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Make Linux "Gorgeous," Says Ubuntu Leader 688

OSS_ilation writes "They say beauty is only skin deep, but when it comes to Linux and the free software movement, people like Mark Shuttleworth think looks have an important part to play. On his blog and an article on SearchOpenSource.com, Shuttleworth and a slew of open source end users say that the look and feel of open source is also a matter of wider acceptance among enterprise players who are used to Windows, yet crave Mac OS X and the functionality of Linux. 'If we want the world to embrace free software, we have to make it beautiful,' Shuttleworth said. "We have to make it gorgeous. We have to make it easy on the eye. We have to make it take your friend's breath away.' With the early success of Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, Shuttleworth and company may be onto something."
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Make Linux "Gorgeous," Says Ubuntu Leader

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  • by nadamsieee ( 708934 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @04:01PM (#16647021)

    From TFB (the fine blog):

    Of course, "pretty but unusable" won't work either. It needs to be both functional and attractive. Rather than bling for bling's sake, let's use artistic effects to make the desktop BETTER, and obviously better.
  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @04:09PM (#16647161)
    That's funny, because most people get scared when the hear that they are using Linux. Try running KDE, plopping your friend in front of your computer, and seeing how hard it is for them to figure out what to do. I have done this several times, and people almost immediately adapt to: 1.) Using Konqueror 2.) Using GAIM 3.) Using OpenOffice 4.) Playing music. When something works differently, or doesn't work, they just shrug it off, assuming that it is simply some error or bug, the same way they shrug off problems in Windows. And there is scripting support on Windows, and I know somebody who does use JScript to automate certain tasks. It is more common to script things on Linux because more Linux users know how to write programs, but that doesn't make it necessary for using Linux. If you think about how most home users use computers, you get: Office (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.), Web, Instant Messaging, E-mail, and Gaming. Of these, the only thing that somebody would really be unable to use Linux for is gaming -- some day, the wine guys will solve that problem. In general, though, Linux has been usable for the average person for years now.
  • by Shawn is an Asshole ( 845769 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @04:26PM (#16647489)
    Under Gnome, click on "Places" and then on "Connect to server". A dialog will now open. Set the service type to "Windows Share" and fill in the "server", "share", and "user name" fields. If there is a domain, fill in the "domain" field too. Hit "connect". You now have an icon on both the desktop and in the Places menu named after the folder. Click on it. It will ask you for a password and it will give you the option to save it in your keyring (it's encrypted, btw). All Gnome applications (including OpenOffice) will show it on the left of file dialogs. It will be there whenever you start the computer.

    KDE provides similar functionality, but it's not as easy to find. The tool to set it up do it is in one of the menus but every distro seems to try to hide it. Here [kde.org] is documentation on how to use it.

    No editing text files. No plain text passwords. No root privileges required.
  • by pikine ( 771084 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @06:48PM (#16650145) Journal

    Deep inside the Windows NT/XP kernel, it maintains an object namespace very similar to a Unix filesystem. You can use WinObj from sysinternals.com [sysinternals.com] to navigate this object namespace. Notice that under the 'Global??' folder you will find the entries 'C:' and 'D:' and so on symbolic linked to the appropriate file system. Also, '\Device\*' in the object namespace is very much like '/dev/*' on Unix.

    It is evident that drive letters under an NT kernel is just a DOS compatibility after-thought. The kernel doesn't have concepts of drive letters.

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday October 30, 2006 @07:04PM (#16650381) Homepage Journal

    And someday, if they try really hard, OS X will be nearly as self-consistent as KDE is today. When the Mac equivalents of KIO slaves are universally supported, for example, I' d actually consider switching to OS X. Until then, it's too flaky and ad-hoc for me to take it seriously

    Just for a the sake of a differing opinion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 30, 2006 @07:44PM (#16650887)
    This is an extremely astute appraisal of what is wrong with Linux. I am a very experienced computer user, grew up with an IBM PC with DOS 3.3 back in 1987 and have steadily progressed through the various good and bad (DOS 5) Microsoft releases. I have a computer science degree and worked in industry until I decided to leave the IT world for other pursuits. Now, I have experimented with Linux several times over the years and in January I installed Kubuntu. I used it right up until last week and I when I said fuck it and went back to Windows. It came after spending about an hour upgrading to the latest version of Firefox, then trying to get Flash and Java plug-ins to work. In Windows, if I visit a web page that uses Flash, Firefox will simply install Flash automatically, and away I go. Kubuntu, another story all together. I downloaded Flash, and followed a tutorial right to a T and it still didn't work. 30 minutes later, I'm pissed, and not any closer to getting it to work. Same with Java plug in. Also, I tried several times to get my PCMCIA wireless adapter to work, only to be met with frustration. Windows, I just slide it in and away I go. Linux absolutely has to fix these problems before I switch. I WANT to use Linux. I WANT to get rid of Windows, but I don't have the time any more to mess around with ridiculous command line tutorials and the sheer frustration of getting the smallest non-trivial thing to work. Now, I can see putting Linux on my parent's computer because basically, they need word processing, Web, e-mail, and music. Linux does all those things very well, and you can basically set it and forget it. I'm kind of in the middle. I know Windows like the back of my hand and can get it to do my bidding, most of the time. Sure, it's a pain in the ass, but hardly as frustrating as Linux was. I could give a crap whether Linux is pretty, but if they could make it so that doing those non-trivial tasks like installing plug ins, and little hardware issues easier, than I would switch tomorrow. Like anything, I'm sure if you know what you're doing, it's "easy" but until that learning curve is brought down, than Windows power users will never switch.
  • by Bugmaster ( 227959 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @08:24PM (#16651339) Homepage
    Well, I'm a "power user", and I disagree with your assessment. I'd love if Linux gave me simple answers to the following questions:

    * Where should I save my work ?
    * How do I read files from a CD ?
    * When I install programs, where do they go ?
    * Speaking of which, how do I install something ?

