Ubuntu server GUI

Soren Hansen soren at ubuntu.com
Mon Jun 30 12:37:08 UTC 2008

On Sat, Jun 28, 2008 at 12:02:13PM -0500, Luke L wrote:
> You're one of "those"... Listen, Linux is powerful and can do anything
> you want it to do in terms of software (Except play Supreme Commander)
> from the command line. We are all aware. But GUIs really can and do
> help productivity with increasingly complicated tasks. 

I think you're abusing the term "productivity" a bit here. In most
cases, GUI's make things simple. "Simple" in this context mostly means
"discoverable". Even if you have to click through half a dozen wizards
and dialogs and stuff, most people find this simpler (more discoverable)
than the CLI equivalent.  However, clicking through a stack of dialogs,
ticking check boxes, etc. might be simple, but it's not easy[1]. 

Remember that the vast majority of the stuff you do on a computer,
you're going to do lots and lots of times, and it's only the first time
you're doing it without any prior knowledge. CLI's might be complex and
difficult to begin with, but grow simpler and easier the more you use
them. GUI's, on the other hand, don't become much easier than they are
to begin with, but at that point, discoverability is not key anymore.
You still have to go through the same dialogs, tick the same boxes and
all that. That's hardly productive.

The first time you find out that you want your computer to run a few
commands something every 10 minutes, you need to:

 * Discover cron (to know the mechanism for doing things periodically)
 * Learn the syntax of a crontab entry (to be able to add your own
 * Learn to use a text editor (to actually add your crontab entry)
 * Learn to write a shell script (to actually get your commands
 * Learn about the filesystem (so that you can put the shell script in
   the right place (not necessarily master the FHS, but at least figure
   out that /tmp is not the right place nor is ~/Desktop).
 * Learn about file permissions (to set the execute bit on the shell

This is daunting the first time. The second time, you might be able to
make do with your notes from the first time. The third time, you just do
it, because you understand the process.

I'm not implying that discoverability isn't important (it certainly is),
but it certainly doesn't imply productivity.

[1]: Think of it this way: Most people will find it *simple* to run 20
km (you just get up and start putting one foot in front of the other
until you're done) but few will find it *easy*. 

Soren Hansen               | 
Virtualisation specialist  | Ubuntu Server Team
Canonical Ltd.             | http://www.ubuntu.com/
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