Mika announced a user survey on 28th of January 2007. On 9th of june 2007 the final results of the survey are available. Thanks to everyone who participated!
This is a detailed summary of all of the responses we received. Where appropriate, we present tables of numeric responses. We also provide a representative selection of quotes from people's responses, to give a flavour of what grml's users have to say. We have tried to avoid selecting only “positive” or “negative” quotes, instead trying to provide an informative view of responses. Conclusions should give you an idea what the grml-team investigates to possibly improve the situation.
If you responded to the user survey, but do not find an identifiable quote of something you said, please understand that I (Mika) really did read everything you wrote. The report does not include any personal information, neither any email addresses nor any names or (private) URLs as promised.
The user survey is based on the user survey by Bryan O'Sullivan for mercurial which is an excellent distributed version control system used at grml as well. Don't ask how many hours it took to plan, evaluate, finalize the survey, write items/todos into our Bug Tracking System (BTS) and finally write reply mails to every single survey participant. It was about 30 hours at total. But it definitely was worth the effort!
We received 103 responses.
As is usually the case with surveys, we don't know how many users grml really has, or what the response rate was. The timeframe between two stable releases and not when announcing a new release has been chosen intentionally so we reach especially users interested in grml's development. The survey has been done by mail even though the work for people giving feedback as well as evaluating the results might be higher because we assume the results are of higher qualitiy due to the nature of mail vs. web formulars.
Notice: 103 responses received at all until deadline (15th of april 2007).
43 people from Germany 28 people from Austria 9 people from USA 4 people from Canada 4 people from Netherlands 4 people from Switzerland 3 people from UK 3 people from France 2 people from Belgium 1 from Argentina 1 from India 1 from Denmark
Conclusion: grml is well known in german speaking countries but needs more attention in other countries.
36 people prefer english as language (communication, computer interface) 29 people prefer german as communication language but use english as computer interface language 36 people prefer german as language (communication, computer interface) 1 prefers french as language (communication, computer interface) 1 prefers spanish as language (communication, computer interface) but english is OK as well
Conclusion: english is established, accepted and well known amongst grml users. Several people want to have 'LC_MESSAGES=en_US' (so interface is english) whereas they want to have a german keyboard layout or de_DE/de_AT for the other LC_* variables. German interfaces aren't import for our users in general so we won't waste time in translation of our own scripts. Item for our todo list: we should invent a bootoption like 'denglish'.
18 people found it via internet (Google search, forum,...) 15 were informed by friends 13 had to choose it because Mika told them ;) 12 from a news site 7 aren't sure anymore where they stumbled upon grml 7 stumbled upon grml via distrowatch.com 6 found grml via a blog 6 from Local User Group (Linux, Security,...) 5 found grml via heise.de 4 found grml mentioned in a newsgroup 4 from a Linuxday event 2 from a Linux magazine 2 from prolinux.de/symlink.ch 1 from speakup mailing list 1 from a podcast by Chaos Computer Club
Conclusion: as expected word-of-mouth advertising works pretty well for a distribution with a specific target audience. Many people stumbled upon grml when searching for an emergency/rescue CD or they found a tip in a forum. Mika's advertisement on linuxdays, linux/security user groups is quite effienct too. :) The appropriate news websites/portals like heise, prolinux and symlink are important as well, let's see what happens if we get slashdotted. :)
61 did not encounter any (real) problems 29 people had problems 8 people had problems not related to grml, mainly either not used to Debian or to Zsh 4 people had problems with the ISO/CD-ROM 1 decided to give no answer
Notes: the people who explored problems usually had problems with either:
"No problems, just coolness" "I got a Kernel Panic while booting, but it was just a broken iso and I didn't check the md5sum" "It immediately replaced all other Live-Cds."
Conclusion: the decision to make the Zsh behaviour as similiar as bash's defaults without losing its capabilities was right. The Debian-webpage in the grml-wiki helps the users deriving from systems other than Debian.
