Unless you count XHTML, I don’t write code. I lack the mental framework to be any good at something like that. Feel free to extrapolate from there I’m also not smart enough to dress myself, but the point is, whatever else I can’t do, that includes writing code.
If I could, I would be working on a TUI. I’ve never been very happy with any of the graphical desktops. It’s not a matter of simplicity versus complexity; for simplicity I know how to use IceWM, FVWM2, or even TWM. I’m sorely disappointed with what changed since XFce 3, and still prefer GNOME 1 over 2. I thought Another Level was a great idea, if somewhat buggy at times. It’s not merely I’m a curmudgeon about fancy graphics, though that is true. It’s about making things to work better first, then worry about how it looks later. Far, far too many things don’t work right, but all we get is window dressing improvements.
I don’t doubt the new stuff draws more and younger users, and that’s fine. Linux should be for the masses; few things are better in the computer OS world. It’s not more widespread because people don’t give it a fair shot. They won’t give it a shot if it’s just more of the same. If security mattered that much to them, there wouldn’t be so many problems with Windows malware, because too much of that is a problem of user behavior. We do have plenty of fancier toys and lots of better ideas, but it’s hard to draw the users when we don’t have advertising. People are so used to that, precious few ever go looking for something better. The kind who do search have already found Linux. I’m not saying we should only attract those of like mind, because if more people used Linux, the Net would simply be a better place — I truly believe that.
Still, it’s not just a bunch of old geezers who are tired of the features race. How often have I read a whine about wishing we had a genuine text-mode word processor? Last time I checked, the same people are still asking for it. A couple of companies years ago did have something, but they never worked when I tested them. Some of us just don’t want a full graphical interface. There are toolkits for a sort of DOS-style or primitive interface kit running on the framebuffer. But I don’t want to run DOS, nor do a bunch of other folks I’ve heard from; we want Linux under the hood. Unfortunately, the big push with developers is the newest and flashiest.
I know there have been some attempts, like the Twin project, but they all keep dying. I know there is also a couple of libraries of TUI development, but I don’t think they are used that much. From what little I do understand, I suppose there is a way to port most bigger projects to a different toolkit, but I’m sure there is plenty of work involved. It would mean stripping out an entire batch of display factors, pointing to character cells instead of pixels or graphical vectors. So even if we had a solid TUI interface developed, I wonder if there would be anything to run with it. Unless there was a powerful groundswell of interest backing it, we would have one more toy. I can’t imagine what it would take to refit something like Firefox to a TUI display, rendering without graphics, re-rendering in a sensible character cell display. And I realize a real word processor would require quite a bit of work to duplicate the massive back-end work done back in the old DOS days for something like Word Perfect or Enable. To work the same, it would require bypassing the Ghostscript engine in favor of a more complicated character-based print engine. It would take a heavy demand to see that sort of work.
So I know I’m dreaming. Sure, you can talk about Screen, but that’s designed to scare away those of us who like Bash. Using Screen on Bash requires more work rewriting the default key strokes than it does to configure FVWM. On top of that, it’s not really a TUI, just a way to get more than one process to display on the same console. Imagine a TUI, with a toolbar where you want it, mouse-able so you can click on some character cell icons to move between desktops, the usual clock and system monitoring displays, menu buttons, etc., but all running in the framebuffer and no X server in sight.
Yeah, I’m dreaming.