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Old 2012-01-21, 17:27   #1
Rodrigo
 
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Default Is Linux keeping the desktop?

I just came across this interesting page where the writer lists design problems with the Windows 8 "Metro" interface.

Note that the first objection is the inability to close programs. For Prime95 (and, I imagine, other GIMPS-related software) users, this means denying CPU cycles to our number-crunching applications, in order to keep other programs open uselessly.

If the Windows 8 Developer Preview is any indication, the Windows Desktop's days are numbered. It's already taking a back seat to Metro, and it lacks a proper Start Menu. If Microsoft insists on dragging its customers in this direction, many of us explore alternative operating systems that maintain the current way of working (with a proper desktop, multitasking, and user control). For me, an inability to truly close programs would be a further push toward the edge.

So my question to you is -- is the Linux community moving in the same direction of Teletubbying the user interface, or is it keeping the functional desktop for the foreseeable future?

Rodrigo
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Old 2012-01-21, 18:17   #2
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Default Well there's a can of worms

Heh -- depends on who you talk to. The thing about Linux is that there are lots, LOTS of different desktops that you can choose to install. Linux as a term merely refers to the code that controls the hardware -- not the code that interacts with the user.

Gnome and KDE are the biggest Graphical User Interfaces, by which I mean they have the largest userbase and developerbase.

Others include Xfce LXDE.

Ubuntu, which is far away the most widely used Linux distribution, (though not most popular, depending on who you ask) has its own derivative of Gnome called Unity. In my opinion, Unity is moving in the same direction as Microsoft, though admittedly not as far, but it's still a piece of crap IMO. I personally love Gnome 2, and have not tried Gnome 3 which came out in the last year.

At the moment, I am using Ubuntu with Gnome 2 (though I did not install G2 myself, it's just my version of Ubuntu is a generation old now). In the next year or two I'm probably going to move away from Ubuntu because of the tellytubbying (love the term!), or use it with a different GUI than it ships with. I think I might try Gnome 3, but that seemed to be moving in the same direction as well.

On a scale of bullcrap to decent:
Code:
Windows 8




Unity


Gnome 3?



Gnome 2.
Note again that I haven't actually tried Gnome 3, so it may be better or worse.

The reason I love Gnome 2 is because I can make the desktop itself invisible, while keeping the panels around. The grey thingies at top and bottom are the panels. They can provide some neat stuff, such as an integrated weather/calendar/clock at the top right. At the bottom right, I have CPU monitor (left, blue) RAM monitor (middle, green) and ethernet bandwidth monitor (yellow). To launch programs, I use GnomeDo, which means I hit [Windows key]+[Space], type in the program name and hit enter.

Wiki has an article comparing different desktop environments, including some I'm not familiar with.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compari...p_environments

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_distributions
^ More about how Linux works. I am personally using Ubuntu 11.04 with the Gnome 2 fallback instead of Unity. The current version of Ubuntu does not have said fallback, which is why I don't use it.

Edit: Screenshot. My screen is bigger than the forum allows, so you can find it here. I'm not entirely sure why it's all blue like that, it's not like that normally. (Prime95 was not running at the time, which is why the CPU monitor is blank.)

Last fiddled with by Dubslow on 2012-01-21 at 18:22 Reason: forgot attachment
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Old 2012-01-21, 18:32   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubslow View Post
Note again that I haven't actually tried Gnome 3, so it may be better or worse.
It's crap.

I'm currently using it, but in Gnome 2 "compatibility" mode. If they ever remove that ability, I will stop using Gnome. (And even in this mode, it has removed a bunch of abilities, such as having the panels hide themselves; all the widgets are gone, etc.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubslow View Post
The reason I love Gnome 2 is because I can make the desktop itself invisible, while keeping the panels around. The grey thingies at top and bottom are the panels. They can provide some neat stuff, such as an integrated weather/calendar/clock at the top right. At the bottom right, I have CPU monitor (left, blue) RAM monitor (middle, green) and ethernet bandwidth monitor (yellow).
And all of this is gone in Gnome 3....
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Old 2012-01-21, 21:46   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chalsall View Post
It's crap.

I'm currently using it, but in Gnome 2 "compatibility" mode. If they ever remove that ability, I will stop using Gnome. (And even in this mode, it has removed a bunch of abilities, such as having the panels hide themselves; all the widgets are gone, etc.)

And all of this is gone in Gnome 3....
I'm running both G3 and G2. Both are fine, IMAO, and both are crap. Each in their own way, of course.

G3 is sufficiently reconfigurable that you can make it look pretty much like G2 both in appearance and in behaviour. The G2 machine (and the one on which I'm now typing) is running Fedora 14. The G3 machines are running Fedora 15 and, to be honest, I wasn't that impressed at first. A few tweaks, and G3 is now much more to my liking. AFAICT, Fedora 16 is a marked improvement on F15 --- something I'd expect from an upgrade to the first release of a brand new user interface. Sometime in the next week or two the F15 machines will be upgraded. If I like the result this F14/G2 system will also be upgraded.

