Sugar is too hard to download and install. Walter was recently surprised to hear (during an interview) that even "advanced users" (I'm assuming he meant the computer-savvy who were new to Sugar in particular) had difficulty with our installation instructions, so he went and did something about it.

Walter's new revision draft is meant to be an improvement over the current Downloads page (last edited August 21, 2010).

I offered to try and drum up some testing to see if this is actually an improvement, and what remaining rough edges need to be sanded off. The catch is that most of us can't help with this directly, since we probably already have Sugar running on our machine and are used to getting around the current install instructions to make it work. Therefore! Here's what you can do to help.

If you're a Sugar old-timer and can figure out the new install instructions with no trouble:

Congratulations, you've learned how to work around our existing documentation! Find yourself some newcomers and sit down with them and work through instructions below in person - remember to send things to the iaep list so we can all learn from it!

And remember, when they're looking at the page, don't say anything - don't take the keyboard from them, don't do things for them, don't interrupt them. They're doing very important work - the work of telling us exactly where the shortcomings in our documentation are. When they point them out, help them by fixing the documentation together and then allowing them to continue proceeding by themselves.

If you're new to Sugar or think the install instructions are hard to understand:

You are exactly the kind of person whose help we need. See, most of us have been using Sugar so long we've forgotten what it's like to be a new user puzzled by install instructions - we've lost the ability to improve them because we've gotten too used to how difficult they are to understand. Here's what we'd love help with.

  1. Check out the proposed redesign for the download/install page.
  2. Try to get Sugar running - whatever platform you have, whatever means you'd like to use. Do not ask for help yet, even if you're getting stuck. We're trying to find out whether the instructions on that page - and linked from that page - are sufficient to enable folks to get through the installation on their own.
  3. If you do get stuck, write down (or take a screenshot and circle) everything you can think of about what's confusing about the page, what you had to take a guess at, and as much as you can describe about where and why you're stuck. This is incredibly valuable feedback that only you can give - you're showing us how our documentation can be improved, pointing out things we don't realize we ought to fix - until you come along and tell us. (If you manage to make it through to the end, this sort of feedback on how it could have been better is valuable anyway - but you can also skip to step 5).
  4. Now that you have these notes written up, take them and send them in an email to the it's an education project mailing list (iaep at lists dot sugarlabs dot org). If you cc me (mel at sugarlabs dot org) on the email, I'll make sure your feedback gets looked at and brought to the right people.
  5. After you send that email, someone should come along and help you finish the installation. When you have Sugar working on your machine, if you can drop us a line again (on the iaep mailing list, and cc me) so we know you were taken care of and that things are working for you now, we'd very much appreciate knowing that you're all set.

Thank you!