What the Mainstream Needs From Linux
What the Mainstream Needs From Linux
by Jake G.
May 22, 2004
Feel free to re-post this article.
I am a computer professional, programming hobbyist, and recent Linux user. The reason I am writing this is that I believe that Linux is a superior operating system and should become ready for the mainstream. This needs to happen because the reason for competition (as opposed to the Windows monopoly) and peer review (open source) is that they produce superior products. After a few weeks using ASP Linux 9 and Gnome, I switched to RedHat 9 a few weeks ago and started using KDE. My experience has shown a few counter-intuitive areas of Linux in general that experienced Linux programmers may overlook due to knowledge and years of usage. The points below are important. Linux initiates and programmers may sneer at the following suggestions or consider them petty; many of these things can be configured--but that is part of the point. Linux must be configured out-of-box in a manner ready for the mainstream: For Linux to become mainstream, newbie-friendliness is crucial.
--Allow double-clicking zip etc. archive files - default ZIP assocation as ark or similar program
--Make floppy usage easier (unmount floppy automatically?) - (why can't I click the icon, write to the disk, then take it out? Or open the icon, put the disk in, and refresh?) Sometimes, the disk won't even unmount ("device is busy") because the GUI is still trying to load image preview icons from it since the window is open.
--Why Can't I click an obvious icon to just see my disk usage, mount info, and directory tree in one place?
--If OpenOffice were configured (it should be default, but I have mine set this way) to save Microsoft Office (Word 97, Excel 97, PowerPoint) files automatically, it wouldn't confuse newbies who try to send (i.e. e-mail) OpenOffice documents to some Windows newbie with MS Office.
--Auto-unmount CD's - (only in some distros, you must unmount first for the tray to open!)
--CD Burner program with drag-and-drop for newbies. Multisession capable.
--Link on desktop called "Documents" that links to /<username/
--Save/Load dialogs in ALL programs auto-open to /<username>/
--Mozilla should come with Flash (it's available, so it should be installed since it isn't automatically installed)
--Some way to make tar.gz installers easier (in Windows, Winzip automatically unzips to temp folder and runs setup.*, install.*, or readme*.* if filename exists)
--Audio editing or at least a simple sound recorder (that is easy to find)
--Is an obvious icon for DV Editing too much to ask?
--Get a grip and choose a desktop (KDE would be nice) or noone will want to learn "two" operating systems.
--Autorun Windows CD's, including setup programs.
--Installers should install right, and Windows Start Menu items should be copied to a "More Programs" subdirectory in the KDE/Gnome menu
--Wine won't open the Toolbar menus (everything else works fine) in Caligari TrueSpace (www.caligari.com), which uses api calls and not regular MFC menus. They aren't always drawn, and they won't work by clicking or pressing Alt, and even key sequences while pressing alt won't run the corresponding command (i.e. Alt+F,L,S for laod scene won't do anything)--so they aren't merely invisible.
--At first, The trueSpace window jittered all around the screen, until I got a better wine config from someone that creates a full 1280x1024 wine window and leaves black around the program if non-maximized (which works fine even in 1024x768 with the 1280x1024 window hanging off the screen a bit).
--Make EXE files' default association wine (with config file that works right, see above!). I have my RedHat 9 KDE set this way (with the "run in terminal" option) and it is extremely easy, and I can drag & drop to make links to EXE's on the desktop and double-click them and wine launches them.
--If Linux came with Winex (i.e. Mandrake Gaming Edition) standard, PC gamers might turn their heads. But as noted earlier, they need their windows installers, autorun, and start menu icons to work too.
What the Mainstream Needs From Linux - replies from author
--As a newbie, I now see that I should get Mandrake 10, and it would've had more of the things that I had to configure myself in RedHat 9.
--Some people seem to be missing the point. You keep saying that "that can be configured to do that" but my point is that linux needs to be configured this way by default (without losing any of the inherent power or customizability).
--I concede to your point about having multiple desktop systems. You persuaded me to agree with you. I'll just use KDE since I like it.
--I concede to your point about the software I want being available to download, but I still think that by default Linux needs to run Windows installers, start menu items, and programs. This avoids the problem of developers not porting to linux, and the quantity of retail Windows programs.
--By "tar.gz" installers, I mean install packages inside tar.gz's. In Windows, winzip automatically installs the thing by looking for the installer binary or if not, showing the readme.
--My reason for starting the discussion is as I said: "The reason I am writing this is that I believe that Linux is a superior operating system and should become ready for the mainstream. This needs to happen because the reason for competition (as opposed to the Windows monopoly) and peer review (open source) is that they produce superior products."
The deeper reason is that I hate windows. As a computer consultant, the more I know, the more disgusted I am with the shabby programming and the deceit of Microsoft trying to make us think that finicky, unstable OS software is acceptable and normal. In addition, a customer recently tried to sue me (and failed) for a Windows ME rollback that wiped out their entire hard drive. I promote Linux for those reasons. I hope that linux takes over so that I can tutor, install, and upgrade computers without being blamed for Bill Gates' mistakes (notice I didn't say "repair" in my list of services, since if linux took over, there wouldn't be much repair needed, and I am happy to only do other computer services besides repairing Windows).