Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Linux Software

How Would You Refocus Linux Development? 821

Posted by kdawson
from the if-money-were-no-object-and-politics-didn't-matter dept.
buddyglass writes "The majority of Slashdot readers are no doubt appreciative of Linux in the general sense, but I suspect we all have some application or aspect of the platform that we wish were more stable, performant, feature-rich, etc. So my question is: if you were able to devote a 'significant' number of resources (read: high-quality developers) to a particular app or area of the kernel, and were able to set the focus for those resources (stability, performance, new features, etc.), what application or kernel area would you attempt to improve, and what would aspect you focus on improving?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Would You Refocus Linux Development?

Comments Filter:
  • Three things. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) * on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:22PM (#20358567) Journal
    Better hardware support
    Better performance
    Maintain excellent reliability.

    What else could you need?
    • Re:Three things. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by stemcel (1074448) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:28PM (#20358603)
      • Visual coherency and a refined GUI. Taste in UI's vary between people, but most linux GUIs that aren't very minimalist tend to suffer from wasted space.
      • In interests of making linux more accessible, more configuration utilities that don't require specific knowledge and in-errant editing of configuration text files.
      • Re:Three things. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ArcherB (796902) * on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:41PM (#20358729) Journal
        Visual coherency and a refined GUI. Taste in UI's vary between people, but most linux GUIs that aren't very minimalist tend to suffer from wasted space.

        Granted, this is important to the Linux community, but when I hear Linux development, I think kernel, modules, and organization (like what goes in /etc, what goes in /bin, what goes in /usr/bin, and so on). Things like KDE, Gnome and other window managers are merely applications as far as I'm concerned and should be considered no more Linux development than, say, Open Office. Of course, I don't mean to say your view is wrong in the least. I just considered the question more narrow than you did and wanted to explain why I didn't consider any X development as part of the question.
        Also, since X relies on video hardware, I'd consider X and XGL/Compiz-Fusion/Beryl to be categorized under hardware support.

        In interests of making linux more accessible, more configuration utilities that don't require specific knowledge and in-errant editing of configuration text files.

        Good point, or better yet, make these files standard across distros so the same configuration utilities works as well on Gentoo as Ubuntu.

        A standard method for installing applications across distros would be nice too. I forgot to mention that!
        • Re:Three things. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by omeomi (675045) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:51PM (#20358811) Homepage
          when I hear Linux development, I think kernel, modules, and organization (like what goes in /etc, what goes in /bin, what goes in /usr/bin, and so on). Things like KDE, Gnome and other window managers are merely applications as far as I'm concerned and should be considered no more Linux development than, say, Open Office.

          How is a window manager less a part of Linux development than basically anything other than the kernel? I mean, just about anything else *could* be considered an "application"--even something as basic as 'ls'--and could potentially be left out of a distro. Like you, I'm not saying you're wrong, but to the Linux-desktop community, things like KDE and Gnome are pretty important.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Tom9729 (1134127)
            Not everyone uses Gnome/KDE or even X. Everyone who uses Linux, uses a kernel though. I think that was the point he was trying to make.
            • by omeomi (675045)
              True, but he said Kernel, Modules, and Organization. I'm asking how Gnome/KDE is substantially different from "modules", not "kernel"
        • Re:Three things. (Score:5, Informative)

          by EvanED (569694) <evaned@ g m ail.com> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:50PM (#20359235)
          Granted, this is important to the Linux community, but when I hear Linux development, I think kernel, modules, and organization

          Then you didn't read the summary very carefully:
          if you were able to devote a 'significant' number of resources (read: high-quality developers) to a particular app or area of the kernel

          In other words, something that improves KDE, Gnome, X, etc. is a perfectly fine answer to this question.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by pcnetworx1 (873075)
      If I could refocus Linux Development... I would try to pool all the development into 1 distro to reduce duplication of so much effort.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by piojo (995934)

        If I could refocus Linux Development... I would try to pool all the development into 1 distro to reduce duplication of so much effort.
        Linux is about choice. If Linux distros were combined into a one size fits all environment, guess what would happen? It would fork, because there would be people that didn't like it. Combining the distros is an idea that would never get off the ground. The users just wouldn't stand for it.
      • Re:Three things. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @12:05AM (#20359343) Homepage

        Would you do the same for Windows? Would you lump Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows CE, Windows Cluster Edition, and Windows Mobile all together into one product?

        There aren't really more significant Linux distros than that, and they aren't really much more redundant by purpose than that either. Sure, there are a lot of hobbyist distros and LiveCD distros, but those aren't duplicated effort - those are hobbyists playing around.

      • Re:Three things. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday August 26, 2007 @01:51AM (#20359961) Journal
        I would try to pool all the development into 1 distro to reduce duplication of so much effort.

        I intend to release my own distro in a couple of months.

        How do you plan on stopping me?

    • Re:Three things. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Mad Debugger (952795) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:33PM (#20358653)
      1. Better GNOME usability for Ubuntu (with delivery of Bulletproof X and the GTK Xconfig ASAP, please)

      Seriously, the desktop lacks stuff that has been in Windoze since '95. The kernel works pretty good. We have pluggable storage okay.. but there's still basic holes in the usability (like changing the res on the fly when I move my laptop in and out of my office) that just need to get fixed.

      2. Spend whatever time is left over to make OOo faster and easier to use.

      The MS Office import filters are so *almost* there, but this app really needs to close the usability gap with Office. I have a semi-decent machine running Ubuntu, and even with Java disabled, it still takes what seems like forever to open a simple document that someone emails to me.

