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Re: SEUL: linux for the masses

"Pete St. Onge" wrote:

> Doug Loss wrote:
> >> = Arma
> >> http://eddie.cis.uoguelph.ca/~tburgess/local/linuxui.html
> >> haven't read all of it. so much to read out there...
> > = Doug
> > 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 whole-heartedly agree with Doug - I count myself in the ranks of
> those who want and need to understand the complexity below the user
> interface. I don't want to be hampered by someone else's idea, however
> well-meaning, of how I should work.
>      Perhaps one of the most important reasons behind the success of
> Windows and MacOS is the consistentcy of the UI and other components.
> One of the first exams I gave in my time teaching Operating Systems
> taught me a lot about the people in the course, and I suspect about many
> of the people we're trying to reach: The exam consisted of two sections,
> one theoretical and the other practical. With very few exceptions, the
> test scores were highest (sometimes very much so) in the practical
> section. Thus, I feel that perhaps the folks we're focusing on are these
> very same tactile learners, so it's important to reinforce practical
> concepts for these folks.
>      This wouldn't be so bad if the first things the students were
> taught was how to use the various help resources available - apropos,
> man, how-tos, etc... (please set me straight if I've missed any!!!).
> That said, one conspicuously absent resource is a basic, hand-holding
> guide to using Linux. "Running Linux" is a really good book (so good
> that the guy I lent it to still hasn't returned it!), but it requires
> that you have a good working knowledge of computers to start with.
> Contrast this with books by MaranGraphics, which are very focused on
> non-computer folks, with ample illustrations and clear explanations.
> Given the the sheer diversity of configurations, windows managers,
> programs, kernel configurations (etc etc etc) possible with Linux makes
> such an approach difficult, I would imagine.

Maybe I'm confused but I'm not sure that we are all trying to reach the
people.  The impression that I get from Pete's response is that the
audience for Linux (or SEUL for that matter) is the technical user who
needs some guidance to get into the man documents and the how-tos. 
I've got this wrong because you do mention the success factors for
and Mac and you talk about books for non-computer folks.  Regardless, I
would suggest that the technical people who are practically oriented
computers and just need some guidance into the documentation are not
the target because they will choose (or not choose) Linux for reasons
than ease of use (technical questions, vested interests, pointy haired
bosses, etc.).  I believe that the point of the GUI and SEUL is the
user but it is not yet clear if the movement really wishes to reach this
market segment.  It is a vitally important part of the market if Linux
truly become dominant but the history of Linux and the attitudes of many
the most expert users predicates against Linux making any significant
in-roads in this area, even if a wonderfully simple book series becomes

I have mentioned this before in this thread and I don't want to bore you
repetition but the Linux community must decide, in word or by deed, if
desktop is truly in the scope of interest of the developer and, if it
Linux must become as simple for the average user as (I hate to say it)
Windows or a Mac.  Until then, the game on the desktop is already mostly
lost.  I think that a worthwhile goal for serious development of Linux
the masses would be to have a distro that takes no more time or skill to
install than Windows and for maintenance to be at least as simple and
straightforward.  The average user wants to surf the net, send and
e-mails and use various tools - whether office automation, home finance
graphics - not figure out how to grep, cat or vi.  The command line
interface must always be available for the true power user but the GUI
be simple enough that your mother or mine could use it.

This is a philosophical discussion that Roger has graciously allowed to
continue so far and I appreciate it.  I believe that this question must
answered and, once it is, the efforts of the various projects to grow
can have more focus, but without losing the choice that Doug mentioned
that we all appreciate.  Personal responses (off list) are always

Brian Wiens