In a recent story, my fellow scribe Preston Gralla wrote, “If Linux has an Achilles heel, from the point of view of a Windows user, it’s installing new software.” Now, he’s seen the error of his ways about that, but he also noted that, “I was rewarded with a long list of recommended updates — and what they were, or were used for, is anyone’s guess. For example, the first four were: alacarte: easy GNOME menu editing tool. … ” His point was that he didn’t have a clue about what this program might be.
He’s got a point there: A really big nasty one. I, and if you’re a regular reader of my Linux stories, know what alacarte is, or at least can figure it out after one glance at the description. But, really can we expect anyone who doesn’t know Linux to know what it is? I don’t think so. Or, for that matter, what GIMP, open-source’s answer to Adobe Photoshop, is?
When we live with any technology, we start taking for granted knowledge that we know without realizing that’s it’s a foreign language to everyone else. So, while package manager programs–that’s software installation programs for the non-Linux using members of the audience–like YaST, Synaptic, and PackageKit make installing software easy it doesn’t give new Linux users much of a clue about what it is they’re installing.
That’s where ASUS’ service for installing software on its Xandros Linux-powered netbooks comes in.