destructive marketing?

Gian Paolo Mureddu gmureddu at
Sat Sep 27 04:28:37 UTC 2008

Karsten 'quaid' Wade escribió:
> One thing I kept reading in recent time on is how much
> of a disconnect people felt between the marketing message for F9 and the
> reality.  "If they had just said it's a beta and beta KDE, suck it
> up, it would have been easier.  But they invited all these new users
> with slick shiny promises and let them down."
> I'm going to try to address this head-on in the release documentation,
> with sections that highlight potential and known problems.  I'm not sure
> what to do about the marketing message except to note that we don't want
> to undermine our success through over-hype.
> - Karsten

This absolutely is a problem... One that even us, old time Fedora users 
and would-be-contributors have had (or still have) with the system in 
one way or another. Personally I have been having a hard time with 
relatives and friends regarding Fedora 9. It is undeniable that there 
have been all sorts of problems with this particular release, but the 
main problem is that most of the people experiencing the problems don't 
necessarily file bug reports about them, and even when they seem to know 
how to, some people would simply say that reporting bugs seems to be a 
complex process (especially the follow up of issues).

I had this experience with a friend of mine, we both bought the very 
same laptop model pretty much at the same time and she *demanded* that I 
installed Fedora in it (she's fond of Fedora, as when I first introduced 
her to Fedora and offered her to install it on her computer, she 
basically told me to install whatever I was using so I could lend a 
helping hand whenever she needed one). At any rate, I installed Fedora 8 
on our computers (x86_64 on mine, i386 on hers, as she makes heavy use 
of stuff like Flash and other programs through, or that are 32-bit 
exclusively, which even though can run on x86_64, some times one has to 
jump through hoops to get them right), but soon after Fedora 9 was 
released, she downloaded the LiveCD for Fedora 9 and wiped out Fedora 8 
from her HDD and started to have all sorts of problems. By that time, a 
bit before she actually had done that I had downloaded and installed 
Fedora 9 (again x86_64) on mine and actually got see first hand many of 
the problems she was experiencing. I offered her to help her get her 
data onto a backup and reinstall Fedora 8, and so we did.  Later I asked 
her if she reported any of the bugs she found (few of them were 
substantially different than mine) and she simply replied "No, it seemed 
too cumbersome". Later that very same day, we started to experience a 
problem on her machine with Totem and audio CDs (Totem was crashing, 
bringing up Bug-Buddy), and she told me something I have though of ever 
since I knew about Bug-Buddy "Why can't Fedora [Bug-Buddy, actually] 
work with regular e-mail addresses. Every time I try to send a report 
that this program shows up, I seem to require to be running some sort of 
mail server". I have thought that very same thing a few times in the 
past with regards to Bug-Buddy as even if it is very helpful, and you 
can even save the trace and much of the "report" it generates, people 
(me included) tend to simply let it slip. It would be great if somehow 
Bug-Buddy could be tuned to report bugs directly to 
rather than upstream gnome, and integrate it with other programs (KDE 
programs, even).

Another issue people seem to have with bug reporting is "searching". 
More often than not, when some of my friends or family actually is going 
to report a bug, they keep saying that they can't find a bug report that 
matches their criteria, and in one occasion someone said "I was looking 
for just THAT in bugzilla the other day!" (speaking about a bug we both 
encounterd), and when I inquired him of the result, he said "I found one 
report about it, and long discussion about it", and when I asked him if 
the chimed in to confirm the bug was still there (after apparently a few 
updates), he simply said "No, it was already reported, anyway". This is 
to some point the main issue I see with people (regular users) with 
regards to bug reports and problems they encounter with the 
distribution. Like some other posters on this thread, I have also people 
tell me that they have stopped using Fedora due to a problem (curiously 
enough the most common problem seems to be with regards to printers, at 
least of those who actually TELL ME, which is, of course the main 
problem). More often than I'd like to, I have to act as a proxy for bug 
reports, the problem is that since I do not have the issue itself, and 
can't reproduce it on my system (due to version or architecture 
discrepancy), the feedback I can provide in bugzilla (or upstream) is 
rather limited.

I'm aware there is no easy or simple solution for this problem (lack of 
bug reporting), and that this may involve maybe too much effort to 
correct over time and through many releases... One possible way (and I 
really hate myself to bring this up) I have thought of is to have some 
sort of "interactive demo tour" for new users, as it is present in other 
operating systems. Through this method it would actually be possible to 
have more people actually know about many of the features and possibly 
how to deal with problems (where and how to seek help, reporting bugs, 
etc). I know there is a "tours" SIG and project within Fedora, and there 
are also video-tours of many of the highlights and features for each 
release (I think this started with FC6)... Now, my idea is basically 
have one of the "screens" of First Boot with a list of videos showcasing 
that particular release. The videos would obviously be those from the 
Tours project, and we wouldn't have to worry about proprietary codecs or 
what not, as they would be already in a free format. However, this 
imposes a series of prerequisites that may be hard to meet: Have the 
content at release date (the hardest to do!), be able to somehow 
internationalize it (could be possible through the use of external 
subtitle files, trying to avoid speech in the videos, and only relying 
on the subs to get the message), add the feature to First Boot ideally 
embedding into the "page" the video player with series of "links" bellow 
indicating the different features... And this is where things can get 
difficult, as the content (the videos) cannot be bundled with the LiveCD 
images (they'd add too much to the images). The way I see it is to have 
the videos in a package readily available on the DVD images, and 
downloadable in the LiveCD installer, this should also be completely 
optional, as not everybody has broad band internet access (and very 
likely the videos would amount to at least a couple hundred megabytes), 
so they may be installed at user action and request. I'm aware this 
would be a very ambitious project and feature to have in Fedora, and 
maybe not all that worth for the semestral release of the distribution, 
but is something I have been thinking for Fedora for quite a long time 
in an effort to improve communication of features to end-users, and 
serving the alternate purpose of also being an educational tool for 
users not all that familiar with Linux in general and Fedora in particular.

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