Linux 2005

I upgraded my desktop to Ubuntu 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog a couple of days ago because I needed the USB support in the more recent kernels. The good news is that Linux is getting better. This is a huge improvement since I first started using Linux with Mandrake 8 some years ago. The bad news is that it isn’t there yet as a serious desktop operating system. The install process is much less painful but still doesn’t pass the parent test. Despite already having a system partitioned for Linux, the installer still asked me about partitions, and required me to choose my partition setup. Otherwise, though, it auto-detected my network card, my sound card, my mouse, my keyboard, the DHCP server, and almost everything else. However, it still couldn’t handle my widescreen monitor. Widescreen monitors were a little unusual when I bought this one back in the late 90s, but today they’re extremely common. Why Linux still can’t believe that 1600×1024 is a reasonable resolution I don’t know. Not everyone lives in a 4:3 world. Still it was a vast improvement over the installers of yore.

Unfortunately once I logged in I was back in 1999. Well not quite. One change since then is that my home directory and trash can were nowhere to be found. They’re no longer on the desktop where they belong. I eventually found them hidden in a menu that seemed to exist for no reason other than to have three menus in the menu bar. Another unwelcome change is that the Ubuntu desktop wallpaper is a lot uglier than the standard Mandrake, Red Hat, or Gnome themes I’ve seen in the past.

Gnome is still a confusing agglomeration of way too many unrelated pieces. There’s no particular rhyme or reason to the organization of the menu bars. The main menu bar is at the top of the screen where God intended it to be be, but application menu bars are still in the wrong place. The included programs range from adequate to poor. Just one example: why does it take three dialog boxes to open an ftp connection in gftp? My overall feeling is that if the Linux community hasn’t learned the first thing about user interface design in 15 years, they’re not going to start now. Creating new distros that add a few packages and delete a few others won’t help. That’s just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Linux is doomed to continued irrelevance on the client unless someone with some competence in user interface design forcibly forks almost every application from the Gimp to OpenOffice and rewrites it with a focus on usage rather than features.

3 Responses to “Linux 2005”

  1. Daniel Costalis Says:

    Ah….. but do you STILL think this after 8.10 has now been released?

  2. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    Certainly nothing before 8.10 did anything to change my mind about this. I expect I’ll try 8.10 in the next few weeks, but frankly I’ll be astonished if it’s a significant improvement.

  3. The Cafes » Linux 2008: Still Not Ready for Prime Time Says:

    […] The menu system hasn’t changed in years. It’s still the same disaster it was 3 years ago. When is Gnome going to realize what Apple’s known for 25 years, and even Microsoft has known […]