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A small Debian-NP detail


I just joined the list. My name's Holmes Wilson and I'm involved with running a program that uses donated computers and linux to set up labs in my town of Worcester, Massachusetts: worcestercoop.org. It's similar to Freegeek, but a lot smaller, and still just getting going. A big part of my interest in the project has to do with turning nonprofits on to the benefits of free software, so I'm really into the idea of Debian NP, and I think making a live CD was a very good call.

Anyway, I just tried out the Debian-NP live CD, and I have a couple small points that I think could make the next version better suited for its purpose:

The first was that I really think the default background art should be replaced with something more conservative. Not because I don't like the graphic, or because I personally think people should have boring Desktop backgrounds--I hate Windows98 green just as much as the next guy. But speaking as someone who's really tried to pitch Linux to skeptical, non-tech-savvy people who run community groups, it's always seemed like the number one challenge is convincing them that linux is not some weird wacky thing that will make their computers even more inscrutable. To that end, I think Debian-NP would be a more effective demonstration if the computer looked a little less weird. A solid, darkish color or a nice gradient would be a lot better, I think. If it were subtly branded with something like "Debian-NP: Linux for nonprofits", then so much the better. But I think the beaker filled with magenta liquid is a bit too trippy for people who are already nervous about changing computers (and may already be leaning towards thinking I'm some hippy idealist :)

The second issue was with the menu in the panel. Having a separate menu for Debian apps is confusing and strange. Things are set up that way too at an LTSP lab we run, and I've seen it confuse people. Most people aren't going to know what Debian is, and to beginners (nearly everyone, when it comes to Linux) it's bad to introduce unnecessary arbitrary terms for things, because it confuses people. Some of those programs shouldn't be in the panel menu at all, and other very useful ones are buried under several layers because they're in the "Debian menu". If we could put all the programs considered useful in a single panel menu that would be a lot less confusing for first-time users.

Thanks everybody, for putting together such a nice tool, and I'm looking forward to being part of this discussion.


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