28 votes

The major problems with Linux desktop usability.

Tags: linux, ux, ui, desktop

37 comments

  1. [6]
    Emerald_Knight
    Link
    Unfortunately this isn't just a Linux problem, but a problem with desktop OS development in general. When Windows 8 had its first UI reveal, my immediate reaction was disappointment because there...

    Unfortunately this isn't just a Linux problem, but a problem with desktop OS development in general. When Windows 8 had its first UI reveal, my immediate reaction was disappointment because there was an attempt to "unify" the experiences of two very different interfaces. I already knew it was a terrible idea try to force the same solution to work for two very different use cases. Clearly Microsoft realized this after the fact, given that they've completely scrapped that for Windows 10.

    Mobile needs to be simple, reduced down to something that a tiny screen and a lack of keyboard and mouse can properly handle, but those same reductions harm the desktop experience significantly. You don't make those kinds of interface reductions because it's better, you do it because it's a necessity, and for a desktop it's not a necessity at all.

    Unfortunately there seems to be a trend of following trends, so this kind of thing is likely to win out. Whether that's temporary or permanent is hard to say. I'm desperately hoping it's temporary.

    22 votes
    1. [3]
      mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I think the point here is to communicate with regular people, the kind that runs 100 tabs and call IT to complain that Chrome is too slow. Programs and computers are not their jobs, they just use...

      You don't make those kinds of interface reductions because it's better, you do it because it's a necessity, and for a desktop, it's not a necessity at all.

      I think the point here is to communicate with regular people, the kind that runs 100 tabs and call IT to complain that Chrome is too slow. Programs and computers are not their jobs, they just use it to do their jobs. It's easy to get judgemental and say "but how can he not know this? It's so simple". But what is simple to you might not be as simple to some. If my auto mechanic judged me because I don't know how a "thermostatic valve" looks like, I would no longer be his client. Knowing cars is his job, not mine. Laymen are not going to read the documentation to find the features that are not currently displayed. They need everything to work out of the box. For them, a useful command won't be of any help if it's hidden under three layers of menus. What is on the screen is what the program is. They need everything laid out. So let them have their carefully crafted UIs, it won't interfere with my usage of Emacs or i3wm. They need the hand holding, and that's okay. You can be great at many things without being a computer wizard.

      12 votes
      1. [2]
        Emerald_Knight
        Link Parent
        I completely get where you're coming from, and personally, I believe there should be a "basic" and "advanced" UI for any given OS, to give power users flexibility but casual users simplicity. What...

        I completely get where you're coming from, and personally, I believe there should be a "basic" and "advanced" UI for any given OS, to give power users flexibility but casual users simplicity. What I don't like is being forced to use the simpler interface and having all of the advanced functions I want hidden as registry values, requiring rooting, or as nothing more than hacks.

        That being said, the problem I generally encounter is that even though they reduce how much is shown on the screen at one time, it's done in a profoundly stupid way and the menu item I need is nested way down in some stupid area of the menu that makes no sense whatsoever. Going back to the Windows 8 example, you had to go into "settings" in order to find the options for shutting down or restarting the machine. How the fuck does that make any sense whatsoever? That's a rather extreme example, but it's the kind of thing that makes those interfaces a pain, especially when I have to navigate back and forth between the different options to try to find the one I want.

        8 votes
        1. mrbig
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I think Linux has a big advantage in that area because it gives you many choices of distros, window managers and desktop environments. For something more or less "intuitive" and mouse oriented you...

          I think Linux has a big advantage in that area because it gives you many choices of distros, window managers and desktop environments. For something more or less "intuitive" and mouse oriented you have Gnome, KDE, XFCE, Mate and Cinnamon. For a "haxor" keyboard oriented workflow, there's the command line (which is tremendously powerful and reasonably unvarying among distributions), and also window managers like dwm, xmonad, i3, Awesome and many others. You can choose according to your needs. But Windows has to be mostly the same for a large group of people, both business and home users, with very different requirements. Microsoft could make the interface more customizable (like KDE does, for example), but instead they make an inconsistent mess that tries to be everything at the same time. Just look at VLC's solution, a program that is maintained by the community:

          regular
          advanced

          A simple well positioned "advanced" button goes a long way. It's not that hard, and they have the resources.

