SLUG Mailing List Archives
Re: [SLUG] Linux news on slashdot
- To: slug@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: [SLUG] Linux news on slashdot
- From: Jeff Waugh <jdub@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu Nov 30 14:59:15 2000
- User-agent: Mutt/1.2.5i
<quote who="Dean Hamstead">
> But Im worried when people say "linux must become more simple" "linux must
> be easier to use" if it wants to get on the desktop, as if being on the
> desktop is a conquest.
These are red herrings. "Simple" and "easier to use" are incalculable
metrics, as every person is different, and every task requires a different
Familiarity is the key to using a tool effectively, and following from that,
the Rule of Least Surprise is the key to familiarity.
Earlier versions of the MacOS (pre-MacOS branding days, when it was simply
known as "System") were incredibly strong in this regard - similar tasks
were dealt with in similar ways. If you'd never performed a given task
before, you could pretty much guess how to do it from past experience.
(Recent MacOS is showing compound featuritis, much like Windows - the fact
that many Mac users wish they had a second mouse button is proof enough that
the design ethic hasn't continued as strongly into versions 6, 7, and 8.)
The Palm OS also follows least surprise - and it's by no means simple. You
can perform some fairly complex operations across multiple 'applications'
(that is such a misnomer, and a bit of a red herring itself in this case,
but I'll continue with the term for the moment) very easily. The Find tool
is a great example of this in action... It *always* works the same way.
Least surprise is tough in X, where the geeks in next cubicle may run a
different window manager, or even the same as yours, but with fundamental
interface options set differently. The way I use Sawfish is very different
to the default configuration, and my mutt keybindings are *far, far, far*
from the default, enough to make others dizzy.
Least surprise is tough when it comes to package management. I found that
out in the last few days as I used a different OS to the one I'm used to.
Not only were there many different packages of the same software, provided
by different sources, but they all installed differently. Plus, even
packages from the same source put configuration files in wildly different
places, documentation in different places... For each piece of software I
had to relearn some really simple fundamental stuff to get them going
("Where can I find the configuration file for blah?" "Where can I find the
changelog for blurpleschplert?")
This doesn't say "operating system" to me, it says "haphazard grouping of
software". Least surprise would go a long way to improving usability in this
regard. I'm coming to a point where I can't recommend the "most used" Linux
distribution to newbies - it's too damned hard, even if there are a lot of
people around to help.
Linux is a great kernel, we have a lot of kickarse software to go with it,
and there's so many great people involved in doing all of this... We just
need an operating system to tie all these pieces together.
-- jdub@xxxxxxxxxxx ------------------------------- http://linux.conf.au/ --
It's depressing to see such useful code wasted on such a useless