Look what a mess I made (was Brilliant and very useful...)

Terry Lambert tlambert2 at mindspring.com
Mon Apr 7 12:20:07 PDT 2003

"Gregory A. Gilliss" wrote:
> My initial post (the article being debated) was *not* about the following:
> Desktops
> GUIs or X or window managers
> Anything else other than - good tools require no instruction

Most of the issues raised in this thread are usability issues
having to do with the install path.  I would argue that these
*are* specifically on point.

The complaint about "configuring X11" speaks *directly* to the
article's author's "non-negotiable requirement #1: It must have a
GUI for installing and configuring the system".

Note that Windows avoids, rather than complies, with this one,
since it comes preinstalled.

> The point - the reason that I thought that this article has value -
> is that the FreeBSD community doesn't - dare I say it - pander - to
> the user community.  We act like the intelligencia of *NIX -

This is really off-point.  It's not really possible to please
the user community, for something like a Winmodem, with a
proprietary software CODEC that is normally bulk-licensed by
a hardware vendor, and for which there is no such thing as an
"Open Source" or "royalty free" or "manufacturer prepaid royalty"
for a FreeBSD or Linux driver.

This speaks directly to the article's author's "non-negotiable
requirement #2".

Windows complies with this because the royaltie are built into
the hardware costs, even when you don't get the license for the
OS you are intending to use.

> Good tools require no instruction.  That was the point, not the rest of
> this didactic cruft.

"Good tools" require no installation, eause they come preinstalled
by the hardware vendor.

You need to seperate the idea of installation and configuration
from that of day-to-day post installation operation in a factory
supplied configuration.

> Who among you ever read the instructions for a phone (not a cordless multi-
> frequency-answering-machine-GPS-breathalyzer phone, but the unbox-it-plug-
> it-in-listen-for-dial-tone phone?

Most $5 telephones have autodialer features which require some
non-obvious configuration, usually involving waving a dead chicken
over the "#" key or something similar.  Telephones are a bad example
of good usabilitym unless you are specifically talking about the
road-side assitance "telephones" which have a single "technology,
fulfill your function" button.

Preinstalled Windows systems on computers either boot directly into
a desktop, or they boot directly to a login that goes into desktop
after a username and password.  Generally, if you "just hit return"
the first login, it quits offering you the login interface.

Unless and until you get a UNIX desktop to that point, you are
comparing installation and configuration and day to day use, as
a big lump, of the UNIX system, with day to day use of the Windows

That's really an apples/oranges comparison.

I'll note that the author failed to compare MacOS X to Windows,
nor did the author compare a preinstalled "Lindws" system to

> Or a hammer?

Hammers are simple tools.  Other than "tack hammers", which have
magnets embeeded in one end to "start" the tack (and *do* have
instructions: "Only use the magnet part for the initial hit of
the tack, to avoid damaging the magnet"), instructions are not
really necessary.

Computers, on the other hand, are exctremely complex.  A first
time computer user is likely to mistake the operation of the

> When FreeBSD can, out of the box, be a tool that clueless newbies
> (and we were *all* clueless newbies once) can install and configure
> on their own (just like - bleh - Windows), then we can all sit back
> and be arrogant (again - but not until then).

Which is, again, missing the point: the reason you care about
installation is because it's not preinstalled on the computers
you buy.  The reason you care about configuration is because
there is no accepted default.

Most people do not "configure" their Windows systems; nor do
they "install" Windows themselves.

You are comparing the incomparable, and then wondering why one
compares badly with the other.

Note: the article's author's "non-negotiable requirement #6", that
the system accomodate leaving Windows installed, and providing a
dual boot for the competing stem damages initial usability; even
if we are talking about "Partition Magc" and "Boot Magic", there
is not an easy way to do this automatically; it certainly can't be
done without a royalty cost that isn't there for Windows.  Better
to overwrite Windows completely.

-- Terry

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