On Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 07:18:54PM -0500, Matthew Miller wrote:
We're always going to be a niche OS, at least on the desktop --
itself, an increasingly small niche. But, let me restate my initial point.
It's great if we can be totally awesome for everyone, and sure, it's fine to
try for it. *And*, within that subset of everyone, there are some people we
want to make particularly happy.
Almost 350 million desktop PCs were sold last year, down from just over
350 million the year before. It's true that mobile devices are eating
some traditional desktop sales, but it's also true that a 5-year old PC
is more usable now than a 5-year old PC was in 2004. Market saturation
is a problem for operating systems that make most of their sales
alongside new PCs. It's not a problem for us.
(Plus, we're seeing more convergence between desktop operating systems
and mobile operating systems. Microsoft and Apple are both increasing
the commonality between tablet and desktop, and that's a trend that's
likely to accelerate)
One subset that I've identified is the one I mentioned -- the
runs RHEL or Fedora server systems and has Fedora on his or her desktop. The
entire LISA conference was _full_ of these people. As I mentioned in the
earlier thread, they don't all use Gnome, but they do use Fedora, and very
well _could_ use Gnome if we tailored the experience to their needs.
In what ways are their needs different to those of a naive desktop user?
The desktop exists to let you start applications, manage windows and
receive notifications. Do sysadmins expect different prioritisation of
notifications? Do they manage windows differently? Do we not make it
easy enough to launch the applications they need?
You're right that we don't need to concentrate on one group to the
exclusion of others, but we're arguing about use cases without thinking
about why we're assuming that these are different people. Developers
often run the same OS at work and at home. Do sysadmins? If so, do
sysadmins not want to watch movies? If not, what is it about Fedora that
makes them feel it's suitable for work but not for pleasure?
I think it's completely fair to say that previously, we've
feedback from this demographic with "well, you're not a general user --
you're a weird special case". What I want is to acknowledge that even after
all these years of that, this is still our loyal base, and to make every one
of those feel like we are actually directly listening to their concerns
(even if they can't all be addressed).
"We want to pay attention to the needs of more niche consumers" is very
different to "We should define our target audience as niche consumers".
The former is welcoming. The latter is alienating.
Is this a matter of just installing the right applications and tools?
It also involves being responsive to feedback, and testing changes with that
audience to make sure that they actually make the experience better as
intended, rather than becoming an irritation.
Mo's discussion regarding figuring out exactly what it is that users
dislike about fundamental OS behaviour and attempting to satisfy that is
vital, but the optimal outcome is for us to satisfy more technical users
without compromising our usability amongst non-technical users. The PRD
currently suggests that one has to come at the expense of the other.
Let's spend some time figuring out whether that ssumption is true.
Matthew Garrett | mjg59(a)srcf.ucam.org