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KDE Software GUI Linux

Translated KDE/Linux Usability Report Available 424

WHudson writes "Relevantive AG, a German consulting firm who recently completed a study on Linux usability, posted their results in English translation today. Bottom line: Linux nearly as easy to use as Windows XP, but the wording of system and program messages could use some more clarity."
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Translated KDE/Linux Usability Report Available

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  • by gfody ( 514448 ) * on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:08AM (#6682902)
    Most people that use windows have been using it for a very long time. They have a false sense of intuitiveness that won't transfer to KDE. Things like button placement conventions, widget consistencies, and terminology are different (as in whole other universe different). People that were spoon fed windows are never going to try out KDE and think its actually MORE usable.
    • Ooops like almost all astro-turfer posts looks like got modded up.

      I do wish MS made up their minds though. Is the FSF a cancer or communist. Or are they the pure incarnation of evil. Perhaps they are something even worse like democrats or something.
      • by ceejayoz ( 567949 ) <> on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @02:38AM (#6683273) Homepage Journal

        He merely said that people are used to Windows and thus they have a harder time learning to use KDE than someone who'd never been exposed to either. I'm not sure how you managed to interpret that as a pro-MS comment...

        And considering that OSS is supposed to be everyone working for the general good, it could be considered communist in nature... communism isn't necessarily a bad thing, ya know.
        • If free software really had been about everyone working for the common good, it would not have enjoyed the success it has. Free software is more about people working for their own good, adding functionality they need getting rid of defects that hinder their work. By sharing their work with others they gain by not having to maintain a separate source tree. By using apropriate licenses they can also ensure that they gain from any later changes by other people. Of course, there are people who do not code for p

          • Probably because the Soviet Union - at least in the cold war days - was not at all communist, but authoritarian-socialist. It's all a matter of definition. In a genuinely communist society, the state would not have any power per se, because all that power would have been delegated to smaller units {a.k.a. "soviets"} each responsible for a closed system.

            Basically, "anything not specifically permitted is forbidden" is authoritarian, and "anything not specifically forbidden is permitted" is libertarian.
    • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @02:52AM (#6683332) Homepage
      It works both ways. I've been using KDE for so long now, that on the two occaisions I had the chance to use XP, I was confused and found XP to be difficult because things didn't work exactly like I expected. Truth be told, on the three occaisions I've had to use OSX - I was also confused by it as well for the same reasons.

      I think for the most part, "useability" is 90% familiarity. If you make a person use any system for 6 months, they will get used to it and it will, at least to an extent, "make sense".

      • I think for the most part, "useability" is 90% familiarity. If you make a person use any system for 6 months, they will get used to it and it will, at least to an extent, "make sense".

        If you're familiar with any WIMP GUI, it shouldn't take more than a week to get the hang of it, as long as you have someone nearby you can yell out to: "How the fuck do I delete/find/open this?" "Where's email/Solitaire?" etc... After that, it's application specific, same problems everywhere.

      • I don't use Linux, but I'm gradually switching my applications to Open Source (Firebird/Thunderbird/Open Office) to allow me to switch easier if I want to.

        I've found it initially difficult (particularly with Open Office), but I'm now fine, and find using Outlook less pleasant than using Thunderbird.

      • by Chatterton ( 228704 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @05:17AM (#6683787) Homepage
        As a windows user, I am from time to time confused by other windows versions of the control pannel. I use 98, but when I need to go to the control pannel of Win2000, I take time to find my marks. For the WinXP control pannel, I have just stopped to try to understand his organisation... You don't need to change of OS to be confused :)
      • This is something I"ve been saying all along! When you give Linux to someone who has been using windows their whole life of course they're going to have issues becuase they'll be going "Ok, here's how I _used_ to do it, now how do I _have_ to do it?" And it becomes a chore. On the other hand --

        My grandma turned 80 a few months back and the one thing she wanted was a computer and she has never had one much less used one. So a few of us pitched in and built one for her and we put Lycoris on there. We t

    • People that were spoon fed windows are never going to try out KDE and think its actually MORE usable.

      How do you explain all those who did?

    • Actually, my company has moved a number of ppl over to Linux recently. What we found was that the ppl who are normally afraid made the move nicely (turns out ther are afraid of hurting the system).
      Likewise, the average person moved very nicely. Some complaints, but lots of compliments.
      It was the ppl who were running XP pro with Office professional who thought that they were the 2'nd coming of christ right behind bill, who were having problems. Tried moving them to Gnome and that was no better. It came d
    • People that were spoon fed windows are never going to try out KDE and think its actually MORE usable.

