Release recommendation: Usability improvements

Forum Forums Official Releases antiX-19 “Marielle Franco, Hannie Schaft, Manolis Glezos” 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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    Every single one of my users is also an ex-Windows user as well. What else would we expect? MS Windows has probably 97% of the market.

    What is happening is that as MS pushes software that is bigger, slower and more intrusive, and taking away the support for the older machines, the users wind up sitting there with machines that physically run fine, but that MS has made useless. When they look for something to run on it, it is likely they will land on antiX because it is fast enough and light enough to make a 10 year old hunk of junk just as fast as a brand new one running MS code.

    We just need to push ourselves a little so its comfortable for people to get started. They can and will learn more over time, but we should try to help make them successful getting running without too much pain or frustration if reasonably possible. I believe Moddit was right with his idea that we need to get them to the control centre as early on as we can. And PPC’s menu is field proven. We can’t reinvent too many things, but maybe we can make the first hours a little more fruitful rather than frustrating.

    skidoo, yes, I learned Basic on a DecWriter connected to CMU at 110 baud back in 1973, but I was only allowed to use it one day because I wasn’t one of their prodigies.

    Some day I hope to see the norm become people running computers able to do what they need done, rather than have people sitting there doing what the computer needs done because MS says so.

    Brian MasinickBrian Masinick

    @BobC: I also got my first intro to computers with an acoustic coupler connection to my local county school district site in 1973 and my 11th grade Trigonometry class took a tour of the General Motors Research Laboratory computer facility.

    Ironically enough my first job was at GM as a telecommunications programmer. I actually used the computer systems at the Labs in several of my job assignments and I also was in a bowling league with guys from the Lab. Small world!

    Haven’t been there or worked there since the eighties.

    Brian Masinick


    I’m a user. I don’t know why GTK2 is going away or why GTK3 or QT5 is somehow “better” for designing interfaces. But if what we have in antiX is not going to work anymore because the upstream community has abandoned the infrastructure than I don’t think we have a choice but to change with the majority. I think anticapitista has a good grip on this already and wants to keep antiX in the same relative space it has always been. It’s not mainstream but it certainly is powerful and can be turned into what ever a determined user want it to be. I don’t think that should change.

    I get that we want to make it easier for new users who find antiX by chance or are given a “tip” by another linux enthusiest. And I fully agree that many Windows users have been abandoned and are looking for an alternative to run on their old hardware. They are not ready yet to pay for a new computer and want to make use of what they have. Or sometimes an older piece of hardware is all they can afford but Windows 10 won’t run on that hardware. It would be nice if they could make antiX work for them. But they are not geeks and don’t know enough about how computers work to do it themselves. It’s too hard. Linux is hard for most people.

    There are quite a few people here who are team leaders or consultants who can do the hard work for the end users. They can provide the hand-holding necessary to make antiX work for the group. I am all for making it easier. But I am somewhat pessimistic that people will actually appreciate the effort and learn to setup antiX for themselves. Most users who come from Windows or some other Linux Distro with a huge user base and a support system, are not savvy enough to make use of antiX. But some are. Some who are like me, or most of the users on this forum. We may not be computer scientists and seasoned developers but we can follow instructions and are not afraid to experiment and learn.

    I’ve heard this suggested before that maybe what would work is a “FULL” distro that has more bells and whistles and is considered “easier” to setup and use, and another more “CORE” version that can be used by the techies to setup their own environment to work the way they like without having to redo everything in a full easy-to-use version. But I don’t know if that isn’t what we already have. Maybe what we need to do is do a better job of outlining what we already have so that people who would be best suited to the FULL version don’t download the CORE or BASE version. Or have “EXTENSION” packages that will turn the BASE version into some Windows look-a-like to coddle the poor abandoned user who simply can’t be bothered to learn something new but needs a 32-bit open source solution to get them started.

