Can someone explain this stuff to me?

Linux FOSS people mock and deride Apple while simultaneously copying the bad parts of their user-hostile behavior.

Bonus achievement: using the word "curate" 6 times in a blog post about repackaging software.

I must not be understanding something here. What's the motivation to do this? I don't get it.

Also, I'm being serious when asking this question.

(Except for the toggle switches UI elements. That one really is just blind copying Apple's iOS.)

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@cancel not blind copying. 😉 We started using switches to more clearly express an *instantaneous* and reversible enabling/disabling of hardware or features. At the time we started doing this, most other UIs used checkboxes and an Apply pattern, but users found the checkbox and apply pattern to be confusing and requiring unnecessary extra clicks.


Is there some reason the checkbox can't apply immediately?

(I purposefully made my screenshot with the derisive clowns comment greyscale to simulate color blindness and how ambiguous these switches become if you are color blind for the highlight/"on" state color vs grey.)

@cancel because that betrays the long-standing convention of checkboxes.

@cancel just because Apple did something in '91 doesn't make it ideal or non-confusing.

@cassidyjames Well, my point was more that there is plenty of precedent for having checkboxes apply immediately without an apply button. In my personal experience I think it's more like 50/50 rather than overwhelmingly Apply-based.

(Apply is very common in first-party Microsoft software that isn't part of the OS, like with Office, but is less common in Windows OS stuff itself.)

@cassidyjames Toggle switches probably need to be flipped in RTL languages:

@cancel yes, and I have opened an issue on GTK for that.

@cassidyjames Oh, are the toggle switches a GTK thing? Actually I had no idea, I haven't used GTK in forever.

@cancel yes, whereas switches are very explicit in their convention.

@cassidyjames I'm not against having more widget types. The problem is that these horizontal toggle switches are ambiguous with their on/off state unless you're able to tell easily by color.

I mean, I've been seeing them for 10 years at this point and I still do double-takes whenever I see one on its own in a UI... is it on or off in its current state?

@cassidyjames Maybe that's just me. But I've pointed this out to some of my friends in the past and they've said "ah yeah me too". I can gather a group of people if you don't believe me!

The switches also take up more space and are harder to align in forms. Also, in forms, they have a on-the-side label instead of a checkbox-specific label, so you can't click the label to toggle them.

At least you can actually drag the toggles in elementaryOS. So you don't get a full failing grade from me :P

@cancel incidentally, Apple has guidance on this:

In particular: “In general, don't replace a checkbox with a switch. If you're already using a checkbox in your UI, it's probably best to keep using it.”

@cancel AFAIk elementry aims to smehow often copy the Apple UI mhh

@rugk a bit -- it's kind of a blend. like the toggle switches aren't actually in Mac desktop OS, only iOS.

Menus are de-emphasized. Some other stuff.

It gets points for easy installation and working out of the box.

@cancel Woof... fortunately, this is unique to certain distros. I picked Arch because they consistently have not tried to do make decisions like this for their users

@flip Yeah, I don't want to imply that everyone who uses Linux is like this.

@cancel "Linux FOSS" people are not one intergal mass. Some people don't like Apple's behavior, while others like it and sometimes copy it.

@sp6mr I'm using that the same way you would say "humans" -- it's a factual label.

Those screenshots were all taken from this same website, which explicitly touts this distro as user-respecting replacement for Mac and Windows

@sp6mr I'm not saying every person who uses Linux and FOSS stuff is like that. I was using that label in this case to point out this behavior that seemed strange to me.

@cancel Ah, it's Elementary. Still, looks like installing an "untrusted app" is only a checkbox away, so unless they'll require some complicated gymnastics to get to it, it's fine with me. There are always other distros :)

@sp6mr That's how it was 3 years ago on Mac. Now you cannot run any third-party software on Mac unless it has been approved by Apple (developer has to upload .zip to Apple's servers and wait), or you do OS-wide security disable switch from terminal. (And lose all code-signing checks.)

