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Re: Initial survey discussions - organization

In message <35855344.32EE95CA@iname.com>, pete_st_onge@iname.com writes:
>I've been quite intrigued by a lot of the discussion we've already had
>in the last week or so. The idea of 'watching' a user use linux is
>quite  an interesting one, and would likely be a good way of getting at
>the functionality of the OS, particularly for the kernel developers.

I think this is a neat idea, separate from the survey idea. I have no
idea how I'd start quantifying the process of sitting there watching
somebody work, especially without disrupting their activity. On a different
note tho, it would be pretty straightforward to write a little background
daemon that keeps track of the use of the computer, which windows are
used and how much, etc. We would write the app, then go find a couple
hundred volunteers who would grab it, run it in the background, and forget
about it for a while. It would periodically (manually or automatically)
submit reports to us, along with the user's description of him/herself
(experienced, cad worker, irc junkie, whatever) so we can categorize it.

There's certainly a lot of space for data in there. I wonder if we could
make enough use of it for it to be worthwhile.

>the survey itself in mind, perhaps a good bet here is to start working
>on the 'themes' or sections that our survey(s) will deal with. Once we
>have these, we could then decide on the questions themselves as well as
>the organization and then the mechanics behind it (which, let's face it,
>is the fun part :-)
>     So, to throw it out, how's this? I may be sounding like a broken
>record, but given the goals of the survey, the focus below is more
>applications-oriented than on the OS (mind you, the LinuxUserCam would
>likely be a better bet with the OS, methinks). I'm not sure that I see
>all of these 'themes' reflected in one single survey; again, I feel that
>we might lose many of the 'average' users by taking this approach, and
>perhaps these are the people we want to reach out the most to.
>User Info
>     Experience with OS, which OS used, how long, what uses

OS's. Plural. I'm curious about experience and uses of all sorts of
os's -- linux, dos, os/2, win31, win95, winnt, mac, other unix (should
we just lump them? probably not quite that much.) User info will also
include name, email address (contact info), age, profession, income (?),

Additional section: System Info
as per Karsten's suggestions:
 - 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

I think this section could use a lot of fleshing out, and could be the
main part of the survey, if we can figure out what we need to ask. The
privacy question is a very good way of approaching the issue of
enforcing permissions at the OS level. I'll give some more thought to
coming up with more examples of this.

>Word processors
>     Experience with wp's, which ones used, how long

ms word, wordperfect, latex, applix's wordprocessor, staroffice's...
how many do we list? I guess we ignore editors (emacs, vi, etc) in
favor of word processors -- things that can produce well-formatted
stuff on paper.

>     Uses: Which of these are important / not important
>        WYSISYG: 1-4
>     Experience with ss's, which ones used, how long
>     Uses: Which of these are important / not important
>        Carrying out simple calculations 1-4
>        Being able to copy formulas across a range 1-4
>	Using predefined formulas (ie. Average, Min, Max, etc.) 1-4
>        Being able to read and save other formats 1-4
>        Being able to do some statistical analysis 1-4
>     Experience with db's, which ones used, how long
>     Uses: Which of these are important / not important
>Programming Languages
>     Experience with pl's, which ones used, how long
>     Uses: Which of these are important / not important
>        Simple scripts to automate common tasks 1-4
>System Utilities
>... and so on. What do people think?

So basically we're trying to get a user profile, and through that we
get a better sense of what we're trying to sell Linux to. I guess it's
not an unreasonable approach. I'm wary of delving too far into the
details of eg which database system the person uses or how much experience
they have with python, because it's not as apparent to me how I'll use that
information to figure out what that user *wants* in his ideal system.
(Granted each user wants to have the tools that he is familiar with
installed on the system. But I'm more concerned with which functionalities
are desired rather than the names of the desired applications.)

I'm also wary of turning this into a "please list the applications you
want in an operating system, so we know what to package with the
kernel". Granted that's a worthwhile goal, but it's a different
question from "how can we make linux better?"

Here are some brainstormed ideas for other things to ask. We'll have to
put some effort into couching them in terms similar to the questions
Karstin lists above.
This is pretty much off the top of my head; I'm going to go sleep soon,
since I've been up way too long and I suspect I'm incoherent. :(
How important is:
* being able to use (read/write/both) other file save formats
* being able to get (and modify) the source
* reliability (doesn't crash often)
* prompt bugfixes (or hey, bugfixes at all)
* backwards compatibility (can i run old apps? do they run well?)
* being able to install/uninstall/upgrade single applications cleanly
* dependency checking (is there a windows counterpart to this?)
* being able to run it on old/slow hardware
* consistent user interface (things behave the same way even comparing
  between two separate applications)
* PnP support in hardware
* availability of a wide variety of apps (commercial, freeware?)
* software/hardware vendor support

* being able to connect to the machine remotely
* being able to run graphics remotely
* running servers (mail, httpd, samba, telnetd, ftpd, etc)
* speed!
* using a system that is compatible with your neighbor's
* being able to run something like doublespace (dynamic disk compressor)
* being able to taskswitch between applications quickly
(I'm trying to think of windows plusses here too. Somebody who actually
likes the thing want to help me out? :)
(Actually, I should be trying to think of plusses for every OS -- os/2,
mac, etc as well.)

>     Cheers,
>     Pete

Sorry about the delay in reply,