User friendly Free Software Desktops (was: Very Worried at MS .net)

Alistair Davidson lord_inh at
Wed Jul 18 21:24:40 UTC 2001

Havoc Pennington wrote:
> MJ Ray <markj at> writes:
> > I can't help but second the above.  *Most* of the things currently
> > done in the X desktop environment space seem to be copies of other
> > people's innovations.  Can either FSFE or freedesktop please sponsor a
> > list to look into developing our own?
> If you want to develop your own, you don't need a mailing list.
> You need:
>  a) unbounded humility and willingness to rewrite things
>  b) a comprehensive user testing setup and willingness to
>     user test over and over
>  c) someone to write prototype after prototype to be tested
>  d) many someones to write the final desktop
>  e) a firm belief that theory and discussion of UI on mailing lists
>     is 95% useless, and user testing is 95% useful
> If you just want to try random ideas with little concern for
> usability, you could use e.g. Enlightenment, fvwm, twm, scwm, any
> number of innovative desktops like that where hackers just made up the
> UI without testing. Of course those all use the basic
> window-icon-mouse model; if you want to escape that, you have about 1
> million lines of graphics server and toolkit code to implement before
> even considering a desktop - have fun! But a mailing list won't
> help. ;-)

I think you're misunderstanding what we were talking about, though you
do make some good points about testing.

Here would be the process:

Mailing list generates ideas.
Coders implement ideas.
Testers test ideas.
Feedback from testing goes back to mailing list.

The hard part is the testing. The process that I just described is very
similar to that used for the Linux kernel or whatever, though I guess in
the kernel process the coders/mailing list part is kinda merged.

I wonder igf you  could describe for us what "a comprehensive user
testing setup" would comprise? Is there any feasible way for the FSFE to
create such a setup, given the limited amount of funding we possess?

Rick's World:

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