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Distibutions (was KDE Debian distribution)

On Mon, 18 Feb 2002, Ron Johnson wrote:
> On Mon, 18 Feb 2002 11:33:28 +0100 (CET) Gregor Zeitlinger <zeitling@informatik.hu-berlin.de> wrote:
> If you are asking about a Distribution, try http://www.libranet.com.
> Just started shipping v2.0.
I was reather looking for something KDE only to save disk space and to
increase ease of installing. Not for myself actually, as my skill was
sufficient to to install debian with dselect, but I'd like to recommend
people a linux system where you can upgrade with one command, but which
still is not too complicated to install, doen't take dozens of cds and has
a coherent look'n'feel.
Even though I hate Windows, I think this is one of their strong points and
I have hopes apt-get + KDE could get even there. Most people in the M$
world need exactely 2 cds. Win and Office. That's it. It doesn't aleways
work and crashes alot, but at least you don't need to know what a window
manager is to get it installed. That's why I would prefer it KDE only. 

Why KDE and not Gnome? It's the consitent look'n'feel which KDE can
certainly deliver. Gnome has a couple good apps like StarOffice (or are
they still using AbiWord?) and Evolution, but the integration is terrible.
Some are even using different widgets=different look'n'feel. Does it
bother? Yes, it bothers if open file dialogs are different everywhere.
Contrast to KDE: Everywhere you can open a file, it can be from an ftp
site of from a tar archive. Everywhere! That's even better than Windows,
although this is one of M$'s primary design decisions.

Well, I got a little of topic, but I hope you got the pivotal point. Every
widget from the first boot up should be KDE look'n'feel. That was
something that I know will bother people, even if they install a beginners
distro like Mandrake or SuSE. During install they have their own wigets
and later you'll get the Gnome or KDE widets, whatever you chose. That's
already a fault right there. You should have one thing people can relate
two. They don't wanna know they've got Linux as kernel, GNU for the tools,
debian distro, Qt toolkit, KDE desktop environment, KOffice office suite.
That's confusing for non-technical people. Let's just use one of those
labels but mean all of them and attach a version number, so people can
compare whether they're compatible or not. Like "KDE2 and KDE3" Or like
(in the M$ world): "Great game you've got, what does it need?" "95, 98, Me
or XP" "Ok". That's already the limit of what most people can handle. I'd
already have trouble telling my mom that versions is a issue at all but
four labels... it might give it a try. Now compare two what to the linux
world. "You either need Red Hat 6.0-7.2, Suse 7.0+, Mandrade 8+ ..." or
"Here's a document I've done in Suse 7.2" "Hey, I can't open it" (he was
using StarOffice rather than KOffice....)

That's not going to win us the desktop battle any time soon. We need to
have one thing and versions of that one thing. That means one office suit,
one browser, one look'n'feel, one distro. Economically the reason is the
overwhelming network effect (which also it the reason M$ is so successful
regardless of what crap they produce): the more people use a solution, the
more attractive it is for you (you can share data with them (ideally that
can be overcome by open source data formats) and you can ask and learn
from them (this one can't be overcome by open data formats: a fact often
overlooked by hackers). Now by using a solution you also make it more
attractive for others to use it. Of course this is not the only reason we
chose a solution. Technological reasons or subjective reasons are also

Now there basically two scenarios. Busnesses and private users.
>From what I've heard business managers for office apps mainly decide what
they choose out of compatability considerations. That is, they want to
have what "everybody else" has, so every time they they get documents from
business partners, they'll be able to handle them. Now let's suppose that
a managers perception at starting time is that MS Office is the product
used by most other possible business partners. (This can either be fact or
M$ propaganda). Likely, they'll choose MS Office. The next business
has even more incentive to do so, because the number of MS using
businesses has just increased. Wao: This even works, if nobody was using
MS at first and it was just a marketing gag! You've just discovered the
basics of marketing: Suggest something until it gets true....
In other words the network effect is so dominant, that there's almost no
competition about the product itself. It doesn't really matter which has a
better fuctioality or anything. That's the most fundamental reason it's so
hard for linux in the desktop market. The network effect is lesser in the
server market, as independed data formats plus independent administrators
allow for product competition (which is the very thing M$ want's to
In the very rare occasion businesses managers acutally look at a
product itself they certainly won't check which has a more powerful
spellchecker... they'll look at the apperance, at the look'n'feel. Imagine
yourself buying a house. Most likely you won't be able to judge if it's
well isolated the the base is solid... You'll just decide by simply
looking at it. That's what it is for business managers as well. 
Now the second scenario (home users) is similar. Mabye they're even more
likely to chose what their friend has, regardless of whether it's crap or

Understanding this, it get's clear that Gnome's weak integration is a very
serios drawback, because in the rare occasions that people actually decide
based on product attributs, it will almost certainly be their first
impression, the look'n'feel and you don't want to loose them there before
they've even found out about the fuctionality of it. That's no
exaggeration: The most most people ever see from *nix is an ugly fvwm or
CDE and they'll avoid it from then on if they possibly can. Even I, as a
hacker, am turned off by the Gnome look'n'feel, I've not tried it for a
year (I've got enough from people telling about it...)

Well, I'm pretty sure this is the way to go, if Linux will get the desktop
mass market ever, but I'm not very optimistic if looking at the distro
wars. I mean, if there was one distro, all current distributors could
contribute to it (not fork it) and they'd have less work each. They'd
still be selling the support, which is the main part of their business.
They'd probably even make more money as the attractivity of the distro
would rise, because more people would use it. They might even try to do
joint marketing, but I see the prisoner's dillema there. If only one
distributor would defect such an agreement and make marketing for their
own product they'd get the benefit from the generic marketing and from
their own. This will cause the others to do the same and thus destroy the
generic marketing effort.

Well, what I actually wanted to say (sorry for the long prolog) is that I
think debian is probably the only base distro distributors could agree to
(if at all) because it's not a product of their's but an idependent one
(and technologically a good one because of apt-get, but that's only second

Well, that's my vision for Linux for the next five years: 

"Hey, got the new Linux 4" "Sure, I love the game collection
especially..." (what was meant was actually <joint distro>4, Linux kernel
4.4.18, Qt 5, KDE 5.2.2, KOffice 4.6.2 but who cares....)

Am I too optimistic?

Gregor Zeitlinger      

KDE - Kreate Discover Explore

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