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Shuttleworth Suggests 1-Way Valve For User Experience Testing

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the why-isn't-this-intuitive? dept.

GUI 757

darthcamaro writes "No surprise but Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth has come out swinging in favor of the Linux desktop. Speaking at Linuxcon yesterday he detailed the things that he thinks Linux requires in order to win the desktop wars. Those include: co-ordinated software releases, better quality and design, some user experience testing and oh yeah, a dose of 'shut the f*** up' too. During his keynote, he extended an invitation to any open source application to submit their software for testing by user-experience experts. The sessions would be recorded for posterity, and the developer would not be able to interact with the user. "'If the developer is in the room, they have to say nothing. It's the shut the f*** up protocol,' Shuttleworth said. 'You sit and watch someone struggle with the software that you've so lovingly produced.'"

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We don't need another desktop OS. (-1, Troll)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532791)

Sorry, the simple fact is there is no need for another desktop OS. Windows and Mac are fine. I don't know why people think Linux will _ever_ make headway in that space when there's no conceivable way it ever will.

Instead, how about focusing on being a workstation OS and a server OS?

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532845)

Instead, how about focusing on being a workstation OS and a server OS?

Ironically, Linux is a far better desktop OS than a Workstation OS. Microsoft is just too far ahead on making it easy to manage thousands of workstations with minimal setup.

Re:We DO need another desktop OS. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533007)

M$ needs competition. Apple is not. It is really a whole product (hardware & software), like a TV or a DVD player.

My biggest complaint about Linux on the desktop is the lack of a true universal UI (although it has improved much lately) and the difficulty in user software (a user should be able to run every application without tweaking text files) and ease of administration. When it achieves the same level or better of intuitiveness as Windows, then it can compete.

Basically, when grandma can install and run her greeting card creating software without any help, you there).

Re:We DO need another desktop OS. (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533223)

My biggest complaint about Linux on the desktop is the lack of a true universal UI

Not much of a problem though, for most people, Linux isn't Linux but a Linux distro, that is if you have Ubuntu, you get GNOME, if you have Kubuntu you get KDE. Similar to how you can either get Windows XP or Windows Vista/7 with different UIs.

and the difficulty in user software (a user should be able to run every application without tweaking text files)

Most user-level applications don't require you to tweak text files unless you need some obscure setting. A few "pro" level applications (as in, your going to be programming or know something about computers) use text files because they are easier to edit, debug and generally give support for a knowledgeable user.

and ease of administration

Compared to Windows, Linux administration is a breeze. A Linux system ran by a normal user who doesn't screw around as root, will remain stable. Simply going to a site can get you a virus in Windows. Because of this and the -large- amount of viruses on Windows, it is pretty much required to run a virus scan pretty often. With Linux, even if you are running a vulnerable everything, chances are you simply won't get a virus.

Plus, with Windows update you never know what you are going to get, "features" constantly creep in (remember the search bar that was a "critical update"?) and large changes are considered updates. It takes a lot more work administrating a small amount of Windows boxes compared to Linux.

When it achieves the same level or better of intuitiveness as Windows, then it can compete.

Windows has not intuitiveness. The only reason why we think it has is because most people have been using it for 20 some odd years. A lot of the Windows conventions have been -proven- to be counter intuitive and plain confusing (anyone else wonder why Add/Remove programs is called that even though you really can't add in any programs from there). Windows is terribly unfriendly, we just have gotten used to it.

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (4, Funny)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533015)

Ironically, Linux is a far better desktop OS than a Workstation OS. Microsoft is just too far ahead on making it easy to manage thousands of workstations with minimal setup.

Perhaps, but I don't think botnets really count as an example of superiority over Linux.

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533219)

Ironically, Linux is a far better desktop OS than a Workstation OS. Microsoft is just too far ahead on making it easy to manage thousands of workstations with minimal setup.

Perhaps, but I don't think botnets really count as an example of superiority over Linux.

Nobody said anything about Mac OS X [networkworld.com]

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533209)

Huh?
GPOs are a joke compared to the power of issuing all the same commands via gsh.

GPOs utterly fail when you want to do anything not covered via the pretty buttons. So for anything really useful you end up with login scripts, and other hacks.

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (3, Funny)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533271)

Yeah... You don't know a lot about managing Windows, do you. Or Linux for that matter, you'd using something like Cfengine to achieve this, not god damned "gsh". What is this, 1986. Jesus Christ dude.

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532887)

You overlook the ability of our corporate and political leaders to grow the American market for free desktop operating systems. Free anything, in fact.

