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Editorial Software Linux

Two Years Before the Prompt: A Linux Odyssey 499

Posted by michael
from the picky-about-who-its-friends-are dept.
tim1980 writes "Derek Croxton has written a rather long editorial on how he sees the Linux and Open Source communities, and his personal experiences with Linux, the editorial is titled Two Years Before the Prompt: A Linux Odyssey and is over 3,500 words. Excerpt: 'A novice's greatest fear is sitting in front of a motionless command prompt with no idea what to type; or, as so frequently happens, knowing a command that he copied verbatim from a document discovered on the internet somewhere, but with no idea of what it means or how to alter it if it doesn't behave exactly as advertised.'"
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Two Years Before the Prompt: A Linux Odyssey

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  • .so hell (Score:3, Informative)

    by BoldAC (735721) on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:40AM (#10211860)
    I agree with this completely! Anybody have a solution? I know it is out there... somewhere... ...In Windows, this issue is known as ".dll hell." In Linux, you might call it ".so hell" ("so" being the extension for these "shared objects"). It has probably caused me more frustration and hair-pulling than all the other issues in Linux combined. In principle, the issue seems simple: you can't install a program if the shared objects that it depends on - its "dependencies" - are not on the system. Any attempt to install the program will generally inform you what dependencies are missing, and it usually isn't too much trouble to go find the needed files on line somewhere. The problem comes if you need, say, version 4 for your new program, but you already have version 3 installed. You can't simply overwrite version 3, because then all the existing programs that depend on it will break. Apparently you can't just have separate copies of 3 and 4, since I have yet to find an installation tool that will let you do this. Instead, you...well, frankly, I don't know what you do. I have yet to solve this problem, and it continues to bother me.
    • Re:.so hell (Score:5, Informative)

      by Xner (96363) on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:44AM (#10211898) Homepage
      I simply use "apt" or "yum" and let them sort it out. The only times they failed me was with a Fedora test release, but I knew the risk I was taking.
      • I agree that this is what I typically do; however, it's obviously not with the linux-spirit of doing things.

        As drive space becomes cheaper and cheaper, it seems that you should just be able to keep copies of the needed components with the installed program.

        AC
      • Re:.so hell (Score:3, Informative)

        by LnxAddct (679316)
        Who moderated the parent as a troll? Yum or Apt is what everyone I know uses. They just take care of the ".so hell" that once plagued us all. Does anyone seriously not use a package manager now a days? I do install from tar balls and source a bit, but the typicall user doesn't need to, and even when I do, I haven't experienced ".so hell" in years. I actually forgot about it until this artical. Somehow it magically disappeared for me. Anyone else care to comment?
        Regards,
        Steve
        • Re:.so hell (Score:4, Informative)

          by Lodragandraoidh (639696) on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:54AM (#10212652) Journal
          Slackware has a package manager - but I usually don't bother because it uses plain tar balls; I download the tar balls from a Slackware mirror (the distro generally has everything I need) and extract what I need. Haven't run into any compatibility issues - ever.

          I think if you stay inside of your distribution you won't have problems. The problem is when you download something outside of the distro and try to integrate it with your system. Then you get what you are asking for.

          If you want to load a particular application - see if your distro has it on their package list first before downloading it from somewhere else. The distribution creators will have integrated it with your distro elimenating headaches for you.

          If you must download something from outside of your distro - understand that you may have to do some integration work.

          That being said, I have had very good luck loading some packages outside of what Slackware provides. I attribute it to the following:

          1. Slackware conforms to the Linux filesystem standard.
          2. The applications I have downloaded also conform to the Linux filesystem standard.
          3. The applications I have downloaded did not use deprecated or experimental functions within the libraries they call (most libraries are good about staying backwards compatible for standard functions).

          The most problems I have had doing integration was trying to get OSS applications to build under SUN Solaris. SUN packages change the default locations for various things (most notably, apps you would normally find under /usr/local/... end up in /opt/sfw/...) - and the apps I have to build by hand are looking elsewhere. I have also had environment problems - mostly missing path variables for libraries. Given that, the problem is not unique to Linux - but I would suggest it is less of a problem with Linux (provided you try to stay inside of your distribution - and only integrate outside apps when absolutely necessary) than with other operating systems, from my own experiences.
          • Re:.so hell (Score:3, Informative)

            by Pig Bodine (195211)
            The most problems I have had doing integration was trying to get OSS applications to build under SUN Solaris. SUN packages change the default locations for various things (most notably, apps you would normally find under /usr/local/... end up in /opt/sfw/...) - and the apps I have to build by hand are looking elsewhere. I have also had environment problems - mostly missing path variables for libraries. Given that, the problem is not unique to Linux - but I would suggest it is less of a problem with Linux (p
    • Re:.so hell (Score:3, Insightful)

      If version 4 breaks version 3's apps, why would they give it the same filename? that doesn't sound like the nice thing to do.
      • Re:.so hell (Score:2, Informative)

        by Xner (96363)
        That's why it's usually not the way it's done. If you remember the switch between libc5 and glibc (libc6?), the two libraries co-existed on the same system with different filenames for quite a while.

