[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

SEUL: Linuxstart 'Linux Newbie' section

I noted with interest the announcement on Dave's Linuxtoday pages about
the 'Linux Newbie' section on Linuxstart. I wanted to introduce myself
as the leader of the Simple End-User Linux project (SEUL) at www.seul.org,
and offer some thoughts about projects like this.

In general, there are lots of projects working on lots of different aspects
of making Linux easier for newbies and end-users. Trying to address all
aspects in a single project tends to fail, due either to lack of
organization or lack of the right sort of people for each category.

Suggestion one: choose your audience. "Newbie" is far too broad an
audience -- it simply suggests 'somebody who hasn't used Linux a lot
yet'. But what is that person going to be using Linux for, once he/she
figures out how it works? Word processing? Programming? Most of the
projects out there these days are designed for budding Linux developers,
but there are several oriented towards people who just want to be productive
with their computer. Check out http://www.seul.org/what/links2.html for
an incomplete list. There is certainly room for more (I have not yet
found a good, complete and up-to-date list of such projects. I would be
willing to help out in making one), but be sure to take into account
projects already working on something before starting a duplicate project.

Suggestion two: choose your goals. Do you want to have a list of links
towards useful material, or are you leaning more towards developing some
tutorials yourself?
If you want to develop things yourself, I've found that the first step is
often to develop a list of other resources out there that are similar. For
example, we've got a list of Linux advocacy documents and a possible approach
to integrating/organizing them at
(we haven't gotten very far with this plan, unfortunately.)

If you're looking into doing tutorials for simple tasks, take a look at
If you like the task-help idea, you're welcome to take it and run with
it. In order to become really useful, it should be integrated into the
gnome-help and/or kde-help browsers.

I realize that the goals haven't been firmly set yet because you're
waiting to see what sorts of volunteers show up. It isn't a flaw of the
project that goals haven't been chosen yet; just be sure to actually
figure them out more clearly before you start working on too many things.

Suggestion three: it's very difficult to move a complex project forward
without a leader with a vision, willing to do a lot of work. Soliciting
for workers and leaders at the same time is dangerous, because most
projects that do this end up only getting workers: the leaders have already
started doing their thing elsewhere. This isn't to say that it won't work;
it's just much more difficult when you don't start out with somebody with
a strong vision.

Anyway, the archives for this list don't seem to be up yet:
gives me a 403 forbidden, so I don't know what sorts of things people have
proposed working on yet. Pretty much any topic you're interested in either
has people working on it or people who were once working on it, so I will
stay on this list for a while to help point towards resources that would be
useful. I'm not trying to discourage you from working towards making Linux
easier for the Newbie. But bear in mind that attacking several small issues
is much easier than attacking a lot of issues at once, and also that the
main benefit from starting a new project at Linuxstart is to take advantage
of the publicity they have in other respects, so people will actually see
the site.

Thanks, and sorry if this seems abrupt,