the original NeXTstep desktop is the most beautiful GUI ever invented
Really? I think it's hideous. But I'll give it this, it's also functional and I'd take that over "pretty but gets in my way" any day of the week.
Maybe the DBUS developers have a point: desktops are like buses… you wait for ages, then two of them come along at once: Lomiri on Debian, and GSDE, the GNUstep Desktop Environment. Both the new offerings focus on Debian for now, although that may well change in time, and although both are quite different to more mainstream …
> I get looks are subjective, but for me it's RiscOS all the way.
I find completely the opposite, and it's not even close.
Don't get me wrong: I owned an Archimedes, but I never owned a NeXTstation (although I really wanted one).
I feel that the classic RISC OS 2 appearance was much neater and cleaner than the later RISC OS 3 look, which everyone else seems to favour. I love RISC OS for its pioneering use of scalable fonts and so on, but I never liked the textured window title bars and the grainy fonts in them. For me, RO2 was the classic look and feel, and RO3 was a cheap, gaudy, tacky replacement.
But compared to either of them, NeXTstep is a thing of beauty in my eyes: it is an order of magnitude cleaner, smarter, better-looking, and far far more professional.
One is a typewriter, the other is immaculate calligraphy. There is no competition here. One of them is a glorified home computer UI, a miracle of design by a tiny team, worthy of immense respect, and I love that it is still out there and open souce today...
Whereas the other is the first time that professional typography came to the personal computer. It's not just smart or elegant: It's actually beautiful.
And I speak as an owner and fan of Acorn computers since the late 1980s.
Agreed the RiscOS 2 look was much nicer than the RiscOS 3. NeXTstep looks ok but its elements take up way too much screen space, also I'm a guy who has 3x 27" screens (1440p) and likes his apps running maximised. Jumping from an Acorn to a PC I found main menus and toolbars a step backwards as they took up screen space.
I mean, just looking at the two screenshots provided and by comparison, yes, RiscOS's fonts are definitely grainier.
Neither is great by today's standards (even allowing for the bad flat icons we have today). Knowing nothing about it, I'd assume the RiscOS style was meant primarily for greyscale displays.
The design of RISC OS is way superior even from some modern OSs that are now more look like an indian wh*rehouse ... just to mention some of them:
* UI consistency: compare it with it with the windoze mess
* drag-n-drop between apps ... - try drag-n-drop on gnome nautilus from eg archive managers..
Would you prefer something 2D FLATSO FLATASS like Gnome+ADWAITA ? Or whatever the hell KDE became?
I think a nice retro 3D Skeuomorphic look is both REFRESHING and SUPERIOR !!!
I'll still use Mate with "TraditionalOK" though...
(I really am SICK of phone-like desktops and 2D FLATTY Win-Ape / Win-10-nic TIFKAM look - and I certainly hope THAT is NOT what the authors think of when they say "polished")
If not for Mate and Cinnamon, I'd really consider switching to GSDE. I hope it shows up in Devuan and Ubuntu-derived soon (if not already)
>> Would you prefer something 2D FLATSO FLATASS like Gnome+ADWAITA ? Or whatever the hell KDE became?
To my eyes the "3D" button look is like a Fisher-Price My First Computer. Admittedly this is probably because it's what my first GUI-based computer looked like but I have always preferred less fussy UIs that don't make a big song and dance about "Hey! Look at me! I'm a button! My border wastes 32 pixels of the UI!"
Nowadays it's: Hey guess what's clickable and what's not. And let's hide some UI items like scroll bars. And let's make then 2 pixel wide when they appear.
And at the same time let's have huge banners and have every text item with a 16 pixel margin so a 32" monitor can only display 10 lines of text.
Vast flat empty expanses of shitty voidness where a UI and lots of content should be.
The 3D look served a function, though, it wasn't just pretty -- it said "this is a thing you can click." With a modern flat interface you're faced with a number of rectangles, some of which are clickable and some of which are just decoration, and you never know which is which.
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it's also functional and I'd take that over "pretty but gets in my way" any day of the week
Same here, but of course "functional" is also highly subjective. What functions well for me may not be what functions well for you.
Personally, my favorite desktop GUI of all time was UWM (one of the sample window managers that came with the X11 source distribution; UWM itself was written at DEC, if memory serves). With my configuration – UWM was highly customizable – there were no desktop graphical controls and no window decorations except for a one-pixel border that changed color for the window with the keyboard focus (and focus was implicit, as it should be, and changing focus did not change the z-order). No screen real estate wasted on the window manager or "desktop"; all window-management functions accessed by keyboard shortcuts or mouse buttons (with modifier keys).
On-screen menus, docks, widgets, icons, window decorations and controls – don't need 'em, don't want 'em.
Scrollbars belong on the left, nicely abutting the fullest text edge, where you are looking. And permanent: let the the thumb just fill the whole area if there is not enough data to allow scrolling, rather than making the whole thing disappear.