      Step one towards increasing acceptance of Linux GUI systems is to stop treating the Windows desktop metaphor as if it were pabulum that is only choked down by infants who don't know anymore. The Windows interface may not be perfect, but it's more than usable for the vast majority of the desktop market.

      There's no such thing as a "false sense of intuitiveness". The only truly intuitive interface is the nip
  • Usability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LamerX ( 164968 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:09AM (#6682908) Journal
    I think that the whole myth surrounding the difficulty with Linux, is that they already know Windows. They get used to one system, and when they go to use another system, they expect it to work exactly the same. I taught my step-mother how to burn CDs using Nero in Windows, then I got sick of maintaining the spyware-infested OS, and forced Linux upon her. She commented that "How would I have known to click 'k3b' to burn CDs?" I replied, "How would you have known to use Nero?"

    It's all about teaching someone, and once they learn to use something one way, it's hard to get them to learn a new method. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, as they say.

    My step-mom now says how much she loves Linux. She loves no spyware, no pop-ups and spam thanks to Mozzie, and uses OpenOffice without a hitch. (Also uses k3b to burn CDs)
    • Re:Usability (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SweetAndSourJesus ( 555410 ) <> on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:17AM (#6682954)
      Until we can get installers where you can do the standard "click next" routine, Linux will not be usable for the average user.

      Becoming familiar with Windows never involves resolving dependency issues.
      • Bollocks. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BiggerIsBetter ( 682164 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:39AM (#6683052)

        Try RedHat 9 some time. Installing apps is as simple as double-clicking the RPM in Nautilus ("windows" to the uninformed). The package manager apps take it from there - 2 clicks of "Continue" and it is ready to use. The only thing I didn't like was no "It's Done!" message at the end...

        Becoming "familiar" with Windows (read futzing around with non-std apps and tools) *does* involve resolving dependency issues - I'm on lists where it's common to see people say "Why does it want x.dll?", and for a while there, developers shipping dlls and libs crapped up Windows boxes due to being old versions or for the wrong OS (eg 3.1 vs NT vs 95 vs 98 vs 2K vs XP). The problem's not limited to Linux, and what's more, it's no longer an issue on Linux if you use a current distro and the tools it comes with.

        Linux has its problems, but this isn't one of them.

        • Re:Bollocks. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by holloway ( 46404 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @02:16AM (#6683201) Homepage
          I use Redhat 9 (and Windows 2K) and it doesn't deal with dependencies, let alone add a launching menu item to all the Linux desktop's menus. The makers of Linux RPMs don't include everything, it seems they regard statically compiled binaries to be rude. In practice it's a balance of static and dynamic, and in my opinion Linux gets the balance wrong (in that it's rare for software to just require one installation).

          Redhat 9 also comes with an Apache GUI configuration tool that breaks the config file when you have multiple hosts (though I've had no problems with the Network tool, and it's much better than Mandrake's).

          Software such as APT-GET (and's aptget for rpm) are good, but see the list of software on FreshRpms and you'll see that it only has a few hundred packages (which is what -- 5% of Linux software having an easy installation?).

          The main argument for shared libraries, and only proving a piece of the puzzle, is that the pieces can be upgraded at their own rate. But if dependencies can't be resolved transparently as is the current case then it's safe to assume that most users won't be able to use your software (Kismet Wireless, GStreamer - for example).

          These days I hit into Linux dependancy problems much more than DLLs.

          Compare this to Windows '98 -- where it generally works.

          • Re:Bollocks. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by 13Echo ( 209846 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @08:48AM (#6684587) Homepage Journal
            You won't run into problems installing official programs for vanilla installations. People bork up their machines by installing software that wasn't built for their desktops.

            It's like trying to install a program that was built for WindowsXP, but wasn't meant for Win 98. It may work, but it also may not.

            Honestly, I've had more problems getting Windows 98 apps to work with Windows 2000. Grim Fandango was one of them. Dark Age of Camalot was another. Both were incredibly crash-prone because the developers hadn't chosen to support the newer desktops. Win9x emulation mode helped, but didn't totally correct the problem. I've also experienced similar problems getting some CDR software to work on older Windows machines.

            You're going to run into these sorts of problems as long as you have changes in your operating system. It's just the way that it goes.
      • Becoming familiar with Windows never involves resolving dependency issues.

        No, but it does usually involve running into some (aka DLL hell). You just don't have a clue of how to resolve them and can only pray it doesn't break when you upgrade to the latest version you can find, which should work with "the most". I got a couple games I can't play simply because they choke on the current system files.