      I know these aren't *really* linux-specific, especially OOo, but it's what needs to happen to make linux a real, legitimate desktop force. I'm an easy sell, I love open source, but right now there are too many excuses for why this stuff isn't gettin' fixed, and not enough fixin' it, and right now I'm not telling my computer-illiterate friends that they should go order a Dell machine with Ubuntu preloaded.. I'm telling them to buy a Mac, so I don't have to tell them how to fix basic stuff.
    • Re:Three things. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ageoffri (723674) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:37PM (#20358679)
      And those 3 reasons are a huge part of why desktop Linux has been on life support for years, way too much effort has been devoted to them. Nerds concentrate on those features and don't get me wrong they are important. What constantly gets left out is usability, installation needs to be simple enough that I can give my parents a CD/DVD and let them install it. There needs to be a consistent UI between applications and components. Installing software must not require editing config files and if additional components are needed then it should just be a click Yes to install additional components.
      • by ArcherB (796902) *
        And those 3 reasons are a huge part of why desktop Linux has been on life support for years, way too much effort has been devoted to them. Nerds concentrate on those features and don't get me wrong they are important. What constantly gets left out is usability, installation needs to be simple enough that I can give my parents a CD/DVD and let them install it. There needs to be a consistent UI between applications and components. Installing software must not require editing config files and if additional com
    • Re:Three things. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:40PM (#20358709)
      You know what I'd love more than further improvement in any of those areas? Comprehensive, well-written documentation.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vtcodger (957785)
        ***You know what I'd love more than further improvement in any of those areas? Comprehensive, well-written documentation.***

        I'd settle for comprehensible documentation.

        I think it is fair to say that documentation is an area where both OSS and Microsoft suck. It's hard to say which is worse.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) * on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:22PM (#20358569) Homepage Journal
    and concave lenses, with a relatively low refractive index and arranged in an optimum series for magnification of subtle surface-details, at quite a close range - say between 200 and 400 mm.

    Thanks. I'll be here all week.
  • by vonFinkelstien (687265) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:25PM (#20358587)
    Find out all the things at take too many clicks, or require editing text files and make them "Just Work" in a simple and easy way.
    • by greenguy (162630) <estebandido@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:35PM (#20359147) Homepage Journal
      Bingo. This is what keeps me from recommending Linux (more enthusiastically) to my friends and co-workers. I find myself saying things like "They've come a long way on wireless... but they still have a ways to go." Same thing for hibernation. And don't get me started on installing -- I know what "make" does, but I've been at it for several years now. God forbid I try to get a Python app going. (Yes. I do know about the install front-ends on Ubuntu, SuSe, Fedora, etc.]

      You want to be 31337? Great, more power to you. Some people have work to do, and aren't interested in matching skillz with you.

      I'm aware this is boring shit to focus on. But that's the stuff I want to see.
  • Al the time on Linux it seems every program looks different and out of place, the only ones that fit are the ones that come with the DE and so are made to look all the same. Take a look at KDE apps on Gnome or vice versa. On windows everything uses standard widgets and themes. And I'm not talking about stuff like Winamp that uses a skin, but take a look at Pidgin on the windows platform, an open source project that looks completely at home on a Gnome desktop. In XP or Vista, the menus and windows aren't dra
    • except that KDE and gnome apps, in a UI sense, are kinda sorta mutually exclusive, no?
      • except that KDE and gnome apps, in a UI sense, are kinda sorta mutually exclusive, no?

        But there's still the great schism between KDE/Qt apps and GNOME/GTK apps. Regardless of which DE you use, you'll encounter applications that use both toolkits and they're going to look inconsistent and comparatively out of place.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Well, the original poster did repeatedly say "kernel," not UI widgets.

      (Personally I think common *functionality* (such as all programs using the same sound subsystem, e.g. alsa vs. oss, or printing) is far more important than widgets and other eye candy anyways, but to each his own!)

      • Well, the original poster did repeatedly say "kernel," not UI widgets.

        Preceded by "applications or", which would include widgets and DEs.

  • I know that gcc is a great compiler, and vi and emacs are wonderful, but I really miss the convenience of select and drop gui development. I also like IDE's, with context sensitive help, and class completion and all the other things they do.

    It seems to me that windows development tools are ahead of Linux in these regards, and it would behoove Linux developers to make development as easy as possible.

    • I also like IDE's, with context sensitive help, and class completion and all the other things they do.

      Honestly not trying to flame you here, but have you tried Eclipse [eclipse.org]? Am pretty sure it does what you need: for Java anyway, it certainly has basic support (syntax highlighting etc.) for other languages like C/C++ and PHP too. If you're into .NET there's Monodevelop [monodevelop.com], which is an IDE for that.

  • The Hurd (Score:3, Interesting)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:34PM (#20358659) Homepage

    if you were able to devote a 'significant' number of resources (read: high-quality developers) to a particular app or area of the kernel, and were able to set the focus for those resources (stability, performance, new features, etc.), what application or kernel area would you attempt to improve, and what would aspect you focus on improving?
    I'd budget $1M/year for a minimum of five years for full-time work on the Hurd. No, it isn't Linux but it is an alternative kernel with interesting features that is sadly stagnating.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Slashcrap (869349)
      I'd budget $1M/year for a minimum of five years for full-time work on the Hurd. No, it isn't Linux but it is an alternative kernel with interesting features that is sadly stagnating.

