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Re: How can the OS autodetect that a user is a newbie and offer help?

On Tue, 17 Oct 2006 20:02:45 +0700, Jason Spiro <jasonspiro4+news@gmail.com> wrote:

For example, when a person types newbie commands like "help" or "kde"
(which is bound to something already) or the DOS commands "del" or "ren"
(which are not), we should point them to more help. (In case anyone here
has ever watched a real clueless newbie struggle: What are other
commands that 100% clueless newbies often type?)

Seems to me that the times of DOS have passed.

Back in those times, users would be familiar with the command line of one OS and be frustrated with another's. Today's typical user is rather familiar with a GUI and will be frustrated by a different GUI. For example, Windows users are likely to have a hard time looking for the "Start" button in Gnome.

In a desktop environment, the user needs to do a special action to run the shell (such as starting the Gnome Terminal). It's somewhat unlikely that the user ends up in the "scary black screen" by accident, and even then he can easily find the familiar close button in the title bar of the window. My point is that today's user only gets a shell when he wants a shell, and users who don't know how to use the shell won't want it.

To really help newbies migrate from other OS, it's better to improve the desktop GUIs and make them provide more hints etc. Adding newbie assistance to the shell wouldn't help many users, for the reasons described above. On the other hand, it will annoy advanced users for sure because any "newbie detection" would be an heuristic which inevitably fails from time to time. Even if the hints need only to be disabled once, it will be annoying to do so every time when maintaining a cluster of Debian machines.

So, my opinion is: please don't include things like this in default Debian installations.

Alexey Feldgendler <alexey@feldgendler.ru>
[ICQ: 115226275] http://feldgendler.livejournal.com

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