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Re: Simplified UI (menu-systems)

> >> That way, all the programs are in one menu, the kids' favourite in
> >> another, and exploration of all programs can easily be done.
> >
> >I think this is sounding like the best solution, if it could be matched 
> >with a better menuing system -- one that isn't quite so hiarchical.  
> A menu-system that isn't hierarchical?  As long as you dont put
> averything in the main menu, I don't really know what you mean..

I probably should have explained what I meant by hierarchical.  A 
menu is mostly a database of the applications on the computer.  
Usually this is a very simple database.  Everything gets a single 
category, with categories nested as is appropriate.

However, many applications serve more than one purpose and 
there is more than one way to organize the categories.  You could 
organize them by who they are aimed for -- administrators, 
teachers, students, all users, etc.  You can organize them by 
classes, the kinds of data they manipulate, the way the application 
manipulates that data, etc.  Is the Gimp an editting tool or an 
image tool?

Now, I'm not relational database lover.  SQL queries for a menu 
would be just silly.  But something more in that direction might be 

It would also be nice if a relational database was a standard service 
so that small applications -- like a menu -- could make use of them 
without requiring difficult setup and maintenance.

> >sources.  Like adding icons to applications that don't have them, 
> >you can never keep up.
> We can have icons for all programs we think are good educational
> stuff..

(or, in this case, menu entries)

This is true.  But isn't everything potentially good for education?  I 
guess I see computers' best use in schools being as a tool, not as 
an end in itself.  And so most applications would potentially be 
useful in an educational setting.  Whatever system is created 
should be fairly inclusive.

> It would be quite easy writing a simple tool for making these groups
> and managing them.  I think, though, it could be better if it would
> be fitted in to a more general administrators tool.  

Definately.  It would be nice if there was a good framework for all 
the small tools an administrator uses, so that it wouldn't have to all 
be integrated and this small tool could be created on its own.  And 
I suppose there is -- the command line and its associated 
programs.  But the command line probably wouldn't be appropriate 
for many of the audiences of this tool.

> I saw that the
> sowftware-page had a pointer to a good program for administrating
> large group.  I haven't tried it, but maybe it could be fitted in
> there?

Which program were you thinking of?

> >Any specific problems porting to a different distribution can be solved 
> >without too much work, but adding that information to *every* 
> >package is not easy.
> No, that's the big thing.  In a debian-system, the global menu
> contains allmost every application installed.  In a red
> hat-enviroment, only the one we chose to will be in the menu.  Maybe
> that isn't such a bad thing, if you want a menu specifically for
> aducational use...

Like I said further up, I think almost anything could be potentially 
useful for educational use.  But starting out with the most obvious 
programs is probably the best short-term solution.

> Ok.  But maybe there is a better way of doing it.  I know that for
> kde, when you don't use debian, there is a program that seeks up
> applications on the system.  I don't know how it chooses, but somehow
> it finds most of them and put them in the menu.  If we were to have a
> general package with howtos, descriptions of the different programs
> and examples of usage, maybe that could contain a program that could
> be run by the init-scripts to update when necessary?
>   I know that for example ldconfig is run in startup on several
> systems, to check for new libraries.  In debian, it's by policy used
> whenever a package installed or removed a library.

The KDE-like solution is definately more inclusive for various 
distributions.  It's also rather crufty -- not KDE's fault, but the fault 
of the distributions who should really be the one's doing that job.

After all, isn't it rather silly to run ldconfig on every bootup when 
libraries are installed an order of magnitude less frequently than a 
bootup in the case of a personal computer, or perhaps exactly the 
opposite in the case of a server.  These are the exact inefficiencies 
which plague Windows and MacOS.  Sigh.

> For me, and the schools I hope to install and maintian a GNU/Linux
> on, this question isn't hard, I use debian.  But as I've read earlier
> on the list, there won't be a single distribution for this, because
> we could never solve that "distribution-war" that's politely silent
> among the whole community of linux...  As for seul's independance..
> Trying to make it easier to install a pre-configures linux-system is
> a good thing, but the things we make have to be usable on all
> distributions.

Yes, choose a distribution doesn't make sense.  But it seems like 
SEUL's (and SEUL/edu's) place to encourage/help/push 
distributions to do certain things.  If everything is done in 
distribution-neutral ways that isn't really right either -- it begins to 
coopt distributions' rightful roles.

Ian Bicking <bickiia@earlham.edu>