(See also The Luxury of Ignorance: Part Deux.)
This essay/rant by ESR is a perfect demonstration of quite a few of the things I’ve long said about usability and UX problems in Linux, and offers some excellent guidelines for developers looking to up their game. There isn’t much point in excerpting this; it’s a quick and entertaining read. What follows is my reaction to this piece (aside “yeah this is all true”, of course).
ESR talks about how terrible the usability and UX aspects of this should-be-extremely-trivial task is, on Linux; and it’s all true. And then the practical takeaway of the article—the call to action, if you will—is: “as a developer, do x y z, to ensure your thing has good usability”; follow these heuristics, etc.
Now, they’re good heuristics! But what is missing from this whole analysis is two critical points:
P.S. As, apparently, a partial consequence of this essay/rant of ESR’s—“There is now a site for projects looking for usability advice and interaction designers who want to help. It is openusability.org.” On that site is a manifesto, which, if you read it, is entirely correct, again—in the “if everyone did this then the world would be amazing” sense.
Of course, unsurprisingly, predictably, no one did it, and the initiative failed. (The twitter hashtag is now used for random nonsense, and nothing else remains of it.) Why? Because despite the wonderfulness of this manifesto, nowhere was there any provision for how to actually cause it to happen, i.e. to induce anyone to do any of this.
The reason things are as they are, is the existing incentive structures; which are not changed by someone posting a manifesto to a website. So nothing came of it and Linux usability is still terrible and nothing has changed.