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Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

I decided to download Scribus as a FLOSS alternative to InDesign or Publisher.

I opened it and was told I need to download GhostScript and it directed me to a site which redirected me to a GitHub releases page

Which had about ten different release versions with shorthand filenames making it very difficult to find the right version. The documentation for Scribus was outdated and gave no help

First one I tried told me to install using Command Line

didn't work

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

Took me 3 tries to find the GhostScript EXE which would install on my machine and then finally I had it installed Scribus stopped giving me error messages.

And this was how it took me as someone who used to use Linux and understands stuff like 64-bit versus 32-bit software.

Scribus itself has Documentation which jumps into telling me the command-line functions before how to use the GUI.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

If you ask the community where to get more Scribus templates they'll link you to a GitHub repo intended to be a directory of templates except nobody actually uses it and adding things to it is people pushing merges to the repo.

and the program itself just has a lot of flaws such as seemingly no ability to add new pages once you've already set the pagecount, and it doesn't understand page folds

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

like if I tell it "do a two-sided landscape US Letter" it doesn't cut the page in half like InDesign it gives me two side-by-side full US Letter.

I'm figuring it out and using it fine but it's REALLY difficult to use whereas InDesign and Publisher didn't take me long at all to learn back when I worked on a student publication.

Like, FLOSS developers design software for other developers then the FLOSS community wonders why non-techies don't use it

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

I can't recommend something to someone where the installation process expects you to run strangely named files on command line.... maybe

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

I can't fault FLOSS for bad GUI too much since it's rarely done with the resources that for-profit products have

but the installation process at least shouldn't expect me to separately download an obscure dependency off GitHub

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

to be clear my criticism isn't that the software itself is bad UX due to lack of polish or whatever, but that at every step it expects and assumes a very high level of tech competency that even as someone with a minor in computer science and a background in working tech support professionally, I do not feel like I have. If you want someone who doesn't work in tech for a living to use your software you should never make them use command line or compile from Github

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

LibreOffice is very good FLOSS. It never directs you to github or makes you use command line. I can direct anyone to try LibreOffice

I can't say that about much other FLOSS that I use.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

Linux is basically this experience all the time btw.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

"this experience" being "in order for things to work i have to put a semantically opaque bash command in my command line that a stranger posted online; and then figure something out from a github"

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

Also ALSO software devs and techies don't like things like pop-up tutorials that are helpful to new users and hold your hand; and are very hostile to attempts to add them. My onboarding modal for Mastodon received a LOT of resistance from sysadmin types who said it should be something you go look at like documentation; or a button you opt-into

but like ppl who don't go poking in every nook and cranny aren't gonna find a tutorial unless it presents itself to you

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel "bad GUI" isn't entirely cause by lacking resources tbh.

you gotta distinguish between "bad looking (unpolished)" and "unintuitive".

the former is definitely a factor of resources but the latter isn't imho.

I think one of the biggest reasons why lots of FLOSS isn't intuitive to your regular user is bc there's just a lack of diversity in those communities. It's tech people making stuff that mostly other tech people use.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@tom @shel this whole thread reminds me why i ditched windows....it wasn't the fault of windows at all, its just it was easier to do what i wanted, on Ubuntu, and that's before I learned about other reasons people might ditch windows...

I changed OS rather than trying to fix the problems....I'm part of the problem.

But I am trying to better document projects I use in a cross-platform friendly way

Thanks Shel for the thread.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel oftentimes those projects seem to be in dire need of usability feedback from people who aren't in tech but it's a bit of a chicken egg situation

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@tom @shel yeah - i think part of the problem is also that FLOSS developers are largely unpaid volunteers, and interact directly with their customers (which i'm not really surprised is a disaster). i think the structure is naturally prone to failure unless the project has some funds from other sources to better support customers

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@tom @shel not arguing that the situation doesn't suck for end users, because it does, but i understand why it sucks. free software is still a field largely populated by hobbyists, and i don't know anyone who wants to try to please demanding strangers for free as a hobby.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel yeahhhhh I've been quietly fighting this fight for a long time, too. I sometimes think about doing some volunteer UX work for FLOSS software I use, but just figuring out how to make those changes is even more of a mess! >_<

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel Thinking about it, this experience is much more common on Windows than a Linux distro, right? I wonder if this isn't always on purpose. Like they're trying to frustrate Windows users into switching. "Officially" (I'm talking rms & co.) you shouldn't support Windows because it's proprietary and so making something good for Windows users is helping proprietary software, so it's all bad and stuff. (I think this is their perspective.)

