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Re: The Debian Desktop Project (was: Re: Make Debian better (Re: Two Debian 3.0 reviews at Slashdot))

Il 22/10/2002 alle 01:28:23, -0400, Colin Walters ha scritto:

> There is no reason we cannot make Debian easy to use for the masses.  I
> personally want to be able to completely replace the Windows XP machine
> that my mom uses.  We're a fairly long way away from that, but I

Hi, i wont touch the tech aspect on "how to", but rather a more
conceptual think and i would like to make some point related to a
recente experience (it woul be more correct to say ...flop).

In general i understand those that dont like the conceptual side of this
problem, let's go to the point and build the package, but right now i
think it is as much important to focus on a more conceptual part since
packages are not the problem (in the majority of cases they exist - a
good example is the recent need for debian subprojects, in order to help
users that otherwise would get lost in the jungle of the Debian
distribution). The real problem is package organisation, language
approach, in one word, ergonmic design of desktops is really the weak
point at this time. And bottom of the story is not to rewrite Unix.

In fact for this reason i would avoid taking Windows and windows XP as
reference...not just, or not only ideologically. It is not a rational
desktop/configuration design.

After an old Apple PPC died, i tried to get my wife using Debian, let 
say GNU/Linux in general.

Even if i personally dont like it, she ended up using KDE. It seems to
me that is the best way to jump into GNU/Linux from a different OS. I
personally dont like it because in its attempt to be easily
configurable, and make Unix easily configurable by beginners it is a bit
confusing and it is not easy to find things (it grabbed more from
Windows than from Apple). Gnome is out of buisiness as far it concerns
such obvious beginner approach. Curiously enough after many experiments
she ended up (but at this point all major thing were set up in the
machine) using xfce.

Setting up a printer deamon is still too complicate for a beginner
[off topics..]
as in the case of my wife a good, but rather than good, stable
office is not yet available. Abiword does all kind of personal
*interpretation* of tabs and other charcters, no tables available. Kword
has weird behaviour as well, especially when after spending 30 minutes
to create some personal configuration, you quit and start and it is back
to the previous state... I tried also Ted (i personally like it a
lot)...and i've also taken the risk of a divorce when i showed her how
better and *easier* is to work in latex, lyx etc...she didnt approve it.
Openoffice seemed to work a part for some problem with printing in the
correct paper format, 
[..end off topics..]
but at this point she was tired she lost almost a
month of work trying to get her linux machine to work as she needed 
for her job and she ordered an ibook.

I'm not done...:-) One could say many things about Apple, but both, the
old system <= 9.x and the new NeXTStep Appleised MacX are really well
designed on the Dektop front including and in particular the Control
Panel. Plus the transition from 9 to X is not traumatic, she, my wife,
did everything by herself, set up and so on...and it is Unix. That is
the point, it isnt true that UNix it is either hard to configure or it
needs a rewrite to become user friendly, it is instead true that for
many reasons under GNU/linux a good configuration/system manager tool
has never been created.

Also last sentence could be objected because here and there you find
spared good configuration helper...*spared* is one problem. For some
reason webmin - which i use - wasnt so helpfull in this circumstance,
and i have no real guess why...maybe lack of on line help for the
modules (even if i find them self explaining), maybe names, for instance
i noticed that the word *server* generates a kind of fear,"Am i going to
screw up everything?". Maybe, most probably, language, do not
misunderstand me, i consider the webmin use of language more appropriate
than "Do you want to start sharing files?", i mean language can make a
difference, somehow, after starting a desktop, a part for the kde like
question, would you prefer the apple/windows/unix feel, it would
important to have a choice for two different way of asking configuration
questions: dummy/apple windows or unix way.

On the lagnuage/semantic side i think it is important to notice that it
is really relevant the name and sentece choices. *deamon* & *server* are
considered something you dont want to put your hands on. There is also
another problem i noticed recently. Using a language that is too
familiar gets the opposite result, adding a comments like "...dont blame
me if your computer melt.." or anything like this after an
howto/faq/readme/help makes the linux beginner think that this piece of
software or package is not a professional thing. Of course we disagree
about this approach but it is something we should live with and fight,
because Apple and windows users are taught day by day that commercial
sotf => free soft == professional => amateur, and "you computer could 
melt" is considered amateur, while i'm almost sure 100% that is true the 

Sorry for the blah blah, that some of you might find not helpful to get 
anywhere, but i really think a desktop ergonomic design, of the existing 
tools, is really necessary.

	thank you, marco trevisani

* marco trevisani                                                      *
* http://trevisani.mine.nu   marco@centrotemporeale.it                 *
* http://www.agnula.org -- A GNU/Linux Audio Distribution              *
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