Are radical changes needed for Desktop Linux?

Magnus Therning magnus at
Wed Jul 6 17:28:08 CDT 2005

I ran across a posting[1] on Slashdot on desktop Linux. The four part
article referenced (part 1 here[2]) was well worth reading. I have to
admit my first reaction to his four issues with Linux:

    1. Installing Applications is complicated
    2. Directory structures can be confusing to navigate
    3. Interface is confusing and inconsistent
    4. Steep learning curve required to understand system functions

and his explanation of them were:

    1. Debian package management is miles ahead of anything on Windows
    2. As a user you never need to go outside of your home, hence any
       confusion is created by the user himself
    3. Yes, an unfortunate truth, Ubuntu is targetting it by
       standardising on Gnome
    4. The examples he gave only showed that the OSS community is trying
       things out, and I'm sure at some point they'll arrive at a point
       where it's as good as it gets, much of the changes can be handled
       through interfaces (i.e. tools a user can use hides the changes)

I was thinking of not reading the rest of the article and dismiss him as
yet another whinger. I'm glad I continued reading though. I liked
several of his points, and I see some of them being present in Ubuntu
(to some level).

What I liked most was the part on applications. Doing away with the
package management altogether by making everything one file reminds me
of TCL's StarKit[3]. Of course there are some things that I don't see
obvious solutions to (how do man find all manpages? is it possible to
treat the kernel in the same way? what about dependencies?). I think
it's worth thinking about. A look at Klik[4] is well worth the time as

The part where I saw Ubuntu reflected was in the interface. I do love
the clean desktop I'm working at right now :-)



Magnus Therning                    (OpenPGP: 0xAB4DFBA4)
magnus at

Software is not manufactured, it is something you write and publish.
Keep Europe free from software patents, we do not want censorship
by patent law on written works.

Due to the suspicious nature of crypto users I have a feeling DES will
be with us forever, we will just keep adding keys and cycles... There
is a parallel between designing electronic commerce infrastructure
today that uses weak cryptography (i.e. 40 or 56 bit keys) and, say,
designing air traffic control systems in the '60s using two digit year
fields. ... Just because you can retire before it all blows up doesn't
make it any less irresponsible.
      -- Arnold G. Reinhold
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