Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

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Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby jbemail on Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:42 am

My background: I am a non-programmer/ non-IT guy but am very proficient with Windows-based pc software and hardware. I know that mint development is targeted towards business environments but getting the mass market to know and understand the product could go a long way in acceptance and growth of this great product!!! Some thoughts that may resonate:

Opinions on market users:
1. They want easy with simple language and concepts
Mass market users want easy. Mint is getting there but I think you need to shake out the "insider's Linux language" and create a section within Mint's home page that addresses the non-techie crowd (e.g."Mint Home Users" or "Mint Made Easy" ). I've been following Mint since release 9 and still do not understand the difference between 3 flavors" (LXDE, Debian, etc) nor do I care to spend a lot of time trying. The "Mint Made Easy" section could address:
++ What do you want? Enlighten without the all the confusing options (KDE,Gnome,Debian, uugh!) All I need to know that there is en edition for me! ...Do I want/need a great, easy-to-use, fully charged operating system or do I prefer a "lite" version that allows you full access to the web, videos, Office suite, and more with a faster start up? (Is that LXDE?)
++ Integrate the concept and benefits of Linux into the message. faster, less (or no) viruses, free OS/ many free apps for everyday computing.
++ get rid of terms like "mount", SDA, etc whenever possible---they mean nothing to us dumb folks.

I know that Mint development is not focused on a "apps" type environment BUT browsing and office suite functions are probably the top two things (common) people need and do. If a Mint Made Easy version were simple a slimmed-down version and/or slight change in the desktop were done people would be less intimidated and find themselves within familiar territory.

2.Many are moving towards (or NEED to) move to the "cloud" in their everyday (90%+) usage of their pc's. My neighbors are nightmares when it comes to their fat, bloated Windows pc's - they don't have any idea where they even keep their files (nor do they make any effort to back them up). Not sure if this is possible (or even wanted) but I thought that a great idea for Linux could be an application geared towards the novice crowd that allowed them to create a "My file Cabinet" (a universal concept) that allows them to automate file handling. For instance store by file type (pics, vid's, docs)- wow what an easy but powerful concept! and select storage options such as "I want thse files to be forwarded to my online storage for backup" -or "Remind me to copy this file type folder to backup"... concept needs shaking out (obviously) but it addresses a very common need.
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Re: Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby xenopeek on Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:12 pm

This is a recurring suggestion on these forums, but until somebody steps up and starts doing it, this is not going to happen. So what are you going to do to make this happen? Ugh, okay that is manager speak :mrgreen:

But us Linux nerds & geeks are happy with the way it operates, as the way it works now allows us full control of our computing. What you describe already exists, and is called OSX. I however do not what my computer to hide control from me, and I prefer to learn how it works and the terminology comes with the learning. So "dumbing down" Linux Mint won't get any votes from me :wink:

Both Ubuntu and Linux Mint have a standard edition, so all the choices you describe users need to make do not apply for the average user. The average user, if trying Linux Mint, should be downloading the standard edition (Linux Mint 11 GNOME). Once you are comfortable with that you can start exploring other options. But the average user won't be inclined to do so.

A slimmed down version might be a good idea, but I think this is where things like Android tablets step in, or Jolicloud and other such efforts to target average users.

Apple with their iCloud is doing what you describe about backup up files in the cloud, and sharing those files also across your Apple devices automatically. Ubuntu has Ubuntu One for this and most users are familiar with Dropbox I think (hope) which runs on most major desktop and mobile platforms including Linux. Those, and lots of other cloud backup solutions, integrate very well with Linux desktop. I'm not sure what to add to this. Only thing I can say against it, is that any of the "average users" I know that have tried or are using Linux make just as much as mess of their system as they were capable of doing in Windows. They can be perfectly organized in meatspace but make a right old mess of their files on their computer... There is no helping that with any application, except rigorously locking down what users can do as Apple is doing with their devices.
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Re: Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby tdockery97 on Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:30 pm

Oops! I must have missed the part in our documentation that says we are targeting business environments.
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Re: Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby zerozero on Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:38 pm

linux is not windows is a good starting point
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Re: Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby DrHu on Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:09 pm

jbemail wrote:Opinions on market users:
1. They want easy with simple language and concepts

The answer for such a user is make it simple by using a cloud OS or a smartphone or IPad etc..
http://www.jolicloud.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_(operating_system)

jbemail wrote:++ get rid of terms like "mount", SDA, etc whenever possible---they mean nothing to us dumb folks.

