[linux-elitists] gnome, trial by fire

Jeff Waugh jdub@perkypants.org
Tue Jan 6 12:47:54 PST 2004

<quote who="Aaron Lehmann">

> I'm not sure how 1.4 looks

1.4 looks like Evo has always looked (like Outlook). 1.5, which is the devel
branch for 2.x, has changed appearance.

> Also, there's no reason to assume that new users are familiar with the
> windows applications. They have a wide installed base but ideally many new
> users, especially in third world countries, should be able to get by with
> little computer background at all.

Absolutely, and this is a primary market for GNOME -> many of the large
deployments of GNOME are in places where computing experience is minimal at

> > Much of this is fixed in 2.5 (devel series for 2.6). We decided to get
> > rid of the web page stuff in 2.0 (it used to be included), because we
> > don't think crossing lines between the file manager and web browser
> > makes sense either.
> You thought it did a few years ago. Is someone else making UI decisions
> now, or did usability testing just show that some bad decisions were made?

Nautilus changed hands around the 2.0/2.2 time from Darin Adler (who is now
back at Apple) to Alex Larsson (with Dave Camp co-maintaining recently). The
html stuff was pulled out from Nautilus itself for 2.0, and views are being
sidelined (I don't think they're totally gone yet) in 2.5, as they were
found to be confusing and not the best way of displaying information about
files -> so Dave has this cool extension mechanism now, which allows plugin
writers to modify the standard icon and list views, provide context menu
items, etc., etc. It's a combination of stuff we've learned directly from
users, fresh perspective on Nautilus and its role, and user testing.

> > The other thing is that the whole 'views' thing is disappearing in
> > favour of an extension API. This will be much, much, much clearer to
> > users, because documents won't open in the Nautilus window (eeeek).
> Would it be correct to say that the entire OLE/COM/CORBA/whatever-style
> system of embedding arbitrary applications in each other is being phased
> out? I always disliked the idea of every application doing everything. If
> the new model is to open the correct application to display or edit the
> content in question, I would feel much better about Gnome.

That's pretty much it. The Nautilus vision is now focusing on just being the
best file manager possible, not being a 'shell' for random views and
applications. Yay. ;-) The very basics of the Nautilus architecture still
uses Bonobo, but that's largely invisible from a third-party plugin devel
perspective, and a user perspective. It's very welded in to Nautilus, so
while Gnumeric and other applications have quickly moved away from Bonobo,
Nautilus will still be using it for the time being.

> I've already seen gconf keys specified on this list to people who want to
> change certain settings. This leads me to believe that unless there is a
> lot of improvement, users will have to edit the configuration registry to
> accomplish certain things.

It is very-rare-to-never that common use cases will require users to delve
into GConf. For people on this list that want to do interesting and strange
things, it's a bit more common. ;-)

> > Cool, thanks, nice to hear you've had a different experience this time
> > around.
> I haven't tried a recent KDE but I actually think I'd like Gnome more.
> The Gnome interface is actually somewhat pretty now. Since my dad is using
> Gnome as an end user, I really should be more knowledgeble about the
> desktop environments.
> Also, I need to give him an upgrade to 2.4, because it seems much better.
> However, he has only 96MB ram. The desktop was using a lot of memory on my
> system and I don't know if his could handle it. He runs openoffice and
> mozilla continuously too. Hmm :/

Yeah, I wasn't very happy with 256MB - but I was on a fairly hokey machine
too (nforce2 based), I've since tried 2.4 with 128MB on a good machine, and
it was fairly okay.

- Jeff

GVADEC 2004: Kristiansand, Norway                    http://2004.guadec.org/
                              <boc> man i rule
                       <bram> boc: how do you rule?
                            <boc> with authority

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