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Re: why do we need change?

From: Riccardo
Subject: Re: why do we need change?
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2005 10:51:57 +0200


They want themeability and they want the freedom to endlessly customize thier desktop. This is something that people have been able to do on Windows for
well.. this is also a risk of making things complex. Once I was a fan of super-configurable environments (I remember being an eager AmiPro user from Lotus... where toolbars and macros where omnipresent and more powerful than Mr. Gates even started thinking about them) I grew up and I prefer a reasonable interface, well designed which I can easily customize to a small extent but not turn up-side-down, since I will just adapt to it. Thus making things locked and unmodifiable without any reason is bad, but I wouldn't thrive for total configurability over everything. On the other hand, flexibility is not only in the gui and the gui elements, but it goes also in the file and libraries alyout, the way things collaborate, startup.... and there gnustep is still quite "locked".

Also.. there are good counter-examples. The Macintosh and the Zeta (former BeOS) have, even if one big and one small, strong advocates and followers. It amazes me how many developers, programs and utilites are there for Zeta. Yet their configurability is not stellar. I think people like it for that too. In macosx 10.0.. you couldn't even move the dock to another place of the screen. And themes? being able to change the color of some controls, is that powerful themability (I know macosx can do more, but not by default)? come on.... yet macos has tons zealots, followers and developers.

Thus I think that while some color scheming and theming is interesting and should be accomplished, it is absolutely not a showstopper and I don't think it is our major problem. it is more of an excuse. People don't see anything powerful in gnsutep, smell the lack of apps, notice the lack of polish in many corners and then resort in accusing the looks and the lack of themes, but I really think this is a shallow analysis.

But this is about more than themeability, among other things it's also about the fact that we also need to make it so that GNUstep is friendlier to people who aren't experts. Currently installing GNUstep is much harder than it should
be.  Most novices are unable to install all of the dependencies.
well.. although I agree here.. I have two points that we should think about 1. if you use the Xlib backend as I do... dependencies are really small, only core graphic libraries that are usually already present (maybe except for the headers) and xml/xslt stuff. 2. the average user is not going to build gnustep by himself. And he shouldn't either. Binary packages should be ready for him for his favourite linux/bsd/solaris/windows/whatever platform. Those tools usually track dependencies or the packagers take care to note dependencies on the download pages. This lessens the problem quite a bit. I am one of the first persons to use a package instead of building myself if I can, there are thousands of reasons for that. I am also disturbed when the package is "broken" or "old and I need an unavailable newer version" and I end up installing things myself.

Change is a fact of life in this industry more than any other. I have heard
the expression "if airplane technology had advanced as fast as computing
technology, we would all be flying around at lightspeed in little boxes the
size of a matchbox" many many times.
yes, those things have been told.. Mr. Gates made similar remarks about cars.
Now, a comment gets ot of the scope of this email... but...
Airplanes got always more efficient, getting faster and consuming less fuel. And PC's? (when a P4 takes more time to boot and load a big office suite.. and your mom makes you notice that the old macSE is ready with an admittedly simple word processor in much less time?) Airplanes and cars got more and more reliable, requiring little maintainance... Airplanes don't give you a message that the system is overloaded when you turn the stick and let you wait... Airplanes don't need to be restarted while flying just because "your airspeed indicator has become unstable, ti has been quit, no other flight instruments have been affected". Airplanes go up when you give more throttle and go down if you do the opposite, they turn left when you want it. Well, we all know you ned to hit start to shut-down on a famous operating system (and now... on many dumb desktop emulations of it on unix too).

Although these remarks may be funny, I don't want just to troll. The message I wanted to convey is that computers and airplanes both evolved, but in very different ways with different goals. Many reasons may be behind this, one of them is I think the way competition and the market of computers evolved. We as an open source project which is not bound to any commercial institution are free not to make the same errors. Also just copying mistakes made by others just because "people are used to them now" would be stupid. If a windows users wants to migrate to linux without changing his habits, he can go to kde, gnome...

We are, but we need to be more than OpenStep, if the project is to survive. I, for one, am not satisfied with just a few users liking our stuff. We need to make GNUstep appeal to a larger audience. As I said before there are some companies I have spoken to which are interested in porting applications from Mac OS X to GNUstep on Linux or Windows. I have seen people hesitate in using
GNUstep because of it's interface.
well, I agree and I am not writing you wrong. But we have (potentially) a very wide audience. From serious developers who want a tool for unix and windows to more geek linux user who want the total customizeable and colorful desktop and in the middle there is almost everything. Trying to accomodate evryone by adding features everyone wants might turn out a big bowl that doesn't fit anyone at the end. This is what I feel is happening in the gtk/gnome community for example.

In some cases, this might mean integrating features that not everyone will like, but if it means more users, then it will mean more developers, and thus
more apps.
as always, it is a vicious circle :( Anyway things could be integrated so that they could be disabled for people that are not interested in them.

now I have written too much already...


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