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The problem in present distributions
It is not in the install area where present day distributions are most
lacking. Most of them have sophisticated installations even if there
is area for improvement. In fact a fair share of problems come from
the fact Linux is not dominant (still) so the user must do things who
are normally done by the manufacturer.
The area where present day distributions are really lacking is in the
use of Linux, not in install. The problem is they base Linux on the
same paradigma than traditional Unixes: a server with permanenat
access to the network, and powered up 24h a day. But this is not what
happens for home users.
They also envision the Linux user as a traditional Unix user and
provide software of interest mainly for programmers, mathematicians
and engineers. But Linux is cheap enough to be used at home so it
could be run by people uninterested in programming, mathematics or
engineering if the software shipped addressed _their_ areas of
interest. Linux distributions should ship more software for home user
needs and more "fun" software (in addition to the Gimp).
Finally they forget Linux is being used outside of universities and
corporations. The traditional Unix user got training, that is he got
a period of time where he had nothing else to do besides to learn, and
in addition he enjoyed the luxury (luxe?) of doing it on a working
machine. But Linux introduced a new kind of Unix user: the one who
has to use and administer his box from day one. So some things like
RTFM are not right when we think of a user who still doesn't master
the tools for reading the manual and don't know where is the doc.
Also there are users who have a deadline for a job and little time to
learn about computing: they want to be able to work from day one.
What is needed is: learning to point the user the right direction
instead of letting him painfully sweep the docs, provide
administrative tools even if they only handle common problems and
finally offer alternatives to the traditional Unix user interface.
For a user who will use computers ten hours a day for his whole life
it is a good idea to invest time in learning a difficult but powerful
UI. For one who will spend two minutes a day outside of his Wysywyg
WP and who needs to have finished his work in a few months the
investment in learning a Unix-like UI will not be recouped by the time
savings it allows. That means than as long as such kind of users
don't get the UI they need (and remember there is no reason hachers
use it if they don't want) they will use Macs and Windows.
That is why the primary goal of the project at this time is building a
distribution including the software omitted by traditional
distributions. (We also would have liked to do something in the info
area but at present time we lack resources both human and material to
do something about it).
Jean Francois Martinez
Project Independence: Linux for the Masses