Linuxconf's GUI, some info

Linuxconf has 3 user interfaces, the ncurses (text based) interface, the HTML interface and a graphical user interface which runs under X11. A Java interface is almost done.

All these interface will continue to be part of linuxconf, making linux administration universally afordable.

The ncurses and the HTML interface are functionnal but not sexy. Given that the administration system is the first thing you experience when you install a new OS (after the installation procedure), this also is the first chance an OS has to give a good impression.

This is why Linuxconf need deeply a graphical user interface which is not only useful, but fine looking. Ultimately, this user interface must be flashy.

THe GUI of linuxconf is finally available and looks quite nice. We are still looking for various idea to make it really shine though. It is quite flexible and allow for remote efficient and secure administration over slow internet links. It sports a client server concept which make it light and flexible.

A screen shot

You will find here a screen shot of various screens (in Linuxconf 1.9r26-12).

We have high hope to supply not only a very functional user interface, but also something that really look nice and appealing. There is one important concept about Linuxconf's user interface: It is uniformity. An administration system is not something you use everyday, so it must be as uniform as possible. As you will see the design will use quite often either scrolling dialogs (as with the current user interface) but also notebook style dialogs. The later greatly enhance the accessibility of the different option (people two often forget to scroll to the end of the dialog and ignore all the possibilities).

As you will see in this screen shot, there are several windows on the screen. Unlike the html and ncurse version, the GUI version of Linuxconf is logically multithreaded. This means you can enter some menus and at the same time work into other section of linuxconf. As Linuxconf gets larger and larger, it has become annoying to open open open sub menu and then close close close, open open some other menus.

The purpose of this screen shot is to get comments and idea. Please send me email about any suggestion.

Some ideas

Here are some ideas we have to make this GUI more appealing. Comments are welcome!

  • User must have a way to configure "something" about the dialog which will identify uniquely one machine. It is believed that quite often, some administrators will manage multiple machine/server at once. This is easily done with X and in the future Linuxconf will provide some secure proxying mechanism allowing one admin to jump from one linuxconf's session on one server to another server.

    So quite often, the admin will have zillions of windows and potentially will start to administer the wrong machine :-) Potentially by selecting a different background color for each workstation, this will create a good visual effect allowing easy "focussing" on the correct workstation.

  • Dialogs related to a common task may have a special icon on the top left corner of the window.

  • A floating "task bar" configurable allowing one to get to the functionality they use often. This could be superseded by another concept. All configured services of Linuxconf on a workstation could be organized in a single menu. Just by going there, one would have a good feel for the "state" or current "usage" of the workstation. This idea may have some influence on the GUI but may very well be available with all the user interfaces. As Linuxconf grows and grows, each time learning new tricks, each time adding new menu entries, this may be a winner in the long run.

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