Release recommendation: Usability improvements

  • This topic has 50 replies, 13 voices, and was last updated Jan 2-9:05 pm by skidoo.
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  • #46028
    Moderator
    Brian Masinick

    As recently mentioned in a thread about copying and pasting text, an improvement in usability for the sake of new users is a desirable and worthwhile goal.

    I think that it is important to make sure that the visible interface to the system and the programs is simple.

    One thing that might help is if we put the primary (simple) applications in prominent view and categorize everything else in an advanced applications folder hierarchy.

    Before the next release, let’s collectively come up with a usable organization that places priority to display of the core simple applications and intelligently places everything else where it can be found but doesn’t overwhelm new users.

    Suggestion 1: Choose the default file manager with familiarity and usability on the Full Version as the default file manager, and provide a visible note or indication for modifying the default file manager for any of the more nimble, frugal, lightweight systems in case a relatively new user needs usability over the lightest possible tool.

    Brian Masinick

    #46035
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    ModdIt
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    :D

    @all Brian wrote: One thing that might help is if we put the primary (simple) applications in prominent view.

    This is what I have done for users on icewm by pre populating the menubar. Icons for both rox filer and spacefm
    are present. Menubar at bottom autohide is on.
    I have what we consider primary applications on right which keeps mouse movement nearer to screen center,
    The Widescreen users seem to have the primary window left side so ok there too.

    From Right to left order of starter icons: Browsers (Palemoon, Badwolf, Firefox, Tor), next E Mail(claws), leafpad,
    LO Writer, LO Calc, Masterpdfeditor, MPS-Youtube, Gimp, Screen snapshot, Rox-Filer, Rox-Term, Spacefm, connect usb device,
    unmount usb device. Then comes show desktop and Menu Button.

    Undecided on adding present Control Center.

    We use 6 Desktops, 2 is I guess ok on a tiling setup, seems not enough for working effiency with a stacking wm.

    My request is to change to what is pretty much linux standard, 4 desktops in next release.

    My observation is Rox filer is used way more than space although both are available, seems speed and simplicity win
    over users — once they get over the WTF is that effect that is.
    Rox Filer and Claws mail both provoke explicatives, both are quirky old fashioned looking, get work done with a minimum
    of fuss and are way more powerful than appearance suggests.

    #46045
    Moderator
    Brian Masinick
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    :D

    Thanks!

    Good ideas.

    Encourage anyone who has ideas to freely share…

    Brian Masinick

    #46080
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    fatmac
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    Panel at the top – Menu button – filemanager – terminal – web browser < that’s my setup, if I use the panel > normally I right click for menu in Fluxbox.

    AntiX seems to be leaving the ‘basic’ distro idea behind these days, which is a shame, I came from #!, when it ceased, several years ago now, because it was a basic lightweight distro, but it has been growing ever since – are you trying to court ex Windows users(?) nowadays, rather than being the basic lightweight distro suitable for old machines that it originally was?

    Too many ‘improvements’ are spoiling the distro, I fear.

    Linux (& BSD) since 1999

    #46082
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    anticapitalista
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    :D


    AntiX seems to be leaving the ‘basic’ distro idea behind these days, which is a shame, I came from #!, when it ceased, several years ago now, because it was a basic lightweight distro, but it has been growing ever since – are you trying to court ex Windows users(?) nowadays, rather than being the basic lightweight distro suitable for old machines that it originally was?

    Too many ‘improvements’ are spoiling the distro, I fear.

    A very good point that all should consider.
    antiX should not lose its identity in search of improved usability.
    One part of the antiX identity is the combination of Rox-filer and a window manager as default.
    That is not going to change (well until rox-filer is no longer usable that is).

    Philosophers have interpreted the world in many ways; the point is to change it.

    antiX with runit - leaner and meaner.

    #46085
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    ModdIt
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    :D

    fatmac wrote: AntiX seems to be leaving the ‘basic’ distro idea behind these days, which is a shame

    All the basic editions are still available for download, nobody in the users I look after asking to change that.