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (2, Informative)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532919)

You may not want it but others do, including me. Linux (currently Debian stable on the desktop and Arch on the laptop) has been my sole desktop OS for years, and the same is true for millions of others. Who are you to say that Windows and Mac are fine?

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (1, Insightful)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532989)

It's not me. What is Linux's desktop usage percent, again? If I had a nickel for every Linux desktop user would I even be able to pay off my car loan?

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533091)

I don't know how much your car loan is, but assuming a pretty large sum of US$50,000, and a nickels worth of US$0.05, yes there are definitely more that 1 million Linux desktop users. In fact, you could probably pay off at least 10-20 car loans of that amount...

Re:We DO need another desktop OS. (2, Insightful)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533147)

A users are a large pool of people who aren't geeks, nerds, or slashdot readers. Your grandmother is a user, My wife is a user and she cannot install and run the software she wants in Linux because it is too difficult to install and tweak Wine and the software she wants isn't written for Linux. A real desktop OS has to be usable by a large base of users.

Re:We DO need another desktop OS. (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533265)

You mean it's not a "real" desktop OS if most of the people using it are geeks? Are we not real people? Do we not count?
Aside from this, my experience is that the "clueless" users can install software from the repositories as long as they are instructed in how to do so (just as they have to be instructed on how to install software in Windows or OS X), and they are certainly a lot less likely to end up completely screwing up the computer, leaving reinstall as the only recourse.

Re:We DO need another desktop OS. (1)

ruewan (952328) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533307)

Yes we do really need another OS. How else can we fight against the crap that Microsoft will try to shove down our throats. Having alternatives is a good way to encourage improvements. Vista literally forced me to use Linux because I found the performance so bad.

The desktop is dying. (0)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532993)

Desktop, workstation and server OS are obsolete ideas. In 20 years we probably won't even have these things or at least not worry about them. I can't say for certain what will replace the desktop, but I think it is going away in our lifetimes. Or perhaps we'll just have one platform that runs the same OS and same applications on our laptops, servers and phones.

Re:The desktop is dying. (4, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533019)

Desktop, workstation and server OS are obsolete ideas. In 20 years we probably won't even have these things or at least not worry about them. I can't say for certain what will replace the desktop, but I think it is going away in our lifetimes. Or perhaps we'll just have one platform that runs the same OS and same applications on our laptops, servers and phones.

They've been predicting the death of the desktop and a return to centralized computing for 20 years.

Re:The desktop is dying. (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533159)

I don't think the parent poster was talking about centralized computing. Rather, he's saying there will be a common platform instead of the plethora of different OS variations for different uses. I don't necessarily agree with that ideal though - for most servers there's no need for a heavyweight UI, for phones there's no need for an IMAP server, etc.

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533061)

Ok well that's your opinion. On the other hand, I recently settled on Linux as the perfect base OS on my desktop.
I can virtualize various windows and linux machines, tear down and rebuild as necessary, whilst the underlying system is rock solid reliable, and not subject to getting pwned all the time.

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533243)

"and not subject to getting pwned all the time"
This is primarily due to the fact that the pwners aren't targeting such a small number of computers that are not in the hands of the average computer user. if linux was in 40% of the desktop market it would be just as much a target as Windows.

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (0, Troll)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533087)

Windows and Mac are fine.

No.


No, no no. No. Do you actually own a computer or do you send your Slashdot posts in by mail?

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (5, Funny)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533141)

Sorry, the simple fact is there is no need for another desktop OS. Windows and Mac are fine. I don't know why people think Linux will _ever_ make headway in that space when there's no conceivable way it ever will.

Instead, how about focusing on being a workstation OS and a server OS?

Mr. RightSaidFred99, I think it's time for a big dose of, as Mr. Shuttleworth himself so elaborately expressed, shut the fuck up.

Re:We don't need another desktop OS. (1, Troll)

cellurl (906920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533287)

Exactly, shut up. I could make Linux a desktop winner. First Linus needs to get his butt in California (is he at terafugarama anymore?) Anyway, then he needs to hang with Heff and create some BUZZZZZ. Screw all the loosers, or let us nerds come in the backdoor once in a while. Then he needs to date a supermodel or a bunch of gay supermodels or something to win the iPhone crowd. Then we got somethin!

We are our own problem. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532793)

Users always ruin the best software.

Re:We are our own problem. (4, Funny)

Romancer (19668) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532901)

What did he just tell you? STFU!

Re:We are our own problem. (5, Funny)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532971)

I always employ the 'Shut the fuck up' protocol. Unfortunately for my testing team it is usually me who is shouting it . . .

