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LC Brazil: Consumers, experts, or admins?

Sep 17, 2010, 18:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"Your editor had the good fortune to be able to attend the first LinuxCon Brazil event, held in São Paulo. There were a number of interesting talks to be seen, presented by speakers from Brazil and far beyond. This article will cover three in particular which were interesting as a result of the very different views they gave on how Linux users work with their systems.

"Consumers

"Jane Silber is the (relatively) new CEO at Canonical; she went to Brazil to deliver a keynote on the "consumerization of IT" and, in particular, its implications on open source. What she was really there to talk about, of course, was the interesting stuff that is being done with the Ubuntu distribution. Linux serves the needs of expert users very well, but, according to Jane, the future of Linux is very much in the hands of "consumers," so we need to shift our focus toward that user base. There are a number of things being done in the Ubuntu context to make that happen.

"At the top of the list is "fit and finish," which she described as "the sprinkling of fresh parsley" that makes the whole meal seem complete. There have been incredible advances in this area, she says, but our software still has a lot of rough edges to it. Consumer-type users can usually figure things out, but it does not build confidence in the software. To make things better, Canonical is sponsoring a lot of usability research and working with upstream projects to improve their usability. Results are posted on design.canonical.com. Projects like 100 papercuts have also helped to improve the usability of free software."

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