Our best foot forward

Neal McBurnett neal at bcn.boulder.co.us
Wed Nov 21 03:31:20 UTC 2007

Patrick I've pulled some ideas of yours I like from two separate

On Mon, Nov 15, 2007 at 20:30:20PM, Patrick wrote:
> I think these are "configuration centric":
> 3)Question=I want to configure my NFS server
> Answer= manually edit configuration file or use dpkg-reconfigure -plow
> to launch configuration script.
> 4)Question=Why can't Totem play WMV files?
> Answer= for legal reasons we can't install the codecs by default. You
> will need to install them manually elsewhere.

> Synaptic can answer all the "package centric" questions but I don't
> see an easy solution for the new user for the configuration centric"
> questions. Having the dpkg-reconfigure option built into Synaptic
> would help a lot but it would not solve question #4.  A utility to
> provide answers and helper scripts for configuration issues ad FAQs
> might be helpful. Somewhere facts such as Totem does not come with
> such and such codecs need to be expressed. There should be someplace
> simple for all of this to happen. It should not happen in the man
> pages and it would be nice if people did not have to search on the
> net for this information. I don't really know what to call it but
> perhaps a Q & A / interactive tutorial utility could provide quick
> guidance to new users. It could help them through these topics
> quickly and we could put our best foot forward.

On Mon, Nov 19, 2007 at 07:50:20PM -0500, Patrick wrote:

> 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.
> 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.

The server team is working on a graphical configuration option for
hardy that I think will go a significant way towards addressing a
number of these issues for many users.  It involves packaging and
enhancing the "ebox" web configuration utility so people can configure
their systems with a nice graphical environment over the web.  They
can do it either from a local browser or from another machine.


It uses the web because we shouldn't require servers to have the huge
set of (potentially dangerous) packages that are needed for X11 and
Gnome or KDE.

Neal McBurnett                 http://mcburnett.org/neal/

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