    What is “standard”? If we’re honest, the most popular interface is Windows. But Linux users don’t want Windows. Yet non-geeky users know the Windows interface to some varying degree. My own personal experience is that IceWM was well suited to the paradigm I already knew. I had years of experience with a Start Menu system, which is very similar to what antiX has in the ROX-IceWM desktop. And Firefox or SeaMonkey, or Chromium, were already familiar to me. But ROX-Filer and SpaceFM were frustrating. I was more comfortable in MC which was similar to the Norton Commander from DOS. What made it “easier” was a familiar paradigm. And being able to install programs easily. Slackware lost me because it was too hard for me to install software programs. And yes, I said “Programs”, not “packages”. It’s the language I already understood from CP/M, DOS, and Windows. If you want to make it easier change the language.

    But changing Linux to make it easier for Windows ex-patriots has been traditionally eschewed by linux developers. So it becomes hard to make it “easier” for new converts. The new converts have to buy in to the differences and knuckle down and study the documents so they can become accepted by the Linux community. If antiX just needs to be “easier” we will make sure there is a Windows-like desktop with a trashcan, and an easy way to act like root without actually knowing what root is. The file managers will easily connect to other computers on the network with just a single “click”. No reading should be needed. And we’ll be allowed to download any goddamn “program” we want and install it without some “administrator” saying we can’t do that! Is antiX willing to do that?

    Okay, I’ve gone a little sarconic here. My point is that we all see the need to make it “easier” for new users. But will these new users even try the “easier” version?

    If I can be practical, I would like to see a better file manager experience and an easier way to add program “icons” to the “desktop”. I don’t really like the Windows File Explorer either but one thing I do like is the way you can drag and drop onto the desktop to create a shortcut launcher. Seems that could also be done with keyboard bindings on minimalist systems like antiX. And it may already be there. But it’s not “easy” for me and that’s what we’re talking about, right? AntiX is targeted at older computers so an over-the-top GUI solution is not going to work. How can we make it easier even with a simple gui interface with Window Managers and file managers instead of a full-blown Desktop Environment? And Windows users LOVE desktop icons. Ha ha!



    an easier way to add program “icons” to the “desktop”

    not a better way, just an easier way?
    Howabout, add a column to the “App Select” gui utility so that a “click” copies the associated .desktop file to ~/Desktop/##.desktop
    or, howabout a prominent right-click menu item within each of the file manager applications, labeled “Send To Desktop” ?

    If you want to make it easier change the language.

    I suppose you mean “the verbiage” or “the terminology”.
    It’s much easier to mumblestand if every Nth person, every Nth document, changes the language eh?

    Okay, so what izza “eyecon“, anyhow?
    an imagefile? a glyph? Wait, maybe you’re referring to those “desktop shortcuts”?
    Ohhhh, you mean a “desktop launcher”?

    Somehow, it is too “not easier” to place the following in a txt file, for reuse as a .desktop template?
    [Desktop Entry]
    Name=Name of Application

    When requesting help, pasting the output from inxi -Fzr command will provide important relevant details:
    antiX version//edition ~~ stable vs testing repos ~~ live vs installed vs virtualbox ~~ hardware specs


    drag and drop onto the desktop to create a shortcut launcher

    If rox is managing the desktop
    and you drag (or, per configurable rox options, maybe it’s shift+drag or ctrl+drag)
    an item from rox-filer file manager, to the desktop…
    isn’t the result already (as is) a new “shortcut launcher”?

    why GTK3 or QT5 is somehow “better” for designing interfaces.

    I say “is worse, is bloaty and is is comparatively sloooow to render due to overcomplexity”
    arguably the “better” refers to the fact that the newer versions are “more expressive” ~~ providing many more tweakable properties for each layout widget class (panel, box, combobox, entrybox, checkbox, treeview…)
    However, dontcha dare change away from using the “official” stock themes. Quirky rendering behavior and glitching is damn-near guaranteed if you choose to do so and, back in official themeland, no one can hear your screams (nor cares to listen).

    if what we have in antiX is not going to work anymore because the upstream community has abandoned the infrastructure then I don’t think we have a choice but to change with the majority.

