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Has Joel even used KDE?

Like the topic says.  His latest delves into the massive command-lines and machine readable data that CLI programs will generate...  When most people I know who run Linux use the gorgeous KDE environment and hardly ever touch a command line.  Using something like KDE there's GUI tools (and nice ones at that) for absolutely everything - from checking and sending mail, to recording CDs, to a fully functional web browser that Apple has also used in it's Safari project.

This essay would seem very valid to me maybe 5 years ago, but I think a lot has changed. 

Luke
Monday, December 15, 2003

I've used KDE, and I have to say, your circle of friends is very atypical for Unix/Linux users. The vast majority of them are still command-line freaks, and always will be.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, December 15, 2003

Eh, to be honest I hate KDE, and GNOME, while I think they have great features, really, I just don't, need or use them.

I use fluxbox, bind my keys and I use the mouse only when I use mozilla firebird, in fact if you took out mozilla firebird, the only reason I'd use X is that you can fit more terminals in the window.

Anyway,  command line is efficent, it really is, I find myself insaely productive using it, but to each their own.

If you do like a nice GUI with nice features, you should probably take a look at gnome, or kde, or xfce, you might be surpised.

fw
Monday, December 15, 2003

A lot of them become command line freaks only after they've gotten used to running linux + KDE/Gnome.


Monday, December 15, 2003


Remember when Windows came out? Most users ran up windows and then ended up working inside a command shell.

Now days most users don’t even know how to run up a command shell under windows.

Unix/Linux will never get into the desktop market unless the command shell becomes irrelevant to the average user.

Such a pity, but its all about culture!

Richard Schmidt
Monday, December 15, 2003

Richard,

That's a good point.  I remember when I first starting working in Windows 95.  I was always using the command line.  I had lots of DOS applications and tools and I spent a heck of a lot of time in there.

Now, I hardly ever use the command line.  When I do use it, it's often to execute unix applications which have been ported to Windows.

Almost Anonymous
Monday, December 15, 2003

Before 100 people hop on this.

It's known that you don't need to use a CLI in linux to config your system, it's a fact.  A huge amount of time has been spent on this. Anything you can configure in windows via a gui you can also do this in linux with kde or gnome.

So don't feel the troll today.

fw
Monday, December 15, 2003

I just read the article, and I made a couple of observations about this:

1) I think Joel means "tool aimed at people who are willing to learn them" instead of "tools aimed at programmers"; some things, like quiet operation, may only be useful for programmers, but the command line works for people who know how to use it in general, not just programmers. (And regarding quiet operation... if the standard for user interfaces was to work quietly but ALWAYS report an error, wouldn't that make everyone happy? The only danger that seems significant here is that an error will go unreported.)

2) As a Linux/KDE user/programmer I do prefer the Unix culture to the Windows culture, but I dislike the assumption that I'll learn a program's operation in depth before using it; I also dislike documentation that only makes sense when you've read the whole thing. I suspect that I'm not alone in just wanting to do whatever I'm trying to do, and not spend days reading up on details that won't affect me (or hand-creating a configuration that all but a very small minority of users will duplicate if they can figure it out). Of course, I do like playing around with obscure and/or trivial things now and then, but I never like being forced to do it. Then again, I did come from Windows, so maybe Joel is right there...

To continue first point, I don't think users should be forced to read the complete manual for a program before using it, but if a program rewards people who use it frequently with more flexibility and efficiency, that's good for everyone.

Richard Garand
Monday, December 15, 2003

To me kde and gnome feel klunky compared to Win2k or XP.

Mike
Monday, December 15, 2003

Richard, an error going unreported is certainly one type of problem with the "silence is good" theory.  A possibly worse one, though, is your command being misinterpreted because you didn't do it correctly, and getting no feedback about it.

