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KDE Is Looking For Ideas On New Goals

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  • *Slaps head*

    I knew I was missing something important!

    KDE Dev guys – whom I honestly like so much because you saved me in terms of UI – please read the following. Long post but I go into important detail. I really do believe I have critical goals for you that will make a difference IN THE FIELD!! [Usual disclaimers about typos and my awful proof reading apply here, especially 3,000 words in Libreoffice and in a state of literal exhaustion from end of year exams. No, I mean clinical exhaustion here..]

    Plllleeease read. I am trying to help and not give my pet peeve. This will span a few posts as I have a lot of say but it’s all trying to help and NOT a sent of peeves or complaints! I appreciate being asked and I am kicking myself for not mentioning this KEY suggestion in the first place!

    I was thinking; “What is a proper goal for KDE?” I mean, yes, I have mentioned ‘fixing’ GTK app tweaking but that’s hardly a major goal. The question was: “What goals should KDE have?”

    Goals implies something longer term, moving towards a strategy. I thought; “Well, it’s gotta be making KDE more popular in deployment.” I mean, KDE is very popular with users with KDE constantly ranked as the favoured UI by users – when given a choice! But with enterprise, OEMs and the really big distros it’s Gnome 3 all the way.

    And then… I slapped myself and kicked myself at the same time and fell over as I remembered the A1 NUMBER 1 THING I would change in KDE to make it more popular… For years I have said; “The one thing I would implement in KDE if I were in charge is a LOCK DOWN mode.”

    and then…

    “I would include ‘How do I?’”

    Read on….!

    I am approaching this goal from the high level goal of:

    KDE Plasma has the incredible ability to change system settings which is thoroughly good thing and makes KDE no virtually unique among OS DE’s across the field who have all moved towards not letting anything be changed. But KDE gets a lot of flack for the power of it’s systems settings. Indeed, it is the most controversial element of KDE with non-KDE users all complaining that “it’s too complicated!” Which brings me to my first identifiable Goal suggestion:


    Stay with me here! Lemme explain. While having the ability to change system settings via GUI and not hacking text files around is very much a good thing and I love it – and I live and die by user defined shortcut keys which make my laptop useable in the taxi or train – generally speaking having users change system settings is a BAD THING.

    1) Enterprise wants a UI locked down so users cannot change things.

    Once users have access to anything in system settings at all they can end up creating a complete mess of a system. In a mass roll out of an OS the last thing Enterprise needs is users poking around with the OS/UI settings. Enterprise wants total system lock down for stability. That’s one of the reason Gnome 3 has become so popular with Enterprise. Bug business wants a UI to run apps -that’s it, the end. Even installing new applications is seen as dangerous. In business stability trumps configuration every time! And why KDE gets it in the neck.

    2) ‘Average Joe,’ who is more comfortable using an smartphone than a laptop, likes defaults.

    'Average Joe' users are scared of changing things and convinced they will ‘screw everything up.’ And they can do! Both enterprise and Average Joe like laptops to work like appliances. If they do want anything changed – say from single clicking to open files and folders to double clicking, they want their techie friend to do it for them. “Hand holding” I call it.

    Between Enterprise and “Average Joe” you have 90% of users who want system settings locked away, never to be seen – and, thus, why KDE is so ‘controversial.’

    Gnome’s approach to this lack of desire to change things is logical, in a way, especially given Gnome’s close relationship to Red Hat: Remove configuration.

    It does not exist. Gone. Vanished. Because the less user config the less chance for a system screw up and less variables in a IT support call. In a way Gnome 3 is kinda all about pleasing the support staff and Enterprise.

    “Just press the button that runs the app!” is want Enterprise wants.
    Gnome provides that and if you want to change anything in Gnome it’s text file editing or installing Gnome-tweaks which Average Joe and Enterprise are NOT going to do! [Which makes Gnome also controversial but... much more popular than KDE in OEM Linux installs or Enterprise mass deployments.]

    KDE goes in the opposite direction making KDE popular with users who are giving a choice but avoided by Enterprise and OEMS.

