09 August 2006

Wizard Idea, Wirzenius

Lars Wirzenius is not as well known a he should be, for he more than anyone was both witness and midwife to the birth of Linux. Along the way, he garnered an interesting tale or two about that young chap Linus, his fellow student at Helsinki University. Some of these he kindly passed on to me when I was writing Rebel Code.

I'll never forget the interview, because it was conducted as he was walking along, somewhere in Helsinki, and somewhat breathlessly. The sense of movement I received down the line was quite a physically disconcerting experience.

This memory flooded back to me when I came across this link on OSNews about Lars' current project. As his "log" - not "blog" - explains:

I wanted to know how good Linux, or more specifically Debian with GNOME, is for the uninitiated, or more specifically, for someone who has been using Windows for a number of years, and switches to Linux. I'm specifically uninterested in the installation experience.

To see what it is like, I recruited a friend of mine, and gave her my old laptop with Linux pre-installed and pre-configured. She has agreed to try switching all her computer use to Linux, and tell me about any problems she has. We'll do this for several months, to make it realistic. Anyone can suffer through a week in a new computer.

Of course: why hasn't this been done more often? It's precisely what the GNU/Linux community needs to know to make things better. Reviews by journalists are all very well, but you can't beat in-depth, long-term end-user experience. Wizard idea.

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