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SEUL: SOTs comments

I have been reading the email conversation of SEUL. Here are SOTs
initial comments for the project. Comments are a bit naive, but
significant from our point-of-view. Most of them are also discussed
in white paper and FAQ, but I desided to start the conversation in SOT
with no prior information about the current state of the project.

Some background information:

I am working for Finnish Software Engineering Ltd. (SOT). SOT is 
1) making software, mainly database applications and Web systems
2) manufacturing and selling computers and hardware (see http://www.ase.ee/)
3) selling Caldera -products and Linux support/training/installations.

and have been using Linux since 1995 in own servers and now-a-days in 
a few workstations also.

For a little bit more info see http://www.sot.com/eng/ and http://www.ase.ee/

Our intrest in this project is to partisipate in having a more 
user-friendly Linux version for our customers (an option for 
Microsoft products), a steady software developement environment 
and a product for sale (especially support,training and installation). 

Some comments about Linux currently, Windows 95 and problems of
our customers with them (we had a brief meeting about SEUL with
our hardware team):

1) Win95 and Linux first booting before installation is currently too 
   complex. In Win95 you must make a spesific booting disk with 
   correct CD-ROM driver on it before starting booting your PC for

   In Linux you must make a boot disk. Boot disk may or may
   not support users current harware and due to that it causes
   a lot troubles. In some cases a user must compile kernel before
   he can boot up the computer to support all the hardware.

   => Suggestions: SEUL should boot directly from CD-ROM or should
      include ready-to-use boot disk with as much as possbile
      hardware support compiled into the kernel. 

2) Current Linux FDISK is a too hard to use for end-user.
   => It should be made end-user-oriented so, that it automaticly
      makes the basic partitions (swap, root and home/data) and
      then there should be a tools for adding a new harddisk to
      Linux (automaticly partitioning, formatting and mounting it).
      What is the 'a priori' of the partitions?

3) Current directory tree of Unix is too complex. Directory names like
   etc, bin, /usr/local/bin etc. are too hard for win/dos oriented

   => The basic directory structure should be something like
      - bin 		(/bin, /usr/bin, /usr/local/bin/)
      - configuration	(/etc, /etc...)
      - users		(/home)
      - software	(/opt, /usr/local/bin)
      - devices		(/dev)
      - ???		(/var)
      - sbin 		(/sbin)

   All extra system dirs should be hidden from users.

   It should also be made compatible with Unix directory tree
   with eg. symlinks so that upgrading and sw installation
   from is compatible in future also.

3) X configuration, especially in monitor selection refresh rates,
   in video card clock timings etc. are too complicated. Even for a 
   little bit more experienced users it causes troubles.

   => There should be windows -like selection of
      monitor and card. All other should be autoprobed 
      and defaults should be like in win 95 or win 311 (eg. no
      virtual destops etc.). Ofcourse user should have a 
      possibility to change the configuration if he
      want like it is now eg. in Xconfiguration.

4) Dos and Windows software should run in SEUL. Most software
   in world runs in DOS and a lot in Windows.

   => DOS and Windows emulators should be included to the
      distribution package as default and they should
      be ready-to-run after installation. Current configuration
      of dosemulator in eg. Caldera is a way too diffucult.

5) People buy operating system for making someting with it.
   Windows contains currently some tools for word prosessing,
   painting, calculating eg. So you can start using it right away.

   => SEUL distribution should include at least a word prosessor,
      a speadsheet and some drawing software. That would make
      it usefull as it is for users as it is.

6) Installation of a new software is quite complicated in Linux.
   Eg. installing star office to Caldera takes several days.
   First you try to install it, then you start hunting the
   missing libraries, then configure it and configure it and
   finally you forget the whole idea and start using Win 95.

