(V1.0) The Guide to 100%-Linux/KDE/Desktop-Success (The Linux manifest)
The Guide to 100%-Linux/KDE/Desktop-Success
By a friend of the Linux community known as Peter P. Parker
This is a guide on how Linux and especially the KDE desktop could revolutionize the world of computers and operating systems and bring a major breakthrough so Linux would go mainstream. It is made for the KDE desktop but the ideas could also find their way into GNOME and other environments.
Dear friends of Linux, Open Source, KDE and desktops, beautiful desktops!
I was always a friend of the open source community and used Linux for quite some time together with the KDE desktop but also with GNOME and others as they passed by version and version. I once created a online community but left after I felt like the developers weren’t listening to the users and therefore the future wouldn’t lie with KDE and Linux but with others. Since then I have watched the community constantly and took a close look at all the projects that were promising a revolution. For a very long time this was supposed to be the KDE 4.0 desktop but now it has come to my attention that 4.0 is struggling to fulfill all the dreams I had.
To start it all off, let’s take a quick dive into the history of operating systems, real quick!
When it comes to the actual operating system world, we can basically talk about Windows, Mac and Linux competing but with Windows far ahead, Mac winning in the last year and Linux only growing in some categories and mostly because of a cheaper but not more compelling alternative. To aim for a desktop like the Windows system is nobodies aim because it lags every kind of innovation, even Vista is just a spiced up Windows with new games and some stuff just stolen from Mac and maybe even Linux. The system that Linux should follow is Mac, not only does Linux share the same roots with it but it should also share the vision for a desktop revolution and being “far ahead of its time”.
So what makes Mac so special?
The Mac developers always kept a look at putting together a system that was making it easier and easier for the users to use and give him handy tools to complete jobs. Mac OS X was released to the market in 2001 and couldn’t claim the success right from the beginning but was also struggling. Over the next years the developers added more and more features to make it the best desktop in the world. I think you can say that without feeling bad because it just works right out of the box and that is very important.
The only mistake Apple makes is, they put price tags on their computers that nobody wants to pay. If their computers would go in the Windows price range, everybody would basically buy a Mac. This is already a fact for Linux, okay you can’t buy Linux preinstalled but even these computers have popped up and are popping up more and more, like the Dell-Ubuntu deal that was announced recently. The only problem is that most of the people don’t know Linux and if they know something, they know it’s hard to use such a computer and that it lags third party applications.
This picture is false but true.
What? Linux comes in to many flavours and yes there are simple ones and there are hard ones. Some of them have a complete blue design, some go more pink or black or yellow or how about red? I’m talking of course about distributions. There are the majors one and the minor ones. There is no Linux 2.6 or 2007 or 10.4.10, there are thousands of “Linuxes” out there, no user can decide upon which one he should choose. He can only rely on popular opinion and research but Google finds so much that it’s impossible to decide upon something that doesn’t really has to be decided because some distributions just do the same job as the ones with a different name. There are just too many distributions out there.
Software companies can’t enter the Linux market easily because it’s a mess. Hardware vendors can’t develop their drivers easily because the Linux market is a mess. These are two essential things that keep Linux from getting mainstream. Together with the unavailability of Linux drivers it’s a lot of work sometimes to get a device running if your current kernel somehow isn’t build for it. Just get a new computer user and make him do this job, he will fail.
How did Mac change this? Mac did grow stronger and has someone with a bag of innovation around: Steve Jobs. No it’s not only him but he represents Apple and is therefore known for this. When Steve Jobs contacted or EA or the other way round, they both knew they were going to have a partnership that was only going to mean success to both sides.
Who should companies who want to “go Linux” turn to? Write Linus Torvalds an email? They could, but it wouldn’t bring their product to Linux. They could write to a software company that offers a distribution but that would only bring their software to one of the many “Linuxes”.
This makes it uninteresting for these companies to “go Linux”. They simply don’t. To tell me anything about LSB or other certificates, they do nothing. They helped Linux barely. They started out to bring a major advance to Linux but they ended as a simple sticker on a box that might be there or not, for the users it means nothing. There is no LSB x.x binary I can download software of and it will simply run because at the end my distribution dependencies decide.
I hope you are not getting bored because this is just the start but now it will get interesting.
Mac could only gain more market share because they showed they are innovative and are being bought, so for Linux we just have to do the same thing.
The main advantage that Linux could gain would be a new way on how Linux drivers are being used. For Linux it would be the best to adopt the Windows solution here: Modules that can be integrated at runtime but are better then the current modules because right now to many modules make a system slow. Let the user put in a driver disc and the Linux driver will be on it with a preconfigured tag like linux-2.6.x-company-soundcardname-version.tar.bz2 and a nice dialogue will ask the user if he wants to install this driver and can even tell him that this is a commercial non-free driver (and that there is a free version available or make him chose between these too if available).
Recompiling a kernel must be history because a simple computer user can’t do it.
The next thing has to be the creation of a real Linux standard that will make Linux tags a reality and therefore the creation of only one setup for the creators. There are already solutions coming around like smart (http://labix.org/smart) and autopackage (http://autopackage.org/) but for now they are not the solution they are only a step on the way to Linux 1.0, for example.
I’m only cutting the topic for now but I would love to go deeper into the issue but right now I think I would waste my time if I would start working on a full concept for “Linux 1.0”. For this to happen there would have to be an effort made by the community but the freedesktop.org community has proven to be working so why shouldn’t there be some major rules that apply and make a application run on several versions?
So how about the Desktop?
