SEUL Frequently Asked Questions

This is not a complete document!
In fact, this document is OUTDATED. Go read this or this.
A working draft of the new FAQ is available but unfinished.


1: Licence

2: Introduction and General Information

3: Target Audience

4: Areas of improvement

5: Distribution

6: Software Issues

7: Hardware Issues

8: People

9: Development Groups

10: Public Relations

11: Sources and Resources

Section 1: Licence

Question 1.1 Before I even consider the SEUL project, how will SEUL software be licenced?
All software specifically written for the SEUL project will be GPL. This means the software is free to use and distribute. Other software packages included with SEUL may have different licences, but those directly included with SEUL will be free to use (though maybe not free to change or other freedoms offered by the GPL.)

Section 2: Introduction and General Information

Question 2.1 What is SEUL?
Simple User-End Linux, or SEUL is both an initiative to create a distribution of Linux that is simple to use, and the name of the distribution itself.

The SEUL distribution is intended to be easy to install, configure, and use, as well as provide the facilities for all manners of uses of Linux, such as network support, productivity applications, and games.

Question 2.2 Why is SEUL needed?
First it must be conceded that having more users of Linux is a good thing. Having more users allows the following benefits:

Many potential users of Linux are scared off by bad experiences installing and configuring linux, or from hearing stories from people who had these problems. Many other people do not know about computers enough to even consider using an operating system that does not at least have the appearance of managing itself.

SEUL is intended to allow these users to use Linux, without all of the difficulties and hastles that have always been part of running Linux, thus causing increased usage and development (free and commercial) for the system and an overall improvement of the Linux system and related resources. Of course, the fallout is that experienced users may find the utilities and applications developed to be useful as well.

Question 2.3 What is so hard about Linux?
For those that are used to managing UNIX systems and/or have used Linux for a long time, many of the difficulties are no longer seen as problems. Not all users are used to many common elements of UNIX/Linux:

Additionally many steps of installing and configuring Linux are complicated and fraught with difficulties:

Section 3: Target Audience

Question 3.1 Who is the SEUL User?
Although the eventual goal is that SEUL should be directed at all audiences, the initial releases will be directed at the home user.

Home users have varying levels of computer proficiency. SEUL will be able to support both those users at the level of lowest proficiency, to those at the highest levels. At the lowest level, SEUL will perform all system administration tasks that the home user would desire, including:

  • Installation and configuration of Linux.
  • Configuration of all hardware including modem, monitor, mouse, printer, etc...
  • Setup of basic and extended software.
  • Logfile management.
As a user becomes more proficient they may wish to install different software and take more control over the system themselves, including installing sources and configuring new kernels and compiling and adding new programs themselves.

Question 3.2 Why would these users want to use SEUL?
These users would have different reasons to use SEUL. Experienced users may want to use SEUL for the packages, utilities and applications that are developed in order to make their lives easier. The main benefit is for the new user.

If a user does not have to perform the management routines of their operating system, but instead may be productive in their normal routines by being able to just run their normal applications, they are more likely to use the operating system. Combined with the fact that Linux is free and many free applications may be run on the system (as many applications as a normal home user may want) SEUL starts becoming attractive.

Question 3.3 How can these users be convinced to use SEUL?
See Section 10. Public Relations.

Question 3.4 Why should these users be targetted?
As mentioned above, the more users (especially unexperienced users) that use Linux the more software (both commercial and free) will be developped which means a better environment for both experienced and new Linux users.

Additionally, if more home users start using Linux, more of these users would push to see Linux in the workplace and other places they would be inclined to use computers, again causing benefit to all users of Linux.

Question 3.5 What use is SEUL to experienced Linux users?
In terms of direct benefits to experienced users SEUL will include many utilities which may help manage Linux systems, which many users would find useful. The indirect benefits mentioned above are that the more users who user Linux, the more software, both commercial and free, will be written for Linux.

Question 3.6 What platforms do the users use?
The majority of home users use simple home units, either IBM/clones or Macintosh machines.

Question 3.7 Why support Linux only installation?

Question 3.8 Why support UMSDOS installation?

Question 3.9 Why support Linux installation with other OSs?

Section 4: Areas of improvement

Question 4.1 What is wrong with what exists?
When looking at Linux in regards to new, inexperienced computer users, several weaknesses to Linux may be seen:

  • Complicated installation process
  • Hardware configuration is difficult
  • Difficulty in compiling programs
  • Problems locating useful programs
  • Insufficient knowledge to manage logs
  • Command line file management is not intuitive
  • X setup is difficult
  • Many X-Window managers are not intuitive

Question 4.2 How can installation be improved?
Several things may be done to improve both Linux and software installation.

  • Pre-compiled kernels so that user does not have to configure and compile (both complicated and time consuming.)
  • Pre-compiled binaries of utilities and applications (Reduces time and possible problems such as missing libraries.)

