Going forward [Re: Automatix?]

Chanchao custom at freenet.de
Wed Mar 29 02:49:22 UTC 2006

I think everyone needs to take a small step back a little, and recognize
that EVERYONE has invested their free time in trying to make Ubuntu

The way things are there *IS* a need for 'something' that allows new
users to play their music, watch their videos, and browse the web the
way a lot of fancier site are intended.

This situation is caused by 3 things that together create an almost
perfect stale-mate:

 1 Ubuntu simply cannot distribute (support for) anything that is
   patented or otherwise not completely Free.
 2 Ubuntu is (based on) Unix/Linux which implies an environment where
   security is King and comes before everything else, very much 
   including ease of use.
 3 Ubuntu's mission (or a big part of it) *IS* to be easy to use. 

The reason this is an almost perfect stalemate is that installing those
things under #1 requires 'some' knowledge of administrative stuff. What
would otherwise be a gentle learning curve becomes a rock climbing wall
on the first day of use. 

So it's fair to say that currently #3 is not met, mostly for reasons
beyond Ubuntu's control but this shouldn't be the user's problem. People
developing Automatix (and others) value #3 more than #2, which would be
VERY fair looking at the Ubuntu mission statement, and which could very
well be the RIGHT choice if the alternative is that users just give up
on Ubuntu. 

Note that another attempt to achieve the Automatix goal also received a
lot of flak and criticism: the Ubuntuguide website. Rather than doing it
all for the user in a script, or explaining concepts to users, they just
could copy and paste the commands listed in a terminal window to
accomplish the same things; monkey see, monkey do.

I'm making a suggestion below, but first I'm asking everyone to
recognize that this is a VERY tough problem.  Security AND ease of use
are (almost) conflicting requirements, it is very, very hard to have

Perhaps there's a middle ground: not a fairly blind script that 'does
its stuff' and at the end of it the user can play music and things but
hasn't really learned anything on the things he/she will need to know
sooner rather than later anyway, about repositories, about permissions,
about sudo...  Face it, doing any kind of serious work on Ubuntu means
you will need to know about those things anyway sooner or later,
probably sooner.

So Automatix or EasyUbuntu could be a lot more. It could be a graphical
introduction to Ubuntu, that explains a little, helps a little, and
takes users by the hand through the main concepts of Linux/Ubuntu and
allows users to install support for certain formats in the process.
EasyUbuntu already goes part of the way, explaining a lot about WHAT can
be done, just not HOW.   It could be extended to explain a LOT more
about HOW such things are done, perhaps letting users actually do the
tasks themselves. This will be rewarding because when they're done they
can listen to their music and watch their videos. :)  AND it's a very
educational experience because users learn a lot about  how computers
work (and how a proper secure multi user system works, and WHY it works
that way).   After doing that it's less likely they get stuck a little
further down the road when they actually want to put Ubuntu to work for

So, kind of like an extended, and *attractive looking* 'Getting Started'
python app.  [And yes I'd be willing to participate in that in any way I


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