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Re: why do we need change?

From: Gregory John Casamento
Subject: Re: why do we need change?
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2005 06:31:14 -0700 (PDT)


--- Riccardo <address@hidden> wrote:

> Hey,
> > 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
> > years.
> 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".

Not necessarily.   The library layout could change without much impact on
GNUstep.   But we're not talking about that at the moment.
> 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.

You keep talking about this "lack of polish", yet I don't see it.  One of the
constant frustrations with me is that people say nebulous things without really
backing them up.  Please back up your statement.

You seem to want to rely on the idea that "we're not ready" in order to hold
things back. 

> > 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.

The only dependencies added by art or libart and the nfont packages.  Also,
there are various problems with xlib, such as font enumeration not working. 
Also the rendering in some cases on xlib is just plain ugly, blocky and

It works well for exported displays, but that's just about all.

> 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.

This is no excuse to make it complicated.  

> > 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).

I believe you're talking about windows here, not GNUstep.  If you're implying
that adding new functionality to GNUstep for some of these things will make it
unstable on a permanent basis, you're wrong.   Things might be a little
unstable at first, but they will settle down.

> 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.

We need to be careful about the features we add.   But we do need to update
GNUstep.  That much is undeniable.

> > 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...
> cheers,
>    R

Me too, I'm late for work. ;)

Later, GJC

Gregory John Casamento 
-- CEO/President Open Logic Corp. (A MD Corp.)
## Maintainer of Gorm (IB Equiv.) for GNUstep.

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