Balancing "The Familiar and the Novel" in Open Source Software Design

Here’s some serious food for thought.

Consider this well-made video explaining that some of the biggest successes in creative works (such as the wild successfulness of Star Wars) is owing to the result of both appealing to people’s sense of Familiarity, and their desire to try something Novel.

Please Fast-forward in, to 6 minutes, 46 seconds:

This video explained to me why distros like Ubuntu, Elementary, and Linux Mint are the most popular: they strive to provide the most familiarity to end users, to do their very best to cushion them from being overwhelmed by all the novel things they are eventually bound to face from using Linux. I’m referring to novel things such as the (probable) need to (eventually) learn at least a little bit about:

  • boot loaders (cough, cough, UEFI)
  • device files (Hey, where is the “C:” drive in Linux?)
  • partitioning (dual boot? separate home partition?)
  • file systems (would I want EXT4? BTRFS? What’s up with there being a choice?)
  • Package management, and package repositories (more than one system, if you add snaps, Flatpak, AppImage, etc).
  • Desktop Environments (Umm, there is a choice?)
  • Version Numbering (Umm, what is an LTS?)
  • etc.

Bonus, here’s another video by that same Kirby Ferguson, also relevant:

(Perhaps Fast-forward in to 2:59 where he talks about “Copy, Transform, and Combine”)

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