I started asking myself questions about Linux the other day. I began to think about what Linux lacked that Windows had (trying to get into the head of a die hard Windows fan and persuade them to think Linux). Certainly it isn’t appearance. Windows is actually behind Linux in this area. Certainly it isn’t detectability. Linux is also ahead of Windows in this area. Driver support? Yes…big gap…but one that we as Linux programmers, developers, and users are all well aware of and one that cannot be improved drammatically unless manufacturers get behind Linux. So what is left? Wizards. Wizards? That’s right. Wizards. No, not the D&D spellcasting folk…put your twenty sided die away. I’m speaking of the nice trail of menu’s that greet you to set up a function in your operating system.
What makes menu’s more user friendly? Wizards. Setup your internet connection in a snap! Configure your printer in a few clicks! Etc…so on and so forth. I know that some of you are probably thinking “what the heck is this moron spewing!?” but hear me out. I’m not saying we should make Linux become Windows. I’m saying that we should cater to new users to make Linux more user friendly which will in turn make Linux even more popular and mainstream. What happens when Linux becomes more popular? Companies will start listening. What happens when companies start listening? That gap we were speaking of in driver support becomes smaller and smaller. We need wizards! D&D need not apply. Sorry Gandalf.
I’ve thought of projects I could start millions of times in Linux. I’m usually content with just supporting in other roles such as Project Management or Webmaster. Now I find myself wanting to become a programmer to address this issue. But what language? What programming language would work for all xwindow environments? This is a questions I’d put to you, the reader. Mainly because I have no experience with menu or wizard designing and I’d like to know. I’d like to know if it is difficult and takes tons of time or if it is something that you can do in an afternoon of work.
Nothing get’s me more riled than hearing people get mad when someone suggests that Linux become more user friendly. “No!” they shout. “Let them find out things for themselves! I did and I’m better for it.” Fine. Be exclusive. Rumble off into your l33t Linux club and close the door on open source. Or…perhaps you can understand that an operating system is something that should be made to WORK FOR YOU. Not against you. The main goal an operating system should have…ANY operating system…is to become easier to use and more efficient. I say that wizards will do just that for new users. As for older and more experienced users close the wizard when it launches or push cancel. Easy enough eh? You don’t have to use them if you don’t want them.
I know, I know. Perhaps I’m being crass and standoffish…but I’m really tired of people not understanding the benefit of an operating system that caters to your need and becomes more efficient. Sure Windows is a money hog and is full of security holes. However, it is extremely new user friendly with wizards for installing, removing, and adding hardware. With this the case, wouldn’t open source benefit from also having similar functions as well? We don’t have to make it ‘just like Windows’ but we can make it friendlier than it is right?
Perhaps you’re not convinced yet. Perhaps you’re a die hard open source fan that just can’t get past your favorite Linux distro becoming more ‘windows-like’. That’s fine. That is your prerogative and is your right. However, don’t trash new users who don’t share your view. The beauty of open source (in our case, Linux) now is that just about anyone can use it if they have a bit of technical knowledge. I hope we can expand that audience to include users that have zero technical knowledge. The idea? Let open source and Linux become inclusive and not exclusive. Appealing to a wider audience will never hurt Linux.
To make things truly user friendly, more care needs to go in to letting people know what is going on with their operating system and how they can control it. A user should have to be able to program in perl or C++ to tell what error their music player gave them when it crashed. Things should be more user friendly. The menu driven wizard will do much for making Linux more user (especially new user) friendly. Hopefully, people will realize this fact instead of criticize this fact.
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