    Windows provides answers to these questions in form of GUI. I can click on the CD-Rom icon, I can pick programs from the Start menu, I can add/remove programs using the GUI tool, and I can save my files pretty much anywhere I want. As a power user, I know some registry hacks and UI tweaks and such, but I can function without them; I can also fit most of the implementation details (registry, c:\Program Files, D: drive) into my head at once.

    Linux provides *no* answers to these questions -- or, at best, a whole host of confusing, conflicting answers. I'd love it if Linux worked like Windows, by providing all these answers in the GUI. I'd love it *even more* if Linux had a consistent way of doing all these things from the terminal... But it does not. You've got apt-get, rpm, /user/bin, /sbin, /bin, that weird-ass K-Menu or Gnome with three different things named "Settings" that lead to different places, CD-Rom drives that you need to remember to mount... It's a mess, and it's a *different* mess in each and every distribution. Until this is fixed, power users such as myself will stick to Windows.

    I understand that, with quite a bit of work, I can configure Linux to work the way I want. But Windows answers my questions out of the box, and I need to get work done, so I don't care to spend a week getting Linux to behave.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @09:33PM (#16651939)
    * Where should I save my work ?

    In your home directory sorted in whatever way makes sense to you - or on an NFS share used by a lot of people for collaborative work named after the project, division or whatever - not F: M: or whatever windows shared drive which may differ between desktop machines.

    * When I install programs, where do they go ?

    If you get something that isn't available with the distributions package manager it depends on what it is. Local stuff only to be used on that computer goes in /usr/local, optional stuff like java, openoffice and commercial software puts itself in /opt with it's own installer, stuff to be shared with other computers (which you probably won't be doing) goes in /usr/share. If it is stuff that only you will use it can also go in ~/bin to avoid having to install as root.

    * Speaking of which, how do I install something ?

    All distributions now look on the net for what you want and work out all dependencies. On Fedora "yum install packagename" or a GUI tool from the system menu, on Ubuntu and Debian "apt-get packagename" or a GUI tool from the system menu, on Mandriva a GUI tool from the system menu - Gentoo (not for newbies and it turns unix veterans into newbies again) "emerge packagename", and so on for other distributions - even package management on solaris. If the package is not on the list you can still get it, download it, read the instructions and install it - but you don't have to live on the cutting edge.

    As for consistancy - it was called CDE - people liked choice more instead.

    All that said - applications are the entire reason to use a computer, and if you have to learn to use a lot of different applications it may not be worth shifting to a different platform. You can get a lot of linux functionality with cygwin and ported versions of rsync, find, grep, awk, ssh, ImageMagik (batch processing of graphics files) etc. With X windows on your MS Windows machine you can use all linux applications on your screen with the actual programs running on a linux box you are networked to - that's how people with MS Windows at my workplace run interactive graphical software on a cluster.

    In my workplace there were many people that just wanted to type reports and access remote machines - stability problems and MS Word formatting problems with embedded images drove them to linux. There are people that require specific applications that only run on MS Windows so they use Win2k or XP and X Windows. Linux is not MS Windows, has no registry (although g-conf is a misguided imitation done poorly and on a per user basis) has no C: drive and is different enough that your MSDOS specific knowlege will not apply - and the concept of doing everything with a GUI if difficult unless you are resticted to a few options or put incredible amounts of work in like apple. With a CLI you don't swear because the option you need to apply is greyed out because the developer didn't think of a paticular set of circumstances and then have to find and hack a text file anyway to get around it. A combination of CLI and GUI works well in a lot of circumstances and pipes let you do unexpected things quickly without having to buy/download a new program.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 30, 2006 @11:46PM (#16652991)
    Pointless nitpicking over how many years exactly. I've been at this for 20 years, and it started on DOS, which evolved into windows (3.x and 9x ran on top of DOS). I never said "20 years of expertise on Windows", you're making me say things I haven't, and trying to guess for me for how long I've worked? And AFAIK, Windows 1.0 didn't come out in 2006.

    And as far as the other changes, they were gradual and evolutionary for the most part. Learn a few new things every year, and you'll do just fine, so life went on indeed. Switching to linux is an instant *radical* change all the way down to the core (processes/threads/IPC/etc), NOTHING is the same, you just need to relearn it all from scratch. None of what I've learned over that 20 year time frame is applicable, you just have to unlearn it all. It's much the same as going from a highly skilled mechanical engineer who designs cars and advanced mechanics to some n00b who struggles to fill the tank of his new car. Frustrating is a weak word.

    Honestly, I wish I could hack it at that linux stuff, but no matter how hard I try, I just can't. So the day I can't work in IT from Windows-related stuff, I'll be out of IT. Hopefully that'll be long enough that I can retire before (even if that means working boring maintenance jobs on "legacy" apps that run on Windows for the last few years, just like some still work on mainframes today)

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!