          7 votes
    2. demifiend
      Link Parent
      It isn't a technical necessity, but it's still a "necessity" in commercial software development because nobbody wants to test two different UIs. This is why so many new apps (Slack, Spotify,...

      You don't make those kinds of interface reductions because it's better, you do it because it's a necessity, and for a desktop it's not a necessity at all.

      It isn't a technical necessity, but it's still a "necessity" in commercial software development because nobbody wants to test two different UIs. This is why so many new apps (Slack, Spotify, Signal, etc) are built on top of Electron; the developers don't want to create a separate interface for desktop users, let alone test it, debug it, and support it.

      4 votes
    3. 666
      Link Parent
      It's not a necessity for most power users, but for slow learners and people that spend most of their time using their phones (or may have never used a desktop) it's a huge advantage. Having the...

      You don't make those kinds of interface reductions because it's better, you do it because it's a necessity, and for a desktop it's not a necessity at all.

      It's not a necessity for most power users, but for slow learners and people that spend most of their time using their phones (or may have never used a desktop) it's a huge advantage. Having the same UI everywhere reduces the mental work one has to do when going from one device to another. Everything looks and works just the same, you don't have to stop and think how to do things on a computer.

      PS: I'm also happy about the hamburger menu trend because my laptop has a very small screen and this trend has pushed software devs to spend part of their time designing UIs that waste as little space as possible and leave most of it for the content that really matters. Before hamburger menus the web was mostly unusable for me.

      PPS: what we really need is something like responsive design for computer software, I think Windows 10 got it right, it looks great in both big desktops and small tablets and also when you resize windows (try doing it in the system info section of the settings app and see how it hides or moves down some of the panels when the window becomes smaller).

      1 vote
  2. [4]
    Whom
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm not familiar with this kind of design other than just being a user, but it seems pretty bold to take it for granted that having a bunch of shit you won't need most of the time permanently...

    I'm not familiar with this kind of design other than just being a user, but it seems pretty bold to take it for granted that having a bunch of shit you won't need most of the time permanently stapled to the top of your screen while using a program is the simplest and easiest to understand way to do things. By doing that, you entirely throw away the ability to guide users to learn only the most essential tools first then go deeper in some menus when you need to do something more involved than every-session use.

    I also find global menus unintuitive and messy, but I at least get why that would be desirable to have on everything.

    EDIT: I'm reading on in the series this belongs to, and I wonder how you could possibly title something like this "Make. It. Simple." This person wants to add elements in the faces of users wherever possible, even things going as far as additional animations for the simplest of actions. They're clearly prioritizing consistency and readability, not in any way simplicity. There's a lot of individual things I agree with (desktops certainly shouldn't be thoughtlessly taking design from touch interfaces), but most things they want completely work against simplicity.

    14 votes
    1. [4]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [2]
        anowlcalledjosh
        Link Parent
        macOS has certainly got the consistent visual feel sorted, although I wouldn't agree with you on the lack of learning curve – even having used a Mac for two months, I'm still not really sure how...

        macOS has certainly got the consistent visual feel sorted, although I wouldn't agree with you on the lack of learning curve – even having used a Mac for two months, I'm still not really sure how the window management is meant to work. Sometimes clicking on the Dock icon opens a new window (even when there's the little dot that appears when the application is open already), sometimes it doesn't; closing a window doesn't move the focus to the next application, you just end up with a menu at the top for an app that doesn't have any windows open; switching between windows with alt command-tab goes by most-recently-used, but command-grave cycles through in some bizarre order determined by the phase of the moon...

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. anowlcalledjosh
            Link Parent
            Mission Control/Exposé? Yeah, I can see that working well for some workflows. I just always tended to have too many similar-looking windows open for it to be any use.

            im totally blanking in the name for when you can see all your windows and desktops

            Mission Control/Exposé? Yeah, I can see that working well for some workflows. I just always tended to have too many similar-looking windows open for it to be any use.

            1 vote
      2. Whom
        Link Parent
        I'm not even sure this is the case! Their points seem so mixed and confused, they talk up Mac design principles all over this series and claim that they're looking for simplicity, but they...

        You can always tell with these kinds of articles that the author is someone who has used computers for a long time and thoroughly understands how to do things already, and doesn't understand the perspective of a novice or the computer illiterate.