Definitely none of this modern making them vanish if you aren't scrolling fast enough or often enough! That just means you have no idea that there is anything to scroll to in the first place (or have you just been missing the stupidly narrow area that'll make the scrollbar visible?).
Yup.....I know there are IBM and RedHat haters out there........................................................
But some of us have been using Fedora/XFCE/ext4 since the dawn of time............................
...........................and finding ABSOLUTELY NO ISSUES WITH OUR CHOICE........................
I don't think that the two projects mentioned in the article are making any kind of 'statement' about Red Hat by using Debian.
Perhaps the project developers just used the system that they are familiar with and for which they know how to install the (many and complex) dependencies?
The precursor of one of the projects was using CentOS 8 so there will be build scripts around to modify and enhance if you wish to explore GSDE. It was explained that the maintainer of that older project has had other stuff to think about recently.
Lomiri's upstream project was developed on Ubuntu of course so aspects of the architecture would probably work best on a Debian based distribution. I don't recollect widespread porting of Unity to other distros back in the Unity 8 times. The DE does require the replacement of the entire graphical display system so installing it is not a trivial project.
NO issues? Not like ADWAITA or systemd or pulse audio or any of a number of POETTERING brain farts are potential "issues", right? *facepalm*
(I also prefer dpkg-based packages - it is an easy system to master if you wanna re-distribute modified or patched versions of things)
I've given my OK nod to Rocky Linux for testing with something similar RHEL and CentOS though, but not as a daily driver for sure, only because setup is simple and I might need to test things on it. But that is about the extent of how far I'd go with something derived from RH.
Actually, I am a Fedora user, and I am very concerned. IBM is eventually going to destroy RedHat. Which is a problem as RedHat are by far the biggest employer of Linux people.
Realistically, RedHat is Linux. You can't maintain all the bits with developers working on a weekend project...
> Realistically, RedHat is Linux
It was true in 2000 and it is true now:
Monocultures are bad. Squeezing Linux into every conceivable commercial niche is bad. Linux is not the be-all and end-all of FOSS, or of OSes, or of anything.
".I know there are IBM and RedHat haters out there.."
I think you're missing the point. The objections are that what's happening are, in the long term, damaging to Red Hat, Fedora and Linux as a whole - although Bob has a point in that RH has promoted some awful stuff.
I've been using WindowMaker since the 90s and for me it's the perfect working environment. Not beautiful perhaps, but very efficient indeed. I've never really felt the need for other bits of a "desktop" though so I don't anticipate switching any time soon. Nice to have options though I suppose...
I did own a copy of Nextstep 3.3 and ran it on my tricked-out 16MB 486 but when linux grew up some in 1996 or so, I switched over to red hat then debian. I used WindowMaker and was all excited about GnuStep in the early 2000s but kind of turned away from it when other things came up... Nice to see it's still alive. And I do appreciate the NeXTStep look, and still think the vertical menu in the left corner is the correct idea, and miller columns for browsing hierarchical structures, are good. I wish Nautilus had miller columns, I think I'd used them as default probably.
When I install a Linux or BSD on a true retrocomputer, I always go with WindowMaker as my X environment over CDE or Motif. It's light on system resources and runs comfortably over a network X terminal. I used it regularly the last time I had OpenBSD running on my DEC 3000/400 AXP with 64MB of RAM a few years ago. I should bring that thing out of mothballs and get it set back up.
I ought to install Debian on a test machine and find out for myself, but perhaps knowledgeable people can tell me...
Is GSDEs rendering of the screen based on display postscript or similar as was NeXTSTEP?
If so is it limited to the postscript fonts or can ttfs be linked/converted?
(MacOS uses PDF under the hood which is why Preview can copy arbitrary sections of pdf files and you can paste them into appropriate applications - Textedit/Tinderbox &c as actual pdfs. There used to be a program that someone wrote where you could type a LaTeX formula into one half of the window and it would render in the other half, then you could drag it into a document as a compete vector image).
The information in this article, while of interest to serious Linux users, is a great example of why Linux has failed to gain traction among users of Windows. It might as well be written in Sanskrit, for all that a Windows user would understand.
Until Linux can consistently overcome the need for technical details shown in the article, it will remain an OS that appeals to the highly technically skilled user, but not to the mainstream market.
That said - "mainstream" distributions like Ubuntu or Mint [and some more Windows-like examples] are at least more understandable.
My Sweet Bride - an Artist - is experimenting with Mint. But she does all her work in the cloud, and so it's all about the Browser, not the OS or the Desktop - which she never sees. And that similar experience is what has made Chromebooks so popular, especially at schools. Much lower maintenance.
> Until Linux can consistently overcome the need for technical details shown in the article
That is akin (cough, hyperbole incoming) to saying that the recent article about the last ICE Lamborghini containing technical details (V12? Wossat?) shows why the general public just is not interested in owning a car.