@sp6mr People said the exact same thing about Mac a few years ago when they started adding dialogs like this. "Don't worry, Apple is good. They have no motivation to try to lock down the OS. People would just switch away if they did."

Turns out Apple is not good, & they did start to lock it down, & people are switching away. So why replicate this course of action?

@cancel I seriously don't know whether Elementary will continue with this or not. But if it will be locked down like MacOS is nowadays, then I don't think it'll be popular for much longer. It's open source anyway, you can take its good parts elsewhere ;) For example Pantheon (Elementary's desktop environment) is already present in Fedora's repositories.

@cancel @sp6mr there’s a logical leap between “macOS is getting locked down more and more” and “Apple is not good”

Would Apple like more App Store revenues? Sure. Does it follow that this is the principal or only motivation to make running non-“notarized” software harder? Not really.

@TeddyDD @cassidyjames

I should point out that I'm not saying this website itself is mocking Apple or Microsoft (though it touts the distro as a replacement.)

But I definitely see other people doing it, then pointing this out as an alternative (or another distro.) So I'm mostly criticizing the material on the website of this one because it seems kind of contradictory. Or I'm missing something?

And it seems like what they want to do is replicate the App Store stuff? I don't know.

@TeddyDD @cassidyjames

Or maybe I'm misunderstanding what these features are doing? But it seems like the same kind of scare dialogs that Apple was using a few versions ago in Mac OS X, before they ramped it up and started outright disabling software.


> Can someone explain this stuff to me? Linux FOSS people mock and deride Apple while simultaneously copying [it]

Sure, I'll try.

#foss is, at its core about choice/control. That includes the choice to run a desktop with minimal, keyboard-driven UI (as I do with #void & #bspwm).

It *also* includes the choice to run an opinionated, cohesive, and currated desktop like #Elementary.

It's not for me, but I'm really grateful for @cassidyjames's hard work

@codesections @cassidyjames

Yeah, I understand that part.

I'm wondering specifically about this behavior, though -- one of the reasons I'm seeing friends switch to elementaryOS specifically, from Mac, is because of the continuing screw-tighting/frog-boiling/whatever-you-want-to-call-it of third party software.

So doesn't it seem weird that the thing people are fleeing to is starting to adopt some of the behavior that people are fleeing from?

Am I completely misunderstanding this feature?


I'm not *super* knowledge here, since I don't use #elementary or #macOS. But my understanding is that Apple has started making it genuinely *hard* to side load software, whereas elementary makes it easy but provides a clear warning. I can understand the appeal of that balance

Also, Apple gets a cut of all app store revenue and so has an incentive to discourage sideloading. AFAIK, elementary is only motivated by UX/security.

@codesections @cancel this is basically correct. We have *added* the new functionality of being able to officially and easily sideload apps from outside AppCenter. This is a new feature, and a requirement we had was to be realistic in expressing the implications of sideloading software from outside of the existing curated pool of apps. We also have plans to be more precise by explaining the implications of specific Flatpak permissions being granted.

@cassidyjames @codesections

OK, I think I get it.

The "Sideload" feature links a Flatpak ref (I'm guessing some kind of URL to a description or manifest file of a Flatpak image that the developer can update?) into the Installer/Uninstaller/Permissions system of elementaryOS? And the warning dialog is necessary because this is the default behavior when double-clicking one of these files?

@codesections @cancel

Sideloading in macOS is tedious, not hard. If you want to use Free Software, MacPorts can provide that without the sideloading hassle, though.

@Aerdan @codesections

I'm coming from the angle of an indie developer selling software for money. MacPorts (or homebrew, etc.) can't help with that.

@codesections @cancel note that “genuinely hard” in this case means “right-click, pick ‘Open’”

I do question the scary language they use, though.

> Apple gets a cut of all app store revenue and so has an incentive to discourage sideloading.

At what point do #antitrust regulators click on that this is grossly anti-competitive behaviour (as is Apple's refusal to allow #copyleft software in its #iThing app stores), and take action?

@cassidyjames @codesections

I agree, this is a lot of hard work! And most of it seems good.