    As the skill level grows so does the attraction of building on top of a basic core system, that is advanced user
    territory though.

    fatmac wrote: are you trying to court ex Windows users

    From this group a resounding yes, Where else will new users come from, most mac users are affluent and love
    to show it, they tend to stay in the golden cage. Only very recently some companys have started to offer
    hardware for the average user either without an OS (very hard to find) or with Linux pre installed.
    With exception of my daughter all of the group I have any contact with are ex windows users, some directly
    because the hardware they have does not work well with win 10 and other users told them about antiX. Some
    tried Mint, Buntu, before. Core users were on Manjaro for about 1.5 years before it broke once too often.

    the comment from anticapitalista: antiX should not lose its identity in search of improved usability.
    One part of the antiX identity is the combination of Rox-filer and a window manager as default.
    That is not going to change (well until rox-filer is no longer usable that is).

    Very much agree, that is apart from not being too big a culture shock for ex win users why Icewm Rox filer is our
    basic recipe.

    For some having several browsers might seem too much. The reasoning behind that is in “our usage case” to introduce new
    young users to lesser known lightweight choices. Tor because the more sensible users use it the more those who depend on it,
    or who’s lives depend on it may be better protected within traffic.

    Loyalty to antiX is pretty fierce and the usability improvements are helping to extend the appeal. I see that as positive.

    But then I am not as my ex boss said frightened of disruptive change and love to learn.

    antiX with runit is being trialed. Odd bug as is to be expected but very fast boot is an advantage, especially when running live.

    The kids are important to the future of antiX, and in a broader view Linux outside of server rooms. They are in many cases soon
    entering companys and bringing a message. open source works.

    Boot an antiX live stick and start to work with it, majority of todays decision makers have never seen that kind of tool let alone
    used one. The flexibility, stability, effiency and tools is in my eyes what defines this fantastic distro.

    To put it in another context It is the essence of a Green Computing Revolution. Waste avoidance due productive lifetime extension,
    Upcycling of otherwise obsolescent hardware. Low hardware requirements which lessen energy consumption.

    All of which may improve lives trapped in an increasingly downward spiral in to poverty.

    #46097
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    Brian Masinick
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    :D

    I personally do not equate usability with either complexity or “Windows_like” behavior.

    I do believe that the default applications and appearence can be light, simple, clear, and straightforward without being huge and cumbersome.

    While our truly light systems in size, space and number of applications are probably Net, Core, and Base today, I can personally assure you that antiX runs great on old hardware. My NEWEST Linux hardware is five years old and my oldest is between 10-15 years old.

    All of them run well. I run MX Linux on one of them, the Thinkpad X201, plus I run many distros, including MX with Xfce, MX with KDE, three variations of antiX, openSUSE, Endeavor OS, and Debian, all on my Dell Inspiron 5558 laptop.

    I don’t want to see antiX grow into a monster either. Perhaps one direction we could encourage are some community based snapshots that are not officially supported by antiX, but have a spot on the forum to be shared, discussed, and if any of them really “take off” they can spin off and form their own team and self sustaining distribution. After all, that’s similar to what happened with antiX.

    Long ago antiX began as a very light offshoot of MEPIS, completely removing KDE and the core apps, replacing them with Fluxbox and light applications to go with it.

    Later antiX added IceWM, then a few more window managers, gradually replaced or improved upon tools, installation techniques and added the best functionality from the best lightweight distributions to antiX, while creating plenty of our own homegrown tools too.

    Today at least as many of the antiX tools are shared back to MX and customized to suit that community.

    I don’t see either MX Linux or antiX catering primarily to a Windows based user base, though I do believe that MX Linux provides an easy place for beginners to start.

    Perhaps since our two communities are still cordial and share tools it may be worth keeping that in mind.

    For those who want a desktop environment that is truly Linux yet not a huge reach for former Windows converts, maybe MX Linux is a good alternative and for users who absolutely need the lightest possible configuration, who have computer systems 10-20 years old and are comfortable trying different, unfamiliar interfaces, antiX is a more appropriate starting point.

