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Question of the Day: A Tiered Linux Distro for Newbies?

Jun 03, 2001, 21:30 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Aurelien Marchand)

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Aurelien Marchand writes:

Hi all, I know many many people wrote, write and will write about Linux on the desktop, and they will say everything between the 2 extremes, that is, the desktop market is conquered by Linux to Linux is conquered by the desktop market.

Now, after all, there are things to think about. When I first used a computer (in the early 1990), I had a screen, a keyboard, a joystick, no mouse and even less a CDrom. I typed every commands, learned things step by step. Then I switched to something bigger, learned new tricks and techniques, became familiar with the mouse and eventually, when 1995 hit, I learned the subtilities of a GUI on top of an OS...

The point being: I went step by step, making sure I was ready to go next step.

Maybe Linux desktop is the same.

Instead of simply dropping a advanced and technical machine (as GNU/Linux is)into the hands of any Joe Blow and say:'Now, read the HOWTOs, ask your local Guru and enjoy!', maybe the way to go is to first train the user step by step with a common system to measure his/her progress...

I propose the creation of a (yet another) distribution called: First Foot Desktop Linux

Each level of expertise is characterized by a Toe (Tier of expertise). There would be 5 Toes to reach, at least for the First Foot Desktop Linux version. After those 5 Toes, the use could move on to the Second Foot Desktop Linux.

Earning a Toe is done when the user feels comfortable enough to go forward:

  • At 1 Toe, the user must be able to start an application by finding it on the start/K/Gnome menus. The user should be comfy enough to use a web browser, play a few games, type a document, play a piece of music.
  • At 2 Toes, the user must be able to install a program and de-isntall a program both from a GUI tool and from the console. The user must be able to start the Xwindows system, restart the machine and turn it off from the console.
  • At 3 Toes, the user should be able to re-install the system with less automation on (let him/her select the mouse/printer/language/Toe level).
  • At 4 Toes, the user should learn what most packages are. Which are the most important packages, which ones can be removed safely and a few admin tasks, like adding a user and knowing why it is important.
  • at 5 Toes, the user should learn about admin tasks a bit more: reconfiguring the printer, changing the system clock, creating groups and assigning users to groups, re-installing the whole system with no automation at all...
This way, each user can refer to others as being 1-toed, 2-toed, etc.. The Tier of expertise required can be of good help to evaluate the skills of a user and pushes toward a motivating self-awarding system.

Obviously, this method is the mirrored image (thus inversed) to the one most computer savvy did: from the command line only systems to the mastering of the GUI. With this self-awarding method, the user is pushed to learn more, thus giving him/her more confidence in his/her skills in Linux and thus improvong the value of Linux being a viable OS for the desktop.

Now, if anyone wishes to make such a distro, please feel free to contact me. Although not a project coordinator, I can put together a site for those interested in the project.

Note also that already-existing distribution could use this system. I think especially of Mandrake (already extremely full of automation for the install), but others can definetly use this method (as long as they keep a consistant method of Toeing).

Notre OS vaincra! (Our OS will succeed!)

Aurelien (

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