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SEUL: Re: Re: One end-user distribution

One of the things about this thread is that we are tolking about choosing
one flavor of Linux to work with, and my personal belief is that there
should be several different distributions.  Just as there is not one flaovr
of ice cream.

From my very limited experience with Linux, I have seen that the different
distributions each have something that appeals to the individual that
decides to use it.

The real thing that I see as a need of focus is common controls that are
used on each desktop and in each application.  Using the controls in the
setup program that installs Linux would also be a big plus becuase it would
show unification towards a standard environment (regardless of the flavor)
for the end-user.

Micro$oft did this by making COMS which later became ActiveX components.
These are standard controls that anyone can use in any application.  What
Linux needs is a simular set of controls availible for application building.

William A Housley said in his "So you want to be on the desktop?" that end
users wants consistancy.  He/she wants to be able to move from desktop to
application and from application to application and feel like they are in
the same environment.  Somewhere a button looks like a button and menus have
common options to select.

This all makes for an environment that a user doesn't have to spend time
learning their way around.  They can spend time learning how to get the most
out of their application or even operating system as far as being
productive, rather than spending time learning where things are at and how
to use them.

I have programed VB for a short while now.  One of the things that is
emphasised over and over again in both the "Books Online" and in programing
courses I have taken is "make the interface familiar".

Now, I'm not saying take MS's interface and use it.  What I am discussing is
which ever packaging system and install system is used for Linux, the
important thing to remember is making them use a standard that is going to
exist throughout the software.  If the desktop is going to be an X style
desktop by default, then make an install program that looks like X and acts
like X.  How many people have ever loaded Win98 or 95 on a machine and
noticed that the dialogs that are used in the setup program are the same
kind of dialogs used thoughout the rest of the system.

I realize most people who use Linux right now are of only a couple of
catagories.  One your a serious hacker or coder or whatever other term you
would like to use.  Second your a hobbiest playing around with a networking
system that has termendous potential.  Many others of you may be system
administrators for school, business or internet based networks.  However,
making Linux a standard desktop OS is going to require a retool of how many
things are handled.

GUIs are a standard now not an exception.  This is not to say that command
prompt is a bad thing.  There is so much that can be done with less time
comsumption at the command prompt by a knowledgable user.  However, the
average desktop user does not need or want to know that much about a

I believe what it all boils down to is, who do you want to use your
software?  A few people who have time to figure out how to use it, or the
multitudes who know how to do the basics simply becuase of familiarity.

Ask yourself these two questions.  How many programs have you ever used that
you didn't see an obvious means of quiting?  How many times did you use that

Some thoughts on development of common standards in appearence, regardless
of the install and packaging system used.

James Nichols

P.S. Maybe a project should be started in developing a set of standard
controls for anyone to use in thier application so that they each have a
familiar feel to the end user?

-----Original Message-----
From: Roger Dingledine <arma@mit.edu>
To: seul-pub@seul.org <seul-pub@seul.org>
Cc: independence-l@seul.org <independence-l@seul.org>
Date: Thursday, April 08, 1999 1:12 AM
Subject: Fwd: Re: One end-user distribution

>------- Forwarded Message
>To: Dennis Leeuw <adl@casema.net>
>Cc: seul@seul.org, michel@wight.ddns.org, rogier@wight.ddns.org
>Subject: Re: One end-user distribution?
>From: Eric BARROCA <ebarroca@linuxfr.org>
>Date: 08 Apr 1999 01:25:03 +0200
>In-Reply-To: Dennis Leeuw's message of "Wed, 07 Apr 1999 20:00:11 +0200"
>Hello all,
>First of all, a little presentation...
>I'm the main coordinator of the LætOS project (<http://www.laetos.org> ;
>it's in english).
>> I am with two friends working on an end user distribution based on
>> Slackware. Since I am the one responsible for the inclusion of the
>> 'right' software I was surfing the net and came across your efforts.
>> Since we just started (atleast to my opinion) we haven't invested too
>> much yet in software development, although we are working on a graphical
>> install interface.
>We are some code, esppecially de materail deetection, that begin to work
>decently, a grapical installation program and a XF86Config generator.
>> Okay, so now the reason for this mail. What I find very difficult to
>> cope with is all the different distributions around that seem to
>> disagree more then should be. After all we want is to promote Linux,
>> don't we?
>I totally agree with this, but several project is a guaranty to have the
>> Well since I see popping up some efforts now to bring Linux to the
>> desktop and even to the user who just want to work, I think we should
>> end the different distribution problems. When we want to build a system
>> that is end-user friendly we should provide them with easyness and
>> clearness, not with troubles and fighting people over which system is
>> best.
>Yes, I think we should join our forces, but can we and do we ?
>> So my question is is there a way for us all to join one common project
>> to bring Linux at the desktop? United, as one open solution?
>Sure there is, but we must discuss about it.
>> If you are all willing to get one version out and thus give up each
>> single effort, then take the following questions allong with your
>> answer:
>> Do we decide to base the distro on a previous one or do we decide to
>> start from scratch?
>I think we sould use an existing distro, like....... debian ! ;-)
>> I think we have to use RPM as the standard package format as defined by
>> LSB, objections?
>Yes, me (sorry).
>We think really Debian is the best base, for several reasons :
> - Debian has a really light base (not like SuSE or RedHat), very
>modular ; that allows easy modifications.
> - The .deb package format is very powerfull (downgrade,
>interactive pre/post-install script/program, excellent dependances'
>management, etc.)
> - APT is the new package manager (it replaces the awfull dselect)
>and it's very usefull : auto-upgrade of the whole distro ('apt-get
>dist-upgrade' download all packages needed and upgrade the whole system)
>will or of package (for example 'apt-get install gimp' download all
>packages needed and install them) from a list of packages' sources (via
>http, ftp, directory, cdrom, etc...), graphic management with gnome-apt,
>and much more. It is very usefull for us (upgrade via FTP, HTTP, CDROM).
> - Debian is very stable : when it's released, no "base
>system"'s upgrade us needed, non "big" bugs are found.
> - Debian is very close to the standart (FHS 2, for example)
> - Debian is really *Free*.
> - I think it's bad to use the work of a commercial firm (like
>RedHat or SuSE) to "concurrence" them.
> - Debian will be very happy and will help us if we use its
> - Some Debian developers, which generally are excellent, will
>certainly help us and/or join them.
>What do you think about all that ?
>> Next we will have to decide what we want to support (libraries,
>> x-server(s), window manager(s), desktop environments(s)...
>What about start a common mailing list (I can do it) to discuss about a
>possible merger between our project ?
>> BTW as you might or might not know, there is one more effort which is
>> called EasyLinux (www.eit.de). It seems to me a commercial version, so I
>> didn't write this to them. Neighter did I contact Caldera.
>I don't like easyLinux : it's a proprietary OS that uses (exploits)
>Linux. It's very bad ; it's not free. We must propose a really FREE (open
>source) alternative to all the proprietary systems (OS). I belive it's a
>right way to put Linux in each home...
>> Well I hope I didn't steal too much of your time. Hope to hear soon from
>> you all.
>I've done as fast as possible.
>Best regards,
>PS : Sorry, I haven't a good english. Let me know if something isn't
>- --
>Éric BARROCA        |  Main Coordinator of the LætOS project
>E-Mail : ebarroca@linuxfr.org  |  E-Mail  : <laetos@laetos.org>
>Tel : 06 08 83 09 63        |  WWW site : <http://www.laetos.org>
>------- End of Forwarded Message