    For me, I have both of them and love them both.

    The only thing I can think of that we may be able to improve without turning the software into a big mess would be to decide on key base components and make sure that the menu and access to them is consistent, clean and clear.

    These are good discussions. We definitely do not want to turn into something different.

    We can, however, provide (and we already have) the tools that allows for the creation of spin-off works that cite our tools as their starting point.

    Brian Masinick

    #46100
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    christophe
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    :D

    What about placing spacefm on the toolbar in icewm? Easy then for new users to find the “familiar-style” file manager, if they want it. (I say icewm because it is the default wm. Once they change from the default wm, the training wheels come off! Then to the help docs, web searches, & forum if they have questions.)

    #46104
    Moderator
    Brian Masinick
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    :D

    What about placing spacefm on the toolbar in icewm? Easy then for new users to find the “familiar-style” file manager, if they want it. (I say icewm because it is the default wm. Once they change from the default wm, the training wheels come off! Then to the help docs, web searches, & forum if they have questions.)

    Sounds like a good idea to me.

    Anyone else want to share their ideas?

    Brian Masinick

    #46110
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    ModdIt
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    :D

    Brian wrote I don’t see either MX Linux or antiX catering primarily to a Windows based user base,
    though I do believe that MX Linux provides an easy place for beginners to start.

    Unfortunately most users are still having to use windows at work, school, sometimes university.

    A trial comparison antiX to MX, both setup in a similar fashion as far as optical impression
    was concerned led to antiX Icewm Rox becoming our default.
    The only one who wanted to stay on MX is a 60+ year old lady who is “somewhat complicated”.
    She is definitely no longer a windows user by choice, her copy resides on a harddisk in a drawer.

    Regarding spin offs, I keep hearing through my daughter that some gamers are appreciating the light basis
    and building steam machines on antiX. Claim is improved overall performance. I would call that spin off.

    Some carefuly chosen additional applications but using provided tools along with some user friendly make up
    seems to me not moving far from the base. I have taken care to keep antiX branding obvious.

    If that kind of change is is regarded as making a big mess of the distro and that is clearly communicated by
    anticapitalista as project leader, I would be saddened.
    Would Accept, stop posting in that direction as well as plan accordingly for the future.

    My direction has been that the full version should be as user friendly as possible, basic versions just that.

    #46111
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    Brian Masinick
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    :D

    I truly believe that the great features of our distribution are:

    1. It works very well on both new and old hardware but it specifically intends to be “lean and mean” – or another way to say the same thing is that it is efficient in the use of resources so that it runs very well across a very broad range of hardware.

    2. The primary intention is to create a system that works particularly well on old hardware, much of which has been abandoned by many other operating systems.

    3. While not explicitly supported in other ways, antiX is also extremely customizable; in other words, the experienced user can make a custom configuration that works perfectly for them.

    4. antiX recognizes the prominent availability of small portable USB ‘sticks’ that allow the capability to put the contents into your pocket or keychain, carry it with you and run it, either on your own portable device or run it on another system.

    We may not be the only ones with some of these technologies, but the combination antiX offers is a fresh, current, relevant technology that works on systems all around the world. It is unique in the sense that nobody else offers quite the same approach as we do, and it is freely available to use and modify for personal use as you see fit (according to the license provided).

    Despite different preferences that various people in our community have, it is readily apparent that antiX works extremely well for an extensive group of people.

    Sincere thanks to everyone, beginning with anticapitalista, and extending to developers, community members, newcomers, people with ideas, and more. We won’t always agree on everything, and yet this distribution works great for a very diverse community. Thanks again to all who participate!

    Brian Masinick

    #46118
    Member
    Xecure
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    :D

    Could we get some ideas and projections by the dev team? Where do you want to take antiX? What would you like to see new in antiX? What would you like to remove/refresh in antiX? Do you have a plan we could know about?
    I think it is fruitless to be the ones to talk when most of the suggestions may have nothing to do with what the devs want. I think many of us are ready to help, but would like to know “in what direction?”.

