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 Forum index » Taking the Puppy out for a walk » Suggestions
Protect Non-Expert Users From Themselves
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johnywhy

Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 353

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2012, 10:32    Post subject:  Protect Non-Expert Users From Themselves  

Last Known Good
An example, I installed openbox and window switcher on Slacko 5.3.3, restarted x-windows, and got, "sorry, your window manager is not configured, cannot load your window manager, you're out of luck." What? Configured....? Good thing I had pupsave backups.

At least ms windows says, "cannot load windows, do you want to load your last good configuration?" Seems like that would not be hard to implement in puppy.

Incompatible Pets/SFS's
Seems like it would not take much to, say, prevent installation of an incompatible SFS or PET. At least a couple ways:
  • all pets/sfs's could have a tag or property indicating which puppy versions they are known to work with. On attempted install, alert user if their puppy version is not known to be compatible.
  • have a 'catch-all' menu, where launchers are placed if a pet/sfs tries to write to a menu that does not exist.
  • installers make other changes to the OS. Puppy should be "aware" of what the installer is doing, and alert user if the installer is trying to do something inappropriate.

Pupsave Backup/Restore
Many of us do manual backups and restores of the pupsave. Would love to see that automated (with manual option). Could be combined with "Last Known Good", above. I compress my backups, since they do compress so small. Even more space could be saved by making them incremental.
http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=629862#629862
http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=629865#629865

I think these sorts of protections could help expand puppy's userbase to mainstream, non-expert users-- if that is a goal.

What other breakage-protections and fool-proofing can folks think of?

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darkcity


Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 2436
Location: near here

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2012, 13:11    Post subject:    

Hi johnywhy,

Good ideas, if implemented they would undoubtedly make Puppy easier to use. I covered some of these ideas in a post in the PPM thread. see- http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=598951#598951

Quote:
Incompatible Pets/SFS's

As mentioned in the post- if a PET tested and known to work with a your particular Puppy it could be flagged as okay to load. Otherwise a warning message could pop up, for example-

Please confirm PET installation - it is not verified to work on this Puppy?
(Yes, try loading) (No, use verified software only)


-The feature could be turned off if they don't want warning.

Quote:

I think these sorts of protections could help expand puppy's userbase to mainstream, non-expert users-- if that is a goal.


I believe non-dev use is a goal, but a low priority. I think the following two points are Puppy ideals-
(A) to create a simple easy-to-use slimline OS which is hassle free
(B) to create an OS which people can experiment and learn development techniques.

So what do I mean when I say 'low priority'. This is because virtually all (if not all) the developers work 100% voluntary. Therefore they work mainly on what interests and motivates them. Implementing new ideas is more fun than testing software on different versions and hardwares to make sure they work. For example, even the administration for verifying software packages (never mind the actual testing) could be very time consuming - depending on how its implemented. There is no obvious procedure for software to be tested and added to the pup repository.

So Puppy is on the verge of being user friendly for non-devs - closer I believe than any other flavour of Linux. How could it be pushed a little further to be made excellent?

One solution I see is to have a Puppy Community Foundation that users donate to - a bounty system could be implemented. For example, if you want 'Last Known Good restore' feature then you would donate to that bounty.

A cut from the donation could perhaps be taken for Barry, lead devs and admin. Depending on how Barry feels it might have to be a fork of Puppy. The advantage to this system is the boring tasks that make Puppy more usable get done and crucially the software remains free. bounty example-http://www.riscosopen.org/content/documents/bounties

The other route is to set up a company and charge for service and/or software (which may violate the gnu license). Personally I'm not a fan of this method, but on the other hand you get a more complete piece of software (a la lowtech's Studio 13.37).

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`f00


Joined: 06 Nov 2008
Posts: 809
Location: the Western Reserve

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2012, 13:52    Post subject:
Subject description: fool-proofing
 

@darkcity - good points

more..

Save/Nosave option
Depending on install method, this can be vital (it's standard on liveCD multisession), if things go seriously wrong having Nosave as the default logoff action enables a graceful exit. As I recall, shinobar's pupsaveconfig does this for frugal installs.

Examine packages
This can be a chore, especially with larger more complex packages. Simple dotpets are easy to tear apart - just rename the extension 'pet' to 'tar.gz' (or use pet2tgz, if I recall correctly) and see what's inside. For example; new jwm version dotpets may use a standard /etc/xdg/templates/_root_.jwmrc which will replace my customized one (not what I want), so I make adjustments and do the install manually. Sfs files can be opened/checked for sfs-type or trialed with an on-the-fly sfs loader. Some pups use their own particular repo for version-specific packages (usually good practice to check there first).