Mike McNertney
Monday, December 15, 2003

One other point.  The idea that people should be able to make logical conclusions from the documentation and have confidence in them is nice in theory, but not in practice.  In practice, if I see a man page or other documentation that has only a passing reference to some fact about how something works, I will wonder not if I interpreted it correctly, but *if it is correct*.  Not that I expect everything in documentation to be correct, but if only a slight reference to something is made, there is a much higher chance that it is wrong than if it were mentioned explicitly, and reinforced by other information.

Secondly, KDE is a big improvement over Linux a few years ago, but I still find it and Gnome to be not that great overall, from a user's perspective

Mike McNertney
Monday, December 15, 2003

I just read Joel's article.  I found it insulting.  He basically concludes that Unix programmers can't offer the world anything useful.  The ironic thing is that Joel doesn't realize that he sounds just like the slashdotters on the other side of the arguement which he berates.

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Monday, December 15, 2003

"He basically concludes that Unix programmers can't offer the world anything useful"

Not at all.  He states that there is a lot to be learned by their example.  A Unix typically won't have anything to offer Aunt Madge.  Aunt Madge might enjoy some of the Unix programmer's handy work while browsing the web and not know it, but your typical Unix hacker lends little to the average end user experience.  That is not bad, there is a need in this world for both Unix type and Windows type software.  It's a chicken/egg thing.  Unix is infrastructure, Windows is the cars.  Both are necessary to a useful environment.  No I am not saying you can't do server stuff with Windows or you can't do desktop stuff with Unix.

I think Windows has the easier time in the server space compared to the time Unix has in the end user space if for no other reason than a lot of Unix people would rather shoot the end user than cater to them, wheras a Windows programmer just wants a job doing something he likes.

Mike
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

ugh. i just read joel's review, too. what a joke. the sushi/hamburger thing is trite. been to japan? there are more mcdonalds there than in the USA. please try to be sort of creative and contemporary when talking about cultural differences. even my grandfather in st. paul, minnesota wouldn't have found that bit clever.

anyway. that isn't my beef. the problem with the review is that the Art of Programming is a terrible, terrible book, yet joel says it is great aside from some religious zealotry. the book is so rambling and random it is nearly unreadable. as a sometimes unix programmer, i find it a very bad thing that eric s. raymond is posing himself as a spokesperson for the rest of us. and as a sometimes windows programmer, i find it very bad that joel splosky is posing himself as a spokesperson for the other rest of us, especially if he truly thought that book was OK aside from some zealotry. we truly are all fucked.

i'm signing off.

_
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Here here.  I think underscore said it perfectly. 

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I just re-read Raymond's history discussion in his new book. The description of Windows is painfully inaccurate.  He doesn't seem to understand the relationship between the NT lines and the old consumer lines.  With the death of the old consumer version of Windows, we are left with a one very modern OS designed by one of the best OS developers in the industry -- David Cutler. 

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Is Cutler really as good as they say he is?  NT certainly is a solid operating system today, but its been plagued by some very serious problems in the past, and arguably hasn't truly come into its own until the release of Windows 2000; 10(?) years after he, and some of his old DEC team, was put on the NT project at Microsoft.  I believe NT originally was designated as an improvement for OS/2 prior to MS and IBM breaking off their relationship.  I'm not familiar with his work on VMS, but I have always felt the primary driving force behind its success was the reliability of its hardware (VAX), with VMS just being an alternative to UNIX, as large scale highly reliable machines of that complexity were rare that day, and perhaps still are today.

Jim Battin
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Contrary to popular misconceptions, modern Unix have graphic user environments comparable to Windows XP and Mac OS X, and in some aspects better.

It is known that graphic user interfaces are not as powerful or  as expressive as command line interface languages, like Bash. However, they do serve their purpose where simple, single and straightforward tasks are concerned.

As a result, mordern unix users are skilflul at using powerful and expressive interfaces via command line languages and comfortable at using graphic user interfaces where a command line interface is redundant and cumbersome. They are hybrid users. Or have evolved to be one.

Using a mordern Unix environment, like GNOME or KDE, is not entirely different from using Windows XP or Mac OS X. Today, the unix environment is attractive primarily to knowledge and power users who fascinate the blend of a powerful expressive interface and a graphic user interface.

