed-at-windoze-lusers desktops only. There are innumerable window managers out there that don't copy Windows' behavior.
      • by spitzak (4019) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @07:34PM (#4233001) Homepage
        Why can't the open source desktop people come up with something innovative and useful instead of trying to build a cradle for all of the MS converts?

        A lot of responses here seem to say "it must look like MS for people to understand it" and assumme that "innovation" means totally different, like some sort of 3D interface. This is not what is needed, and I agree with the original poster in being unhappy with Gnome/KDE's windows-copying.

        Here are some ideas I would VERY much like to see:

        POINT TO TYPE!!!!!! Goddamm it, make it the default. Complete novices learn it very very quickly and it makes it almost impossible to return to a click-to-type system. This is the biggest way to get Linux converts. It also does not confuse Windows users, if when a new window openes or otherwise grabs the focus, you warp the pointer to the window.

        STOP RAISING WINDOWS WHEN YOU CLICK ON THEM. This is one of the biggest problems with the systems today (because both KDE and Gnome and even NT let you turn on point-to-type, even though it is not the default). This stupid behavior, which was eliminated in f**king 1982 by X11 (see X10 for the last version that did this), makes overlapping windows and the desktop metaphor completly useless because it is impossible to refer to one piece of data while working on another. Click-raising is also the reason for monstrosities like "MDI" and "paned windows", which seriously limit the ability to display large amounts of data in a window.

        RESIZE AND MOVE WINDOWS WITHOUT RAISING THEM! Here is a bit of cleverness from X11 history that seems to have gotten lost. If you click a window frame without moving, it raises. But if you move or resize it, it stays where it is! This can be done even if click-raises or click-to-type is left on.

        GET RID OF "LAYERS". This crap appeared with NeXTstep and refuses to go away. I WANT to put a window atop the toolbar. Just let me raise the toolbar by clicking on it. There, that wasn't too hard, was it? The only windows that should be forced to stay above others are "modal dialogs", and the ONLY thing they should do is be forced to lie above the windows they are blocking interaction to, they should have no effect on other applications.

        GET RID OF "APPLIACATION ACTIVATION". There is aboslutely no reason that all windows created by a program have to stick together in a layer. PLEASE make it possible to raise a dialog without raising the underlying window, so I can copy data from another window into it!

        You can try my window manager fltk [sourceforge.net] for my attempts to do these ideas. It really isn't hard, in fact the window manager is much shorter than most.

        • X11 was released in 1982? Hardly. I remember the university transitioning our Sun 3 machines from X10 to X11 when I was in school (1985 through 1990). This page [wikipedia.com] says that X11 came out in 1987, though I don't remember clearly enough to be sure.
        • yeah amiwm does all this too :)

          couldn't live without it!

        • >POINT TO TYPE!!!!!! Goddamm it, make it the
          >default. Complete novices learn it very very
          >quickly and it makes it almost impossible to
          >return to a click-to-type system. This is the
          >biggest way to get Linux converts.

          I personally hate that "feature" with a passion.

          >It also does not confuse Windows users, if when a
          >new window openes or otherwise grabs the focus,
          >you warp the pointer to the window.

          Another feature I hate. If I want my mouse pointer somewhere, I'll move it myself.

          >STOP RAISING WINDOWS WHEN YOU CLICK ON THEM.

          I prefer this behaviour myself.

          >GET RID OF "LAYERS".

          Another feature I prefer. If I didn't want my toolbars permenently visable, I'd set them to hide.

          >GET RID OF "APPLIACATION ACTIVATION"... PLEASE
          >make it possible to raise a dialog without
          >raising the underlying window, so I can copy data
          >from another window into it!

          I can count the number of times this would be useful to me on zero hands. I highlight from app A, raise app B, paste. No need for the window I'm pasting from to be raised when I've already gotten the data I'm copying from it.

          On the other hand, it has been useful for me to have the window associated with a dialog raised when I'm going to interact with it again.

          I'm not saying everyone should work how I do. I'm saying not everyone works how you do. Your preferences are not objectively better.

          Matt
          • I personally hate that "feature" (point to type) with a passion.

