Monday, November 19, 2007

Clueless Users

GNOME, and GNU/Linux, will forever be a niche desktop/OS until it is substantially better than Windows and OSX. Being free (either as in beer or freedom) is, evidently, not enough.

What is the road to such superiority? History has shown that technical superiority is no guarantee of market superiority. History has shown that marketing can help.

What is marketing? I have been thinking about that a lot lately. Here's a starter for 10:

Marketing can be encapsulated by a pair of principles. They are:

(1) Make good products / give good service / co-create good value; and
(2) Respect your customers (both current and potential)

That is all.

So, kudos to the Evolution team for including a way for customers to give feedback when they are having trouble (Help -> Report a problem). But simply punting that information to community forums or pointing to a FAQ is a waste of incredibly useful information. If someone asks a question with a known or "obvious" answer, you have a UI design problem. And usability is bug number 1 is most software these days.

But developer time is limited. Where should priorities lie? Adding more functionality or making simple things simple? Bling or ease of use? And why do I have to drop to a terminal and go "sudo chown me /dev/raw1394" in order to see video from my handycam? Every time?

Sigh.

In other news, thanks to all the Free software developers for making an OS and Desktop that is, in the main, at least as good as the major non-free alternatives. You guys and girls rock. Hard.

May all sentient beings achieve nirvana,

John.

18 comments:

marnanel said...

I have given some serious thought to the matter over the last few days, and there are two points I think aren't commonly brought up. One of them is perhaps commonly mentioned, but at least for some of us it's a dealbreaker: use of free software is a matter of freedom. In some respects, I prefer the experience of using (say) OS X to GNOME. But I don't care; I would use a Free desktop however badly it sucked, because it's a matter of my own personal freedom. To hear some people talk, you would think that this is a point which makes sense only to programmers and anarchists.

Secondly, a point that I don't think I've ever heard mentioned: we are asking people to change from Windows to a Free operating system. Suppose they make the decision; in practice, this means reformatting or repartitioning their hard disk. This is not only beyond the capabilities of most casual users, but it's also a large step to take for anyone. Some steps have been taken in this direction with Knoppix, the Ubuntu Live CD, and so on, but I think those have always been seen as temporary measures.

What I would like to see is a Free operating system on some sort of bootable medium, perhaps a USB key or a CD, which can be inserted in a Windows system and then executed to bring up, say, bochs, running a Free operating system, so that the user can become comfortable with its use; later, they could boot from that device and it would mount their Windows hard disk and put it on their desktop; nowhere would they have to take a step they couldn't go back on.

Benjamin said...

I am sure you have filed a bug report, right? Because the first thing to do is complain to the people that know how to fix it. :)

I have to say as a maintainer that people often don't file bugs and the only thing I see is a post on some obscure forum about my software not working on their machine. Well, I don't own their machine and I'm not perfect, so it would be nice if they came to me.

Anonymous said...

another pretty horrible example of "linux not ready for the desktop":

https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/86583

yes, it's a corner case but... it could and it should work fine... IMHO.

marnanel said...

Oh, don't give me that "Linux not ready for the desktop" bullshit. Have you ever had to use a Windows system? A Windows box can and often does have mysterious crashes, stuff randomly flaking out, programs not running, mysterious slowdowns, not being able to boot, goodness knows what, and people will just say, "Oh, that's how computers are". If a Free OS has a problem it's, "Oh, Linux isn't ready for the desktop". Nobody ever seems to ask whether Windows is ready for the desktop.

Genchence said...

Every time I read or hear about desktop issues in Free OS I start to wonder why people use exactly the same logic "oh, it's not working", "I don't want to type in the console".
I really think that these people who complain about these "problems" haven't
realized how things work.

Lets say you have a house problem, you can solve it by yourself or persuade
someone to solve it for you. I said persuade, because paying is not the only
choice. For huge amount of things it has become a habit to just pay
to someone to do your job and it's no brainer, but when we talk about "free"
(freedom) software it's unbelievable that you have to pay!

The thing which is valuable here is the time, you can pay money for the time of
someone else to do what you want or spend your time for solving the problem.

The free software is what it is because people made what they want, what they
feel would help them and they that because it's fun and pleasure. It's true that
for that who develop that software GUI issue and end desktop user's problems are
not main priority, if any at all.

You have to understand that in order to get you have to give. That's how all
this have been build.

You have to understand that people who develop Free Software are not some rats
in a basement, they have needs just as you do. They want to have a car, a
peaceful life and family. The sad reality is that YOU DON'T make these things
happen to them, because you don't pay their bills.

Lets face it, I haven't pay any money for the software I have used all these
years and in my country no one pays for the software, no one ever consider
paying, it's become a habit. I haven't chosen GNU/Linux because of it's prize,
the both OS was free to me. I have chosen it, because of the freedom it gives me
and the community behind it.

This is what is worth for me, but maybe it's not for you!


* Because English in not my native this could sound offensive. It's not my
* intention. I just wanted to stress you with another point of view.

Anonymous said...

@marnanel - You may want to consider a vmware image for your enduser intro without reinstalling.

marnanel said...

@anonymous: I did mention bochs to that end. (vmware isn't Free.)

Anonymous said...

VMWare might not be Free, but it is the best. Most solid virtualization, flexible, awesome gui, remote administration features are available and the whole product family scales nearly to infinity. (Administrative tools, rolling out templates, hot-swapping hardware units, .. The support is just the best on VMWare).

Vague philosophies don't make users happy. Good overall polished and finished products that are usable do. That is what also fills the wallet.

marnanel said...

anonymous: I know VMWare is currently the best thing out there. That doesn't mean it makes sense to use nonfree software to spread freedom, at least in my understanding (and you did say "You might want to consider"); see my comments about OS X, above.

