Lessons from XP
daniel.stone at canonical.com
Thu Oct 7 04:19:23 CDT 2004
As I burst in the door today, a shiny new package or two from IBM
awaited me. I ripped open my X40, and have been playing with it ever
since. Unfortunately, I have to wait until tomorrow to burn an Ubuntu
install CD, so I've been playing with XP for a while. Here are some
Firstly, their installer is, visually, very nice; the total antithesis
to Anaconda. The screen was very sparse and uncluttered, and I very
much appreciated being able to immediately spot what I needed to do. Of
course, telling it whether I had a static/dynamic IP/DNS wasn't terribly
intuitive (and defaulted to static!), but that aside, the install
process wasn't too bad. There was an incredibly annoying background
sound, so the first button I ever pressed after power was mute.
Multimedia keyboards do, it seems, have a use after all.
The panel is so cluttered. Oh my god. A huge plug and battery status
icon, and 12 panel icons (four of which were network-related), plus the
clock. There's something to be said about the beauty of simplicity, no?
Secondly, it was very clear who OEMed this -- there were myriad Windows
apps and configurations, but also some very custom, IBM-specific apps
and configurations, and branded as such. The disconnect between the two
was very, very ugly.
However, there was one thing I did like about their networking: roaming
profiles. I've been messing with the idea for a while, and got a
half-arsed Python script together a while ago that I've since lots.
Simply put, you tell it where you are, and you can specify everything
there: the wireless network to stick to, proxy/VPN settings, IPs, DNS,
everything. As someone who requires a proxy at uni (and it can be one
of three, depending on where at uni I am; but they all require SSH
ProxyCommand loving and some tunnels), and sometimes SSH ProxyCommand
love, this feature was massively appreciated. Sort of like OS X, except
a little more extensive, I suspect.
I would kill for this feature.
That aside, I don't think there was really anything else that I noticed
that I really liked. Lots of things I didn't like (pining for GNOME!),
but the network profiles were totally killer for me. I did like the way
they did the graphical install (they even managed to sneak a keyboard
layout question in there without too much hassle -- I suspect this will
become a lot easier when we go graphical as we can just lump it in with
the language/locale questions, so it's not a full prompting screen),
design-wise -- it was quite immediately obvious what needed to be done.
-d, happily sighing over his shiny new laptop
: As shiny as a cardboard box can be.
Daniel Stone <daniel.stone at canonical.com>
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