    So, how to make KDE match the expectation of “NO changee!!!” - See next post for more.


    • [Oh! 'Edit' has come back. Er, this is a series of posts and my first piece has to be moderated as I am a new poster. The rest has gone through. So... if this post seems to be missing an introduction - my first post has not been cleared yet!]

      I propose is a new mode for KDE - “Lock down!” At the point of install – most certainly on OEM installs – there should a question like “Do you want Lock down Mode enabled?” Of course, there is an explanation as to what that means which would be:

      Nobody can change ANY config setting.

      NOTHING! Total lock down! Even installing new apps would not be allowed to change file associations. The system would be “As is” and nothing could be changed. No changing the application menu form, no moving the panel, nothing. Everything totally locked down moreso even than Gnome.

      Suddenly Enterprise will sit up and take notice. As I have said I am engaged with a local University with a move over to Linux and, frankly, if I were in charge of IT support, I would switch on Lock down mode! With a mass deployment you do not want the UI changing AT ALL!
      Of course, we do not want to go the Gnome way and dumb KDE down. If Kde does that everyeone will just rush to Gnome 3 anyway. “Once you imitate another system users will rush to the original” is the law. System settings in all it’s techie glory should remain so IT support can fix things quick at the GUI and not hacking text files around which is screaming for a typo and breaking the system. So lock down mode should be an option – and down to the distro as to which is the default. PCLinuxOS will likely have disabled by default while NetRunner likely enabled.

      It can then be undone by a CLI ONLY command run as root. There probably should be a switch for “Until reboot” or “turn off lock down mode.” But it must be CLI to keep the curious nontechie users (including grubby fingered students who know more about the computer in the classroom than the lecturer does)

      When disabled all config controls are returned to the user and the GUI used to fix a problem or change a file association. But with lock down mode on the staff now rely on IT support which usually the way both staff and support want it.

      BANG! The number one complaint about KDE that it’s ‘system settings’ is too complex and leads to system breaks and confusion is gone.
      “Ah, but now you can lock down all config so users cannot change a thing!” The KDE team can retort.

      Enterprise much happier, Average Joe much happier, and, in theory Gnome users much happier since they perceive control of the UI as a bug… which, as I say, in a mass deployment, kinda is.

      If KDE can lock down the UI MORE than Gnome then KDE will appeal much more to OEMs and Bug Business.

      Logically lock down mode should also be allowed to be applied to new users, doubtless by a tickbox but, once enabled cannot be disabled except by CLI.

      But wait, I’m not finished… There is a second step. [Er, these are long term goals, mind, that would need to be carefully implemented with much beta testing and user feedback! I’m not suggesting for 5.17 here and I suggest goal 1 before goal 2.]


      Yeah, I was tech support once; for a software company catering to truck drivers with an average reading age of 10. I also had to write the help files and the system manual. Yeah. Reading-age-of-10.

      Invariably the call would start with “What’s the procedure for...” meaning, “can you tell me the exact key presses and mouse clicks in exact order?” and “How do I?”

      So when I wrote the help file and manual I worked “with the wood and not against it.” Both the menu and help files were written around the question…

      “How do I…?”
      Then each chapter was based on a function of the software but from the users point of view such as:
      “How do I… collect my system data?”
      “How do I… get my monthly reports?”
      “How do I… program fuel key.”

      In the manual I even have the ‘procedure’ as a flow diagram and the “How do I” included each button to press in picture form. Literally; “You press the yellow button (we had colour buttons on a device they collected data from” and then the red button and then then red button again and then you type in the date...” Users would just look for which colour buttons to press in which order from the manual to get a job done.

      It worked! Support calls dropped by about 70% and I... kinda put myself out of a job. I got another one before the small company I worked for could find no reason to employ me anymore. [And then I eventually headed out to Indonesia to move into education.]

      Well, the same system can be done for system settings in KDE AND a deal with a lot of support questions in the simplest possible way that matched how users think which is; “How do I?” [Next post for more]
      Last edited by Jedinovice; 06-16-2019, 10:43 AM.


