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  Think Big – Now Think Even Bigger
  Join Us at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo, November 11-13,
at the Javits Center!


The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.

All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.

With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend Internet of Things at Cloud Expo in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!

Delegates to Internet of Things at Cloud Expo will be able to attend eight separate, information-packed tracks:

  • Enterprise Cloud
  • Digital Transformation
  • The API Enterprise | Mobility & Security
  • DevOps | Containers & Microservices
  • Cognitive Computing | AI, ML, DL
  • Big Data | Analytics
  • IoT | IIoT | Smart Cities
  • Hot Topics | FinTech | WebRTC

There are 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content.


We'll see you in New York!



Day 3 Keynote at @ThingsExpo | Chris Matthieu, CTO of Octoblu
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu's platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
  Themes & Topics to Be Discussed

Consumer IoT
• Wearables
• Smart Appliances
• Smart Cars
• Smartphones 2.0
• Automation
• Smart Travel
• Personal Fitness
• Health Care
• Personalized Marketing
• Customized Shopping
• Personal Finance
• The Digital Divide
• Mobile Cash & Markets
• Games & The IoT
• The Future of Education
• Virtual Reality

Enterprise IoT
• The Business Case for
x IoT
• Smart Grids
• Smart Cities
• Smart Transportation
• The Smart Home
• M2M
• Authentication/Security
• Wiring the IoT
• The Internet of
x Everything
• Digital Transformation
x of Enterprise IT
• Agriculture
• Transportation
• Manufacturing
• Local & State
x Government
• Federal Government

IoT Developers | WebRTC Summit
• Eclipse Foundation
• Cloud Foundry
• Linux Containers
• Node-Red
• Open Source Hardware
• Ajax and the IoT
• Leveraging SOA
• Multi-Cloud IoT
• Evolving Standards
• WebSockets
• Security & Privacy
x Protocols
• GPS & Proximity
x Services
• Bluetooth/RFID/etc
• XMPP
• Nest Labs



The Top Keynotes, the Best Sessions, a Rock Star Faculty and the Most Qualified Delegates of ANY Internet of Things Event!


The future of computing lies in these things. As computing takes a much more active role in our lives it will at the same time become much more invisible. Internet of Things Expo will address the challenges in getting from where we are today to this future.
 
The high-energy event is a must-attend for senior technologists from CEOs on down – including CIOs, CTOs, directors of infrastructure, VPs of technology, IT directors and managers, network and storage managers, network engineers, enterprise architects, and communications and networking specialists.




@ThingsExpo Power Panel | The World's Many IoTs: Which Are the Most Important?
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Benefits of Attending the Three-Day Technical Program
  LEARNexactly why Internet of Things is relevant today from an economic, business and technology standpoint.
  HEAR first-hand from industry experts the common issues and requirements for creating a platform for the Internet of Things.
  SEE what new tools and approaches the Internet of Things requires.
  DISCOVER how to drive a distributed approach to the Internet of Things, where applications move to the data.
  FIND OUThow the vast volumes of new data produced by the Internet of Things provides a valuable new source of business insight through advanced analytical techniques.
  MASTER how the ongoing development of smart cities, cars, and houses will enhance connectivity infrastructure.
Lunch Power Panel | Microservices & IoT- Moderated by Jason Bloomberg
In this Power Panel at @DevOpsSummit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, president of Intellyx, panelists Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at Akana; Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks; and Troy Topnik, ActiveState's Technical Product Manager; and Otis Gospodnetic, founder of Sematext; peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem filling in your buzzword bingo cards.


Linux.SYS-CON.com Exclusive: What Would UserLinux Look Like?
Bruce Perens tells LinuxWorld's desktop editor what he has in mind with UserLinux

Last Monday at the Desktop Linux Consortium Conference at Boston University’s Tyngsboro, Massachusetts Campus there was a lot of talk about a “UserLinux” distribution. The topic was sparked by remarks by Bruce Perens who voiced a need for a distribution that was designed to meet community needs for a desktop operating system based on the Linux community favorite Debian distribution.

I contacted Bruce who has been kind enough to interject some comments to my own text. They are marked [thus].