Re:We are our own problem. (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532953)

User satisfaction with software is inversely proportional to how much work they must do - how many separate actions they must take - to accomplish something. I.e., competently designed software obsoletes the user, making user acceptance testing extraneous.

Re:We are our own problem. (1)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533021)

competently designed software obsoletes the user

Sorry? I'd like to see my competently designed word processing package write my dissertation for me . . .

Re:We are our own problem. (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533059)

Think that process hasn't begun? See http://www.idearover.com/ [idearover.com] , for one.

Re:We are our own problem. (5, Insightful)

Romancer (19668) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533107)

User satisfaction with software is inversely proportional to how much work they must do - how many separate actions they must take - to accomplish something.

Yes.

I.e., competently designed software obsoletes the user, making user acceptance testing extraneous.

No.

Competently designed software allows users to do the tasks they have to do without unnecessarily complicated actions and time wasting steps. That's why we don't code in MS Word and do excel spreadsheets in machine language within emacs. We could use those methods but the software has been written that allows us to do them better. The software does not do it for us and it cannot create as varied an output as is capable from humans yet. So the software should not get in the way of the user and should help perform tasks. The STFU method tells us that if a group of users strugled to find a simple or easy feature to perform a task, the software may need to be adjusted. Perhaps just the GUI color or menu label, but if the people out there cannot find something or have trouble doing a task that the software can perform if they just new how. There is a problem. More training is easy to prescribe but it can be avoided for good promotion of user experiences. How many times have people fixed a linux distro to make it easier to do a task. Cat, Grep, etc. Rather than programming in perl all the time to get basic features, these tools have been added to make it easier. Same thing in the GUI world. Make it easier and it is more useful.

Re:We are our own problem. (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533189)

Note to self: Include sarcasm delimiters.

Re:We are our own problem. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533045)

Linux is for self-obsessed computer nerds who don't mind using sub-par software as long as it is free and inflates their already oversized egos.

If your ego is as big as your waist line, and your waist line is huge, Linux may be for you.

Otherwise you are better off sticking with a real OS.

Kudos to him! (5, Insightful)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532839)

He knows what he's talking about. We don't need more RMS but more people like Shuttleworth. Pragmatically minded, not focused only on ideals. If somebody wants follow only ideas I suggest Green Peace or monastery.

Re:Kudos to him! (3, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532879)

We don't need more RMS but more people like Shuttleworth. Pragmatically minded, not focused only on ideals.

Right. There are definitely not enough people to go around.
Damn those idealists, sucking up all the available people, keeping them from getting anything done.

Re:Kudos to him! (0)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533071)

It all depends on how rabid the idealists are (and most of them are quite rabid) and how influential they are.

Opposition to ATI and nVidia distributing binary drivers for Linux is just the most obvious ideological move that seriously hurt it on the desktop.

Re:Kudos to him! (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533257)

No, the state of the binary ATI driver is a far bigger problem.

They can oppose it all they want, but last I checked both are available and the NVIDEA one actually even works.

Re:Kudos to him! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532943)

Yeah! Ideals are for losers!

FFS.

Did it ever occur to you that without RMS there would be no Shuttleworth?

Re:Kudos to him! (4, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533013)

We -need- RMS though. Without RMS we just have a bunch of people wanting to get stuff for free. Heck, without RMS and the GPL, Linux would not exist, Linux as in the kernel itself. Chances are it would have been licensed under an obscure license and died due to a non-commercial or other clause. It was only due to the GPL that the kernel was released under a typical license.

Re:Kudos to him! (5, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533035)

Yup, just like BSD. Er....

Re:Kudos to him! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533277)

yeah, and which one has been far more successful again? exactly. now go pretend like you didn't just overlook something that's blatantly obvious to everyone else.

Re:Kudos to him! (5, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533075)

This is Linux, we can have, and need to have, both.

There will be free Linuxes, like Debian. There will be "pragmatic" Linuxes, like Ubuntu. There will be all sorts of Linuxes in between.

Linux requires both the RMS types and the Shuttleworth types in order to both survive (RMS) and grow out of its niche (Shuttleworth).

Re:Kudos to him! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533083)

I'm posting anonymously to avoid being a karma whore...

I wish he would take his own advice and Shut The Fuck Up! What Linux et al decisively do not neeed is cocknobs like Shuttleworth Daniel Bernstein, and Eric Raymond telling us how users should behave. You're a developer, well bully for you. The users rule in the real world, and what the users say, goes. Got that, DJB? You want to rewrite inetd because you have a cork up your ass, well good for fucking you. We users don't want to have to run a metric shit ton of additional framework apps just to satisfy your mighty ego.