    Due to program rewrites by developers attempting to achieve compatibility with those reputedly “better” design interfaces, “the majority” of users are being ill-served. Some program authors have given up (quit) rather than continuing to chase break/fix shite caused by non-backward-compatible interfaces. Other developers have succeeded in maintaining “compatible” programs, at the cost of stripping functionality which was present in prior versions of their program.

    When requesting help, pasting the output from inxi -Fzr command will provide important relevant details:
    antiX version//edition ~~ stable vs testing repos ~~ live vs installed vs virtualbox ~~ hardware specs


    Well, skidoo, my comments were mostly a not very convincing diatribe about making things “easier”. As you make clear there is no clear way to get everyone on the same page and have the same understanding. When I say language it’s not a very clear word – it was used as slang in this case – but no at all clear as to what is meant.

    And as it turned out I did learn how to use ROX to create application launchers. But eventually I got away from “desktop icons” (in Windows speak) and now prefer menus or key-bindings. But that is all very personal and certainly there is no “standard”. Yet Windows is in fact the most popular interface for desktop computers and most Windows users learn computer interfaces in that paradigm. So, maybe it will be “easier” for new antiX users if they have a more familiar Windows-like look and feel. Who knows?



    Seaken, thanks for expanding the discussion. Pursuit of an “easy button” goal is a difficult task.

    When requesting help, pasting the output from inxi -Fzr command will provide important relevant details:
    antiX version//edition ~~ stable vs testing repos ~~ live vs installed vs virtualbox ~~ hardware specs


    @skidoo, many thanks for the deeper insights. Will search for the year ago ro older posts and take a read through.

    Special interest groups, I guess we are one, right now i am unable to project what will happen
    when the present users move on toward University or some form of vocational education.
    Covid has closed a lot of previously half open doors ms blocking others with incentives to
    use spy 365 for free. You pay with your profile offers. No parents meetings, no open conferences,
    even the forum notice board is reserved for internal and covid news.

    Maybe the very real increase in poverty can be a driver in the direction of efficient software such as antiX.
    Sad days.

    Regarding the posts from Intergalactic Alice in DW, I suspect the entity may be behind some of
    the posts slating antiX too. example, it likes to use screw up screwed up. Its references to Alice in wonderland
    point in a very nasty direction. I am sure that was intentional.

    This feels familiar for example. on antiX.
    DW Score 1 Very temperamental. Easy to screw up with the simplest of things. And for that reason…I’m ooot.

    It pulls down a score but that is in any case influenced by DW
    censorship or selection. Many posts are not published. A while back the kids submitted some reviews.
    None were published.

    A follow up to above post was Antix can not tie my shoelaces, peel potatoes or feed my dog….
    Nutty enough to get on the site.

    On DW, for MX most posts are pretty positive but as all are selected who knows the reality.


    @BobC thanks I think you condensed a lot in to one sentence.

    We can’t reinvent too many things, but maybe we can make the first hours a little more fruitful rather than frustrating.


    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)

