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 * Recognizing that both [[DebianGnome|GNOME]] and [[DebianKDE|KDE]] exist, we will support the use of both, and make sure they work well on Debian.  * Recognizing that both [[GNOME]] and [[KDE]] exist, we will support the use of both, and make sure they work well on Debian.


  • Recognizing that both GNOME and KDE exist, we will support the use of both, and make sure they work well on Debian.

  • We recognize that there are only two important classes of users: the novice, and the expert. We will do everything we can to make things very easy for the novice, while allowing the expert to tweak things if they like.

  • In line with our motto, we will work to support and improve all software which eases the burden of configuration required by the end user. This means we will integrate software such as discover (discover) into the Debian installation process and the running Debian system. We will make sure that installation (including configuring the X Window System) is as easy and foolproof as possible.

  • We will try to ensure that software is configured for the most common desktop use. For instance, the regular user account added by default during installation should have permission to play audio and video, print, and manage the system through sudo.
  • We will integrate an easy-to-use system management utility into the standard Debian installation. There are several choices in this area; webmin (webmin) and Ximian Setup Tools (a.k.a. GNOME System Tools) (ximian-setup-tools) look the most promising. There is also the MagiConf project.

  • We will try to ensure that questions which are asked of the user (which should be kept to a minimum) make sense even with a minimum of computer knowledge. Many Debian packages today present the user with difficult technical details. For example, if you simply select the "desktop environment" and "development environment" tasks during a woody installation, the first thing you will be presented with after all the packages are downloaded is a debconf prompt from binutils (http://packages.debian.org/binutils) about "kernel link failure info". To the novice, this kind of thing is confusing and frightening. To the expert, this is annoying and unnecessary. Right after this question is one from less (less) which asks something about a MIME handler. A novice doesn't even know what MIME is. An expert can configure less however they like it after the installation is complete. The priority of these kinds of debconf questions should be at least lowered. (Happily, many of these issues are already fixed for the sarge release using debian-installer, which will make the default debconf priority be "high").

  • And we will have fun doing all of it!
    • Content taken from the Debian Desktop Subproject.
      Originally written by Colin Walters.
      Placed here by Matthew McGuire 11-11-02


We recognize that there are only two important classes of users: the novice, and the expert.

  • That's sad. What about expert users who want to get things done without learning the syntax of yet another configuration file? Learning how to use ipfwadm was fun, because it taught me much about the Linux firewall implementation. Learning ipchains was not fun, but not hard since I knew ipfwadm. I have never tried to learn iptables options. Why should I waste time on yet another implementation when firewall builder has such a great gui?
  • What about absolute newbies ("What's Linooks?") vs. "veteran newbies" ("successfully using Debian for six months now") vs. Debian Maintainer wannabees :-) vs. wizards and Debian Policy wonks? It's a continuum. The wizard who's never bothered to get his sound card working may be better equipped to do so, but he's still in uncharted (for him) territory when it happens. "Hmm ... Alsa or OSS? ESD? Arts? Which documentation do I read? Which documentation is up to date? Which documentation is up to date vis a vis the (kernel|desktop software|soundcard) I'm running? What the fsck are /dev/dsp[0-n]?" The answer to all of the above is documentation, accurately kept up to date. Huzzah wiki.debian.org!

Recognizing that both GNOME and KDE exist, we will support the use of both, and make sure they work well on Debian.

  • That's a little sad too. We ignore those who use neither, or we just don't care about those who use neither? Why do Gnome and KDE deserve special treatment over (eg.) OpenBox? Because if I choose to use something other than Gnome and KDE, I obviously know what I'm doing and don't need any support? That's a pretty broad brush to be painting with.

2003/03/24 14:33 UTC (via web):


  • Documentation about the principles applied in the Debian GNU/Linux Operating System should be installed by default, but in the language of the users (e.g things like http://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/)

  • The good OS is the one that can fit to everybody's needs. Automatic kernel configuration and patch application on a "For what kind of tasks do you intend to use this computer" questions basis could be great.
  • For the expert : simplifying and improving help information and module names in the "kernel module configuration" part of the installation could be great.