        I'm not even sure this is the case! Their points seem so mixed and confused, they talk up Mac design principles all over this series and claim that they're looking for simplicity, but they sometimes argue entirely against that in a way I don't really understand.

        Mobile computing is so big because of simple, intuitive, and accessible design, and desktops are going to continue to pick up more and more of the mobile design philosophy as time goes on to make them accessible as well.

        Hmm. I agree that simple, intuitive, and accessible design is a good thing (obviously), but I think ripping things from mobile directly (or putting everything in this middle ground where it's touch-accessible but also kinda works with a mouse) is a big mistake that comes off as super awkward and less usable.

        I don't think the problem here is what the person wants, as they seem to agree with you that making things upfront and easy to understand is important, but that they have a bunch of little preferences that conflict with that mission and the piece as a whole just seems...strange.

        1 vote
  3. [3]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    I think part of the problem here is that many users of Linux-based operating systems actually enjoy the learning process. We want to get up to speed on keyboard combinations. As long as the...

    But you have to know about it, have to install it, have to know the Ctrl+Shift+P key combination to invoke it. So it is not discoverable at all.

    I think part of the problem here is that many users of Linux-based operating systems actually enjoy the learning process. We want to get up to speed on keyboard combinations. As long as the graphical UI doesn't get in the way of a power user, and as long as it's bearable while you're still learning it, it's perfectly fine.

    This absolutely puts up a barrier to new users and drives people away. That's not the goal, but the general attitude of FOSS seems to be that you have a target user and you don't need to lower the barrier to entry. It's not like you make any more money by doing so.

    11 votes
    1. [2]
      clone1
      Link Parent
      I don't think that really is the major problem. Sure, some programs like EMACS or vim are made that way, but one of his major points is how the top menu bar was converted to a hamburger menu. A...

      I don't think that really is the major problem. Sure, some programs like EMACS or vim are made that way, but one of his major points is how the top menu bar was converted to a hamburger menu. A hamburger menu is worse for both power users and new users. Sure, power users probably didn't use the mouse with those menus much, but moving all of those commands into a single list helps nobody.

      7 votes
      1. teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        The power users are probably in the terminal instead of the file manager. They're also using keyboard shortcuts instead of a menu. It doesn't really help anyone, but since most people using a...

        The power users are probably in the terminal instead of the file manager. They're also using keyboard shortcuts instead of a menu.

        It doesn't really help anyone, but since most people using a Linux-based OS are power users there aren't enough people complaining for the designers to fix the UX problems.

        5 votes
  4. [4]
    Eva
    Link
    This article was not only outdated, but also disingenuous. GNOME 3 isn't "The Linux Desktop." GTK is not "The Linux Desktop." KDE Plasma 5 fixes every problem listed with GNOME 3. Qt fixes most...

    This article was not only outdated, but also disingenuous.

    GNOME 3 isn't "The Linux Desktop." GTK is not "The Linux Desktop."

    KDE Plasma 5 fixes every problem listed with GNOME 3.

    Qt fixes most problems stated with GTK, is by far the most popular GUI framework, and is usable by the disabled, unlike GTK.

    Firefox's menus haven't looked like he stated for over a year now.

    He needs to get over himself.

    11 votes
    1. [2]
      meghan
      Link Parent
      The whole series was a rant and also an ad for a program he writes called AppImage GNOME is the default desktop on Ubuntu, and Ubuntu is the default for many beginners and stability since its...

      The whole series was a rant and also an ad for a program he writes called AppImage

      GNOME is the default desktop on Ubuntu, and Ubuntu is the default for many beginners and stability since its backed by a big company. It's running this very site in fact.

      Firefox does have the hamburger menu, as well as the menubar but it has to be turned on with the ALT key as mentioned in the article.

      4 votes
      1. Eva
        Link Parent
        None of the screenshots of Firefox have been accurate since Quantum debuted. That screenshot literally can't exist on modern Firefox. I'm aware of it, and aware of how insecure it is versus Snaps....

        Firefox does have the hamburger menu, as well as the menubar but it has to be turned on with the ALT key as mentioned in the article.

        None of the screenshots of Firefox have been accurate since Quantum debuted. That screenshot literally can't exist on modern Firefox.

        The whole series was a rant and also an ad for a program he writes called AppImage

        I'm aware of it, and aware of how insecure it is versus Snaps.

