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Re: When Will GNU/Linux Be Ready for Joe User?

From: Klaus von der Heyde
Subject: Re: When Will GNU/Linux Be Ready for Joe User?
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 09:02:10 +0200
User-agent: KNode/0.6.1

Circuit Breaker wrote:

> It already is ready.  The average joe just needs to learn how to think
> instead of expecting to have someone hold his hand the whole way through.

Some critics say, the computer/software has to adapt to the user,
not the user to the computer/software. A variant of this is, that
users should not be forced to "think like a computer".
Imho, there are many things that can only be done with a computer,
so the user does not have expectations how things should be done.
Sometimes, a metaphor limits the advantages of a computer over
other devices, or makes the advantages less obvious - and all
functions should be easily available to the user, that is what I
call user friendly.

> My God, what is so hard to understand about "mail
> server login name" that you have to explain to these idiots that "this is
> the part to the left of the at (@) sign"?

The login name is not always identical to the mail address.
In fact, I think it is rather confusing when you read this in a
setup dialog or help file, but know it is not the same on your
What would probably help is consistent naming, both in the
information from the ISP and in every mail application. Even I am,
as a more experienced user, sometimes in doubt where to put the
mail address and the login name for the mail server in certain

>  For me, I actually am more disturbed to use a wizard than to use the
> configuration window.

One thing I think is somewhat user un-friendly is, that when you have
to change some setting at first entered via a setup wizard, you are
presented a "standard" settings dialog very different from the wizard.
If one would have used this dialog in the first place, it would
already be familiar and the option needed could be found more easily.

> reason I ditched Mandrake.  It got boring.  It wasn't screwing up.

It is different with me. I like operating systems not screwing up.
And I do not get bored, as I have so many ideas for programmes that
I would like to implement, there is work for years to come...
There are many things to try, while the base system stays the same
for many years, and allows me to do the things I like without
bothering with operating system issues.

> Is Linux ready for A.J.?  You tell me.  I've been typin for an hour and
> it's bedtime.

I don't think there is "the" average user.
The big Linux distributions come with so much software that many
use cases are covered quite well. But others are not.

One thing one has to think about, too, is security. Unfortunately,
some distributions (and applications) do not rate well here. And
that is a bad thing with users new to the system, especially if
the issue is neglected in the documentation (for which I recommend
new users to buy a distribution package or at least some introductory
book, instead of just installing GNU/Linux from the net).


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