The thought of UserLinux sparked my thinking. The thing I like about Linux is that it’s infinitely customizable to meet the needs of almost any situation. However, for it to be a viable desktop for the masses there seems to me that there has to be some common features that a large number of Linux desktop users would appreciate. I thought about this quite a bit and started my list of what it would take for Linux to be my “ideal” environment rather than my preferred environment. I’d be interested to see what the community considers the most important features.

[Bruce Perens writes: I should point out that UserLinux also has a server mission. Our first customer group has both server and desktop needs. But the server is a solved problem, at least mostly, so we know a lot of work needs to go into the desktop.

Also, the most important thing about UserLinux is that it is an attempt to change the economic paradigm of the Linux distribution. We feel that creating a Linux distribution doesn't work as a profit-center, and that it is better viewed as a cost-sharing exercise. So, the customers involved in UserLinux will be paying for the engineering of creating a Free Software system, rather than for boxes, "seats", or user licenses. The system will be certified to various standards and vendor requirements with their funding, and the result will be given away. The customers get all of the copies they need with no incremental cost per seat added. They will have to pay for service.]

My list has two overwhelming requirements for the Linux desktop. First it has to be easy to use. It should pass the “Grandma test” which is when placed in front of the average grandma she would find it intuitive and easy to use. Second it should include a set of tools that allow the user to accomplish their most important tasks. I generated my list of tools and what I feel are my most important for my needs. I would encourage you the prospective users of such a system to add your feedback.

 

Productivity Tools

Browser ­ I think Mozilla is a great option for browsers. I like the tab-based browsing and pop up blocker. If not Mozilla than maybe some of the projects spawned from Mozilla aimed at speedier performance without the frills like Firebird.

[Bruce Perens writes: I'd like to hear if Konqueror has something to offer that is not matched by these choices.]

Office Suite ­ I use Open Office and Star Office and I think they are good. For some of my more ambitious projects I do use Microsoft Word but I find myself using Microsoft less. I particularly like the ability to export files to PDF format preserving the look and feel of my files across platforms. If these suites could handle better more complex formatting I think they would easily displace their competitors that costs many hundreds of dollars.

[Bruce Perens writes: I like OpenOffice and hope that I can facilitate the creation of a broader development community outside of Sun.]

E-mail/PIM ­ Outlook made the integrated PIM and email client the vogue in business. I like the idea but I think that Microsoft’s implementation is lacking. So far the best Linux solution for me is Ximian Evolution but it lacks some features I like about Outlook. Particularly the ability to drag e-mail messages to a task list or calendar. In Ximian’s favor is the RSS integration into their Summary page to gather my news all in one place. Once again this is a case that I primarily use Outlook running on a virtual Windows environment Win4lin.

[Bruce Perens writes: Well, when there are features lacking in an Open Source program like Evolution, you know what to do, don't you? I think that a solution to the ones you complain about could come from the community.]

Financial Software ­ I use Quicken and TurboTax mainly because I have for years and I think they are both very good products. I know GNU Cash (www.gnucash.org) is an option and I am actually playing around with it right now but it will be a hard move for me. Not only because of differences in features but the learning curve.

[Bruce Perens writes: I haven't looked at these closely yet. I actually still have one Windows machine in my home, and need it for TurboTax. I still have Quicken on it, but think I could move off of Quicken if I had to.]

 

Utilities

Application Installation ­ This is probably my biggest complaint with most Linux distributions. RPM installation often results in dependency problems. Causing me to search for the recommended libraries to fulfill dependencies so that I can install my application. Debian’s apt tools and apt4rpm both work very well making things easier for most users. However, many of the most popular distributions still use plain old RPM warts and all. I think that a good one click install like available through Lindows Click N Run Warehouse would be ideal for ‘User Linux”.

[Bruce Perens writes: The solution here is obviously some front-end on top of apt, and Debian packages. It's really strange that people still

complain about RPM dependencies, I don't understand why Debian was able to solve this so many years ago and Red
Hat still has a problem.]

Docking and Power Management Tools ­ For laptop users like myself I find that most distributions don’t handle hot docking and undocking of laptops well. In my Utopian Linux distribution I would want to see the ability to “hot” dock and undock my laptop by clicking a button.

