Age-old topic: Windows-Explorer lookalike, where the firetruck is it?

Jacob Mansfield cyberjacob at
Thu Nov 4 10:02:12 UTC 2010

I am ignoring this email, and any more like it, from you, or not
Jacob Mansfield

On 4 November 2010 09:52, Zenaan Harkness <zen at> wrote:

> And for that matter, why is it so hard to get 'close' to
> Windows2000/WindowsXP Classic appearance?!!
> Please note, I have administrated my own Debian and Ubuntu
> workstations and some servers, for 15 years now! I am a libre/free
> software bigot!
> BUT, due to my work, about 10 years ago I unfortunately became a
> WindowsNT/Windows2000 "expert", which, due to requirements of
> supporting those with whom I work, has continued into the WindowsXP
> era.
> Now to put it bluntly:
> *) I _like_ the Windows Explorer interface GUI!
> *) I _like_ its tree style (little plus-minus boxes) and dotted
> vertical hierarchy 'connecting lines'!
> When I raised this particular question, Jeff Waugh said at SLUG three
> or more years ago that there is a limitation in the GNOME libs/ APIs
> that stops us from doing this at the moment.
> Three years and we _still_ can't do it!
> Damn I need to learn C programming (I'm Java for 16 years).
> *) I happen to _like_ it's columns (detailed), list and icon views,
> AND the button bar button to choose between them!
> Notwithstanding their limited "zoom" support, those limitations are
> _great_ for me, because:
>  - what I get by default is _entirely pleasing to my eyes_,
>  - and _fits about as much as I wish to fit in the panel therefore is
> my ideal zoom to start with especially when I've set some nice small
> system fonts for my 120+ dpi laptop screen_,
>  - and _I want this on my GNU desktop_!!
> *) I also happen to like the (consistency of) the control panel and
> 'network' elements in the standard left hand side "tree view"!
> The (appearance of) a common hierarchy is more unixy than unix...
> *) To be fair, the only thing I don't like is the lack of customizable
> "shortcuts" as in nautilus and the obnoxious "Desktop" root element,
> but hey, nothing's perfect!
> "Properties" as a near universal feature on _every icon I ever see in
> windows_!!!
> Heaven forbid I should want to see the command behind a "start menu"
> icon in GNOME!
> I'm literate enough to have figured it out, but this is what I have to do:
>  1) rick-click (no properties so) add the bloody thing to my panel,
>  2) then right click _that_ icon, TWICE!! because the FIRST click only
> closes my GNOME start menu that I was just in!
>  3) copy the text of the command
>  4) delete the completely unnecessary panel icon!
>  5) use command (or remember and retype of course)
> You MUST be kidding me!! Why is there no consistency in this regard???
> Other icons have right-click properties, eg desktop. The SAME icon
> when on panel has right-click properties. Why is the start menu a
> special case?
> This inconsistency is plain inconsistent, ridiculously so, and bloody
> frustrating! Especially for someone who uses the command line
> primarily, and the gui only secondarily! but ALSO for friends of mine
> who keep complaining to me because of this and other inconsistencies
> (internal inconsistencies AND inconsistencies with respect to
> WindowsXP).
> Perhaps is this another limitation of the GNOME libraries???
> Whatever, it is another barrier to adoption...
> *) Final point for today, file/ directory open dialogs.
> The inconsistency with respect to WindowsXP keeps biting every newbie
> I introduce!
> It is oh so frustrating to me that I cannot simply choose a
> WindowsClassic or even XP theme, and be confident that those who are
> familiar with this (many people it turns out) will not need so much
> hand holding from me.
> It really frustrates me.
> So much freedom, but not the one option I need to lower my workload
> and in some instances to make it possible for me to achieve success in
> converting my friends' PCs to GNU!
> Really quite depressing sometimes.
> I guess in decades to come it will all pan out, eg I will find the
> time even if no one else does, to properly COPY THE MICROSOFT WINDOWS
> XP AND WINDOWS 2000/98 CLASSIC USER INTERFACE, so that those, which
> includes a 6-year solid stint by myself, who are overly familiar with
> this MSWindows interface will not perpetually feel left out in the
> cold. A few inconsistencies is one thing, but dozens is simply too
> high a congnitive load, even in some cases on mentally competant
> people who simply don't have the time to invest!
> !!!
> (BTW, I am on Ubuntu 8.04 - Intel i915/855 graphics chip drivers
> broken in newer releases - yes I'm subscribed to the relevant bug, but
> no I can't afford daily random crashing (sometimes multiple times)!)
> Now, I do _love_ the level of customization and the layout and
> thin-ness I can achieve with my gnome-panel (albeit with low level
> config file 'hacking'). I want more, but it's certainly better than
> windowsxp.
> I've tried KDE a couple of times, may be I didn't try hard enough to
> make konqueror look like Windows Explorer "Classic" ?
> I've tried gnome themes, window manager themes, icon themes, but still
> I can't get "my" preferred 'corporate bland windows 2000 style' user
> interface for my desktop! Windows Explorer style application may be
> the real reason things never feel familiar, not sure...
> SO, all you weenies who might now jump in with "but we shouldn't be
> copying Windows, we should be _improving_ and _innovating_", please
> contact my various friends who are willing to swap over but are not
> competant enough to mount the curve, and be their help desk!
> It has happened one too many times for me.
> SO, now I limit myself to recommending and installing cross platform
> applications, so that my friends will at least have half a leg up if
> someone or something else ever moves them to upgrade to GNU, eg
> Firefox, OpenOffice, VLC, Thunderbird, Truecrypt (unfortunately very
> messy license sorry I can't recommend it) and SweetHome3D. Then if
> ever they do make the jump, a lot of their congnitive load requirement
> when upgrading will have been minimized.
> But that's as far as I'm willing to go these days...
> <let the flames begin>
> Zenaan
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