      No, it doesn't have interesting features. If it had interesting features it would not be stagnating and lacking in developers. OpenBSD is an alternative kernel with interesting features and that is why it has enough developers and support to be usable.

      There are no end of unfinished OS projects with a couple of developers that mo
  • Might I Suggest... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bealzabobs_youruncle (971430) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:35PM (#20358673)
    that anyone who thinks that CLI usage is not a feature of Linux think again? This topic is 12 minutes old and three post have already suggested we bury the command line; part of what makes Linux so fast, flexible and customizable is access to virtually every setting from a text editor. This is not something that needs to be changed, instead change your mindset that this is not Windows.

    If you are looking for a completely GUI drive *nix I would say OS X is your best bet (yes, I know you can use the CLI in OS X, but you never have to unless you so desire).

    • by mikesd81 (518581)
      I agree. I do alot of work from shells or xterms even when I'm trying to customize something instead of clicking through dozens of windows and screens I can just edit a config file make a setting save it and presto. Actually, the only thing I really require X for is surf the web and grab mail.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by grumbel (592662)
      We definitively shouldn't bury the command line, but on the other side we shouldn't just let it stay the way it currently is forever. Currently there is a huge gap between the command line and the GUI, the most you can do in terms of interaction between the two might be copy&paste of a file name, but thats basically it. What I would like to see is some more monad/msh or XMLTerm'ish stuff where you don't just deal with lines of text, but have proper objects that you can move around between command line a
      • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:28PM (#20359097) Homepage

        for every thing that I can do with the GUI, I want a way to access that with the command line and visa verse.

        This is false. You don't actually want a way to do everything with the GUI that can be scripted. For exceptionally esoteric features that are only of interest to programmers, sysadmins, and CLI-aware power users it's perfectly reasonable to have them only be accessable though command line options or a non-GUI config file.

        That's how most programs work. Even Windows with WSH and the Registry. Hell, even Windows video games have options that can only be accessed by editing some config.ini file somewhere. If you tried to fit all that stuff in the GUI, you'd never be able to find any of it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kjella (173770)
          Look, flat text files are just that - flat text files. I am CLI-aware but I don't think text files are particularly good - they have no validation of either parameter names, values or even types of value. They have no easily navigateable structure, nor any user friendly UI elements. Typical example:

          # Controls max number of connections
          connectionsMax = 10
          # Enable SSL
          ssl = true

          I think it should probably have been defined somewhere in XML

          <field name = "connectionsMax">
          <use>required</use

    • by smallpaul (65919)

      that anyone who thinks that CLI usage is not a feature of Linux think again? This topic is 12 minutes old and three post have already suggested we bury the command line; part of what makes Linux so fast, flexible and customizable is access to virtually every setting from a text editor. This is not something that needs to be changed, instead change your mindset that this is not Windows.

      You've set up a false dichotomy. The other guys are saying that every setting should be available from a GUI. They did n

    • by jeevesbond (1066726) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:18PM (#20359029) Homepage

      This topic is 12 minutes old and three post have already suggested we bury the command line; part of what makes Linux so fast, flexible and customizable is access to virtually every setting from a text editor.

      Whilst I totally agree with what follows after the semi-colon in this sentence am not so sure about the part prior to it. All we're seeing is that people do not want to be forced into changing settings--am assuming, on their desktop machines--using the command line. This does not mean we should 'bury' the command line, or stop using text files to hold settings! In fact you've made my point for me:

      If you are looking for a completely GUI drive *nix I would say OS X is your best bet (yes, I know you can use the CLI in OS X, but you never have to unless you so desire).

      Aye, there's the rub! The user should be able to choose between a GUI configuration interface or editing a text file: everyone's a winner! Also a GUI should be able to read/write text configuration files whilst handling seperate user changes to those files gracefully.

      In fact I'd spend a lot of the money on getting everyone (or as many projects as I could) to agree to a configuration file format that could easily be interpreted by an application. A one-size-fits-all library could be written to get the settings from file into memory and back again, then it would just be a matter of organising that data into a front-end that's meaningful for the user. The real joy is that with a standard file format, and library to support it, a rudimentary GUI for a new application could be created in minutes.

      This is not something that needs to be changed, instead change your mindset that this is not Windows.

      This is a very conservative viewpoint, why can things not change? Why can't we have the best of both worlds, with both GUI configuration tools and text files?

      • In fact I'd spend a lot of the money on getting everyone (or as many projects as I could) to agree to a configuration file format that could easily be interpreted by an application. A one-size-fits-all library could be written to get the settings from file into memory and back again, then it would just be a matter of organising that data into a front-end that's meaningful for the user. The real joy is that with a standard file format, and library to support it, a rudimentary GUI for a new application could

    • CLI Update! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samfff (1135301)
      I think Linux should have a totally different interface to Windows or OSX. The target audience for Linux are server administrators and power users and I think the interface designers should realise this. I really don't think that linux will ever beat Windows or Mac for usability, and maybe it doesn't need to. If Linux rewarded you for learning the bash shell then it would be a really interesting environment. As it is I can switch into the terminal to try and get some things done, and if I typeset my latex d
  • by mikesd81 (518581) <mikesd1@veri z o n .net> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:37PM (#20358683) Homepage
    That just freaking works. I never understood why every distro can't just use the same install method. Whatever it may be, rpm, apt, yast whatever. And I don't mean the 3 step make install method. Wouldn't it be great to go grab a package from freshmeat or sourceforge and...oh look that's the package type I need....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tajmorton (806296)

      Wouldn't it be great to go grab a package from freshmeat or sourceforge and...oh look that's the package type I need....
      See the Autopackage [autopackage.org] project, and there's a fairly large amount of software packaged using it. It works, but distros don't like it because they're afraid that the developers packages might mess up your system, so they refuse to support it. *shrug*
    • by garcia (6573)
      I never understood why every distro can't just use the same install method.