It reminds me of the cockpolishers at FreeSwan, an open source IPSEC implementation. Even though the IPSEC RFC requires that you implement DES, the FreeSwan egomanics declared that DES was insecure and that it would not be implemented (breaking compatibility with more than a few COTS clients). And the be-all-end-all was when the FreeSwan knobs also declared that they would not accept any patches that provided DES, would not host links to said patches, and would ostricize any developer of said patches. Well done, Linux developers, ignore your users at your own peril!!

Re:Kudos to him! (1)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533185)

I'm posting anonymously to avoid being a karma whore...

I know this is off-topic but surely the fact that you cared enough about your karma to post anonymously by definition means you are a karma whore. Or at least a karma hoarder. See what I did there?

Re:Kudos to him! (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533101)

People who forget the lessons of the past are bound to repeat them. RMS is right, and it is only upon the foundation that he started that Mark Shuttleworth has anything to stand.

Not saying Mark Shuttleworth is doing a bad job, but when you start saying things like, "It's either Richard or Mark! One or the other!" you've kind of gotten off base. They both have good things to say and actually for the most part are in agreement.

Ubuntu not ready! (0, Flamebait)

oo_HAWK_oo (1619801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532843)

It's just simply not ready for prime time. Hell it doesn't even have any decent touch screen support! It shows promise, but it still has a long, long way to go. :

Re:Ubuntu not ready! (4, Insightful)

StayFrosty (1521445) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533055)

Windows has no touch screen support out of the box either. I do not understand why it is acceptable and expected to install all sorts of third party drivers on a Windows system, but as soon as you have to do it on any Linux distribution it's "Not ready for prime time." I'm guessing that people who make comments like this fall in to one of 3 catagories:
  1. Microsoft or Apple schills.
  2. Windows or Apple zealots who have never tried Linux themselves.
  3. People who are presented with a slightly different way of doing things and can't be bothered to learn since it's easier to spread FUD around.

Re:Ubuntu not ready! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533281)

Windows has no touch screen support out of the box either. I do not understand why it is acceptable and expected to install all sorts of third party drivers on a Windows system, but as soon as you have to do it on any Linux distribution it's "Not ready for prime time." I'm guessing that people who make comments like this fall in to one of 3 catagories:

      1. Microsoft or Apple schills.
      2. Windows or Apple zealots who have never tried Linux themselves.
      3. People who are presented with a slightly different way of doing things and can't be bothered to learn since it's easier to spread FUD around.

No, it's because in windows, you go to the manufacturer's website, download the driver, double-click it, hit next a couple times, and restart. And then it works.

In Linux, you do some google searching, type something cryptic like
sudo apt-get install nvidia-glx & modprobe blah blah blah
And then when it doesn't work, you go back and look up another cryptic command until you finally get it right.

I tried walking my uncle, who is very intelligent, but not a computer expert, through getting his video drivers on linux working over the phone. It was torture. He eventually switched back to windows, and had no trouble getting it working.

I'm not an MS or Apple schill, and I've installed and used Linux a lot. But I still don't believe a normal person can get devices set up on Linux as easily as on Mac or Windows.

STFU needs to be heard. (5, Funny)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532851)

Ok, sounds like a cool idea. I would LOVE the Amarok2.x devs to sit in on that session.

Re:STFU needs to be heard. (0, Redundant)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532939)

I second that.

Re:STFU needs to be heard. (4, Insightful)

dstar (34869) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533009)

I would love for the Gnome developers to sit in on that session.

And then be beaten with sledgehammers until they understand that the goal should not be 'unconfigurable' but 'no configuration needed 90% of the time, and configurable the remaining 10% of the time'.

Re:STFU needs to be heard. (2, Interesting)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533195)

And then be beaten with sledgehammers until they understand that the goal should not be 'unconfigurable' but 'no configuration needed 90% of the time, and configurable the remaining 10% of the time'.

Amen to that. I've ended up swapping my desktop environment to KDE4 for my personal computers. It actually *makes sense* out of the box. I was absolutely thrilled to see that installations and management was actually 'easier' than on Windows. Normally, when I start running a Linux distro, I end up on google, but not then. (For the record, I'm running on Kubuntu.)

Re:STFU needs to be heard. (3, Interesting)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533251)

I'm a coder, gamer, and all-around power-user. I've been using Linux for years, including 2-3 years of using Gentoo exclusively, back before it had any sort of gui installer.

In all that time, I've only had Gnome not let me do something (or make it overly difficult) twice: once was when they went to "spacial" (I think they called it) handling of folder-opening in Nautilus, which was only a slight pain to fix and which, AFAIK, has been switched back to a not-retarded default anyway, and setting each virtual desktop to a different background, which I'd still like to be able to do but which really isn't that big a damn deal.

