There and Back Again

Linux Developers don’t get it

Since the begining of the project i’ve been subscribed to the fedora devel list. I read it too see whats in the new releases and to make sure I know all the tricks when im upgrading my server. I don’t post often but its a pretty good way to get an idea of whats happening in my distro of choice.

Over the last week a thread has been going on that has me convinced I know the reason Linux isn’t ready for the desktop. Many people just don’t get what developing an operating system is about, I’m not even sure they get what using a computer is a about. And even if they aren’t a majority they slow down the approach to sanity so much thats its taken Gnome since 1997 to get to windows 95 levels of usability (and hardware integration isn’t even to that level yet).

To sum up the thread, Gnome is removing the open terminal item from the right click menu of Nautilus, and a number of people think thats such a big deal that Fedora should make an exception from its policy of using upstream code whenever possible.

The reasons they give are odd in a number of ways.
The terminal is the most important part of unix (if your a graybeard maybe)
The right click menu is the easiest way to open it (kinda odd since a terminal junky would always say a keyboard shortcut is better)
The terminal should be used by everyone since its so much more efficient then a gui
That having to use a terminal to get something done isn’t a bug

Now whats also odd, is that there is already a package to give you this open terminal functionality back if your really want it only its better since if your in a window in Nautilus it open in that directory.

So whats my problem with these arguments.
Wake up, Fedora and Gnome are about being cutting edge, how is pushing the terminal as part of normal usage part of that.
The pointless rightclick argument, its already in the menu and you can drag it to the toolbar for a launcher
The terminal being more effiecient might be true, but thats only after you’ve managed the learning curve.
To change to a directory in nautilus move a file all I have to do is point and click, then drag and drop, its a pretty basic skill that everyone knows and since it has good visual feedback its reasonable to figure out.
To do the same thing in a terminal I have know the following cryptic commands (they are meaningless just because you and I have long memorized them doesn’t mean there not)
cd, ls, mv

I’m not sure why someone who uses the computer for surfing the net, checking email, and writing papers would want to learn these commands, but a very vocal group of people on fedora devel thing were doing them a disservice by not making them memorize them. Many even seem to think everyone should learn bash scripting and awk and crap I don’t even have a need to learn in order to be good computer users.

The reality is most people don’t want to become computer geeks.
A computer is a tool, just like there toaster is a tool.
It should work well, most of the time, and not be too difficult to figure out.

Thats what people want out of computers and thats why they use Windows or Mac OSX, neither of these are perfect but at least there developers have the right idea.

4 thoughts on “Linux Developers don’t get it

  1. Pingback: Ian Landsman's Weblog

  2. jon

    I dunno if that’s true of the Ubuntu distro, though… who seem to be a lot more practical about these kinds of things.

    As far as I’m concerned, the latest ubuntu stuff is good to go for regular folks, assuming the drivers are supported. I have to support a fair number of computer illiterate folks at the office, and I’d feel comfortable hooking ’em up with Ubuntu/Gnome.

  3. Joshua Eichorn Post author

    I don’t read any Ubuntu lists so im not sure, but the big thing here is thats its not the paid developers its the unpaid ones that do this. It could just be in the Ubuntu case that they are able to keep the loud mouths interested on Debian but that might change.

  4. Ignacio

    “its taken Gnome since 1997 to get to windows 95 levels of usability (and hardware integration isn’t even to that level yet).”
    Fedora’s hardware integration sucks, try a Debian based linux instead (it’s not Gnome the problem).