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Name: John McDowall
Location: Redwood City, California, US

Monday, November 11, 2002

Changing the landscape rather than following the established path

There was a recent article in the New York Times and then Slashdot Operating Systems are Irrelevant, the article is part advertisement part call to action. I agree to some of the key points summarized in the Slashdot article.
  1. Operating systems should be irrelevant
  2. We should be able to access our data anytime, anywhere.

I installed the software mentioned in the article and played a little with it - the basic idea I get but I am still trying to see how to use it effectively (RTFM?). What I think is more relevant is that the software runs on Windows only. If you are trying to create a revolution you need to associate with revolutionaries.

Where are the revolutionaries though? One problem with the whole Linux desktop approach is that it is trying to copy Windows and emulate it. OpenOffice is great but apart from a few nice features its main advantage is cost; which I think is an advantage, but to change the world there has to be more than dollars involved.

Instead of arguing over the merits of KDE and GNOME the open source community should be trying to revolutionize the environment and make the operating system irrelevant. Removing the need to understand c:\ or /usr/local for most users would change the computing landscape. KDE versus GNOME will only slow down adoption, remember OpenWindows versus Motif.

If the open source community wants to change the world the operating system should be irrelevant and the user experience should be dramatically better rather than a copy of a copy(Windows) of a copy(Macintosh) of the Xerox Star. In this the author, David Gelernter and I agree, we are working with a metaphor that has its roots in the early part of the last century, the file cabinet.

There is an incredible amount of energy and talent in the open source community, could it not be focused better than creating another file folder metaphor?


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