Our best foot forward

Patrick optomatic at rogers.com
Tue Nov 20 00:50:20 UTC 2007

-Ubuntu documentation is so much better then it used to be, I don't 
think it is lacking in terms of the casual user.
-I am not having trouble searching for documentation.
-These usability tests are nice but not quite applicable to the concerns 
I have.

I have been writing to this list because I want to help. The last think 
I want to do is hurt anyones feeling or discourage anyone but I have 
some constructive criticism.

I love Ubuntu and I can use it quite well now but here again are some 
experiences and thoughts.

I had a lot of trouble configuring services in the past, in particular 
my first one vsftpd, was hard as it was my first manual edit of a 
configuration file. I can now edit all kinds of these files. It's easy 
once you do one, an 8 year old could do this.

The problem is it's not obvious to the first time user. I could carry 
out usability studies with friends and family but really I don't think 
anyone is ready to set up an nfs, ftp or samba server in the first 10-20 
hours. A usability study beyond a few hours is not practical for family 
and friends.

Here is the thing and I don't mean to be rude but what is it that Ubuntu 
is expected to be used for. Emailing and surfing the net? writing text 
documents? If this is all someone wants why would they take the time to 
learn Ubuntu. Learning a new OS is really time consuming.

We are not just competing with Vista but with every Windows version from 
let's say Windows 98 onwards. Ubuntu is free but if someone wants to set 
up a new computer then they are very likely to be able to get a hold of 
an old Windows version, legal or not for free too.

With Windows 98 you could still set up thunderbird, firefox, gimp, 
blender, open office, etc etc. Why bother with Ubuntu if you just want 
some basic stuff. You will likely have family members who can help you 
with Windows problems, you probably have experience with it somewhere 
else and you are less likely to run into hardware problems and filetype 
problems like flash. When the world of the online desktop arrives these 
programs will become even more irrelevant.

If this is the market we are chasing then this is a big problem. The 
thing is Ubuntu is so much more then a way to surf the net and answer 
emails. Comparing Windows to Ubuntu is like comparing a glossy pamphlet 
to an encyclopedia with the front cover torn off. Ubuntu has content but 
it is not easy to find. There is enormous power in it. Ubuntu has saved 
my business lots of money and opened up all kinds of doors for me. It is 
perfect for business.

We should be putting forth what Ubuntu can do that Windows cannot. It is 
the ability to set up so many services and customize so many things that 
makes it amazing. Most of this still needs to be done at the terminal 
though. People need to be able to use it's rich set of features without 
so much suffering.

All of my suggestions seem to be rebuffed and the general feedback I am 
getting is that everything is already the way it needs to be. When I 
said useability studies what I should have said was useability studies 
for system administrators and power users, not Moms, Dads and Sisters 
who want to surf the web and write emails.

Command power and "customizability" is our best foot, it is not being 
put forward.

My writings don't seem to be of any help, I have a patent in the works, 
if things work out I will contribute financially instead-patrick

Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
> On Nov 20, 2007, at 2:19 AM, Patrick wrote:
>> ...
>> It would be much better if the "configure" option would take care of
>> this and perhaps the "help and support" area search results provided
>> specific links to useful Ubuntu specific online information.
>> I am disappointed that my efforts have come to nothing.
>> ...
> If Ubuntu-specific help is lacking, you can get involved with the 
> Ubuntu Documentation Team in writing it. <http://doc.ubuntu.com/>
> If the help is present but is not being found in a search, please 
> report that as a bug. <https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/yelp/+bugs>
>> I would recommend more useablility studies to determine whether the
>> present set up is actually being found and utilized.
>> ...
> That's another way you can help: carry out user testing.
> <https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UsabilityTesting>
> Cheers

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