      Because none of them are setup the same way and honestly, I don't want them to be? apt-get update ; apt-get install foo. Looks like a two step method where I don't have to think all that much and I still feel like I have control over my system.

      Let's not fuck up the way things are just because some believe it would be better. Choice is a big part of the draw to Linux, why make it more like Windows when a lot of people want it to be
    • The problem is that "Linux"[1] is not a single operating system, and there are subtle binary incompatibilities between various distros. Use Debian for a while, then switch to something like Mandriva. You'll get the idea pretty quickly.

      -

      [1] or "GNU/Linux"---it doesn't matter here

    • I never understood why every distro can't just use the same install method.

      what you want is windows not linux. windows does everything in a cookie cutter sort of way and look where it got them... the current state of security/flaws that we see in windows is a consequence of that sterile environment. we need a diverse system that can survive in a way windows can not. things are done differently not "incorrectly." Now if the different flavors of Linux made each installation method simpler to carry out wh

  • WINE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jstomel (985001) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:39PM (#20358699)
    Admit it, wine sucks and there are lots of programs that will never be ported. I want wine to be integrated and almost invisible, like the Classic interface in OSX.
    • Wine's awesome and I'm often surprised at how well any given application works. Double-clicking on a windows executable runs it like any other program; it's easy for someone not to even realize that it isn't native. True, WINE lags behind the ever changing Windows landscape, but if you don't need the absolute newest programs out there (considering this is compared to "classic" a little age seems acceptable), you'll be fine.
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:40PM (#20358717) Homepage Journal
    One of the GNU / Linux weak points is the wide variety of user interface implementations. Simple and common functions should be accessed in the same way in every application. Look how many different keystroke combinations / menu selections are used to exit a program - sure, us nerds can keep them all straight without any trouble but what about the unwashed masses?

    Why is it that all the developers seem to be able to code to a standard API - but they can't even come close to agreement on the way a program is operated? Maybe it's time to create a UI standard for Linux apps?

    This would go a long way towards making Linux the favored choice for desktop machines. Ease of use is a great way to unseat the dominant OS; it's not exactly easy to use and it's very possible to beat them at this game.

    • by DamnStupidElf (649844) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Sunday August 26, 2007 @04:14PM (#20365195)
      Why is it that all the developers seem to be able to code to a standard API - but they can't even come close to agreement on the way a program is operated? Maybe it's time to create a UI standard for Linux apps?

      Probably because there are no universal UI guidelines that fit in every case, and no one knows of the "best" way to design a UI. There are almost certainly better UI models that will be found in the future, and part of open source development is trying to discover those models. Modal dialogs with "Yes, No, Cancel" may not be part of the optimal solution (it's hard to imagine them being the best for any task, really), so exploration into other representations and interaction models is a good thing.

      For one thing, modal dialogs are essentially points in the program flow where the user is forced to make a decision. In many cases, the decision can be made automatically or simply removed from the program flow if the correct UI model is used. All the dialogs warning about saving documents before closing programs are probably the worst thing to happen in UIs since their creation. The proper solution is to save and version everything the user does, and never lose work (to the maximum extent possible) when the application is closed or crashes. That requires support from the filesystem and a UI design that emphasizes the versioned nature of files and data. Forcing users to "log on" and "log off" and closing all their applications and opening them up again is another genuine UI mistake that's a holdover from the days when memory was so tiny that overlays were popular and it was simply a necessity of operating a computer. There is no reason that modern operating systems should not present a persistent interface to the user. Hibernation is the closest thing to persistence that's currently available, with suspension a close second, but neither are truly persistent. They still rely on the old model of individually managing each piece of data.
  • KDE and Gnome do a lot of things for usability, but some usability quirks have their root deep down in the kernel (awkward handling of CD/DVD, lack of stable ABI for kernel modules, userspace-fs could need some additions, kernel features that need a kernel recompile instead of just a module, etc.) or Xorg (hot-pluging of input devices isn't supported, no real graphical configuration tool, way to easy to get a non working configurations, etc.) and can't be fixed elsewhere no matter how much wrapper magic you
    • by bersl2 (689221)
      I think Xorg 7.3 is scheduled for release on the 29th. Yes, as in a few days. I don't think they'll make that date, but hotplugging on input and output seems to be somewhat imminent.
  • The first of those two is self-explanatory. High-quality, high-performance Free 3D drivers for good hardware.

    The second...

    I want some (not all) kernel developers to stop using throughput based metrics to measure performance, and instead use a metric based on interactive performance. I have a suggestion for such a metric...

    The time between user input and the user input having a noticeable affect on an output device like a display. And I don't think this time should be as short as possible, though that's a good goal. The time should be as consistent as possible while remaining short. I propose a metric that measures this latency and plots the standard deviation of the latency and uses that as the main metric with that average latency being a secondary metric.