        GNOME is the default desktop on Ubuntu, and Ubuntu is the default for many beginners and stability since its backed by a big company. It's running this very site in fact.

        Desktop Linux. Not server. The latter half of your statement here is irrelevant to the point the article was trying to make.

        Ubuntu has problems and I certainly don't support it but more and more new people seem to be moving to alternative distributions, which is a good thing, and implying "Ubuntu" is the same as "Linux" is wrong.

        4 votes
    2. spctrvl
      Link Parent
      I mean he seems to think that the concept of an 'out-of-the-box default' is meaningful on Linux, where distributions are a dime a dozen. I don't think he's really writing from a place of knowledge.

      My point is, “global menu support” doesn’t really cut it if it is not the out-of-the-box default.

      I mean he seems to think that the concept of an 'out-of-the-box default' is meaningful on Linux, where distributions are a dime a dozen. I don't think he's really writing from a place of knowledge.

      2 votes
  5. [13]
    demifiend
    Link
    I'm not going to defend GNOME 3.x because I don't use it, but if this guy is so fond of the way Apple does things, why isn't he using a Mac? GNU/Linux with GNOME is not OSX, was never intended to...

    I'm not going to defend GNOME 3.x because I don't use it, but if this guy is so fond of the way Apple does things, why isn't he using a Mac? GNU/Linux with GNOME is not OSX, was never intended to be the same, and never will be the same.

    9 votes
    1. [12]
      uselessabstraction
      Link Parent
      I'll go out on a limb here and defend GNOME. I've been a GNOME user for over a decade. I also like minimalist suckless desktops with bare bones window managers. Currently, I bounce back and forth...

      I'll go out on a limb here and defend GNOME. I've been a GNOME user for over a decade. I also like minimalist suckless desktops with bare bones window managers. Currently, I bounce back and forth between GNOME on Fedora, and Herbstluftwm on FreeBSD.

      Now, I'm not going to tell you GNOME is perfect. I'm not going to tell you that the developers' have some sort of define wisdom (some of the mailing list treads make me want to scream), but there are a couple aspects of the GNOME project that I think truly deserve commendation.

      First of all, it is a common trope that you can't make a user interface which is both touch friendly, and convenient for power users. Every other hybrid GUI I've tried has been an awful experience but GNOME has shattered that perception for me. Yes, the buttons are bigger, the bars are bigger, and there are less widgets on the screen, but in my experience, this is complemented by the fact that the keyboard-driven workflow is extremely well thought out. I don't need a million buttons and menus on my screen if I can avoid touching the mouse in the first place.

      More and more, personal computing is shifting from workstations to mobile devices. The free software community has always been limited by resources, so whatever effort we can avoid duplicating is a victory.

      Second, with regards to the dumbing down of applications, I don't know why there is any controversy at all. So what if Gedit doesn't have as many bells and whistles as before? It still does syntax highlighting and is fairly configurable. This is a stock text editor. It's supposed to be simple! If you want to do power user editing, use an extensible code editor like Vim, Emacs, Sublime, VS.Code (or Builder... If they ever finish it.)

      You'll notice that all the professional applications: LibreOffice, GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, etc are not dumbed down. The "dumbed down" applications are the image viewer, the movie player, the stock browser, the file browser, etc. I find Nautilus to be fully sufficient for my needs. If it ever falls short, the power user response is to open a shell.

      Finally, what I like about GNOME is that they are willing to experiment with some innovative - albeit controversial - UI decisions. Getting rid of the desktop metaphor pissed a lot of people off, but you know what? I don't miss it one bit. Embedding application functionality in the window decorations pissed a lot of people off, but I think it was a really good idea.

      So there. That's what I think about GNOME.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I don't think the desktop metaphor is such a bad idea. It's an important workflow that has proved successful for many people. Lately I wasn't a fan of it myself, but not everyone is a computer...

        Finally, what I like about GNOME is that they are willing to experiment with some innovative - albeit controversial - UI decisions. Getting rid of the desktop metaphor pissed a lot of people off, but you know what? I don't miss it one bit.