Nope, that would require rearranging all the architecture of Linux just to accommodate people who can't relate a device name to anything other than a drive letter (A: Z:)
Apple OSX users or new OSX users don't seem to see that as a problem
--because they operate with their own style and don't require matching windows OS methods or functions, and just like Linux they can accommodate but not emulate windows OS users and even connect with them..
http://www.apple.com/macosx/

This is a perennial problem for those who don't wish to completely convert to a UNIX/Linux style but instead want to hang onto their other OS
--I can use my other OS (windows or others) without losing any Linux expertise, that is only a matter of habit and therefor practice..
Its not the same thing
--every OS requires adaption, including windows versions or application changes..
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Re: Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby Aging Technogeek on Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:03 pm

What I get from your suggestions is that you would like Linux in general, and Mint specifically, to turn into a free version of Windows. This is a common desire among new users of Linux. They want to be able to use the tricks and tactics they have learned from years of coping with Windows when they move to Linux. One of the hardest things for long term Windows users to grasp and fully understand is that all those Windows tricks are not needed in Linux.

As a computer user, I am a relative newcomer. I did not purchase my first computer until July of 2008. I had basically NO experience with using Windows (the last time I used a PC, it was using DOS) and had to start with Vista (I still have nightmares). Within 6 months I had switched to Linux Mint and was completely happy. I learned more about how to use my computer in the first month of using Mint than I had in 6 months with Vista and XP.

Sure, there is a learning curve, but there is a worse one for a new user of Windows. Most Windows users grew up with Windows and forget how difficult it was when first encountered. From my personal experience and that of several people I have assisted in transitioning to Linux, it is MUCH easier to learn to use Linux than it is to learn Windows. The biggest obstacle for most Windows users who try Linux is getting rid of the habits developed to cope with Windows. Once this hurdle is cleared, progress is amazingly fast and easy.

If you want Windows, pay Microsoft their pound of flesh ( Or is it up to two pounds now?). If you want a different OS that gives control of the computer to the user, not the programmer, learn to use Linux. It is easier than you seem to believe and very rewarding.
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Re: Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby xenopeek on Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:26 pm

Aging Technogeek wrote:... and had to start with Vista (I still have nightmares) ...

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Seriously, I applaud your attitude and dedication to learning to use a computer with only a distant history with DOS (I have fond memories of that, but it doesn't help much in understanding or using any modern OS). Hats off to you sir.

Aging Technogeek wrote:Sure, there is a learning curve, but there is a worse one for a new user of Windows. Most Windows users grew up with Windows and forget how difficult it was when first encountered. From my personal experience and that of several people I have assisted in transitioning to Linux, it is MUCH easier to learn to use Linux than it is to learn Windows. The biggest obstacle for most Windows users who try Linux is getting rid of the habits developed to cope with Windows. Once this hurdle is cleared, progress is amazingly fast and easy.

As Yoda said: "You must unlearn what you have learned."
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Re: Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby Robin on Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:25 pm

I'm always a little mystified when I read posts from newbies who think that Linux should be "like Windows" or "like Mac" as much as possible.

Ewwwww!

I'm just a schoolkid, not a Linux guru or a technically-inclined gadgeteer. I'm a dancer, and artist, a student. And when I looked for a replacement OS I wanted nothing like Windows at all! Sure I wanted point-and-click menus and all that nice kid-friendly stuff (which Linux offers in abundance on multiple desktop environments), but when I found a ready-to-go OS with all the apps and stuff already there (no need to purchase and install an office suite, for example - already there) and all of it fitting on a 700MB CD, I was amazed and delighted.

I found the old KDE desktop befuddling, but certainly Windows-like. Gnome, Xfce, and LXDE are simpler yet, and I think, for me, the best of the bunch is Xfce: Point-and-click simplicity, right-click-anywhere menus, wicked-cool panel that beats even the prettiest dock for functionality and configurability, and kid-friendly enough for me to share with the other "dance kids" who use it intuitively without any need for coaching from me.

Pleeeeease, don't ask the developers to make Linux like Windows! Ewwwwww.