Anonymous said...

Dropping to a prompt for a fsck isn't as bad as the hoops I've been forced to jump through on a broken windows boxes, say when a corrupt registry prevents Windows XP from starting.

Neither should happen, but having to run "fsck -y /dev/sda6" is a walk in the park compared to booting off a rescue CD, manually backing up the registry file by file, copying in an empty one from a repair directory, rebooting as administrator, configuring explorer to show hiden files, manually copying uncorrupt registry files from a prior snapshot, rebooting to the recovery console again, copying the recovered registry files again, rebooting again, then using the recovery tool to recover to a savepoint.

Neither should happen, but at least the Linux issue is a simple fix. Why on earth Microsoft didn't add an option to boot to a empty registry for repair is beyond me. Or why the system tool is too stupid to be able to locate restore points without the path stored in the registry.

Anonymous said...

vmware isn't free, but virtualbox is.

Anonymous said...

What is all of this about 'marketing' and so forth? Part of the reason why I love Linux is that, for the moment at least, it is mostly devoid of marketing and the politics that go along with it...

It's not a 'bad' thing that less computer users use Linux - It's only natural since Linux is geared towards the 'experienced' computer user while Windows was always aimed towards the newbie and apathetic user.

I use Linux because it works for me, allows me to play with my system (which not everyone has an interest in doing) and gives me so much choices that sometimes I get a migraine :)

We're not in competition with MS here.. in my view Windows and Linux are two unrelated systems - aimed at completely different types of users and we should leave it at that.

dgdgdf said...

http://www.bootboots.com
http://www.salelouboutin.com
http://www.buylouboutin.com
http://www.bestlouisvuitton.com
http://www.sale-mbt.com
http://www.discount-christianlouboutin.com
Velours Scrunch Boots Miss Clichy 140 boots Robot 120 ankle boots Black Suede/ Leather Lace Up Ankle boots Tina Suede Black Platform Boots Circus Cutout Suede Ankle Boots Deva 120 suede fringed Boots Sigourney Metallc Ankle Boots Miss Dark Brown Miss Suede Black Arielle A Talon ankle Boots Ariella Clou Silver Studded Boots Alta Arielle A Talon Python Short Boots Robot 120 ankle boots Gold babel shoe boots Brown Trottinette 140 ankle boots Brown Trottinette 140 ankle boots Mouse suede Forever Tina boots Purple fringed suede C'est Moi boots Black

dgdgdf said...

C'est Moi boots Pink Charme 100 suede ankle boots Leopard suede boots Christian Louboutin Tuba Tall Boot Fifre Suede Ankle Boot black lace ankle boots Black Lace-Up Boots black fold-over boots black leather knee-high boots peep-toe bootie Christian Louboutin Astraqueen shoe boots platform lace-up bootie Christian Louboutin Suede Black Ankle boots supra fifre 120 thigh-high boots Christian Louboutin Alta Ariella Talon Leopard Boots Christian Louboutin OTK PlatformAfrica grey suede Boot Christian Louboutin Alta Ariella Talon Leopard Ankle Boots Christian Louboutin black leather ankle boots Christian Louboutin dark red leather ankle boots Manolo Blahnik Something Blue Satin Pump Manolo Blahnik Something Black Satin Pump Black patent leather sandals

dgdgdf said...

Black patent leather sandals
Black sandals with Phnom Penh
Dark blue satin pumps
Jimmy Choo Black leather sandals
Jimmy Choo Black patent leather pumps

Jimmy Choo Black patent leather sandals
Jimmy Choo Gold Pumps
Jimmy Choo Pierced black leather sandals
Jimmy Choo Platform Purple Sandals
Jimmy Choo Platform Sandal

Jimmy Choo Platform Thirsty Blue Sandals
Jimmy Choo Platform Yellow Sandals
Jimmy Choo Satin Sandal
Jimmy Choo Snake Sandals
Jimmy Choo White leather Sandals

dgdgdf said...

Black patent leather sandals
Black sandals with Phnom Penh
Dark blue satin pumps
Jimmy Choo Black leather sandals
Jimmy Choo Black patent leather pumps

Jimmy Choo Black patent leather sandals
Jimmy Choo Gold Pumps
Jimmy Choo Pierced black leather sandals
Jimmy Choo Platform Purple Sandals
Jimmy Choo Platform Sandal

Jimmy Choo Platform Thirsty Blue Sandals
Jimmy Choo Platform Yellow Sandals
Jimmy Choo Satin Sandal
Jimmy Choo Snake Sandals
Jimmy Choo White leather Sandals

dgdgdf said...

Silver patent leather high-heeled sandals
cow leather pump with stone emboss light purple cracking leather sandal purple patent leather shoes with black heel Yves Saint Laurent White Pumps Yves Saint Laurent Ankle Strap Sandal Yves Saint Laurent black patent leather Yves Saint Laurent black sheep leather pump Yves Saint Laurent bright grey patent leather Yves Saint Laurent Cage Platform Sandal Yves Saint Laurent grey leopord suede Yves Saint Laurent Grey suede Yves Saint Laurent light gold cracking leather sandal Yves Saint Laurent light red suede pump Yves Saint Laurent red patent leather sandal Yves Saint Laurent red suede

My store said...

Made since the launch of his ASICS GEL-KINSEI 2 campaign by Japan in 2007, marks Onitsuku Tiger trainer has a series of ASICS GEL-Nimbus 9 shoe sculptures created, each of which Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 different aspects of Japanese culture.True to its tradition, Tansu carpentry, sculpture contains a series of boxes and drawers made of wood Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81 carved.