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Thread: Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

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  1. #1
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    Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

    Now, I recently dug out an old 500MHz pII computer that I had lying around, and installed Ubuntu on it for my parents. I must admit that the initial setup with Gnome was a bit too slow for this old computer, but after installing XFCE and tweaking it a bit, I believe the old thing might shine once again!

    My parents don't have much experience with computers.. their knowledge goes about as far as playing solitaire and checking Gmail on WinXP. I wanted to make the switch to Ubuntu as simple as possible for them.. so I made the desktop look similar to the traditional XP (one taskbar at the bottom, a few desktop icons) and I copied the classic windows version of solitaire to run under wine. My mother absolutely hates the AisleRiot Solitaire that's bundled with Ubuntu. But so far they've been fine with the setup, and the computer has been running smoothly.

    In the bigger picture of all this, how do we go about switching the typical PC user from windows... when all they really care about is playing their solitaire and checking their email? Most of the time these users don't want to have to learn anything knew, or for that matter even have TWO panels on their screen. How do you go about breaking that stale model from windows, without scaring away the user from Linux? AND, how do you best introduce the concept of packages, and a central package manager? People tend to just want to double-click on any downloaded .exe file and expect it to "just work," whether it's actually beneficial or just some spyware crap. "Good things come in small PACKAGES," perhaps?

    Just a thought and discussion provoker.... I know I'd like to share experiences with such cases so that I can easily switch people to Ubuntu in the future.

    Let me know what you guys think.


    UPDATE: I've been keeping up with this thread and all the great ideas that we've come up with. Here are some lists:


    Issues for the typical user:

    • Driver availability and support: Certain device drivers, mostly for obscure and 3D video hardware, are hard to find, if they exist, and are just as difficult to install.
    • Improve the native card games. The average convert from Windows wants to play “pretty” versions of Solitaire and Spider Solitaire.
    • People use Windows because that’s what they’re used to, and it probably came pre-installed on their machine. Until a significant dealbreaker comes along, they’ll remain satisfied.
    • Lack of application support: there are replacements for many commercial Windows applications in Linux, but most of them are not as good, not user-friendly, lacking in features, and not designed for Joe User. Others just don’t have native replacements (i.e. Tax software)
    • Proprietary applications: People pay money for Windows, anti-virus software, and tax software, so it goes without saying that they will pay money for applications on Linux. Availability of proprietary applications does not corrupt the philosophy of Linux, it simply provides certain users with a way to get what they really want from their system. It’s not fair to tell them they cannot have these things.
    • The last thing a home user wants to do is learn an entirely new operating system, that is, unless they are fed up with their current OS.
    • Upgrading software: new users have difficulty understanding the packaging system and software repositories.



    Other obstacles:
    • Hardware vendors have a financial advantage in supporting Windows.
    • Pre-installation of Windows operating systems prevents most people from seeking alternatives. “Hey, I’ve already paid for Windows, I may as well go ahead and use it.”
    • Linux has too small a market share and too fast an update cycle to attract and keep major software vendors.. not to mention the division between Gnome and KDE desktop environments.
    • There are many things you can do with the GUI that users just don’t know about.
    • Command-line: Get rid of the console. Most users should not have to deal with the command-line to install anything. And this includes telling new users how to do things in the GUI, instead of the command-line (i.e. Use synaptic or Add/Remove Programs to install new software).


    On spreading the word (“Soldiers of the Open Source Movement”):
    • Continue to spread the word that there are alternatives to Windows. Host install-fests, distribute Live-CDs, and show new users how great the community really is.
    • Linux works great on current, existing, and outdated hardware. Vista requires cutting-edge upgrades.
    • The desktop structure between Windows and Ubuntu (both Gnome and KDE) is basically the same.
    • ScreenCasts: This concept will definitely help new users. People watch TV more than they read. If they can watch how to do something then it will be easier for them to implement themselves.


    We’re making progress:
    • Dell, already, is selling almost all their small-business hardware with FreeDos installed instead of Windows.
    • You can, occasionally, get money back on your Windows license if you never intend to use it.
    • Linux desktop vendors like System76, though still a minority, are becoming profitable.
    • Linux on the desktop is gaining momentum every day. We just have to keep up the good work.


    Keep 'em coming... and if I've missed anything, let me know!
    Last edited by comfurtn; February 16th, 2007 at 03:34 AM. Reason: summarized ideas.

