Novell videos give Linux programmers reality check

Programmers beware: The average computer user isn't as technically adept as you.

That's the message of more than 200 videos Novell is offering to programmers who want to see how real-world folks use Mozilla Firefox, Evolution, OpenOffice, Banshee, F-Spot and other packages that ship with Linux. The videos cover tasks such as creating music playlists, changing a computer's date and time and checking to see if there's enough hard drive space to install a game.

The videos are accompanied by measurements such as how long users took to complete various tasks. All are published on a Web site Novell launched called Better Desktop that's part of the company's OpenSuse effort to attract outside development help with their free operating system product.

"As a programmer, it's sometimes difficult to know how ordinary people with no technical experience are reacting to your software," said Nat Friedman, Novell's vice president of collaboration and desktop engineering, in a statement. "Linux people tend to know other Linux people. In these usability tests, we selected test subjects who were experienced with Windows, but who had never heard of Linux, and asked them to perform basic tasks using the Linux desktop."

Tech Culture
About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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