Yes, it's that time of the week again. Looking at stuff like this makes me get just a tiny bit upset about how badly the linux world is dragging its political feet with respect to improving the interface. I'm not talking about making all the OK buttons respond to the Enter key (currently my biggest pet peeve about GNOME, and it's slowly being fixed---recent GIMP etc.)
I'm talking about the imaging model. I don't want to criticize X unfairly. The X Window System was brilliant for its time and in its environment. But it simply does not support what people want to do now well enough to continue. Fast vector imaging, transparency, high-resolution monitors, antialiasing. Yes, you can implement software on top but there's no standard and it's slow.
The first defense I hear all the time is network transparency. I respond: who cares. Most people who actually attempt to run a remote X application run away screaming, because if you don't have a T3 it is just unusably slow. Sysadmins who actually do need remote execution just use ssh or telnet anyway. And if you absolutely want/need remote X execution, there is nothing stopping you from running an X session on whatever box you wish to use. (Presumably if you have the resources to make remote X execution usable, you will have a spare box for this.) Or running an X session on top of whatever succeeds it. Even if this software is hard to set up I cannot imagine how it could be more complicated than configuring X in many situations.
I don't mind if the New World Order is just X12. Some kind of fresh start is needed. If linux is to achieve the final unification of UNIX, we must be able to break with the past when it no longer suits us. Get rid of vi? Nope, your choice of text editor affects only you. Get rid of bash? Same here. But X is a platform, and it's no longer filling the requirements of a modern graphics-oriented user OS.
As for the anti-chrome folks, they do have several points about not making hideous bloaty bitmapped skins for everything. But there's more to an imaging model than interface widgets. There's no really good vector imaging program available on native linux. That's because there's no good vector imaging model. There will be little print/design success for linux until this happens---GIMP is a fantastic program but both bitmap and vector software are needed.
We also need real file management. Even if nautilus ends up being twice as good as Windows Explorer, it won't be half as good as OS/2's Workplace Shell. Anyone from IBM reading this? I hope I don't sound like an Amiga Workbench Acolyte, but the OS/2 interface was pretty nice in a functional sense (although visually bland, which we can fix.)
It's frustrating. I don't want to become one of the "don't imitate windows!" crowd, but even without innovating at all we could do so much better! Well- understood paradigms like OS/2 WPS and Display PostScript (please help us Raph!) are out there and probably well- documented.
Believe me, I am a "worse is better" person. I'm into the UNIX philosophy. But there comes a time when we simply need a new piece of software because the old one, however loved, isn't getting the job done. I think we are there.