Dell and Ubuntu – The most Logical Decision?

Most people by now have heard that Dell will be preinstalling Ubuntu Feisty Fawn 7.04 on a few laptops and desktops. This is fantastic opportunity for Linux…a landmark opportunity. I know that this was done in response to the large popularity of Ubuntu and it’s solid performance and I’m happy that it was chosen over Suse or Fedora.

However, I question whether this was the logical decision to be made…was it the smartest for the end user? Allow me to ellaborate:

Readers of this blog know that I use Ubuntu at work for servers. I also love Kubuntu (I’m not a gnome fan). So my problem isn’t with (K)Ubuntu itself…it works for me. My problem is that Gnome in general may not work for the consumer. If you’re not convinced, do a comparison on adding a printer in Gnome and KDE. Record the number of steps and note any confusing dialogue that pops up…then compare at the end. Still not convinced? I can’t help you understand where I’m coming from then.

Sure, there are those of us out there that are pretty Linux savvy and we can hum along quite easily with Ubuntu…but what of the person who’s looking to try Linux? What will happen when they power up their new Dell Laptop and can’t find a control panel? What happens when an error message just spits out random characters of data as many gnome error messages do?

If there is one thing in all usability studies or guides that is uniform it’s this…that people will resist change. Now, how much change Gnome is from what they are used to is up for debate and I’m not about to debate it here. My feelings are that Gnome isn’t the right choice for new users…and that’s a personal opinion only…and it’s one I’ve found to be true when converting family members to Linux.

So, I ask the question…is Ubuntu and the Gnome desktop the most logical decision for Dell? In my opinion, it isn’t. What do you think?

Update your RSS Feeds…

I’ve decided to add a feedburner feed. Currently, I don’t even know how many subscribers I have to Yet Another Linux Blog and I’d like to know :) because it’s not a bad service. It’s always interesting to find out if anyone is actually out there reading. So please visit the page in the next few days and if you’d like to use the feedburner feed, please update your feedlist.

Thanks for reading!

Blogbridge, Simply the Best RSS

I’ve been asked by various people how I keep up to date with technology news, research, and the latest reports…mainly because I’m never at a loss for words when discussing something (big mouth much?). Of course, many people haven’t heard of RSS at all and don’t know that one can have a program to read multiple sites in a short amount of time. I previously used Sage reader as an extension in firefox and exported my OPML list (which I kept on a thumbdrive). This allowed me mobility…I could check the news on just about any feedreader or use portable firefox and sage to get things moving. I could edit my OPML list quickly and easily.

Despite the luxury this bought me…I found myself missing out on many big stories. Let’s face it, not everyone knows how to title and tag their blog entries (current company INCLUDED) to correctly reflect what the subject matter is. Since RSS readers only get a small synopsis of the head of an article, it’s difficult to find out if you want to read the article or not. I found myself missing some key phrases that I normally wouldn’t miss (like FOSS, FLOSS, and OSS) mainly because I wouldn’t see those in the third sentence of the synopsis when I was quickly scanning my feedlists. So, I searched for something that was better than those I had used: Pluck, Sage, Owl, Sharpreader, Wiz. I found it. And to my delight, it’s a cross-platform, GPL Licensed, Feed-synchronizing one that delivers unparalleled functionality and options. There’s nothing like it on the planet. If your interest is peaked, you’re in for a real treat if you keep reading.

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Distributed Bugs-R-Us

I have a decent idea for an open source application. This could be one of the most important pieces of software to assist open source in a long time. I don’t have ideas often for software apps but when I do, normally they’re good ones.However, I don’t have the expertise to program this either. The only thing I have is an idea for bugtracker software…and it operates on the distributed journalism model of digg.

The idea was inspired by the article “10,000 bugs away from World Domination“, specifically these few words:

“My diagnosis is that the problem with Linux is that it doesn’t have anyone pushing to get the newbie bugs fixed first. At Microsoft, we had Program Managers and one of their responsibilities was to be customer advocates to prioritize the bugs for the devs to fix. In many open source groups, it sometimes appears that bugs get fixed when the dev decides to work on it, not because an important user scenario is broken. The Wi-Fi tool was broken in Gnome for any months, but the bugs just sat there languishing in the database. Microsoft or Apple would not have shipped a Wi-Fi UI that was completely broken in that way.”

The author is 100% correct. And since open source communities don’t have program managers that can focus the time needed to prioritize bug fixes, we can make the community become that program manager. Read on for specifics on how to do this.

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ITWire in Australia on the Desktop

The point of all this is that from the standpoint of a new Linux user, having a snazzy looking interface is all well and good but it means nothing if users have to revert to the command line to perform what should be simple tasks. Installing new downloaded software is one of the most common tasks performed by desktop users at home and in small offices. Until the Linux suppliers can make this task trivial, they will continue to miss out on a whole world of users beyond the command line geeks.

NOTE: I normally don’t re-publish news like many of the “blogs” you see out there but in this case the article was pretty good and hits home with a theme I’ve been stating a bit lately.

The article above was taken from ITWire…IT News in Austrailia.

This article was a good read and I believe it to be true. Until Linux can come up with ways to make the user oblivious to what is going on underneath the GUI, it won’t make inrroads to the desktop.

UPDATE: 3/2007

Penguin Pete, the not famous blogger over at penguinpetes blog flagged this post as being the main reason that he no longer posts links to my blog. Interesting in that if anyone were to read this post out of context, they might not know what I was driving at for this post. The main intention of the post is to show that new users need to first feel comfortable in their OS before they drop down and get dirty with the shell. That’s a fact jack. Nothing is going to sway that…I’ve had many users I’ve switched over DESPISE dropping to the shell and cite that as the main reason they go back to Windows. This is what I was agreeing with in this instance…that New Linux users need to be semi oblivious to what is going on underneath and not have to worry about it in their beginnings…not to ‘dumb down’ Linux or remove functionality underneath it.

Of Vista, Linux, and the User Experience

I was reading this article earlier this week and thought that it was interesting. It announced the Windows Vista release as being delayed. I thought that this was just par for the course and something Microsoft always has done and will always do…delay. However, what does this mean for the Linux desktop? Does it mean anything at all? Probably not on the scale most are hoping.

It’s Opportunity, Albeit, a Small One

Does anyone else here smell that? It’s opportunity. Perhaps an opportunity to push Linux just a little while longer and to develop it into what it needs to be before Microsoft once again proliferates itself onto every PC in America and sets the standard to which all things are compared. I can just see it when Vista finally does release…all of the comparison articles that will sprout across the web between Vista and desktops such as Ubuntu and SuSe 10.X. Linux can gain ground only one way; if it can become about user experience versus user function. If it can do that, I think Linux just might gain some ground. Babysteps…that’s what it is all about.

Microsoft’s OS has always been a rip-off of the work others do. OS/2 did things before Microsoft…Macs did things before Microsoft. They’ve been playing constant catch up since Windows began. If developers and users seize this opportunity in Linux to develop their distros in new ways, it can give Linux a slight foothold onto the desktop. Notice I said slight foothold. That’s because Linux will never storm onto the desktop. It will chip away slowly at the desktop until it gains acceptance. Linux has been granted a small door to the desktop and there is a set criteria for those distros that want to go through it. Will your favorite distro be able to go through the door? Can it provide the user experience needed to win people on the desktop over?

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