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Date:      Fri, 10 Aug 2007 09:49:33 -0400
From:      Bart Silverstrim <>
To:        Rolf G Nielsen <>,  User Questions <>
Subject:   Re: Convince me, please! - too much about "GUI"
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <>	<>	<>	<200708091459.l79ExbIU016932@smtpclu-5.eunet.yu>	<>	<> <>

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Rolf G Nielsen wrote:
> Reid Linnemann wrote:
>> My ten year old niece has been brainwashed by the GUI quagmire. She 
>> saw my FreeBSD 6-STABLE console on my amd64 3000+ and wanted to know 
>> why i was using such an "old" computer. She had the visual aspect of 
>> the user interface ingrained as a measure of the capabilities of the 
>> machine. Granted, it could be only because she's ten, but I think we'd 
>> find a lot of people think that something has to have more blinky 
>> lights and chrome to be better or faster.
>> _______________________________________________
>> mailing list
>> To unsubscribe, send any mail to 
>> ""
> I seriously doubt that it's only because she's ten. A friend of mine 
> (who's 37) defines user-friendliness based on the number of tasks he can 
> complete through a GUI. I used to think like that too, but not any 
> longer. I first tried FreeBSD in 1998, but I couldn't get anything 
> running. I just had no idea how, and I was expecting a nice 
> "user-friendly" GUI, like Windoze, but without the constant crashes.
> In 1999 I purchased "The complete FreeBSD, 3rd edition" with CDs 
> included, and this my second try was a lot more sucessful. I was still 
> after a fancy GUI, but this time I got things working. Not without 
> effort though.
> Over the years since I first tried FreeBSD, my ideas about ease of use 
> have changed quite a lot. I no longer define user-friendliness based on 
> what I can do in the GUI; actually, I'm often annoyed by all the menus, 
> submenus and all the whistles and bells. It's really a lot easier to 
> edit a text file to change some setting, than browsing through heaps of 
> buttons, drop-down lists and all that.

I think what everyone seems to be missing is that you know something 
about your computer.

You want a directory?  "Dir."  Unless you're using Unix.  Then it's 
"ls."  How would you have known this without some background in using 
the system, if you were just plunked down in front of it?  (Jurassic 
Park..."Hey!  I know this!")

For people interested in computers, it isn't a chore to learn about 
various commands or even learning how to learn about commands.  It's not 
a chore to learn how the system works.  For computer oriented people the 
user-friendliness bar is far higher in tolerance than for your average user.

The computer user is as enthused about learning how to find a file (or 
know where the hell they're storing the #@!$! file...) as I am finding 
out the differences among radial tire options for my car or what the 
building codes are for my home when remodeling or learning why my tax 
forms are so @#$%! difficult to navigate through.

User friendliness means they *don't need to think about a task*, and 
they will put up with a small amount of hassle to achieve a task as long 
as it isn't a pain in the arse for them to get from A to B.

Sorry, but the quickest way for them to sit down and figure something 
out without having to refer to extra books and cheatsheets is by a (well 
designed) GUI.  It can give them something to experiment with, and the 
interface presents them with a pointer and a mouse and menus to hint at 
options rather than a directionless blinking cursor.  They can interact 
with it.  If well designed, it can guide them through tasks.

The command line is MUCH faster for many tasks, given that you know what 
you're doing with it.  Train someone on a rote task and the command line 
would be just fine for what they would do. "Type this...then this...then 
this...then hit enter...then print this..." and the CLI is very user 

For users to feel comfortable on their own or in doing something 
flexible, the GUI is just more comfortable for them and it reduces the 
need to actually have to think.

So it does little good for presumably tech-oriented people to proclaim 
how the command line is leaps and bounds friendlier/faster to use. 
Anyone who does user support should know that the average user would be 
required to think in order to use the system if it simply presents them 
with a flashing cursor.  What do I do?  What do I type?  Does it read 
English?  What is my paperwork even called?

And before I reach for the asbestos suit, yes, there's a learning curve 
to GUIs. But the GUI still makes them more comfortable than using the 
keyboard.  Crimony, the given the inability for people to even use the 
words LOSE and LOOSE properly, why the hell would anyone think the 
masses would find the keyboard more intuitive or easier to use with 
computers than a simple palm-sized plastic block with a button on it? 
Until computer interfaces are as easy to use as the LCARS system on the 
Enterprise or the computer interface on Atlantis (Stargate, if you're 
unfamiliar), the most comfortable thing for users to interact with will 
be pretty pictures and dancing eye candy to act as a reinforcement and 
reward for users who don't give a #!#% about how or why the computer works.

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