Re: Thoughts of a user

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On Sun, 2010-12-26 at 14:33 +0700, Roelof 'Ben' Kusters wrote:
> 1) Looks: Forgive the curse-words, but Linux has been surpassed in
> looks by as far as I can see all other OSs. I don't know all, but
> Windoze and Mac all look better on lesser graphic-cards. Things like
> true class-borders should be developed. True see-through should also
> be made possible for apps like conky et al.

The basic looks are perhaps a bit barren, but many fancy desktops
substitute usability for eyecandy (Windows, Mac, or Linux).  But
seriously, anything more than basic Microsoft Windows effects really
creaks on low end graphics hardware.

Transparency's all very well for shuffling windows about, trying to find
the one you want behind the currently front-most one.  But it's
appalling to try and use a terminal or application when you're seeing
what's behind it through what you're actually trying to look at.

The one thing I'd really pick on, with Fedora, is that the default fonts
are too big.  You end up with whacking great big text and GUIs, to fit
it all in.  And people tend to do the wrong thing to compensate, fake
the DPI settings, to scale it, so the desktop designers never pull their
finger out and put the proper sizing controls in where they can be
easily fixed.  (Including the login screen.)  So those of us who need
accurate scaling, find it hard to adjust things properly, because
everyone else thinks the dumb kludge is good enough.

Yes, it's handy not to have midget GUIs and text.  But much of it's just
way too big.  Windows is bad at handling this, too.  Try scaling your
fonts up to the size you want, and you often find the GUI doesn't scale
up to fit, with it.  And I'm So Sick Of Windows Texts Being Written In
This Fashion In Nearly All The Pop-Up Windows.  Is the programming
author 8 years old?

Transparency, movement animations, etc., all look flashy and showy, and
cool for demos.  But they get in the way of actually using the computer.
It's harder to see, and slower to do everything.  So, they're the first
thing to get shut off.

> 2) Wifi: It may be a sore point, but there is no ease of installing  
> (newer) machines with built in wifi cards. While I understand that all
> those things are built for functionality with Windoze, and that many  
> manufacturers don't make their own Linux drivers, but even with the  
> correct drivers it doesn't often work. 

Much of that is the manufacturer's fault, and beyond our control.  If
they make it damn near impossible to use their hardware with anything
other than Windows drivers, for one or two versions of Windows, you
can't really expect much.  Though, I have to say, you have the same
problems with some hardware on Windows.  It's just damn flakey, and
there's absolutely nothing you could do to fix it.  It's closed source,
hidden/obfuscated binary content, with no alternatives.  And replacing
built-in hardware on a laptop PC is a bit difficult.  It's worth
remembering that configuring networks on Windows can be a complete pain
in the bum, options in windows inside window, or options spread across
several different disparate windows, and very little actual explanation
of what half the options mean.  I'm so sick of the "see your system
administrator for help with this."  Where are they getting the answer
from, because it's not in the help guides, not in the printed manual.
And my "home" version of Windows doesn't have a person to administrate
it for me.

On the other side of the coin, there are aspects of networking within
the control of Linux, that could be better.  In the sense of configuring
the hardware that *can* be used.  NetworkManager continues to be a black
box affair.  Fine if it works, a pain if it doesn't, or doesn't work in
the way you want it to.  Those users with multiple access points, or
without well-configured DHCP servers, know that pain.

> 3) Hardware management: su -, lshw, isn't good enough a hardware
> manager for the average user. A new app should be developed that looks
> better and is interactive. Enable and disable certain hardware should
> be an option. 

Hmm, hardware management hasn't been an issue with me (several desktop
PCs and a laptop).  As a general rule, I've always found that hardware
just works.  Luckily, I haven't had to fiddle with anything.  But if I
had to, we do have options to try out, completely under our control.

Windows, on the other hand, has always left a lot to be desired.  Their
hardware mangler leaves me with about two choices:  Try to disable
errant hardware (though it'll still get in the way of something).  Or
try to get it to reload the manufacturer's (bad) driver software.
There's little choice in different configuration beyond try basic
Windows driver, try manufacturer's driver disk, try updated driver from
manufacturer's website (if they have one, and if they've released an

Been through years of hell with some Windows PCs, where the sound card
(or something else) doesn't get along with some other peripheral, it's
always got yellow exclamation marks in the hardware mangler.  Even
stripping all the other hardware out, re-installing Windows afresh,
applying the updates, never resolved it.  PCs with a phantom mouse, in
the hardware mangler, that can never be removed, is always there, is
always causing problems with the real mouse...

> Finding manufacturer's details of driver-less hardware is a must.

This is something that would be nice, but very difficult to implement.
When you poll most hardware, there's some sort of ID *code*, and that
needs to be looked up in a database of some sort (by the polling
program).  Much more rarely does hardware has a string of data that
actually says manufacturer's name, and product's name.  That's why
unknown hardware comes up listed as "unknown hardware" with a
random-looking string of characters.

It's the same with Windows, of course.  If the OS doesn't already have
drivers for the hardware available on disc, it's "unknown hardware."

Sorry, but the "Windows just works," or "Windows as a shining example of
computerdom," just doesn't cut it with me.  These days I take great
delight in forestalling hours of grief for helping someone resolve their
(usually petty) Windows problem by answering their plea for help with,
"sorry, but I don't use Windows anymore, I don't know where to begin."

Yes, I have kept reasonably up-to-date with toying with Windows.  Though
Vista was the last version that I've tangled with.  I'm *not* comparing
Linux with Windows 98.  My hatred of Windows was well earned.

I find Macs like those Lego bricks with six bumps on top (a grid of 3 by
2).  They can *only* be used in certain ways.  You're stuffed if you
want to do something different.

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