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Linux can do! -an idea for a new page on GGL.o

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ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13

In my university in France, Apple has been coming around last month, and unsurprisingly, they come with a strong marketing, proposing their products at "student prices" (which are still so expensive!). IPods, laptops, etc are all there and you have posters and postcards everywhere.

Instead of swallowing my pride again when seeing so many new users being swallowed into non-free software, I decided to go and see. I picked up some printed material. I have to admit, they are pretty damn good. One one postcard, they show you that you can create stuff (multimedia apps), work (install Office), etc, with cool pictures of their nice-looking products, and keywords such as "serenity" and so on. First class material, to move users away from Windows.

So I thought: we can do this too. GetGNULinux.org goes a lot on freedom in software, and when it comes to "usability" of GNU/Linux, I mean fitness for general users, we don't do as well as Apple. Let's change this.

Building on the proposals we had for "multi-screenshot screenshots" while discussing the frontpage graphic, I thought about a page where just the best of GNU/Linux apps is shown. A first class, Apple-style page where we show what Linux can do.

I had a first go at a sketch (I had no computer) and it looks like this.
On top, a "hover highlight" series of screenshots (with a CSS image image map as suggested originally by kuan).
Below, a series of short paragraphs with keywords and links to the app homepages. Next to every proposal, one screenshot of the best app in the category. My proposal:

page draft wrote:

Work.
Full Office suite with MSOffice compatibility: OpenOffice.org. Faster alternatives: Abiword or Koffice.

Sort and mix.
CD ripping and buring made easy: Sound Juicer and Serpentine. Organise and share your photos: XX App. Watch videos and play music: XX App.

Surf.
Top-class web surfing: Firefox. Chat: Gaim. Plus a couple of other apps... you get the idea.

Create.
Apps for graphics and audio: Gimp, Inkscape, Audacity...

Relax.
Built-in top security: automatic, easy updates with little need for Anti-virus or Firewall. App install/uninstall couldn't be easier.

Get serious.
Build a web server; Develop (for web or advanced programming); Serious multi-user management.

Participate.
A very short intro to the notion of community.

This page would replace the actual screenshots page, which will need updating anyway since we are probably going to move away from OpenSUSE.

I know the above things may look a bit confused/messy, but we can build a very neat and clear page from it.
What do you think? What would be your favourite apps to put in these categories?
(be careful: choose only very wide public applications. Let's try to remove our "computing enthusiast" caps and think à la Apple, for newbies)

dylunio's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20
I think this is a great

I think this is a great idea. I can't think of any other apps to add at the moment but I'lll post if I think of them.

dylunio

free-zombie's picture
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Joined: 2006-03-08
great idea. Maybe add a

great idea. Maybe add a link like "what else do you want to use your computer for ? tell us, an we'll tell you how!" to find out about use cases that look good on the site, but we didn't think of.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Awesome idea. You're not

Awesome idea. You're not alone in being inspired by Apple marketing, look and feel. We've got to admit it's excellent. It's one thing Apple is very good at and it can only be a good thing to learn from that and apply it to our cause.

I've actually meant to write an overview of easy to use applications for GNU/Linux with cool icons and screenshots as well so I opened this thread: Nice and easy GNU/Linux apps?

There are already some nice app suggestions there. Smiling

a thing's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20
ariadacapo
ariadacapo wrote:

Surf.
Top-class web surfing: Firefox. Chat: Gaim. Plus a couple of other apps... you get the idea.

Gaim should be in a separate section.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21
Surf and Communicate
a thing wrote:
ariadacapo wrote:

Surf.
Top-class web surfing: Firefox. Chat: Gaim. Plus a couple of other apps... you get the idea.

Gaim should be in a separate section.

I agree. Put Gaim together with [insert favourite email app here] in a section called "Communicate" or something. Maybe some separate RSS reader is nice for "Surf".

AndrewB's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-18
This looks like a top

This looks like a top idea.

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
Great to see such a

Great to see such a positive response... I have started working on it and should be able to post a half-decent draft online this week.

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
not quite working yet

OK so I have made a draft - and I don't like it at all. See and judge by yourself.
Of course it's a draft, so many things will be adapted. But I think this does not work.

The problem IMHO is that there isn't enough space. GGL.o was built more for long paragraphs than highly visual pages. So the page is not wide enough to accommodate for a proper top-page graphic. (or else the screenshots are so small they all look the same).
This need not be a disaster and I have two proposals for alternative.

- Either we dump screenshots in that main top-of-the-page series of screenshots, and then we can go for icons. I am thinking of imitating things like the graphics further down this guistyes.com page I came across. Look how much properly displayed icons can make you want to try an OS.
This will make the page look lighter.

- Or (the choice I favour) we really go serious about the page and make it a website. We can register a name like linuxcando.com and build it out of this page. No big fuss, just one simple page, like OpenSourceWindows.org, that would point back to GGL.o. The advantage is that we can get the word out easily (this would be quite "diggable") and that the page would look quite serious.
The drawback would be that it's a little more work.
I can host it easily though and I can also afford a domain name.

What do you think?

