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Re: SEUL: What's so hard about Linux...
> I've tried to start this discussion before, but I'll give it one more go,
> if only to end the tiresom .deb versus .rpm debate:
Yes I am fairly tired with this debate. It seems to reminise about the
old usenet debate between Slackware and RedHat.
> This project is founded on the assumption that there is something about
> current Linux distributions that make them 'too hard' to be used by 'the
> average user.' I don't necessarily disagree, but I haven't heard any
> convincing statements of what exactly is so hard. For the sake of
> argument, let'd deal separately with installation versus using a system
> once it's installed.
> What's so hard about installing Linux?
> I know the answers here: Repartitioning and setting up X. The main
> problem with X is figuring out what kind of hardware the user has. To the
> extent that we can autodetect hardware, we can solve this problem. But I
> don't think we can autodetect everything, so the question becomes how can
> we increase the probability that the user will give us the correct
> information before he or she gives up in frustration. For many users this
> window of opportunity will be infintesimal; these users will never install
> SEUL (NB I wouldn't expect these guys to handle installing Windows 95 on
> their flaky hardware themselves either.)
Missing or incompatible libraries is the one I have the worst problems
with. Autodetecting hardware is not an easy thing. The simplest solution
I have come up with for X is to install the SVGA server configured to a default
and end of story. The 2% increase in speed won't make much difference. Support
for 16 bpp or 24 bpp would be nice, but most of my friends using linux are
using it as a dumb terminal to the internet or to run one or more speciality
applications that don't exist in the DOS world.
> Repartitioning is hard. I don't think it's all that hard technically to
> wrap defrag, FIPS, and FDISK into a friendly package. The problem is that
> once you've got this wondertool, you've got to either make the decisions
> about how to repartition for him or force him to figure it how for
> himself. Both options have drawbacks, and I think managing not to be
> gored by the horns of this dilimma is the real challenge in improving the
> Linux installtion process.
This is what I always expected us to do anyway. A simple question to the
USER like. You have 1000M of HD space, 600 M is presently occupied, How
much more do you need on you DOS partition?
After that you use the rest as a linux partition. Certain problems - How big
should the swap partition be is solved by using swap files. They are easier
to setup, there can be more than one, and you don't need a seperate partition
for it. Yes it is slower, but so what. It is easier.
These are the decisions that should be made. How do we make the installation
> I must admit to being pessimistic about seriously improving Linux
> installations. There are a lot of little things that can be improved, but
> installing a second OS (especially on PC hardware) is hard, and is not
> likely to be undertaken by 'the average user' anyway.
Which is another thing that must be dealt with. Will our average user be
running multiple OS's? Which ones, and how compatible are they to linux.
> What's so hard about using Linux?
> What indeed. After I installed RedHat, I logged in through xdm and was
> presented with a friendly Win95esque screen complete with a start menu
> from whence I could run the apps I had chosen to install. The apps worked
> pretty much like I expected; most Open and Save menus brought up dialog
> boxes that showed me a hierarchical directory structure just like I was
> used to from other OS's. The only think I missed was a desktop file
> manager ala Explorer or Finder.
> But I'm a geek whose used Linux for nearly four years. Probably most you
> are geeky linuxophiles as well. Let's look seriously at what users might
> miss in a out of the box linux systems. App support is probably the big
> thing, but there is only so much seul can do about that. The number two
> problem we're pretty much powerless against as well: it's different.
> People would have a lot of the same complaints moving from Win95 to OS/2
> as they do moving from Win95 to Linux. We could make SEUL look and feel
> as much like Windows 95 as possible, but I think that would kind of be
> missing the point.
As an average user, most of the people I helped install linux had no
problems with it. Once up an running, they were thrilled with the fact it
work so well. But they did have someone to solve the initial "why the fuck is
it doing that fer" problems. We should concentrate on making SEUL look like
what is expected by these users. This means the colour defaults should be
nice, the icons intuitive, the PATH and LD_LIBRARY_PATH preset so errors don't
> So what can we do? I really don't know. Think about the day to day tasks
> your 'average user' friends and family want to use the computer for. Walk
> through these tasks in your head and try and figure out where they might
> stumble if they were doing them on a Linux system. Don't just rely on
> your best guess - look over people's shoulders for the next couple of days
> and try and project their actions onto a Linux machine. What problems
> might they face? I think if we take a good look at these details, we can
> better identify the areas in which SEUL might meaningfully contribute.
As I stated before in this mail list, The people I know want linux, as
an internet box, a speciality application box, and not much more.
If you could through in a office suite like StarOffice, or a GPL'd equivalent
they would have no reason to ever boot anything other than windows.
To stop ranting and say something constructive, One of the things I noticed
most of the people do with computers is print documents. A simple way of
installing a printer would be the great. This has been one of the more difficult
things I have had to do. Applications that can use an installed printer
would be great as well.
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