        Usually I find that the pachage managers do a pretty good job resolving dependencies and installing them for
      • Re:Usability (Score:3, Informative)

        by be-fan ( 61476 )
        Um, those shitty installers are a step backwards. I showed Portage to my 13 year old brother, and he thought it was great that you could install software just by typing one command, rather than taking several minutes to go find an installer, go find where you downloaded it, double click it, click next a dozen times, and finally start it. The portage CLI is easy, but the same thing can be achived with KPortage in a pointy-clicky fashion. Similar tools exist for urpmi and apt-rpm. In particular, the SuSE dist
      • Re:Usability (Score:3, Informative)

        by 13Echo ( 209846 )
        There's a myth that keeps floating around that is based upon this assumption.

        Linux is no different than Windows in the sense that it can use binary installers with included libraries, in just the same fashion. Take Icculus' ports for instance. Installing Serious Sam for Linux is simple. Pop your CD in the drive and run a bin (Linux EXE) that has a sugar-coated installer by means of the Loki Games Installer (like a Linux InstallShield).

        OpenOffice is similar. Run a "setup" binary and it's installed.

    • Re:Usability (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Revolutionary ( 694752 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:32AM (#6683022) Homepage Journal
      "She commented that "How would I have known to click 'k3b' to burn CDs?" I replied, "How would you have known to use Nero?""

      Which raises an interesting question: Why, when your step-mother wants to "burn a cd" does she need to look for not just "Nero" or "k3b", but anything other than noun: "CD creator", or as a task: "Burn a CD", or "Create a CD"?

      If, as seems to be the case, your step-mother knows what it means to "burn a CD", then a successful user interface will indicate to her how to "burn a CD".

      We are not dealing with proprietary software; name recognition is nice, but we do not need to sacrifice usability to preserve it if that is the tradeoff. There is nothing wrong with referring to "Epiphany" as "Web Browser", which seems to be the default for Debian GNOME 2.2 (is this for GNOME in general?).

      GNOME menu->Accessories gives me "Text Editor", "Hex Editor", "Dictionary", "Find Files". This is wonderful. Should "Accessories" be something more to the point? Perhaps, but what is there shows promise.

      If we must refer to applications by name, and perhaps this is useful for multiple applications which accomplish the same task (another problem!), then "Web Browser (Mozilla Firebird)", "Web Browser (Konqueror)", or "Mozilla Firebird Web Browser" and "Konqueror Web Browser" seem much more approrpriate.

      These all seem to be much better situations than finding names in menus such as "", "Ximian Evolution", "The GIMP", and "Mozilla".

      When I think "I should check my email", I don't think "Ximian Evolution", I think "email" (well, actually I think "mutt", but that's beside the point). Sure, when I think "email", I know to look through my menu structure until I see "Ximian Evolution", but that is secondary to what I actually want.

      As I'm fairly new to using full desktop environments with X ("Multiple XTerm Environment"), I don't have experience with the desktops of other distributions. How do these matters fare elsewhere?
      • Looking at the screenshot of the menu as configured for the tests on page seventeen (17), it appears as though these naming conventions were in fact used.

        "[Tool type](Application name)"
      • It's called.. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @02:50AM (#6683318) Homepage
        Mac OS X. Most Apple applications have fairly generic names, "Mail", "iTunes", "iPhoto", "iMovie", "iDVD", "Preview", "Disk Utility", "Image Capture", "CPU Monitor" and "Safari" (You know that's a web browser, right?). As for burning CDs, you stick a blank CD in the drive and the Mac will ask you what you want to do with it, copy files, burn songs, copy pictures, etc. Real ease of use that neither Windows XP or Linux have. That's why I bought my mother and mother-in-law an iBook. It's cheaper to buy them a Mac than listen to them bitch about their PC. They can do everything they need, it doesn't crash, no scary viruses and the only downside is they have learned attachments. I'm still not giving up my dual boot p4, but I find myself spending more time on the g4.
      • Imagine if Internet Explorer were labeled "The Internet." What does this do for, say, Mozilla? Netscape? Opera?

        That said, the primary benefit, in my mind, of Linux is choice. The idea is to offer many choices, but good defaults, so both normal users are happy (with defaults) and users who like to play around can use what they like. It is necessary to show that there are other alternatives.

        THAT said, a task browser wouldn't be such a bad idea.

        What would you like to do?
        *Click: Burn a CD*
        You hav
      • Re:Usability (Score:4, Informative)

        by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @03:33AM (#6683450) Homepage
        This is indeed how things are organized in Mandrake.

        If you want to burn a CD, you need to look in the menu under Archiving/CD-burning, there you'll find the CD-burning programs that are installed. This migth be one, or it migth be more, depending on your choises during installation.

