[TUHS] X, Suntools, and the like

Dan Cross crossd at gmail.com
Sat Mar 18 07:08:16 AEST 2017

On Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 4:44 PM, Lyndon Nerenberg <lyndon at orthanc.ca> wrote:

> > On Mar 17, 2017, at 1:30 PM, Ron Natalie <ron at ronnatalie.com> wrote:
> >
> > I'm not sure how you are defining the "desktop
> > metaphor" but Apple and Xerox had it long before X.
> Yeah, I think we're all using different definitions of "desktop metaphor."
> In my view, the early Macs (and Windows) were bitmap overlays on a single
> user OS.  To me, a "desktop" is a much more virtual abstraction of the
> user's runtime environment from the underlying OS.  I.e., if you can't have
> two distinct "users" concurrently running independent GUI environments on
> the same hardware, it's not a "desktop."  And I realize that's a very fuzzy
> definition.

Fuzzy indeed. I'm not sure I understand what you mean at all. "Desktop"
tends to have a fairly consistent definition in the context of user
environments: It's the graphical component of the interactive facilities of
your computer/operating system combination, in the state of the user having
logged in (if appropriate) and being in the process of using the machine.
What does that have to do with the underlying operating system supporting
multiple users with independent desktops?

Let me ask you this, Ron: how would you classify the Plan 9 terminal
> environment? :-)

"Terminals" in the Plan 9 world are just that: terminals. They are the
physical computers users use to interact with the rest of the system (to a
first order approximation, Plan 9 can be thought of as being something like
a "timesharing system built from a network of computers"). Of note, they
tend to be single-user (modulo a few processes that may run as e.g. "none"
or whatever). They tend to present the user with a GUI that I would argue
is a "desktop": rio, acme, etc give one access to one's files and present
an interface for accessing the underlying system. While they tend not to
use the bitmapped graphical icons of other systems, I argue that limiting
the definition of desktops to being characterized by icons representing
objects such as files and applications while being present on the screen
seems like an implementation detail and unnecessarily limiting.

        - Dan C.
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