Oh, a joke I just thought of:

Question: What was the ORIGINAL point-and-click interface?
Answer: Colt Firearms.
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Re: Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby jbemail on Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:40 pm

Wow! All great replies!
I suppose I have yet to completely "see the light" but will say that in no way do I want it to be Windows (hence my adoption). I think what I am trying to communicate is that if Mint wants success, that will come via adoption in general - not by just a techie crowd. Argue all you want but, sorry, I don't think any Linux distro is doing a great job in reducing the (presented) complexity. I don't know anybody (within my arguably limited circle of peers) that knows anything about linux (if that is at all a telling measurement). I think that if the target is business (understandable) then wouldn't a company be more willing to adopt if Mint was less of a mystery to other folks in the company besides IT.

I did a poor job (and am always flexible to adjust my opinion) in trying to effectively communicate an overall concept the refines either the OS or the way the team communicates Mint's abilities. I did not mean to imply that it needs to be Jolicloud (which I am also using) but that Mint could put a face forward that does a better job in presenting concepts. Sometimes these things are as easy as re-wording a dialog box or creating a web space that introduces Mint in a more understandable, less intimidating, and guiding way.

I would love to help... just don't know how ...

thanks all
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Re: Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby xenopeek on Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:32 am

We didn't mean to bash you (though reading back we did jump on you at bit, sorry). If you look at businesses, Linux Mint isn't targeting that. And no way can it compete with Red Hat's offerings for businesses. It is for good reasons that at my company (IT services) we run Red Hat and for a lot of our clients we offer it as a strong alternative to proprietary (and much more expensive) Unix platforms such as HP-UX and Oracle Solaris.

For every user wanting to learn there is a suitable Linux distro, and Linux Mint is strong with the "I want to try out Linux" crowd. But there is a long way between users wanting to try out Linux Mint because they want to learn Linux and users wanting to try out Linux Mint, just because. For the latter crowd, like with Android which is targeting those users, you not only need a noob friendly OS but also have the corporate muscle to get deals with hardware manufactures and resellers and the money to market it. Just having a more newbie friendly OS won't convert that crowd. For the users that are new to Linux, and are willing to learn, I think Linux Mint has made great steps--the Welcome screen, the default connection to IRC help chat, these forums and its community, etc.

Taking a step back, I think one of the things worthwhile doing for newbies is a writeup of how to do things in Linux Mint, compared to how you do those in Windows. http://fullcirclemagazine.org/ is doing that the next few magazines, and they will compare (Ubuntu) GNOME, Xfce, KDE and LXDE way of doing things with the Windows way--including screenshots. This may be good to put in a document form, adjusted for Linux Mint, perhaps also include a chapter on doing your first install.
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Re: Improve Mint-Appeal to Novices and mass user market

Postby Geoff55 on Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:15 pm

My family became Linux Mint users by a chance. I saw Mint version 10 CDs on ebay, bought the 32bit and 64bit on a whim. Looked at the 32bit version and thought OK and left it at that. A few weeks later our main PC, dual core with 2gb, is fried by a series of power cuts. Windows vista dead and no money for another new PC. An old PC is dug out, Linux goes on and it's great. It's better than great, it's fantastic.

This old PC which struggled with windows xp is transformed. Boot time is good, applications are fast. No jumping though hoops, just to connects to the internet. I put in a 128mb graphics card that I bought for £1, as the existing 32mb was taking the p*** a bit for apps these days, no problem with Linux at all it just worked. So where's all this going.

I tell every one who will listen about Mint and how good it is. However, 99% of them don't even realise that windows is an OS and that there are alternatives. Like me they've junked prefectly good PC's because they have been hobbled by windows bloat and bought another. As for cloud, who are these many? Apart from me, only one other person I know had even heard of it.

My wife who didn't like gnome at first because it was different, is now happy. My daughter had no idea that Mint wasn't windows anyway, as long as she can get on facebook she's happy. I'm delighted because it couldn't have been easier to install Mint. Gnome is a perfectly usable interface and the software that comes with it does what it says on the tin and there's more online.

Two other machines are back from the dead now too. An old Laptop with windows xp was so slow it made you shout abuse at it, now reformatted has Mint on it and is fast. A Sony stuffed with wierd hardware , dual boots with windows xp that refuses to talk to the internet and Mint that will. What gets used, Mint. There's nothing wrong with Mint. It doesn't need to be glammed up.

Just get the message out there to any one who is looking to upgrade an older PC for a new one or just wants more performance and to save a bit of cash in these hard times. Mint works, tell the world.
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