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<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2//EN">
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<title>The Linux User LG #36</title>
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<H4>
"Linux Gazette...<I>making Linux just a little more fun!</I>"
</H4>

<P> <HR> <P> 
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<center>
<H1><font color="maroon">The Linux User</font></H1>
<H4>By <a href="mailto:bpcolema@uncg.edu">Bryan Patrick Coleman</a></H4>
</center>
<P> <HR> <P>  

Who uses Linux? This question has changed as Linux evolves. Originally 
none but the ultra hacker or the core developers of the OS were the ones 
to use it. As different functionality got added, more and more less 
technically oriented people began to use Linux. 
<P>
Now the question is how far will Linux go toward being an OS for 
the end user. The response that is the healthiest for continued growth 
would be as far as one can go. What you say would you turn Linux into a 
next generation Windows. No, but there is more to it than that. 
nifty    To effectively become an end user product and keep the hackable 
quality of Linux should be the new focus. That means when developing open 
source software you are developing for everyone from the ultimate power 
user / hacker to the less than average user that may have never used 
a computer before. Yes some people have never used computers before 
still in this day and age. 
<P>
What does this mean for development? First and foremost make everything 
you possible can configurable. Not just different makes for different needs 
but truly extendable interfaces using guile or python for example. But also 
there need to be defaults. So after your application is installed a user 
can simply start your program and it look polished. As long as your source 
code is available the hard core hacker is happy. But for hacker wouldi-be's 
it is very important that source code is internally documented. 
<P>
But wait we can go a step beyond simply creating fully configurable 
applications that are extendable and come with  default settings. How about 
"smart" applications. Maybe you have installed application A on your system 
and application B comes along from the same people that brought you A. Wow 
you would love to have it so you install it and low and behold all of the 
little tweaks that you have made to A are already configured for application 
B. Since A and B are smart applications they have communicated and B now 
knows what you like. Of course not everyone likes there applications deciding 
what they like so all smart applications should be lobotomyzable.
<P>
Now for the real fire. How about all this plus the application is ready 
for immediately distributed computing, not only distributed but PVM aware so 
if you connect to a Beowulf cluster your application is ready to do some 
super computing. Groups can be formed across the web i.e. ready made 
intranet. Security is of course built in so you company or organization 
can just set up there own key and away they go.
<P>
Why stop at just X or the console or even Linux. I your application is 
completely system aware no matter where you are or what computer your using 
a person just has to start up there application and it does the rest going 
so far as trying to figure out which way you like your application and if 
your going to be doing distributed work. 
<P>
In short the new wave of computing will be all things for all people. 
This new approach needs a new name I think. I prefer liquid or fluid UI or 
interfacing framework. Some might  think of Java. Java however is slow, slow 
and in the end it is only one library. What I have in mind would be more 
of a set of wrapper classes one for each library used. And one wrapper 
that would handle all of the calls to the widget sets and do all of the 
AI work. This double wrapper approach would cut a lot of the time and 
effort of emulating multiple classes. 

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<P> <hr> <P> 
<center><H5>Copyright &copy; 1999, Bryan Patrick Coleman <BR> 
Published in Issue 36 of <i>Linux Gazette</i>, January 1999</H5></center>

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