            To me this means you have refused to try it.

            I prefer this behaviour (clicks raise) myself.

            Again I don't think you have tried a system that correctly works. And you have become too used to programs that use tiled to get around these bugs. However try MSWord and edit several documents that you want to cross-reference and you will quickly see the light. PS: it is easy for click to raise windows, the user can click on the title bar or any edges. Also any program can raise itself in response to a click, so if you are writing software and are convinced that this behavior is necessary, you can make it do it. I recommend that any clicks that don't serve any other purpose (such as clicks on the gray background of control panels) should raise the window.

            Layers: Another feature I prefer. If I didn't want my toolbars permenently visable, I'd set them to hide.

            Alright I'm not so adamant about that. However I don't think it is necessary as long as a click on a dead area or the edge of the toolbar raises it. What I really hated was NeXTStep that insisited on putting the menus atop *all* windows due to "layers" and then thinking that hiding the menus when you "switch appliations" was an innovation, when in fact it was a kludge to get around the fact that the system could not put a window atop a menu. And now it takes two clicks, plus you must look for the menu, to pick an item on NextStep from another program's menu. And you don't get the edge-of-screen-navigation speedup of Mac menubar so you eliminate the only plausable reason to switch appliation menus.

            Anyway auto-hide toolbars really solve my complaints there. However since the "unhiding" action could also "raise" there are no layers necessary. I would like to see Windows and KDE/Gnome get rid of that stupid 1-2 pixel border, just use an invisible X11 window to pick up the mouse position and *really* hide that toolbar!

            Appliation activation: I can count the number of times this would be useful to me on zero hands. I highlight from app A, raise app B, paste. No need for the window I'm pasting from to be raised when I've already gotten the data I'm copying from it.

            Exactly the same problem as click-to-raise but now besides one window you have *all* the windows of app B raising to obscure the information from A you want to see. And again you make the stupid assumption that all communication can be done with cut & paste.

            On the other hand, it has been useful for me to have the window associated with a dialog raised when I'm going to interact with it again.

            Actually this is a serious bug because it prevents a program from having more than one "main" window. Both X11 and Windows have the idea that a dialog box has a *single* "parent" window, which is acceptable for interface reasons since usually the actions in only one window are blocked by the dialog. But Windows and KDE (not sure about Gnome) and most CDE window managers insist on raising that window when you raise the dialog. This makes overlapping main windows useless for the same reason click-raise and application-activation-raise make overlapping windows between applications useless, by hiding information you want. The result has been that virtually everybody has been forced to single "tiled" main windows or "MDI" main window containing all the subwindows, which is a huge waste of screen realestate and very confusing to the user because of the extra borders. Tiled windows are stupid, if they were a good idea we would be using the Andrew window system or Windows 3.1 and tiling *all* the windows. Unfortunately this simple bug in the window management convinces people that tiled windows are necessary.

            • >To me this means you have refused to try it...
              >Again I don't think you have tried a system that
              >correctly works.

              I know its hard to conceive of someone who doesn't like your favourite pet features, but really, it doesn't mean they've never tried them, or they're being stubborn.

              I've used TWM, FVWM2, Afterstep (classic, not the post 1.0 eye candy fest, ick), Sawfish, Enlightenment, MWM, Swm, XFwm, OLVM, Blackbox, Metacity, KWM. Just for good measure I've also used Windows 9x, Windows NT, and MacOS 7/8/9.

              I've tried click-to-focus, focus-follows-mouse, and sloppy focus, I've tried workspaces and viewports, etc.

              > However try MSWord and edit several documents
              > that you want to cross-reference and you will
              > quickly see the light.

              Word isn't a particularly easy application for me to do anything in since I haven't had a Windows desktop in six years. :)

              However, I edit and cross reference multiple documents all the time, usually in terminal windows. I've never had any issues switching between the windows I'm using with keyboard shortcuts or even the occasional mouse click. And if I'm making a lot of back and forth references, I *want* them to be tiled.

              > PS: it is easy for click to raise windows, the
              > user can click on the title bar or any edges.

              Window borders are typically narrow (don't want to waste screen real estate, do we?) so this require much more precise mouse movement than clicking on the window itself.

