Keep it simple.
If visitor statistics have proven one thing in the last few days, then it is that keeping it simple works best. A small article about configuring a Ubuntu workstation for grandma turned into a site-rush overnight. The moral of the story ? Linux is being presented as an operating system that is way to hard. Somehow I think that the one thing that is holding back de destribution of Linux desktops to the mainstream is … The Linux community itsellf.
Blame the community ?
Now don't get me wrong. Whenever I was in need of Penguin related information, I knew where to turn. Tons of forums, newsgroups and websites where jam packed with information. And they where more then happy to provide it …. Only .. it was presented in a way that was only comprehensible for “the inner circle of linus-ians “ They where friendly and nice, and the howto's started out pretty friendly and easy , but three posts later in the thread the learning curve had gone allmost vertical and they where talking Grep this and Ls that and what have you. When this sudden increase of complexity startled me and I asked or a little more directions I was redirected to another thread that dealt with that problem on its own. Its like asking somebody to help you because your car door is stuck, and as an answer they give you a manual in automechanics.
My wires are crossed.
Wireless support in Linux is a pitfall in that account. When it works out of the box , its fine , when it does not : You're screwed ! And this is sometimes the fault of the evil hardware manufacturers that don”t want to release their drivers (poor Linux heroes even reverse engeneer them to get it to work). But other times there IS a way to get it going, but you have to edit this, copy that, compile this , download that … AAArg ! By the time I have figured that out my laptop will be outdated anyway.
And once more all together : AUTOMAAAATIX !!!
An example that it CAN work is the famous automatix script, instead of posting a gigantic textfile with a complete list of applications you can make, they decided to script it in a little Gui so people could click and pick what they needed. Is it Linux-geeky cool : NO ? Would bash-brawlers frown upon this de-geek-i-fi-cation of technology ? YES .. Does it work ? Hell yes !
Strip the technobabble from the how-to and bring it down to playschool level : Copy this, past it there, click that. No pipes , no grep, no compile, no wget .. just copy paste and click. And the result : A newbie proof way that has done MORE for the linux community since its early rise a year ago , then pages and pages of “man” files have done in years. I'm not saying we don't need these because we do and they are a wonderfull work of patience and passion, but to somebody who just gets started .. they just don't work.
It can be for dumb people too.
And the other thing is : Using Linux does not mean turning it into some major command line operating system that will be able to run the planet should the white house ever decide to pull the 64 k of ram out of the presidents head. It can also mean using it for a simple system. Or a safe-surft computer. So you see my bearded linux-zealots ! Keep'in it simple is keepin it popular !