I have some thoughts on the future of on non-mobile devices and the role that can play.

1. It seems that all proprietary software companies are de-prioritising their desktop OSes, in terms of focus and resources. Microsoft is doing weird tablet hybridisation and Apple is just porting iOS junk back from the iPad.

This creates a vacuum, as there is no modern desktop UI. Nothing's been done since roughly OS X. It's been 18 years. More than my whole adult life.

2. There will be very little financial incentive to fill this vacuum. Desktop OS:es only sell to the enterprise, which has different requirements, and Microsoft has that market cornered anyway.

No-one who is making software purely for money would be able to do this. Well, we, the FLOSS community, aren't, and so we can.

3. In order to do this, we need to experiment. A lot. And most of these experiments will probably fail.

For that to happen, the cost of development in terms of time and cognitive load must go down. Much like Rust seems to have enabled a wave of new command-line tools that are faster and much less boring than the traditional Unix tools. Making a GUI app must be roughly as complicated as making a CLI app.

4. This requires languages AND frameworks. The languages need to remove the incidental complexity in dealing with the concurrent situation that is a modern UX app. The frameworks need to encapsulate common patterns and remove boilerplate.

The languages are mostly there, I would argue, and the patterns are somewhat implemented (functional reactive programming, Excel, etc), but the frameworks are not just a little behind.

5. We also need to train FLOSS people in design AND recruit design-oriented people who may or may not code. This might also entail developing our tools for communication and infrastructure to also capture common workflows in design. I don't know, I'm not a designer.

6. Finally, we need to constantly look for the future. According to the cyberpunk theorem, that the future is here but just unevenly distributed, we can find and accelerate parts of the future we want and decelerate those we want to avoid.

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7-ish. I think one of the important value propositions of good FLOSS is precisely that it isn’t market-oriented. It can target segments that are not profitable, but more importantly it can offer software as democratic participation, or, if you can bear the Marxism, non-alienated computing. Doesn’t mean it always does, but it can, and should.

It’s one of the few cases where @doctorow’s Walkaway principle, which only works in the presence of abundance, probably works for real.

@doctorow It doesn't have to be market-oriented, but still product-oriented. As in: the whole package of functionality, design, quality assurance, documentation, user support, release planning, community management and public communication has to be consistent and clear. The best FOSS projects are run like commercial products. But most aren't.

@Sturmflut I didn’t see this at first but I think I, am avid Marxist, would agree. The core difference I see is in participation and influence.

@albin all great points. I would add “platform independent” and “language agnostic”. Don’t try and invent yet another language, there are plenty already that are very good at what they do. and a way to make money/get funded wouldn’t hurt, provided it’s not the primary goal.

@Tryphon absolutely, but those are different and perhaps even harder problems, though I suspect things like Patreon and/or app subscriptions could work. I suspect people would be much happier paying a recurring fee for software where they feel like a part of its community and can see its ongoing development

@albin Have you seen @HerraBRE and the Mailpile team's "gui-o-matic" library? I've only barely glanced at it, but iirc it's trying to be dialog-but-for-GUIs? Which might be partway to one type of thing?


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