              > Also any program can raise itself in response to
              > a click, so if you are writing software and are
              > convinced that this behavior is necessary, you
              > can make it do it.

              So application authors have to anticipate the work habits of their users, and assume that it is consistent for ALL their users? Sorry, but I prefer consistency.

              > And again you make the stupid assumption that
              > all communication can be done with cut & paste.

              For a dialog box? Yes. Dialog boxes should never require extensive interaction. If they do, its a design bug.

              > This makes overlapping main windows useless for
              > the same reason click-raise and
              > application-activation-raise make overlapping
              > windows between applications useless, by hiding
              > information you want.

              You think it makes them useless. I think its useful to have the parent raised because typically when I interact with an windows dialog, I want to interact with that window again.

              > Actually this is a serious bug because it
              > prevents a program from having more than one
              > "main" window.

              Funny how I'm using multiple top level windows for several applications right now. How does it prevent it again?

              > The result has been that virtually everybody has
              > been forced to single "tiled" main windows or
              > "MDI" main window containing all the subwindows,
              > which is a huge waste of screen realestate and
              > very confusing to the user because of the extra
              > borders.

              I've never felt myself forced to use anything. I use multiple overlapping toplevel windows with no issues at all. As stated there are times I will deliberately tile windows, but when I am cross referencing heavily, I *want* everything on the screen on the same time.

              (On a side note, there are very few Windows-style MDI applications on Unix if you hadn't noticed. The more prominent solution, tabs, don't waste much screen real estate and don't have extra borders.)

              > Tiled windows are stupid, if they were a good
              > idea we would be using the Andrew window system
              > or Windows 3.1 and tiling *all* the windows.

              Sorry, but that argument is just stupid. It might make sense if a) the only difference between AWS or Win 3.1 and other windowing systems was tiled vs. overlapping windows, and b) tiling is either the best solution for everything or the best solution for nothing.

              In close, I repeat, "I'm not saying everyone should work how I do. I'm saying not everyone works how you do. Your preferences are not objectively better."
              • Of course if you tile the windows then none of these things are problems. The problem is if you have data that is large enough that you cannot tile the windows and they have to overlap. Try working with 2048x1556 images in the special effects industry and you will know that this is not an unrealistic scenario.

                Basically click-to-raise makes it impossible to work with these images even at .5 zoom. We are forced to use scrollbars (actually I was forced to get rid of the scrollbars to increase the available space and use alt+drag to move the contents) reduce the windows and pan which makes it impossible to make good decisions because you cannot see the whole image. And working at .25 or smaller zoom is just bad for spotting details (ie mistakes). And this is not a problem with just multiple images, most programs have an extremely large control panel and you cannot mess with it because raising it necessarily hides the image you are working on!

                Basically the problem is that you are using data that is small enough that you can tile the screen. When windows are arranged this way, there is no difference between click-raise and click-does-nothing. I'm sure you think this is sufficient but you have been forced into this point of view by the absolute necessity of tiling your data, because click-raise makes overlapping windows impossible to use.

                Also I know that window edges are very narrow. This is why programs should always raise the window on clicks that don't serve any purpose. Most programs add a pretty significant border inside the window that can be used to raise it. I believe that as long as programs do this you would never miss click-raise, as there is always a very large amount of available clickable space. Also as I said the programmer can also decide that various clicks mean that the user wants the program in the foreground, ideally they should do this when the actions make it clear that the user is not copying or referring to data outside the window but instead looking at data inside the window.

                • > The problem is if you have data that is large
                  > enough that you cannot tile the windows and they
                  > have to overlap. Try working with 2048x1556
                  > images in the special effects industry and you
                  > will know that this is not an unrealistic
                  > scenario.

                  In other words you have somewhat peculilar requirements that make a particular type of interface less useful to you. This does not extend to "focus follows mouse is inherinetly superior and more innovative".

                  > And this is not a problem with just multiple
                  > images, most programs have an extremely large
                  > control panel and you cannot mess with it
                  > because, raising it necessarily hides the image
                  > you are working on!