        It's probably not a stretch to have a novice user guess that the program located as: Archiving/CD-burning/eroaster is some sort of cd-burning program, same for Archiving/CD-burning/k3b

        Sure "k3b" alone isn't going to tell anyone anything, but the fact that it's placed where it is will help a lot.

        Actually, the normal procedure is even simpler, you don't go looking for k3b at all. Instead you simply use your normal file-browser to look for files or directories you want to burn. When you found them, you rigth-click on them and select "Burn data-cd" from the context-menu.

      • Re:Usability (Score:3, Informative)

        KDE does what you're talking about, except in reverese. The default configuration is to list items in the menu like this:

        |-> Konqueror (Web Browser)
        |-> KNode (News Reader)
        |-> KPPP (Internet Dial-up Tool)

    • Re:Usability (Score:2, Informative)

      by Osty ( 16825 )

      She commented that "How would I have known to click 'k3b' to burn CDs?" I replied, "How would you have known to use Nero?"

      Well, first off, the link is generally called "Nero Burning ROM", which gives a good impression that it's what you'd want to "burn" a CD-"ROM". Second, either you bought Nero and installed it (by simply putting the disc in the drive and clicking Next a few times), or it came with your PC and was advertised both at the store and with papers in the box the machine came in. What is "

      • Re:Usability (Score:4, Informative)

        by RoLi ( 141856 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @02:31AM (#6683251)
        first off, the link is generally called "Nero Burning ROM"

        And how exactly is this better than "K3b (cd burning program)"

        You obviously have never used any semi-recent version of KDE. All KDE programs have short description right beside the name in the K-menu.

      • Re:Usability (Score:5, Informative)

        by sbryant ( 93075 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @03:31AM (#6683447)

        Well, first off, the link is generally called "Nero Burning ROM", which gives a good impression that it's what you'd want to "burn" a CD-"ROM".

        In some languages, ROM is the name of the Italian city you probably know as Rome, which Nero did actually burn down. It's a nice play on words, but there are plenty of people who won't make the link between that and writing data onto an optical disk.

        -- Steve

        • by BigJimSlade ( 139096 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @08:13AM (#6684437) Homepage
          It's a nice play on words, but there are plenty of people who won't make the link between that and writing data onto an optical disk.

          I gotta admit... I've been using the program for years and love it, but I just realized earlier this year that the icon for Nero was a burning coloseum.

          I am dumb.
    • A KDE desktop does indeed have some usability issues that should be dealt with. The test rapport is very good, and a lot of resources was put into the test to make it useful.

      Incidentally, K3B was mentioned due to poor naming of it in the menu. The testers was of the opinion that a description of K3B function should be included (page 13). Actually, they made some changes in the KDE configuration (page 22) :

      We would advise against using a default KDE "out of the box". The solutions described above are

    • Re:Usability (Score:2, Insightful)

      To be fair to Nero, the complete name listed in the Start menu is "Nero - Burning Rom".

      Of course you could argue that the name should be something like "Create CD". Unfortunately for Nero, that is exactly what the Start menu extry for Adaptec Easy CD Creator is.

      In any case I think that it is a huge mistake to not include the word "CD" in the menu entry.
    • by westlake ( 615356 )
      Why is it that so many of these so-called success stories begin with the line "and then I forced Linux upon her" and end with the line "now my Mum says how much she loves Linux?" Sounds to me less like seduction and more like rape.
  • Error Message (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EverStoned ( 620906 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:09AM (#6682909) Homepage
    "Bottom line: Linux nearly as easy to use as Windows XP, but the wording of system and program messages could use some more clarity." I've actually find the opposite. For me, Linux errors are helpful (except for maybe getting a printer to work), unlike the jargon the BSOD gives you.
    • Re:Error Message (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I also think we should be able to edit our posts.
    • Re:Error Message (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kasperd ( 592156 )
      For me, Linux errors are helpful

      That is also my experience. If I have a problem with Linux, it gives me all the messages and tools I need to find the exact cause of the problem. With Windows I often have to give up, because it refuse to tell me, what I need to know. Knowing what the problem is, is the first major step towards solving it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      With the exception of LILO, as anyone who's ever recieved

      LI 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 .....

      will testify.
      • Re:Error Message (Score:3, Informative)

        by gurubert ( 39045 )
        But then you just have a look at the lilo manual and see:

        LI The first stage boot loader was able to load the second stage boot
        loader, but has failed to execute it. This can either be caused by a
        geometry mismatch or by moving /boot/boot.b without running the map


        0x01 "Illegal command". This shouldn't happen, but if it does, it may
        indicate an attempt to access a disk which is not supported by the
        BIOS. See also "Warning: BIOS drive 0x may not be accessible"
  • Nice note (Score:3, Interesting)

    by metaphyber ( 694445 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:10AM (#6682915)
    I was checking out the article, and there seems to be a slight affiliation with microsoft (where this article is originally posted) So, for it to defend linux the way it does is suprising (since some spornsorships are coming from microsoft, I usually don't expect that.)
  • by tomas.bjornerback ( 411702 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:12AM (#6682922) Homepage
    I don't want a flame war, just say that I've been trying to install Linux on a Compaq Evo 1015v since last week and I simply can't get X up and running in any orderly fashion.