  2. #2
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    Re: Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

    I agree with your mum on the native card games, they are ugly (but I don't know nothing about programming, so my mouth is kept tight shut )

    As for exe:
    The reason why linux does not suffer from spyware, trojans and viruses or keyloggers is because any "foreign" piece of code does not have the right to execute itself. Simple (I think this is correct, anyway).

    I'm sure you could tweak it so everything would have executable rights, but not on my machine, thank you very much

    Once people have understood that principle, they should understand and admire the rest.
    repartitioning your installation / forever noob / Desktop on Debian Lenny / IBM T41 purring along on bog Kubuntu

  3. #3
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    Re: Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

    All that comfurtn is really saying is how do we make it so that peple don't use windows yet they can still think that it is windows. make ubuntu look and act like windows.
    Borris
    __________________________________________________ __

    "If at first it doesn't work... install, install, install again."

  4. #4
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    Re: Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by borris.morris View Post
    All that comfurtn is really saying is how do we make it so that peple don't use windows yet they can still think that it is windows. make ubuntu look and act like windows.
    Which is exactly the wrong approach.

    If you make Ubuntu act like windows, then it will begin to suffer the same flaws as windows does. If your goal is to emulate something, then you can be no better than that which you are emulating.

    Right now, Ubuntu IS better than Windows in most respects: It is more secure, it is more free, the community is more helpful, and it is faster (generally).

    The only thing that Linux doesn't have going for it is application support. Even though there are replacements for a lot of commercial windows apps on Linux, a lot of them aren't as good. A lot of them aren't as easy to use, a lot of them don't have the same features, and a lot of them are not designed with Joe User in mind. For some areas, the utilities do not exist (Tax software, for example).

    We cannot force people to switch. People use Windows because that is what they're used to, and until Windows includes a dealbreaker for a lot of these people, they won't look elsewhere.

    The majority of people out there have heard of Linux, and know some extremely basic things about it, so much that if those dealbreakers were included, they would look at Linux more carefully. If we just let Microsoft keep screwing up their own software, the converts will come, and with the converts will come the apps that these people need.

    "But Zuph!" you cry, "This will be the end of Freedom on the Linux platform!" Quit whining. The platform itself will remain open. The fact that you'll be able to get proprietary apps on Linux is not a bad thing. It doesn't corrupt the philosophy of Linux, it just makes the people that are pissed off because Ubuntu is able to use non-Free (speech) repositories. Be realistic here.

    The only thing that we can do as proud soldiers of the Open Source movement is to keep getting the word out there that there is an alternative. We can host install-fests, hand out CDs, and show how welcoming this community of computer users can be. You cannot force someone to be a convert. You can only convert the willing. As long as the word is out there, people will have their faith in Microsoft shaken, and come looking for us.

  5. #5
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    Re: Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

    i didn't mean it that way. i meant make it easier for the joe scmoe to use. make it look like windows and as much support as windows. am i right this time? make it easier for the average user. oh and i saw an article in "Popular Science" about how easy Ubuntu is to install.
    Borris
    __________________________________________________ __

    "If at first it doesn't work... install, install, install again."

  6. #6
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    Re: Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by borris.morris View Post
    All that comfurtn is really saying is how do we make it so that peple don't use windows yet they can still think that it is windows. make ubuntu look and act like windows.

    Not quite... if I convince someone to switch to Linux, I don't want them thinking that it's still windows.. what I was hitting at is how do we make windows users feel comfortable enough with the ubuntu desktop to keep them from getting frustrated and screaming "SCREW THIS, GIVE ME WINDOWS BACK!!." ... which is not something I like to see happen, simply because we have a great support community that many people don't give a chance to help them..
    [ Ubuntu user # 11667 . Linux user # 382989 . ]

  7. #7
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    Re: Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

    I think the question is, how do we help new users/converts to use and not be afraid of linux, without it having to look/act like windows?

    How do we show people that our way is better?
    It's time for more... experiments.

  8. #8
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    Re: Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

    show them how ubuntu could ride circles around windows. metaphorically speaking of course.
    Borris
    __________________________________________________ __

    "If at first it doesn't work... install, install, install again."

  9. #9
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    Re: Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

    I've been struggling with the idea of switching PC users for awhile now and don't have an easy answer. I see a number of significant roadblocks.

