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Re: Initial survey info

In message <35830240.1EC032E5@ix.netcom.com>, kmself@ix.netcom.com writes:
>> I want to figure out what end-users want in an operating system, and I
>> want to let everybody else know.
>Rephrasing:  how can we configure a Linux install, and bundle additional
>applications and utilities, to maximize usefulness for the non-technical
>end user.  The ideal would be to make Linux the *only* logical choice
>for a non-technical computer user.  (OTOH: could we just sell them

Yes, I guess this is a good rephrasing. I hadn't really been thinking of
it that way before, but this is a good way of looking at it -- it helps
to narrow the focus.

>Isn't this really similar to what Caldera and Red Hat are doing now?  I
>wouldn't say that RH is quite ready for Joe Sixpack, but Joe College
>(and Jonny Hacker) can manage it quite well.  A lot of RH's work is
>based on RPM and polishing the UI, which hit on two key areas --
>maintenance & interface.  I suspect most of our work will be there.
>RH is aiming at a broad market, from ISPs to grandma.  Their product out
>of the box tends to assume you'll be throwing up a website and a whole
>mess of other stuff.  I've made a suggestion based on Core/Layers for
>different configurations of Linux. 

I don't know as much about Caldera, but my experience seems to indicate
that they're aiming for the corporate market still. Redhat also seems to
be aiming for the commercial/corporate environment as well, though not as
much: most of their software seems to prefer to be run over an ethernet
rather than over a modem. Most home users will be using a modem. (Or at
least, this was the argument used in the past. Are these cable-company-
ethernet things becoming popular with more than just technical folk?
Is everybody going to be using something akin to an ethernet a couple
years from now?)

But in any case, just because redhat and caldera are aiming at the same
folks doesn't make the average linux advocate any better at what he's
trying to do. If redhat or caldera would tell us what they think they're
aiming at, maybe that would be good enough.

Incidentally, this is what gives me the idea that there is a chance
(however small) that we could package this thing with a redhat distribution.
Maybe it would benefit them too. But that is far down the road.

>Broadly:  portable, workstation (WS), server (SV). 
>More narrowly:  
>  WS: gamer/home, SOHO (small/home office), technical/development
>  SV: web, file/print/com, enterprise apps, dedicated/embeded systems
>More at Freshmeat:
>> This can be put to several uses:
>> * Developers need a goal: if we can figure out which applications or
>>   environments are most important to potential new Linux users, then the
>>   developers can focus on those aspects.
>> * Advocacy people need a goal: if our survey finds that feature foo is
>>   very important to our target users and it's already implemented, then we
>>   can tell the Linux advocates to say "Linux has foo!" more often. While
>>   the Linux advocacy effort has a lot of zealous members right now, it's
>>   very disorganized and most advocates aren't as clueful as they could be
>>   about what will actually sell Linux. I want to have something concrete to
>>   provide to the Linux community to help education and understanding.
>Research Methods:
>> Some initial very basic thoughts on format:
>> The first part of the survey will be ...
>Back to squares.  Is a survey the best way to gather the information you
>are interested in?
>I don't know what your resources or the geographic distribution of this
>group is (I'm assuming global), but I strongly suggest a primary
>emphasis on other research methods:

While it's true that these methods might gain more data, I'm not
convinced that we're the people to do it. I barely know what I'm doing
trying to work on a survey idea. Perhaps when we get the survey finished,
we can start trying to find people who actually know about this sort of
thing to take it further. In addition, we can try to get people at expo's
and at user groups and installfests to fill out the survey.

> - Meta analysis -- review existing research data for own needs

Speaking of which, I've heard back from the author (eimers@rmi.de) of the
current linux survey at http://aachen.heimat.de/alug/fragebogen2/ and he's
offered to send me a tarball of all the answers they've gotten so far. I'll
put that on the seul website as soon as I get it.

Using existing research data is an excellent tool -- does anybody know
of any other projects doing surveys or other research that we could make
use of?

>The problem with surveys are that you find out what people think they
>do, need, or want.  Getting the survey to the desired target audience
>(sampling) is also difficult especially WRT the current project -- how
>do you get people who don't know you exist and don't hang out where you
>do to tell you what they think of a product they've never used?

Well, we want information both on products they have used and products
they haven't used. The former hopefully won't be terribly difficult. The
latter will be quite a trick though, I'll admit.

>range of users.  If anyone has connections to Sun, Xerox, HP, SGI, can
>you find out if these folks have done similar usability studies?