Tomorrow, the unix environment will be used by almost all users, especially if computer science becomes as compulsory as English and Mathematics are today.

imbecile
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

One aspect of windows vs unix not covered is the moving target nature of windows.

On unix I can program assuming sockets will be there next year.

On windows I should have been designing all my apps to be OLE objects, then changed them all to COM services then ATL controls now I should abandon all that the and make them .Net services.

There are some excellent features in windows-NT and NTFS that haven't made it into Unix yet but by the time I learn to use them they will be gone.

Martin Beckett
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Cutler's VMS operating system on the VAX was simply fantastic.  The VAX hardware was indeed very good, but the reliability, flexibility, and robustness of VMS made the whole package sing.

I doubt Dave has much to do with the current OS development at Microsoft anymore - he must be getting up there, and he's certainly made his money.  But I think it reflects highly on both Microsoft and Cutler that when the time came for Microsoft to build a 32 bit operating system of their own, Dave's phone was the one that rang.

That ESR doesn't know much about this is not surprising.  I would be highly embarrassed to have ESR be a spokesperson for any cause I held dear.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

"arguably hasn't truly come into its own until the release of Windows 2000; 10(?)"

Arguably Unix sucked for a long time too.

Mike
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

"It is known that graphic user interfaces are not as powerful or  as expressive as command line interface languages, like Bash. However, they do serve their purpose where simple, single and straightforward tasks are concerned."

Actually, I think that the real problem with GUI is not that they are less expressive or powerful, but that nobody bothers to create good GUI. Take the example of the 'simple' COPY command. In the GUI, it's a simple drag-n-drop for a 'basic' copy, but nobody bothered to provide all the CLI options for advanced functions.

Surely you don't think it's impossible to have an 'Advanced Copy' that gives the user access to little check boxes for all the switches. Somebody is either lazy or has conciously decided, for whatever reason, that only people with the time and inclination to master the CLI should have access to advanced funtions.

And my favourite improvement over the CLI  was the directory creation technique that was added to the old Win3.1 File Manager and is now sadly missing from Windows Explorer:
Create Directory let you create a tree just by typing "Dir1\Dir2\Dir3....". If you didn't really want a tree, then you just dragged folders out of the new tree to their appropriate places.

Ron Porter
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I think it Culter would have gotten his way gotten his way over Ballmer, NT would have been the ultimate server operating system (without decisions like moving GDI to kernel mode). 

Culter pretty much invented the modern memory and threading models.  Both NT and Linux have memory models very similar to VMS.  I think Cutler rightly deserves credit for this. 

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

FYI, for those interested in learning more about the history of NT, I highly recommend reading "Show-Stopper!" by G. Pascal Zachary.

It goes from Dave Cutler's days at DEC to the first release of NT.

Jonathan
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Mike said: "To me kde and gnome feel klunky compared to Win2k or XP."

Yeah... and to me Win2k and XP feel klunky compared to Mac OS X... ;)

pete
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

"especially if computer science becomes as compulsory as English and Mathematics are today"

That's the day I pull my kids from school and teach them at home.  CS is somewhat important, but compulsory?  Sheesh... ;-)

Motown (AU)
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

There's no reason for CS to be important at all for non-programmers. Maybe computer operation, or Windows 101, but not CS. Why does everyone need to know graph and set theory? Make sure Johnny can pseudo code a bubble sort before he goes to bed. Get a clue.

Phil Larson
Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Blah, using KDE this morning, had troubles to copy&paste between applications. Not to mentioning that every single app has it's own set of shortcuts...

Leonardo Herrera
Wednesday, December 17, 2003

"Yeah... and to me Win2k and XP feel klunky compared to Mac OS X... ;)"

Agreed... but I can't seem to make my PC install it! :-p

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, December 17, 2003

"Agreed... but I can't seem to make my PC install it!"

Time to upgrade your hardware to something much nicer. 
:-)

maclued
Thursday, December 18, 2003

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