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SEUL: User Profiles (long)
I think that there is more than one user profile, and different
people need different things. No good and effective distribution
can please anybody. Nevertheless, the fact that Linux is free
makes it possible for various groups of people to build various
`views' of the system, something which is not possible in the
Windows world (which is aimed squarely at the most numerous user
type and tries to minimalise the others).
So, maybe we could identify the users (and the uses) of computers
in a set of cathegories, and then to address a distribution to
one of the cathegories, or _a set of distributions_ to a set of cathegories.
The specificity of a distribution regards the packages which are installed,
the _way in which the documentation is written_, the tools available for
administration, and even various details of the look and feel of an
X terminal session or of a character-based session.
The following is a list of user classes as I encountered them.
Completions or corrections from others with their own experiences
might lead us to a sound basis on deciding what should go in
each distribution. By the way, the name of the distribution
is also dependant on the user profile. The descriptions
try to reflect what these people would describe their relation
with computers as.
Type 0. We don't need computers in order to survive. Computers are
technical things which I do not understand and I do not need.
Money, food, health, kids, leisure, pleasure are more important
than computers, _thus_ computers should not exist at all, and
if they exist they are not my problem.
Many of the people in type 0 are frustrated by their
fear that they can't `understand computers'. Some are
simply technophobic as their vocation is in a contrary,
non-technical direction (very nice and valuable people)
and their vocation goes a little religious. Others
are simply scared about something they think they
don't understand and fear they can't, and if they
get the conviction that they `understood something'
grow into type 1. people.
Type 1. Everybody has a computer nowadays. I am computerless (or I was,
but look, now I am not anymore). Computers are a big thing.
I _am_ part of that big thing. I understand computers. They are
just like the TV or the car. They have controls, and they do
things for you, things which you choose using the controls.
For example I can do calculations with my computer, play games,
send messages (using this cool _new technology_ with the phone :-)).
Not all computers are good, though. Simple things need great effort
in order to be accomplished with certain computers. I know how
a good computer would be like: you select for him what to do
(from a set of predefined tasks which have obvious equivalents
in the non-computer world) and it does it for you.
Some computers are used for big tasks in the industry and government
and industry, I hear, but they are not my concern, are they.
Type 1 comes from type 0 which are adult people
who `didn't know computers' but now think they do.
This happened to many people (more than 100.000.000
I guess) in the last 10 years. I know a company who got
large sums of money by encouraging the evolution
from type 0 to type 1 and taking a tax from it,
which I think was a good thing
to do. This process also put that company in a
position of further influencing these people, but
also to abuse
against them, against other companies and especially
against most of those in the following types---which is
a nasty thing, but I am quite sure (for historical
reasons) that these abuses (not the company itself)
will be stoped, perhaps by the Linux world.
Type 2. (this is a child) Computers are cool. Gorgious games.
Type 3. (this is also a child) Computers are cool. Gorgious games. Yet
there is something about them which is don't quite grasp.
How do the monsters appear on screen? What _are_ these monsters
anyway. Can *I* make such a monster? Why shouldn't I be able to?
Make it fire in a different way? Let's look in the manual.
It so confuse. I don't understand any word. Is there a manual
for kids like me?
There used to be at least one (in the home computers
era), but now with the
complexities and the intricacies of the PC
I know of no simple way of explaining a child
how the monsters appear and how to create a new one
(without going to college first).
Type 4. (quite smart 15--17 years old child who has relatives/friends
working in computers and had a chance to get some knowledge
about programming and language based computer usage).
Computers are COOL beyond description. Games are gorgious.
Yet, games are nothing compared to programming. With programming
(or configuration) you can do _anything_. Computers mean power.
Type 5. (parent). Computers seem to be a big thing. They will grow
bigger as my child grows. If (s)he will be in the computer
bussiness (s)he will be safe. If (s)he is not going to know
anything about computers (s)he wil be in _trouble_. I must
my child a computer so that he will become knowledgable
in time (but what `knowledge of computers' means the parent does not
This man and his child (the parent in the name of the
child) admit they don't know how computers work
and what can they do with them, and they need
(and I guess would wellcome) both a helpfull
environment and _guidance_ in the form of books
and tutorials, either `at home' or via the school.
Type 6. (adult). I do make investigations (medical, economical, technical,
mathematical and so force). I do them as my job, but I love doing
this and I should do some on my own, at home. I can use
all the help I can get, and most of it can only come from
computer usage. There are software tools which could help
me (data acquisition, analysis, presentation, documentation
of results). Nevertheless, the tools communicate poorly with
each other, sometimes they don't do _exactly_ what you need,
and getting them all together and making them work is really
expensive, first in wasted time and then in money. It also requires
knowledge way outside what I actually need to learn.
I am ready to learn (I _know_ what learning means) but don't
have time to learn things not directly relevant to the work I do.
Type 7. (young adult). I am a mighty programmer ((s)he believes). I like
to make programs. I also like to make configurations. But I have
precise programming/computer usage goals (I am a young employee,
you know) and I need to have well built environments, easy
to configurate so that it will not diverge me from my job.
Type 8. (bussinessman/manager of small company) I need a computing
infrastructure to my company: take care mainly of documents,
then of the communications, help the accountant and keep all
the data in order. Yes, and perhaps that WWW thing.
Can anybody tell me at least how much
something like that costs and what I would have to do to solve
it? Then I could at least make a decision.
The consultant or employee who would solve his problem also
needs some _stable_ distribution with which he can make
relativelly easily databases (something like a dBase with
communications and on the net, not much more complicated)
and documenta-bases, document preparation
and Web server. What is needed here is something
easy to configure for the various components on the
LAN of such a company.
Can you identify other types of users? I expect of course that most of
the people on this list will not find themselves in any of the above
(except perhaps to a small extent). There is of course no perfect match
for most people everywhere, but I think that:
Somebody belongs to one type if a computer+OS that perfectly satisfies
one of the types is practically enough for him or her.
The "view" somebody has about computers may change in time, so she
may belong to a type only for a period of time (but I
don't expect that, during her life, she will change it
more than two or three times).
The above types, so displayed, show (at least for me) that a single
distribution will not serve everybody. I should very much like to know to
whom do you (other participants) view SEUL to be addressed, and to whom
you would _like_ it to be addressed? From the discussions until now I
guess it is addressed to "Type 1" (TV user). For various friends of mine
and other people I would be interested to see Linux distributions well
tuned for types 3-4 (interested child), 6 (investigator in a non-computer
discipline) and 7 (programmer) (but 6 especially). But I believe that,
without a Linux solution to types 1 (TV user) and 5 (concerned
parent/teacher), the problem of the unpleasant pressure against Linux from
the other operating systems will continue.
Should SEUL adress more than one target user type? (Should there
be more than one "SEUL" distribution).
Alexandru Dan Corlan MD, Univ. Hosp. Bucharest/Electrocardiognosis
28 Argentina str. 1, 71206 Bucharest Romania
tel +401-312.9360 +401-679.3415 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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