    Although just a user interested in direction antiX will be going and reading this thread with great interest I want to thank contributors and skidoo in particular for the insight.
    ‘Modern’ bloated and complex technologies being widely adopted in Linux means to me that Linux developers have been blindly following Windows and are leaving behind as virtually unsupported the older but leaner and better (IMHO) designs. This appears to be an uphill battle for antiX to retain the original purpose and identity to continually adjust to these adverse changes.
    As I must thank to antiX’ owners for sticking to the original identity and purpose of being ‘lean and mean’ and support for older hardware I would like to highlight the fact that sticking to positive ‘lean’ does not need to entail being ‘mean’ and a lot of enhancements to IceWM ended in providing much more user friendly antiX in the past year or two. My larger point here is that extrapolating such idea perhaps antiX can continue the existing lean and fast identity with a slightly different approach, perhaps at the expense of a few internal architecture principles:
    – The existing WM’s included in antiX are still good but how about bringing back the idea of a lead DE and I think Mate was considered at some point? Budgie would be another one. I just want to highlight that ‘modern’ DEs bring about bloat and inefficiencies defeating the principle of ‘lean’, but it does not need to be the case. As Dzhigit recently reported Astra Linux being widely adopted in Russia and China uses Fly-DE and my benchmarks indicate memory footprint of Astra is about the same as for antiX. It is amazing how they did it, but this seems a proof DEs do not need to be bloated if sloppy programming does not take place of efficient one.
    – Certain internal principles of antiX could be increasingly a problem over time. Sticking to ‘lean and fast’ principle seems to me more important than sticking to ‘systemd-free’, although anti may disagree with me on this and I do respect this. However to the end user it is more important that antiX continues to run fast in small memory footprint and support older machines than the internal principles. Again, bringing up the AstraLinux example (Thanks Dzhigit!), it runs quite fast in almost equal to antiX memory footprint and I think it has systemd. As much as I like no-systemd choice, some sacrifices might be unavoidable at some point.

    Just to stress, I am happy with my current IceWM based antiX (Live!) but it took me a lot of time to make IceWM to be functional, presentable and work for me correctly, so performing any updates must be careful and entail lots of testing to make sure things do not get broken in result of changes forced on antiX by adverse developments…

    Thanks and Regards…

    Brian MasinickBrian Masinick

    There have been many different ideas expressed here, which I think is a good thing, but it does not necessarily mean that any or all of them will be adopted, though a few may generate consideration.

    Nevertheless, I believe that the discussion is good. Many years ago, in fact, enough in the past that the MEPIS distribution was still in existence, there were some ‘respins’ that were created, and some of them were pretty good.

    With the powerful Net, Core, and Base starting points, there is a great potential for innovation or personal creation. Each one of us has the ability to install whatever starting point among the [Net, Core, Base, Full] editions, then add, remove, or modify the software, appearance and configuration of components. This may be done completely privately, for those who prefer to do this, and it is not even necessary to explain or comment upon it.

    There is also the potential to share those works. These days there a quite a few sites where images and programs can be saved. Xecure has already shared at least one example of the work that he has done. This is an example of another kind of sharing that can be done. So whether the ideas discussed here are adopted or not, the potential of creating something else is definitely there, and so is the choice to discuss snapshots and respins or even make a distribution. More than anything else about the free and open software movement, this is what I personally enjoy about it.

    Brian Masinick


    DW censorship or selection
    A while back the kids submitted some reviews. None were published.

    ? kids = multiple users sharing a LAN, accessing the internet via same NAT router?
    If so, perhaps the DW staff noticed the “same IP address” associated with the multiple would-be reviews, and regarded them as attempted spamming or brigading.

    Censorship? Yes, I have often found my (innocuous, not argumentative) posts to weekly comments deleted. In one such post, which somehow was related to (motivated by) the previous comments in that week’s banter, I mentioned my enshusiasm regarding the release of “RaspberryPi Desktop, for x86 PC Edition” and my hope that Wolfram’s Mathematica license grant would extend to that edition.

    When requesting help, pasting the output from inxi -Fzr command will provide important relevant details:
    antiX version//edition ~~ stable vs testing repos ~~ live vs installed vs virtualbox ~~ hardware specs


    a few may generate consideration Holy Wars

    heh heh, couldn’t resist

    When requesting help, pasting the output from inxi -Fzr command will provide important relevant details:
    antiX version//edition ~~ stable vs testing repos ~~ live vs installed vs virtualbox ~~ hardware specs


    Hallo Skidoo, Maybe move this to cafenio tomorrow. Very OT. Kids wanted to air own

    ? kids = multiple users sharing a LAN, accessing the internet via same NAT router?

    No, asked about that, different days, all from homes. Some wifi, some tethered
    handy. Even some submissions through TOR. Judging by the noted languages in ads
    submitters were geolocated as in several countrys.

    I looked at all the posts, none were derisive, racist or contained vile language.
    A few of the last ones were repeats and heavily criticized the way DW works.
    An email adress and request for comment included. No publication no answers.

