Welcome to the Community … dont you know the rules by now ?
It amazes me sometimes that we manage to get new people into this Community we call Open. It seems that the real barrier to entry into free and open source software is not Cost or the Availability or the Access but it is in an almost guru like ‘technical knowledge’ required of all aspects that revolve around a problem before someone is allowed to comment or report.
It appears sometimes that its not worth raising an issue or reporting a problem because its quite likely that you will be told you fail to understand the inherent technical issues related and how they are not really what you say they are. If someone coming into the community cannot become involved in reporting bugs and seeing a legitimate result without being made to feel stupid or uninformed then they wont wish to become more involved and our community will be lacking for it.
Every new person who becomes involved in open source software, especially Ubuntu, is joining in a vast pool of personalities, egos and cliques. Language barriers aside it can be difficult to know where and how you can begin to contribute. When things dont work and dont go as expected the first thing we all want to know is how we can respond. With Ubuntu many new users are more likely to head direct to the website for the support forums, chat channels ,mail lists and individuals . Currently the UKTeam , lead by Jono Bacon , are one such group of individuals who have committed to start promoting and developing ideas and the means for helping people to become involved in the community and to use Ubuntu. Its an opportunity begin to encourage new people to use Ubuntu and to begin to find new problems that can be fixed.
However not all problems faced by users will be strictly technical. Some issues may revolve around projects and personalities over which the community may have little or no influence. When these isues arise we , the Geeks, tend to keep addressing the issue as a technical argument attempting to appeal to the requirement that “technical purity and adherence to standards” is the holy grail to which we might all achieve. I would hope that the Spirit of Ubuntu will be able to direct a more positive response and possibly more liberal interpretation in resolving disputes, bugs and accessibility issues. In developing this approach and in finding ways to address both the issue and the arguments it might encourage people to become more involved.
One such issue that constantly raises its head is how well an iPod(tm apple etc ) can be used with your Ubuntu dekstop. For most new users they will understand that iTunes has not been developed for it but they will expect a replacement or alternative. They don’t expect to be lectured about closed and proprietary protocols or how mp3 or ogg is bigger, wider , better etc. Any new user to an operating system is going to be saying to themselves , hey this just works in Windows and no one lectures me on my gadget buying decisions. These people if they feel they will be talked down to or talked at w ill not come forward with their problems. In turn we wont be able to fix them and provide answers.
I and many others will be at the Ubuntu UK Stand in the .ORG Village of the Linux World Expo London Olympia on the 25th and 26th. I would like to ask you the reader if you get a chance to come to the show and tell us about what you as a user, preferably a new user, expect Ubuntu to be providing for you.
Thank you for taking time to read this.