I'm still gonna die on the toggle-switch hill, though.

@cancel Assuming you're serious about not getting it:

A curated system is more secure than installing random software. They're being accommodating by allowing untrusted software, with a safety warning.

Switches look nice. Maybe you don't agree, but consider that Linux users are not known for their aesthetic sense or any design training, so maybe trust the designers.

I doubt very much that the Elementary developers "mock Apple", because they aspire to be that competent, unlike most linuces.


Yeah, *not* the developers mocking Apple. I should have been more clear -- the users I often see recommending this one as an example.


I don't think Apple is competent right now. I mean, the fact that they're losing people to alternatives like elementaryOS should indicate that elementaryOS should probably not be copying Apple's current behavior!

@cancel I've been an OS X user for 15 years (and Mac user on the side for 15 before that), but right now I'm basically stuck on Mojave and will switch to FreeBSD* in 2 years unless a massive course-shift happens. But even then, Apple's not *wrong* or incompetent (aside from the fucking MBP keyboards), just prioritizing safety and performance over my needs.

* Elementary's doing a good job fixing the Linux UI, but the OS is still amateurish. BSD only.

@cancel There are extremely insecure and dumb users on every platform. Nevertheless, the ones picking an Apple-inspired distro are probably less likely to be anti-Apple.


These prompts are specifically for Flatpak images, right?

Do they appear if you download a bare one and run it by double-clicking, or only if you get it through the user-submitted section of their App Store?

@cancel My understanding is Elementary treats all unknown software as hostile until authorized by the user, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do for safety. I don't know if they've made the kernel reject unsigned binaries or it's just UI layer.

@mdhughes Is there any way to stop this? It sucks.

On Windows for example, you can get an EV code signing certificate from a CA by having your company audited & paying a fee, then there are no security prompts from the OS. And there's no "curation" process or censorship team.

It's not ideal -- ideally all humans are nice and we don't have to deal with this kind of crap -- but it's better than a centralized App Store and capricious app review teams.

@cancel Don't use Elementary if you don't like safety and design? It's not for you.

There's a million unsafe linuces with random X11 junk for UI. I was partial to Slackware and then SuSE back in the day. *BSD is of course better in every way.

@mdhughes @cassidyjames Actually I think the design is pretty good except for the toggle switches :P

@mdhughes @cassidyjames

If I thought it was hopeless, I wouldn't have pointed it out at all :)

@cancel @mdhughes even with an EV certificate, you still get a “downloaded from the Internet” warning, just in a less scary variant. And that’s kind of good, because even EV certs can be stolen or simply created for a shell company

@cancel elementary OS does not repackage anyone's software. App developers submit their apps—packaging and all—to AppCenter. We review and approve (or deny) each and every submission, thus curation.

If you don't like elementary OS, you don't need to use it.

@cancel also macOS does not have switches in its HIG, we adopted that years ago because it is a more clear physical metaphor for changing the state, especially for physical devices.


Yeah. The switches thing is actually part of my argument. Apple only uses the switches on iOS because the original iOS version (just called iPhone Firmware back then) was mandated by the higher-ups (probably just Steve Jobs?) that all widgets had to have a mechanical equivalent, to reinforce the touch aspect of the UI.

So checkboxes became physical-alike toggle switches.

But then people started copying it on desktops without realizing why Apply did it on iOS.

@cassidyjames *Apple

(Also, lots of the copies don't let you drag the switches left or right to toggle them on and off. I think the ones in elementaryOS do?)

@cancel @cassidyjames oh, so that's how those switches got started. I always failed to see the reasoning behind them. I totally agree that checkboxes are more universally useful.
physical toggle switches also have this problem where you can't tell their state unless they are clearly labelled or have some kind of indicator light attached to them.
I've seen some GTK theme that adds a `1` or `0` to the switches' style, which at least makes them a little less hostile

@cassidyjames @cancel it does. It was added recently, finally clarifying the distinction a little.

(Does feel a bit like they’re retconning their own usage, though.)

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