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel Of course this is probably more likely to frustrate most people into using proprietary (and easier to use) software. Oops.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@onf @shel
> I'm talking rms & co.
> you shouldn't support Windows because it's proprietary

Well, just as a reminder the GPLv3 and probably other "recent" licenses are incompatible with *BSD, also most of the GNU Software supports Windows.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@lanodan @shel I'm saying that he and others would seem to prefer if you COULDN'T run free software on Windows, and see it as a necessary evil at best. They'd probably put a Windows kill switch in if being free software wouldn't make it trivial to remove. And yeah they're not always the most coherent bunch on licensing.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel when designing an onboarding for @SealasApp we were gonna do exactly this

"DESPITE" the EXPLICIT goal that it should be usable by people who don't know how to do accounting, or are "non-technical"

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel these are artifacts of it happening in the open.
in big software houses, obtusely built software packages get written as well, and the same questions of "how do I get this to run" get asked inside the company, and someone takes the answers and does the labor to put release engineering process in place to capture it all and package it in an easily consumable way.

generally in the floss world, this labor is done by Linux distribution maintainers.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel supporting deployment of a software package across a very heterogeneous range of PC platforms is a very different skillset than is required to write the software itself. the people doing the work of making the libraries aren't wrong for putting it on github - but we need more people doing the work of *carrying the ball from there to the goal* to make it accessible to all. it's less exciting work but extremely necessary, as you've discovered

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel > If you want someone who doesn't work in tech for a living to use your software

I think the problem is that most people hacking on these small projects *aren't* thinking about those people at all, they just want to do a thing for themselves and release it in case others find it useful.

I know people who don't share software because they're wracked with guilt over this; they want to share but they don't have the time to make it more accessible

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel to be clear, I *totally* agree with this thread, and my concerns about it are why I package software for Debian (end users shouldn't have this much overhead to install and use a thing!), but I wish I had a real, sustainable solution :(

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel Often, the "go somewhere else and get a dependency" pattern happens because of licensing issues. Software A may not be able to bundle software B (or maybe even offer to download it) because of incompatible licensing, but can make use of software B if software B is installed.

With proprietary software this isn't an issue, because software A will avoid certain licenses like fire and/or pay someone so that they can include it.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@D_ @shel Also it's been a while since I haven't used something with a package manager but the manual install of dependencies exists/existed for non-FLOSS stuff like games too.
(Remember having to install: Flash, DirectX, .NET Framework, … ?)

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@lanodan @shel The difference is that those things were/are usually bundled along with the main installer, which leads to less friction.

In fact, I'd say that less friction with things like DirectX was very much what Microsoft intended, because that's how you get everyone to use DirectX.

Contrast that with GPL, which considers principles to be of higher importance.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel i thought everything can be installed with chocolatey these days?

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@meena that's command line

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel very much yes.
I have similar type of problem with other open source software

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel in particular floss devs assume that everyone will be using a package manager, because after you get used to using a package manager, it's *really* hard to imagine how anyone survives without one.

guilty as charged on that front, but I've started at least doing my games as completely self-contained AppImage downloads. it's a start, I guess?

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel yeah, this is pretty much why I stepped away from Floss more and more as my mental health deteriorated, and I simply didn't have the spoons anymore.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel What OS? "choco install scribus" worked fine for me on Windows.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel This is a bug. Ghostscript should be a dependency of Scribus and be automatically installed

It would be nice if we could report it to them. I may help you with this task

In the mean time, what's your operating system? For Ubuntu, for example you can find help here:
askubuntu.com/

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@aldonogueira I'm on windows.

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel The stable version seems outdated. It's only compatible with vista, 7 and 8. And they won't fix bugs with the 1.4 so we should probably choose 1.5

I hoped Scribus were on the MS store, such as other free software. It would be easier :(

I don't have a windows at home, so I will have to wait until Monday to test it properly. Have you tried the portable app?
portableapps.com/apps/office/s

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel
Acessibility and usability are really needed features in many FOSS projects. Sometimes some awesome tool 5hat would help a lot of people is hiding behind piles of confusing instructions and bad ui :/

Why non-techies don't use FLOSS alternatives 

@shel Yeah, I went through the same problem. Got to the GitHub page for GhostScript and didn't feel confident enough to continue further. :(

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