Ubuntu is under attack (longish)

Tristan Wibberley maihem at maihem.org
Mon Dec 19 20:26:10 GMT 2005

Eric Dunbar wrote:
> On 12/18/05, Peter Garrett <peter.garrett at optusnet.com.au> wrote:

>>1. Perhaps people are discussing different things: -  thus
>>    A) One group of opinions might be (rather crudely) summarised as
>>   "My machine and desktop work just fine without mailx and postfix, so
>>it's a non-issue for me"  (valid for that user)
>>    B) Another group might be (equally crudely) summarised as
>>   "This functionality is part of of what makes Linux/Unix what it is, and
>>should be kept"   (very debatable - which is not to say unimportant,
>>right or wrong - just capable of much debate on different sides)
>>    C) A third group might be summarised as something like
>>   "By removing this functionality we are removing a crucial
>>diagnostic/security/administrative tool which should be there by default"
> I would like to add D:
> D) "Ubuntu needs to accomodate the needs of its users within the
> stated goal of providing the simplicity of a one CD installation. If
> the plurality of its users use package X and the plurality of users do
> not use package Y, then package Y can safely be removed from the
> distro to make room for package X.

I think that's wrong. You shouldn't wait for Mom and Pop to realise that
package X would be handy because they don't even know that package X
exists and they probably didn't know that the computer could even *do*
what package X does.

You should come up with lists of features you could provide and see what
the users would like to have, then include the necessary packages and
configuration script.

I'd like to add E:

E) By removing this package you are removing a handy feature that most
users don't realise is there or could even be done because it isn't
configured in a way that is suitable for them. Instead, configure it
especially for them right from the off.

> This point of view eliminates the sticky business of value judgements,
> and, I suspect that that is precisely what we'll be seeing more and
> more of as Linux, and, especially Ubuntu matures.

Value is all that matters, there are remarkably few sheep in the
domestic world, and fewer still in the business world - people use what
they see as having more value than the alternatives. If you just gave
them the tools to do the things they were doing yesterday then, unless
they have the necessary vision and understanding of the capabilities of
IT, they will be relegated to continuing to do only that for the future
since they won't be given new features - after all "Nobody uses that
feature - the one they are not provided with".

> Ubuntu has shown that less is more.

I'd say that Ubuntu has shown that targetted features and
discoverability is more. Don't bombard people with stuff, but make it
easy to find it, and give them a selection of features that they can use
and find useful right away. Especially give them things they never
thought was possible, like "I can make my own acrobat files just by
pressing a button?!" which is a real example from trying Ubuntu on a
"really" computer illiterate user who knew that he wanted acrobat files
for sending an invoice because they looked professional. Most people
never print to PDF because they didn't know it could be done on a home
PC, and that is no argument for removing print to PDF functionality.

I *would* get rid things like gnome-top and cpu/network monitoring
applets from the CD (I don't know if those are on there), I would also
get rid of half the desktop preferences and just give them a couple of
"profiles" in the system menu for accessibility themes vs standard. And
put an "Advanced Desktop Configuration Menu" in the "Add Applications"
list to make it easy to get the Preferences menu.

Overall, I would summarise my feeling on this as "Novice users don't
know what they want out of their computers, so *show* them what they can
have instead of waiting 10 years for them to become advanced users."

Tristan Wibberley

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