  • I've seen some great preferences and some lousy ones, and then there are a bunch that are still only accessible via text editors. Getting some of the guys that are doing a bang up job on the good ones to help with the bad ones would be a start (i.,e. get the RH guys from system-config-samba to help on the gsambad project.) Also get a nice recoverable video preferences system (to go back to a one-size-fits most mode if you totally mess up the monitor settings).

    How about including some of the documentation
  • by bytesmythe (58644) <bytesmytheNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:47PM (#20358773)
    1) Wifi networking
        Too many wifi cards (especially the Broadcom chipsets) are painfully difficult to get working correctly. WPA2 encryption support is flaky. Wired and wifi should switch gracefully.

    2) Better sound support
        There are too many conflicting ways of producing sound, some of which dislike working together. Midi support should be built-in. Currently, it's a pain to install. Hopefully KDE's Phonon subsystem will help here.

    3) Better a/v
        Too many movies have unsynced audio and video. Also, many codecs are unsupported. Yes, I know they're proprietary, but I don't really care. Ubuntu is making codec installation easier, but frequently the codecs only work with some particular backend. (For instance, even with mp3 support installed for gxine, Amarok (a KDE app) still needs to install it's own. The desktop environment should provide a generic way for apps play audio, and if a KDE app is running under a Gnome environment, it should be able to "just work".) Don't forget the wonderful closed-source
    graphics card drivers!

    4) Easier windowing subsystem
        No one should have to edit xorg.conf to get anything working. Fortunately, the next release of X windows is supposed to finally do away with this by adding dynamic configuration with xrandr. Also, it will be nice when CompizFusion is more robust. Lots of people really like the eye-candy, and I find some of the features useful.

    5) Applications
        It should be easier to keep applications up-to-date. I love Ubuntu, but it drives me nuts seeing bug fixes or major enhancements to applications that I can't easily obtain because either the OS updates don't include application upgrades, or the OS repositories are simply not adequately maintained. I don't want to have to
    litter my package manager with repositories, or manually install packages just to keep my apps updated.

    6) Laptop support
        Suspend and resume don't always work very well. Some laptops don't come back, and frequently networking
    is messed up.

  • There are lots of exciting new things in linux: HAL, DBUS, UDEV, etc. These have changed the way hardware is detected and activated, mostly for the best.

    But many of the new tools that deal with this stuff are GUI programs like network manager. Now, network manager is a good program, but wouldn't it be cool for it to coordinate with ifup/ifdown? You know, update the classic commands so they use the new systems. I think there could be either a new generation of CLI tools or a re-vamping of the old.

    I'd als
  • by AmazingRuss (555076) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:48PM (#20358789)
    Seems like everytime I click the help menu, I get some skeleton outline, if anything at all. I don't mind googling around for the information, but if usage is going to grow outside of the techie segment, the help systems are going to have to catch up with Windows 95 era chm files, at least. I'm not talking about technically, but rather actually having some useful content in the systems. I understand that writing documentation is no fun, so I don't hold out much hope for this.

    Sure would be nice though.
  • by martijnd (148684) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @10:55PM (#20358847)
    I think Linux has always had this "everything at the same time" feeling to it; so things move ever so slowly. Some languish, some die, sometimes people get angry about it and things get fixed. So many people pulling in different directions ; many projects died but their best ideas live on.

    It used to be a nightmare to configure hardware -- its now easier than installing XP on a Vista machine. X had (and has) so many problems it wasn't funny; but these days you can click around for days and it mostly just works. Wine was a joke for years -- but I can run my favorite online (DirectX) games at decent frame rates and progress is fast. For years it felt like all Linux coders lived in the USA; now proper Unicode support & multi language support make for example Chinese/Japanese input much easier.

    Linux is a giant wave always moving slightly behind the edge, companies can make money by living on the bleeding edge. But slowly all of them get washed away.

  • The people responding here do realize, almost by definition, that "refocussing" Linux involves a hypothetical mode of intervention that stands at complete contrast to everything Linux has so far represented. There is no vagrant pool of talent at this level, nor is there a mechanism to confine this pool of talent to pie-in-the-sky wishlish thinking.

    As a point of reference, this text has been in the OpenBSD dhcpd man page for as long as I can remember:

    We realize that it would be nice if one could send a SIG

  • 3D (Score:5, Informative)

    by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:11PM (#20358987)
    While it has been said before, I believe 3D is the path. Please, please, provide support on par with Windows for any 3D graphics hardware, whether inside a computer or a console.

    That is the path to success on the desktop. Today, I cannot even run OpenGL apps or any 3D apps on the lastest and greatest 3D graphics hardware from AMD (formerly ATI), the Radeon 2900XT. Why? There are no drivers. They have focused entirely on Windows, and consider Linux a niche market not worth the effort. Because of that, my family do not have a Linux only machine, which is also why I dual boot. The Radeon 2900XT support may well come to Linux, "when it is ready".

    Please, take 3D support in Linux more seriously, whether you are hardware manufacturer or a software developer.

  • The Elektra Project (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Thaidog (235587) <slashdot753 AT nym DOT hush DOT com> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:12PM (#20358991)
    http://elektra.g4ii.com/Main_Page [g4ii.com]

    I think it's at least worth trying such an implementation. Ok... now bring on the "It Windows again" haters...
  • It's so easy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:13PM (#20359003) Homepage
    If you want to win the desktop war, you can, in a few years, by asking yourself a single question:

    Could my grandmother (who is already "sort of" computer savvy) use this without calling me every five minutes?