What exactly do all these "Gnome won't let you configure anything! KDE 4Evar!" people want to be able to do with Gnome that they can't?

Re:STFU needs to be heard. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533259)

And let's not forget about the GIMP devs.

grawlix fail (5, Funny)

Nick Number (447026) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532863)

and oh yeah, a dose of 'shut the f*uck up' too.

Wow, it's a good thing that asterisk was there. Somebody might have seen something profane.

Re:grawlix fail (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532937)

Remember folks: every time you say, read or think a dirty word, god kills a kitten.

Re:grawlix fail (2, Funny)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533001)

>

1. Calls PETA
2. Sues SPCA for not preventing god from killing kittens
3. ...
4. PROFIT!!!

Good, I hate cats. (0, Troll)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533003)

shit damn fuck

Re:Good, I hate cats. (2, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533187)

Well, I happen to like them. But my doctor told me to watch my cholesterol.

Re:grawlix fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533017)

fuck shit piss damn satan fuck shit piss damn satan fuck shit piss damn satan fuck shit piss damn satan fuck shit piss damn satan fuck shit piss damn satan.

Oh by the way, I'm a dog person.

Re:grawlix fail (2, Funny)

mctk (840035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532995)

Somebody might have s*** something profane.

F***.

Re:grawlix fail (0, Offtopic)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533031)

I know it's not cool these days to care about profanity. But I really prefer to read the /. homepage without seeing the word "fruck".

Re:grawlix fail (0)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533033)

Wow, it's a good thing that asterisk was there. Somebody might have seen something profane.

Something profane like this? [slashdot.org] But more seriously, tfa acttually did say

During his keynote, he extended an invitation to any open source application to submit their software for testing by user-experience experts. The sessions would be recorded for posterity, and the developer would not be able to interact with the user.

"If the developer is in the room, they have to say nothing. It's the shut the f--- up protocol," Shuttleworth said. "You sit and watch someone struggle with the software that you've so lovingly produced."

So you can't blame the submitter or editor (although had I submitted it* I would have used the acronym STFU).

That's good useability testing policy -- if you help the test subject during a useability study, you're shooting yourself in the foot.

*I can't submit stories, at least from work -- they've idlized the submissions page into unusability. Pity, 1/3 of stories I submit get posted unless I submit from my journal, where they've never been accepted from.

Re:grawlix fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533053)

Keep flucking that chicken.

Re:grawlix fail (2, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533113)

Hey, it worked on me. I'm trying to figure out what word the summary writer was trying to imply. Firetruck maybe?

Pretty good idea (-1, Troll)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532875)

Clueless users should have a meaningful feedback channel. And, to some extent, developers should try to fix the things that clueless can't figure out.

But, I'm afraid that these "experts" will be handpicked, for one set of characteristics or another. In the end, the community is likely to be hammered into someone's idea of what Linux "should be".

Shuttleworth's idea? If not, whose idea?

Hopefully not Microsoft's!

Re:Pretty good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532965)

Just wait till Microsoft sneaks a few of their own 'users' in to the test with Microsoft-aided 'suggestions' for improvement. ;-)

Re:Pretty good idea (3, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532967)

But, I'm afraid that these "experts" will be handpicked, for one set of characteristics or another.

Hopefully it's for UI design ability.

Re:Pretty good idea (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533077)

Who's idea shaped Linux into what it is now?

Linus?
The "community"?
Other corporations that had their interfaces designs "borrowed"?

SOMEONE has to be the one to come up with the ideas.
So far, Linux has had a bunch of elitist nerds at the helm designing for themselves, and the result is an interface and general environment that the general populace is incapable of picking up and using without excessive hand holding.

You can bitch about this being because, people are idiots, people only know Windoze, etc. all you want. And you'd be right.
But that doesn't make the problem go away.

Anyone* else steering the UI design is better at this point. And we're not even talking about steering the design of the UI. We're talking about getting formal feedback. Any member of the "community" can take any amount of that feedback under consideration and adjust their build's UI accordingly, or not.

(*Anyone does not include anyone. Just as with "Anyone is better than Bush", if an Obama comes along, the claim is rendered invalid.)

Re:Pretty good idea (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533109)

Clueless users should have a meaningful feedback channel.

But they already do -- it either "just works" or it doesn't, so either they can figure it out or they can't.

But, I'm afraid that these "experts" will be handpicked, for one set of characteristics or another. In the end, the community is likely to be hammered into someone's idea of what Linux "should be".

