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SEUL: Re: Networking proposals second version.

> As far as the documentation on that website, it's damn near unusable.
> Ever see new users that can't find the information they're looking for
> in a manual because they don't have any idea of what sort of term to
> look up?  It's the same thing with that documentation.  I know what I
> want to accomplish, but with all the gobbledy-gook in that text, it's
> impossible to tell what I need to put into /etc/sendmail.cf to get it
> to work.

This is one of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome in order to get Linux 
into the hands of end-users.  I have some ideas myself on some serious search 
tools designed to work from almost nothing, so that someone with not the 
slightest clue where to start can at least do a reasonable search for what 
they need.  It would use document meta-information to provide context and 
topic-based groupings that someone could browse through and likely find what 
they need.  I have to think about this a lot more before I can write up an 
outline of it.  When I do, it'll be on www.seul.org somewhere.

> So where does that leave the new user?  Stuck with an MTA that doesn't
> do what they need out of the box, incomplete documentation, and a 
> config file that is way over their head.  The "guru" advice to these
> new users to "buy the bat book" is overkill for a home user.

Quite.  I just now got the bat book (for Christmas), and I've been doing 
sendmail for quite a while now.  I'm no guru, but I know what I'm doing.  I 
actually hesitated to get it for that very reason.  It's a reference book, 
and it could be useful, but do I really need to spend $50 on a book for a 
simple home system???

> My point is this:  why not have a bit of empathy with these new users?
> If there's a plain and simple way to get Sendmail to work the way that
> most of us ISP users need it to work, why not make the information
> BOLDLY available so that we're not scratching our heads trying to 
> get it to work.  In the end, you'll gain not only a happy Linux user,
> but a happy Sendmail user as well.

Internet services like mail and news are going to be one of the most 
interesting parts of the project I'm heading, SEUL (Simple End-User Linux).  
Check out www.seul.org for more info, though it's still a pretty measly site 
(I haven't gotten around to beefing it up quite yet, hopefully next week).

The goal (as far as mail goes) is to get things set up so that a user can get 
online in whatever setup they have.  We are developing a help system (which 
will hopefully include powerful searching features as alluded to above), 
which might possibly act as an administrative system as well.  This would 
allow us to create quite a number of pages for sendmail configs.  A set of 
pages set up with links kinda like those make-your-own-story books that point 
you to the right config page or a slight modifications thereof, and you're 
set.  Or something like that.

There is much to be though about when developing something like this.  As the 
home or office user is the primary target of the SEUL project, we have formed 
a group of various types of end users (mostly scientists right now, with a 
few home users thrown in), which we intend to question thoroughly about what 
they want from a computer system.  This will eventually turn into some 
serious beta testing, where we'll learn if we're doing it right and if not 
what we need to change.

We will be doing a second announce on SEUL and first for the 'focus group' 
within a couple weeks, so stay tuned to your nearest source of good 
information (this list will be one, I think).


      Erik Walthinsen - SEUL Project infrastructure/system architecture
       /  \           omega@sequent.com         Work: (503)578-5314
      |    | M E G A  omega@omegacs.net         Home: (503)281-4281
      _\  /_          psu12113@odin.cc.pdx.edu  Majoring in CS

       SEUL: Simple End-User Linux - creating a Linux distribution
     http://www.seul.org/            for the average home/office user