0.9: 14 people only know the latest stable version 0.8: 9 people 0.8-5: 1 person tested a develrelease before exploring a stable release :) 0.7: 15 people 0.6: 8 people 0.5: 12 people 0.4: 9 people 0.3: 8 people 0.2: 7 people 0.1: 10 people are grml users from the very beginning 0.09: 2 persons (this was the first non-public release available in Graz @ Kunstlabor) 0.3-small: 2 people 0.2-small: 1 person 0.1-small: 1 person knows the first grml-small release 4 people really don't know anymore since which release they use grml
Conclusion: grml 0.7 was the release shipped with the german Linux User magazine, this seemed to gain a lot of attraction.
0.9-beta: 17 people decided to run the bleeding edge versions and do some bughunting 0.9: 73 people are using the current stable release 0.8: 20 people are using the previous stable release too 0.7: 6 people are happy with this version 0.6: 2 people are using this old version 0.5: 1 person uses this version 0.4: 1 person is happy with this ancient version 0.3-beta: 1 person is using the bleeding edge version 0.3-small: 14 people are using the current stable release 0.2-small: 1 person is happy with this version grml64-beta: 1 person is exploring the devel-release
Notes: numbers aren't exclusive but many persons use more than just one grml version.
Conclusion: we have a good number of http://grml.org/beta-tester/betatesters and people definitely prefer the latest stable release. On the other side we have many users who use several flavours and different version at the same time. The backwards compability seems to be at a good level as several people still use pretty old grml versions and some of them update the system only partly (stay with grml packages up2date).
44 use grml just everywhere (all of them) 29 people use it private only 25 people use grml at home and at work/school 2 people use grml for private use and for unpaid projects 2 people use it as rescue/in emergencies only and didn't answer within a category 1 person decided to give no answer
"private and work (e.g. moving real Windows systems to VMware)" "grml is my only linux system, beside debian but not without a few grml packages" "Everything I can. I've been looking for something like this for years. I'm like a shy tortoise - I don't like to come out of my shell (bad english pun, sorry)" "I'm planning on using grml for private use, as a quick and dirty embedded virtual appliance under Virtual Iron (Xen)." "I write and read LaTeX documents (I am a physics teacher); Not yet to surf on the web" "Primary a development project, or as rescue system. Sometimes for customers"
Conclusion: grml is heavily used in productive environments. Many people use it at work, for customers and there are some users out there who customize grml according to their very own needs. Customization (boot splashes, booting scripts,…) is important. The customization framework is used by many users though not all users are yet aware of it.
28 people are using http only 12 people are using http and/or ftp 11 people are using ftp only 11 people exclusive use bittorrent 8 people decided to answer this question with "internet" 7 people use either http and/or ftp and/or bittorrent 6 people prefer bittorrent and/or ftp 6 people prefer bittorrent and/or http 4 people use http and/or rsync 2 people retrieve their grml-ISO via scp 2 people prefer rsync 2 people use Mika as grml-mirror 2 order their grml-CDs in a shop 1 person decided to give no answer 1 person has his own mirror
Conclusion: bittorrent is very important for grml users. People with good and very fast internet connection primarly use http and ftp then. From the notes we notice that bittorrent is also important because we don't provide many mirrors outside europe, so we should make sure to get fast mirrors especially in the USA.
54 people use other Live-CDs as well 49 people use grml **exclusive** 1 person decided to give no answer
Notes: a lot of users answered 'no, they do not use any other Live-CDs anymore' because grml replaced all the Live-CDs they used to use before. The 54 people that use other Live-CDs use just too many different CDs to list them all. But very interesting is that only a few of them use Ubuntu as Live-CD. Several users are coming from Knoppix or Kanotix. The most common Live-CDs used together with grml are Knoppix (if OpenOffice and/or KDE are required or to show Linux newbies a Linux desktop), Damn Small Linux (because it does not require much RAM and provides X), BartPE (when fiddling with encrypted NTFS or virus removal) and Ultimate BootCD.
