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

On Wed, Oct 18, 2006 at 03:57:26AM -0400, Roberto C. Sanchez wrote:
> I agree that a help command and a set of DOS-friendly aliases *should*
> be enough, but since MS neutered the command.com interface a long time
> ago to the point where it ceased to be useful, I don't see how having
> such things would be helpful to any but a diminishingly small minority
> of users.

You are confusing "interface" and "content". Let me explain how 'ayuda'
worked again, maybe that can help see why Jason's idea. 'Ayuda' had two things:

- a shell script using dialog(1) to display a set of menu options
- newbie-oriented documentation (some of it Debian-specific) in /usr/share/

The shell-script read the documentation and provided the interface when
'ayuda' was written in the CLI.

Now, considering the *need* to have newbie-oriented Debian-specific
documentation for users (regardless of their environment) how about a package
that provides:

[1] newbie-oriented documentation (most of it Debian-specific) in /usr/share
    (Of course, i18n/l10nized)

[2] an integration layer (an index file pointing to the HTML files?) with
   GNOME's yelp and KDE's 'khelpcenter' so that the information is show
   along the main Help topics and can be browsed when people go to their
   Desktop and select 'Help'

[3] a stand-alone 'helpme' program that, when executed, would detect if the
   user was running in a console (no $DISPLAY) or not and provide an interface
   to the topics in the provided documentation.

The 'Newbiedoc' package does not cut it, it just does [1] and it is not even
Debian-specific. The 'doc-debian' (the Debian FAQ), 'debian-reference' or
'quick-reference' packages do not cut it either, they do most of the things
needed for [1] but they only integrate with doc-central/dwww/dhelp which most
(newbie) users will not even be aware they exist. There is no (easy?) way to
access that documentation (if installed locally) from the Desktop (i.e. no

For Bonus points, the user (if in an Internet-connected system) using [3]
should be able to send "questions" not covered in the documentation through
the same UI that could be collected somewhere and used by the maintainer(s)
to decide which unwritten topics should be taken care of since they are most
demanded by users.

If someone wrote the package providing [1], [2] and [3] and it was made part
of a standard installation we could ask Santiago (base-files' maintainer) to
change /etc/motd and point to it.

How does that sound? Anyone up to the challenge?



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