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

Havoc Pennington hp at
Wed Jul 18 21:46:44 UTC 2001

Alistair Davidson <lord_inh at> writes: 
> I think you're misunderstanding what we were talking about, though you
> do make some good points about testing.

Quite possible, I got randomly cc'd this thread and am not on the
list. ;-)

> Here would be the process:
> Mailing list generates ideas.
> Coders implement ideas.

This is your fatal flaw. Free software doesn't work that way; it won't
work. I've never seen it work. 
> I wonder igf you  could describe for us what "a comprehensive user
> testing setup" would comprise? Is there any feasible way for the FSFE to
> create such a setup, given the limited amount of funding we possess?

It's not that expensive, it just involves a couple video cameras, some
computers, etc. The hard part is having someone with the expertise
available to set it up and run it. And having someone code the stuff
to test.

My point is basically that a) desktops are very nontrivial things b)
mailing lists to talk about UI are always in my experience a disaster
c) both the first two points are amplified dramatically by trying to
write a desktop with a nontraditional GUI.

You can choose not to believe me, but I have seen enough empirical
evidence of the above that I believe myself nonetheless. ;-)
Especially since even the fairly traditional free desktops in use
today have a long way to go from a UI standpoint.


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