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
I would go with attractive

I would go with attractive icons as you say in your first suggestion. If possible we could implement some CSS magic and make it so that when you hover over an icon with a mouse, in a box below the screenshot of the corresponding application shows. This way you can have all icons nicely placed on top as sort of a menu and a screenshots box below changing a screenshot depending over which icon you hover. Clicking the icon could link to a short description.

Anyway, this is just sleepy brainstorming. I also like the second idea about getting a specific domain name for this page and putting it all together there, similarly to OpenSourceWindows.org.

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
slight pause

I have to pause this page somehow as it is taking too much time. Right now it is more important to switch the site to Fedora, and get the French translation going. The Spanish translators also wish to have SVN installed which takes quite some time, and I'd like to finish an article for PolishLinux.org... argh!

I am certainly not giving up this idea and this will be done either way.

libervisco wrote:

If possible we could implement some CSS magic and make it so that when you hover over an icon with a mouse, in a box below the screenshot of the corresponding application shows. This way you can have all icons nicely placed on top as sort of a menu and a screenshots box below changing a screenshot depending over which icon you hover. Clicking the icon could link to a short description.

This sounds extremely nice... the only problem is that I don't know how to do it, and this starts to be serious web design. It sounds more like "Javascript magic" than CSS magic to me.
At this point I have to carefully balance the spread of work on GGL.o . This is purely marketing, and as such it is very "cutting edge". Selling "cool" is difficult and requires constant improvement to stay in the race.
Maybe in the future we might have the means to do this. See for example the very good marketing efforts from spreadfirefox.com.
But at present, *unless someone steps forward*, we shall probably have to stick to a simple static page with some slight CSS hover effects. I write this "unless" because of course I am fully open to any external participation to directly write pages.

So, right away, a small break, but by next week or Dec 1st at the latest, we should have something done.

Olivier.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
No problem, that makes

No problem, that makes sense. Maybe if I'll have some extra time and will I do some experimenting with that CSS magic idea, though I'm not really a CSS expert, javascript even less..

In the end, whatever it will be I think it can look attractive anyway if things are in the right places and everything is usable, simple to read.

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
second draft

Just so we might be able to compare alternatives clearly, I made a draft for the second possibility (standalone website). It's buggy and incomplete but gives a good idea of the overall layout and scope.
Now I'm going back to other tasks Eye
O

AndrewB's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-18
That page looks ace. I love

That page looks ace. I love it, you need a bit more work but it will get there.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
It looks good, but

It looks good, but screenshots and icons don't seem to scale too well. They are a bit fuzzy. But I understand this is still just a draft.

Also, I'd suggest changing something about that OpenOffice.org logo over the OOo screenshot. Maybe you could put it in a circle with white bacground and then put the whole thing on the bottom right corner of the OOo screenshot. As it is now, it looks a bit too busy.

Just some small suggestions.

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
put on hold

Yes there are many details which must be improved. In particular this main graphic is going to be problem, for it is way too large in the png format. It is also quite an accessibility issue.
But I think the concept will work and I like the idea of a standalone one-page website.

Right now I am going to remove the draft from the temp website (to avoid it getting too known) and transfer the content to the develop wiki where it will be easier to quietly choose the applications and improve phraseology.

I am putting the page on hold, until the link buttons page & link buttons themselves on GGL.o are improved. Then this "Linux can do" thing will be useful to try to hit digg and the likes, get some more visits on the site and help spread it more.

AndrewB, nice picture ! The first Xmas decoration that actually made me smile.

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Joined: 2006-03-28
Just before I postet the

Just before I postet the following on this topic.
Since Gustavo pointed me to this topic I thought it might be better continuing here than in a seperate topic.

reptiler wrote:

The actual reason to revisit GGL was that I thought to remember you mentioning free software which people might already know from Windows (like Firefox).
Maybe we could also try to catch people with applications that do not exist for Windows and showing them that these programs are really cool.
I for example record videos from my DV-cam with Kino, which is a great and easy video-editing tool. It can export to different formats and even offers a few effects.
For (sort of) professional video-editing there would be Cinelerra, which offers a lot of stuff, probably a lot more than most home-users would need to edit their holiday-shots. ;-)

For these 2 programs I don't know a free alternative for Windows. Of course, you can record with Windows MediaEncoder, if you like to totally slow down your system because it records to memory and just writes it on hard-disc when you press the stop-button (which shouldn't be after more than 5 or 10 minutes because until then your system is rendered unusably slow since there is no free memory). Also WME directly stores as WMV, which is not a really good format for further processing. Kino stores directly onto the disc, as DV. Files are huge, one hour of video actually needs around 15GB, but you have the uncompressed original, which you then can edit as you wish before exporting it to the final format.
And it does not render your system unusable, you can just continue working or surfing the net while recording your video.

Maybe some of you guys also have some good examples of Linux-apps that have no free equivalent on Windows, so that we maybe could assemble a list to show users some cool things they can do for free on Linux and have to pay a big pile of cash for on Windows.

And if you don't like my idea, just discard it. Anyway, I'm not in charge, I'm just a guy sometimes having funny ideas. ;-)

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