Well, I prefer the CLI a lot and don't tend to appreciate "lowest common denominator"-style GUIs on my own machines, but Linux is versatile enough to appeal to both markets. The existence of Gnome and KDE really doesn't take anything away from screen or windowmaker, and Ubuntu certainly isn't the only choice around.

Re:Pretty good idea (4, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533167)

Your fears are unfounded. If they were valid, we wouldn't have GNOME & KDE & the hundreds of other desktop environments and window managers.

In fact, this will make things even better. KDE will still be KDE, but it will be more usable. Same with GNOME. Some of the more esoteric systems will not change, because they aren't aimed at regular people.

There is no single Linux OS that can be bettered/ruined by a single person. There are literally *hundreds* of Linux OSs. And even if there were just one single Linux OS, how can you argue *against* usability testing? If there's just one OS, and it goes through testing, it will almost certainly be made better, but if you *don't* test, it will still be the single Linux OS that everyone has to use, it just won't be as good.

Linux desktop is not dead. (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532903)

But it might be economically non-viable. In many ways the Linux desktop and free software stack is better than the version you can get from Microsoft or Apple. For 80% of the users it can do everything they need. For 90% of the users it can 90% of what they need, and for 100% of the users it can do 80% of what they want. While those are made up statistics, I believe that 80% of the market can switch to a Linux desktop tomorrow and be just as productive as it is today. The problem is convincing them to do it. What the Linux desktop really needs is a marketing budget.

Re:Linux desktop is not dead. (1)

oo_HAWK_oo (1619801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532951)

You CAN get that 80% to switch from Windows... force them to actually pay for their copy of it!!!

Re:Linux desktop is not dead. (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532961)

Despite I am using linux on all my machines, there are a lot of companies relying on exchange (server side) and outlook (client side). I never use them, but I have been told that FOSS replacements are not as good as the original.

You could also try to run it in wine

Also, there still are a lot of problem with wifi (despite it is more a laptop problem than a desktop one)

Re:Linux desktop is not dead. (-1, Troll)

jason.sweet (1272826) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533051)

80% will not even be able to get wireless to work.

Re:Linux desktop is not dead. (2, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533067)

Yup, Linux needs more hype.

Gnome's U.I. is already easily navigable. What Ubuntu needs to do to attract more Windows users (non-gamers, of course :) is ask a new installer if they want to use a "Windows GUI compatibility mode" and then have the system laid out as close to a Windows system as possible, out of the box.

One "start" menu inline with a single taskbar, on the bottom. Combine the items in the "preferences" and "administration" menus into a single "control panel". Alias the filesystem items to things like C: and none of that /dev/sda1 stuff. Streamline Aptitude and enable all repos by default - a Windows convert dosen't give a shit about licensing issues, they just want those graphics drivers. Etc. etc.

They need to embrace, extend, and extinguish. Beat Microsoft at their own game. Maybe even make all that a seperate "Windows compatibility distro" so the purists won't bitch and moan.

Re:Linux desktop is not dead. (2, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533155)

"Jim! I'm on the Lynooks now, and I printed off 500 envelopes for the newsletter, but they're all rotated! I put the envelopes in this way, but they come out all wrong!"

You seriously overestimate the ability of a standard plebe to adjust to any change.

If you fucking switch out their pen from a twisty pen to a clicky pen, it's not a difference, it's not a preference, it's a problem, and the new way is wrong, and it's your job to get them the damned pen they like.

Humans are great at adapting, but only when forced. Then they'll never stop bitching about how good it was in the past.

Re:Linux desktop is not dead. (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533177)

Okay, I've got a dual head Mac Pro here on my desk. It has to run Python and some cross platform C stuff, plus do some word processing now and then.

Yeah, Linux ALMOST makes it. It can do all of that stuff except setting up the second monitor is a PITA.

Thus, Shuttleworth's emphasis on usability testing. Linux is technically fantastic. Now what it desperately needs is some polish to make it not more trouble than it's worth on a regular basis.

Re:Linux desktop is not dead. (0)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533183)

What the Linux desktop really needs is a marketing budget.

Viral marketing needs no budget. We need to carry Linux nstall disks (your favorite distro) and evangelize. All of us Linux users. When your mom gets a virus, explain that Linux doesn't get viruses, that you don't need AV, that it's free, that all the applications come with the Linux install disks, that a home user no longer needs to log on, even to the internet (I use Mandriva, which logs the default user automatically, you only need a password for a secondary account or for root), that it can real Microsoft (don't know about apple) files and directories while Windows and Microsoft apps can't read Linux ones; that it's more stable, that it's as easy to use as Windows or more so, etc.