    1. Driver availability & installation difficulty in Linux is too much for most users.
    2. User knowledge & patience with anything technical is less now than pre-Y2K.
    3. Hardware vendors have a financial advantage in supporting Windows.
    4. Pre-installation of Windows keeps most people from trying/using alternatives.
    5. Killer applications tie many to Windows...gaming, tax software, etc.

    The last three are significant. Dell & HP pay less than $45 for Vista which is perceived to be worth over twice that amount and costs that much for individuals or small vendors. Linux is free [as in beer] so it is not valued by non-users. Plus, Vista all but requires a major upgrade or a new PC to run. Those are powerful reasons hardware vendors don't install free Linux.

    Linux remains too fragmented with too small a market share and too fast an update cycle to attract and keep major software vendors. Apple can hardly get major software support anymore, not even from Microsoft.

    Finally, I see a significant burnout in the users I support since Y2K. Most people feel overwhelmed by or fed up with technology. The last thing they want to do is to learn a new OS or even the one they struggle with now. Ironically, this would help slow the transition to Vista if it wasn't pre-installed.

    I'm not sure there is much we can do to overcome these issues. Try to make Linux better. Spread the word. Demo and document what Linux can do and HowTo do it yourself. Welcome and support the people who make the effort to learn enough about Linux to install and use it successfully. Pray for continued financial and technical support from benefactors, developers and hardware makers.
    Last edited by FLPCGuy; February 11th, 2007 at 12:26 AM.
    su d'oh!_____
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  10. #10
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    Re: Making Ubuntu a Feasible Reality

    Quote Originally Posted by FLPCGuy View Post
    I've been struggling with the idea of switching PC users for awhile now and don't have an easy answer. I see a number of significant roadblocks.

    1. Driver availability & installation difficulty in Linux is too much for most users.
    2. User knowledge & patience with anything technical is less now than pre-Y2K.
    3. Hardware vendors have a financial advantage in supporting Windows.
    4. Pre-installation of Windows keeps most people from trying/using alternatives.
    5. Killer applications tie many to Windows...gaming, tax software, etc.

    The last three are significant. Dell & HP pay less than $45 for Vista which is perceived to be worth over twice that amount and costs that much for individuals or small vendors. Linux is free [as in beer] so it is not valued by non-users. Plus, Vista all but requires a major upgrade or a new PC to run. Those are powerful reasons hardware vendors don't install free Linux.

    Linux remains too fragmented with too small a market share and too fast an update cycle to attract and keep major software vendors. Apple can hardly get major software support anymore, not even from Microsoft.

    Finally, I see a significant burnout in the users I support since Y2K. Most people feel overwhelmed by or fed up with technology. The last thing they want to do is to learn a new OS or even the one they struggle with now. Ironically, this would help slow the transition to Vista if it wasn't pre-installed.

    I'm not sure there is much we can do to overcome these issues. Try to make Linux better. Spread the word. Demo and document what Linux can do and HowTo do it yourself. Welcome and support the people who make the effort to learn enough about Linux to install and use it successfully. Pray for continued financial and technical support from benefactors, developers and hardware makers.
    Any more, driver support in Linux, save for a few old and obscure devices, is pretty damn good. With the exception of some 3D cards, and, as I said, obscure devices, driver support is not an issue for Joe Desktop User. User knowledge and patience is less and issue now than ever before. Even with Gnome, and especially with KDE, just sitting down at a Linux machine for Joe Windows is no different than sitting down at a Windows PC that isn't his own: All the applications are there, and they're named pretty intuitively, you just have to learn where they are. The difficulty comes to Joe User when he wants to install, upgrade or add functionality. I'll get to that soon. The last three are the big issues today, and they're the only ones truly left to be overcome, and we're getting closer everday. Dell, already, is selling almost all their small-business hardware with FreeDos installed instead of Windows, and you can, occasionally, get your Windows license money back if you never intend to use it. For once, Linux desktop vendors like System76, though still a minority, are becoming profitable. Linux on the desktop is gaining momentum every day. We just have to keep up the good work.

    We're going to hit a wall, soon, though. We're going to run out of "Power Users" to convert, and then advancement will be reduced to a trickle. At that point, what do we do? We've already gotten rid of dependency hell and hardware issues for the most part. What's left?

    Here is the sure-fire way to make Linux something every desktop user can use:

    Get rid of the console. Get rid of it. A user should not have to TOUCH the command-line to install anything, Drivers, Programs, anything. When the day comes that I can so something as complex as downloading the source-code for a program, and compile and install it myself, Linux will be truly ready for the dumb masses.

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