Apparently only students and office workers are using Linux. If one
peers at the current version of the vfolder menu spec from
freedesktop.org one discovers that all the problems of the previous
setup have been put back into the spec, while some entirely new problems
have been created. For example, all Science (including Mathematics) and
Engineering applications are horribly miscategorized. xdrawchem in
Education? Octave in Development? We might as well have OpenOffice in
Accessories and Firefox in Games.
The spec was originally written to avoid having a small set of
"categories" that were set in stone, that you had to put your
application into. I should know, I am one of the original authors of
Instead you would put in a list of keywords (called Categories in the
spec due to naming conflict) into your .desktop file. The menu
implementation would then have a sort of database queries on the
categories so that you may build arbitrary menu structures. In
particular it was built so that you could easily split up one menu into
Problem 1: The spec pecifies so-called main categories which pretty
much correspond to menu titles on the panel. Hence the original problem
of certain main menus cast in stone has come back. The solution has
been retrofitted with the problem it was trying to solve.
Problem 2: The query language is inadequate. There is only
Include/Exclude. You might think it may be enough. But the spec treats
Exclude as intentionally deleted from the whole menu. Hence if you
exclude something it won't appear in the menu even in the Others menu
which uses the OnlyUnallocated query. This makes Exclude useless and
makes it impossible to construct a proper query.
Problem 3: Which brings us to the Other menu which some distributions
don't even include (I won't name names). Hence if you want your
application to appear as an author, you must miscategorize your
application for it to appear in all distributions. This is even
worse than the original setup. It is a grave bug for a desktop
if a newly installed application does not appear. Think non-technical
users who don't use the command line. I hate to have to say the last
sentence, but it almost seems to me like many developers don't keep that
Problem 4: There is no Science, no Mathematics, no Engineering "main
categories." Hence if the current stupid setup is kept in place all
such applications are miscategorized. I have seen Octave appear in
Development/Programming menus (huh? who came up with that). Most
science apps appear in Education menu. Are we as free software
developers so limited to notice that Science is something that happens
mostly after you finish your bachelors and leave school? Yes you can
use those apps (some of them at least) for education. But I use
spreadsheet for teaching (hence in education). I use word processing
for teaching. But I've never used any application in the Education menu
for teaching, but only for research. Similarly things like 2-D molecule
drawing apps are probably used overwhelmingly more by researchers in
both industry and academia for actual work, and very little by teachers
and students for education.
I feel like I should have my name on the spec include something like
with protest, since I think the current spec is a most vile
complicated thing, which introduced back all the original problems and
added new ones. And I don't want people to think that I'm responsible
for screwups such as the Exclude/OnlyUnallocated braindamage, nor the
"main categories" nonsense.
The whole thing is a mess in Linux anyway; the categories just don't *help* people. Categories that randomly rearrange themselves would be, if possible, worse.
Apple just dumps everything into an "Applications" folder that nobody ever looks at; real users only start the 10 apps on the default toolbar, which, interestingly, is all they really needed in the first place.
One of Microsoft's only innovations in Vista is the new Start Menu "search" feature, which is needed because the menu structure has become a den of insanity.
My advice would be to combine the two: dump everything into a single folder for easy browsing like Apple, and then add a keyword search feature like Microsoft, and then make it really easy to copy your favourite app onto the toolbar.
The great thing about this approach is that you can implement it while ignoring the freedesktop.org categorizations entirely, so they can do whatever they want.
As long as we're complaining about menu problems, the thing that drives
me crazy on Fedora is that the naming scheme is inconsistent. In some
cases the menu item has an unhelpful generic name like "Word Processor"
(huh? which word processor? Abi Word? OO Writer? Something else?).
Others include an app name but no description, such as "LASH Panel"
(what the heck is a "LASH Panel"? What does it do and why would I want
to start it?) Still other
menu items (correctly, I think) include the app name along with a
generic description - for example, "Firefox Web Browser". Without the
name of the app, it's hard to know what program you're going to
start if you click on the menu. Without a description, it's hard to pick
an option in a case where you know what you want to do but aren't
familiar with the available program names. Overall, though, the menu
seems to have
improved somewhat in Fedora 7.