Eat slowly
Give your pup time to digest package 'meals', try them out and get familiar with what you have before scarfing up the next bunch. It's much easier to deal with issues if you keep it simple and do changes one step at a time.

"My new app doesn't work!"
Try loading it via the console. Dependency checking isn't perfect at times. Usually the console will give hints as to why a particular app is having difficulties. Sometimes you can fix it yourself, other times it might be best to check this forum for advice.

Compatibility - slight reprise
Due to the vast variety of pups and puplets, what they have in their base, kernel and so forth .. I can't see any simple solution or maintenance procedure on the near horizon. Here's a basic rule of thumb for dotpets I agree with.

hth
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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2407
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2012, 14:19    Post subject:
Subject description: fool-proofing
 

Some really useful suggestions here. I especially like the idea of being prompted to make a savefile backup (last known good). Wish I had understood the significance of that when I first started using Puppy for heaps of work stuff. Painful lessons learnt.
`f00 wrote:
if things go seriously wrong having Nosave as the default logoff action enables a graceful exit. As I recall, shinobar's pupsaveconfig does this for frugal installs
Yes, this is a great option. If you set the pupsaveconfig save time to zero it never saves and prompts you at shutdown to "save" or "no save". Very handy, and a real timesaver if you have a usb install on a usb stick which has a slow write speed.
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johnywhy

Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 353

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2012, 16:43    Post subject:  

darkcity wrote:
the administration for verifying software packages (never mind the actual testing) could be very time consuming - depending on how its implemented.


that did occur to me, especially given the very many packages out there.

4 ways to check:
--a manual and/or automated review process of packages
--a database of puppy version-incompatibilities/compatibilities
--on the fly analysis of the file at the time installation is attempted
--tag or property on the package itself, stating known incompatibilities/compatibilities

Having not built a package myself (yet Smile), I wonder if there are a few ways that process could be partly automated or distributed, eg.--
  • certain puppy kernals expect certain 'earmarks' (or teethmarks) in any package compatible with them, which might not tell for sure if a package will work with a particular puppy, but can tell that a package would for sure not work with a given puppy.
  • release date of the package is a clue
  • ask package devs of released packages to voluntarily register in a public database which puppies its sure to work with, and/or those its sure not to work with. All other puppy versions would get a 'don't know'. The package manager would look up that database at install time.
  • initiate a new "requirement" that new package releases internally state (internally and/or in a public registry) their known incompatibilities/compatibilities


really great to hear all the feedback.

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harii4


Joined: 30 Jan 2009
Posts: 444
Location: La Porte City, IA , U.S.A.

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2012, 20:52    Post subject:  

Quote:
the administration for verifying software packages (never mind the actual testing) could be very time consuming - depending on how its implemented.

user can give feedback like - hey this works in 3.01.
Thats how i found an Yad that worked with puppy 4.


Quote:
Protect Non-Expert Users From Themselves

With all the road laws and highway signs we still have car crashes? Confused
Quote:
Nothing fails like success because we don't learn from it. We learn only from failure. ~Kenneth Boudling

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johnywhy

Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 353

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun 2012, 21:48    Post subject:  

harii4 wrote:

user can give feedback like - hey this works in 3.01.

Yeah, and perhaps that feedback could be captured by way of a feedback tool, which would send the user rating, plus (automatically) correct info about the app in question, up to the compatibility registry. Another way to distribute the effort Smile

Quote:

With all the road laws and highway signs we still have car crashes? 

And imagine how much worse it would be without that! But, any idiot-proofing in puppy should not lock down the OS, or restrict powers users/developer from getting under the hood. That's one reason we don't like commercial proprietary software, right?

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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2407
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun 2012, 02:47    Post subject:  

johnywhy wrote:
Yeah, and perhaps that feedback could be captured by way of a feedback tool, which would send the user rating, plus (automatically) correct info about the app in question, up to the compatibility registry.
One of the few problems with this forum is that it is not possible to add new comments directly to a post. Sure, it is possible to quote it 37 pages further on, but it would be handy to correct misinformation, or add vital new info, directly where an incorrect or incomplete post existed. This is especially true with a new Puppy, which might have 10 different issues under discussion on page one, followed by 90 pages of randomly distributed answers.

