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SEUL: What do our users know?

I see a lot of discussion about how things should be done like compile or
not.  The best way to tell is mock it up and try it out with some users
and carefully observe their responses.  

I realize it could be tedious but I'll guarantee you some suprises.  If
we can find users that fit our description of them then, it should give
us some confidence that we undestand who they are. It should also give us
a much clearer picture of what information we can safely assume users
posses.  The knowledge users posses will be varied and have an enormous
impact on the design of an installation user interface. 

One of our biggest barriers is going to be users' annoyance with a system
that makes them feel stupid because they did not know the answer to a
particular question.  Remember Linux offers many opportunities for one to
demonstrate their ignorance.

Personally, I never found compiling too daunting, I like it when the
computer is busier than I am.  However, navigating all of the
configuration questions with a poorly documented system and so many
unfamiliar terms required some handholding.  And the percieved danger of
compiling is far worse than the reality. It wasn't until an attempt at a
kernel upgrade that I recognized that compiling a new kernel need not
break your working kernel. 

A good interface should not expect you to know something you do not.
With all of the diversity of users this could be the biggest challange we
face.  A good interface should also provide options to take advantage
of the special knowledge.

A common technique is to make default basic choices and provide options
to the more knowledgeable.  The trick is do so with out confusing either.

A related principle is don't ask the user to provide information that
was previously supplied or that should already be know to the system.

I have survived installation with modprobe lockups on an unsuppored,
undocumented on board video, a PS/2 mouse, an odd ball CDROM.  I still do
not know who made my motherboard and monitor.

I can realy appreciate the Dilbert cartoon where the UNIX guru flips
Dilbert a coin an says "Here's a nickel kid, go buy yourself a real

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