Desktop needs to be user friendly

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The software my company produces is terminal based. Our customer base is largely elderly. We switched from a SCO Unix to Red Hat environment. terminal to X. They are used to using the main server as a workstation and not just as a server.

 

Some customers have terminal only based devices (NetTerminal) and may not even have used a window-driven interface before. Some have Microsoft Windows workstations and use a telnet client to access the software on the Red Hat server.

 

I have had complaints from customers that Gnome is too difficult to use and are very upset with us (Gnome HID studies eat your heart out). A few examples:

  1. Top and bottom bars are confusing.
  2. Workspaces are confusing. We tell them to not use them but they play with their system anyway and get stuck in a different workspace and become upset.
  3. "System is slow" for a few customers. They claim there are multi-second delays on the server head, while remote workstations are not affected. The server load is less than 0.05 and CPU is 99% idle. It may be the X driver on servers is redrawing too slowly for these customers.

I realize we can change the look of Gnome by manually tweaking, but doing this for each customer is time consuming. Yes, we could copy a "fixed" /home and give it to each customer, but each customer might have different complaints. A compromise needs to be found.

 

Moving to Gnome 3 in RHEL7 as it stands today would be a nightmare. Our customers would probably threaten to leave us.

Responses

Maybe I am missing the point but I believe the RHEL install has an option for installing KDE, correct? Perhaps the KDE layout would be a little more close-to-home for them, especially if the majority of their use has been on Windows. Of course, running either KDE or GNOME will introduce some delay. You can play around with the default configs (ensure compositing is off, lower desktop effects, etc) but if you run a DE you may simply need to beef up the box(es) in mind.

 

Of course you could also go about using a WM to eek out a bit more performance, such as e17. In this case you'd need to manually set all the parameters and make it look exactly right, but then you could copy the /home/$USER/.e/ directory to each user (and perhaps drop it in /etc/skel to make it easy to distribute to new users; havent tried this with ~/.e/ but might work).

 

But if RHEL 7 continues to allow install of KDE as well as GNOME 3, you may want to use KDE by default.

To be, it sounds like a lot of these aches can be fixed.

 

"Top and bottom bars are confusing."

Couldn't you remove one at that point?  Heck, remove both and put what they need on the desktop. 

"Workspaces are confusing. We tell them to not use them but they play with their system anyway and get stuck in a different workspace and become upset."

At this point, just remove all addition workspaces from the bottom right, then remove the app from the GNOME bar.

"System is slow" for a few customers. They claim there are multi-second delays on the server head, while remote workstations are not affected. The server load is less than 0.05 and CPU is 99% idle. It may be the X driver on servers is redrawing too slowly for these customers.

Not sure if this is GNOME related or not but it sounds like you are on the right path to troubleshoot it.

 

"I realize we can change the look of Gnome by manually tweaking, but doing this for each customer is time consuming. Yes, we could copy a "fixed" /home and give it to each customer, but each customer might have different complaints"

 

I think that's the nature of the beast with the consumer base you have.

 

Have you ever heard of the package "sabayon"?  This is used to maintain user profiles in a GNOME desktop.  You can use this with the package xguest.  xguest is a locked down account you can install that is protected by SELinux.  It will wipe the session clean when the customer is done.  Using this with sabayon, you can custimize an interesting fully locked down account.

 

Just throwing some suggestions your way.  Good luck!

 

~rp