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Review of www.debian.org

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here's another still-idealistic-not-yet-developer.. :)

In the trend of trying to conquer the desktop, I have reviewed
www.debian.org. First off, I think Debian's website is professional
and complete. No doubt about that. But we can make it look much better!
I'm afraid that starting users will value Debian by its spartan web
design. A bit more ease of use and structure would definitely help!

God, I sound like some marketing dumbass. Of course nobody wants a
flashy overbloated website. (mandrake.com is UGLY, xandros.com looks
nice but has very little information.. What I would like to see is
something like Gentoo..)
On to some suggestions:

- - Real news.
  The 'News' part is too static. Why ignore sites like DebianPlanet?
  It is obvious that even stealing its headlines as links would be
  great. Even Slackware has up-to-date information on its frontpage.

- - Fast hands-on guides for beginners.
  For newbies, the site is too evasive. There should be something
  to start right off, something easy but clear. A new user should
  learn that half of the documentation on www.debian.org will be
  in /usr/share/doc later, and have an easy help function for that.
  Debian's installation manual is good. It should only be a little more
  accessible - now I've got to click through thrice.
  Note that Gentoo has a screenshots section, for additional coolness
  factor. :)

- - Better corporate information.
  The partners-page is the only commercial one. LinuxToday *does*
  already have all the success-stories of Debian being used in
  big clusters and in the enterprise. Sounds easy to collect a few.
  Don't make it corporate like RedHat (yuck). But currently we *don't*
  show what we *do* have.

- - More attention to living entities: the developers.
  There are already lots of useful people.debian.org pages, wiki's and
  subprojects, but their existence is drowning in all the other
  information. All that people hear of DeMuDi is through Slashdot
  articles! Such a shame!
  Same for IRC - it's existence is kludged away somewhere down Support.
  That is where Debian is *living*! People need to know that the apt bot
  is there to inform you about the newest unstable fixes. Why keep that

- - Gentoo's documentation just reads prettier.
  In addition to all the HOWTO's, guides and FAQs, Gentoo ripped a lot of
  nice web-documentation, like IBM developerWorks' vi/awk/sed/.. tutorials,
  that I did already have in my bookmarks. Why not Debian?
  The use of background colour in these fast tutorials makes learning
  new things look fun. Go have a look for yourself at
  http://www.gentoo.org/index-docs.html - it would be great to have this
  stylesheet in normal HOWTOs...
  (Ok, ok, and I admit that I just like Arial better than Times. ;))

- - Add this to the 'unstable' part of http://www.debian.org/releases/:
  "sid additionally stands for 'still in development'. Sid will never
   be an official release."
- - Somewhere in http://www.debian.org/intro/about, please mention that
  'Debian is not a company.' That is what makes us different from a
  lot of distributions. (Not sure about BSD and Gentoo, but ok.)
- - http://www.debian.org/intro/why_debian
  Aaaagh.. my toes itch to rewrite this. Not a word on all the 11
  architectures, the fact that Debian stable is really the most
  stable (feature-anal) and best-supported (backports for stable)
  Linux *anywhere*.. Furthermore, Debian seems to me the best platform
  for development - if something doesn't compile on Debian stable,
  it really can't be the mistake of some half-released GCC and it
  probably won't work anywhere else either.
  Even those 'incredible amounts of software' - why not just SAY that
  Debian has the biggest collection? Even the 7CD/1DVD-set with SuSE 8.1
  had less software afaik..  We can be a lot more proud! Why aren't we?

- - http://www.nl.debian.org/doc/ is not updated.
- - Is this already merged or linked somewhere?
  Dale Scheetz' Guide To Debian GNU/Linux:
  Tarzeau's #debian (opn) FAQ
- - I learned Debian myself somewhere in 1998 using
  http://panic.et.tudelft.nl/debian/handleiding/ - but it seems
  not ready for merging into other FAQs yet..
- - Got this one from debian-devel for the banners/buttons section:

- - Finally - I already read in the debian-www archive that there were
  problems - cookies *were invented* for things like language selection.
  This feature will take webserver cycles, but it would make navigating
  a lot easier for non-English people. Really.

I have only just discovered http://www.debian.org/devel/website/todo#misc,
some of my comments might be dupes.

I am wanting to help on this, but I feel I should code - I hope that
some other people can pick this up easier. Otherwise I'm available, if
I have the time.

Keep me cc'ed, I'm not subscribed to this list.

Pieter-Paul Spiertz

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