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From: (Elaine Walton)
Subject: We will lose (was: Windows 95 v. Linux)
Date: 1995/06/01
Message-ID: <3qkv01$>#1/1
X-Deja-AN: 103629705
organization: The Ohio State University
newsgroups: comp.os.linux.development.apps

I am alarmed at what I am seeing in the industry vs. what Linux is 
accomplishing.  Linux is a superior OS to DOS, Windows, Win95 & NT.  Why?  It 
has a legacy of tons of information/tools/utilities and is COMPLETELY open--AND
FREE!  But, we still don't have something that stands out and punches the user
in the face--making them desire it.  Those that use/function with Linux are
nerds--like you and me.  Geeks that enjoy the challenge, power and flexability
of the OS.  This reminds me too much of Forth the postfix programming language
which had a cultish following (even to this day) which swear that it supports 
multitasking (?), is faster than assembler (!), and [probably] is 

First, we need a metaphor that is easy to use without functionality/power loss.
I have heard of a metaphor called "Rooms", a virtual landscape for
administrating *nix.  Is this something we can use?  Has it been ported?  Are 
there other metaphors we can develop which are unique and useful precisely to 
Linux?  Remember: Keep it simple--no one wants the shift gears unless it is 
natural and easy to do so.

Second, several good-looking, useful graphical applications: e.g. a WYSIWYG
desktop publisher (NO NOT TeX!).  There is nothing wrong with TeX as a file
format: there is everything wrong with using it for directly formating a
document.  I feel that with all the TeX (and PrinterLeaf) files out there, an
easy to use, WYSIWYG word processor that stores the documents in TeX or
PrinterLeaf and that is FREE would immensely increase our publicity.

Another couple graphical applications might be a multimedia editor and a
p-code/native code windows designer for rapid prototyping (like Visual Basic or
Delphi).  I know that the idea of following the footsteps of the great, evil
Bill the Gates is nauseating, but people are flocking to load up on Win95--an
estimated 20 million copies to be sold within the first 6 months!

Lastly, Linux administration should become more automated--more "what can I 
accomplish with Linux?" not "what do I have to maintain?".  *nix is, in its own
nature, a very administration-directed environment: everything from getting the
next kernel to cleaning up /var.  Most these things are very repetitive--and 
necessary--to keep our machines is a prestine state.  Could we not have a set 
of self maintaining tools that have the intelligence to blow us away?  
Furthermore, could these things come already installed, so that a typical user 
will not have to worry about them?

Do we want to become a nitch of Forth-like outsiders?  Do we want to take 
advantage of the public's desire for more accessable computing?  We have the 
experience and the knowledge to accomplish all these things, but I feel that a 
consortium is needed to define a direction and focus for the future of Linux.
-Sean Walton
Please send responses to

From: (Elaine Walton)
Subject: Re: We will lose (was: Windows 95 v. Linux)
Date: 1995/06/05
Message-ID: <3qtmp4$>#1/1
X-Deja-AN: 103752117
references: <3qkv01$>
organization: The Ohio State University
newsgroups: comp.os.linux.development.apps

***Response to a direct, personal message:

Yes, I have written full-blown interpreters and compilers--I enjoy doing that 
kind of stuff on my spare time (major-nerddom, dude).  I, however, do not have 
the experience to write a graphical interface--that is simply not my forte.  
That is why I want to set up a "consortium of programmers" who would be able to
design and implement such a tool.  I could do the language.

I whole-heartedly agree: I do not want to lose the power of Linux to a mind- 
cripling interface and tool.  This has to also include a paradigm: a way of
thinking that will be intuitive and easy to use and powerful.  We are not
there.  Windows are the modus operandi: who cares about more windows?  We have
got to come up with a way to extend the idea of true multitasking into the way
our minds understand it.  Consider an "actor" paradigm.  Each object in the
interface can act and act upon.  In this model, windows no longer display they
interact & they're "alive".

TeX is not the answer.  It never was and never will be.  I do not want to learn
TeX, because it is an old--yet powerful--language.  It has no pleasing
interface, making no one envious to learn it.  A proper user interface makes
people take notice enough to try it, easy enough that they never have to open
any manuals, fun enough to encourage its use, and powerful enough to continue
to meet the user's needs as their needs increase in complexity.

Sure, TeX can do a lot of things, but can you tell me that it will be fun to
use to the uninitiate.  No!  [Quick apologies to those TeX fan(atic)s]  TeX is
simply user-abusive.  I know a professor in my old alma-mater who will NOT use
anything but TeX, because it is the one format that he can transmit from
reviewer to reviewer and know that they will be able to print it.

Now consider my offer: how about a user-FRIENDLY interface that will read the
TeX format as its primary internal format.  This will make the TeX files that
are so (crypticly) sacred but still will be desirable to use.

I belabor a minor (yet important) point.  The first point is that we need to
focus on a newer paradigm that has yet been considered.  Second, design tools
that will speed development in those environments.  Third, provide tools that
will attract users--not scare them away.  Fourth, make at least teaser versions
of these tools under the GPL.

Any takers?

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