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Re: Newbie Idea

Lee Sharp wrote:

>   Uh oh...  Sounds like a GUI install.  That can get you shot around
> here. :-)

GUI installs have difficulties on older hardware but the intent is to, at a
minimum, fool the user into believing that Linux is as simple as WinXX appears to
be.  For anyone with MS experience, that means GUI or something that provides at
least as much information.

> Also, we would have to write a description for EACH package.
> Doing it for categories makes sense, however.

Doing it for each package also makes sense, especially when you have (for text
editors alone) vi, vim, joe, jed, emacs, xemacs, etc...  The newbie is wondering
something like:  What are the differences between them?  Which one should I
select?  If I don't accept one of them will that prevent me from doing something
important?  If I don't select it now, how could I add it later?  Why the h*** are
there so many?  (WinXX comes with Notepad and Wordpad/Write, installed by
default.  Anything else is after market/third party and the differences between
the two defaults are pretty obvious when you open them up.)  This whole thing is
about providing an experience which is as "painless" as possible.  MS can't do OSs
worth a darn, but they know their market.  We could do worse than to emulate their
usability/user expectations approaches - we could also, and should, do better,
using them as the start point.

> >Horror of horrors, I must point to M$ again.  You can often get a bloatware
> >tutorial,
> >especially with a brand name PC, that shows you pretty pictures of the
> >screens and leads you
> >through the key steps to getting started on your new Winbox.  Any takers for
> >Indy 0.2/0.3?
>    I am working on it.  It is up at http://snow.peakusa.com  I have
> paused a bit with 6.0 out.  I don't want to do too much and have to re
> do it when the screens change. :-)

How about a video-like tutorial (mov/avi/other)?  HP puts one out with their new
boxes.  It's a pig on HD space (something like 30megs) but that works in a
pre-installed box.  A clear description is good, but a demonstration (canned if it
can't be live) is better.

> There are some competitors, however.
> http://www.menet.umn.edu/~curt/cbb/   A X Money Manager
> http://www.gnucash.org/  A Gnome Money Manager
> http://seanreilly.com/java/moneydance/  A Java Money Manager

cbb doesn't support the latest Quicken file format, I haven't tried GNU Cash and I
have problems setting up Java for Moneydance.  I have sent Intuit a product
improvement suggestion.

> Donovan Rebbechi wrote:
> the problem is that linux is more modularised than windows.
Users shouldn't have to understand all that stuff :-).  As I said above, a clear
explanation of what the newbie needs, with, for example, a single, user friendly
command line text editor installed by default.  Choosing between text editors,
deciding whether or not I need a news server to read newsgroups, knowing the
difference between the different parts of the mail delivery systems, etc.  We
don't want to make a brain dead distro, I absolutely agree.  We also need to make
sure that the competent/advanced WinXX user who is a Linux newbie gets told enough
to be able to do a "custom" install in a half-decent fashion (something that I
always choose anyway, because I hate not knowing what my options could have been,
even though I often just accept the default install :-).

> It's
> impossible for most users to understand all the stuff ( just like the
> windows users probably won't understand what TCP/IP is , even though it's
> installed )
It isn't that involved.  Here are a couple of examples (excuse errors of fact, I'm
guessing on some of this stuff since I don't know all the details, being a newbie
myself :-):

vi - vi is the classic Unix text editor.  It is very powerful but is relatively
difficult to learn for new users and has limited on-line help.  You should only
install vi if you are an experienced Unix user or wish to take the time to learn
this program.

mc - Midnight Commander is a powerful file manager that has clear menus for the
new user.  You should install this to provide you with file management
capabilities that don't require cryptic commands.

> Beginners should choose categories and stay away from selecting individual
> packages. Maybe we need to say this in bold type face on the top of the
> installation screen.
Easy to say, difficult to do when you sometimes don't even know what the category
means.  What's X (for example)?

> trying to understand what every single  package does will give you an
> enormous headache ( I probably didn't need to tell you that )
And that's what I got from looking at the install list :-).

> > I am chastized. I understand the difficulties of trying to please the
> > uninformed. You say "samba" and a newbie will say, "What?" That is a problem
> I think one of the boxes in the categories puts it in plain english ( I
> think it says "Windows connectivity software" ) Of course, something
> explaining what "windows connectivity software" means could help.
It needs to be as explicit as "If you have a LAN and need to connect a Linux
computer to a SMB computer (such as Windows 9x (TM), then you should install
Samba.  To configure Samba, read (the clearly written, step by step guide :-)
before using (the graphical configuration program :-).

> Again, I emphasize, newbies should not be forced to choose packages
> individually. If newbies feel they need to choose individually,
> there is a problem somewhere ( perhaps the install could do with
> interactive help regarding package groups.  I don't know if anyone on
> this list can actually implement this though ... ) I remember choosing
> individually as a newbie because I didn't know what the package groups
> meant ( an explanation would have helped including some advice. eg on
> kernel source " don't install it unless you like recompiling kernels " ;
> on LaTeX : "if you don't know what it is, you don't need it" )
You understand this problem because you faced it as a newbie, but you are
expecting the new newbies to not have the same concerns.  Even something as simple
as "If you find that you need a program which was not selected at this time,
please run (what?)" would reduce some of the "I'll install it even though I don't
understand it because I don't want to miss something" crowd.  There will always be
newbies who, rightly or wrongly, will assume that they understand enough to do a
package by package install.  Let's make sure that they keep that feeling and don't
dump Linux/Independence in disgust.

> > with many newcomers who are trying to get Linux up and running, explanations
> > of what a program is or does. If I get another computer, though I have no
> > reason to do so, samaba, would be a program I would be interested  to learn
> > about at install time.
> if you have a windows computer and want to network it to the linux box,
> you should click "windows connectivity" at install time.
And you just wrote the script that has to pop up when that box is selected (in a
GUI install :-).

I don't want to belabour this point.  As Jean Francois pointed out, the install
happens once (hopefully) but the use goes on forever.  The danger, however, of not
getting the install right is that people will never get to the use stage and will
never realize how good Linux can be (is?).  The answer is not fewer
packages/choices, not more man pages or advocacy documents, not more newsgroups or
mailing lists that require Linux to be working first, but enough information in
the right form at the right time to allow any level of user to install a Linux
distro that they will be comfortable with, even and especially my techno neophyte
mother :-).

Brian Wiens