        I don't think the desktop metaphor is such a bad idea. It's an important workflow that has proved successful for many people. Lately I wasn't a fan of it myself, but not everyone is a computer nerd. I explained the concept of folders to my mother about five times, and somehow she always forgets it. Her files go wherever Chrome or Safari puts them, and I have no idea how she finds them afterwards. She frequently downloads a file multiple times, and has like 20 programs open 100% of the time because the dock doesn't makes it obvious enough that they're running. The idea of "activities" (which is similar to the way Mac Os works) wouldn't necessarily be an improvement for someone like her. I think she (and a lot of people) would be happier with an improvement of the desktop metaphor, like KDE or even Windows 8/10 with Classic Shell and other tweaks to remove the metro crap. But Macs are cute, she's an Apple fanboy, what can I do :P

        When I tried Gnome, I was puzzled by the "activities", because I know they’re really not "activities", but programs. Gnome felt a bit opinionated. I understand you can customize it, but, unlike KDE, I don't think it's really meant to accommodate that. In the meantime, I realized I didn't need much of a metaphor at all, so today I just have a tiling window manager (i3), Rofi and a drop-down terminal.

        But even though I have no intention to leave i3, you got me curious enough to want to take a look at the current state of Gnome. In which distro are you using it?

        1 vote
        1. uselessabstraction
          Link Parent
          It is very opinionated. No argument there. Also, I find your criticisms pretty valid. I'm using it on Fedora 29 for the record.

          It is very opinionated. No argument there. Also, I find your criticisms pretty valid.

          I'm using it on Fedora 29 for the record.

          1 vote
      2. [3]
        demifiend
        Link Parent
        Not going to dispute anything you wrote, but I'd like to offer some clarification. Back when I used Linux I was happy to use GNOME. It did the job it was designed to do, and it was stylish....

        So there. That's what I think about GNOME.

        Not going to dispute anything you wrote, but I'd like to offer some clarification. Back when I used Linux I was happy to use GNOME. It did the job it was designed to do, and it was stylish. However, I switched from Linux to OpenBSD for various reasons.

        While OpenBSD has packages for GNOME on amd64 and i386 (not to mention KDE, XFCE, and MATE), I got a strong sense from what little guidance I could find on the web that it was better to try to make full use of everything in the base system (which includes three different window manglers -- twm, fvwm, and cwm -- if you install X11) and only install packages if you need functionality not available in base.

        So, instead of figuring out how to install GNOME, I took fifteen minutes to read the man pages for cwm and its config file, .cwmrc. I learned to make do with xterm and tmux instead of relying on GNOME Terminal's tabbed UI. I learned to make do with vi (actually nvi) instead of installing vim or neovim, but installed nvi2 so I could edit UTF-8 text.

        I don't have a problem with GNOME. It's just not for me any longer. I've outgrown it.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          uselessabstraction
          Link Parent
          I hear you, and I totally agree. GNOME has changed a lot over the years. It has become much more monolithic, much more Linux-centric, and for better or worse, has abandoned many of the principles...

          I hear you, and I totally agree. GNOME has changed a lot over the years. It has become much more monolithic, much more Linux-centric, and for better or worse, has abandoned many of the principles of "The Unix Philosophy."

          This is exactly why I like to keep either Gentoo or FreeBSD around as well, so I can hack together different utilities, terminal emulators, shells, window managers, compositors, bars, launchers, and assorted novelties to my heart's content. :)

          Things like systemd, PulseAudio, PolKit, GNOME, KDE, etc, make perfect sense to me from a performance / user experience perspective. I don't think the user experience has ever been more pleasant or streamlined. I have converted several tech-illiterate people to Fedora as their Windows machines got hosed, and they've never been happier. Ten years ago, I don't think this would have been possible.

          But with all that consolidation and idiot-proofing comes the loss of a lot of the novelty and uniqueness which truly makes Unix hacking great. The ability to choose any component with no strings attached. The ability to patch each little program without having to rebuild the world. It is an era I'm not willing to let go of either.

          1 vote
          1. demifiend
            Link Parent
            I'll admit that I'm not even that much of a Unix hacker. I can put together simple shell scripts, but I got exposed to Unix in college while studying CS, and got bitten by the bug. Now that Linux...

            I'll admit that I'm not even that much of a Unix hacker. I can put together simple shell scripts, but I got exposed to Unix in college while studying CS, and got bitten by the bug. Now that Linux is going corporate, I've come to find the BSDs a more congenial environment -- especially since I've taken to salvaging old, second-hand computers.