Then tell them the next time they get a virus you'll either install Linux or let them pay the Geek Squad.

If they absolutely need some Microsoft app (like one of the tax prep packages), install it dual boot with Linux as the default but disable networking in Windows. That's one thing I like about Windows -- its dirt simple to disable the internet.

To be so lucky... (5, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532907)

I've done a bit of software dev here and there, and I've never had the luxury of being near the users when they first prop it open.

For that reason, I've developed a habit of showing a beta to a nearby co-worker, or a friend, and ask them "Check this out."

And when they say "What is it?" - I haven't done my job right.

Re:To be so lucky... (5, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533005)

This is a good point - if software doesn't explain itself, then it is broken. I believe this holds all the way from the top level to the basics. If the architecture of the system isn't well signposted and comprehensible, it fails. If an icon meaning is murky and there are no tooltips, it fails. Now you always have to assume some basic level competence on the part of the user (eg. knowing to type man to get program info, or knowing how to click with a mouse) but once you're part that, there is no reason why programs can't be self-explanatory, or at the very least self-documenting. I don't know how many times I've torn my hair out because the 'Help' menu's only item was "About".

Re:To be so lucky... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533181)

This is a good point - if software doesn't explain itself, then it is broken.

Must explain itself to whom in order to not be broken? Does nuclear blast propagation simulation software really need to be self-explanatory to a retired waitress?

I get the sense that you figure by calling some aspect of software "broken", that indicates it should be addressed before just about any other change that one might want to make to the software. That, of course, is silly. There is some software, for example high-performance-computing software for simulating nuclear blasts, where running slowly is much less desirable than the software needing some explanation before it can be used.

To say such software was "broken" would be to imply that it shouldn't be used before it was easier to understand. Which, of course, would get you laughed out of the lab.

Not the issue.... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532913)

The problem is, we have this odd expectation that any software, from a compiler, to a game, to an office suite to a browser should be instinctive by use of other software. That is, they think Word processor == Word. So when you take another word processor such as Open Office, they expect it to work -exactly- like Word. Any differences are seen as "faults". Take someone fully new to computers and have them learn Linux or Windows and chances are they will figure out Linux faster. Take someone who has used Windows all their life and give them Linux they complain because things aren't exactly the same.

Re:Not the issue.... (4, Insightful)

jockeys (753885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533043)

Take someone fully new to computers and have them learn Linux or Windows and chances are they will figure out Linux faster.

Citation needed.

I'm not being a dick, I'm genuinely curious: has there been any study on this topic, beyond anecdotal posturing?

Re:Not the issue.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533133)

I'm a bit tired of people saying "Citation needed", especially if that is all they say.

If you think he's right and needs backup, find a proof to back him up. If you disagree, find proof against what he says.

Otherwise you are just trying to get the originator to do extra work for you.

Re:Not the issue.... (1)

dschl (57168) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533249)

Anecdote for you - not Linux specific, but it relates to software familiarity.

I had a summer student doing some basic GIS work for me this year. Bright guy, third year civil engineering student, familiar with Autocad.

We tried a few different open source gis packages. Based on ease of use, features, and what we needed, I had already narrowed down the likely candidates to QGis and Openjump. QGis has an interface reminiscent of Arcview, which I used for a few projects back in the late 90s. Openjump has an interface that is more cad-like.

I preferred and was more productive in QGis. He preferred and was more productive in Openjump. He used Openjump, which was fine with me - it got the job done.

Re:Not the issue.... (5, Insightful)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533115)

Would you buy a car that didn't have a steering wheel? Sure, certain software vendors have set certain standards for software interfaces. But the user is king. It doesn't matter who trained the user what to expect, if the user expects something, you should tailor your software to their expectations. If you think it's the users job to learn your interface, the user is just going to keep using Windows because they don't want to spend time learning the Linux way of doing things. Respect your users time.

Re:Not the issue.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533119)

This is just how people work. They don't start from scratch when using something, they build on their experience to help them. As developers, we're equally "guilty" of doing this -- often people write applications in the same programming language they're used to, such as C or Python, as opposed to starting with a theoretically-better programming language like Haskell that they might not have much experience with.

Re:Not the issue.... (1)

WorkingDead (1393377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533153)

I know lots of people that have used Windows all their life and switched to Apple and they seem to do fine with it compared to struggling with the switch to Linux. It's because Apple cares about the end user experience whereas most open source software is extremely unfriendly when it come to the user interface.