    It's been a minute since I've used Linux as my desktop, but if users are still being forced to edit text files to change common program preferences, you'd better get used to your third seat behind Windows and OS X. I'm not telling you to have some crazy xml schema with a billion pieces fronted by a hefty GUI - I'm just asking you for the option of using a lightweight GUI to parse and store my preferences to the same text file.

    Keep your CLI, and -color-code-for-Klingon-language-support options, but don't even try to force that on every day users. Leave stuff exposed so you can work your admin magic, but build some sane GUIs for everyone else unless you enjoy end-user support.
  • Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
  • by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:17PM (#20359025)
    ...with good support for building from source. We obviously need a standard package format with robust support for complex dependencies. The build-from-source part is also really important: right now, no distro (not even Gentoo!) makes it easy to, for example, compile your own Mesa libraries and have them used by the pre-compiled X server. Right now, you can pull a project from cvs/svn and do a make install. But it will overwrite the version from the package and break dependencies. This greatly raises the barrier of entry for testing new code, making the "open source" aspect of Linux software far more accessible.

    Once we have a unified packaging system, the meaning of a "linux distro" will change. There will be a lot more sharing of work for the base system, and separate distros will really become sets of config files with just a few changes from the upstream code. Kubuntu is a great example of this: it is a low-maintenance specialization of Ubuntu.
  • There's still way too much code that runs with elevated privileges. I want to be able to run downright *malicious* code on my machine, under X11, and not be worried about it compromising my SSH keys, for example.

    If this doesn't happen, we're eventually going to see the malicious screensavers in Linux that we've in Windows throughout the last decade.

  • The kernel isn't where we need improvment - it's the developer tool kits that are needed. All the open source developer tools are crap, i'm sorry to say it but it's just the truth people. compare gtk to QT (yes i know QT is free, but not if you want closed source which is what many many people want), or compare anything .net to... well i can't even think of anything that's even close. look at the direct x tool kit compared to opengl, sure opengl can do some ok things but developing in it compared to DX is
  • Linux is an amazing server. Since Linux and all the components uses the GPL I don't imagine anyone ever being able to invest any major amounts of efforts to refine the gui for consumers. Linux is very strong as a server. I really think people should just abandon efforts on trying to force Linux to be a widely used Workstation. It's a great workstation for developers and programmers. Not even close to ready for consumers.

    Focus on the server side, consolidate efforts of all the developers to make it perf
  • Linux has achieved near parity with Windows in a lot of places. I've been a Linux desktop user since 1995. Between 1995 and 2005, I always used some kind of Windows emulation to run Microsoft Office and FrameMaker, because there is no Linux equivalent. Since 2005, OpenOffice has become sufficiently powerful, compatible, and stable, that I have not felt the need, at all, for Microsoft Office, and so I have completely given up using Windows emulators.

    However, Linux is still sorely lacking in 2 key application areas:

    • Really good DTP. FrameMaker rocks. Adobe had a Frame version for Linux in beta for a year, and then withdrew it :-( Yes, I know about LaTeX, I wrote 2 theses and 10 papers in LaTeX, and it is not an adequate replacement. Linux needs either a port of FrameMaker, or a clone. OO Writer is an easy-to-use word processor, not a DTP, it is like the difference between a hand saw and a lumber mill.
    • Good webcast software. On Windows, WebEx is the clear winner, and they have a solid product. Delivering a demo to remote viewers of a desktop application is no problem. Doing the same thing in Linux is problematic, at best. Instead of one really good product, we have several bad ones. Mostly they just lack maturity, but that still means that I have to spend a lot on plane fare to give effective Linux desktop demos.
  • by thePsychologist (1062886) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:41PM (#20359179) Journal
    1) PDF support. Almost all PDF readers on Linux except for Adobe's product have difficulties with large PDF documents. What's with the "LOADING" message that takes forever? Adobe Reader looks horrible (inconsistent with the native GUI). There isn't a single PDF reader besides Adobe Reader that supports subpixel rendering which makes the font rendering hurt my eyes.

    2) MIDI support

    3) A "configuration manager" that knows most of the contents of the /etc directory and has three windows: a list of text config files, a window that displays the file, and a window with a paragraph or two of explanations and examples on how to change the file.

    4) More active development of Fluxbox. It could use more features like shading on mouse wheel scroll and multiple backgrounds for each workspace.

    5) A publicity website for Linux! This is probably the most important thing the Linux community could do. Features are nice, but who cares if no one uses them? The website would contain among other things:

    -Step by step guide and interactive application to help people select a distribution
    -Explanation of all major window manager/desktop environments, again to help people select.
    -List of most mature Linux apps with description, screenshots, reviews, and commentary by users
    -Discussion forums
    -Latest on Linux section: demos of CompizFusion, new apps, tips and tricks, etc.
    -Section specifically for articles on switching from Windows difficulties
    -User friendly, designed primarily for noobs
    -Linux store with quality Linux clothing
    -Professional design
  • by OverflowingBitBucket (464177) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @12:38AM (#20359583) Homepage Journal
    Kernel?

    Bring down the barriers relating to kernel development. We're talking documentation, convenience interfaces between the kernel-level stuff and userland, so forth. Spend a bit of time making kernel modules VERY feature-laden. Make them very easy to play with and ensure there are plenty of user-space tools to help you out. I've mucked around with a lot of stuff and have been developing software for a couple of decades now, but the Linux kernel STILL scares me.

