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Re: Potato to Woody dist-upgrade problems

On Mon, Jan 21, 2002 at 11:15:11AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > It refused to run locally without them. That sounds like a dependency to
> > me.
> Perhaps you should check your hearing.  Install xfonts-base on a
> reachable remote host, install xfs on that host, configure xfs to listen
> on the TCP port by editing /etc/X11/fs/config, and add a line to the
> Files section of your X server config file:
> 	FontPath	"tcp/remote.host.org:7100"

Um.... if a user needs to do the above to get X working on their
system after taking a working Potato system, and upgrading to Woody,
then Debian is completely useless for the naive user, and there's no
way I can recommend that Debian is ready for anyone other than an

(I just recently had Sushi last night with Keith Packard and Jim
Gettys, and he was describing some of the joys of being a private
Debian support resource for Jim.  If someone like Jim, who has decades
of Unix experience, needs help transitioning to Debian, then Debian
has serious usability problems.)

BTW, this is also the problem with suggesting that people should just
not use "apt-get dist-upgrade", and use "dselect" instead.  Just for
yucks, I suggest that you try taking a naive user and see if they can
upgrade a Potato system to Woddy using any means you suggest, whether
it be apt-get or dselect.  The only rule is once they get started,
you're not allowed to help them out.  That means no giving them hints
about how you need to edit /etc/X11/fs/config, etc., or figuring out
arcane key bindings, or making "one-line" changes to xdm configuration
files.  Let them see if they can figure it out on their own, or how
many hours it takes before they can find the relevant information in
either some HOWTO or Debian-provided documentation.  I suspect that
anyone who tries this experiment will find it a very painful

This is one of the things which Microsoft gets right --- they pay
naive users to be subjected to their software, and videotape the
results --- and then force the developers to watch the videotapes.
And believe me, "force" is the right word to use, because it's very
unpleasant to see how software which you thought was easy and simple
to use trips up users.  Of course, one defense, which I will label the
"NetBSD defense" is to simply make fun of the users and say that
they're too stupid to deserve to use the software.  But look at the
number of people using NetBSD versus the number of people using Linux,
and you'll the results of that kind of attitude.  The big question
then is whether Debian is always going to be only a distribution which
can be used by experts, or whether maintainers have any interest in
making Debian usasble by beginners.

						- Ted

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