Re:Not the issue.... (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533297)

No, I think it is because Apple has made a big difference between a "PC" and a Mac when people think about them. For one, the hardware is different. You are generally typing on a different keyboard, using a different mouse and looking at a different monitor. With Linux you keep all your same hardware. Plus, because the idea of an operating system has been lost in culture with the exception of the mostly-hardware locked Mac operating systems, the different versions of Windows and hardware-specific OSes. People don't understand that Linux is not a free version of Windows even though it does the same tasks.

Re:Not the issue.... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533215)

It's a good theory, but it's not true.

There are lots of bits of Linux that are much harder to use, and require much more arcane knowledge, then the equivalent parts of other OSes. And then there are things like GIMP that appear to be different just for the sake of being different.

Re:Not the issue.... (0, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533217)

The problem is, we have this odd expectation that any software, from a compiler, to a game, to an office suite to a browser should be instinctive by use of other software. That is, they think Word processor == Word. So when you take another word processor such as Open Office, they expect it to work -exactly- like Word. Any differences are seen as "faults".

True

Take someone fully new to computers and have them learn Linux or Windows and chances are they will figure out Linux faster.

False

Take someone who has used Windows all their life and give them Linux they complain because things aren't exactly the same.

True

Free truths: MS Word is actually amazingly rofuckingbust. Open Office? No. Their word processor is up to the task, but everything else in the suite, especially their spreadsheet app, is poop unfortunately.

Piffle (2, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533245)

You can still perform plenty of validation testing irrespective of what platform a person has used. If a given person can't figure out what your trying to do with the tools provided than the software needs work. When I used to do work for a manufacturer we took people off of the assembly line or equivalent, made sure they knew nothing about computers and used them to perform the testing. If they couldn't figure things out on their own, the test was considered a failure. Blaming the platform or the userbase is a sign of a poor developer, it's no different than blaming your tools.

The entire point of such testing is to remove assumptions and find out what happens in the real world with people that don't have the programmers base line knowledge. Developers have a way of assuming a given level of knowledge that users simply don't have. That's why people like Mark Shuttleworth have done so well, they've presented Linux in a way that simply doesn't require that baseline knowledge. The issue is not whether or not a given tool is capable, well written, more efficient or otherwise. The point he is trying to make is that the issue of acceptance and use by the masses comes down to usability by the masses (documentation can and should heavily influence this).

If your making software only intended for highly trained users that will go to school to learn how to use it (SQL, CAD etc.) usability may not matter as much because you can assume the user has a baseline of knowledge. If your not making software that requires specialized schooling to use, than you should be testing software in a manner as suggested.

Inherrent charateristic of Open Source (4, Insightful)

Syncerus (213609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532927)

Because so many developers develop Open Source applications for personal satisfaction, they tend to focus on scratching their own itches.

A characteristic of usability testing is that your goal is to scratch the itch of your customers; your preferences have very little significance in the context of the test.

It doesn't take a genius to see a potential conflict in the two goals; on the other hand, a developer likes to see his code in actual use by actual human beings. To maximize this use, a developer must at least pay lip service to documentation and UI testing.

Many developers never make this conceptual leap, however.

Re:Inherrent charateristic of Open Source (5, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533095)

Because so many developers develop Open Source applications for personal satisfaction, they tend to focus on scratching their own itches.

Note to self. Stop shaking hands with Open Source developers...

Needs gaming support. (1)

xxuserxx (1341131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533049)

I will go to Linux when it has better games / simulators than Windows.

Re:Needs gaming support. (1)

DrGamez (1134281) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533145)

And that awful Catch-22 keeps coming up. No games (for some) means they aren't using that OS. If nobody uses that OS, no games will be made for it! Conundrum!

Re:Needs gaming support. (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533175)

We need native support, not something like under Wine.

Re:Needs gaming support. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533261)

It's called perl. Worlds' best game.

Of course, you're probably not the type... You might try TORCS.

But will devs listen? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533127)

Most often developers and even advanced users place the "blame" on the users for being stupid and being unable or unwilling to learn. And is it helpful enough to developers to simply get "pass/fail" feedback without knowing what would be better from the user's perspective. (And even if the user thinks it's wrong, not good enough or simply too hard, they could still be wrong since their basis of what is "right" might also be flawed.)

I can still see much value in these exercises, however. It would serve to give the general pass/fail condition of various applications and OS interfaces. A series of such exercises could also rate/rank various competing distros to see how they stack up and to help organize their priorities further.

Shockwave (2, Informative)

2phar (137027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533275)

Lack of Shockwave is a big problem with kids.. A lot of childrens' websites feature games that use Shockwave. This was essentially the deal-breaker in setting up an Ubuntu box for a niece of mine recently. Maybe someday these websites will stop relying on it.
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