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Old 09-25-2008, 07:50 PM   #1
jmite
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My Crazy Idea, aka how linux can defeat Windows and Mac forever


So, I'm neither a linux newbie, nor an experienced pro. I'm right in the middle. I'm comfortable with command line, I run debian (Testing!). I love where linux is right now, and the things I can do with it.

You see, part of linux's strength is that it has so many distros. If you don't like windows file manager, then you're toast. If you don't like linux's file manager, you switch. If you think OSX is ugly, you're done. If you think GNOME is ugly, switch to KDE. (or vice versa, for all you GNOME fans.) If you don't like part of one distro, switch to another. Or run a crazy multi-boot system with your various needs.

Linux needs Slack, and Gentoo, and all of those "expert" systems for the pros. But the problem is, an attitude has, in my experience, started to grow within linux circles. It's one of arrogance and stubbornness. Linux people are smart. Really smart. They've used different operating systems, and have grown accustomed to the nuances of linux, how to edit xmls, where conf files are, how to run a cli program, etc.

The problem is, these things are not easy for the AVERAGE user, the dumb user. There is a reason CLI has lost popularity, and it's because computers have become accessable. I can use it, and pretty much everyone on this forum can, but the average joe can't, the one who doesn't spend tons of time on the computer. The problem, is that linux people have developed the view that EVERYONE should learn to use CLI, should learn the little complicated things about linux that make sense to them, but not the average person. This is like someone saying the whole world should speak Latin. Sure, it's a universal language, but it's pretty unlikely that EVERYONE is going to learn it, because IT"S HARD!

It's like Shakespeare said. Right now, linux is caviar to the masses.

So, here is my proposal about linux. All the existing distros, Debian, SUSE, Ubuntu, Slack, Gentoo, etc. still exist. But a NEW distro is created, one which keeps the best parts of Linux, but changes it for the average person, for the masses.

In this distro, there will be a few changes:
/etc is changed to /prefs
/bin is changed to /progs
/mnt is changed to /discs
Terminal is acessible, but EVERYTHING is available to be changed through GUI. It's all pretty and nice.
Bootsplash is worked into the kernel.
The user doesn't NEED to compile anything.

A few things kept: Synaptic/package management, it's a brilliant system.
Desktop environments, the unity is amazing.
and, obviously, open source, and most importantly, FREE.

You see, for developers, and smart people, free as in freedom is great, but really, what's going to get the masses is free as in beer. THAT is what is going to defeat proprietary software.

Am I crazy? These are just my rants, but I can see so many missed opportunities for linux to defeat proprietary software.

I'm not a developer, so I can't create my dream system. But I can inspire someone who can...
 
Old 09-25-2008, 08:37 PM   #2
MS3FGX
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I don't know, it sounds like you pretty much just described Ubuntu...

Beyond the parts about changing the filesystem layout anyway, that is never going to happen, as the FHS dictates how that is all laid out. Although there was one distribution (the name escapes me at the moment) that used a mess of symlinks to translate all the Unix directories into Windows-ish directories like "Programs" and "Documents" (with the FHS directories still underneath).
 
Old 09-25-2008, 08:45 PM   #3
j.todd
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One word: Gobo.

And ubuntu.

And no, probably not going to happen.
 
Old 09-25-2008, 09:06 PM   #4
pinniped
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I'll vote for the crazy part. There was another thread not too long ago - yet another "why isn't Linux like WinDuhs".

I think Ubuntu/Kubuntu would be one of the closest so far. One of the problems is that there is just way too much hardware to support and far too much software. There is some 'webmin' stuff for various software but webmin interfaces sometimes lag substantially behind software development and changes to config files - just try to use SWAT to configure SAMBA for example. Unless projects specifically adopt a policy that they will maintain a webmin as part of the software suite, things will always be a bit messy. You have to remember that most software not only has to run under Linux but *BSD, Solaris, and various other systems including WinDuhs. Let's pretend Ubuntu was only intended for a specific computer - like the Asus EEE PC. Ah, now the developers can focus on a really nice administration suite similar to OSX. Speaking of OSX, how many programs have nice config tools? Debian has well over 15,000 software packages - imagine the work maintaining a webmin for each!

Of course if you really feel like it, you can start your own new webmin project with a somewhat generic and extensible interface. Let's say you go to an 'admin' page - from there you have 'desktop software', 'server software', 'printers', etc. Thanks to the thousands of available software, you probably need a search facility and an indexed list (dynamically created). Give yourself 2 months to come up with a simple proof of concept (if you know what you're doing) - the next step is to convince projects that they should use their resources to provide the interface. Is it getting to be fun yet?
 
