for anyone curious about Linux byond Ubuntu...

Peter Alcibiades palcibiades-first at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Jul 12 02:45:03 CDT 2007


To install new software, you would normally use Synaptic - Elive is standard 
Debian.   Its in the control panel (the one part of Elive that I find 
aesthetically really jarring).

The interesting question raised is about usability.  E17 is very 
different from the standard model.  

The difference with Enlightenment is that its very fast relative to the level 
of graphical effects offered.  Its also unusual in being heavily graphical 
and also keyboard oriented.  To use it well you have to be prepared to learn 
the keyboard shortcuts.  What Elive has done is take E, and marry it to a 
sort of preconfigured Debian with lots of multimedia apps preconfigured, and 
do heavy theming.  They've also done their own control centre.  Synaptic is 
available from one of the control center icons.  It certainly is not for the 
Windows or OSX refugee.  For them, the one to go for is PCLinux.  Or the 
fashionable Ubuntu, though I think PCL is a better choice than this.  Its 
also not for people who know exactly what they want, and are ready to 
configure it, who will be happier with Debian and a minimal install which 
they add to.

The usability of window managers is an interesting topic. It has a long tail - 
just how long, you can see when people are free to produce what they want and 
share it.  You have  things like Fluxbox, Blackbox, Openbox, where the 
windows all work the same way as normal, but the interface is minimal and 
without desktop.  Then you've tiled window managers, like Ion or WMII, where 
the aim is to rely on the keyboard and have all the screen area occupied by 
the app (or apps) often using tabs.  The aim is also to reduce overhead to a 
minimum.  They are surprisingly usable if you persist, and very fast.  You 
have sports, like E or FVWM which are sort of one-offs with surprisingly 
active development and substantial followings.

I'm personally too oriented to the minimalist to want to use E every day.  
Fluxbox or even Ion is more comfortable.  But its an impressive achievement, 
and it shakes up your ideas about what usability means.  Its not a 'one size 
fits all'.  It is also, like many of the smaller desktops, ease of use, not 
ease of learning.  (The distinction occurs in programming languages as 
well....)

Interestingly, you can see the same pressures acting un Ubuntu.  The main line 
is Gnome.  But we have Kubuntu (KDE), Xubuntu (Xfce), Fluxubuntu 
(Fluxbox),.Elbuntu (E).  One day we will probably wake up to tiled-Ubuntu.  
It makes you think its a historical accident that we have one standard 
desktop model, and that if the lid were taken off, Apple and MS would diverge 
away from HIG and one size fits all, also.

Peter



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