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Re: SEUL: Is there a user for S.E.U.L.?

While the idea of making a simple-to-use distribution of Linux sounds, at first, like a great idea, I think there is a contradiction involved. Very few people use a computer just because they enjoy hacking around with an OS; those folks don't need a simple version of Linux. People who want to accomplish something while using their computer, even if only entertainment, are more likely to need an easy installation. But for those folks, you must ask yourself, what benefit would they accrue by using Linux? Not because there are no benefits, but because they need to perceive the benefits before they will be willing to try it. And they must continue to perceive benefits after installation or they will go back to M$.

Give a novice an easy-to-use version of Linux and the first question he probably has is, Why? M$ is already fairly easy to use, or so he thinks. And it is probably already installed on his system. He can easily buy lots of software compatible with M$, including 500 different games for all age groups at the local computer store. So he gets his simple Linux up and running, what then? Tell him he can bring up a simple text editor and (after receiving an explanation of what a text editor is) he says or thinks, so why would I want to edit text? What he wants is to balance his checkbook, browse the Web, and play a few games. Of course, he can do all those things with Linux but no one at the local computer store can help him.

It seems to me that the real benefit of Linux to the novice end-user is that it is a more stable and extensible foundation for what he really wants to do. But he doesn't care about those things directly. Those are like trying to sell a car to the stereotypical "dizzy blonde" based on the engineering; what's important to her is the color. There's no way you could make a car easy enough to build that any end-user would prefer that to buying one already built. And make no mistake about it, Linux (and any modern OS) is more complicated than any car.

It may only take a few weeks before someone gets disgusted with M$, but by that time the person is no longer a complete novice. Disgust doesn't happen in a vacuum either: if the user is not aware that an alternative exists, he will accept what he has. Glumly perhaps, but he won't make an active effort to find an alternative without at least some hint that he might succeed. Face it, very few M$ users have even heard of Linux. And those who have heard of Unix recall only that someone told them it was hard to use and unfriendly.

So, given that someone has to want a better OS before he will be interested in trying Linux, it seems to me that we would be wasting our time building anything for a true novice. What a novice wants is a system that does what he wants to do. Out of the box. And which can be extended later to do what he didn't initially know he wanted to do.
Dave Close, Compata, Costa Mesa CA "Politics is the business of getting
dave@compata.com, +1 714 434 7359 power and privilege without
dhclose@alumni.caltech.edu possessing merit." - P. J. O'Rourke

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