Guys at TechRadar UK made a girlfriend of one of them playing with Linux, in their girlfriend test.
They told some simple tasks to the girl and looked how she was accomplishing the “challenge” using Linux.
This test aim is to demonstrate that Linux is noob-proof when it is about to deal with basic tasks:
- Bookmark a website in Firefox: is it the same thing that doing it in every operating system with Firefox.
- Write and print a letter in OpenOffice.org: same as the previous. It is still not demonstrating anything but the availability of common software for Linux and Windows.
- Rip a CD: different system, same behavior of the GUI that let the girl do what se wanted. But are you sure she won’t have any troubles?
- Send an instant message: here things are getting quite harder. The girl wanted to use Windows Live Messenger and had to use Pidign. She can nearly the same things after some trials. It is not Linux fault but the experience is losing some of its initial appeal.
- Create a pie chart in OpenOffice.org: other OpenOffice stuff, same consideration I made on the second task.
- Put the ripped CD on to her iPod: thank you Apple, thank you Free Software Foundation for the choice of OGG. The poor girl is not smiling anymore.
- Photoshop her head on to my body: she found GIMP and get it to work. At least the girl should receive a standing ovation since she managed to deal with the unusual interface. She is not a regular noob. Definitely.
- Watch a video on YouTube: my dear package manager, having flash installed is a thing that users want to do in a click or two. I know flash is evil, but the web is heavily relying on it. And using the web is more interesting than having a pure 100% free system.
- Make a phone call using Skype: problems are coming out. And in this case I can’t tell you this is not a Linux fault. An 'audio playback problem' needs to be fixed before noobs are going to consider using Linux.
A noob that has to deal only with browsing on nearly pure HTML/CSS sites that has to do some office work with OpenOffice could consider using Linux.
If the user wants to do more multimedia related stuff the situation is getting terribly worst. Maybe you are wondering about the responsible for this fall of Linux perceived usability
I’m pointing my finger against the Free Software Foundation that is trying to prevent anything not open being installed in the system. In my opinion this is a really bad choice.
The girl would have a better opinion of Linux if she could have out of the box working MP3, Flash and Skype support. Losing users in the name of an ideal is not a clever choice in my opinion. Maybe it is the right choice from the moral perspective. But an ideal without users is not going anywhere.
Just my 2 cents, as usual.