How do we make a stand? Revolution

This post is not intended to represent complete ideas or possible solutions. It is rather a post relating to the thoughts that I have had concerning the upcoming changes in Gnome 3, Ubuntu Unity and KDE 4.6.

Drawing away from the technicalities of these programs, it would seem useful to identify openSUSE's stand in this wide variety of environments. I was happily surprised that Gnome 3 was released, even before a fomer release date. But this has not come without controversy. The fact that Ubuntu is not including Gnome 3 by default with it's newest release has made some take the fork in the road and add support for it. Other Gnome 3 enthusiasts might feel lonely now that Ubuntu decided to go with the Unity interface. Then we find KDE still going strong with updates and new features for version 4. However, it may seem rather obvious that computer graphical environments are taking a turn. They are becoming different, new, and updated. Ideas about the desktop that we have had for a couple of decades are now changing, greatly propelled by the appearances of touch devices.

Touch devices have a flair to them that one cannot dismiss. The interfaces used for them tend to be very simple, app based, internet connected, and are beautifully animated. The part that I like the most about these interfaces is simplicity. They understand that their device will be in the hand of a wide variety of human beings. All of them with different understanding of the computing world. Therefore, they try to make the learning curve for these devices a smooth as they can. Obviously, this does not benefit everyone, as there are people who would prefer having maximum control from their interaction with the device. For that, I have seen many of these devices be patched in a way, that they allow advanced interaction with the device. In a way, the touch-enabled device has a default (simple) and an advanced (patched) mode.

These devices are becoming part of our lives, they are highly mobile, durable and connected with the user's life through the internet. However, these devices are coming at odds with traditional desktop computers and their operating systems. Even Apple recognized the power of a touch based interface and some of the ideas they produced for their phones and tablets have now been transported into their latest OSX version, Lion. Then also, open source projects such as Gnome and KDE saw the expansion that they were able to achieve through touch enabled devices and lower end netbooks. For that KDE created the netbook interface which looks beautiful. Gnome was the only one lagging behind a little and pushed for a different interface that resembles much of what is seen today in touch enabled devices. The same goes for Unity from Ubuntu.

All of them are trying to target a market where instinct is the primary teacher of the interface and not technical knowledge. Why? I believe it is because we are recognizing that open source products are becoming ever more accessible to the average user, we recognize that not everyone is at a developer level of computer understanding, and that there are infinite possibilities for even further expansion as all sorts of people use this software.

This is where openSUSE has a window to be different. Can openSUSE be, in a way, like Ubuntu in designing a whole new interface for it's desktop computer? Are we at the level that recognizes the reach a Linux distribution can have with a wide audience? Ubuntu decided to step up to the challenge of placing their product in the hands of the masses, for that they decided to change their UI to meet the standards of the mass. They use part of the Gnome libraries and yet they have decided to be and look different. They are trying to brand themselves through their OS image. My question would be, can openSUSE be this way? openSUSE needs to be part of our everyday life, it s a quality product with a bright future but a blurry face. Why? because we accept defaults from KDE and Gnome, and there could be hundreds of Linux distributions that look like us. Where are we? are we branding ourselves in a way that we stand out and reach out to more and more people?

I would agree that to these thoughts there is no definitive answer. Neither from my end, as I review the graphical properties of openSUSE, or the developer end. If you feel enticed to leave further comments about this thoughts, please feel free to do so.

Thanks gang


YAST Revolution - Concepts for a simple version of Yast

In these series of revisions on Yast, I have decided to start first with the semantics of Yast. One thing that sticks out to me is how little there is about what Yast tells users its elements do. I am not saying this is wrong. Users who know and understand how to configure advanced elements in openSUSE will find Yast quite simple and full-featured.

Categories in Yast

Currently look like

Descriptions in Yast have little space to be placed and Yast focuses on its power and configuration skills. For example, when taking a look into the current modules of Yast, I found that descriptions only appear in the general sections under the icon and name of such module. Also, only some modules include a description on the left-hand side about what the module does.


Then, if I want to create a novice-friendly configuration tool from Yast. The best would be to decide what features are easier for a new user to figure out and which ones can be reserved for an "Advanced Mode."