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Desktop Environment-Related Thoughts Anonymous >>b42b4257aeace648ce [Reply]
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What does a desktop environment need to be? I believe that it should function like a desk. Sure it may take a while for long time computer users to get used to the feel of such desktop environment, but wouldn’t it be more productive in the long run? As computers get further integrated with the office and other sorts of work its more and more important that the computers act the way everything else acts. Besides this I always like to know why. Why is this this way? or Why is something done the way its done? Most desktop environments can’t really answer this question in a way that I like. “Oh, that’s just the way it is.” or “It’s just a quirk of the DE.” or whatever. I want to know why. But things like this are so abstract that there really can’t be a reason. 



That is why an desktop environment need to be rooted in something concrete. An actual desk, then there can be a why. Everything will be made to act like something concrete so if someone asks, “Why does it act like that?” We can reply “Because that is how a desk really acts. Beyond this, if a desktop environment is designed to act like a real desk, using it with a touch screen will come naturally. Windows are paper, widgets are things, icons are buttons. It all works, because it is rooted in something concrete, not some abstract idea of what the ideal GUI is. A desk is an efficient tool that we have used for ages. Its about time that this tool moved into the digital world. 



Here’s what I’ve thought of 



Trash bin isn’t a folder, its a place. You don’t store your trash in a folder do you? The trash would be some kind of virtual desktop of sorts. This would be this first change in trash bins…ever. 



One real desktop with several virtual ones. A home desktop, you could say. The wallpaper won’t change when the desktop changes, it’s still the same desk. 



Data isn’t stored on the desktop. It isn’t a folder. Have you ever seen anyone on the planet doing their work directly in a folder? No. You just don’t store data on the desktop. (That doesn’t mean you can’t have launchers there though.) There could be a desk, or junk, drawer, though, that stores data. That could be a folder. 



Distinction between “home” folders. 

Music folder acts like Amarok, Rhythmbox, or Songbird. 
Pictures and Video folders act like PicLens. 
Documents folder acts like folders traditionally do. 

Lots of technical things that normally aren’t doable without using the Terminal are doable from the GUI. 



This is important. I know that Linux users like the Terminal, I do too. But this is about ease of use, some people want to have a computer that they can use without understanding it completely. Thats fine, I don’t need to know how exactly my cell phone works to use it. I just need to know how to manipulate the GUI to get what I want done, done. 



Transitions are important. Everything should make sense. 



Compositing without compiz. Yes, I know everyone is in love with compiz, but it’s way too resource heavy. The e17 compositing engine is much lighter, and the transitions are beautiful. Not only that you can add modules that allow for new effects. (Take that compiz) 



Widgets. Google Gadgets, Yahoo! Widgets, Mac OSX Dashboard Widgets. Things of that sort. 



Things you expect to be done are done. Without your input. Take a look at this article: 



The other day I watched someone unlock their car with a remote key. No big deal, a common occurrence. But for some reason I noticed it and thought that’s cool. Maybe because I never had a remote key. I went from a regular, mechanical, non-electronic key, to a Prius with a “Smartkey” system. 



With the Prius, I don’t need to touch the key. I walk up to the locked car and open the door. As long as I have my key in my pocket or backpack it’s all automatic. In other words, no user interface. (I’m now spoiled – I resent having to pull my office key-card out of my pocket, and even worse to have to use a mechanical key on my house.) 



Too often in software (and other areas) we think the ultimate “solution” to a problem is some clever UI, like a remote key. But people don’t want a clever UI, they want to get some job done, and often the less UI the better – none if possible. 



Similarly, the best solution for errors is to prevent them in the first place. (again, no UI) You can’t lock your key in the Prius because it won’t let you lock the car if the key is inside. 



Based on Enlightenment. I don’t think I need to explain myself. Have you tried Enlightenment? (e17, not one of the older versions) 




Typewriter – A word processor that acts like a piece of paper. Isn’t that novel, a programs that tries to emulate the process of using a typewriter that actually feels like it. Wow. Could be based on Abiword or OpenOffice.