Where Do YE Send Netbook Users Fer Help?

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Linux Journal presents:

As a Linux evangelist, I find myself in an interestin' quandary. Thar be many new netbooks bein' sold wi' Linux pre-installed, but often th' way Linux be installed be nay what I’m used t' seein'. I’m nay sure if that’s a good thin' or a bad thin'. I understand th' reasonin' fer custom interfaces, but 't has some disadvantages. Love 't or hate 't, as a Linux community we be havin' t' be able t' handle these things gracefully, or we lose all th' potential impact we gain wi' pre-installed Linux.

Why Companies Customize th' GUI

* Netbooks be tryin' t' fill a specific gap between notebook computers an' handheld devices. A simple interface t' access full programs makes sense.
* Wi' a standard “Start” menu, new users might assume they could install anythin' they download from th' Internet... fer Windows
* Fewer software options means fewer technical support issues
* An' lastly, Linux makes 't easy t' customize, so 't’s temptin' t' do so strictly fer brand recognition

Why This Frustrates Linux Geeks

I can only speak fer myself on this matter, but I can imagine many o' us feel th' same way. When a user asks a question about th' Eee version o' Xandros, or th' Aspire version o' Linpus -- th' question almost becomes unique t' that machine as opposed t' a general Linux question. Sure, th' Eee uses a customized version o' Xandros, which be based on Debian, but once 't’s gone through them revision levels, most issues be Eee Xandros specific.

I often struggle when helpin' users o' these new netbooks, on accoun' o' e'en tho 't’s Linux, 't’s still foreign t' me. Aye, I usually manage t' point swabbies in th' starboard direction, but 't turns ou' t' me more challengin' than questions regardin' standard, common distributions. How does th' wireless tray app work in Ubuntu? I gotcha covered. In Fedora? Same deal. In Xandros EeePC? Well, 't’s a weird combination o' 2 applications that both sit in th' task bar. 't’s almost familiar, but nay quite.

Don’t get me wrong -- I’m happy vendors be pre-installin' Linux. I’m nay e'en angry that th' versions be highly customized. 't jus' takes more learnin' on th' part o' Linux geeks that get asked support questions. I’m curious, how do th' Linux Journal readers feel about th' new GUI interfaces on Linux netbooks? Be they a wise move by vendors, or be th' straight up Linux installs wi' Gnome or KDE a better decision?

______________________

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Netbooks

alphakamp's picture

I understand why these companies are creating custom desktop environments. It makes sense if their selling point for these netbooks is "It's a big pda with more functionality!" But the masses will come to expect linux to always look like what ever they used first. Meanwhile vendors selling linux desktops are using gnome/kde, thus confusing average Joe even more. IMO average Joe doesn't care what he is using as long as it works and I think the netbooks is doing a good job at promoting linux in general. But I don't fear that desktop choices will degrade linux the eyes of average Joe and Jane. It just might scare them :(

Webinar
One Click, Universal Protection: Implementing Centralized Security Policies on Linux Systems

As Linux continues to play an ever increasing role in corporate data centers and institutions, ensuring the integrity and protection of these systems must be a priority. With 60% of the world's websites and an increasing share of organization's mission-critical workloads running on Linux, failing to stop malware and other advanced threats on Linux can increasingly impact an organization's reputation and bottom line.

Learn More

Sponsored by Bit9

Webinar
Linux Backup and Recovery Webinar

Most companies incorporate backup procedures for critical data, which can be restored quickly if a loss occurs. However, fewer companies are prepared for catastrophic system failures, in which they lose all data, the entire operating system, applications, settings, patches and more, reducing their system(s) to “bare metal.” After all, before data can be restored to a system, there must be a system to restore it to.

In this one hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for better disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible bare-metal recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.

Learn More

Sponsored by Storix