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Re: SEUL: Call for opinions/discussions

Barry Karas wrote:
> Who is the end user?  Thanks.
> Barry

I think that rather than defining the end user in terms of what he or
she knows (the tendency on this list), we should define "end user" in
terms of what he or she expects from the product. Even though this is
free software, we should have a sense of the customer, and the customer,
plain and simple, has certain expectations.

I'll venture to present some of those expectations, in order of

* Simple/Focused

	The product should not encompass an undue number of goals by necessity,
nor should it sit between two distinct objectives. The purpose of the
product should be clearly articulable in one or two sentences and should
address its goals in the most focused manner possible.

* Consistent

	The product should do everything according to a global
motif/theme/plan. Whereas "purpose" is a goal or a destination, the
consistency of the product should describe *how* it does what it does.
The key to consistency, interestingly enough, is often simplicity, at
least in human systems. Consistency can be applied to any number of
variables, including interface, codebase, size, speed, etc. We should
strive to apply "consistency" to as many variables as we can manage. For
SEUL, interface is one of the most important.

* Complete

	SEUL should strive to do as much as possible, subject to the above
priorities. In terms of configuration, it should configure as much as
possible. In terms of installation, it should enable as many packages as
possible to be installed. In terms of documentation, it should
adequately explain as much of itself as possible. It should go to
lengths to enable scalability, with plug-in architectures, standard file
formats, and compatibility with the rest of the world. (Note: liberties
are taken here, as it is the last priority, anyway. True "completeness"
would have any number of impossible goals; this is why it is last)


The obvious question is, "What do these priorities mean in real-world
output?" or "So what do these mean to the 'end-user'?"

The answer is that SEUL should first and foremost attempt to install the
Linux operating system as simply and quickly as possible. This is the
most important goal of SEUL. The more simply it can be done, the better.

Secondly, it should attempt to make the install as consistent as
possible. This has many manifestations in today's computing world:
easy-to-use, user-friendly, familiar, smooth, "didn't need to read the
manual". From step 1 to step N, the install should seem like one
seamless execution.

Thirdly, it should apply the above properties to as much as is possible.


All of which is to say that the core purpose here is to get the damned
OS on the damned box and leave a pleasant taste in the owner's mouth.
After that, provide the tools to configure and actually *use* the box,
so the owner doesn't get "morning after" distaste.

I think you'll find that the above priorities can be applied to any
person on the earth, whether they're a kernel hacker or an elderly
seamstress. Everyone can appreciate simplicity and consistency. But
questions of "network configuration" and "X configuration" can be laid
to rest as simply matters of *completeness*. Thus, any speculation over
what should peripherally be enabled always takes a back seat to
questions of simplicity and consistency.

However, suppose there are questions purely regarding completeness? The
answer could be to build into the core of SEUL a powerful configuration
engine. Into this engine special scripts can be fed, which instruct the
engine on how to go about configuring a particular piece of the
environment. You need Samba configured? Feed SEUL-config the Samba
script. You need X set up? Feed SEUL-config the X script. You need NFS
mounts set up? Run the NFS script.

In this manner, completeness can be determined by the user him/her-self.

Michael J. Peck
Hewlett-Packard, Convex Division
Opinions expressed above are not necessarily those of my employer.
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