    I've tried Debian and even tried to recompile the kernel a few times, to no avail. I have downloaded a couple of GB via dselect without any success.

    The Red Hat 9 CD would only boot, but not install any files. It didn't recognize the network adapter nor the DVD-rom (that it booted from).

    How do I install Linux (with X) on that laptop?
    Must it be that hard to do it?

    Does the Linux community understand that the threshold is too high for the big mass of users?

    I really want to run Linux (distro unimportant) on the laptop, so don't blame me!
    • hehe. Anyway. Maybe you're just not trying hard enough.
    • Check here [] and find your machine on the list.
    • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:41AM (#6683055)
      I like LINUX, I use Redhat 9 because most things are automatically recognized.

      BUT, the study is based on two BIG flaws... In the usage scenarios the following is said.

      1)The computer is largely preconfigured
      2)Use of the computer is mostly restricted to specific applications in a practically homogenous surronding.

      Well, DUH! If I give them a black box with only only black box applications Linux and Windows are largely the same. In fact most OS's in this context are largely the same...

      The PROBLEM of the OS's is when you need to add applications, remove applications or do those silly extra steps. Then Linux becomes hell. The only company that I think has clued into this problem is RedHat. Bluecurve in Redhat 8 was a godsend. No more twiddling with text files. I can pop in my Redhat 9 CD's and it will recognize everything on my notebook, including wireless card. That is how it should be...

      Sorry, but that study is partially flawed as many Microsoft studies.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @02:00AM (#6683145)
        Actually, it is not flawed. The study was not supposed to test whether a home user could use linux as effectively as the windows machine that they have used for years but how they could perform tasks in a work environment. Any large office will preconfigure the machines(even Windows) and try to keep general users from fiddling with them and installing spyware , trojans, virii, etc. In a work environment the idea of installing software and device drivers is not the users job but the system admins.

        I believe that more companies and government organization are going to wake up to the fact they are just creating additional problems by putting too much into desktops(outfitting them with Office Pro, etc.). A large percentage of office workers only need email access, simple word processing, spreadsheets and access to the custom corporate app they spend their entire day working in. Linux is perfectly fine and cost effective in those scenarios.
        • I believe that more companies and government organization are going to wake up to the fact they are just creating additional problems by putting too much into desktops(outfitting them with Office Pro, etc.).

          It seems to me that they're creating problems for themselves by putting anything heavier than just a tiny solid-state Linux box running X on desktops.
      • I can pop in my Redhat 9 CD's and it will recognize everything on my notebook, including wireless card. That is how it should be...

        Out of curiosity, what kind of notebook do you have? I am considering buying one soon and Linux compatibility is a crucial factor. I'm looking at the Sony VAIO V505BX as being highly compatible and very light (but with 'inner bigness'). Or how about the Compaq Presario (various models)?
      • It's good that you've picked up on this. Many folks don't.

        One thing to consider: who, save folks who do more than 'use' their computer, do administration tasks (installing)?

        "Well, DUH, Dalcius, you RETARD! I install programs every other week on my Windows box. Weather buddy, Winamp, etc."

        When users get a Windows box from Dell, they're going to be missing some things. Weather program, MP3 player, possibly a CD burning program, CD ripping program, etc. etc. People have to install these by hand, hence
    • Things is different (Score:5, Informative)

      by BiggerIsBetter ( 682164 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @02:04AM (#6683158)

      Laptops are famous for being a pig to install Linux onto. Proprietory hardware and unhelpful manufacturers make driver support very difficult.

      That laptop has ATI graphics and LCD, which can be a pain to setup manually (don't use modelines with 4.x X!). I'd start with 16 bit VESA at 1024x768 14" (or 1400 x 1050 15"?) native resolution. If possibly, use 4.3 XFree86 as well. If VESA works, then try looking at different ATI drivers, probably "radeon" or "ati", and 24 bit colour.