Old 09-25-2008, 10:08 PM   #5
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I've had a few years break from linux because I got frustrated with some stuff about it. I can clearly see that it has now become much more user-friendly than it was a couple of years ago, and it's going to be yet easier later on with the current direction of development.

There is, however, a thought that recently keeps coming back at me:
why don't linux developers focus on a smaller number of distributions, and make those better? I mean who really needs a hundred or more linux distribution choices?

It's like in Barry Schwartz' "The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less" (~ 20 mins)
 
Old 09-25-2008, 11:27 PM   #6
dv502
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I have no clue why anyone would want linux to be like window$.

Linux can't pleased everyone, so If you want to use linux you have to accept what linux is. Otherwise, stick with your window$.
 
Old 09-25-2008, 11:47 PM   #7
jmite
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You see, this is exactly what I'm talking about. The attitude problem. I say that linux needs to have more GUI, not ONCE saying it should be more like windows. And immediately, I'm jumped on for saying linux should be Windows.

One word: frontend. Make pretty little frontends for your cli software, like dd, and chmod, and sudo, and then it wouldn't be inaccesable to the average person.

Same with changing the file directory. The reason it's called /etc isn't because that's what makes sense. It made sense when unix was invented, and it was invented by computer scientists, engineers. Calling it /prefs isn't the Windows way, it's the logical way. The way that makes sense, that isn't rooted in a stubbornness.

Like I said, this isn't what I want to use, this is the chains, the boundaries I think linux needs to escape if it's to become anything more than a passtime for nerds.
 
Old 09-25-2008, 11:50 PM   #8
jmite
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dv502 View Post
Linux can't pleased everyone, so If you want to use linux you have to accept what linux is. Otherwise, stick with your window$.
To me, this is attitude is why Linux is a fringe OS, that isnt' respected as a legitimate OS, despite its superior features. What happened to community support? Software for the people? Are the people computer engineers, or are they normal people?
 
Old 09-26-2008, 12:05 AM   #9
jmite
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http://www.linux.com/feature/33523

I think he says it best when he says that "If I wanted to have command line computing, I might as well go back to an 8088 running DOS instead of having all kinds of fancy modern computer gear around me"

It's like cameras. A film camera will take a much better picture than a digital camera, I've even heard some say that you'd need 60MP to equal good film quality. It's better, like cli, but if you went around trying to get everyone to switch BACK from digital cameras to film, people would think you were crazy. YES, cli has more capabilities. I know how to use it, so do you. But the average person doesn't. It's literally a step backwards: the GUI is what made computers "personal," an appliance, an everyday object.
 
Old 09-26-2008, 12:38 AM   #10
dv502
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmite View Post
To me, this is attitude is why Linux is a fringe OS, that isnt' respected as a legitimate OS, despite its superior features. What happened to community support? Software for the people? Are the people computer engineers, or are they normal people?
It's not attitude, it's more like preserving the roots of unix, even though linux made some changes like adding sudo, compiz and among other things that wasn't available in traditional unix. I could live that. What I don't want to see is linux replacing / with drive letters and changing its file structure to emulate windows or mac.

Remember, unix is a command line OS, so linux is following the roots of unix to pleased the cli junkies like me and the GUI for everyone else.

I apologized for misunderstanding of you saying linux should be like windows.

Last edited by dv502; 09-26-2008 at 01:22 AM.
 
Old 09-26-2008, 01:01 AM   #11
jmite
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No apology necesarry, it's nothing personal.

The drive letters thing is understandable, because that's just the way Windows does it. It doesn't make sense; it's not logical, it's just the microsoft way, how hda1, hdb1 is the linux way. There I completely agree with you.

I'll openly come out and say that microsoft is difficult to use, that's why I don't think linux should mirror it. I like the setup and ideas of OSX, but they seemed to have the right idea but not acutally put it together right. And they're proprietary (boo!), not to mention only run on limited hardware.

For me, the file format structure is not so important, I guess anyone too stupid to figure out what /etc is shouldn't be messing around with /etc. What it really comes down to is more GUI avaliable. NEVER get rid of CLI, getting rid of features is the Microsoft way. But really, there need to be more/better frontends for things, especially control panel (in the general sense, not the MS sense) settings adjustments for preferences instead of editing a text xml, and overall just making computing a calming, easy experience.

I've heard some people say that they like vista because it looks nice. I know, and you smart linux people know, that that is the worst reason to choose an OS. However, that's the way people think.