I'll repeat this one so everybody reads it twice. :)
Actually, I'll ponder how useful this might be at mit. Currently everybody
here uses unix in the clusters, since that's what the clusters run. So
it would only be so useful. But then again, it could happen. (I'll bet
they'll love that: "Can I run this program on every cluster machine?
I'll only invade their privacy a little bit." :)

>The web cam is the only extraordinary bit of HW required.  This is the
>sort of thing which could even be set up on a distributed basis like
>rc5ds -- though info from more than a few sites would be too much to
>wade through.  It could potentially be one of the largest
>usage/usability studies on the planet, and could very well be worth
>development on its own merits -- this is the sort of information ISVs
>kill for.  Ok:  name:  LUser (Linux User).  As a client, an icon (you
>are being watched), and options to turn on/off recording, blank specific
>client displays from being saved (for confidentiality/privacy),
>communications/upload options.  Thoughts?

Sounds like a neat idea, but as above, I think that the survey should
come first. If nothing else, it will give us a better idea of what
we're actually trying to figure out, if we don't get what we thought
we'd get.

>> The first part of the survey will be gathering information on the person,
>> ...profession, age?, and experience with different operating
>> systems. 
>A survey would still be useful for the following:
> - Easier to process/interpret large(r) number of responses.
> - Ask about features not implemented/desired.
>Respondent profile:
> - name, age, gender, user profile (gamer, small/home office (SOHO),
>professional, business systems (eg: point-of-sale, warehouse, inventory,
>database, customer service system, etc.), company/corporate sector,
>computer experience (none, games, job, writing, programming, etc.,
>multiple responses possible).

This is an excellent start. 

>> Then I want to know what they *do* with their computer. Do you do
>This is probably the best way to approach the OS issue.  I think we're
>less interested in this as an OS than we are in it as a *System*. 
>Probably uses by category.
>Other issues we'd be interested in:
> - do multiple people use this system?  At same time/ w/o logging out?
> - do you have a computer network? (Opens option for NCs or terminals)
> - is user privacy important (one user can't read another's stuff)
> - is user security important (one user can't change another's
> - do you have access to tech support/skilled users
> - current eval of tech support issues
>WRT other comments:
>virtanen <hvirtane@cc.jyu.fi> wrote:
>> For example win3 was an attempt to put together some basic applications
>> like write, paintbrush, calendar, notepad etc, which looked similar and
>> could combine data from each other. The problem with win3 or win95 is
>> that the 'applications' which come with the OS itself aren't powerful
>> enough for real work, but kids' play only. I've never seen anyone to write
>> something serious with write... all the people buy a real wordprocessor
>> like word, wordperfect etc. But you can anyway get an idea, what is
>> possible with the real applications by trying the toy-applications of win. 
>This is an approach which virtually every integrated desktop environment
>has duplicated:  Win3.x/95/NT, Macintosh, Openlook, VUE, CDE, KDE,.... 
>Do we really need to write another NOTEPAD.EXE?
>If we're looking at providing real applications, the approach would seem
>to be bundling suitable powerful, capable commercial or OSS apps, not
>writing our own from scratch.  There's a place for lightweight tools for
>quick & dirty use, but I'd discourage a development effort around this. 

especially because it's tough enough to get end-user-friendliness into
linux apps, so we might as well concentrate on the places where it will
be of most benefit. And quick&dirty utilities are quickest and dirtiest
when they're things like vi.

>OTHOH, providing better documentation for existing tools would be a

Yes, this is a huge issue. We should have a section on documentation --
how they use it, how they want to use it, what form it does/should come
in (paper, electronic, others?), what it covers, etc.

>Again, WRT to apps, the way I see it, computers are an information,
>communications, and entertainment tool.
>They manipulate text, data, graphics, and sound.
>You want tools to view the above.  (browsers, A/V players)
>You want tools to manipulate the above. (editors, spreadsheets,
>databases, dialers)
>You may want tools to make more tools (compilers, languages)
>You want games.

URLs to hunt:

There's a list we have in the seul list archives as well. I'll dig
up the URL and post it tomorrow.

>FWIW, thinking about word processors (paper-output based) strike me as
>an anachronism.  A weak point of all current major products is that they
>are paper centric.  We're finally starting to see an era of documents
>which rarely if ever leave the screen, whether HTML, XML, SGML, LaTex,
>etc.  If you want to develop a new KA, this is a place to apply some

The yoga project (was 'gnuotes') is trying to produce a lotus notes clone.
I've been following their list, in hopes that they succeed.