      • [BTW, I apologise for all this text but I HAVE to explain my thinking and reasoning here fully!]

        What I would do if I were in the KDE team is, after implementing “Lock down mode” so Enterprise is happy is the move to a new app which is very highly visible on systems where lock down mode is disabled. The app would be called literally “How do I” Because that’s how people think, as I say.

        When the user wonders ‘How do I?” they will gravitate naturally to the “How do I” app.
        Open it up and a screen opens up with a set of hyperlinks to commonly asked questions revolving around the FAQs. The app, however, does not only give advice – it also solves the problem and provides a shield to system settings.

        Let me explain by example. A user wants to change his default media player from MPV to VLC. The “How do I” question must be simple and global so in the hypertext link pages we have:

        “How do I… change the application a certain file open in?”
        User clicks/touches the link and a new page appears like a Microsoft Wizard with something like:

        “What kind of file do you want to change the program association for?”

        Media such as video and audio
        Word processor doc
        Spreadsheet doc
        Presentation doc
        Raw text file
        Picture file
        PDF file

        Note that only a simplified list if shown of the most common file types and nothing for, say, Blender files or video editing! Most users are content consumers and not content producers anyway. Note however, that at the bottom of the page is a button marked ‘Advanced.’ If the user clicks on this then “File associations’ setting setting scree appears in all it’s glory! Absolutely “Simple by default, powerful when needed.” From here the more advanced user can set their more specialised apps.

        The user, I this use case, clicks/touchs “Media such as video and audio”
        A new screen appears with:

        “Which program do you want to open audio and video files for play back with?”

        A list of all media players (but not audio only) appears and the user can click/touch ‘VLC player.”

        Message appears

        “Job done! All media files will now play with VLC player.”

        User closes the window.

        Now, this Wizard system is dumb. It’s brain dead simple and does not differentiate between audio and video files because… a lot of users do not get the difference anyway. Sure, a lot of techie Linux users do and will have, say, Audacious for MP3’s and VLC for video but Joe Public just wants “my video and audio files to play correctly!” So you shove anything into a general purpose tool and be done with it.

        I run my own small private tuition business and I am busy enough to have to hire local part time staff and provide loadsa laptops for kids to do research on, research, write essays and reports on and.. play media files – often anime. While my laptop is fine tuned for my needs, my business laptops – including a very humble single core atom N455 – have all media files associated with VLC player – end of story, period! VLC plays anything and that’s what I need in the heat of battle… and end of year exams take no prisoners!

        ‘How do I’ is dumbed down so changing setting becomes simple to the point of stupid. So, when people complain; “But changing settings in KDE is too complex” you/we could then point to “How about ‘How do I?’ and ask “Is that simple enough for you?”

        But the other advantage of the ‘How do I’ system is that it can be extended according to the frequency of the support call. If support in the University or business or Galactic Empire keeps dealing with the same query over and over again like, maybe, “Everyone keeps asking how they can set KDE to double click to open files and folders!” then you add it to the “How do I” list and the user can change it by just clicking on the hyperlink. So support get their problems solved for them by KDE itself.


        • So ‘How do I’ is an app and not a series of hyperlinks to web pages online! Oh no! It is a program that turns configuration into something usable by those with an average reading age of ten and can allow support centers and users to give data on the most common config requests and having fixed with a couple of clicks.

          Take this as a very likely “How do I question:”

          “How do I make KDE look and behave more like Windows 7?”
          Response to click/touch – new screen:
          “KDE can be configured easily to look and behave more like Windows 7 than it does by default. Do you want to switch to Windows 7 operation?’

          KDE switches the theme to a Windows 7 like jobbie, the kickstart menu switched to cascading menu, Dolphin’s toolbars shifted about to look more like Explorer (shudder) and files and folders switched to double click to open.

          Ping! Imagine that as a selling point for possible Windows users!

          Hehehe.. you might have another one…

          “How do I make KDE look and behave more like Gnome 3?”
          Response to click/touch – new screen:
          “KDE can be configured easily to look and behave more like Windows 7 than it does by default. Do you want to switch to Gnome 3 operation?’

