Sunday, 15 February 2009

To GUI or CLI, that is the question!

My primary goal in creating Vinux was originally to provide a simple GUI interface that both visually impaired and sighted users could both access easily, which I feel is the best solution in an educational scenario. However, after receiving feedback and suggestions from the online VI community, it seems that there are scenarios where a command line interface is more appropriate and effective. There are of course two different ways of implementing an accessible CLI: A standard terminal session with a screen-reader, or a more user friendly menu driven system such as Adriane Knoppix or LinuxSpeaks. After playing with the latest edition of Knoppix and GRML I can see the advantages of having both a GUI and a CLI interface in Vinux so that it is not only suitable for beginners with no experience of Linux but alsothe more experienced hacker types. So rather than rush out another version of Vinux straight away (I have got most of the GUI elements working satisfactorily) I want to try to incorporate a decent selection of CLI applications, which won't take up too much room on the CD but will add a lot of extra functionality. I will then probably add a new entry to the main menu called 'Console Applications' so that beginners can also access these applications without having to know the names of the applications or the appropriate options/arguments etc. Thus providing an easy introduction to the command line without being dropped in at the deep end. I don't want to lose the momentum the project has gained by delaying the release of Vinux 1.3 for too long, but I think the benefits of adding a coherent selection of CLI applications will be worth the wait. I want to try and find an equivalent CLI application for all of the standard GUI applications that the standard Ubuntu install provides. I could do with two or three weeks being locked away with a computer an Ubuntu 8.10 live CD and an internet connection. Although, I can't think of a crime off the top of my head which would result in such a specific custodial sentence!