User friendly Free Software Desktops (was: Very Worried at MS .net)

MJ Ray markj at
Wed Jul 18 12:19:42 UTC 2001

OK, we're probably getting far off-topic here, so I'm trimming

Josef Dalcolmo <dalcolmo at> writes:

> using Debian, and I am not a programmer. I spend about 10 times as
> much time on figuring out how to configure something in Debian than
> in Windows (X setup, networking even, PCMCIA, printing to name a
> few).

I think debian are starting to address this with debconf?  Other
distributions have other solutions, like YaST or LinuxConf.

> I had to back down from trying to install Woody twice, because
> the new XFree4 server doesn't support my video card yet (Rage
> mobility P). That backing down was all but simple.

Well, trying to back down from a Beta of any operating system to a
previous stable release is never simple, I think.

> When installing Debian, I never know which packages of many equally
> appealing ones I should use. [...]

This is why we have reviews sites.  There is a reason to, you see.  It would be nice to see more competition for
it.  Asking your LUG can also help and help you know that you can find
later help.

> incompatible system references etc. Compared to Win2000, there is a world of 
> difference!. The Help system there is really good, and points you as a 
> non-programmer user rather quickly to the solution.

I've never got a useful answer out of that damn thing!  And what's all
this "optimise for speed or size" crap?  Why do I care?  Do whatever
is best...

> As a user I am also forced to use MS Word files, because my
> colleagues use it.  So, rather than telling them: use Tex, I need to
> run that other OS in parallel

We can load their files.  How well depends on what software (some
non-free software is ahead of the free for now) and how good a
solution it is depends on how much you have to use that damned format.

It seems the FHS (and so the LSB) don't tie down documentation
location very strongly, with /usr/share/doc being "optional".  That's
probably a missed opportunity.  Do we need a better documentation
tool?  What's out there at the minute?  I think this would a good
topic for a usability mailing list to discuss.

> 2.2R3 uses a lot of rather old libraries already, and the newer ones are not 
> necessarily compatible with my system. Again, OK for an expert, but far from 
> it for a normal user.

Normal users don't care how old the software is, as long as it's
stable and does the job they need...


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