A team of open source hackers, usability experts and seasoned executives, including former Apple and America Online employees want to overhaul Linux's graphical shell.
The management team of startup Eazel is made up of president and chief executive Mike Boich who joined Apple in 1982 as the founding member of Apple's Mac software group. Andy Hertzfeld, co-founder of Eazel, worked for Apple in 1979 designing and implementing the original Mac system software, including the User Interface Toolbar.
Another Apple veteran, Bud Tribble, manager of the original Mac software team, joined as vice president of software engineering. Eazel's board also includes Mike Homer, a former marketing executive at Apple who went on to become executive vice president at Netscape and is a senior vice president at AOL.
Eazel is working with volunteer programmers around the world to give Linux a point and click interface for managing files and folders. The team plans to take some of the best ideas on computer ease and blend them with a new visual desktop interface for Linux. The project is an extension of the Gnome user interface.
The team originally intended to provide its software as an alternative, but recently decided to join the international team working on the second version of Gnome. The product, called Gnome 2, will be released this summer. It will be distributed under the open source licence and will be free to users. Its source code will be available to programmers who want to improve or customise it.
The company said the software will include icons, menus and multiple windows along with the ability to view the contents of many kinds of files in the folder windows that contain them.
Other companies are also working on an altered graphical look for Linux software. Corel is bringing Wordperfect Office to Linux and a startup called Helixcode is developing a Linux equivalent to Microsoft Outlook.
Bart Decrem, co-founder of Eazel, said: "Linux for your mum is where we want to end up,but for the next year or two, Linux users are our market."
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