    Layer a set of version-consistent APIs above some of the low-level kernel stuff so driver developers don't have to target as many different setups or rely on a compiler being on the system to do their magic. I know this is a very unpopular idea in the kernel circles, but I think it would be very beneficial.

    Of course I'm going to get ripped apart on the prior two paragraphs from people who know much more than me in those areas, so let's just say that these are just my thoughts from an external perspective.

    Now moving on...

    Operating system?

    Somebody PLEASE develop a consistent library and API with minimal requirements that can interface with a whole bunch of windowing environments- including GNOME and KDE at a minimum. It should load the specific windowing interfaces dynamically so that using this common library adds no further dependencies to an application that uses it. From this interface I'd want to see fully-customisable keybindings, macros, and GUI controls of various sorts, an ability to hook to interesting events (eg. about to suspend, woken up, user logged out of GUI), info about screen layouts, access to user preferences regarding these applications (window positioning for particular apps, etc), and some assistance in loading and restoring state.

    The library could then be taken and developed so that it is so appealing to developers they really have no reason not to use it, and the interfaces appealing to enough of the windowing environment developers so that they want to integrate it as well. It'd have a very liberal license (say BSD) applied to it to keep people using it.

    Along with the library you'd have a set of tools that build on a whole bunch of environments (say: GNOME, KDE, and something that uses straight X). They would be used to set up all of the customisation that users could possibly want. The interfaces would have a simple mode for users that like very basic interfaces (actually to keep the people who claim that people want this happy), and a simple checkbox to enable "expert" mode that displays everything in obscene detail. The tools would have a sharing license (say GPL) to keep people pitching in their changes.

    And then you'd need a whole bunch of people to promote it to make sure people know about it.

    Imagine being able to fully configure all of your graphical apps to act how YOU want, drop in extra controls, keyboard shortcuts, trivially add in macros for remote app control, so forth- all without the developers of those applications needing to worry about it themselves. Why? The library handles it for them. The GNOME people and the KDE people can keep going about things their own way as well, and they'll keep making their own advances too. But they'll both be saved reinventing the same wheel in this common ground, whilst still having full control to take their projects to where they want to go.

    I have been awfully tempted to attempt this myself but I know it would be far too large a project for a single person. I'd never finish it on my own, and I'm not interested in the politics it would take to get traction on such a thing.

    But I'd love to see it.
  • by Burz (138833) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @12:51AM (#20359657) Journal
    1. An easy, approachable Hardware Compatibility lookup website. It would consolidate all the compatibility info from kernel & X11 devs, major distros, OEMs and also allow end-users to add their input. FWIW, the HCL at linuxquestions.org is an interesting start but nowhere near exhaustive or current enough to empower Linux users (not hackers) to confidently purchase new equipment.

    1a. A certification program for drivers that allows products which meet criteria to bear a special Linux compatibility trademark emblem.

    2. Fix the sound architecture. Blocking of sound output still occurs after many years of ALSA. There is no GOOD reason why Harriet shouldn't hear her softphone ring or calendar alarms just because a minimized web page contains a Flash object. Telling her to muck about in the CLI, to buy a pricier multi-channel soundcard, or to learn about sound servers and juggle them is beyond the pale.

    3. Create an excellent default IDE for the LSB Desktop environment. The IDE will be geared to target the LSB Desktop spec by default, with desktop applications as the focus. Something you would write a video editor or DVD burner with, not so much a video card or disk driver. GORM on steroids: If it doesn't inspire budding application developers like XCode and Visual Studio then Linux will not inspire application developers to write. Linux will not benefit from many more systems developers at this point because its the apps that matter: The apps sell the platform.

    3a. Well-rounded API documentation for the LSB Desktop target, ala MSDN or Apple Developer Connection, eventually integrated with IDE.

    4. Enable app developers to become as independent as possible, such that distro managers do not insert themselves between the developers and their users. Distros ought to distribute OS software, and for the most part stay the F*ck away from controlling installation of particular applications. High-level package managers like APT, YUM, etc. should stick to managing (or mangling) the OS dependency tree and leave apps the hell alone! Provide dependency targets in the OS repo like "LSB Desktop", and only one or two others like "Java 6". Then, accept that all the extra stuff you supply on top of LSB is ONLY extra, and will get used when and if the user decides in specific cases.

    4a. Ensure those budding app developers can easily share their work with friends and customers. Make appdirs like on OS X and Gobo Linux a standard. Dear God, please.

    5. Hacker culture works extremely poorly for application software today. Fund efforts to spread the discipline of user-centered product development. Teach FOSS developers the concepts and ropes of SDLC and Rational Unified Process, with emphasis on adding actor definitions and use-cases to docs and project wikis so that these elements are continually refined and re-thought eventually becoming the centerpiece of requirements. Create use-case instances (scenarios) in close association with unit/app testing scripts. Anything to keep developer minds on the kinds of users and situations the software is meant to satisfy. Encourage budding Business Analysts to do 6-12 month stints with FOSS projects.

    6. Create settings persistence (configuration) APIs for crucial system services like X11, Samba, Apache, sound, etc. Get these projects to set and manage their own config files, as no one else seems capable for doing this consistently or well. Maybe when they have to write AND parse their own config data, they will stop creating needlessly bizarre & open-ended formats that umpteen distro tools only understand halfway.

