[linux-elitists] Update--distribution for your mother?

Geoff Lane zzassgl@buffy.sighup.org.uk
Sun Aug 17 12:21:52 PDT 2003

There's not a PC sold today with a OS/GUI suitable for a casual user.  Even
the supposed pinnacle of user-friendlyness, XP, is just a thin glossy veneer
covering a box of cogs, belts and chains.

Current "desktops" are merely 1960s office procedures frozen in time and
endlessly recreated because nobody has the balls to stand up to Microsoft
and point out that the emperor has no new ideas.  But neither do we, look at
the email browser projects listed in Freshmeat, almost without exception
their user interfaces are attempts to clone equivalent Microsoft products. 
The quality of the code is not questioned, just the ideas behind the design.

I've had three PDAs, a Psion3a, a generic WinCE and a Zaurus.  Of the three,
the old Psion is STILL the best user interface (is it a coincidence that
it's purely keyboard driven?) Sadly the Zaurus is the worst mostly because
as far as I can see the s/w designers had never seen or used a PDA before
(or even used the GUI apps on a Zaurus once they had written them.)

The Linux kernel is an excellent foundation, but from the filesystem up to
the GUI everything must change.  For example, this portable I'm typing on
has a 60Gb hard disk.  I don't work on AV projects so that 60Gb will last me
80 years at the rate I generate new data before I would be forced to erase
any old data.  Yet no filesystem provided with popular Linux distros can
make use of this to provide rollback of files or entire filesystems
following user mistakes.  "delete it and it's gone forever" is a lousy
design principle for a device to be used by the casual user. A trash can is
not a solution because it asks the casual user to understand how all the
cogs, belts and chains are related.

Sorry for the length of this rant, but the alternative would be to hunt out
some one who works for RedHat and kick them in the balls.  Their so called
documentation documents the nasty (and in my case broken) configuration GUIs
written in Python but not the underlaying files and scripts, nor the design
philosophy (if any.) Yet I am forced to work it all out so I can either fix
the problem that breaks the config apps, or just do the edits by hand. Fsck!

Geoff Lane
7 Aug 03 - The day SCO died; just waiting for the body to hit the ground.

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