            Also, I got my start as a writer and a programmer using an old IBM with a 486 CPU and 16MB of RAM. The only software it had installed was PC-DOS, so I wrote my first stories using E.EXE. Now I use emacs for composition and vi for revision, but it's still about using old machines and getting that last bit of useful life out of them instead of buying top-of-the-line gear just so I can use fancy apps.

            1 vote
      3. [6]
        anowlcalledjosh
        Link Parent
        Then tell me: how do I open an application from the "dock" (i.e. the thing on the side of the screen after you press super/click "Activities"/move the mouse to the top-left corner) without using...

        the keyboard-driven workflow is extremely well thought out

        Then tell me: how do I open an application from the "dock" (i.e. the thing on the side of the screen after you press super/click "Activities"/move the mouse to the top-left corner) without using the mouse? I honestly can't find a way to open an application via the keyboard without pressing super and typing its name.

        1. uselessabstraction
          Link Parent
          You press Super (Windows key), then you start typing the name of the application. To open Firefox, I type Super, F, I, Enter. If the application is already running and you want a new instance...

          You press Super (Windows key), then you start typing the name of the application. To open Firefox, I type Super, F, I, Enter.

          If the application is already running and you want a new instance instead of the current one, replace Enter with Ctrl-Enter.

          That's like four keys. It's just as convenient as tab-completing something on the shell.

          If you have an application you use all the time, you can createa dedicated shortcut for it. For instance, I use Ctrl-Alt-T for a terminal emulator.

          2 votes
        2. [3]
          tesseractcat
          Link Parent
          Use dmenu or a dmenu replacement like rofi. Not only is it designed for this exact purpose, it's customizable, easy to use (imo), and can do more than just launch programs.

          Use dmenu or a dmenu replacement like rofi. Not only is it designed for this exact purpose, it's customizable, easy to use (imo), and can do more than just launch programs.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            clone1
            Link Parent
            If you're going the distance and installing programs to replace parts of gnome why are you using gnome?

            If you're going the distance and installing programs to replace parts of gnome why are you using gnome?

            1 vote
            1. Diff
              Link Parent
              Because GNOME doesn't have to be the all-inclusion kitchen sink people sometimes think it is? No reason you can't have mix-ins on GNOME like you have everywhere else. IMO that's a huge part of...

              Because GNOME doesn't have to be the all-inclusion kitchen sink people sometimes think it is? No reason you can't have mix-ins on GNOME like you have everywhere else. IMO that's a huge part of GNOME, although usually my mix-ins of choice are in the form of extensions.

              2 votes
        3. Emerald_Knight
          Link Parent
          An alternative to using the dock at all is to Ctrl+Alt+T to open a terminal, and from the terminal you can type (often with tab auto-complete available) the name of the program you want to run...

          An alternative to using the dock at all is to Ctrl+Alt+T to open a terminal, and from the terminal you can type (often with tab auto-complete available) the name of the program you want to run followed by an ampersand (&) to launch the program without having the terminal hang (i.e. you can Alt+Tab back to it and launch another program if you want). For example, you can type firefox & to launch Firefox, libreoffice & to open the LibreOffice launcher, etc. If you like using a keyboard-only setup, then becoming accustomed to the terminal if you're not already is a logical step to take.

          With enough comfort using it, eventually you could consider creating "aliases" for common commands, e.g. you could set it so that when you type openshitup you have all of your most commonly used programs automatically launched for you and ready to use. These aliases can be saved in your .bash_aliases file, typically located in /home/your_username/.bash_aliases (you can create it if it doesn't already exist), to keep them permanently available.

          There are plenty of options available to you. It all depends on what kind of workflow you're most comfortable using. Odds are a solution exists that fits your needs.

  6. [5]
    joelthelion
    Link
    Meh. Desktop Linux is fine, if you bother learning how to use it (like any other desktop environment). I've been using Gnome 3 happily and productively for several years now. The reason we're not...

    Meh. Desktop Linux is fine, if you bother learning how to use it (like any other desktop environment). I've been using Gnome 3 happily and productively for several years now.

    The reason we're not seeing amazing adoption is that there is very little demand for new things on the desktop right now. People are OK with windows or their macs and they hardly ever buy new computers. What people care about at the moment is their smartphone (and even that is diminishing).