   => RPM is easy enough in case you have all the needed
      libraries available. All needed libraries should be
      included to the software distribution

7) Allmost all software is now-a-days installed from CD-ROM.
   For making the installation in Linux you must
   - mount the cd-rom
   - change dir to cd-rom mounting directory
   - run the installation
   That is too complicated. And also for removing the CD-ROM
   you must unmount the device. This requires also prior
   knowledge on Linux devices etc.

   => In SEUL there should be a mechanism like autorun.inf and
      automounting and -unmounting of the CD-ROM. So users 
      puts the CD-ROM in and the installation menu appears 
      automaticly to the screen.

8) Most of the PCs are used for playing the games. In Linux
   there is only a limited amount of games available
   (I like the wargames of UNIX most ;).

   => Games written to dos and Windows 95 should be working
      in Seul and also running at least as well as in Windows.
      Or there should be Linux versions of the most popular

9) Software installation to Linux is quite complicated compared
   to Win95. Eg. in slackware I must
   - untar the package
   - emacs the makefile
   - make compilation
   - make installation
   - emacs configuration files
   - read dozens of pages of readmes, manuals and howtos.
   In Win95 you just run the setup and it makes everything to work
   (at least in some cases).

   => Install and uninstall should be made in Win95 style.

10) In Win95 you never know what happens when you boot it. It
    might randomly reselect IRQ's or detect some shadow drivers
    and install it. It is also very unstable becouse of this.

    => In SEUL this should be avoided. Windows 3.11 style was
       much more robust. This is very important for hardware
       vendors. The operating systems must be possible to
       copy to the hard disk from master disk without making
       a lot rebooting for newly found hardware and relocations
       of IRQs.

11) Internet -connections are easier in Win95 to configure than
    in Linux. PPP and SLIP are allmost impossible for ordinary
    end-users in Caldera.

    => In SEUL the PPP/SLIP should be automaticly installed
       and configured like in Win95 or even more easier. 
       This is a very crusial point.

12) Price is important factor of the product. Here is some
    points of pricing:

    Resellers = Computer manufacturers, shops etc.
    end-users = ordinary home users
    companies = medium and large companies etc.

    If price is 0
    - resellers and computer manufacturers are not intrested 
      in product becouse clients can get it freely, no profits
    - end-users find it attractive to at least for trying,
      but it effect to image of product. Its free -> it can't
      be that good
    - companies find it unreliable. It's free -> it can not be

    If price is < Win95 and > 0
    - resellers and computer manufacturers are intrested 
      in product becouse they can sell it cheaper than Win95.
      In case the system is better than Win95, easier to pre-install
      and support works well they might be willing to 
      start selling it.
    - end-users find it less attractive becouse you have to 
      pay for it, but they will demand also more becouse
      had to pay for it and hence they will be more eager to
      invest their to make it work.
    - companies find it a bit unreliable, becouse they are used to
      pay a lot for operating systems like NT or SCO. 
      It's too cheap -> it can not be trusted as much as NT or SCO.

    If price is >> Win95 
    - resellers and computer manufacturers are intrested 
      in product becouse they can sell it companies but the
      prices requires some advertising and brand name for it.
      In case the system is a lot better than Win95, easier to 
      pre-install and configure, there is a brand name for it 
      and support works well they might be willing to 
      start selling it with 0 risk.
    - end-users find it too expensive.
    - companies find it reliable in case there are reference
      customers (big enough), a good brand name, advertising,
      and systems they need available for it. Finding there
      reference customers would he how ever quite hard as well
      as making the brand.

Here are our points. I will be taking part of the conversation
from now on. 


Santeri Säkäjärvi
______  _____________________________________________________________
\ __ /  Oy Suomen Ohjelmistotyö Ab -      //  puh (03) 316 5544     /
 \\//   Finnish Software Engineering Ltd.//  fax (03) 316 5959     /
 //\\   Hermiankatu 8E, 33720 TAMPERE   //  email: ss@sot.com     /
//__\\  Santeri Sakajarvi              //  WWW http://www.sot.com/ 
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