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Re: SEUL: linux for the masses

Brian & Kathy Wiens wrote:
> Maybe I'm confused but I'm not sure that we are all trying to reach the
> same
> people. [...]  I believe that the point of the GUI and SEUL is the
> desktop
> user but it is not yet clear if the movement really wishes to reach this
> market segment. [...]
> I think that a worthwhile goal for serious development of Linux
> for
> 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
> receive
> e-mails and use various tools - whether office automation, home finance
> or
> 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
> must
> be simple enough that your mother or mine could use it.
You've hit on one of the principal points I've noticed.  Our definition
of the "end-user" is somewhat vague.  "End-user" and "desktop user"
encompass everyone from my mother (willing to learn what's necessary for
her to accomplish her objectives, but not interested in the computer for
its own sake) to the professor in the next building over from me who
plans to run some heavy-duty GIS and astronomical applications on his
system and wants to wring the last dram of performance out of his
hardware.  The question is, do we subdivide this spectrum and
concentrate on only one or a few portions of it, or do we try to cover
the entire spectrum?

As to a distro that is as easy to install and maintain as Windows, I
submit to you that we're already there in many if not all respects. 
You've got to remember that the mom and pop market segment couldn't
install or maintain Windows if their lives depended on it.  They bought
their computers with Windows preinstalled, with enough hard drive
storage that they don't have to worry about actually doing any disk
housekeeping before they feel the urge to "trade up."  If they bought a
pre-installed Linux with KDE or (my preference) GNOME installed on it
along with a nice window manager (my preference is Window Maker), they
could operate just as easily and happily as they could with Windows. 
The quality of the preinstall selections and applications the
manufacturer picked would be the most important part of the Linux
experience in this case.

I've recently started to lobby (agitate?) one of the local PC stores
that sells a house brand to consumers and small businesses to create a
pre-installed Linux option and to both demonstrate it in-store and offer
it to small businesses as an NT/NetWare alternative.  We'll see how that
goes.  But I see that sort of thing as the _only_ way to make
significant inroads into the desktop arena.  We have to supply the tools
to make it easy to do and pleasant for both the manufacturers and the
end-users, but until there's a wider offering of pre-installed systems I
doubt we'll see "widespread Linux on the desktop."

Doug Loss                 A life spent making mistakes is not only
Data Network Coordinator  more honorable, but more useful than a
Bloomsburg University     life spent doing nothing.
dloss@bloomu.edu                G. B. Shaw