Improving Usability?

@dazz - your comments are probably spot on for a company director/manager with employees. And as a former manager / project manager I can agree with your comments. But the world is much different on this side of the equation.

For a small volunteer driven organization (like IPFire), with people that have days jobs, and can only “volunteer” a hour to two a day - the recipe for success is much different.

Here, I am sure the #1 priority is security. The #2 priority is support of various issues that pop up on a daily basis. As you have noticed there is no 10% of resources to help with WebGUI. And doing the math - 10% of a really small number is a much smaller number.

You seem to know lots of people with lots of skills. Can one of them assist in helping the WebGUI?


@Jon My employer has ~15,000 employees and you might think that resources are not an issue, but they are.

I have definitely taken into consideration the scarcity of resources available to the ipFire project. There are ~100 addons listed in the ipFire Wiki and I am proposing 20 are removed over 4 years to reduce the workload on developers and improve security. That is only 5 addons per year. Removing those addons should free-up developer resources to take on other tasks. If you look at other proposals I have made, they are deliberately low-resource changes.

10% of not much is something much less, but I don’t think much developer resource is required to significantly improve usability. I have been using ipFire for a few years, and I have not seen/noticed any changes to the WUI. There are improvements to be made.

The people I know with relevant skills have hourly rates far in excess of anything I expect the ipFire project could afford. I have employed a student of graphics design and a student of website development at low pay rates. The incentive for them was a project they could add to their CV. Even this option is probably beyond the resources of ipFire. Students need a lot of supervision (mentoring) to guide them to a good solution.

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Payment is not the way most open source projects work.
Each payment raises property ideas.


To reach the usability of Windows or even a car, there has to be a huge community of humans using the system and reporting their experience. I doubt, we have reach that yet.

I don’t think usability has to rely on a huge community of users. There was a time when Windows did not have a large user base. Improved usability can be achieved by small changes. As an example, ipFire includes this icon:
PakFire Upgrade Addon Install icon
It appears on the Pakfire Configuration is a lot smaller in the WUI, and when my old eyes first saw it, I had no idea what it meant. All of the other icons are text based, but not this one. If this graphic icon was changed to say something like “Install Updates & Addons” it’s purpose would be self explanatory and consistent with the WUI style.

Blockquote The process of feature request should not be integrated into the wiki. …

You are probably right, but any other solution is likely to require a new website, back end development and a WUI. My suggestion was based on the need to minimise development and maintenance resources to implement a simple requirements management tool based on a registered user editable spreadsheet.

There is an opportunity here for the ipFire project. I suggested adding cost (hours effort) as one of the parameters to determine the ranking or priority for developers resources. There may be more than a few users out there who would consider paying €, $USD or £ to have their requirement developed ahead of others. This approach would make it far easier for companies, Govt. agencies and individuals to justify targeted donations to ipFire. Far more effective than a general call for donations.

The other benefit is to transition from developer-led to user-led development. In order to make that transition, the developers will need a good (not complex) requirements gathering system that they can trust.

Blockquote Development of a WUI and of an OS are two different parts of software engineering. Maybe there are some users of IPFire with knowledge in the first topic, which could join the development team. This demands moderation between the two branches, also.

WUI development appears to be non-existant for ipFire.

Without at least basic knowledge of networks systems you cannot setup and administer a system like IPFire. This includes basic knowledge of the underlying OS ( the real system, not just the graphical interface! ), this includes the CLI. This is true if development can’t set standards for the HW level and the BSP as Microsoft does.

Agreed. But simple routine tasks should be simple to do via the WUI. Not always true for ipFire. The CLI should be an option for advanced users, not a necessity for a user with basic needs.

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… and yet I see requests for donations to the ipFire project.

There are probably simple legal remedies. Most countries would allow ipFire to be a registered charity.

If the WUI allows new user to do simple things simply, it will attract new users. The CLI should be an option that users can choose as they exploit advanced features.

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Donations are mainly used for the costs of infrastructure, not developing manpower!

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So if the Project had the opportunity to earn more donations, what would the project do?

so instead of the icon your thinking a change to the upgrade image like this?


In my opinion, it would be better to have more volunteers… Maybe someone that could assist with the WebGUI items mentioned. But that is just me…



A simple change to make a simple task simple to do. That simple change to the WUI would be consistent, unambiguous, easily understood and would improve usability.

The same applies to replacing “Pakman” with something that explains what it does, not what it is.

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Hovering over the button gives the explanation.

What about yum, apt, rpm, … ? :wink:

See, that is why I do not promote Linux. No, or very few, standards.

Hovering over the button gives the explanation.

A tool tip doesn’t justify an ambiguous indecipherable icon. Why can’t it just say what it does like other buttons in ipFire?

What about yum, apt, rpm, … ? :wink:

I just meant replacing the “Pakman” text on the WUI with something else.

Linux is full of standards ( RFCs ), which are implemented mostly the right way.

Dominating the market doesn’t make standard, but an OS mainly used with proprietary guide lines not published fully. The latter inhibits open, controlled development.
Maybe this produces the situation nowadays: Demand of new features by many users, low assistance in SW development and even testing.


I have no problem with PAKFIRE.
It is a standard for IPFire packages.
Much like exe, rpm, and deb files.
This keep users from installing everything under the sun and it would be
impossible to maintain.
With most of us point and click operators you have to
spend some time poking around and reading the wiki.
Having to look in the wiki to find what a addon does is not a big deal to me.
will probably expand my search from there.
IPFire is the only open source linux firewall Distro.
PFsense and Opensense are Free BSD.
One key word Firewall not router.


I don’t think there is anyone saying pakfire is a problem, only that more information about each plugin would be nice to have in the IPFire Pakfire page…

That is a double edged sword
On one hand a link to the wiki is much easier to maintain. Along with maintaining a up-to-date wiki. Where as adding a bunch of links in the WUI and trying to maintain that sounds bad.
I understand that the blue ? Icon is not the greatest. I can see how it is not necessarily obvious that it is a HELP button.

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That’s great for English speaking users but then you also need to do the same icon for German, Netherlands, Italian, French, Polish, Russian and Turkish (All the languages that IPFire currently supports) and adjust the code to use the appropriate icon per language.

If anyone wants to step forward and pick up this as a project, they would be welcome to join the dev mailing list and learn how to submit patches to do that.

However make sure that the icon being used does not require acknowledgement for usage. All the images from 123rf, even if free, still require an appropriate acknowledgement on the page the image is being shown. None of them are creative commons images.