      As others have suggested, maybe it's worth trying a different distro (Mandrake and SuSE are worth a crack) because they have slightly different kernels and different setup/config tools. They have setup options for LCD screens, so just choose a generic 1024x768 LCD, and VESA/radeon chipset.

      Problems with X are unlikely to be kernel related, but the DVD might be. Maybe you need to use the ide-scsi cd driver, done with a kernel append line at boot time. I'll hazard a guess and say the ethernet is one either tulip or 8139too. I may be wrong, but try modprobe tulip and/or modprobe 8139too then ifconfig -a and see if eth0 is there. It might be something else, but it's worth trying.

      Hope some of that helps.

    • It's not the fault of Linux. If companies don't make drivers blame them. If Compaq does not provide drivers for a popular operating system blame compaq.

      How can you blame Linux if compaq uses weird one off components.
    • Knoppix as reporter. (Score:3, Informative)

      by dmaxwell ( 43234 )
      Knoppix is a "LiveCD" Linux distribution based on Debian that runs entirely from a booted CD-ROM. It has excellent hardware detection and if all goes well it will detect PCMCIA, network, sound, and video hardware then boot straight to a desktop. Many people use it for a rescue CD (I even retrieve data from horked up Windows machines with it). It is also a good Linux compatibility checker. It your case, it can help you figure out a good X configuration.

      The chances are good that Knoppix (
  • BS... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Plissken ( 666719 ) <> on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:14AM (#6682930)
    Linux harder to use than XP? Bollocks! When I first tried XP, I couldn't find the gnome menu! I wanted to burn a cd, and I heard about Windows XP's drag and drop burning, so I tried to get to /mnt/cdrom! But XP has it so D: is my cdrom. When I went hunting for my copy of PuTTY, it was in C:\Program Files\PuTTY! I was expecting to find it in /usr/local/bin ! Those stupid people at Microsoft, why couldn't they have made Windows more like linux?
  • by AvantLegion ( 595806 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:15AM (#6682943) Journal
    Windows: Install new software. Shortcut to program is made in the Start Menu (virtually guaranteed, unless you tell the installer not to).

    KDE: Install new software. Shortcut to program is... well, depends. Is it a KDE app, or a GNOME or X app? What distribution are you using? Even if it's a KDE app, uhm, well, maybe it'll be there.

    • Open kpackage on any debian based system. Click on the app(s) you want and tell it to install and it will find other needed stuff for you and do it.

      Use Yast2, up2date, urpmi etc and they will all do something very similar. Overall newbies do not need to b downloading items manually to install stuff.

      Packages made by those dists also install into the correct menus so that should not be an issue.

      If you really want a super simple to install system for users have them use lindows and pay the yearly fee and th
    • At least in SuSE you get those shortcuts.

      You sound like a stupid moron who has bought a rackmount-system for desktop use and complain that your new 3D-graphics card doesn't fit into it. Wait, actually you more sound like a MS-tool who just parrots stuff that he heard.

    • yes the shortcut in the start menu really is an important aspect of Windows' GUI intuitiveness. Shut down is under "start." It really makes a lot of sense.
    • That's funny, when I want to install something I just open up KPackage, search through it for a program that does what I want, and install it. If it's a KDE app, it'll show up in the KDE menu. Though I find navigating through menus annoying, so I usually just hit Alt-F2 and type the name of the program.

      In Windows, it's a nightmare. My start menu takes about 20 seconds to load, since every program decides it deserves two submenus of its own. I can run a command like I do in Linux, but of course Windows does
  • I said that before (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rzbx ( 236929 ) <slashdot&rzbx,org> on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @01:15AM (#6682946) Homepage
    "...but the wording of the system and program messages could use some more clarity."

    I used to say the same thing about Windows back in the day. Especially all those errors that simply gave you some akward number (or error code). I remember not even knowing which program had the error or if it was the OS. I agree though, system messages almost always need more clarity.
  • Out of the box, there are bound to be some major qwirks that will take some time to get used to in KDE, as well as major problems and annoyances, but one thing that they do not mention is the fact that even without modifying source, KDE is very configuarble, to the point where you can tweak the very basic elements of the UI.

    I admit that Windows is rather universal, and its made for a variety of tastes, but after using my version of KDE for all this time, there are many annoyances in Windows (like double c

  • I just tried to load the blinking pdf, it is 4.3 meg what the heck did they translate it with babal fish?
    Acrobat reader 6 crashed, windows froze and all hell broke loose! I guess I will just have to use KDE and xpdf to read it reboot time. :-(
    • When I read the German version, I remember that almost every page contained many pictures, screenshots and all these things which will blow up the file size.