        Of course, not every single person maintaining a library is as careful as the glibc people, and screwups do happen. It is the distributor's task to maek sure all the programs that ship with a given distribution work with the libraries included in it.

        • Re:.so hell (Score:4, Informative)

          by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:26AM (#10212335) Homepage
          Of course, not every single person maintaining a library is as careful as the glibc people

          The glibc people aren't careful at all. They are quite, quite happy to break software if they believe the users programs to be "broken". They've broken even high profile apps like Mozilla this way, because their interpretation of a spec was different to everybody elses. But no, Mozilla was "broken" and whoever wrote that function should be "punished" according to the maintainer.

          The glibc group, along with many many other free software projects, usually believe they are maintaining backwards compatibility. In practice they are at most maintaining ABI compatibility which is not enough: the interface of an API is so much more than the layout of its structures and prototypes of its functions.

          I've written a guide on how to write good shared libraries. It deals a lot with versioning and how to avoid breaking software.

          I'm hoping it can be peer reviewed and published somewhere soonish, in the next few weeks. I'd post the draft here but the server hosting it seems to be down.

    • This is the major reason my second machine isn't running Linux. I have having to chase down dependency after dependency only to find out one of the dependencies have a dependancy. Drives me insane!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:47AM (#10211937)
      that's why god created apt-get.

      It's been years since I had to worry about dependancies.

      2 reasons:

      Apt-get from debian has been ported to Fedora/Redhat. I use Fedora. (laptop)

      I use Debian. (desktop)

      That's it.

      What to patch?

      apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

      Wham bam thank you mam!

      Want mplayer, but Fedora doesn't have the ability to play DVD's or Mp3's?

      Head on down to Dag's RPM repositories, follow his directions and go:

      apt-get update
      apt-get upgrade
      apt-get install mplayer libdvdcss xmms

      done and DONER!!!!

      Apt-get IS the killer application for linux.

      Update everything, patch everything. Not just core system like in Windows!

      No MORE DEPENDANCY HELL.

      It's realy quite nice. Install debian, upgrade to unstable. I've been running it for 2 years, no sweat and completely up to date.
      • The ports tree in FreeBSD is also quite nice. If you want to build something from sources, update the ports tree from cvs (I have a stable-supfile I keep in /usr/src for this purpose), the cd /usr/ports

        Everything is split into categories. cd into the directory you want, then do a make, then make install.

        If make fails because of a dependancy as described above, quite often you can simply cd to that program and make install.

        The trick is, of course if a version is already installed. Then you do make dein
      • by Cereal Box (4286) on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:08AM (#10212161)
        The only problem is that you've posted a solution to the problem of maintaining packages on Debian/Fedora, not on Linux in general. Not every distribution has the ability to use apt or yum or whatever or even a package system. Or it may have a package system, but no one has made a decent number of packages for the distribution because it's not as popular as Debian or Fedora.

        Now wouldn't it be nice if a standard were made and users could be assured that, for the most part, regardless of what distribution they're using:

        1. apt is available,
        2. A consistent filesystem hierarchy is followed from distribution to distribution, and
        3. A large number of packages are available (and, more importantly, compatible) due to point 2.


        Of course, every time I bring up the idea of standardizing important parts of Linux distributions the lynch mob comes after me, because consistency and distribution-neutral package installation goes against the spirit of Open Source or something ("stifles choice", I've heard).

        I mean, wouldn't it be nice to tell someone "just use apt-get and do X, Y, and Z" instead of "[Install Debian] and use apt-get to do X, Y, and Z"?
        • by magefile (776388) on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:17AM (#10212240)
          1.) Apt works not just for debian packages, but for rpms, and can be installed on Fedora.

          2.) If you want that, it's easily done with a few config file edits.

          3.) I can't remember the last time I couldn't find an RPM. Or just built one myself using developer-supplied Specs files. Debian's system has everything (or so I've heard). And you can always compile a program, or roll your own binary package very easily.
          • 1.) Apt works not just for debian packages, but for rpms, and can be installed on Fedora.

            How about Slackware? SuSE? Yellowdog? Gentoo? Redhat 6?

            See the pattern? You still haven't given a general "how to install packages" guide that works on _Linux_ in general. You're still talking about a subset of Linux distributions.

            2.) If you want that, it's easily done with a few config file edits.