[Bruce Perens writes: You shouldn't have to push that button. You should just be able to dock and undock. But Linux ACPI is still immature,
and is not going to be in a good state for most laptops with the release of kernel 2.6 . I spoke with Dirk Holmdel of Intel about this, he feels that the present Linux ACPI drivers don't handle all of the start-up and shut-down tasks in the right order. Also, most kernel drivers have not been ported to the new driver model yet, and do not handle power management correctly.
I have a problem with various laptop graphics chips and wireless chips, because their manufacturers are unwilling to document them fully. We might have to start publicizing a "not ready for purchase" list for various hardware manufacturers that can't get with the program. I think that even Windows customers will be reluctant to purchase a laptop that could not ever be switched to Linux.]

Backup Utilities I have the expertise to set up cronjobs that rsynch my desktop to my file server but most people don’t. I would think client-side tools to synch files to file servers of all types would be a welcome inclusion. This tool would be make it easy to schedule backups and choose files for backing up from an intuitive interface.

[Bruce Perens writes: It would be interesting to see if some of the disconnected filesystems like Coda could help with this. Potentially they remove the need to consciously synchronize things. Just dock and it gets done.]

Windows Networking Client ­ The majority of businesses I go to today use Microsoft Windows Server for file and print sharing. Having the ability to browse these networks would make things more convenient for me. I often use LinNeighborhood, which is an easy to use Windows network browser. I think overall platform interoperability is the key to Linux adoption.

[Bruce Perens writes: Yes. Since this is a solved problem in the free software world, it should go into the system.]

I could go on for days about my ideal desktop but what I am curious to know is what’s your ideal incarnation of Linux desktop. Maybe we can point your feedback to Bruce as he works on his proposal to help shape his proposal for UserLinux.

[Bruce Perens writes: I am also interested in knowing what people feel is missing from the server.]

 

About Mark R. Hinkle
Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

About Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens, a leader in the free software and open source community, is a member of the International Advisory Board of Linux.SYS-CON.com. He is the creator of the Open Source Definition, the manifesto of the open source movement. Bruce is founder or cofounder of the Open Source Initiative, the Linux Standard Base, Software in the Public Interest, and No-Code International. He is the creator of Busybox, which has spawned its own development community and is part of most commercial devices using embedded Linux.

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 9

This article shows some moves in the right direction for those of us who are simple end users. Yes, we want a secure platform we can use. ALthough many of the userLinux is moving in the right direction with the many desktopLinux operating systems on the market today, they are all falling a bit short. I have been trying to use Linux ever since Purchasing a boxed S.u.S.E. 5.2 years ago. To date, the purchases have included the SuSE 5.2, Redhat 6.0 and 7.1, Mandrake 7.0, 9.1, and 10.0, Lindows 3.0, Fedora, and now am running PCLinuxOS on the Mandrake base. I have ordered the Debian Desktop distro and will try it out.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am using the PCLinuxOS about 90% of the time, but must go to my Win2000pro box to do certain functions such as my, by far, favorite HTML editor HTML-Kit. HTML-Kit is a Windows only applicaiton and Wine and Win4lin (or is that Lin4win?)are not satisfactory. Quanta Plus looks good but it is not quite as mature as HTML-Kit and does not have the convenient built-in ftp. But, the biggest item forcing the use of Win2000pro is that Linux has nothing that can substitute for Autodesk's Autocad LT 97. Qcad is not even close.

Perhaps the biggest problems, aside from the above mentioned applications, is the lack of mature documentation with Linux. We simple end users do NOT want to learn Linux, we want to use our applications to do our work. We are rather good at following directions if they are written in a language we can understand. We have a major problem with geek and the use of acronyms. We see terms like PIM and are turned off completely. With todays large storage, there is no reason not to spill it out and it is the height of laziness to use these shortcuts any longer. Gosh guys, what novel would you read if it were written that way?

What I want, is clear directions for my LAN, for my apps, for my system and 100% cross platfrom functionality. Open Office is actually better than M$ Office and a whale of a lot cheaper. To top it off, it is cross platform, same for Mozilla, Chatzilla, and XChat. Kopete is outstanding for running ICQ on Linux, actually even better than ICQ. the PHP forums work great cross platform, too. E-mail is a pain but not if it can be filtered to remove spam and HTML. E-mail is NOT for advertising, period.

Now, you have heard from the one simple end user and his desires for a Linux Desktop. I am not a grandma, but I am a great grandpa who was called a dinosaur and forced to learn to use the computer. This dinosaur might now be called tyrannosaurus. I have dedicated my retirement to finding an easy way for the simple user to learn this contraption for his/her work and enjoyment.