          KDE shifts the kickstart menu to the top of the screen, Nautilus is installed as he default file manager, and a dock installed and placed at the left of the screen and lock down mode enabled!

          [Don’t laugh too hard though. For Enterprise users stuck on Gnome this could well be a selling point.]

          The end result of this is:

          KDE retains it’s enormous power without compromising with the “make it simple/dumb it down” crowd of whom the Gnome 3 fans are often the loudest – though as I saw, with Gnome massive perpetration into Enterprise makes some sense. Gnome 3’s choices seem bizarre to the average user but actually make perfect sense in a mass deployment, enterprise scenario.

          But, KDE’s reputation for being ‘too complicated’ when it comes to configuration and ‘invites trouble’ is utterly cleaned by a lock down system for OEMs and Enterprise that forces a set of defaults in a world that likes defaults A LOT!

          KDE THEN gets THE premier reputation for making system set up in it’s most basic forms, and yet more powerfully than any other DE yet also the easiest on the planet!


          KDE wins on enterprise requirements which are using the computer to run apps and produce results from those apps and NOT CHANGING ANYTHING!!!

          KDE wins on Average Joe’s requirements which are both:

          1) I don’t want to be able to change anything in case I break something.
          2) If I have to change something I want it really easy with the system helping me when I ask; “How do I…?”
          [And, as I say, from experience, this matches what Average Joe expects from any kind of help. They do not want to know ‘how’ in technical terms – they just want “Here, I’ll do it for you”.. which KDE itself can DO here!

          KDE wins on the techie user who wants that power and does not want lock down mode and also wants access to system settings in order to fix the problem, go that bit further, when Average Joe says; “Yes, but I want my MP3’s to play in Audacious instead of VLC player and I can’t find it.”
          Right, switch lock down mode off, change by system settings, logout and back in and lock down mode enabled once more. Go home.

          Not only win-win-win but KDE once again will look unique – for a new reason - and seen to be catering to everyone.

          Got to be a winner and make KDE WAAAYYYY more popular.

          I offer the above as genuine desire to help and make KDE more popular. And, if this University does go Linux KDE – very likely, Lock down mode would be a real help.

          I shall now return to recovering from end of year exam exhaustion. No, I mean it!
          And I apologise for this wad of text but the request for new KDE goals and my trying to explain what I have been thinking for YEARS required this.
          This is my way of trying to help, BTW!


          • Well frak me running. And here I was thinking I typed a lot of unnecessary bullshit here.

            The TLDR
            • a way to prevent settings from being changed that requires root and reboots and bullshit over sudo kdectl lock / unlock configs and have the enterprise not put regular users on the sudo list like any sane enterprise should.
            • a better default multimedia player -- I agree. I use Clementine (qt5) and SMPlayer myself.
            • built-in themes or methods that emulate other desktop styles -- would be nice, actually
            • a first-run wizard & help wizards to automagically do stuff for dummies -- not necessarily a bad thing
            Last edited by skeevy420; 06-16-2019, 04:43 PM.


            • Originally posted by skeevy420 View Post

              Here you go. I only have GIMP and Geeqie installed, but they take the themes set from here...and Wine programs when winecfg is set to use GTK3 themes (though dark themes sometimes have issues with Wine/Windows programs).

              Worse comes to worse, the MATE or LXDesktop theme tools work for this task too. I used to have to use the LXDesktop tool (lxappearance-gtk3) with XFCE because it didn't always set all the GTK3 themes and mouse icons correctly during the GTK2 to 3 transition and I've used it with Plasma before too. Might have some luck with this, though I haven't used it in years.

              Lol, just realized that I need to change my GTK theme settings to Oxygen to match the rest of my theme settings.
              Where's my Oxygen GTK3 theme?


              • Originally posted by tildearrow View Post

                Where's my Oxygen GTK3 theme?
                The KDE git (or AUR ).