    4 votes
    1. [4]
      clone1
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Personally, I think GNOME shell is moving backwards. I don't think that a desktop computer needs mobile sized icons and an app tray. I like how it gives you so much screen space for your programs,...

      Personally, I think GNOME shell is moving backwards. I don't think that a desktop computer needs mobile sized icons and an app tray. I like how it gives you so much screen space for your programs, but I still feel like the trend to have big flashy mobile like interfaces is making desktop environments worse.

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        Diff
        Link Parent
        IMO GNOME is moving forward. Ignoring the icons and padding and design choices, functionally it's leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else. I flick my cursor to the corner of the screen, or tap the...

        IMO GNOME is moving forward. Ignoring the icons and padding and design choices, functionally it's leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else. I flick my cursor to the corner of the screen, or tap the Super key, and I see all my windows open. So far, pretty much everyone has some approximation of this. But on GNOME, I can click and drag those windows to other workspaces. Or from one workspace, I can still drag the little tiny preview windows in the tiny preview workspaces to other workspaces. I can scroll from workspace to workspace from that unified view. Or start typing to quickly get an answer or open a new app. It's all very fluid. I find it very hard to use other desktop environments and OSes after GNOME. Although macOS comes close.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          anowlcalledjosh
          Link Parent
          Did you try Unity while it was still around? It has at least some of those features, and in my opinion less of the bloat that drives me away from GNOME.

          Did you try Unity while it was still around? It has at least some of those features, and in my opinion less of the bloat that drives me away from GNOME.

          2 votes
          1. Diff
            Link Parent
            I did, and it did have quite a lot that I liked, but some of its behavior was confusing. Mostly the lenses/dash search. None of it ever really "clicked" with me. The way they would...

            I did, and it did have quite a lot that I liked, but some of its behavior was confusing. Mostly the lenses/dash search. None of it ever really "clicked" with me. The way they would appear/disappear way too easily, and I found the unclickable notifications kinda annoying.

            1 vote
  7. Luna
    (edited )
    Link
    I finished the first post, and the only thing I disagree with is this: That's shocking. Office was insanely complex before the ribbon. I would scan through the menus multiple times because I would...

    I finished the first post, and the only thing I disagree with is this:

    Ever since Microsoft introduced the Ribbon, no one ever finds any commands anymore. At least I don’t.

    That's shocking. Office was insanely complex before the ribbon. I would scan through the menus multiple times because I would miss a submenu, and the naming of features wasn't always very intuitive. When MS introduced the ribbon, you no longer needed to take a class on Excel to use anything not on the quick-action toolbars, it became much easier to find items in all Office programs. It was a huge leap forward in UX for an insanely complex program, and they didn't have to hide everything away to make a "simple" mode, since the most commonly used functions were so much better organized. I know people were frustrated since MS didn't make all the old keyboard shortcuts work, but if you were like me and only knew about cut/copy/paste/undo/redo/new/save/open/print/bold/italicize/underline (just basic shortcuts), there was no learning curve with Office 2007.

    That being said, this only works when your program has a huge featureset, to the point that you need to take a class on the program just to reliably navigate the application. Applications that copy the ribbon without having the features to warrant them just waste space.

    The author fails to realize Ubuntu's Unity used to have a global menu bar. It's disappointing that Canonical decided to Gnome-ify though, I thought Unity (12.04 was when I first used it, I think they cannibalized the global menu bar in 16.04) was revolutionary.

    Edit: I finished part 2. I disagree with the audio panel, kinda.

    Being able to adjust the volume of each application is an absolute godsend. Just because a flash game with no volume option wants to crank it up to 11 doesn't mean I should have to lower the system volume and up my music to compensate for the Flash game being obnoxiously loud. This applies to any application, of course, especially ones with unnecessary sound effects you cannot disable (or an application where sound effects are optional but you still want them and it doesn't have built-in volume control). That said, I think the controls on Netrunner are very poorly designed. A nice list of what applications are broadcasting under what audio devices (maybe have a checkbox for what audio device(s) an application will output to) would make it much more intuitive. (I should note that broadcasting to non-default audio devices might not be the norm, but it's something you don't realize you need until you end up needing it. Not every application lets you choose the device to record from/broadcast to.) A basic mode for people like the author to adjust just the volume of the current default audio device would be great, with an advanced mode toggle for individual application control.

