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Re: [desktop] why kde and gnome's menu situation sucks

On 10/23/2002 8:50 PM, Marek Habersack at grendel@caudium.net wrote:

> On Wed, Oct 23, 2002 at 08:14:30PM -0400, Luke Seubert scribbled:
>> May I modify your excellent suggestion a little bit?  Instead of a switch
>> for "Advanced" versus "Basic" menus loaded into the taskbar/panel, how about
>> just putting it somewhere in the menu hierarchy itself?
> I think there's another option, read below.
> The switching between the menus can be as easy as doing one of two things:
> 1. creating an environment specific menu option (an icon for WindowMaker, a
> menu entry for GNOME/KDE panel/taskbar, a launcher for XFce etc. etc.)
> that would launch a script to regenerate all the menus in the desired
> configuration (preserving the current setup of course).

Hmm, I still favor doing this exclusively with a menu based switcher, rather
than something that would appear in the panel/taskbar.

Reasoning follows thus:

1. There are well over a dozen GUIs packaged with Debian.  Creating a
Gnome/KDE/XFce  panel/taskbar/launcher  switcher might be simple enough, but
what if that task is spread to the other half dozen GUIs that use taskbars
or something similar, but ones not compatible with Gnome/KDE/XFce.  That's a
lot of coding, and a lot of coding that then has to be debugged, and kept up
to date with new upsteam releases.  Putting a switcher in the menu, which is
meant to be universal to all the GUIs under Debian, seems to me a lot easier
to maintain. 

2.  Implementing a taskbar switcher across all those GUIs also means that
Debian Desktop has to pester - no, strike that - "gain the joyful
cooperation of", that many package maintainers to get our custom code
inserted into the package.  (Unless I am misunderstanding how this
additional coding would actually be added to the various GUIs.) What if not
all of them choose to be joyful?

A switcher in the menu means that we have to get the cooperation of Chris
Lawrence, who is rewriting the menu code.  And btw, thank you ever so much
Chris!  You are a saint and a coding god.  I kiss your feet.  (See, we gotta
start schmoozing him early ;-)

3.  Implementing a panel/taskbar based switcher means clogging up the
taskbar with yet another icon.  It will be hard enough as it is for Debian
Desktop to deploy a simple, clean, elegant looking panel/taskbar.  Have you
ever seen the SuSE default taskbar/panel? It is a nightmare of choices - and
aesthetically unpleasing as well.  This is one area where Red Hat got it
right.  Have as simple a panel/taskbar as possible, and let the user fill up
the empty spaces with his/her own lauch icons, applets, etc.

BTW, I know that in my babbling for aesthetics and elegance, that my Apple
Macintosh heritage is really showing through, but so be it.  GUIs and UI
design should be aesthetic and elegant, just like superior computer code is.

> It would depend upon, I suppose - by kde-desktop, gnome-desktop,
> xfce-desktop etc. etc. I imagine there would be separate debiandesktop
> packages each of them providing 'debian-desktop' with the
> environment-specific settings.
> [snip]
> The same debian-desktop would be provided by
> a non-DD package shipped by default with the environment in question. That
> way the virtual debian-desktop package would be, in most cases at least, a
> pure configuration package (with another package providing scripts/binaries
> that would be used by any of the packages providing 'debian-desktop' to
> generate menus, modify configurations etc. etc.)
> I think that with a structure of virtual packages like:
> debian-desktop-tools (scripts, binaries to modify the configuration
> settings)
> debian-desktop (configuration files, templates etc. used as "drivers" for
> the binaries from debian-desktop-tools)
> which would be used as described above, we can make a simple and yet robust,
> flexible system.
Yes.  This makes sense.  That way, traditional Debian users could have their
traditional GUIs the way they like them installed from the very beginning.
And those opting for the Desktop choice during installation/upgrade, could
have their nice Debian Desktop GUIs as well.  This is a good way to keep
everyone reasonably happy, and yet allow Debian to open up to a whole new
set of users.  Good suggestion.  You're the one who is going to do all this,
right? ;-)

Actually, I like many of the suggestion being tossed around about the GUI
configurations and all that good stuff.  But be sure to go back and look
over the Debian Desktop webpage though for some of the other work that needs
to be done:

There is a lot of basic infrastructure that needs to be completed and which
I feel has a somewhat higher priority than tweaking the GUI defaults.  Not
that folks shouldn't work on the GUI fiddling stuff, but a lot of other
heavy infrastruture precedes this sort of thing.

> So you're saying that you are coming up with Debian-specific themes for KDE
> and GNOME? :)
If I had the artistic talent, I would be happy to volunteer and create
Debian specific themes, wallpaper, etc.  I do not feel that I have the
artistic and GIMP type skills necessary to do this.  If nobody else steps up
and offers to help, I suppose I could fiddle with a few things, but I would
be reluctant to do so.

My preference is too work on the user interface for the menu - figuring out
a really effective menu and submenu hierarchy, and also some good default
preferences and configs for the various GUIs available under Debian.  I
would compare and contrast various Linux distros to see what works and what
doesn't, and incorporate my extensive experience with Macintosh and study
over the years about UI.  To be sure, this kind of contribution does not
consist of computer code (hey, I still remember BASIC and Pascal from my old
coding day ;-) but I hope it is a worthwhile contribution in other ways.  If
nothing else, if I can work on UI design and layout, that frees up time for
some coder or maintainer to do things outside my skill set.

That said, while I would be a reluctant last-man volunteer, I do advocate
the idea of Debian branding and Debian themes and Debian wallpaper.  Not to
make all the GUIs look exactly alike, but similar within their own way, and
with the Debian brand prominently displayed.

Emphasizing the Debian brand is an act of pride, as well as good marketing.
Debian should be proud to put its name up in lights on its distribution.  I
would even suggest that Debian Desktop also install that pretty graphical
bootup screen that the commerical distros use, with a really kickass Debian
logo of course :-)

Luke Seubert

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