                  Most programs? The majority of programs I work with have at most a menubar and a toolbar. The toolbars can be universally turned off, and often can have the menubar turned off. Other, such as
                  Gimp or Glade, have multiple control windows, but they're set as toplevel, so raising them has no effect on other windows.

                  In other words, you're looking at things with blinders; i.e. your own experiences and the applications that you work with.

                  > Basically the problem is that you are using data
                  > that is small enough that you can tile the
                  > screen. When windows are arranged this way,
                  > there is no difference between click-raise and
                  > click-does-nothing.

                  Actually, I often use data that is too large to tile. In those instances I use keybindings to switch between windows. The only time this becomes insufficient and I tile is when I specifically need to see both data sets simultaneously, which wouldn't be solved by changing focus or raise behaviour.

                  > I'm sure you think this is sufficient but you
                  > have been forced into this point of view by the
                  > absolute necessity of tiling your data, because
                  > click-raise makes overlapping windows impossible
                  > to use.

                  No, you're ignoring that I explicitely stated that I've used multiple windowing systems, with a plethora of focus and raise behaviour. So, again, I reiterate, I've tried it your way, and it annoys me to no end. Not only that, but its not that the behaviour was too ingrained for me to see the benefits of autoraise. Before I ran Linux I had a 386 incapable of running Windows, and I explored my options on X *before* I settled on the behaviour I prefered (including focus follows mouse with auto-raise).

                  > Also I know that window edges are very narrow.
                  > This is why programs should always raise the
                  > window on clicks that don't serve any purpose.

                  > Most programs add a pretty significant border
                  > inside the window that can be used to raise it.
                  > I believe that as long as programs do this you
                  > would never miss click-raise, as there is always
                  > a very large amount of available clickable

                  I would contest that "most" applications add a signifigant border. Of the applications I have open right now (terminal, word processor, spreadsheet, web browser, mp3 player) the majority of the blank space is only on the menubar and toolbar, which is only at the top of the application window. This is far from being efficient.

                  > Also as I said the programmer can also decide
                  > that various clicks mean that the user wants the
                  > program in the foreground, ideally they should
                  > do this when the actions make it clear that the
                  > user is not copying or referring to data outside
                  > the window but instead looking at data inside
                  > the window.

                  I'm sorry, but applications should not decide on windows behaviour.

                  It's obvious you have a set of criteria for how YOU work. As I've stated twice already, it is not objectively better. Nor is mine.

                  It's not impossible to get a window manager to do what you want. You can focus and raise however you want, you can have it leave the stacking order of parents along when you raise a dialog, you could have your windows bounce across the screen like they're in pong if you'd like.

                  I just chafe at the implication that pandering to your preferences somehow equates to innovation.

                  Matt
        • Yes, we are definitely entering religious-war territory...

          Re: point-to-type - I am undecided on this one. Most of the time it works great for me and it saves mouse clicks. However, sometimes it is annoying because I accidentally leave the mouse outside of where I was typing, and have to move my hand to it, re-point the mouse, and move back to continue typing. Also I don't really like the "wild light show" effect I get when moving the mouse around (titlebars changing colors as I activate/deactivate windows by moving over them).

          Re: pointer warp - I'm pretty strongly against this; I don't like the feel of having the pointer out of my control. (I think what you really might be asking for is better positioning of dialog boxes - many Linux window managers do a terrible job of deciding where to put pop-up/dialog windows).

          Re: not raising windows on click or move - I bet you have a very different strategy for arranging windows... Personally I hate it when I have to use a system that doesn't raise windows on click. But it's probably because I depend on this feature for my subconscious "desktop navigation." I'd have to sit down and try your method to see if it's better.