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Old 2012-01-21, 21:54   #5
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Whenever I get around to it, I'm going to put Ubuntu 10.04 on my desktop (support through 2013, among other things). The problem of course is that it would be a fresh install, and migrating all the changes I've made in the last 9 months will be a problem, but boy, Ubuntu 10.04 is a pretty nice piece of work.

xilman, why don't you like G2?

Edit: Anyone have experience with the others out there? How do they compare to Gnome 2?

Last fiddled with by Dubslow on 2012-01-21 at 21:56
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Old 2012-01-21, 22:06   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubslow View Post
xilman, why don't you like G2?
I do like G2. I don't like everything about G2. It's heavy weight, bloated and a real resource hog. Ever tried running Gnome 2 on a Gentoo system? I ran one for several years.

There are other window mangers out there which do a better job in these things and a worse job in others. My present systems run XFCE and KDE, Win7, WinXP and Snow Leopard as well as Gome. In the past I've run a bunch of others, including twm (now there's a light-weight but limited system) on Linux and sundry DEC systems, a whole bunch of SunOS from SunOS3 onwards, HP-sUX, Win 3.x, Win9x and DEC-OSF. I can't now remember the specific names of the window managers of some of those interfaces.

All of them have or had bad points; all have or had good points. G2 and G3 are no different in that respect.

Paul
Added in edit: "Motif" rings a bell. Bad associations with the words "Motif" and "mwm" but perhaps I'm thinking of something else.

Last fiddled with by xilman on 2012-01-21 at 22:08
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Old 2012-01-21, 22:24   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xilman View Post
I'm running both G3 and G2. Both are fine, IMAO, and both are crap. Each in their own way, of course.

G3 is sufficiently reconfigurable that you can make it look pretty much like G2 both in appearance and in behaviour.
Then *please* tell me how to have widgets in the panels?

This was my standard desktop before being forced to G3 in G2 compatibility mode by upgrading to FC15. Note all the widgets giving me real-time data.

Also, I normally have 25 "screens" running, each containing many Windows, configured in a five by five array. Each screen is focused on a particular task, and I know exactly what screen to go to access what I need. I don't want Gnome 3 to tell me what I can access as a function of when I accessed them.

This is why, IMHO, Gnome 3 sucks. They are trying to play "catchup" with Micro$oft's bad ideas about user interfaces (but, hey, it sure looks cool (for those who don't understand what they are doing))....
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Old 2012-01-21, 23:13   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chalsall View Post
This is why, IMHO, Gnome 3 sucks. They are trying to play "catchup" with Micro$oft's bad ideas about user interfaces (but, hey, it sure looks cool (for those who don't understand what they are doing))....
*cough cough hackcounityughhack cough*
It's like they're competing for "Most Useless Interface".

Also, how do CPU Temp applet/whatever-they're-called?

Last fiddled with by Dubslow on 2012-01-21 at 23:14
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Old 2012-01-21, 23:57   #9
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Dubslow,

Wow, thanks very much for the extended reply. I've come to understand more about the Linux world from this one posting than in all the research I did last spring when I was looking for an OS to run GIMPS software on my Pentium-75.

Your description of Linux as, "code that controls the hardware," as opposed to the GUI which is "code that interacts with the user," was a great insight for me. In the early days of Windows, the GUI was in fact distinct from the "real" OS, which was MS-DOS. Windows ran "on top of" DOS. Over the years, this distinction was blurred and then obliterated on the MS side of computing. It's easy to forget the difference now.

There IS a dizzying array of Linux distributions to pick from!! The "Linux distribution" article in Wikipedia was especially useful thanks to the screenshots of various desktop environments. As you might imagine, I'd be looking for something as close as possible to the Windows experience, so as to limit the learning curve; and from those images the KDE flavors seem to do a little better in that respect (no?).

Gnome 2 looks like it'd work too, but one wonders for how long the developers will keep supporting it. (Although I did find a MatΓ© desktop pledging to keep developing Gnome 2, but again one has to ask about staying power.)

Also with the Windows-like idea in mind, I'm curious what you (and other Linux users around here) might think of Zorin OS, which I just discovered this afternoon and is billed as, "designed specifically for Windows users who want to have easy and smooth access to Linux."

Thanks again for the great info!

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Old 2012-01-22, 02:48   #10
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The thing about this free software business means there's potential for any variety and number of branches. I've never heard of the things you linked, and wouldn't know the first thing about them other than what you've just told me. Because of the wide variety, I would expect similar answers from others here as well. Though I must say, thanks to the pointer to Gnome 2 developer; I was thinking earlier reading this thread that if I could I would fork Gnome 2 myself.

As for the metaphors, I've been looking for something suitable for a while, and just came up with that on the spot; I'll have to remember it
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Old 2012-01-22, 04:38   #11
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Dubslow,

The best illustration of what you just said about the vastness of the Linux universe, is that fact that a total Linux noob like me was able to point an experienced user like you to new information.

I'm not counting on it happening again anytime soon, though!

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