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    I didn’t know about this project. The README was such a joy to read that it is almost nostalgic. What happened to 90s software pragmatism? Just directly laying put the information of that this project is, its capabilities and how it is engineered. We don’t see this anymore. Nowadays it’s all about slick logos, buzzwords, low density product webpages with huge hero pictures of macbooks and Caffe latte.

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      And no emoji scattered all through the docs like it’s a schoolkid’s sticker book.

      There’s something about the screenshot that says “this is a workstation” in a way that “modern” UIs don’t. I remember someone (Erik Naggum, maybe?) lamenting that software professionals used the same interfaces as everyone else. But what I think he missed is that computer UIs have since devolved, turning them into consumption devices first and foremost.

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      Daily reminder that CDE was not actually that good and vendors adopting it were basically giving up on desktop. CDE+Motif is design by committee mediocrity, it’s like the DMV designed a desktop. Many actions are painfully obtuse under it - try adding a launcher in the big toolbar for instance. The only people who remember it fondly are people whose experience to it are limited to poking it for a few minutes or seeing it in magazines. It’s incredible how much microcomputer GUIs outclassed most workstations in terms of ease of use and quality of APIs.

      If you’re interested in “Unix workstation but they tried a little harder on UI”, Open Look and the IRIX desktop are far more interesting. Open Look in particular is very interesting because it’s a direct descendant and inheritor of the Xerox GUI legacy.

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        Yep, and the author of this acknowledges that and describes some of the improvements that come from being built on FVWM.

        I’ve never used IRIX before, I do have some regrets about that.

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          So… I used my share of HP/UX, Solaris, and AIX from ’93 - ‘03. A lot more than poking it for a few minutes. And I don’t recall seeing much of it in magazines of the era, which were predominantly focused on Mac and on NT. I remember the aesthetic fondly. Not the behavior.

          My fond recollections of the aesthetic were enough for me to create a new account on my workstation and install this. It’s faithfully reproducing the behavior as well as the aesthetic, and it seems worse now in contrast to some of the things that have come along since the early 90s. I’m super impressed by what this project did with the tools they chose, but after using it for about an hour, I was quite happy to log out and switch back to my usual qtile setup. This was cool and looks great and I’d be astonished if more than a dozen die-hards use it once they’ve posted their screenshots to /r/unixporn.

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            CDE+Motif is design by committee mediocrity, it’s like the DMV designed a desktop.

            LOL! This is spot on. Motif looked… okay but working with it involved understanding so many obtuse design-by-commitee concepts.

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              NextStep was, unsurprisingly, the class of the lot. System 7 was still a superior experience. The less said about the rest of them, the better.

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                Each to their own, I guess. I used CDE legitimately on Solaris desktops (we had Sun Rays in the UNIX group at the University) for probably a year. It was pretty good! It had virtual desktops, it was legible, the resource footprint was relatively modest, and it was quite snappy.

                In the end the only thing that made me switch away was that I discovered I liked tiling window managers more, and I found dwm. If GUIs like Windows are your jam I expect dwm or i3 is even further away than CDE!

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                  t had virtual desktops, it was legible, the resource footprint was relatively modest, and it was quite snappy

                  No one in the 90s said this because at the time Motif was a bloated pig. Now it’s the lightweight alternative. How funny things change.

                  In the end the only thing that made me switch away was that I discovered I liked tiling window managers more, and I found dwm. If GUIs like Windows are your jam I expect dwm or i3 is even further away than CDE!

                  I think i3 is a good implementation of its concept primarily for the sane defaults. I enjoy non-Mac style interfaces (i.e. I respect Apollo’s that Plan 9 shamelessly ripped off, Interlisp, Genera, etc.), I just have it out for desktops that cost a lot of money for a worse experience (i.e. for years xterm and maybe Emacs with patches was as good as it got on X)

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                    I like i3 because it’s at least taking a different direction. I do think that it’s kind of amazing that, 20 years after Apple killed the Spatial Finder dead, Gnome/KDE/whatever are still trying to bring back that Windows 2000 magic. I have Thoughts about this that the margins of this post are too narrow to contain.

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                      Gnome tried for a bit to bring back spatial finder, but the userbase screamed at them for years until they conceded and turned spatial mode off by default. KDE has always been more aping MS than Apple. Nowadays, they don’t even try for that classic Mac feel.

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                  The stock desktop at my first job was CDE, on top of a Red Hat Linux derivative called Linux Pro. I’d been using Slackware for several years and used FVWM95 on my personal desktop, so I dumped that standard install after about two weeks of fighting with CDE. Obtuse is a great description.

                  I do admit some nostalgia, though. CDE looked like it meant business.

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                  Author will like to apologize for bad english in docs.

                  proceeds to write excellent English

                  I know it’s not the author’s fault but it makes me think I’ll never learn Spanish…

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                    Good to see NsCDE is still active. I tried it briefly a while back, thought it was nice and had promise. I stumbled upon a similar project modernizing a retro desktop, EMWM.

                    https://fastestcode.org/emwm.html

                    https://sgi.neocities.org/EMWM/PreAlpha/project.html