"UltimateBootCD, tomsrtbt; You can't compare grml, because grml is the best of them." "Ubuntu for checking if Ubuntu would run on a computer. Knoppix, if no grml is available. :-)" "Sometimes I try a new release of a well-promising Live-CD which I usually encouter on Distrowatch.com. But they all, except grml, don't stick. grml is my rescue-cd!!!!!" "no, grml is the best. No reason to use another one. :-)" "There shall be no other live cds next to grml!" "No, because there's no sane x86_64 live cd yet. ;)" "Yes I currently use knoppix, dsl, trk and backtrack2. I would say grml is by far the best."
Conclusion: the target audience seems to get what they require. No need for big changes. :)
Again too many different distributions to mention here. The one used by most people definitely is Debian (stable, testing and unstable), followed by grml. Several people have to deal with Windows at their workplace. We have several users of Solaris, Gentoo, Ubuntu and Mac OS. A few are coming from i5/OS, z/OS, BSD, CentOS, SuSE and Ubuntu. Several users mentioned that they joined the 'Debian market' because of grml.
Conclusion: as our users are coming from different operation systems and distributions we should make sure working with grml is comfortable and transparent. grml-debootstrap seems to do a good job in setting up plain Debian with nearly no effort.
14 people use x86_64 on a regular base, many of them requested a 64 bit version of grml
Notes: Whereas many people don't use any systems other x86 there are several grml users out there working on SGI (IRIX), Sparc (Solaris 10), NeXT (m68k), AIX/HP-UX, Efika-PPC, IBM Power, z and i, PA-RISC, Itanium and other PPC systems.
Conclusion: the decision to work on a 64 bit version of grml was just perfect. It's the most requested feature in the user survey and people are waiting for grml64 to be released. A PowerPC-port of grml wasn't requested that often but seems to be the next platform to be taken.
Counting the results isn't really possible because there are so many different options and answers. Everyone seems to understand english. Many people understand german but prefer the defaults (lang=us) anyway. The bootoption lang=de is the most common used one (about 20-30 counts depending of the counting method) whereas many people just want to get german keyboard and not german environment settings. So 'keyboard=de' and 'xkeyboard=de' don't seem to be well known.
Conclusion: We should invent a bootoption which uses something like german keyboard, english interface settings (LC_MESSAGES) but the other environment (LC_*) in german as well.
"I literally _hate_ non-English messages from the system. They confuse me to the point, that I don't even get what they try to tell me. But I do use a german keyboard, because I'm used to that, since the days I tippidy-tapped on a C64. I'm changing to a DE keyboard right after I booted grml (that isn't available as a bootoption, right?)."
102 people are happy 1 answer was just missing
Notes: nearly all answer included something like “very happy”. Not even five answers mentioned something like “not perfect yet”.
"Ecstatic" "Very happy. I am sticking with grml for the foreseeable future" "Could be worse :-) Sometimes I struggle with fining the correct config files - they are overriden by those in /etc/sysconfig or /etc/default or ..." "I'm very happy with grml , it's without doubt the best livecd i've ever encountered." "happy enough to use it on 3 production-systems." "I'm very happy with grml. I couldn't imagine a better live CD." "It's special and unique, it's powerfull and every one who has Linux boxes around should keep a grml cd at hand." "80%" "serious? I love it"
Conclusion: as expected users are pretty happy with grml, otherwise they probably wouldn't even take part in the user survey. It's very important that grml focuses on the appropriate and according user audience and target group. Users who are aware of the target audience of grml didn't encounter problems, whereas newbies who noticed that installing and basic usage of grml is pretty easy ran into problems as soon as they left the “Debian way of live” or don't know essentials of command line handling.
