By definition, usability testing is difficult in free software. The reason is obvious: usability testing typically requires face to face observation of users, which is hard to arrange when most developers are interacting remotely. That's why Aakanksha Gaur's recent blogs about GNOME 3 usability caught my attention -- to the best of my knowledge, the last major usability study of GNOME took place twelve years ago, although small, informal studies have been done since.
Gaur is graduate student studying interface design at the National Institute of Design in Bangalore, India. She is also currently an intern in the Outreach Program for Women, mentoring under Allan Day. With Day's assistance, Gaur has decided to focus her internship on answering two questions: "What are the usability issues encountered by new and existing users of GNOME 3?" and "How is GNOME 3 perceived by new and existing users?"
rest here