    7. Next-generation, object oriented shell based on something like Ruby, Python or even Groovy.

    Lastly, all of the above must be in the spirit of fulfilling primary personal computing scenarios like app and driver installation, and configuration of essential services (change screen res, use a network share, etc) in a predictable manner. Unlike MS and Apple, Linux does not yet grok PC land because
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dbcad7 (771464)
      4. Enable app developers to become as independent as possible, such that distro managers do not insert themselves between the developers and their users. Distros ought to distribute OS software, and for the most part stay the F*ck away from controlling installation of particular applications. High-level package managers like APT, YUM, etc. should stick to managing (or mangling) the OS dependency tree and leave apps the hell alone! Provide dependency targets in the OS repo like "LSB Desktop", and only one or
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      On point 4 you are without a scintilla of clue.

      The problem is as follows:

      You package has dependencies. It requires the version of glibc and a dozen other libraries you built it with. Do you talk to the developers of glibc and the dozen other libraries? if they want to upgrade their libraries what do you do?

      If you want to be independent then you take a copy of glibc that you used to build your app. you install it it in its own appdir so your app can use it. You do that for each of your dozen dependencies.
  • IMHO the toughest job facing the OSS community is education: teaching, learning, and how to document.

    This is compounded by the issue that most developers do not find documentation fun. If the common perception that geeks tend to be nerdy and poor at communication is true, then we have a triple whammy. This is one reason I say documentation and communication and education is our collective biggest failing.

    The learning curves for _any_ of our packages are steep. SysAdmins rejoice in the job security they perceive they gain as their expertize for apache, mysql, postfix, postgreSQL and so forth increases. The thing is each package has so many options that it takes forever to learn how to set them up. At last count Debian boasted over 30,000 packages available. How is one suppose to even know what a small percentage of these packages do? That is much less than to learn how to install, support and maintain them?

    But this is just the systems administration arena. The API's and programming is an order of magnitude more difficult to keep up with.

    Then the documentation. To use WxWidgets for instance I am faced with over 3,000 pages of main manuals, I need to decide if I use DialogBlocks or CodeBlocks or neither. I need to figure out what each does and what each doesn't, and after I buy Julian Smart's book - its another over 500 pages to read. In spite of the fact he's written DialogBlocks there is no useful information on same in his book. Thanx.

    This is only one (1) package. I have not addressed version differences and library dependencies and so forth. I have not considered the issues of limitations and bugs.

    To keep up is typically information overload to the gawd-zillion'th degree.

    ---

    M$ recognized this and attempted a solution. From what I can tell in around w95 they pulled all the error messages out of the system. I experienced the great joy of accidently turning off the external SCSI hard drive on a W95 computer while the system was accessing the disk... reading it actually. No error message was reported. We got what looked like "END OF FILE". This was M$ code reading the disk.

    Then on another occasion I noted a networking message from NT4.0 had the exact same text as from OS/2. The error number in NT4.0 was missing. Everything else was the same. On a hunch I looked up the message in OS/2 and lo and behold the error number lead to the issue at hand. Of course NT4.0 was no help at all because this information had been removed.

    Either it was removed or never put in. I dunno. What I do know is that the systems ability to correctly diagnose was hamstrung.

    So what do we have in the OSS world?

    1) volumes of crappy documentation layered on more volumes of poorly organized documentation.

    2) When problems are found and corrected - no good method exists to upgrade the docs.

    Here is an example. Many years ago I ran into a sound configuration issue in Debian Woody. This had to do with esoteric issues of generic SCSI drivers and bad permissions and so forth. I ended up posting in SourceForge a complete description of the problem and how to walk through it and fix it.

    Two (2) years later none of this information had been disseminated through the documentation of the package at hand where I had discovered it. Debian was still misconfigured. People were still coming into IRC pleading for assistance on how to get the software running (It was GRIP as I recall).

    ---

    This is just terrible performance and we are not getting much better at it.

    There are several websites of documentation. SourceForge does this. IMHO they do it poorly. There are many wiki's dedicated to various packages. Nothing is coordinated. The man and info pages I have in my latest system are still the first place I would like to look for information and they are basically just as bad now as they were in 1997. Probably these documentation sources have not been updated much since 1997. Why not? If there is new
  • by schwaang (667808) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @02:26AM (#20360121)
    I'd like to see a Performance Squad attack all the desktop apps and their underlying components.

    Not the kernel, but kernel hackers do know a ton about how to get good performance, so if they all took time out from the kernel to make the rest of the desktop snappy that would be just fine with me.

    Of course I've seen some efforts at this over the years. Dave Jones' perennial "why userspace sucks" talk, some work by Robert Love, some other GNOME folks looking at memory usage, the recent Intel tool looking at CPU-wakeups eating battery life on laptops, and lots of other pieces of the puzzle.

    It would be great if the basics of performance "best practices" would become widely known by desktop app programmers again. Instead we're falling into Microsoft's habit of being lazy about performance and expecting Moore's Law (increasing CPU speed and cheaper RAM) to bail us out.

    Now my girlfriend's answer would be different: OpenOffice still sucks too much (feature-wise), and it's keeping her from switching from Windows.
  • by egarland (120202) on Monday August 27, 2007 @04:50AM (#20369491)
    Linux needs to be able to dislodge Microsoft Office in order to become a viable option for large-scale replacement of Windows in the corporate environment. Open Office can handle most of the document creation work and Firefox/Thunderbird do a great job at handling web browsing and email.

    What is needed now is something that can integrate with an Exchange server's calendaring and also integrate with a robust open-source calendering server system to replace Outlook's calendaring functionality with an open, standards based system. We need to embrace and extend Outlook.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

Working...