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Linux on the desktop is a snap, study finds

Aug 25, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinux

* Users test usability of Linux vs. Windows PCs

According to a recent study on Linux desktop usability, the graphical user interface for the open source operating system is no sweat, even for the novice user.

A report published by Relevantive, a German IT consulting firm, found that laymen Linux end users could grasp Linux as easily as Windows XP.

The consulting firm sat down two groups of computer users in front of a Windows XP PC, and another PC running SuSE Linux running Version 3.1 of the KDE desktop environment. The group using the Linux PCs consisted of 60 people who were between the ages of 25 and 55, all of whom said they had some computer skills. None of them had previously worked with either Linux or Windows XP, however. The other group that worked on the XP machines was made up of 20 people in the same age range and with the same computer skills as the Linux group.

Both groups were given a set of tasks, which ranged form composing and sending e-mails, burning CDs, creating and moving files, and other rudimentary operations. The average Linux users needed around 44 minutes to compete the assigned tasks, while it took XP users 41 minutes to do the same things. In a survey of the Linux group, eight out of 10 of the people said they could have Linux mastered in a week, while 85% said they would feel comfortable with XP after a week.

I’ve used KDE myself and it’s a good desktop, but sleeker GUIs based on KDE and GNOME are being developed all the time. It follows that of all the benefits of open source software development – with its public, peer-review method for code development – GUI design would benefit the most. You could probably expect Linux desktop usability to keep rising in the coming months.

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