Bad, vile and meaningless: Linux usability craze from Alan's clob

The Linux Usability Craze

Please don't make Linux more usable. Or if you do, let the dimwits who desire that, all be GNOME users. Let KDE improve. Build more features that the users and developers want.

Let's bash some gnomes

GNOME is not friendly. It's desktop doesn't look friendly. Gimme a big "Internet" icon by default and what other task users might want to do, generally. I hate the Computer icon. That's usability? Ha! It's impossible to guess what's behind that thing. Settings? System information? The computer thanks me for my attention? Now, I browse the web all the time. So where is the browser?

Oh yeah, Epiphany. Thanks for breaking middle click links (if they ever worked in the first place). I dunno about you but that's a standard feature to have for me. Don't have it -- get out from my harddrive. It's as simple as that. I can't trivially paste it into the location bar either, as first I have to manually clear it. No clearing button, of course. COME ON! It's a tad painful, to, say copywaste the latest omg kewl link from IRC to the browser, as the procedure looks like this:

  1. Paint the url in xterm
  2. Bring the browser as the topmost window
  3. Carefully focus the location bar, but don't accidentally move mouse when attempting to focus, because that'll cause Epiphany to hold the selection and I'll lose the URL in xterm.
  4. Oops, dang, I moved the mouse a few pixels and lost the selection. At least the location bar is clear now. Start over.
  5. Paste it.

Perhaps I should write some trivial comment code for my static HTML crap so that someone with a clue might be able to explain why this is an improvement over:

  1. Paint the url in xterm.
  2. Wipe the mouse towards the corner of browser window that might be still visible under all the other stuff
  3. Press middle button

I thought the idea with Nautilus all that spatial navigation shit was that I could make different places in filesystem look different. I can't. I mean, position and size. I thought that the purpose I could customize the backgrounds of the windows was that I could give all places on my fs a specific look. I thought that would be great and was already fantasizing about all the different things I'd do: use notes background for music, select beautiful pastel pink pattern for writing, and so on. Who cares about locations anyway, if I can make the windows visual look a much better clue? But no. Firstly, all the backgrounds available sucked. None of them looked like it would scream "set me as the default background for your music collection". I thought, ah well, maybe they rushed this stuff and didn't have good patterns by decent artists, so it'll be there in the next version.

But then I had to realize why I was wrong: the background selection affected the backgrounds of all the windows. So that's that. Size and position. I got a lot of places I want to be. I can't figure out a setup where the windows on desktop wouldn't somehow obstruct each other and force me to move this or that aside so I could see what's underneath. And thus, you realize, the spatial metaphor breaks down. Unimpressed, we move on.

Did I mention already that gnome-terminal sucks? It does. It eats so much CPU that your new XP 3000+ can hardly scroll a single window. And yes, I've had the single process crash and take all my terminal windows with it. A few of those occurences and you don't want to touch that terminal emulator ever again. Jesus Christ people, you'll probably next decide that gnome-terminal itself is useless as no-one (should) use the CLI and remove it. I know this kind of radical suggestion will take a few years yet but you could be ahead of your time and put it out of its misery today. See if any of your users care. A hint: nope?

Why all this usability crap is wrong

Because you are actually alienating your users. If I want a lightweight desktop, I'll use xfce4. If I want to actually have a comfortable desktop, then that's KDE. And I wouldn't use GNOME even if I wanted to impress my grandma.

Now the surprise: I really think it's fine that there's one desktop in Linux catering for the wishes of the totally retarded computer user. We're going to need that because it gives Linux desktop the sort of street credibility those big bosses of random software vendors might want to hear about, so that Linux gets more interesting 3rd party apps and thus we can allow people to ditch Windows when we have something that clearly is a superior alternative in almost every which way. So let GNOME be a vehicle for that. At least it makes sense: KDE has the high-featured desktop angle pretty much covered.

Fortunately, if history's any indication, this whole blogrant was useless, asthe KDE developers have shown impeccable ability to know how to separate the good and bad of all these "usability studies" that everyone's so hot about, and merge the best of the dogs in the next version.