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Re: [desktop] Further meandering thoughts on Debian Desktop

On 10/22/2002 2:13 PM, Colin Walters at walters@verbum.org wrote:

>> Using dpkg and apt as a backend, all Debian has to do is to create a menu
>> entry titled something like, "Security & Software Updates".  It could also
>> be a desktop icon in addition to a menu entry.
>> Selecting that menu entry brings up a brief dialog box, asking the user if
>> s/he wants to install the latest security and bugfix updates.  User clicks
>> "Yes", goes through a GUI sudo and types in root password, and apt runs off
>> and gathers up a list of software to be installed, and this info is
>> presented to the user along with total size of various downloads, and maybe
>> an estimate of time to download. User clicks "Download and Install" and apt
>> takes care of the rest.
> I think it would be better to just improve a GUI package manager so that
> it knows about security updates, and will make them a high priority.
> This would be fairly easy to implement in the backend; all we'd need to
> do is add a Priority: high field or something to the Packages file.
> Then the frontend could just color those red, display them separately,
> whatever.
As a stop gap measure, I can see Debian tweaking some GUI package manager to
get something out the door that is decent and stable in relatively short

However, the User Interface for most of the Linux package management
software I have seen is not very good - in some cases, the UI is horrible.
Kpackage and Gnome-apt are not at all intuitively obvious.  (Apt actually
has a better UI design than those programs.) And doing something as
relatively simple as downloading and installing security updates and minor
bugfixes should be correspondingly easy to do UI-wise.

In the long run, I don't think Debian Desktop will be able to persaude the
various authors of GUI package management software to clean up their UIs and
make them truly simple and clean.  (Presenting something that is, under the
surface, very complex, in a manner that is simple and obvious; is actually
very hard work.  Programmers already have enough hard work to do, without
the horrid chore of creating really clean UIs.) In due time, I think Debian
would be better off coding a simple GUI program just for security and bugfix
updates, and sticking it in the menu somewhere, or as a desktop icon.

Of course, since I am not a programmer, that means that *somebody else*
would have to code my idea.  I understand that this sort of mild hypocrisy
doesn't go down well in the all volunteer world of Debian Developers, and
rightfully so.  So I will admit that I am advocating *volunteering* somebody
else, but that I would be very happy to work with a programmer on UI design,
just as I hope to help with other aspects of UI design with Debian Desktop.

> GNOME 2 is much better in this regard.  With respect to stuff like
> unifying GNOME and KDE, let's just not go there.  We have too much other
> stuff to work on.
Heh.  Well, I am not proposing do a total Red Hat 8.0 and completely unify
Gnome and KDE ;-)  Rather, I am suggesting that we work out best UI design
practices, and implement those choices across the various Debian GUIs.  For
example, if Debian Desktop concludes that single clicking, and not double
clicking, is the best way to launch a program icon on the desktop or open a
file icon; then that behavior would be the default in ALL the GUIs packaged
with Debian Desktop.  Of course, such tweaking would irritate the Debian old
timers and elite types, but they can be warned ahead of time so that they
don't install the Debian Desktop option.  That, or they can revise Debian
Desktops default settings to their own satisfaction.  The idea is to come up
with default preferences for the GUIs which work very well and very simply
for the newbies.  

I understand that there is already a lot of stuff on Debian Desktop's plate,
and that such a schema is towards the bottom of the ToDo list.  But in the
long run, if the true goal of Debian Desktop is UI simplicity and
excellence, this is something we can and should eventually achieve.

In the meantime, surely Debian Desktop can tweak default wallpapers with
something that is Debian branded.  And maybe tweak the totally weird default
settings on Enlightenment - that green theme thing is just too much ;-)

Luke Seubert

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