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Linux, user interfaces and copying Apple

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Software

Bob Sutor, IBM’s VP of open source and standards, recently declared at the Black Hat Security Conference in Las Vegas that the open source world needs to create new and innovative user interfaces distinctive to Linux desktops if they want to pose a greater challenge in the desktop space. He also stated that they have to clone less the look and feel of desktop Windows, even going so far as to state they would do better to clone the look and feel of Mac applications if they are writing applications for the traditional desktop PC. That last part sounds a bit odd. I’m not so sure that it would be wise to make desktop PC apps that look like Mac applications any more than it would be wise to make Mac applications that look like PC applications. It’s like speaking Japanese in France, and is more likely to confuse non-technical users than “wow” them with your design innovation skills.

The notion that Linux should chart its own user interface path makes more sense to me, however. I recently purchased a MacBook Pro for my wife, which has given me more chance to play with the Mac user interface and features up close. As I’ve indicated in previous posts, I’m far from impressed with the development APIs in the Mac world. In fact, I would go so far to say that I feel like I have stepped 10 years back in time when I start to mess around with XCode and the Cocoa APIs (not that that will stop me, as I am an old C++ hand (and Objective-C is just another language), but I’m not going to pretend that the Mac development experience is on par with that of a company who specializes in APIs and platforms).

But, as many a Mac fan is sure to point out, a Mac is not first and foremost a development platform.

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