And I'm not wanting to be negative about the forum - it is a fantastic resource.
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johnywhy

Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 353

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun 2012, 04:37    Post subject:  

Hey green-- not sure how my post is related to your comment....?
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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun 2012, 06:26    Post subject:  

johnywhy wrote:
Hey green-- not sure how my post is related to your comment....?
I was picking up on your idea that feedback would be app specific and be linked to that app in some sort of registry - At the moment this forum is the only way to offer that feedback (and to correct information about compatibility etc), but the forum does not keep that feedback/info grouped in any way. The feedback concerning any particular app or feature is spread throughout a multi-page topic and can be impossible to find/co-ordinate.

I've no idea how a registry could keep track of such feedback (maybe a database??), but I was just commenting that this had been one of my frustrations when trying to get apps to work - info is spread all over the place.
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Eyes-Only


Joined: 10 Aug 2006
Posts: 1046
Location: La Confederation Abenaquaise

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun 2012, 08:00    Post subject:  

Fabulous thread johnywhy! I find all your points very well thought out and valid, plus they'd go a very long way towards making for a far better Puppy/user experience.

Hmm... ( can you smell wood burning from my thinking here? lol! ) seeing that so many devs are busy, now how about increasing your knowledge and experience and implementing them into Puppy yourself? This is said in all seriousness and in great encouragement my friend - trust me here! The great thing about Puppy is that due to its simplicity it's a "can do" distro: A person can come in with little-to-no-knowledge ( nearly all of us in fact ) and end up making great strides in changing the Puppy map.

I think back to the days when PlayDayz made his very first .pet. Look at where HE is today my friend! Wink Another would be Tux. And I stop here as there are just too many to name or I'd be here all day long.

Food for thought johnywhy! You can really eat your fill here, believe me!

Cheers/Amicalement,

Eyes-Only
"L'Peau-Rouge d'Acadie"

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darkcity


Joined: 23 May 2010
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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun 2012, 09:13    Post subject:  

greengeek wrote:
johnywhy wrote:
Hey green-- not sure how my post is related to your comment....?
I was picking up on your idea that feedback would be app specific and be linked to that app in some sort of registry - At the moment this forum is the only way to offer that feedback (and to correct information about compatibility etc), but the forum does not keep that feedback/info grouped in any way. The feedback concerning any particular app or feature is spread throughout a multi-page topic and can be impossible to find/co-ordinate.

I've no idea how a registry could keep track of such feedback (maybe a database??), but I was just commenting that this had been one of my frustrations when trying to get apps to work - info is spread all over the place.


I believe you are talking about the 'threaded' forum style, don't think this is possible in phpBB. People can use the wiki to structure the information, unfortunately it is under used - with only three or four regular contributors.



threaded verse flat:
wiki-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Internet_forum_software#Flat_vs._threaded
discussion-
http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=64&t=2118098

pup wiki
http://puppylinux.org/wikka/HomePage

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johnywhy

Joined: 20 Aug 2011
Posts: 353

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun 2012, 12:06    Post subject:  

greengeek wrote:
was picking up on your idea that feedback would be ... linked to that app in some sort of registry...


Ah. The registry would not at all be for general feedback about an app.

Rather, the registry only tracks which puppies a given app is compatible with. Then, when a user tries to install an app, puppy pkg mgr would check the registry to make sure the app is compatible with the user's puppy. 

Devs and end-users would add compatibility info to the registry, but would simply be 2 lists per app:
   -puppies it's known to work with
   -puppies it's known not to work with

Alternative to the registry-- bundle compatibility info into the app packages. Which approach would be better, anyone?

Idea: a checkbox in pkg mgr options to "Only display apps that are compatible with this puppy". 

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johnywhy

Joined: 20 Aug 2011
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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun 2012, 12:17    Post subject:  

Eyes-Only wrote:
Fabulous thread johnywhy! I find all your points very well thought out and valid, plus they'd go a very long way towards making for a far better Puppy/user experience. 

Merci beaucoup!

Eyes-Only wrote:
now how aboutimplementing them into Puppy yourself?

I've been thinking about that too! Actually I'm researching an idea for an xfce plugin for saluki (my current fave puppy). Current challenge-- need functions to read/write to .gtkrc-2.0. Know of any? Smile

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Eyes-Only


Joined: 10 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Jun 2012, 06:11    Post subject:  

johnywhy wrote:
"...Know of any?"


Unfortunately, no. And likewise my days of doing any "programming/daubbling" whatsoever are far over and done with I'm afraid. Crying or Very sad

Sorry my friend. I sure wish I could help as it would be a fun and fascinating project for sure!

Cheers/Amicalement,

Eyes-Only
"L'Peau-Rouge"

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