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NewsForge: Making Linux look harder than it is

Dec 06, 2001, 17:12 (41 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robin 'Roblimo' Miller)
"Many "gurus" teaching new users about Linux make it look harder than it needs to be, and apparently fail to explain that yes, you can make PowerPoint-style presentations in Linux, you can view Web Pages that use Flash animation and other "glitz" features, and that you can manage all your files though simple "point, click, drag and drop" visual interfaces. Could the biggest problem with Linux usability be that most of the people teaching newbies to use Linux are too smart and know too much? I've been ruminating over this idea for many months now, starting with an experience I had at a Linux Users Group meetin Many "gurus" teaching new users about Linux make it look harder than it needs to be, and apparently fail to explain that yes, you can make PowerPoint-style presentations in Linux, you can view Web Pages that use Flash animation and other "glitz" features, and that you can manage all your files though simple "point, click, drag and drop" visual interfaces. Could the biggest problem with Linux usability be that most of the people teaching newbies to use Linux are too smart and know too much?

I've been ruminating over this idea for many months now, starting with an experience I had at a Linux Users Group meeting last summer. A person I know, who has been using Linux since before Kernel 1.0, was trying to show someone who had just installed Linux on his laptop how to configure a modem. The teacher was using traditional Linux command line tools, and the process was slow and required a command line text editor, in this case vi, and the new user was totally befuddled by all the commands involved.

The funny thing was that the Linux distribution they had just installed was Mandrake 8.0, which has dirt-simple visual tools for modem detection and setup and includes, by default, the KPPP dialer, which only takes a few mouseclicks, plus typing in your ISP's local phone number and your username/password, to get working. I butted in just before the new guy was totally lost, and showed him how to set up his modem connection the easy, point and click way -- in about 30 seconds.

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