The audience for this article, on a (reasonably) techie website, is discussing a corner of the Linux space. Other articles on sites for general users will tell you, in 3 easy steps, how to get a word processor running without once mentioning the underlying tech.
Meanwhile, the user who is mainly interested in online services can get hold of a ready to run laptop running the Linux kernel with an appropriate-to-their-use-case userland running on top (without even needing to know what "userland" means - or even what "Linux" is).
Perhaps even a Chromebook.
> it will remain an OS that appeals to the highly technically skilled user, but not to the mainstream market.
I have news: It already dominates the mainstream market.
Desktop OS != Mainstream market.
Linux powers the entire world. Almost every piece of network infrastructure infrastructure: Linux. Almost every Server: Linux. Almost every IoT device: Linux. Most Phones: Linux. Supercomputers: Linux.
The fact that it also offers excellent Desktop environments, including paradigms that simply don't exist in the Windowed World (like tiling window managers), is just a cherry on top.
So if people and companies want to pay licensing fees for something they could get for free, they are welcome to it. It's not my money, and there really are few metrics in the world I care less about than how many non-technical people use Linux as their Desktop OS.
With that being said...
> Until Linux can consistently overcome the need for technical details shown in the article
It can and has, a long time ago.
As my favorite example: The manjaro installer requires about a dozen mouseclicks to get up and running from scratch. The most complex technical question it asks, is what keyboard layout to use. And the installation process itself happens in a user friendly desktop environment (because it boots into a live system to install). The KDE desktop is instantly familiar to everyone who has ever used a Desktop metaphor.
How is that "Sanskrit"?
I use i3 and KDE, both private and professionally.
They are both superb. I also (have to) use Windows Environments, both server and local machines, also both privatly (gaming, family tech support) and professionally, so I have a pretty good grasp of the advantages and disadvantages between the systems.
Just a short example how much ahead the Linux Desktop world is: In late 2022, windows finally managed to grace it's users with the revolutionary, unbelievably ingenious idea of giving us TABS!!!!! in the Explorer.
Again: In 2022.
I cannot remember how long ago the default File Browser of a Linux Desktop environment didn't have that feature.
I'm still using FVWM. We don't need any stinkin' icons or buttons or docks or any of that crap...
It's 100% all keystrokes.
I'll see myself out.
On the other hand, no one can use my PC since no one knows all the secret keystrokes, which I consider a good thing. They could move windows around but that's it.
I guess they could hit F7 by accident/frustration and open an xterm.
GSDE looks archaic and not something that belongs to our modern era. In fact, it's DE's like this that have long held back the uptake of Linux on the desktop.
Say what you will of Windows, but it looks beautiful and works generally well. Only the recent versions look schizophrenic due to the inclusion of touch-enabled UI elements. And they never quite finished it, resulting in something that looks like it hasn't made up its mind what it wants to be. Only a company with complete market domination could get away with this kind of dumpster fire of a UI.
GUIs are a matter of taste. Personally I think the desire to make GUIs "pretty" has caused more trouble than anything else. I blame lots of people at Apple and Microsoft for the generally backward direction that GUIs have taken.
I use Mate these days and in the past used WindowMaker which was a good approximation of NextStep.
> In fact, it's DE's like this that have long held back the uptake of Linux on the desktop.
There are a lot of vintage car clubs and vintage car owners in the world. I don't think their existence has had any negative impact on the number of modern cars that get sold.
> Say what you will of Windows, but it looks beautiful and works generally well.
Yes, and so do mainstream Linux Desktops:
Desktops like the ones shown in the article don't ship as the default setting on mainstream Distributions. They are things for enthusiasts and people with technical expertise to play around with. So how exactly do they "hold back the uptake", please elaborate.
I have a nextstation! I fired it up last week (after realizing I was wondering about Y2K compliance so I had probably not fired it up since 1999.) It powered right up. Then I realized I needed the password... luckily I remembered it after about 10 tries. One really nice saving grace (if you intended to actually use it rather than have it as a showpiece), it DOES support NFS, so rather than trying to find some 30 year old SCSI hard disk to replace the ~100MB HDD (and manage to get nextstep installed on it, which I think involves a boot floppy?), you can just access your terabyte after terabyte of modern storage over the network. I'm not a member of the "cult of Jobs" so I will probably sell it while the prices are high.
Whatever they are teaching in UI/UX school these days, I don't care much for it. I can't stand all these modern flat, touchscreen-friendly UIs with their 1px wide hiding scroll bars. And then there are all those overused dark mode themes that are all the rage these days. I like beige. I like blocky utilitarian designs that stay the hell out of my way. I like the garish pastel color palettes of CDE. I've come to appreciate the old 90s Win95 and classic Mac OS look. I'm currently running XFCE with the Mofit Slim & Redmond97 themes--just how I like it. I think the last decent modern UIs I've used were found on Mac OS X up through about 10.6/7-ish and Win7.