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Re: SEUL: linux for the masses

Doug Loss wrote:

> Roger Dingledine wrote:
> >
> > http://eddie.cis.uoguelph.ca/~tburgess/local/linuxui.html
> > haven't read all of it. so much to read out there...
> I just read this, and it is fundamentally at odds with most of what I
> like about Linux.  If most of what he advocates (only one window
> manager, no CLI, etc.) were to come about, I'd be gone in a flash.  He's
> basically saying that the only way of doing things is the Windows/MacOS
> way of forcing everything into a Procrustean bed and only giving the
> users what the "user-centered individuals" think they should have.  How
> fascist.

I just read it as well and I have to admit that I agree with the article.
This may not be a pleasant concept for the original and die-hard Linux
movement to accept, but it is too true to reject out of hand.

As much as I hate the term, Linux is undergoing a "paradigm shift".  The
history of Linux is the development of an OS and tools for dedicated, highly
experienced and highly competent programmers.  Linux satisfies a whole host
of these users' needs, including a free kernel, the ability to explore
creative programming urges in a strongly peer moderated environment, an
incredibly stable and well structured system, freedom from heavy handed
corporate behemoths, etc.  All of these strengths conspire against Linus'
(and the movement's) stated desire for "world domination".  If this
viewpoint is limited to "dominating" the remaining the remaining enterprise
systems, ISPs and similar, highly performance dependent and heavily
administered systems, then the likelihood of success is high.  Of necessity,
one distribution (maybe Red Hat?) will become the de facto standard and the
game will be over (until the next Linux-alike comes along).

If the goal is to take over the desktop, Linux must become, if not the same
as then, at least similar to what Todd Burgess is proposing.  My parents are
not technophobes but they have only had a computer for about 5 years and
would qualify as average users in many respects.  I would not, at this time,
recommend Linux to them.  I am not a technical neophyte by any means, I read
the FAQs, lurked in the mailing lists, asked the questions and read at least
two Linux books.  I own several distros and have gone through the install
process (improving what I've done each time) at least 4 times.  I have still
not achieved a stable connection to my ISP, nor have I done anything
significant other than configure the system.  I came to Linux from the
Anything But Microsoft camp and I still believe that, eventually, I will
have a working system in my home that my wife and children can use.  I am
not an average user (you are welcome to your own opinion in this regard) but
I cannot make Linux work the way that I want it to.

Burgess is promoting heresy for the majority of the original Linux
movement.  This heresy, though, marks a significant departure and those who
wish to see Linux truly achieve "world domination" must accept some, if not
all, of his recommendations.  This dichotomy between world domination as a
stated goal and rejection of the necessity for a user centred interface has
always (in the eight months since I started looking into Linux) struck me as
a fundamental problem.  There is no mandatory requirement to accept any of
the recommendations Burgess proposes:  Linux stands very high on its own
merits and that cannot be taken away.  The only question remains:  Do we
want to limit our OS to the high end or do we want the average user?  Only
the Linux movement can answer that question.  The solution will probably be
found the same way that most solutions are found in the Bazaar as
development moves to and is accepted by the majority of adherents.  One
outcome will probably be the defection of those who reject moves to cater to
the average and they will go on to start the next great wave in computing.
Linux has already earned its place in history and cannot lose.  However,
will the average user benefit from what happens?

Brian Wiens