            Care to list them? And would it be too bold an assumption on my part to expect that these files all exist in t
            • by jusdisgi (617863) on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:49AM (#10212614)

              Look, if you're ranting in this vein, it's because you haven't yet become comfortable with Linux in general (to subvert your term) to the point where you understand the bigger picture. I could whine all day about the various and sundry differences between Windows versions too...but most folks would find it silly, because we've all got a decade or more of Windows in general experience, so the fact that "Dialup Networking" might be found in 3 different places over the years seems quite trivial. And it is. But what you don't recognize is that to someone who has a good working understanding of and familiarity with Linux in general the differences between the Mandrake package manager and the Fedora one are pretty much that same level of trivial. And if you aren't scared of the command line, apt-get, emerge, yum, and urpmi all end up seeming roughly equivalent, and it isn't much trouble to use any one of them. To someone who has been running Linux for a few years, picking up a new distro isn't any real challenge. (Well, unless it's Linux from Scratch or something ;-)

              My point is that once again, people are viewing Linux through Windows-trained eyes. Computer systems have differences, even within families that are similar. Since pretty much anyone who works with computers at all has years of Windows experience these days, people know how to work around the annoyances, and compensate for the differences. When someone gets thrown into the world of Linux, they tend to try out 6 different distros in 6 months...is it really a surprise that minor differences would seem much more serious when you have so little experience with the family of systems in general?

              • by Cereal Box (4286) on Friday September 10, 2004 @11:00AM (#10212716)
                All I'm saying is that, barring applications for which there are known compatibility issues between Windows versions, you can basically download any application installer and it will work on Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, 2003, etc. (and don't shrug off this fact, there is a LOT of software compatible "out of the box" on all these systems). My question is why can't Linux do this? Why can't I get a Redhat RPM and install it on, let's say, a Slackware machine without any additional work?

                Installing software in a consistent manner _is_ a big deal. Why are there twenty different ways to install the same piece of software depending on what distribution of Linux you're using? Why can't someone say "if you're using Linux, this is how you install software"? You don't think this would be a tremendous help to Linux?
                • You just can't get over wanting it to be just like Windows. That's your own problem, not Linux's. In particular, you're stuck to the software model where you go "get an installer and run it." That's really not the model most Linux distributions use at all, and in my opinion and that of a lot of people who use Linux, it's an inferior model to boot. Instead, most Linux distributions manage your software for you. You don't go download a Fedora RPM on Gentoo, because that would be silly. It doesn't matter that

              • by madfgurtbn (321041) on Friday September 10, 2004 @11:37AM (#10213127)
                My point is that once again, people are viewing Linux through Windows-trained eyes.

                If the goal is to have an OS/distro that will compete with Windows and OSX, then the OS/distro will have to accommodate the millions (or Billions, even) who will view Linux through Windows-trained eyes.

                I spent months following wickedly obscure and time consuming instructions for compiling apps for Mandrake before I discovered the magic of the MCC gui for URPMI, then another couple months finding reliable mirrors.

                Now, when a new version of my favorite app come out I have to wait until someone comes along to make an rpm for me, but when the same app releases an update for Windows, all I gotta do is download and click Next a few times. I have seriously broken my Mandrake install trying to install software via means other than URPMI, so I have pretty much quit trying.

                Don't tell me to RTFM either, because I have R'd several FM's but they don't help much because of the two dozen different ways the authors and the distros deal with installing software. Although I'm a clueless newbie among the slashdot Gnu/Linux elite, the rest of the world thinks I'm some sort of computer genius. I've been fiddling and reading and making and breaking Linux installs for almost four years now and I still get frustrated with the process.

                Meanwhile, my main reason for becoming interested in Linux has evaporated--Windows no longer sucks. In fact, WindowsXP is a pretty darned good OS--better than I could have imagined when suffering with the infernal abomination of WindowsME.

                I guess I just get tired of the slashdot mindset that appears every time there is a thread that suggests that maybe just maybe there could be some improvements in the area of user-friendliness of Linux distros. It usually starts with, "Just open a terminal window and..."

                The more Unix-y and less Windows-ish or Macintoshy the solution, the longer it will be before any distro makes serious inroads among average users.

                I'm willing to spend my hobby time fiddling with and learning about my OS because I have enjoy it, but most people are afraid to click anything they haven't been approved to click.
        • "The only problem is that you've posted a solution to the problem of maintaining packages on Debian/Fedora, not on Linux in general."

          Nonsense. The technology is there. The technology is proven. The technology is Open Source.

          Unless by "Linux in general" you meant Linus' work on the KERNEL. In which case, this does NOT belong there.

          "Not every distribution has the ability to use apt or yum or whatever or even a package system."

          So? The people who would choose that kind of distribution KNOW what they are get
      • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:29AM (#10212369) Homepage
        No MORE DEPENDANCY HELL.