I just had to put that ahead of this because I thought the two ideas are necessary too but now I will go over to take a look at the future of the Linux desktop but I will concentrate on KDE 4.0 and keep GNOME only at the side but everything can apply to GNOME too. GNOME is right now heading somewhere without direction and innovation. The only real innovation that GNOME has brought around was beagle (the great desktop search) but next to this the project has proven to be unchangeable or only changeable bit by bit over years. Where is a vision for 3.0? The first time 3.0 was talked about was 2004 and that was about forking GNOME to keep the old 2.x up, well 3 years later we’re still 2.x, the old train.
KDE 4.0 was going to bring the revolutionary desktop on Linux and other operating system as it is based upon Qt, a multi-platform library. After a long time of development and only few informations, a lot of informations began to pop up around the net on blogs and the dot (http://dot.kde.org/). The release date was set a few months ago because sometime there had to be and end to all the months, already years of development. The news that came around then were the ones saying that some features would have to be set back to 4.1 making 4.0 only an incomplete 4.0. This came to my attention and made me very unhappy.
All the developers have done a great job so far and there is nothing to say because a lot of them code for KDE and don’t get paid for it, that’s just how open source works. I just have to say that.
What I’m really missing though is the vision that was talked about since the idea of 4.0 came around and started to hit websites like KDE-Look (http://www.kde-look.org/). There are several great mockups and ideas but they have barely been selected by the KDE developers and used to create a complete mockup for KDE 4.0.
When Steve Jobs went on stage to show new Leopard features and the features of previous versions the audience went crazy and praised him like a god. This shows the insanity of some people but it turns out it is also a reality that at the end turns into a success for Apple.
KDE 4.0 has to become a desktop that blows even leopard away because it has a built-in search (strigii it’s being called right now) that is far better then spotlight because it does include features like beagle++ (a beagle version that finds more through cross references: http://beagle.kbs.uni-hannover.de/index.html). It has to bring the graphic effects that are being promised with plasma but not only for the desktop but for all the KDE applications so they should go into the kdelibs (they are being frozen June 25th so there is barely time for this to happen). Something like Quartz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartz_%28graphics_layer%29) because fancy desktops are fancy. Beryl and compiz are finally finding there way together but a lot of the features are for fun right now and I don’t know anyone who really uses the cube for efficiency. There has to be a closer look on things that make sense and make it easier for a user to use the desktop. There is a Google Summer of Code student working on some effects for kwin (the KDE window manager) but I haven’t heard of any of his works recently so I fear that he stopped working on it!? There has to be a smooth desktop that isn’t eating up resources but this happens when the X.org server, compiz or beryl, beagle and a complete desktop environment. The new 4.0 should already included the compiz/beryl and beagle part and that in a very efficient way.
One of the very promising mockup is this one: http://kde-look.org/content/show.php/Kde4+Mockup?content=28476. Of course this vision isn’t complete because the menu lags other categories but the idea is great and the unification of communication and creation is great. There is also a video that shows it somehow in action (http://kde-look.org/content/show.php/Kde+4+%28Mockup+Video%29?content=59872). The usage of a combined place for all the actions that are happening around the PC is great and is somehow to the new feature for the Mac OS X Leopard dock.
I want to have a kopete in 4.0 that is full of interaction with other users because you can start sharing apps or somehow simple editions of apps live and therefore share images and maybe play around with them, share mails, share games, … bring the Web 2.0 stuff to KDE but only the useful things.
Add a function to the spotlight-like search I talked about that if I put in an address will provide me with a Google Map of the location I entered. When I put in two locations calculate my way. If I enter two metro stations get me the way and times when I can take the metro.
I love the new icon feature that was introduced a few days ago but was going around as an idea for quite sometime (http://blog.ruphy.org/?p=11). How many great things could you create with it. There is already user who suggests adding an icon that previews a song for 30secs without even opening an application and offering a stop button with a countdown inside. How about the same for videos? You will extract zip archives with only one click!
This is the chance to bring up a desktop that will really blow away the people when it gets close to Mac and stays free at the same time!
I know I only talked shortly about the ideas that are around but hey you don’t need to thing a lot, just thing simple and straight to the point so the users gets it and doesn’t need any help.
This is a call to all the developers out there to urge them to create this desktop everyone is waiting for the first desktop that really brings on changes in the desktop world that has been so long without major innovations that change the way of desktops completely.
Do it. Make it happen.
Think different. Think simply and open!
But there is one more thing… (not Steve again)
Let’s call it the craziest idea in Linux publicity forever. I kept it around in my head for sometime, wanted to communicate it to someone but nobody was listening so I include it in this document.
How great would it be if at the end of September the people of the computing and lifestyle press would receive an invitation to a great desktop release that is far ahead of it’s time? Of course this idea is taken from Apple but everyone introduces his or her products with a press conference but open source has done this in a too passive way and hasn’t gained the publicity it should have gotten.
I’m proposing to bring on a KDE 4.0 show that should show the world the great features of this new desktop together with announcing that Dell and other major computer companies will now sell computers with preinstalled KDE because 4.0 rocks so much that they are convinced after the first boot. Together with a great media center solution the Apple TV is just a funny thing because the Linux TV comes including the complete desktop and the Linux mini is even smaller then the Mac mini… don’t steal ideas but is this kind of innovation not obvious? To sell using your finger on a mobile phone is not the revolution but the only idea that is coming up in my mind for years. What would happen if the world would see a Linux mini that is a Linux TV at the same time and therefore the most-complete desktop computer the world needs because it does most of your jobs at home. It has be simple and easy to use and it will sell like bred but it would have to bring profit to the open source developers at the same time that would gurantee further development and for some of them to be paid full time to create great software that can be shared around the world. This day I’m looking forward too because it would change the world of computers when Linux finally goes mainstream.
I know these ideas would help the community and therefore I call it the 100% guide to Linux/KDE/Desktop success!
See you in the future.
Send me your comments and spread the word to get this manifest out!