    #46119
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    skidoo
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    provide (and we already have) the tools that allows for the creation of spin-off works

    a “Community Edition”, or multiple variations, is long overdue (years overdue).
    The gitlab.com/antix-contribs group repository is in place, has been sitting idle for the past year.
    The build-iso tool has been (published, documented and) available for several years.

    decide on key base components and make sure that the menu and access to them is consistent, clean and clear.

    Can 3 people even find agreement in what are the “key base components”?
    rox-filer? In the absence of the gtk2 library stack, it’s dead.
    lxappearance: It’s largely unable to deal with gtk3 personalizations, and no capabilities-ehnanced followon version is on the horizon (lxde team has migrated to Qt-based theming).
    spacefm: someone during the past week expressed an interest in submitting improved localizations. Good luck figuring out how to contact “upstream” for that (stevep@mx “maintains” a package, but afaik no project repository exists to accept pull requests)

    The “key base components”, after we fuss over making “access to them” consistent… we’re saddled with the fact that their BEHAVIOR is not consistent. rox “Desktop” directory and spaceFM “Desktop” differ, as does the behavior when interacting with desktop items. Some of the pre-installed programs would abide “delete means ‘move to Trash'” if a trash directory is available, others would hard unlink regardless, and yet other programs will silently create a Trash directory, as needed, if such does not already exist. Some of the pre-installed programs will (do) abide the antixCC user-assigned “preferred applications”, others do not.

    I don’t see either MX Linux or antiX catering primarily to a Windows based user base

    Unsure the meaning of “see” in that comment.
    Do not foresee, vs do not realize//recognize?

    Last year I initiated a topic regarding this apparent schism
    (lean-n-mean, vs magicky-userfriendly and PRETTY!)

    Also last year (hmm, well, it seems like just last year), I opined:
    BobC is a programmer, he just doesn’t realize it yet.

    Recognition of SIGs (special interest groups) and issuance of “community respins” seems like a healthy way to move forward. Seeing the word “didactic” here several times recently, prompted me to (re)visit an online dictionary. My off-the-cuff definition would have been along the lines of “Teach a man to fish, vs feed a man a fish” ~~ and I have worried that antiX’ identity is indeed drifting. “Fried or baked fish? Ya want breading, or batter? Okay, and do ya want fries with that?”

    Our twice-banned provocateur (“Queen of the Galactic School of Design”) has made a spate of posts to distrowatch weekly during the past few weeks. His/her/their description of MX Linux is scathing ~~ “[they are] design barbarians“. My point in mentioning this is to underscore the fact that pandering to “customers” (consumers) is a losing proposition; while consuming their free meal, they inevitably “find a bone”.

    Linux BBQ was (waaaaay) too bent on remaining lean-n-mean. Defunct. (despite its solid “identity”)
    CrunchyLabs, what is its identity? The userbase seems like a happy band of lean-ish supplicants, yet the forum contains a sprinkling of “didactic” topics and user contribs. A year ago I stopped posting at MX forum after the mods repeatedly beat me up and took my lunch money, but I still read, and… hey HEY lookit ’em go! SIGs (special interest groups) and issuance of “community respins”…

    #46120
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    skidoo
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    :D

    @Xecure, a clarification:
    my post isn’t a response to yours. In effect, you and I “posted at the same time”.

    #46124
    Moderator
    Brian Masinick
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    @skidoo:. You have made some really good points.

    I’ve already started to lean in the direction you have mentioned and just reiterated.

    Bottom line is that we can’t possibly make everyone happy and still adhere to the main purpose of this (or any other) distribution. As you also mentioned, the Internet is littered with distributions that come and go

    Suggestions have been expressed. Ideas have been shared.

    Anticapitalista can and should have the right to make whatever he wants.

    Same with the leadership of MX Linux.

    I build and alter whatever I want; you probably do the same.

    I’ve tried to facilitate a reasonable conversation. Hopefully what results will have a positive impact, either to a distribution or a community respin.

    Brian Masinick

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