Again, just too many different answers to count them. Read the interesting answers instead:
"because the lack of kde, gnome and other useless junk thre is more room for really important tools" "hardware detection; auto raid-detection, and creating mount-points; the good configured zsh shell (e.g. tab compl.); its small and has all tools I need,, ok it shippes much to much tools for me ;-)" "ZSH, screen, no automatically starting X-server, ion3 instead of KDE, tons of usefull text-tools" "the additional kernel packages are nice" "Enter disc, press enter, enjoy. Very easy installation to disk" "efficiency" "it fixes the most braindead bugs from debian" "because it's so sophisticated - and made from admins _for_ admins :)" "Every tool I need for working or rescueing a system is on the CD, that is the best featureset I know by now." "zsh, fvwm-crystal, ion; Some scripts and stuff in .zshrc; it is by far is the easiest to install of all GNU/Linux distros I have ever tried. developer feedback" "I'm a blind person. I put the live-cd into my laptop, and I had software speech at boot time. This impressed me, very much. Not just that, but the CD holds a treasure-trove of tools."
This is one of the most important questions for us grml developers. There have been many answers like “well… erm… can't think of any right now” but there have been several excellent suggestions. You can be sure that we won't forget any of your feature requests, all the relevant stuff will be integrated within our Bug Tracking system.
Excerpt from requested features (several have been broken into multiple parts):
Yes, definitely on our wishlist, but we want to wait for inclusion in mainline kernel.
Done that, shipped starting together with grml 1.0 as grml64 0.1.
A problem of licensing.
grml users usually work on console ;) but yes, something we would like to see improved too.
A so called grml-live package is on our todo list and work in progress, it's just a matter of time and money until such an utility exists.
Check out grml-debootstrap and its PACKAGES feature.
Is nanoblogger really useful on the live-cd? Will discuss this with other devs.
Is 'grml tohd' what you are searching for?
Thanks, added to our todo list (issue232).
Should work without problems (modprobe hfsplus,…). If you experience any problems please report it.
We already have the policy not to package any software or write any new software without the appropriate manpages (mainly written in asciidoc). All our manpages will be available seperate on grml.org, we are working on such a setup already.
Xjed has been integrated in grml and was shipped with grml 1.0. http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/help/Catalogue/entries/latex4jed.html isn't yet available as Debian package and as I don't use jed on my own that's something for the todo list.
Hey, that's present since ages! Check out the startx bootoption!
http://www.update.uu.se/~zrajm/programs/ratmen/?M=D isn't available as Debian package yet, so added to the todo list (issue233).
Can you please point us to it? :)
qgfe (QT based Gnuplot Front End) has been added and will be shipped with next release.
grabc and gcolor2 are available on grml.
Another 1053kB. Which features does it provide that aren't available in all the other existing window managers on grml yet?
cool features as regexp-based location bar and paste configuration: kazehakase
“After unpacking 22.7MB of additional disk space will be used.” - sorry, no chance :)
grml and started upon system startup.
That's possible since ages. Check out bootoption 'ssh=password'.
Huh? Bash is shipped always. Default shell will never become bash on grml.
Huh?! Configuration framework exists.
That's always the case.
The grml-team is aware of the feature request. Two reasons why it's not available yet:
Not an option, due to the nature of a live-cd.
Just set CONFIG_FSTAB='yes' to 'no' in /etc/grml/autoconfig, or use grml-autoconfig script. Oh, this is even documented in /etc/fstab itself. But I't will be added to the FAQ anyway.
Exists already, check out grml2hd-utils and its script install-packages-useful.
grml 1.0 uses UTF-8 by default.
Has been implemented and is shipped with grml 1.0.
Work in progress, everyone is welcome to join.
No, never ever. Web forums just have the wrong target audience regarding grml.
Great pointer, thanks! Has been integrated for grml 1.0.
Different tastes, different window managers.
It's always growing, feel free to contribute on your own too.
* a few tips regarding zsh, manpage is just so big
Check out grml.org/zsh/.
Yes, it's fixed.
Conclusion: several interesting feature requests. All of them will be integrated within grml's BTS.