-> It would be nice if the latter's names didn't change from one kernel version to the next too.

Michel Nolard

Wacky ideas from a newbie

  • In KDE and particularly in Gnome, the placement of apps in various sub menus is often counterintuitive. Adding to this, the vast number of apps that get installed to the same purpose is confusing.
  • Can we start with single, most encompassing choices for each category of basic functionality, and add an extra other choices item. For example, under "Office Software" (a category not (yet) present in Gnome), we can place the components of OpenOffice, and GnuCash. Beneath those, we can add an "Other office software" entry, which will pop up an interface allowing us to add other software from the office category, such as Abiword, Koffice, Gnumeric etc.

-> use of freedesktop.org's menu specification (is currently supported by KDE, will be supported by Gnome and XFCE in their next versions) allows the above.

  • For each application package, can we have text created by a committee of users describing that package, and what makes it different from other packages in the same category, and can we have them categorized by the same committee (instead of but in co-operation with package maintainers).

-> debtags allows this I think (having common tools use debtags needs work)

  • Can we use a single common repository for mime handlers, so all applications know which other application is responsible for what (and I would like to recommend .mime.types in both /etc and in the user home directory). In addition to this, is there a mini-plugin launcher which will use a browser plugin to view a file without loading the whole browser and its interface?

-> the shared mime database specifcation of freedesktop.org provides this (and will be supported by all major desktops)

Dominic Amann

In regards to system configuration

Another option might be to integrate system tools such as the ones from Red Hat (which are really the most complete I've used--the Morphix Project appears to be trying to port these to Debian) or the newly GPL'ed YaST2 (which I understand is good).

-> The Morphix FAQ says Morphix is a hack to make up for Mozilla developers having dropped the ball. They urge you to rag on Mozilla to get them to fix Mozilla.

Keep up the good work guys. . .


I think the most critical aspect, no matter what one might say, is having a minimal UI menu system with the option to expand (instead of the other way around). Clutter the UI and the user gets lost. They don't want that many options. Give them primary options (I've always hated "Open New Microsoft Document" taking up precious "root menu" space. Seems invasive). Give them the ability to right-click on menus to add more options. Debian has done a great job at maintaining (and rarely installing by default) all the cool little toys with Gnome (it's gotten much better though!), but keeping them a right-click -> add panel item away. Simple, good looking (Themable!) menus and slick background (I love the dark navy blue Debian Swirl in testing). Make the default terminal app a nicely customized ATerm (with transparency). Mmmmmm, transparency... If you keep it clean and make sure you don't block or confuse the real purpose of them, transparent terminal apps, menus, and everything else makes the GUI look absolutely awesome to any user. Just keep it looking professional!

Oh, and give a menu option to 3ddesktop if you have a good video card (and be able to easily switch between that and the other pager system)! I haven't actually used it before but I've seen the site and have a good reference from an 3l1t3 h4x0r friend and it looks and sounds like great eye candy for a GUI. Just don't let it crash or be horribly slow..

Get as many (working) GDM, KDM, hell XDM, Gnome, KDE (and all other) themes and install them by default. Create/install a Gnome/KDE splash screen changer with a standardized Gnome/KDE interface. "Regular people" as well as hackers love themes. Crap, I love themeing my bash prompt with color and da bling bling, ya know. Everyone does. Everyone wants to customize their environment, it makes them feel better about using it. As long as you give that easy accessibility to the user, they can decide how much. Don't leave out installing (stable) themes!!

Focusing on the login manager for a second ... The Debian themes for it are awesome!! Take it a step forward and make it easy to snap a picture with your webcam (or select a part of an existing image) to create login photos for you. Makes it look secure ... and cool. =) I know it's a long shot, but integrating any kind of biometric authentication (fingerprint or voice being the most easily accessable) and making it easy to "turn it on" is a really eye-catching (and very secure) login method.

Again, simple, slick looking interfaces with the absolute fullest options to customize is my highest reccomendation.

- The Darkener

(I'm a Gnome user, so I mostly reference that...sorry if I offended you. =) )