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DragonFly kernel List (threaded) for 2004-03
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Re: Daemon's Advocate article

From: James Frazer <jfrazer@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 2004 20:34:35 -0600

I don't think it matters whether it's a techie server os or not. Sometimes I don't want to go through all the trouble of jumping through unnecessary hoops -- not because I can't -- but because I don't have the time/patience.

I recall reading a comment by Jef Raskin about UI design -- he made a good point by saying that software that attempts to achieve a simple task should be simple to use. Complicated tasks will always have some amount of complexity, as this is unavoidable, but there is no need to complicate simple things.

As far as Unix goes many problems are caused by to much choice. The whole set of hd partitioning problems occur because it has to be taken into consideration that the machine is likely to be dual booted, or whatever. Windows users don't have these problems because windows comes preinstaled. When it doesn't come pre-installed microsoft makes most of the choices for the user.

Partitioning for the layman would be easier if the user could choose a pre-calculated set of sane values -- for example they could choose a partitioning scheme for 1. desktop, 2. server, or 3. advanced/custom. These choices should be available _before_ the user gets the confusing screen with all the numbers and crap. If they didn't know anything about partitioning they could choose 1 or 2 and bypass much of the confusing stuff. This solves the userfriendly problem without removing any of the advanced features of the installer.

One of the things that always bothered me about the FreeBSD installer was that sometimes it was unintuitive as to what to do next -- I'd get stuck in a menu or dialog where it was not aparent what to choose. How does "X Exit Exit this menu (returning to previous)" tell me that my software is going to get installed? I would more likely conclude that the packages I have chosen to install will not get installed -- and that the designer forgot the "install" option. I've always wondered why there wasn't an option to "Install selected software" or something like that.

These are the things that confuse people and scare away users. NOT because selecting a few packages to install is an overly complicated task -- it isn't -- you don't need to be technical or smart to do this -- it's a very simple job -- the installer in this case is the problem.

So you're right, Unix is a techie server operating system, however, many of its user-un-friendly problems are not technical problems, but purely neglected design problems. If the computer scientists spent as much time optimizing their human-machine interfacing algorithms as they spent optimizing his VMM algorithms then we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

Speaking from the perspective of a techie, I don't want to waste my time mucking around in a labyrinth of poorly chosen options when I shouldn't have to.

Which leads to the next idea of "why don't I just code something better myself?" to which I can only reply with I don't currently have the time to blunder into something that I know will require a lot of work. I don't know enough about how the underlying system works to do it as a weekend project.

But if someone wants a 'storyboard' representation as to how an installer should look then I'd be happy to comply.

That's my huge rant on that,


Dan Melomedman wrote:

Welcome to Unix. It's a techie server operating system, not a desktop OS.
So far, KDE, GNOME, etc. are rigidly fitting into the Unix way of doing
things (technical and otherwise), and so all the troubles you mention.
On the other hand, Apple was successful at integrating Unix into a
desktop, but it's more of a desktop, not a server.

1. standard installer & package management
2. standard configuration & uniform config system
3. a bias towards ONE main (official) configuration (ie: no choice between kde, gnome, or whatever).

If only we could all agree with each other. Before this is possible,
let's standardize some things in BSDs essential components first, across
all BSDs. Yeah, I can dream.

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