                • Originally posted by skeevy420 View Post
                  Well frak me running. And here I was thinking I typed a lot of unnecessary bullshit here.

                  The TLDR
                  • a way to prevent settings from being changed that requires root and reboots and bullshit over sudo kdectl lock / unlock configs and have the enterprise not put regular users on the sudo list like any sane enterprise should.
                  • a better default multimedia player -- I agree. I use Clementine (qt5) and SMPlayer myself.
                  • built-in themes or methods that emulate other desktop styles -- would be nice, actually
                  • a first-run wizard & help wizards to automagically do stuff for dummies -- not necessarily a bad thing
                  Thanks for the summary!

                  Trouble is that, for a developer, detail is needed and... I have had to write technical manuals before so you gotta output.

                  Anyway, your summary isn't quite right so let me summarise my own volume but I beg any KDE developers to read my screed. The details and examples are important.

                  My own TLDR summary is:

                  1) A real goal, as opposed to a gripe list, for KDE would be to better align KDE to the needs of Enterprise and OEMS which is normally a UI which is locked down and users cannot change anything.

                  2) So KDE plasma should have a lock down mode where no user settings can be changed at all but it can be disabled while KEEPING ll system settings functionality. [And this shuts up those who say KDE allows too much change. Again, I give detail in my volume on this. I suggest more than just sudo/su control!

                  3) After implementing a lock down mode add a 'How do I feature?' that uses a wizard type system that allows control of system settings and reconfiguration by novice users. The system is very simple and 'crude' compared with system settings but helps address the MOST COMMON setup issues which can added over time. This 'How do I facility' could be used to adjust KDE to behave like other DE's but that depends on demand - it's the setting/programs that are most frequently asked that can go into a 'How do I?' wizard type app.

                  4) The reason I wrote masses is from in the field experience as I describe and, if the above as got from anyone in the KDE team interest, I justify, give details and give examples. It's needs to be read if I have got any KDE developers interest because... I try and present real, longer term goals that could make a real difference in KDE adoption and the pithy one liners do not do justice.
                  [Think of my masses of typing as the beginnings of a spec!]

                  I wasn't bothered about the default media player, mind. It was just an example of how users expect things to be able to be changed.


                  • Originally posted by Jedinovice View Post
                    SNIP...because we really don't need two of these in one post
                    I understand. I have to put in a genuine effort not to type a whole lot when posting. I could never be a Twitter user because, even after limiting myself, I still type a bunch of shit most of the time.

                    Well, after thinking on it, the hypothetical "kdectl" I mentioned above could be implemented to be modular or configurable so the OEM/Enterprise/Business/User could lock down various parts of the System Settings as well as changing various program config files to be under the kdectl group so they're read-only for the end user which would require either sudo, group membership, etc to change various settings. For things that aren't under the KDE or Plasma projects' control, a simple black/white list to make their $HOME configs read-only or not would should be good enough.

                    Baloo, KGPG, and other KDE tools could be setup to use it as a front-end and it could be though of as the next evolution of KDED using a systemd inspired control scheme. Something like "kdectl $start/stop/update $command $per_command_flags"...update is a pass-through that would allow updating currently running daemons and throwing an error if it isn't running, like adding some directories for Baloo to scan "kdectl update baloo index add '/non-standard-dir/my_psx_roms' '/my_other_hdd/my_sources'".

                    The main problem I have with your idea is the part requiring the logout/login. That just seems like an unnecessary step, and, depending on how ones' systems are configured in regards to autostart and whatnot, could add quite a bit of an annoyance for everyone involved whereas a "kdectl configs unlock" allows the admin to type in a command, help the end-user, and "configs lock" when they're done (and would greatly help with remote assistance where relogging would be damn annoying). In the Enterprise environment, that could mean 15 seconds to a minute of nothingness downtime -- that + lots of systems = unacceptable.