Question 4.3 How can configuration be improved?
The following suggestions may help improve Linux configuration:

  • Selection of hardware from accurate databases.
  • Auto-detection and auto-setup of hardware.

Question 4.4 How can help be improved?
  • Intuitive and familiar help format (hypertext)
  • Tutorials for common (and uncommon) procedures

Section 5: Distribution

Question 5.1 Why have a distribution instead of just writing more and better utilities and applications?
There are several problems that not specifying a distribution for SEUL to work with will cause:

  • Locations of files: Many distributions deposit configuration files in different locations. Having the user specify their locations goes against the SEUL purpose. Applications (such as installation/configuration utilities) which need to know these locations must know where the files are, and thus must be distribution specific in order to keep within the SEUL mission.
  • A new user will not be able to install SEUL. They will have to install some other distribution which may or may not include SEUL utilities.
  • The most complicated procedure for Linux is its installation. Since the goal of SEUL is to support the new user then it stands to reason that a large proportion of the work must be focused on the installation and configuration of the system. This cannot be done without a new distribution (or a tight coupling with an existing distribution which basically amounts to the same thing.)

Question 5.2 Why not base SEUL on another distribution?
There are several reasons why we might not want to base SEUL on any current distributions:

  • Different installation process (SEUL's installation will be written for the unexperienced home user.)
  • Different packaging. In SEUL several elements of the Linux system will not be installed in the default installation which might normally be installed in a Linux setup (for example ftp and www servers.)

Question 5.3 How will SEUL be distributed?
SEUL will be distributed by several means. There will be disk install data available via the internet covering all major releases. Eventually the goal is to provide an installation setup using one (boot) floppy and a cdrom root with the remainder of the data.

Question 5.4 How will the software be packaged?
The software will be packaged using an existing packaging tool, perhaps rpm (Red Hat) or dpkg (Debian) format. These packaging systems already exist and will support the needs of SEUL. In addition, much software is already available (or will be) in these formats. Using an existing packager will allow reuse of this established base.

Question 5.5 When will SEUL be released?
Currently the release date of SEUL 1.0 is indeterminate. When further progress is made the release date will be decided upon.

Section 6: Software Issues

Question 6.1 What functionalities do we want to provide?
One of the most important aspects of SEUL is that the right group of utilities and applications are provided. These programs should fulfill several requirements. One of the development group's to be will be in charge of determining which programs should be included with SEUL. In general several broad catagories which are needed are:

  • Installation/configuration.
  • General, easy use applications (editor, ...)
  • Internet suite.
  • Extensive help.
  • Desktop applications (word processor, spreadsheet...)
  • Games.

Question 6.2 What tools do we use/develop to provide those functions?
Many of the programs which are needed exist currently, but need to be compiled into a useable format and organized with the rest of the system.

The installation/configuration and Help both need to be created and thus several tools need to be developped towards these ends. The exact tools will be discussed in the various development groups.

Of course, any program which increases the useability, breadth of application, or in other words betters the product will be included. There is a lot of room for creative thinking here. There will always be a need for inovative programmers to improve the distribution (all Linux distributions, really.)

Question 6.3 What language will SEUL be written in?
SEUL is not a single program, but an entire distribution, so its many parts may be programmed in many different languages. The existing utilities and applications which are absorbed into SEUL are written in many languages. The utilities written specifically for SEUL will be written in different languages, depending upon the needs of the various development groups. Each group may make a different decision based on different needs. Currently the various SEUL specific utilities are being written in one or more of the following languages:

  • C/C++
  • Perl
  • tcl/tk
  • Guile/Scheme

Question 6.4 What applications and utilities will be included?
Any utility or application might be included in the distribution. Several utilities will be written specifically for certain aspects of the SEUL distribution or to handle problems which have not been solved yet. Other utilities and applications will be chosen by the "Application/Utility Selection Development Group". See Appendix A, "Sources and Resources" for a document describing the included utilities and applications (when it becomes available.)

Question 6.5 Why not just include everything?
There are several reasons that not every utility and application will be included (at least in the default configuration):

  • Included utilities must be stable.
  • A specific level of usability and "look and field" are desired.
  • Too many choices will confuse the beginning users.
  • Many programs (ftp and www daemons for example) are not needed by normal home users.
During installation the user will be given the option to perform a custom install and install more of these options.

Question 6.6 In what format will the software be distributed?
All software will be distributed at least in binary format. Source for the binaries may be included. Even the Kernel will be supplied in compiled form. The default installation will be binaries only. The user will be given the option, however, to install source (in custom setup.)

Question 6.7 What is so hard about compiling programs?
Binaries are the preferred distribution format because they allow the user to ignore the various problems which may come up in distribution:

  • Missing statically linked libraries.
  • Directory structure problems.
  • Missing code libraries.
The binaries will be accompanied with the necesary dynamically linked libraries which will be installed if necesary.