Great!
Best Wishes.

ron, in one area, I msut disagree with you:
"But in reality, the entire English language is dying, from some unknown, unidentified, incurable virus." Perhaps King Geoarge's English is dying, but here in Texas, English is alive and well, in fact, it is one of the fastest growing languages on earth. Actually, the language is changing fast, faster than we old folk can keep up.

I see I have repeated myself several times on this list, so for want of not driving the nail beyond the board, I shall let this line drop. But I do hope and pray that Linux does, one day, become the OS of choice world wide, until then Happy Computing! May God defend you from the viruses, worms, and the Greek gifts of cyberspace.

Yours,
CHTANK,
Retired Dinosaur

Dear Charles:

You aint kidding when you say techies lack language skills.

But in reality, the entire English language is dying, from some unknown, unidentified, incurable virus. No where is this illness more acute and epidemic than in the USA. The adverb has surely died, and the strange use of words increases daily. Simply listen to your leaders, especially Bush. He speaks constantly about how the lack of intelligence led to misjudegements about Iraq. Never was a truer word spoken: surely he has no intelligence. I suppose what he means is the lack of reliable, pertinent information for decisions.

Here's more proof. Everybody now speaks in terms of "on a daily basis" Can anyone explain this to me? I brush my teeth daily. The basis for my habit is oral hygiene. But, what is a daily basis? How did adverbs become adjectives?

Anyway, I hope Linux can someday grow into an alternative to Windows.

And, dear Charles, though I'm not a grannie, I agree with your comments about this segment, and its needs.

Cheers.

uniform use of language and syntax is a must for most of us, especially older folks. We elarn differently than you young whipper-snappers, and when you use package in place of application or program we become confused with meaning. As for RPM and installation, we can figure it out IF clear step by step instructions were given in the language we learned back in school, even it it was a one room school with all grades together. It seems today's tech writers did not attend school or were not taught how to write properly. Also, there is no longer a need for acronyms, especially when giving instructions. IF one uses HTML, one should at least spell it out HyperText Markup Language (HTML) once per chapter or section, regardless of how common it is in everyday usages. There is at least one person somewhere who does not know what HTML means.

The other main ploblem, and is was passed over in the article, is cross platform interoperability and accessibility. Soap and XML is moving in this direction, however, we grandma's and grandpa's are aslo amoung the handicapped and impaired users which accounts for at leart one third of the population and growing. Many of us use "readers" and enlarged font or have problems with the sounds produced by the computer. Would you believe that many websites still use flashy graphics and rock music to sell to us and we are actually caused physical pain by this? What ever happened to the W3C Accessibility Standards when it comes to the new "inovations" in programming and operating systems. Yes, gamers and kids want this sort of graphics and noise until such time as they are weaned and forced to work for a living.

There, you have my comments! Two major faults with userlinux or desktop linux:
1. Syntax, acronyms, and the proper use of the written language.
2. Improper use of Microsoft's "creativity" and "inovation", and refusal to be truely "inovative" with cross platform and interactive. Hopefully, Linux will learn to overcome this problem, maybe VMWare can help, WINE does not at all and is worthless to those of us who are dinosaurs.

I want to switch to Linux, as I am totally fed up with MS.

But, I am totally confused and need help to select software and hardware. So, where to go for advice and to buy?

I believe there is a place in the open source community for a "user focus group" which is open to all. The UL project could be such a place.

I would be more than glad to contribute to usability issues.

I finally found userlinux.com (funny me, I was looking for userlinux.org), but it doesn't seem to address usability issues as strongly as it does a distribution model.

Do you know of any organizations which address themselves to Linux usability?

There seem to be very different views on for whom the User Linux should be targeted. In my opinion it should not just concentrate on those Raymond Wilson wrote about - those who use computer mainly at home and for whom doing spreadsheets is already adventurous. In my opinion it should also serve people like me and my friends. We are still students and thus really work on the computer - spredsheets are basic stuff for us. Still none of us thinks of computers as a hobby. We don't enjoy programming etc. Probably I know computers better than the others, but still I definitely want to things work easily.

Here are some requirements or wishes - some that I think should work as in Windows, some that should work better. Most of it is probably alreay done somewhere. The main point is that they should ALL be found in the same distro.