                    While lockdown mode would be nice, IMHO, it really only solves part of the Enterprise problem. "kdectl" is my solution to solve the rest by putting all the command line tools under one common framework so from there we could get GUI-based admin functions, arguably simpler scripting solutions, and a system admin would only need to learn one tool instead of 20. I think we can all agree that one tool that does things one way is easier to learn than multiple tools that do things differently...cp if=$HOME/cat.mp4 of=$HOME/videos/cat.mp4 status=progress...error, WTF...damn it, you moron, that's dd. Since most distributions use systemd and all the ones that ship KDE as their primary desktop do, it makes sense to emulate the systemd style.

                    Honestly, the default media player situation does bother me just a little bit. Dragon Player is way too damn simple* & JuK needs a folder view and visualization support...or Clementine-qt5 needs JuK's more advanced tagging features...or merge Clementine, SMPlayer, and a multimedia tag editor and I'd be happy since it seems like JuK would need more added to it than anything else. All the things we (most of us anyways) want already exists for QT, there just isn't any one comprehensive program that covers everything. Some days it just annoys me so much when I have to open SMPlayer, ProjectM, and PulseEffects or Clementine & PulseEffects when I go to listen to music.

                    OK, that reminds me, I really do think we could use a QT version of PulseEffects, or, ideally, the functionality that it brings as a core part of Plasma located in the system settings and the audio tray icon. PulseEffects is just one of those tools that once you start using it, you do not want to lose what it brings. I now have a reason to use my PC over my Android phone for listening to music since it does for us what Viper4Android does for Android....I hate it when I have to give up my Razor Surround +20 Bass convolver.... Not to mention that various compression settings are nice at night when you don't want to be an asshole or if you get tired of turning the volume up and down because it's apparently fucking impossible to master a TV show or Blu-Ray with sane dynamic range levels (damn does that grinds my gears).

                    Windows has similar audio functionality, but it's so generically implemented that its OK but not Great. Plasma adding that functionality would make a lot of people take notice and give it try or to try it again. All other Linux desktops need the same PulseEffects tool which is GTK3 (Ugh), Windows half-asses it, not sure on OSX because it was 9 when I used it last, Redux is a nope, BSD is the same as Linux, Haiku is a nope. Plasma/KDE having its own Audio Effects Manager is a feature that a lot of people want** and would really make the desktop stand out from the rest. "Well what does it do that's so special?" "Let's just say that your thumb and TV remote are about to love you and your battery budget will be 50% lower".

                    The Wizard suggestion really isn't a bad idea. Especially if it's done in a way that Power Users/Enterprise could tie into so we can make quick spin isos, a corporate default config file the Wizard reads and applies without the user even knowing the Wizard was there, a Suse or Manjaro modified one that includes distribution specific choices. To make KDE (and therefore Linux) more accessible to the masses, something like that will eventually be needed and would be helpful for power users since we wouldn't have to go to 13 places to get our desktop setup after a fresh install...use the Wizard and fill in gaps if necessary. Android, iOS, and Windows all do something of the sort and it's because most people aren't power users to know to go to those 13 places or will bother to read the manuals (Arch Wiki) to figure it out.

                    The theme/desktop emulation idea is damn near entirely possible now and is with slight compromises. Gnome, Android, Mate, XFCE, XP/2K, & (IIRC) OSX can all be pretty well emulated now. The only things missing are start launchers that cover all the Windows bases and possibly the addition of KCM-Colorful to further help mimic Windows 10 and because it's just neat. There are a few launchers in the KDE Store that almost get us there, but not quite. Being able to pick the style of desktop one is comfortable with would be a great thing to have. Some sort of addition to KActivities perhaps? New Activity > Desktop Style > list of styles with a blank desktop option. I dunno if that would be the best spot since there are a few places where a desktop style option would make sense...right click desktop > style; configure desktop > style side-tab; system settings > appearance > style sub-option...

                    This is what happens when I don't turn on my internal "STFU" filter.

                    *I get that Dragon is supposed to be a simple media player, but simple and lacking features don't have to be mutual.

                    **While anecdotal, just look at past Phoronix threads where PulseEffects is brought up and all the "oohs and ahs" that follow.


                    • Michael it's that time of morning for me