What does the rest of us mean?

Abdullah Ramazanoglu ar018 at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 10 07:55:07 CDT 2005


There are 2 fundamental issues for which I can't find a definite and clear
answer. My approach to Kubuntu is built upon certain assumptions but I need
to make sure that my assumptions are correct. I believe these are also
important for the Kubuntu community as a whole.

1. Who are "the rest of us"? (as in "the Linux distro for the rest of us.")
2. What level of synergy is there between Kubuntu and Ubuntu?

Both are somewhat political/sensitive and highly strategical issues.
However, unless they are addressed properly, it's impossible to set a clear
direction for me, and hence to take further steps efficiently.

"The rest of us" :
I guess anyone who is experienced in Linux enough to form a sophisticated
taste, would have relatively easier time to use any distro. These people
would feel somewhat equally at home with or without Kubuntu. And they can
easily shape Kubuntu to their fine taste, regardless of the original shape
it was shipped in. For the sake of brevity I'll call them as advanced
users. Personally speaking, for servers, I choose my distro (Debian)
myself. But for clients and preferences regarding the desktop, I follow my
users (corporate users as well as personal acquaintances) in lock-step.
Whatever appeals most to them, appeals most to me. Whatever they use, I use
(in order to speak the same language with them). Generalizing this
approach, whatever it takes for the grand masses to adopt Linux, that
appeals to me. This is precisely why I'm interested in KDE and Kubuntu.
Kubuntu has the promise of being the ultimate KDE based end-user oriented
distro (my users' preference) with Debian base and philosophy (my own
preference). As an added benefit, Kubuntu-client and Debian-server in a
corporate environment make for a perfect match, a duo seamlessly
complementing each other.

In short, I've been looking for a Debian flavor that will really conquer the
hearts of the grand masses, that will propel Linux to them, that will
expand Linux on the desktop with an unprecedented speed, and Kubuntu has
the promise of perfectly fitting this. The question is: Is Kubuntu also
heading for this goal?

In http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=21666 I had made the opening
with, "I've observed and become concerned that when it comes to what
packages to include in the CD, many of us usually can't resist the
temptation and tend to wish for a personally pleasing distro, rather than a
distro for the world at large." However, I've come to think that there is a
more serious issue than just the package selection.

Sorry for the lack of diplomacy, but I need to put it clearly and bluntly: I
have a growing concern with certain initiatives in the Ubuntu community
getting more and more vocal. There is a ServerTeam wiki page, there are
packages irrelevant for desktop in the base seed as well as ubuntu/kubuntu
desktops, there are so called unofficial ports to archs essentially unused
on the desktop, there is a mention of server and developer apps on the main
ubuntulinux.org and kubuntu.org pages, there are shipped yet uninstalled
packages on the CD... These are just a few examples. It's natural that
Ubuntu is being cooked by the technically oriented. The point is, Ubuntu
seems to be shaping increasingly *for* them. While the main body of Ubuntu
claims and tries hard to be an end-user (albeit rather advanced end user)
oriented desktop distro, there also seems to be an effort to please
everyone, resulting in mild interest conflicts, chaos, and personality
crisis. Their current stance seems to be more compatible with winning the
established Linux user base than winning the world at large (also including
the Linux user base). I think Ubuntu needs a sharper and exclusive focus on
the casual, not advanced, desktop user. The problem is that Kubuntu is
naturally inheriting these Ubuntu issues.

There are similar motivations I see occasionally in the Kubuntu community
too. Such as proposing for a KDE solution where it fits as well as where it
doesn't (IOW promoting an all-KDE strategy adoption even where it means
jeopardizing Linux adoption), or some themes or defaults cool for the
techie, but confusing for the clueless, or similar proposals irrelevant (if
not confusing) for the grand masses, etc.

I want to re-propose the items mentioned in the link above, plus I want to
propose a more modular, smaller base seed (so that it's flavor friendly),
more modular packaging (so that they're desktop agnostic), propose some
ways to handle defaults, propose slightly mixing KDE + Gnome + non-free for
the best possible user experience, excluding server and developer class
apps from the CD, propose dropping PPC arch from official to unofficial
status, etc. etc. (each not without the rationale behind it). But how can I
do that without a mutual consensus regarding what, exactly, Kubuntu is? I
could easily conflict with a lot of people and it could turn into a
contentment match of various people with differing priorities. So let's
clarify our position first.

So let me ask; exactly for whom is Kubuntu? "Everyone" (= good for no one,
really) is a vague answer. It includes the geek, the enterprise, the fan,
the moms... well, everyone. I guess a distro for "everyone" in this sense
has a rather low chance of success among the grand masses. So let me narrow
the question further: Is Kubuntu exactly for the grand masses, the skill
and interest scope of more than half a billion individual and corporate
desktop end-users out there? Is it definitely for desktop/laptop? Is the
clueless given higher priority than the experienced? Is it taken for
granted that all defaults should be specifically engineered and fine tuned
for the clueless? Surely there's no problem at all with anything regarding
special interests (e.g. servers, dev, etc) where it doesn't clash with the
primary goals. But when something cool for the techie clashes with the
interests (be it minor) of the grand masses, what is the stance of Kubuntu?
When it comes to target user base Kubuntu focuses on, in which terms are we
talking? Ten thousands, millions, hundred millions?

Is Kubuntu definitely for the world at large, the grand masses out there, or
is it not?

This is a highly critical and strategical question to answer (at least for
me) in definitive, concrete terms for once and good. Otherwise there is no
clear direction to advance. A lot of issues are dangling in the air needing
a clear direction before being addressed appropriately. And the answer, I
believe, is the bedrock Kubuntu will get built upon.

I guess I've already stepped on toes of enough people (sorry) without the
Ubuntu/Kubuntu synergy question, so I'd rather save that for a later
post. :) BTW I would like to express that I'm not insisting on how Kubuntu
should be defined, though I've already explained my sole interest in
Kubuntu. I just want to know. And most probably I'm going to switch my
users (and myself) to Kubuntu, as-is or with modifications, anyway. Though,
my users are of iota importance compared to the world at large, and their
adoption of Linux.

Best regards

Abdullah Ramazanoglu
aramazan ÄT myrealbox D0T cöm

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