Sunday, March 02, 2008
The Linuxville travelguide - rewrite needed.
It is a funny situation, no one knows or cares about Linux until they are actually faced with the chance to use it. Then if the curiosity bug bites you, you try to read up on it or search the internet. It is a total shame that most books and internet sites seem slanted toward users involved with servers and or programmers workstations. They tend to start out with the command line or terminal, and using text editors. So, here you are wanting to dive in and try Linux and you are hit with learning standard Bash commands, or learning Vim and Emacs. All you really want is to run programs with a click, read your email, write a letter, balance the checkbook, search the internet, view some video and play a CD. My advice to all you Linuxville Travelguide writers is: now that the target audience has shifted to include normal everyday computer users you must write less about text input and more on using the GUI on the desktop when explaining Linux to them. Now, exploiting the GUI on the desktop does not cheapen Linux or make it less than what it is. It does make it more approachable and imminently more useful to everyday computer users. In my everyday routine, I turn on, boot up, log in, check email, go to internet, all with a point and click. Once it is all set up it is no bother at all. The perception of Linux being hard is not just from what it takes to install it but from how some have chosen to explain it to new users. From our local public library I just got a thin book called "Linux for the rest of us" by Mark Rais. It is a very very good book being just over 100 pages long and hits all the high points of Linux, but the assumption still seems to be that "the rest of us" to whom Linux is for is would be system administrators and coders. I think it is rather ironic that system admins need to know so much about Linux but once a server is set up it only needs to be touched once in a while. Whereas the desktop Linux user really doesn't need to know that much in order to use Linux on the desktop everyday. The GUI makes Linux as simple to use as any operating system. I recommend another book called, "Point and Click Linux" by Robin "Roblimo" Miller. This book confirms what I am talking about. Having made my rant for the day, you can all say it with me, "Linux is not hard at all".