    Edit 2: I just finished part 3. The author starts out saying this:

    See how we set the language on Ubuntu-style Live ISOs

    live-config.keyboard-layouts=de live-config.locales=de_DE.UTF-8 live-config.timezone=Europe/Berlin

    Last time I booted an Ubuntu desktop ISO, I was prompted for the language.

    I also recall Ubuntu asking if I wanted to install the MP3 codec out of the box. Unless this is no longer in the Ubuntu installer, the author ignored an option and then complained it wasn't installed.

    Setting up a new printer in macOS is literally automatic

    I support these devices at work. Half the time, you still have to install drivers. The printers Apple sells on their store will work out of the box, beyond that it's a mixed bag. Linux certainly has a lot to catch up on, though. Although many printers certainly work better on Linux because the drivers aren't crap like their Windows counterparts (cough HP cough), getting them setup can be difficult.

    Edit 3: I finished part 5. I agree with everything, especially how Gnome has dumbed down their DE to be utter crap in the name of being touch-friendly and how OS X has horrendous scroll bars.

    Edit 4: Reading through part 6, I don't think the author understands software distribution on Linux systems. Emacs, GIMP, and Gedit are all easily available through apt, yum, etc as they are common. The reason source code is distributed is to make it so anyone can run the program without having to manually build a deb, rpm, etc. If you have the dependencies (which can be a nightmare at times), usually just running "make" and "make install" will build the project and install it. App images certainly make distribution easier, but by circumventing package maintainers for your distribution's repos you take up more space since you have to bundle all dependencies. It sucks that deb/rpm/etc is an impediment to software distribution, but I doubt it'll get fixed anytime soon.

    So why do people still waste their time writing applications that run only on Linux, or, worse, only on one distribution?

    I have no words to describe just how poorly thought out this statement seems.

    Many people write Linux-only applications because there is no good Linux equivalent to a Windows/Mac application. And many of these developers only run Linux, why should they bother building for other platforms? You can't reproduce issues and debug on a Mac unless you have a Mac, and Macs are only getting more expensive (even a Mac Mini now costs $800...), so for a one-man project, they're unlikely to see any real benefit supporting multiple platforms.

    It certainly doesn't make sense to compile Gedit on Windows (even before it was butchered for Gnome 3) - it was designed to complement Gnome, so you would ideally also have the rest of the Gnome tools. There are already a whole slew of great text editors on Windows (including Vim and Emacs), why bother building Gedit for Windows? That's assuming you can even build for Windows, as some libraries might be platform-specific and have no Windows equivalents.

    The point about having /usr/bin, /bin, /opt, etc. is spot on, I understand it originally had structure but has changed a lot and combining it all into something like /Programs would be difficult at best, especially since some people split /usr, /opt, etc across multiple partitions.

    Edit 7: Revised grammar and clarified my thoughts more.

    3 votes
  8. bme
    (edited )
    Link
    I honestly hated the entire series. The author's condescension (far too much of "why can't they just do this totally obvious thing, and the implication that everyone else working on these things...

    I honestly hated the entire series. The author's condescension (far too much of "why can't they just do this totally obvious thing, and the implication that everyone else working on these things is a moron) is completely insufferable. It would be marginally more tolerable if he were incontrovertibly correct on all points. But he isn't. I despise applications that stick all their data + exe + conf in the one folder. I like having whole partitions be mounted read-only. I like being able to mount different parts of the hierarchy with different purposes onto different drives. There are trade offs being made. He might not like them, but they are different points in the design space rather than his solution being strictly better in all cases.

    Package managers are great. I love running one command to manage the lifecycle of all my stuff. I love not navigating the web to find download random programs off some website. I really enjoy using my linux computer and I die when I am forced to touch the authors favoured macOS. Now, I don't use a desktop at all, but that's one of linux's great strengths: choice.

    Lastly the guy engages in some serious bad faith hyperbole. He complains that it takes 6 minutes to figure out how to set the keyboard to German, but the vast majority of the video is him whining. if he'd stfu and click through the menus he'd be there in no time. Granted: I don't think the flow to get there is stellar, but the video is ridiculous.

    2 votes