GNOME Gets Formal, Public Usability Testing
Jan 31, 2013 GMT
By definition, usability testing is difficult in free software. The reason is obvious: usability testing typically requires face to face observation of users, which is hard to arrange when most developers are interacting remotely. That's why Aakanksha Gaur's recent blogs about GNOME 3 usability caught my attention -- to the best of my knowledge, the last major usability study of GNOME took place twelve years ago, although... more »
More thoughts on the GNOME 2 reaction
Jan 25, 2013 GMT
Last week, I suggested that the continued interest in GNOME 2 handicaps desktop innovation. Since then, a proposal has been made that Fedora's next release should default to Cinnamon, Linux Mint's GNOME 2-like shell. My guess is that the proposal will find... more »
Does GNOME 2 nostalgia harm the future of the free desktop?
Jan 21, 2013 GMT
For a desktop that was supposed to become defunct two years ago, GNOME 2 remains surprisingly alive. Linux Mint offers a direct fork in Mate, and recreates GNOME 2 with a series of extensions in Cinnamon. A new distribution called SolusOS now offers Consort, a fork of GNOME fallback, which resembles GNOME 2. Meanwhile, the GNOME project prepares to support a set of core extensions to reproduce the GNOME 2 experience. Hardly a week goes by without some distribution announcing a release that includes some form of GNOME 2.
All this activity is... more »
Taking the pledge a little bit further
Jan 11, 2013 GMT
One of my main critiques about feminism in free and open source software (FOSS) is that it has failed to engage large segments of the community -- especially men. Any movement for social change needs popular support, but too often FOSS feminists have taken a top-down approach, keeping directions and even the right to comment in the hands of a self-proclaimed intellectual vanguard.
That's why I welcome Rebecca J. Rosen's recent more »
When to listen to inconvenient criticism
Dec 28, 2012 GMT
Whenever users complain, the members of a free software project have a time-honored fallback. Happy users, they say, rarely bother to comment. Mostly, only the discontented are moved to voice an opinion.
However, like all pieces of popular wisdom, this one deserves to be questioned. Is the idea that feedback consists mostly of complaints true, or a rationalization seized upon by those who -- very humanly -- prefer to dismiss criticism of their hard efforts? If so, how do you know when to overlook criticism, and when to take it seriously? And what are the... more »
The triumph of convenience
Dec 21, 2012 GMT
A few years ago, my neighbors asked for help securing their computer. They were running Windows, so my knowledge was limited, but I did set up a separate administrative account and add passwords to their regular accounts. When I looked at their computer a month later, they had removed both -- and were back to getting viruses and malware along with their movie downloads. Their explanation? That my simple safeguards were "too inconvenient."
"Let me get this straight," I wanted to say (but didn't). "It's too inconvenient to spend ten seconds typing a... more »
When cults of personality clash
Dec 11, 2012 GMT
A few weeks ago, Aaron Seigo wrote about the harmful effects that cults of personality have on the free software community. I responded by talking about how writers like me encourage this form of hero-worship.
But what, you wonder, could possibly be worse than a cult of personality?
In the last few days, one answer that has emerged is two cults of personality in conflict, distracting the community from important discussions.
I'm referring to Free... more »