"I DON'T want improved bugs!!! I am happy with the current state."" "Sorry, I can't think of any improvements it needs." "in grml-small I'm missing /usr/bin/hexdump, but that's included now already after talking to you in IRC *g*"
Very interesting point. The more the users are within the target audience the less they wanted to see changed. Most common answer: “don't change anything. As soon as grml will hit enduser's market the interesting part of grml might get lost.” But read some of the quotes on your own:
"Marketing. Did someone say "viral"? ;-)" "every admin I know, uses grml - its ok as it is :)" "it's a live-cd for admins - and every linux/cli-addicted person I know knows grml" "keep it special it shouldn't get too mainstream, it afterall a distribution for texttool users and geeks;-)" "More publicity in America, not just in Europe." "maybe slashdot and lwn post! someone has to do something about wikipedia." "should every dummy use such sophisticated boot-cd ? ;) a fool with a tool is still....a fool! ;)" "Promote the "we have great scripts (such as grml-*)" philosophy rather than the "texttools users"' one" "grml is well known in the target audience. It could have even commercial use as rescue system for housing environments at the big ISPs, which could even generate revenue for the grml team for the appropriate customizations."
Conclusion: do not enter markets grml was not intented to be done for. It's good as it is, but make sure that newbies don't see grml as “beginner's toy”. Linux newbies and beginners should be aware of what grml has been made for.
About 1/3 of the users weren't aware of the existence of the grml wiki yet. About 1/2 of the users find the grml wiki very useful. The rest of the users find the grml wiki a little bit confusing. Main reasons: no beginners documentation or grml.org vs. wiki.grml.org
Conclusion: we should think about better integration and handling of docs between grml.org and wiki.grml.org. The grml-wiki has to become even more public.
Very interesting: more than 90% of the users are very happy with the available documentation of grml.
"I love that you provide manpages for your scripts" "I never needed it so far." "You can bet your bottom dollar. :-)"
Conclusion: keep the documentation policy and style as it is.
First of all: the question wasn't clear enough. There were 27 answers like “don't know”, “don't understand” and just “no answer” at all. And 19 people answered with something like 'man' or 'wiki' in general instead of mentioned a specific software product. I think the question just wasn't clear enough, sorry - my fault. :)
Anyway, here we go with the stats (notice that some people provided multiple answers):
don't know/don't understand/no answer: 27 people just aren't sure at all man & CO: 19 people did not give a specific answer Gentoo: 10 people like the docs by Gentoo BSD: 4 people like manpages and FAQ of OpenBSD/BSD in general google: 6 people prefer to ask Google apache: 3 people like the way the Apache project provides documentation vim (:help): 3 people like vim's integrated help man zshall: 2 people like the big manpage about Zsh postgresql: 2 people like the docs about PostgreSQL perldoc: 2 people mplayer: 2 people emacs: 2 people grml: 2 people like grml's documentation very much grml remastering howto: 1 person loves the howto doc.python.org: 1 person like Python's doc www.sgi.com/tech/stl/: 1 person doc.trolltech.com/: 1 person selfhtml: 1 person zsh's user guide: 1 person procmailex: 1 person likes the manpage info gawk: 1 person ArchLinux Wiki: 1 person firebuilder docs: 1 person exim's specification, spec.txt: 1 person https://help.ubuntu.com/community/: 1 person mysql: 1 person Debiananwenderhandbuch.de: 1 person php.net: 1 person Peter Anvin's help on syslinux: 1 person vmware product documentation: 1 person
"None have beaten grml yet." "irc is nice interactive docs :D" "Gentoo has a pretty well documented site useful for digging up helpful guides. I'm sure there are others, they're just not popping into mind right now. Whatever you do, avoid the pitfall of Xen documentation. That's a prime example of what NOT to do." "i only remember bad docs :( grml isn't one of those!"
Too many different answers to count… Common answers included vi/vim, [c]fdisk, top, ssh, dd, grml-tips, grml-*.
