Win95 users vs. Gnome users - a rant (was Re: Possible gmc bug?)

 I should start this rant by saying that I'm a newcomer to Unix (in 
my case Linux) and Gnome, and that previously I used Win95. I hate 
Win95 because it's unstable, slow, ugly, and proud (ever hear 
Microsoft congratulate someone on digging up an obscure bug?). Of 
course I am many of these things myself.

>When I first showed gnome to someone used to another operating system
>(this was back at the 0.30 stage) one of the first things they said 
>was where is my C: drive and my A: drive. (OK so this is a vulgar 
>DOSism but its so embedded into the average users psyche you have to 
>account for it)

 I don't think Gnome should pander to Win95 users by making the 
interface "easy to learn for the average newbie coming from Win95". 
"Easy to learn" is enough. Hopefully in the near future some users 
will come to Gnome as their first experience of computers. It would 
be a shame if they found it imitating Windows.

 There are good points about the Win95 interface, but some of them 
(like the C: drive existing within "My Computer", which exists within 
"Desktop", which exists within "C:\WINDOWS\DESKTOP", which exists 
within the C: drive...) are confusing and stupid. Personally I prefer 
the Unix method of having a unified filesystem which starts at /. 
This may also be a lie for the sake of convenience, but at least it's 
a consistent one.

>Also one of the hard things for newbies to learn is the filesystem,
>mounting, unmounting, etc. Now that is almost history with the 
>newest gmc - right there on the desktop is a floppy disk icon (for 
>example), and I can just double click right into it. However when I 
>go to save stuff in gnumeric (for example) I have to go hunting for 
>where the floppy is mounted - ok so usually it's in /mnt/floppy but 
>it might not be mounted, and a newbie isn't necessarily going to 
>know where to look.

 They will have to learn some time, because sooner or later every 
user will need to use either the command line or a non-Gnome 
application. I'm in favour of attracting new users to Gnome by making 
it user-friendly, but I believe that if you put too many layers of 
nice, considerate front end between the user and what's really going 
on, you ultimately confuse them when they try move beyond the basic 
day-to-day point and click operations. Instead of dumbing the user 
interface down, provide documentation to let the new user know what's 
actually going on. Let them learn something, it won't kill them.

>So my idea is this; would it be possible to put a <Desktop> entry in 
>the drop down path menu of the open/save dialog then it would be 
>easy to find the floppy, zip, etc (this isn't original I just copied 
>this from the mac - anyone who didn't know that go to the back of 
>the class). 

(Oops - going to the back of the class.)

This is a trivial problem. On my system it's easy to find the floppy 
because it's mounted at /floppy. The cdrom is mounted at /cdrom. You 
don't need to change the file dialog, just mount your devices in an 
intuitive place.

>A variation on this would be to have the desktop, floppy, cdrom, 
>zip, etc appear in the drop down path menu - this is win95ish I 
>guess so I have my flamesuit ready.

 I don't care if it's Win95ish if it works! However, I don't think 
this feature would be a good idea. It imitates one of the worst 
features of Windows - giving the user the impression that the root of 
the filesystem is the desktop, and that their filesystem exists 
within the desktop rather than the other way around. They should 
realise that the icons on their desktop are only links to files or 
devices which exist elsewhere.

 Another problem is that files in the desktop directory would have to 
be automatically "dereferenced" by the file selector widget (so that 
the floppy drive and not the link to the floppy drive would appear in 
the file list). What happens when you want to do something to the 
link instead of to the floppy? You can't find it in your file 

 - Michael Rogers

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