about empathy as the default IM application

Andrew Sayers andrew-ubuntu-devel at pileofstuff.org
Wed Jun 17 19:00:00 UTC 2009

Hi Dan,

About halfway through this reply, a compromise occurred to me: get 
migration-assistant to install Pidgin if it's detected.  If that works, 
it would get rid of many of the issues I've been complaining about, at 
least for migraters that plan to dual boot.  This post covers some 
underlying issues, as well as problems that might still apply to people 
that (e.g.) get Ubuntu with a new PC.

I'll send another reply to discuss the migration-assistant approach, so 
please hold off until then :)

dan wrote:
> I think we're missing some context.  At least I was.  Correct me if I'm 
> wrong, but what you're trying to say is:
> When migrating users from Windows to Ubuntu, you start by migrating them 
> to existing cross platform applications, like Pidgin.  If Pidgin is 
> removed as the default IM application, further training will be needed 
> for the new Ubuntu users.

That's almost what I'm saying, but misses a few crucial points:

On your first day in Linux, you're bombarded by new things.  How do I 
copy+paste?  Why doesn't <weird hardware issue> work?  Where's my C: 
drive?  What's the equivalent of all the programs I forgot about, but 
now realise I use all the time?  And so on.

IM is one of the programs people use on their first day, and it's one of 
the programs that needs to work before you can get help from a friend 
without paying a phone bill.

So my first point is not just that migraters will need extra training, 
but that they will need to work this out on their own, at a time when 
they're completely overloaded, and liable to fall back on old habits. 
"Old habits" usually means typing the name of a program into Google, 
then clicking the first link they see, or following the first set of 
instructions they can find.  When I've been the friend that migraters 
contact, this has always ended badly.

My second point is that changing in Karmic, rather than (for example) 
making a big fanfare about how we'll change after the next LTS, would be 
unfair on people who have taken the time to plan for this during the 
past year or two.

>                                                   ...  I think the 
> difficulty for you is that in Ubuntu we're looking for the best *Ubuntu* 
> experience, not necessarily the best migration experience.  It would be 
> nice if those two interests were 100% aligned, but sadly they are not, 
> in this specific case.

I agree with this, up to a point.  Unless you're planning to forcibly 
uninstall Pidgin when people upgrade, application defaults are only 
relevant to people doing a fresh install.  Migraters are an important 
subset of installers, so their needs should be carefully considered.

As always, this is a balancing act between the desire to create a system 
that people can get into, and the desire to create a system that people 
will like once they have got into it.  I wouldn't complain if the 
argument for Empathy were overwhelming, but all I've heard boils down to:

* it's a bit nicer
* it's a bit better integrated
* it has voice+video support
* it means we can stop dealing with the Pidgin guys
* all the bugs it has will definitely be fixed by release day
* users will file loads of new bugs after release day (!)
* if you don't like it, you can always install Pidgin

Maybe there's a stronger argument and I just haven't heard it, but this 
feels like it's putting the interests of developers ahead of users.  It 
certainly doesn't feel like the sort of urgent issue that's worth 
throwing away months of preparatory work by soon-to-be-migraters.

> Regarding UDS, and the decisions made there, I dont see how those 
> sessions could be any more inclusive.  There is news and blogs and 
> information flowing out of there almost 24x7 for a week.  The session 
> schedules are published.  And there are resources for how you can 
> participate, even if you are not able to attend.  UDS is probably the 
> most democratic, inclusive, "open source" (to misuse the phrase), 
> developer summit ever.

That's good to hear.  Is there a central point with a list of these 
blogs and news sites?  My experience has been the community going dark 
for a week, so I'd appreciate a bit of light :)

I've not been able to find any discussion of Empathy online before this 
week, and I can't find it in the schedules or the list of discussions. 
Could you point to somewhere that the arguments are laid out?

	- Andrew

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