      IMHO, presenting pictures in a usability study *is* justified and on my crappy system, Acrobat Reader survived, btw.
  • KDE is pretty nice, but really if you're going to migrate someone to Linux, you really should do them a favor and load up XPde first, and then once they learn the hierarchy you should show them the super-convienient Enlightenment or WindowMaker. Those GUIs are pretty fast compared to clunky Windows-ripoff desktop environments, and once you get used to using alt-shortcuts, it's too hard to quit. Also, WindowMaker and Enlightenment are efficient. You may be able to give a technically-inept person a well-co
  • by The Revolutionary ( 694752 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @02:00AM (#6683146) Homepage Journal
    Many of these tests are tests of familiarity and similarity, not strictly of usability. At least this is my impression, browsing the report.

    Remember, these are users who, while they have "No experience with Windows XP" , are also not beginning computer users (but not expert computer users).

    It is quite possible that even if a Mac OS X system were also tested, that the Windows system would score higher, despite Mac OS X having better usability, strictly speaking. This would be the case unless the usability of the Mac OS X system were sufficiently superior in usability, that it could overcome the advantage of the Windows system due to its familiarity.

    Given this, that the Linux-based system did as well as it did is truly a testament to the quality of these open source environments.

    On page eight (8) we see that task two (2) is to:
    - use a text editor to enter some specified text
    - "Format the first line as a centered heading"
    - "Add page numbers on right hand upper margin of the page"
    - "Print the document"
    - "Save document as 'Potter.doc' in WORD format in your personal folder"
    - "Close the program"

    The user's success with the Linux-based system, for this task, will depend largely upon how closely the Linux-based system's word processors resemble word processors in the Windows environment. This test does evaluate usability, but strict usability here, is secondary to familiarity.

    Surely these users will have some -- if not extensive -- experience with Microsoft Word, or even Wordpad. No doubt these workers also have experience performing these very tasks in this Windows environment.

    On page nine (9) we see task six (6):
    - "Open the email application"
    - "You have received a new mail which mentions the date of an appointment"
    - "Have a look at the organizer and see whether you are still free on that date"
    - "If that date is still availab le, please enter the appointment".

    It seems certain here that the user's success with the Linux-based system, for this task, will depend largely upon how similar the Linux-based system's email/groupware client is to Mircosoft Outlook Express, or Microsoft Outlook.

    One last question: why does the KDE system as pictured in the report not have text below the "quicklaunch" icons? Wouldn't this significantly improve a new user's ability to quickly identify and launch the tool needed?

    I do not know what a "blue dog house" means, what a "red lifesaver" means, or what a "K overlayed upon a sproket" means. I can probably make an educated guess given some previous experience with KDE, but that is hardly accessible.

    Am I missing something?
    • Yes, you *are* missing something. Sure, the system in Linux based, but it's using open tools. In effect, this is just a test on systems that are able to run KDE and KDE-based applications. It does, therefore, apply to pretty much every version of Linux as well as FreeBSD (I'm not sure about the other BSDs' support for KDE, though I wouldn't expect it too far behind). Hell, even having a system start up KDE in cygwin would fit this description.
    • To be clear, the report states as much, but I thought it might have been helpful to pull out a few examples for those who do not have the time to read the report.

      From page eleven (11),

      "The testing scenario tries to recreate the following situation: A company or a public office is migrating to Linux on desktop. The employees are using computers for their daily office routines, i.e. they are experienced in using applications and the Windows operating system."

      Also, I found the following compliment on page
  • by Doppler00 ( 534739 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @02:43AM (#6683293) Homepage Journal
    One thing I noticed when skimming through the report was that they didn't really mention the responsiveness of the applications themselves. I mean, once a user learns these applications is the performance of them fast enough for a person to be productive? I've noticed on my linux system that applications tend to take much, much longer to load, the swap file thrashes more often, and just interacting with windows and the system is slightly more sluggish. Sure, the difference is in the few 100's of milliseconds, but it is noticable.
  • by fr0dicus ( 641320 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @02:45AM (#6683302) Journal
    In this study of Windows vs. KDE3 useability, all the contestants chose OS X instead!

    ....waiting for the troll moderation

  • by The Revolutionary ( 694752 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @04:00AM (#6683531) Homepage Journal
    The following comment on Linux shortcomings drew a chuckle from me (page 28),

    "The most striking example of this is the term "Verzeichnis" (directory). To 46% of all test subjects it was unclear whether "Ordner" (folder) and "Verzeichnis" (directory) were synonymous. Consequently, they had problems with the task which asked them to create a new folder."