          (I do change my mind sometimes - not long ago I couldn't figure out what the big deal was with "tabbed" web browsing - then I discovered how awesome it is, and now I can't stand browsers that don't support tabbing! It's just a much better way to work than opening N different browser windows).
          • I don't really like the "wild light show" effect

            This can be eliminated by the brilliant "innovation" of not highlighting windows. In my uses of point-to-type I find that I automatically assumme the mouse cursor indicates the window with focus, even in the KDE window manager where this is not true, and it has correctly highlighted the window titles. This is proof to me that window title highlighting is useless when point-to-type is in effect.

            pointer warp - I'm pretty strongly against this;

            It only warps the pointer when necessary so that the window with focus and the cursor position agree. This is vital so that knocking the mouse does not change the focused window and so the feedback of mouse position is correct. It would not be necessary to warp the pointer ever if the only way the focus changed windows was when the user moved the mouse. However it appears that it is much more user-friendly to set the focus to each new window as it appears, especially for pop-up dialog boxes. You also suggest that the box should appear positioned so that it is under the mouse, that would work if X did not have such delays that it can't be guaranteed, but if the user moved the mouse too much then we have to warp it anyway.

            not raising windows on click or move - I bet you have a very different strategy for arranging windows.

            All I want to do is copy information from "small" window B to "big" window A without A popping up and obscuring B. This is impossible on Windows, KDE, Gnome, OS/X. It is possible on older X11 machines. This is really a huge step backwards in usability. My note about X11 is that the X11R5 release notes say quite clearly that "we used to have clicks raise windows, this was determined to be stupid, so we removed it". This cannot have been any later than 1983 since it was released before I graduated from MIT (X11R6 that most people are familiar with is later). It is pretty horrifying that something that was discovered almost 20 years ago has still not gotten into the standard.
            And everybody stop talking about "copy & paste". I am NOT trying to copy the text literally, I may be trying to compare it, or transcribe it like changing digits to words, or any of a million other things that copy & paste cannot do!

            PS I do certainly propose that you raise windows by clicking on the title bar or on any of the edges. Also watch a novice Windows user and see what they do when they want to raise the window: they click on the title! (why: because clicking on the contents may do some unwanted action) So everybody is already used to this behavior.

            • All I want to do is copy information from "small" window B to "big" window A without A popping up and obscuring B.

              Ah, I see... I don't do this kind of thing very often, but one example might be when I have two source code windows open and I'm alternating back and forth. I tend to set up the windows side-by-side, but since I write long lines they usually don't quite fit; they overlap a bit. And it's annoying because usually the wrong window is on top when I need it! Your suggestions would probably help in this case... But again this is pretty much the only example I can think of from my own experience, and you have to balance it against my years of conditioning with click-to-raise =).


              One other issue that bears considering is minimizing switches between the mouse and keyboard. It may sound insignicant, but I really believe I work faster (and experience less hand/wrist stress) the more unnecessary trips to the mouse I can skip.

              Of course what we really want isn't "point to type," it's "think to type" =)

              • That's a very good example of what I need.

                The important thing is that I am not saying that *no* clicks raise the windows. Besides the title bar and edges, I recommend that programs raise themselves when clicked on any interior areas that do nothing. The writer of the software or toolkit could also decide that some clicks that do something should also raise the window. I think it may also make sense to raise the parent when a modal dialog box is closed, but again this can be done by the program.

                The main thing to realize is that if the system raises windows on a click, it is impossible to get another behavior. While if the system does not raise windows on a click, but provides a raise_window() function, then it is trivial to get the standard behavior. This is why I am quite adamant that this is a feature we need in the GUI. It does not matter which is better, what matters is a system where both are possible.

      • Why reinvent the wheel? Unless of course your goal is to make sure nobody uses your product because its too different.
      • by Trepidity (597)
        Enlightenment is kind of nice, and fairly innovative. And even usable if you turn off some of the animations. I especially like being able to drag desktops over other desktops partially, while working on both.

        It's too bad they threw out the code and started v17 from scratch 2 years ago, and are still "at least 2 years away" from having another release. But v16 is still pretty good.
  • The offices are not as one imagines but instead as one dared not hope them to be -- almost movie-set hackerdom with such corporate accoutrements as are absolutely necessary. Here is a big room, plumbing and air ductwork covering much of the ceiling, Brazil-style. In the third of it unencumbered by cubicle dividers arranged to provide both private workspace and openness, there are beanbag chairs, tall stools and cafe tables, and a couch, arranged in no particular fashion. The lights are not on. ("On Fridays we have a group lunch, and one of the teams makes a presentation," the visitor is told. "That's why it's dark.") Here and there, wiring that would be ceiling lights of some sort dangles from the neo-industrial architecture above. They have no bulbs and, strangely, look better that way.

