We need to fix Linux

  • How do I change the name of a USTux is confusedB stick?
  • How do I mount an ISO?
  • How do I automatically mount a file server at boot?

If the answer to any of these questions starts with “Open a terminal”, that is a bug. A design bug. What some people might call a Human Computer Interaction bug. You may know how to use it, and I’m sure most people reading this blog will know exactly how to do these things. The first one would probably start with “open gparted”, but ya know what…that isn’t good enough. When a normal person wants to edit the name of a USB stick they look in the file manager, they right click on it and expect to be able to click on “rename”. As far as I know, that doesn’t work in anything. It definitely doesn’t work in nautilus (and therefore Gnome) and probably won’t work in KDE or similar. This is not good. This needs fixed.

Ubuntu calls these “papercuts”, and btw, this is a fantastic project in Ubuntu. And I know half of you have now gone “oh no, another Ubuntu-ism”. Well, I don’t care what you think about the name. The name isn’t the important thing. What is important is the concept. These are design issues that we need to solve, and they are not being solved in any way.

I think it stems from a fundamental problem with a lot of Linux users. You don’t want “normal” people on Linux. You are quite happy with having it all to yourselves. Well ya know what, if you really like choice like you say you do, we need to work on these problems. If you want normal people to take you seriously when we think about these things, these need sorted.

 

This is why I am calling for distributions and programs to take a cycle out from implementing new features. Ya know what, things happen so fast, we can afford for 6 months – 1 year to get rid of a lot of these issues. The main reason I think we should do it now? Windows 8 is going to be a big disaster. I can feel it. I can already feel the venom coming out of people about metro, and the fact that the desktop on Windows is probably going to be a second class citizen.

What are these people going to do? Are they going to continue using XP or 7? Well, some may continue to use 7, and a few will use XP (although hopefully that will decrease rapidly), but we need to offer an alternative. Some will go to osX, but what about the serious users who realise the need for change, but don’t want an operating system that doesn’t function like a traditional desktop in any way? They know osX is going that way as well. We need to be that other desktop. The choice we offer is huge and means there will always be a stable, functional, supported desktop that they will like in some way. But they won’t come if we have these horrible issues.

**EDIT** Some people seem to be missing the point. This is not about these specific issues, so please don’t give me solutions for them. The point is the overarching issue of design problems that we quite often ignore as geeks. **EDIT**

That is all I have to say now, apart from the fact that there are other issues with Linux. I hope to focus on some of them in the future, such as the stupid way some things are organised in the filesystem (just try and find that executable for that program please, or that specific library…oh its in /lib? /usr/lib? /usr/local/lib? /usr/share/lib? /usr/local/share/lib? …?????) and the pathetic attitudes of some people in the communities that give our great fantastic people a really bad name.

3 Responses to “We need to fix Linux”

  1. Bob Bricoleur Says:

    I fully agree! Glad to see I’m not the only one thinking this way :)

  2. Johannes Nixdorf Says:

    I don’t think that the Linux users you complain don’t want “normal” people to use Linux. They don’t care whether they use Linux or not and certainly won’t go through the effort to implement new features for them that they themselves don’t use.

    The problem isn’t that there are too many developers who *don’t* care about “normal” people, but that there are too few that *do* care about them and you won’t get more of the second sort by telling the ones of the first one that users are important (what I assume your post is supposed to do) but by telling (and probably teaching) the ones who care about “normal” people to develop.

    You won’t convince anyone who does write software because he wants to use that software to do work on something completely different, so don’t waste your time trying.

    As for the confusing filesystem layout: The “normal” people you describe shouldn’t care where the libraries and binaries are. The linker, the shell, and some “advanced” users (as in people are the only ones who should care where the libraries are stored. No “normal” Windows user knows much of all the files stored outside their home directory and they still happily use it (and choose it over Linux).

  3. Johannes Nixdorf Says:

    The “(as in people” should’ve been “(as in people that work on something that doesn’t abstract these details away)”.

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