    Now that is mindshare.
  • by ozric99 ( 162412 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @04:34AM (#6683670) Journal
    If I installed something like Mandrake or Suse on my mum's PC, configured a web browser, an email application, and some general office tools, there's no question that it'd take her about a day to figure out where all the buttons are and how to use it to surf the web, write a letter, send emails. I know this because it took her a similar amount of time to figure out 98, XP, and OSX which she uses at work.

    There's no question about the usability or linux in that regard IMHO. For simple office, and 90% of home user tasks, linux is perfectly "ready for the desktop" and has been for some time.

    Where I feel linux falls down, however, is the intermediate user - the user who wants to transfer their home movies from their DV camera, edit them, and author a DVDR; a user who'd like to use their TV card to timeshift TV shows; the budding composers who want to hook up their keyboards and play with synchronisers and audio manipulators. That's where people (myself, and the majority of people I know who are very competant windows/osx users) who want to migrate to a linux solution run into difficulties which simply aren't present on Windows or OSX.

    Then you move past the intermediate user to the full-on geek, who can do pretty much anything with linux with a couple of mega-fast keystrokes - that's when linux shines ;)

    So can we stop these usability studies, please. It's already usable for the majority of home users. The next step is winning over the intermediate Windows users.

    And as for gaming.... ;)

    • by ctid ( 449118 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @07:16AM (#6684100) Homepage
      This is exactly what I've been thinking and trying to say for years! I have three sisters and my mother:
      • Eldest sister (academic). No real training with computers, but loves them and all PDA-style gadgets too. Used to run OS/2 before IBM dropped it. Loves to try to work out how to do things. Loves the internet. Loves to try new software. Verdict: would be a DISASTER with Linux
      • Middle sister (marketing). No real training with computers except stats packages and spreadsheets. Loves playing games on her PC. Loves messing about with the internet. Will download lots of demos to try them out. Verdict: would be a DISASTER with Linux.
      • Youngest sister (teacher). No real training with computers. Hates computers. Does word-processing and occasionally presentations I think. Occasionally changes her desktop wallpaper. Does not have the internet at home (!). Could not care less about the internet. Would never dream of installing new software. Verdict: Would be just fine with Linux. Probably wouldn't really notice the difference.
      • Mother (retired). No real training with computers. Absolutely clueless about all aspects of computing. Loves the internet because it allows her to keep in touch with her extended family overseas. Occasionally word-processes letters and church programmes. Never installs new software. Has no clue what that would mean. Verdict: Would be just fine with Linux, although she's seems happy with Windows 95 (I'm pretty sure she doesn't know what Windows 95 is, however).
      • Me (academic). Studied and worked with computers for more than 25 years. I would never use Windows if I didn't have to!

      The funny thing is that the people who couldn't care less and the people who love computers are now the ideal market for Linux. It's the people who have enough confidence to try to do things they don't know how to do who would struggle!
  • by The Revolutionary ( 694752 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2003 @05:05AM (#6683761) Homepage Journal
    Some of the observed behaviors were incredibly interesting.

    They categorized users based upon their performance in the tasks. Starting from page 74, I found some of the attributes and observations for each category to be interesting:

    All observations are quoted directly from the report, but have been consolidated from multiple pages (74-77)
    1. Group: Inexperienced performers
    - They cannot mentally differentiate between OS, desktop environment and application.
    - They are goal orientated and not interested in understand (sic) how they get there ("Now it is working").
    - In order to place an application icon (Acrobat Reader) in the desktop bar at the bottom, they were looking for this option within the application itself (and did not succeed). This was the case for 21 of the 60 Linux test participants.
    - They left an application open and tried to perform all further tasks within this application. For instance, they created a new folder using the file dialog of the word processor.
    - They were confused by a high number of options and tried to find a familiar option from which they could start exploring the others.

    2. Group: Experienced performers
    - They are interested in understanding how something works.
    - They consider themselves to be the cause of an error, not the computer.
    - Due to their impatient navigation, they did not see some (sometimes important or helpful) options. Also, they could hardly see the tooltips since they moved the mouse too quickly before the tooltip had been displayed.
    - If an action did not show an immediate result, they went onto another way and only came back much later to the initial action. Hence, this group needed to have the network folder displayed for quite a long time as they clicked somewhere else before the folder content was updated and displayed.

    3. Group: Professional performers
    - They plan their steps by their assumptions of the potential ways that the systems may offer.
    - They can identify the "errors" or "inadequacies" of the system.
    - They had problems especially when they did not expect a certain system behavior. This could be observed e.g. in Windows XP when they tried to write a file on a CD, since this function is integrated into Windows Explorer, while those users expected a stand-alone application.

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