I'm in the mood for.......
A usability rant.
Even though I've been using linux for about two and a half years now, I still find it, very much an "uphill struggle".
Currently, I've got a couple of things on the go.
1. Being able to plug my partners laptop in and be able to print from it.
2. Being able to sync (well, resync) my PDA/Smartphone device.
3. Being able to download the images from my digital camera and manipulate then with the gimp and print them off.
Now I don't think that I'm stupid, but it would appear that the more complex/clever that linux apps become, the worse the documentation/assistance gets.
Now just to make things clear, I should also point out that forum/community type assistance is even better.
So whats the problem? Well in my view, one of the bigger things that I've yet to find in the linux world is a dictionary/glossary type site that explains what some of the "terms" used in linux docs actually mean.
Yes, I understand that some "things" will be distro specific. Though that shouldn't stop such a site being built.
"So start one yourself" I hear you say. Well, in truth, if I could get passed the lingo/techspeak/jargon, I would probably try.
For example, this afternoon, I wanted to rip some more of my CD collection so that I could upload it to my PDA/Smartphone (admittedly it's Pocket PC based). One of the guys from my LUG had been kind enough to come over and set it up. I'd book marked the the site that I'd used for info on how to drive it.
I then noticed that for reasons that I don't understand, it now doesn't want to talk to my system - OK part of the problem may be the device, but when I tried to check the site to see what I need to look into, nothing. Nothing, but a barrage of acronyms, jargon, techspeak.
Which means that at the moment, I can get nowhere with it.
When will those in the FOSS community wake up to the fact that while some people feel that linux is ready for the desktop, it'll never be until the whole of the linux world is stumbling, where the money grabbing gits at M$ can continue to laugh all the way to the bank.
When "Blair" got to no 10 in 1997, one of his party speeches said "education, education, education". When the mantra that should be chanted at the linux world is "usability, usability, usability".
It's damn all good having brilliantly capable applications if only the hobbyist/enthusiast/technically trained can use them.
Any major network, is made up of IRO 1% technicians and 99% users, who don't give a **** how it works, they just want/need it to work.
Another example, particularly jargon. I use gentoo, everynow and again, I'll do the daily process of followed by
# emerge -upD world
Now I'm lucky in my choice of distro, because portage (the gentoo package management system) is brilliant, but I'm also lucky that I've had no real problems with it (some minor, but nothing too cause me any trouble, system wise).
Every now and again, it will through up a newer kernel version. Most of the time, I don't know why this is, but have to presume that it's because of a bug, security or compatibility issue (sure I appreciate that major revisions are often about added/enhanced ability).
When this happens, there's a nice HOWTO at the gentoo site about kernel upgrades, but what am I really doing? I don't know, or can't find out enough about my hardware in an in depth manner to be able to do whatever it is that happens with /makemenuconfig, or just stuff like ./make and the like. I've managed to learn enough that I can manage a kernel upgrade with a facility called "genkernel" - but what am I actually doing?????
Is that what's known as compiling a kernel? I don't know, because I can't locate anything that tells me that in the documentation.
It's like going to see a Doctor with a nicely written list of ailments/symptoms, but being blindfolded and wearing ear plugs during the consultation.
Perhaps it's better if developers ask for proper testing assistance in places where linux n00b's are found. Forums like this and linuxquestions etc etc. Under a specific section, that points to the app, docs/howto's etc and a brief explaination of what the app is actually for/doing. Where no comment or question is too small!
Not just the usual, dump it in sourceforge and hope that "they" get some feedback.
Come on you dev types, how about improved usability?
OK, I feel better now, even if my problems still sit there unresolved!
p.s. Yes, I do feel that some of the docs that I've read at the gentoo site are better than most, but they're a long way from perfect!