- As many have already said, the installation should be very, very easy. None of my friends has installed Windows, so it's not enough being easier than that - switching to Linux means having to do the install, often without help. After the install everything should work properly without any configuring. Well, perhaps some simple details told before the first network connection, but that is about all. Unlike Kaptain Kernel said, installation wasn't easy enough with Suse - not for me or my friend (but luckily easy enough for my boyfriend). If you can honestly say to a newbie that it doesn't really matter what kind of hardware (s)he has, good. (Note: None of my non-geek friends has any need to have a server.)

- No need to go command-line. We don't have the time and will to learn that.

- It must be easy to make the system look "mine". This is fairly well done right now, at least in KDE. I don't like finding out what's wrong, but I DO like playing with different looks, feels etc. In addition, you cannot make it look and feel perfect for everyone (but you should make it good for everyone).

- Like Yair Carel, I think laptop support is important. Many of use have laptops. (They are handy in small student appartments.) Perhaps a special install mode would be good, having things like APM as default. And, unlike Raymond Wilson writes, moving between networks is important for some of us. In the students houses there is a broadband network, and to the campus we are getting a wireless network. Those who play may also take their laptop to a friend somewhere else, I am already working and would like to easily connect my laptop to the network here sometimes.

- Matthew Lowrance made an important note concerning the security. User Linux should be secure by default, the user should not have to think about security AT ALL. I have argued with several people about the need to have a firewall without any progress... When Linux becomes more popular, there will also be more people willing to use the holes.

- Installing new programs (and hardware too) should be peace of cake - even I should be able to explain to my Grandma in the phone. Mitchells suggestion about "Add/Remove programs" sounds nice. No searching for libraries, drivers etc. No matter how you do it, as long as it works.

- We are still forced to use Windows at the university (school for younger ones) or at work, and exchange documents with people who do. That mustn't be a problem. E.g. connections to a Windows-based network should be so easy and without problems, that we don't need any help, because the the guy at the helpdesk probably doesn't know anything about Linux. Also most people I know don't give a second for the possibility that others perhaps don't have MS Word, for example. It shouldn't matter at all whether I use Windows or Linux. (Other shouldn't even notice it, except perhaps in the form of some little adverticing ;) This is major issue. If this is fixed, then people can switch to Linux one by one. Lukes idea of Wine recognicing Windows programs automatically when doing setup sounds like being part of the solution, as there still are some programs that either don't exist for Linux or that people want to stick to.

- Things John M wrote about (easy mounting/unmounting of dongles USB etc.) are important. If something, this should be made for the braindead...

- General usability. Somebody wrote about opening Opera by clicling a link etc. That is one part of it. Also, there should be very little need to look for the Help system, and when there is, it should contain the answers for the right questions. I think you need newbies to test this :) Usability also includes using other languages than English, especially for the Grandma (for her it is a foreign, not-spoken language) and understandable program names.

- Probably other people take care of making the point that games are important to many, though not to me. Mahjongg is enough for me :)

- If User Linux could be used to keep old computers usable, great. (A special install option for that, for example.) Many could reconsider buying a new one, if switching to Linux would easily do the thing. In my opinion the big distros dont' really do this now. It should still be graphical and be able to do most of the things, especially it should be able to handle documents written with better or Windows machines (but no heavy games). I guess this would mean a lighter desktop.

In short, we should be able to do many things without having to know and think about how the computer really works. We are not brainless, but the main use of our brains is definitely something else.We don't have time to keep up to date with the technical stuff. As long as it works, we are not interested how it does. (But those who then help us with more specialised things probably do.) We sould be able to do 95% of everything we want to without help - and that means a lot!

Perhaps it would be a good idea to have one group of people thinking about the needs, separate from the group of developers fulfilling them. There are many people capable of doing both, but you easily become blind for something you have be doing yourself, and also developers are not on the "same line" with "normal" users anymore. People have taken up many things up here, that are actually part of the technical stuff, that doesn't interest the intended end user.

I would also like to comment about the vast amount of different programs vs. simplicity. I'd say that it is better to leave the developers stuff avay from the User Linux or the default installation. It can of course be there as an option. Also some other programs made for the more experienced user (let alone geeks) should be left out of the default installation (this includes also many text editors). The same line goes for the programs in the background to make the things faster. Then again, what comes to the programs we use, I like the possibility of choice. There are only so many choices that I would indeed like a table where to look for the major features and differencies of the different programs, because it would take too much time to try them all. Or something alike. You cannot just take one word processor etc, because I for example use one editor for normal writing and another for fast opening of little text documents etc. Of course there could be also an install option with only one of each type. Probably different ready install options would help here a lot.

