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Comment on "Complexity is Too Expensive"
by dc — Jul 10
Well, one of the big draws of Ubuntu is that GUIwise it's at least comparable to OS9 (thanks to the UI freaks at Gnome) and that its focus, unlike other Linuces, really is on having everything Just Work(tm). And, for the most part, they really do get it right.

The interface is very solid and extremely customizable, and has nifty features like a modifier key to drag a window by any part, OmniDazzle-like cursor extras for laptop users, multiple desktops, nice screensavers, solid buil-in games (wish the LiveCD had tangrams, Mah Jonng was my personal favorite), web browser, and office suite, windowshadable windows (it's easy to forget how goddamn useful those are), etc. The overall feel for me was classic MacOS with a taskbar and some nifty extensions--not bad at all, for a Linux. I would not hesitate to recommend it over Windows, something which has been difficult to say about non-Mac OSes in the past.

Anyway, I just fiddled with it for a few hours on my Powerbook, and I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't impressive enough to convince me to switch from X--I am too far in love with too many OSX apps to uproot to a whole new OS (iPhoto/iTunes/Mail/Adium/TextMate/Photoshop)--but they are definitely doing something interesting, and their hearts are in the right place.

I heartily encourage anyone even remotely interested in seeing what this Linux thing has to offer to head over to and download one of their PowerPC LiveCDs (make sure you get the live bootable 'desktop' ISO, and not the installer-only 'alternate'--that woulda saved me a few hours). It will require a few minutes of computer time that are not directly making you money, but for myself, I feel it was an informative and worthwhile expedition into some of the more uncharted wilds of desktop computing.

This is the paragraph of Ubuntu caveats, if anyone gives a damn. - I found myself missing the Dock very terribly. Does that make me a sucker? Isn't the Dock supposed to suck? - The wireless driver in their current version Doesn't Work At All(tm) with Airport cards, making it nearly as useless and annoying as any other Linux for day to day use, for me. YMMV. - Expose, obviously, is not there (there is a 'reveal desktop' button which is handy)... wonder if there's a good X11 implementation. - Can't read HFS+ volumes, makes it pretty difficult to actually try to get work done. - Linux apps, as you note, generally do not have the polish and consistency which I think people have a right to expect from their software. Gnome and KDE apps have competing HIG standards, widgets do not always look good, toolbar buttons don't always have tooltips (click-n-pray?). Small things, but they do add up.
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