Dapper has now been out two months, and in general the feedback from the release has been wonderful. I feel somewhat relieved – it was a challenging set of goals we set ourselves, but it seems that (a) most users prefer Dapper to any previous release and (b) most users are very happy with the combination of features and stability. Phew.
However, there’s always room for improvement, so we have been evaluating the release and figuring out what we can do next time to have a closer alignment of expectations and reality.
So, what can we do better next time?
First, I think we need to realise that any heightened publicity will create impossible expectactions. Dapper was by far the “biggest” release the project has produced to date, we were all excited about it, there was a lot of buzz, and as a result there’s a temptation for each person to hope that this release will have the set of things that THEY think is essential.
Second, I think the word “polish” is misleading, so I will try to stop using it. The problem is that it says different things to different people. To “polish” a release means to fix lots of little things that are irritating but not essential, and of course, everyone has their own list of bugbears. So saying the release will be “more polished” is about as bad as saying it will be “more better” 🙂 . In future, I think we should articulate specifically where we will be investing the effort. In the case of Dapper, it was (a) the kernel, (b) the installer, (c) the server, and (d) the graphics theme and icons. Of course there was a ton of other work done, but that was what *I* meant by “polish”. So we need to communicate much more clearly EXACTLY where the investment and the results will be found.
Third, we should be honoured to be in head-to-head comparisons with Windows. Some of the toughest criticism of Dapper I have seen comes from people who have never used Linux before. And so they quite rightly stack us up against the OS they use every day. That is something of a success already – we can at least claim to be in the ballpark. Now we need to look PAST where Windows is today, and deliver an experience to those users that is so compelling in some places that they are willing to forgive a few of the warts.