I really wish something comes out of this. If I had time, I would indeed like to help by testing.

"Window management is probably going to spark some form of pseudo-religious debate. The neophyte won't care if the window manager is FVWM, KDE or Gnome or even all three as long as the look and feel is completely consistent. Inconsistency isn't so much a hallmark of something being broken so much as it is an indicator of sloppiness, whether it is real or perceived. Further, inconsistent presentation makes learning a thing more difficult, and when you are experienced, learning more about familaiar things slower and annoying."

If all the window managers had the same look and feel it would defeat half the purpose of their existence, which is to give the user a choice.

The user is free to choose whether they want use an application based on it being percieved as the best choice or whether they want to limit themselves to applications that are programed for a particular environment.

Some things are being worked on to make the overall situation better and some others have to wait for the dust from the first wave of things to settle.

One area where I think work could be done that I have not seen anything about is in the font and color settings. It would be nice to be able to set the font, forground color, background color, etc... and have all the applications honour that whether they are GTK, Gnome, KDE, GNUstep, or whatever.

Later, Don

From the perspective of an OS dabbler and longtime Mac user:

There are two big questions that should be asked about any of the proprietary operating environments:
1. What did they get right? (Or what ideas should we integrate?)
2. What did they screw up royally? (Or, what ideas should we avoid or work away from?)

But, onto Linux:
The core problem with GNU/Linux is not the availability of programs or utilities. They are there, and I hazard that once a market is established, others would be ported. Even Microsoft applications have made it to a BSD variation via MacOS X.

Linux is far more mature than proprietary operating environments like Windows 3.11, 95, 98 or ME. Applications are generally stable and usable. Intuitively approachable, now that's a different story...

Application, command and utility names have to be degeeked. Very basic (usually robustly implemented) functionality is hidden behind a curtain of strange names which any self respecting geek will get, but Grandma won't. If, for example you say to Grandma "Just use guiFdisk to resolve that" she'll probably hear "Just goo on the F disk" and wonder where you learned your manners... Consider if you said instead "Use the Linux Disk Utility"...

Window management is probably going to spark some form of pseudo-religious debate. The neophyte won't care if the window manager is FVWM, KDE or Gnome or even all three as long as the look and feel is completely consistent. Inconsistency isn't so much a hallmark of something being broken so much as it is an indicator of sloppiness, whether it is real or perceived. Further, inconsistent presentation makes learning a thing more difficult, and when you are experienced, learning more about familaiar things slower and annoying.

The idea that the average user is going to use their computer for a limited set of basic things is completely valid. Writing letters & managing correspondence, surfing the web, instant messaging, pulling photos off a digital camera, balancing a checkbook, or drafting legal documents is the stuff of everyman. If you don't think so, look at information that people kept and generated without computers. With that in mind, a basic set of applications that will fulfill those needs is in order.

A good old fashioned consumer study, with placed hardware & software, and an easy way of logging user experiences may be necessary to make a "Linux User" distribution a success. Don't rule out even *gasp* hardcopy for feedback from older, less experienced computer users. ...Or perhaps we only need to look to Brazil...

-S

One thing I think is critical is the help system. Currently the help system is command based (man), so if you already know what command you need, you can find out how to use it. What is missing is a task based interface to help, like the Linux cookbook on the commandline/gui. A user should be able to type:

helpme format a hard disk
helpme change graphics resolution
helpme make the internet work
helpme install a new graphics card

and get reasonable responses. This is at the core of what I believe makes users shy away: things do not all automatically work when you install linux, and once they are not working there is no easy way to find out how to make them work.

Obviously, there is a lot of work hiding behind this innocent request. In the end however, I think that work would pay off.

Here's one idea...

I don't know much about the inner workings of drivers, Windows or otherwise. I do see drivers as being a bit of a problem. I've heard that the widows api is somewhat complex in this regard. It might be difficult, but worthwhile to have a wrapper for widows drivers; or better yet (though harder) a program that analizes a driver, and if it recognizes all the system calls (and such), decompiles it and recompiles it. If it did not recogize something it could simply say so and exit (with a "details" button for those who would care to know exactly why).