I guess I kind of got on an unnecesarry rant, Kubuntu is starting to look pretty good...
 
Old 09-26-2008, 01:23 AM   #12
pinniped
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuser:) View Post
There is, however, a thought that recently keeps coming back at me:
why don't linux developers focus on a smaller number of distributions, and make those better? I mean who really needs a hundred or more linux distribution choices?
I'm sure it's been asked a million times, and it's not unusual to see some IT journalist rant about "too many distros". The simple matter is that people will work on whatever interests them. The skills involved are also very different. You can't expect someone who creates a distribution to be able to contribute substantial changes to any of the programs which they are packaging; you can't even expect them to have any interest at all in hacking the software which they package.

People developing Linux, for the most part, don't have anything to do with any distribution. In a similar way, people working on other software (X.org, KDE) don't really have anything to do with distributions either.

For a few years now there has been an effort to make KDE and GNOME apps more interoperable; I haven't heard any news on that lately. The different choices are just so different that they are not easy (if at all possible) to reconcile. While some people may think that's a lot of wasted effort, the reality is that you just have more choices. Good luck convincing, say, a GNOME programmer to dump GNOME and program for the One True Desktop - it just doesn't happen (and I bet it never will).
 
Old 09-26-2008, 01:37 AM   #13
pinniped
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmite View Post
One word: frontend. Make pretty little frontends for your cli software, like dd, and chmod, and sudo, and then it wouldn't be inaccesable to the average person.

Same with changing the file directory. The reason it's called /etc isn't because that's what makes sense. It made sense when unix was invented, and it was invented by computer scientists, engineers. Calling it /prefs isn't the Windows way, it's the logical way. The way that makes sense, that isn't rooted in a stubbornness.
The problems are:
* How do you locate and run the thousands of GUI frontends? The experience in reality is that it's so much faster to bring up a console and invoke the command. Besides, you don't want an 'average person' to fiddle with tools like 'dd'. Same with 'chmod' - that's an administrative tool and of extremely limited use to a normal user anyway. As for 'sudo' - that's a security threat and I gnash my teeth whenever I see yet another distro with 'sudo' installed.

* There are already numerous GUIs to do all the common things people want to do - browse the directories, change attributes, view files ...

* '/etc' is historical and there is no compelling reason to change it. In fact, there are good reasons to leave it alone. One reason, for example, is that most programs are coded to store/look for files in /etc - you have many thousands of programs to patch to work out of '/prefs'. Add to that the fact that most (if not all) systems currently running use '/etc' - patch a program to use 'prefs' and someone who updates that program on their system has to patch again to use '/etc'. SO - why call it 'prefs' - are we catering to people who can't understand that '/etc' is for storing system-wide configuration information (and boot scripts)?

* Are you suggesting that a system's directory layout should be determined by an end-user's vote? Hey, I find the WinDuhs layout extremely annoying and counterproductive and I loathe their stupid 'registry' - but I don't see MS changing that to something 'sensible'. And when did users have a say in how Apple dolled up OSX?

You might think that your ideas are sensible, but you need to think a lot more. 'Trivial' changes are not as trivial as you might think and on top of that, there are far more interesting and important things to be hacked at than cosmetic changes to the UNIX filesystem (and consequently the UNIX HFS specification).

Some things in UNIX never quite converged - like how do you manage networking? The basic tools are all the same between Linux distros (ifconfig), but RedHat, Debian, Suse and various others all set up the network differently. So - how can KDE have a GUI for setting up the network when everyone does it differently? Well, you could push network startup/config scripts into the Linux Standards Base and then you have half a hope. But it is differences like that between distros which make a generic admin GUI so difficult to make and maintain. KDE actually does a very good job considering the mess that has to be dealt with.

Last edited by pinniped; 09-26-2008 at 01:45 AM.
 
Old 09-26-2008, 03:17 AM   #14
H_TeXMeX_H
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Do it, make your own distro, but I won't be using it. Oh, have you tried Ubuntu, BTW ?
 
Old 09-26-2008, 04:06 AM   #15
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jmite
I'll draw a analogy. You quote Shakespeare. Some people aren't interested in his works. They don't understand him, and can't be bothered to make the effort to do so. Should we reduce his plays to the level of TV soap opera so more people appreciate him? Adaptations, to modern dress and/or language have been done - but they're all crap.
Too much choice? Better than not enough, or none.
I'm not a "pro", I'm just interested enough in GNU/Linux to use a distro that requires a little more effort. I'm not an elitist, I don't look down on anyone (or up to anyone, for that matter).
 
  


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