Friday, February 23, 2007


I wish to complain about the user interface of the KDE screensaver used under Centos 4.4. The relevant part of the screensaver control panel is this:

screensaver settings
Notice that you can set the start time in minutes, but the password locking must be entered in seconds? WTF? And no, you can't just type over "seconds" and replace it with "minutes" -- I've tried.

Some tasks really do need to be specified down to the second, but starting a screensaver is not one of them. Why would anyone seriously need to specify that the screensaver locks the screen in 121 seconds instead of two minutes? As functionality goes, allowing the user to specify the time in seconds is silly, but it doesn't do any harm. But requiring the user to use seconds is just ludicrous.

And bad luck if you don't want the screen saver to lock for two hours, because 1800 seconds -- 30 minutes -- is the maximum value it will accept.

The good thing and the bad thing about Linux is that you can pick any one of many different distributions. No doubt other distributions have more sensible screensaver configuration screens. But Centos is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is aimed squarely at the corporate market. If you're a corporate user, chances are good that you'll be using this unimpressive interface rather than the nicer versions found in (say) Fedora Core 5 or Ubuntu. And that just reinforces the meme that Linux isn't ready for the desktop yet -- which simply isn't true.

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