This might seem a daunting task, and the drivers code would not be well optimized, but if it worked it would help fill that niche left open by hardware manufacturers who can't stand to give up any details on how to talk to their device. A list of uncompliant manufacturers would be nice (as suggested).

Other comments:

* GUI everything: If it's not a system crash, the desktop PC should be able to handle everything in GUI. Perhaps console programs that have a GUI counterpart (you run guiFdisk and you get a pretty "partition magic" type interface, but the real work is done by fdisk). Both parts would probably need to be written together for this to work seemlessly.

* Look to Windows. I hate to use them as a Linux standard, but seriously! If Microsofts 'Distribution' can do it, UserLinux needs to at least take note of it. Where Microsoft is criticized, Linux in general needs to be careful. I'm not just talking about critisism FROM the Linux comunity, but major distributions need to keep tabs on what excites/displeases regular win23 users.

* I don't know enough to comment on how the system should keep tabs on packages, but it would be nice to be able to make sense of dependancies. This isn't a specific recomendation, just a general thought: remember the "device manager" tree in Windows, something like that with at least two tabs. One would have at the top level only packages that have no dependancies. The next level would be packages that directly rely on them, and then the packeges that rely on them, and so on. The other tab would work the opposite direction, starting with a list of all packages and branching into the packages that they rely on. Perhaps the user would even be able to click on a package and get more detail. Something of this nature would allow users to get a sense of 'whos who' among their packages.

* Shoot for the next generation Linux, but do it while aiming at a more distant target. It would be very nice if 20 years from now UserLinux was not a hack upon a hack to keep it up to date (not suggesting that anyone else is).

* Don't lose track of all the user input. This is probably reduntant for me to say, but I'll say it anyway. Michael Collins who rode Apollo 11 wrote in his book "Carrying the Fire" that he kept a notebook and everytime something ocurred to him about the mission he would write it down. If he was in a resturaunt, he would write it down on a napkin, take it home, and copy it into his notebook. He refuse to launch until every concern in his notebook was checked off. Keep track of all good user input in one place.

Finally,

GOOD LUCK!!!
("You're going to need it.")

I'd like to see something like Knoppix with an install button on the desktop when you boot from CD. Since the user obviously likes what they see and everything works well, otherwise they wouldn't be using the install button, don't ask what kind of keyboard, language, mouse, etc they want... just ask what you have to, like if they want to replace the OS on the hard-drive, before copying the CD image to the hard disk and removing the install button from the hard disk copy.

Also, making the app launching menu to be based off a directory tree, instead of some (obscurely?) formatted file, would make manipulation of that menu and its contents dreadfully easy and intuitive. And to allow for more information than a symbolic link can afford, use an XML file whose contents are easily readable and modifiable by a simple utility or by hand (with vi, gedit, etc).

I still maintain that all the applicaions to replace Windwows applications is missing the point. I run Win2000pro because I like some of the third party applicaions that run on WIndows, only. If they ran on Linux, too, then I would be more incline to run Linux. What would be ideal is if we had something affordable, like VMWare, which would let us run our favorite applications cross platform. The DoJ was wrong to not split M$ into an OS and a separate Applicaions company. Perhaps that fight is not over yet. And perhaps they could split them into three, with games being a good profit center, too.

I see the prblem being about the same for Linux, too. It is operating system that gives many of us problems, not the applications. Jim is looking for Genealogy software, but named several good ones. IF he could run those on Linux the same as on WIndows, I bet he would be happy. Star Office is as good as M$ Office, if nto better, and it is cross platform, same with Open Office. I use all three and also wordpad and notepad but I edit their Output with HTML-Kit. I can use both Star Office and Open Office on linux and Windows, so moving files for those is no problem at all. But HTML-Kit is windows ONLY. I wish I could use it in Linux, I do not need a WYSIWYG editor, I need correctly written html code, period. And HTML-Kit gives me that easily, plus TIDY and a very good ftp client for uploading my files once I know they are right. All I ask is for Linux to be as EASY to use and learn as WIndows and that the applicaions are cross platform just as XHTML/XML is talking about.

Some thing I find lacking is a Genealogy software package that could compete with Family Tree Maker or RootsMagic.


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