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Since I can only sit down and work with this at the end of the week, this
letter contains quotes from many different letters to the list.
HARDWARE: I see that this aspect has been covered already since I started
this file, but let me repeat it for emphasis anyway:
>4) has a "cutting edge" type of computer
I'm inclined to think that a lot more people are willing to risk an
unknown on their older computer than on their brand new one. Not to
discount your user profile, I think it's valid. I just think that an equal
number may have an older machine available to them that they are more
willing to experiment with. Keeping your same assumptions for half of the
target machines, I would modify them for the other half accordingly:
cpu: 486 level
memory: 8 MB
video: Standard VGA or Advanced 3d type card
moniter: VGA, 14 incha (your newer one is more likely an SVGA)
modem: 14.4k bps w/fax
HD: 200 to 500 MB
possible sound card
probably not a CD-ROM
>use right now. Its not the fastest thing in the world but its
>not painfully slow unless I'm doing a kernel compile)
If you'd ever done it on a 386 25 with no coprocessor, your 486 66 woulld
seem like lightning!
FILE FORMATS & USER PROGRAMS
>I think an end user install has to have a "productivity suite"
>phylosophy. Not to say we should make it a productivity suite, just to
>include one. I've recently installed StarOffice on my Redhat 4.2
>The great thing about StarOffice is that (if I remember correctly), the
>linux version is free for non-commercial use! I think we should bundle
I agree that a productivity suite would set SEUL apart, and that it is
what will in the end make or break the usefulness of Linux to the home
HOWEVER - my memory is that the current version of StarOffice is a beta
that includes an expiration date, and that no promises have been made
about the status of the final version. I don't expect it to be free, but I
certainly wouldn't complain if I were wrong. This could use looking into.
>At 02:25 AM 5/28/97 -0500, you wrote:
>> People like to share files!
>> And they generally don't think of ASCII files as a viable medium.
>Wait a minute! ASCII is a very viable medium. E.g., what is all thie
You know that and I know that. But in three years I haven't been able to
convince anyone else at my office of that. They think of a file format as
a "program", so if I prefer to use a different program than someone else
uses (I use a DOS-based text editor) they are convinced that they will
NEVER be able to use that file. Pure nonsense, but that is the way most
non-technical users think!
And if my brother-in-law gives me a copy of a file he wrote, I can assure
you that simple as it is, he's not going to think he can figure out how to
write it to a plain text file (and the MS programs will post a warning
that inspires fear in the hearts of the uninitiated if he does). Now
remember, I'm the Linux user, not him, so being compatible is not his
problem. I'm the one who has to read his files (he can read mine as long
as he can figure out to make the MS programs admit that they're on the
FWIW, if the files are clean, MS uses a pretty intelligent format. The
machine code is generaly before and after the body of the text, and the
text is plain Latin-1 text that can be easily extracted. But if the file
contains a lot of rewriting or a few tables and suchnot, it becomes really
difficult to make sense of without the program.
>As far as text exchange is concerned our target user could prefer a word
>processer like StarOffice, Applixware... or TeX/LaTeX for his work. So
>we have to provide tools to convert the DOS/Win/Mac-formats to the
>word processer or LaTeX format.
>It is possible to take care that, for every document format used in SEUL,
>and for many of those available outside SEUL (like Word and WP and Claris
>Works) there is at least one html2x and one x2html converter
>available. This, I think, would lead to file-conversion freedom
>considerably beyond that in other environments. Most of the
>these converters are already written.
>The manpages shouldn't be a problem: all we need is a groff to
>html converter and then we can just let a machine crank over-
>night. Manpages, however, don't address the issue of a help
>system. What we need is to convert one of those "Introduction
>to UNIX" books (the little slim ones that cover the basic
>shell stuff, mail, and vi) to HTML and add some kind of index
>and FAQ list. That's were the REAL work is.
I am one of the people who have suggested compatibility with the MS
programs, NOT to establish a standard, but to make it reasonably easy for
our user to exchange files with friends and colleagues. If the filters for
all the formats already exist, GREAT! All we have to do is include them,
with enough information for our user to utilize them (well perhaps a GUI
interface to select which one to use, maybe). If we try to create a
standard, we will get nowhere, but if we can package the filters in such a
way that our user doesn't have to care what format he or his friends and
other folks use, then we will have accomplished part of our goal of making
life easier for him through Linux.
I rather think that the man pages should be left alone, because their
format is standard (although GNU considers them obsolete).
I do think that the Html "Intro to Unix" idea is a very good one, though.
And while on the subject of an html interface, don't forget about Lynx and
the standard terminal. I for one find the little bitty type on most
windows installations (X and MS alike) to be difficult to read, and even
when I am using X, I flip back to another VT for half of what I am doing.
Ahh, yes, for the promotional group - one of the great advantages of
Linux: you cannot run a compile on a large program such as a kernel,
download a multimegabyte file from an ftp site, and work on your day's
correspondence all at the same time on Win95! That's one of the reasons
why my boss finally gave in and let me install it on one computer.
But back to the VT and readability, I would also note that I use the
mr.fnt font that was included in my ancient Slackware distribution as my
console font. It looks a bit weepy at first, but it's quite readable even
when I'm overtired. (FWIW)
>Currently in order to administer a LINUX installation you need to
>poke around in a bunch of different scripts and configuration files.
>This will be far to daunting to the end user. What we need is a set
>of administrative and configuration apps that put a graphical face
Actually, a simple listing of where to find them all would go a long way
for the non-timid. I'm no expert, but I'm not timid about tinkering with
config files. What I can't do is LOCATE all the blame things when I want
to change something!
(Not to knock your GUI approach to it. That's what everybody wants these
days. If your administration app can find them all, perhaps it can let me
know where they are, too, so I can find them on my own later if I want
> PRE Screen: Select Install Type
> Option: Standard / Custom / Cancel
> Screen 5: Install all software.
> (Do not ask which software they want unless Custom install
> Was selected at The Pre Screen)
Hmmmmmm... Do you want to simply install ALL software, or perhaps at one
of these points ask for a further breakdown in preferences, especially if
the disk space is in any way limited? eg, if Standard:
Typical Home User/ Home & Business User / Programmer
and select the software accordingly. (Of course, ALL the software for the
choice made, for sure.)
>We should also make it possible to install more features later
>without having to reinstall from scratch. Thre is no reason that
^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^ ^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^^^^
>a new users should pay just because they want to graduate to
>the next level.
Yes! I do not like having my config changes overwritten just because I
found a need to use the install disks again.
>But some of the messages and options might be rewritten in
>a non-technical way (i.e. only %'s of the disk and Mb---don't
>mention tracks; only names of partition types, and only from
>the widely known ones such as Linux, Linux Swap, DOS, HPFS
>and so on, don't mention the hex codes of the partition types
>which might scare the not-yet technical user).
I agree that the style of presentation generally needs to be more
non-technical, but I wouldn't want to see the technical information
unavailable to the user who knows how to use it (or wants to learn).
Perhaps a "show/hide technical info" option?
Perhaps, once the project gets to that point, the area in which I can help
most would be in editing the documentation. I have over the years been
pretty good at explaining things to people in ways they can understand,
and this is an area that really will need attention for our target user.
Arnold M.J. Hennig
P.O. Box 82251 firstname.lastname@example.org
Oklahoma City TEL: (405) 634-2025
OK 73148 USA FAX: (405) 634-2060
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