    I am hoping to get a coordinated continuation going with complete documentation
    and statitics. For what the kids are doing Figures facts and data are an essential
    part of the business training they are required to take. Presenting too so I have
    some hopes of a certain progressive teacher take up on that.
    Prepare a final presentation with statistics and again ask for comment would
    be interesting. Not holding my breath though as covid has made cooperative planning
    very difficult.

    One thing is sure, the published posts on DW are selected, the selection criteria
    are in no way transparent. in the future upload filters will come on top of the
    deletions or non publication of comments or reviews.

    DW calls the rankings light hearted although they can make or break even an established
    distro by accordingly showcasing problems or strengths. Or publishing utter rubbish.
    Not nice considering the potential that holds.

    Tor posts can be accepted, one recent positive review for antiX was posted that way.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by ModdIt.

    Hi all! After some family time, that I mostly spent off line, I would like to chip in:

    Skiddo is right- there’s no single way to make any OS easily understandable and configured by every single user, even more for people coming from the “Closed Windows” world. Terms vary so greatly that confusion when using a new OS is almost certain, even for tech minded people…
    That said, I have to say that Windows has the “de facto” monopoly on desktop computer users- basically speaking- if you find a random person on the street that uses a computer, he/she knows only about the existence of MS Windows- so the little or more advanced knowledge that person has on computing is gear towards getting stuff done in windows.

    Taking that into consideration, I even themed the tint2 toolbar to work much like Windows 10 – even if you boot in min-fluxbox – you get most of the stuff you have on W10 interface, for about 100Mb of RAM – It began as a personal configuration that I decided to share here in the forum with, what it seemed moderated success, that appealed to some people- the toolbar and even, to a small extent – the menu, follow most of what an average Windows users expects- some stuff is done even better than in Windows 10, some stuff not as well, other stuff is just plain different. Linux is not Windows and it’s not meant to be. But some Linux developers tend to ignore what a normal user expects and invent new terminalogy for normal stuff that’s been around for decades- making getting used to that interface a pain- my main example- _Bohdi OS- it’s a great OS an Ubuntu derived distro (that allows using PPA’s most of the on line tutorials for Ubuntu, etc) – much more eye catching than antiX- it provides eye candy, a wonderful app to search for apps and files at the same time, etc- all that using about the same system resources as antiX… It has some annoying bugs, like all systems, but, worst than that- if a newbie thinks it’s hard to get the hang of antiX – Bohdi simply insists on calling features but what seem to be names randomly generated -I know, this is a thing in Linux, even, to some small extent here in antiX

    Icons are a modern OS user’s paradigm- I always have a start menu (because, well, it’s been there since the dawn of time, or, at least my first windows version), a “search” icon [app-select is a god send, but rofi is a bit faster on slow machines and can also be configures to perform file searches), a “browser icon” [firefox-esr], a folder icon [space-fm or even a sanely configured rox-filler], a “store” icon [app installer] and an antiX updater icon is probably all that most Windows users need to comfortably use antiX for most common tasks.
    An easy way to automagicaly connect to wi-fi networks [connman has yet to fail me on that account] and HIDPI screens [unfortunately I don’t have that “problem”] would be greatly appreciated for common users/users with more modern hardware. Bob seems to be working hard on testing that – it that works, out of the box, behind the scenes and with no resources over heat, even better…
    All previous suggestions couple with am welcome screen- easy to read by Windows users or non techie users[possibly pinned to the desktop] and auto starting for the first time (and with the possibility to disable that auto-start] would not cost any system resources, would help newbies, while only costing a couple if extra clicks [disabling the welcome screen] for advanced users…

    Note: we think we should try to keep app’s names easy to understand and related to the task at hand- do you want to select an app? “app-select”, is a nice name, you want to edit a picture? WTF is a “GIMP”? You want to run a Windows application? Why drink “WINE”?… etc…


    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by PPC.
    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by PPC.
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