    *sigh* reminds me of the place I worked last year before the layoffs hit. I'm miss working there. The work environment was just like this, the people were talented and smart, and the work was challenging and fun. Those were the days.

    • damn you, now you made me all depressed, I had that too till that *#@$!@ merger between Bell Atlantic and GTE, now I rot here doing pidly things and no cool lunch room with a big screen :(
  • building (Score:2, Funny)

    by manon (112081)
    Did you notice the building Ximian is located in? Looks so .gov to me... I'll better run a 'find / -name "gnome.nsa"' fast
    • I thought that picture of the building must be a joke.

      If it's not then WHERE THE HELL DO THEY GET THAT KIND OF MONEY?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        [Ximian employee, but I can't find my login/pass ATM.]

        It's an old Sears building, and actually on the National Register of Historic Places. It's also a bit misleading- we've got one quarter of one floor of the place, not the whole damn thing. The picture used in the article manages to crop out that part of the building, even. :) So, yeah... wish we had enough cash to have the whole building. No serious danger of us buying out the Best Buy, the movie theater, or Blue Cross of Massachusetts yet.
    • Did you notice the building Ximian is located in? Looks so .gov to me...
      No, it was a common building design in the earlier part of the 20th Century. Another poster to this thread mentioned it used to be a Sears building at one point. There is an almost identical building here in Minneapolis that also used to be a Sears, and another half dozen with similar designs elsewhere in the Minneapolis/St Paul area.
  • Cool logo (Score:5, Funny)

    by capnkid (87180) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @05:04PM (#4231703) Homepage
    Well the project sounds ambitious and all... but I tend to gauge the success of a company such as this by how cool their logo is. I think these guys are going to have a great future. Anybody else as shallow as me?
  • Doesn't that cost money?
  • Writing style? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by dukethug (319009)

    Did anyone else find the writer's fawning, adjective-heavy style irritating, even for a Slashdot article?

  • I admire the hard work put into Evolution. I was in the process of moving all my contacts over into their PIM. Until... I had a large message to send out and the program was straining under the weight of not having , instead of ; between addresses in an e-mail to ~40 people. These folks were not on a regular distribution list and probably never will be. It made sense to send the message that way. It took minutes for the program to move through through the addresses so I could add another.

    It's slick... I'll use it some day but it didn't impress this time around. I'll try it again in about 6 months.
    • You could have just clicked on your "To" button and been presented with a point and click dialog to select your 40 recipients.
      • That's part of what was malfunctioning. Its hard to describe the errors. Because of the semicolons not being preferred I had to switch out for commas so I could make sure everyone was on the list in the To: pop up. Most of these people were also new recruits for our organization. So they had no entries and we were compiling the e-mail from a txt file... a sign up sheet and contacts... It was a rare situation, but it brought to light an annoyance that I'd rather not have in a mail program. More power to them fixing it... When they do I'll be on board, I liked everything else I saw. Mozilla Mail has me for a little while longer until then.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I wonder where this guy experienced Brazil like that. No plumbing or air ductwork in sight from where i stand, in Brazil.
  • Hmmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @07:04PM (#4232723) Homepage Journal

    I've seen a few movies.

    I can tell you right away that hackers are easily identifiable as they wear all-black clothing with the top shirt button fastened - just like waiters at trendy restaurants.

    If Nat or Miguel or the other Ximian developers don't adhere to that uniform, then I can't understand how they can expect to be taken seriously by the same CEO's that they're trying to impress.

  • Landmark Center (Score:2, Informative)

    by arcturus21 (212289)
    Having worked above Ximian in the same building for the summer i know the space well. The building is quite nice. I believe Ximian has the 3rd floor in the West Wing although I have not been there.

    The building used to be a Sears warehouse and then was not used and in ill repair for many years. Now it is reopened as nice offices. It has twin large seven story Atriums in the center of both wings which allow some nice natural light into offices that would otherwise be without. More pictures of the building are here [brunercott.com]

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