These problems may not be that important to experienced Linux users, those who have experience in compiling software. The problems are formidable to those with less, or no, experience. Since SEUL is intended to be simple to use the user should not have to worry about the compile problems.

Question 6.8 What is so hard about compiling the Kernel?
Although the kernel should be able to compile without any problems, there are several reasons it should be made unnecesary to compile the Kernel:

  • It is very time consuming, which means it is not user friendly.
  • CD-ROMs are large enough to hold all of the compiled kernels we want.
  • As soon as new users learn that they have to "compile" they will be turned off from the system.
  • Successful compilation requires at the very least that the user has not changed critical files (or deleted them.) For new users this cannot be guaranteed, and therefore the most stable method of fixing the system is being able to reinstall a pre-compiled kernel.

Section 7: Hardware Issues

Question 7.1 What hardware platforms will SEUL support?
Although the focus is on the home user (PC Market), most of SEUL will be applicable to any hardware. It is possible that the initial installation support will be for the PC Market first, but this can be rapidly changed and expanded to include all systems.

Question 7.2 Why support networked machines?
More and more often home users are installing small networks. If the Linux networking power is easily accessible and configurable through SEUL even for home users then more users are likely to use Linux. If a user has to put too much effort into configuring their networks then they will not use the system.

Question 7.3 Why support standalone machines?
By far the greatest use of personal computers is in standalone mode. It would defeat the purpose of SEUL to not support standalone machines.

Section 8: People

Question 8.1 Who can be involved in SEUL?
Anyone! SEUL covers all aspects of Linux, and general computer use. The project has need of Web designers, documenters, translators, coders, designers, etc. You name it. Even if you are only interested in following the project and perhaps using the end products, your input is greatly appreciated.

Question 8.2 What about other projects and initiatives, can they be involved?
The SEUL team is committed to working with existing and future projects. If there are other projects which can contribute to SEUL, or if SEUL can contribute to other projects, we are interested.

Question 8.3 Are there any initiatives to work with other groups?
Currently there are no specific initiatives to work with other groups. However, as the project progresses the potential to work with other groups will grow, and actual initiatives will appear at this point.

Question 8.4 Are there any initiatives to share the SEUL efforts with other distributions?
All software created by the SEUL group will be GPL'd, which means that any of the other distributions may pick up the elements of SEUL which they deem useful. The purpose of SEUL is not just to provide an easier to manage distribution, but also to help improve ALL distributions and Linux setups.

Question 8.5 Just who is coordinating SEUL development?
See "Section 9. Development Groups", below.

Section 9: Development Groups

Question 9.1 What are development groups?
The project of SEUL is broken down into smaller, sub-projects, which will be managed by smaller groups. Each group will control certain components of the system. Co-operation between the groups will be very important in order to ensure that the various groups are not overlapping functionality.

Question 9.2 What are the development groups?
The development groups include (* denotes planned, but not existing, groups):

  • Application/Utility Selection
  • Configuration
  • Help/Documentation
  • Installation
  • Promotion
  • Web Site

Question 9.3 Who are heading the development groups?
  • System Architect: Erik Walthinsen (
  • Consulting System Architect: Pete Luka (
  • Systems Infrastructure: Roger Dingledine (
  • Help/Documentation: Ken Duck (

Question 9.4 How can I join one of these groups?
To join one of the above groups email the development head of the group.

If you have a sugestion of a development group to add, or would like to join a group for which a development head is not listed, contact Erik Walthinsen ( To see the progress of the groups see "Appendix A. Sources and Resources" below.

Section 10: Public Relations

Question 10.1 How will SEUL be marketed?

Question 10.2 How can people be convinced to use Linux?

Question 10.3 What about the myths regarding Linux. How might they be dispelled?

Question 10.4 When will SEUL be released to the general public?

Section 11: Sources and Resources

Question 11.1 Is there a SEUL website?
The SEUL home page is located at and is maintained Erik Walthinsen (

Question 11.2 Is there a SEUL mailing list?
Currently the following mailing lists are involved with the SEUL project:

  • General project list: seul-project
    Mail to with no subject and the following text:
            subscribe seul-project your@email.address
Other mailing lists will be added as the project progresses and expands.

Question 11.3 Are there any IRC meetings?
IRC meetings between development groups may be arranged on a per-group basis. These meetings will be announced when they start.

Currently there is only one IRC group. This is a channel at which the various group leaders meet.

This group meets daily to discuss the current state of events, as well as whichever random topics come up. For the last two weeks, our meetings have broken the 2hr mark consistently. We will likely continue to meet daily as is possible for the life of project, though hopefully not for 2hrs every day. :)

Question 11.4 Are there other faqs?
The related faqs are (* denotes unwritten but planned faqs)

Question 11.5 Is there anyone I can email for more information?
The following people may be emailed with questions regarding SEUL and related projects:

General discussion: seul-projects mailing list (see above)
Web site: Omega ( SEUL-faq questions: Ken Duck (