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

Joshua Wambua gmail at
Thu Nov 4 10:05:58 UTC 2010

I agree with you, Jacob. Totally.

I use Ubuntu, but because of work I have to have windows, so am stuck with a
virtual xp, and am wishing that the software I use could be ported to linux
so I can shift totally.



From: ubuntu-users-bounces at
[mailto:ubuntu-users-bounces at] On Behalf Of Jacob Mansfield
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2010 1:02 PM
To: Ubuntu user technical support,not for general discussions
Subject: Re: Age-old topic: Windows-Explorer lookalike,where the firetruck
is it?


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

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
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

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

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>

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