Emacs and LaTeX. Not to mention the development tools (gcc, g++, python, perl, etc.). One that is useful and obscure is psh (the Perl shell). I was surprised to find it on Grml. I think this could be: cfdisk, sfdisk, mkfs* chroot, grub mount -t cifs; dd_rescue
Conclusion: grml-x is used by 2/3 of grml users so we should make sure it works really perfect. We already improved documentation and trouble-shooting of grml-x and switched to use of evdev for input devices so grml-x should work even better with grml 1.0 release. grml-debootstrap is getting more popular (it's pretty new) and people like to it to install plain Debian systems, we will make sure that grml-debootstrap provides all the feature people would like to see. The userbase of grml-crypt and grml-vpn is OK regarding their very specific task. grml-ap, grml-bridge and grml-router are mainly used in productive environments but are pretty unknown to most grml users and definitely need more attention.
About 40% do not use grml as harddisk installation, about 40% do use grml as hd system. The other ~20% plan to use check i out.
Most people like it because it's a working Debian/unstable system with good hardware recognition. Several people use it for prototyping and hardware testing as well.
because I think it is a good way to follow debian unstable Testing, education, future production system. Yes; its fast , small, it's Debian Because I wanted to test it. It proved to be a very good basis for a good debian installation, because especially the hardware recognition and out-of-the-box-functionality is better than the debian installers I used before.
About 75% of the users do not use grml on usb device. The other users (~25%) boot grml via USB and are very happy with it. Very interesting is the fact that many users want to take a closer look at booting via USB now that they are aware of the easy steps… A few users had problems with booting via USB, the documentation has been improved therefore - find details at the usb-page in the wiki.
About 50% of the users don't use any special bootoptions on regular base. About 25% like using lang=de or 'keyboard=de, xkeyboard=de'. Another few users use special bootoptions like ssh=…, scripts, scandelay, noacpi,… or even remastered the ISO according to their own needs.
lang=de usb noautoconfig deb scripts myconfig=/dev/sda4 scandelay=5 grml vga=normal gmt tz=Canada/Mountain pnpbios=off nofstab
About 40% of the users did not need any help. About 60% needed “kind of support” (either due to problems, specific questions, feature requests,…). Nearly all users requested help either via IRC (#grml on freenode) or grml mailinglist. A few users used the web formular or contacted grml developers directly.
yes, icq from 5217<snip> yes; yep! perfekt! I emailed you once with a question and you answered it, I was very happy (I rarely ask anyone for help)
All were [very] happy with getting help, except one single person had problems (and this was a mis-understanding on a non-grml mailinglist → the user will be informed about this of course).
90-95% of the users do not use it. Some of them plan to take a closer look at it.
Nearly all bug database users are happy with the current grml roundup installation.
Yes. And yes, useful. Very useful. Should be used more broadly. No. Are there _really_ bugs?? :-)) jop, mika (at) grml.org - very easy to use! yes, wonderfull web interface (though there could be a few more search shortcuts, eg. all bugs i've fixed in the last 2 weeks, which bugs are open and assigned on me, which bugs got resolved in the last 1-2 weeks, ...)
About 50% of the users are subscribed to the list.
All subscribed users are happy with the level of “usefulness”. Nearly all users are happy with traffic level, very few think that traffic level is too high, another very few users think the traffic is not high enough yet.
About 50% of the users use the IRC channel. Some of them occasionally, some other users are online ~24/7.
Many users not using #grml yet weren't yet aware of this interactive support channel. Some users plan to join it, some other ones are happy with support on grml mailinglist.
"Thank you very much for providing a kick ass livecd, and please keep up the work" "No not really. Just thanks for grml!" "x86_64! x86_64! x86_64! *runs for cover*" "I like reading blogs. If you write about some daily grml rescue scenarios, I will read it and also give the tricks a try. I'm really satisfied with grml - good job!" "I use grml as a rescue CD, beeing sure I'll find quite everything related there, even if I haven't used everyting yet. But I know grml is much more than that. ;-) Ah, and last, but not least: THANK YOU!" "Keep It Simple." "Thanks for the RSS feed. My google reader will keep me up to date on future releases." "Grml is a great tool. I am already satisfied with it."