It’s about the User: Applying Usability in Open-Source Software


Open-source software developers have created an array of amazing programs that provide a great working environment with rich functionality. At work and at home, I routinely run Linux on my desktop, using Firefox and LibreOffice for most of my daily tasks. I prefer to run open-source software tools, and I think most Linux Journal readers do too. But as comfortable as the open-source software ecosystem can be, we’ve all shared or heard the same comments about some of our favorite Linux programs:


  • “___ is a great program, once you figure out how to use it.”

  • “You can do a lot in ___, after you get past the awkward menus.”

  • “You’ll like using ___, if you can learn the user interface.”


That’s the problem. No matter how powerful the program, that functionality is lost if people have to figure out how to use the program in order to unlock its secrets. Typical users with average knowledge should be able to operate a general-purpose program. If a program is hard to use, that suggests the problem is with the program, not with the user.

Read more at Linux Journal.