        The problem with the apt-get approach is that it's like living in a town with only one supermarket. OK, so it's a really big supermarket but still:

        - If you can't find the food you want in there, you're stuck

        - If you can but it's stale, damaged or out of stock, you're stuck

        - You are totally dependent on the people running the supermarket

        - The larger a supermarket is, the harder it becomes to find things in it. Just imagine taking your grandma to a supermarket where the aisles stretched as far as the eye could see!

        To stretch the analogy a bit further than it can really go, just imagine if getting tired of this one supermarket you travelled to the next town and bought a lampshade from a shop there. Bring it all the way back, put it in your house and suddenly your TV explodes.

        What happened? "Oh, you mixed different repositories". All centralised systems suffer this but Fedora worse than most - you're fine as long as you stick to the core repositories but if you add others (and you do need to do that, if you want a big enough collection to be useful) things will randomly break due to "conflicts". Just imagine trying to explain that to grandma!

        Oh yeah. There are a bunch of other problems as well. I've seen a lot of 3rd party packages of software that are totally broken. Often the users don't connect the problems they are seeing with the packages. This happens a lot with complex software like Wine, Mono etc ... I've seen quite a few packages of Wine that won't even start! It's pretty clear that many 3rd party packagers hardly test what they produce at all, especially in the case of "new release, I'll just bump the number in the spec and rebuild". I'd estimate that about 40-50% of the tech support problems I deal with in Wine are due to incorrectly built packages. It's not even hard! Just configure, make, make install but people still cock it up mightily - using badly done wrapper scripts and moving files around from where they're supposed to be are the most common, but bad builds happen too.

        Apt-get has other problems. You have to duplicate this huge effort over and over again for each distro. This doesn't happen so you get vendor lockin - the very thing we're trying to all get away from, no? I've met more than one person in my life whos number 1 reason for using Debian was "I can apt get lots of software". It was not due to the merits of the distribution itself, it was not due to have a nice installer, slick default desktop, solid PAM setup etc etc. It was because installing software was not a pain in the ass.

        Apt-get works great as long as you are willing to throw infinite manpower at the problem. We don't have infinite manpower, duh. So centralised packaging cannot be a scalable, sustainable way forward for our community outside of certain use cases like servers (where it works well).

      • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:30AM (#10212382) Homepage
        apt-get isn't a killer app, its a distribution specfic workaround for a problem that should be fixed upstream. Beside that even apt-get is FAR from perfect, since there are the following problems:

        * stable is way behind everybody else, if some piece of software doesn't support your hardware, say XFree86, you are in deep throuble, hardly any newbie will stand this much longer then a few days

        * unstable on the other side while being more current can do havoc at any point, beside 'apt-get upgrade' isn't all that fun for modem users, hell even 'apt-get update' is already a serious problem for modem users. testing is still more a game of luck, sometimes it work sometimes it doesn't, nothing that I would give in the hands of a newbie.

        * apt-get doesn't fix dependency hell, it just works around it so that dependencies get automatically detected, apt-get however DOES NOT resolve conflicts in a user expected way, if library foo and library bar are incompatible, apt-get will remove everything that depends on the other when I want to install one of them.

        * apt-get can't install different versions of -dev packages in most cases since the includes conflict

        * apt-get is a one-way thing, it doesn't provide a roll-back. Simple example would be Gnome2, once it got released I took a look at it and it sucked, lots of features removed and stuff didn't work, was there a way to get Gnome1.4 back? No, I was stuck with Gnome2 thanks to apt-get. Sure, I could manually track each and every dependecy and install it in a seperate prefix, but thats nothing that a newbie wants to do.

        * apt-get depends extremly on the quality of the repository from which it grabs stuff, unofficial packages often cause throuble and if the maintainers of the repo to something ugly like removing a programm that you depend on, bad luck for you, there is no easy workaround, then to not use apt-get and do everything manually.

        A solution to the dependcy hell would be one that is not distrospecific and allows me to download and install any Linux stuff I want from the net, not just the one that some Debian maintainers thought would be worth packaging. It should also allow to install any number of different versions of the same programm without relying on extra work of the maintainer to handle the situation.

        Sadly many of the problems are caused by the FHS layout, which is now standardized and thus basically unfixable for a long long time.
    • The problem comes if you need, say, version 4 for your new program, but you already have version 3 installed. You can't simply overwrite version 3, because then all the existing programs that depend on it will break.

      The most common solution seems to be to download the source-code and recompile everything. Even worse is when you have version 4 installed, and the new program you want to install is based on version 3. But of course, everything else in your desktop is based on version 4.

      At least Linux tells
    • Re:.so hell (Score:2, Informative)

      by wjwlsn (94460)

      I used to resolve this by having a directory that specifically contained old versions of library files. Try ldconfig... a snippet from the man page:

      • ldconfig creates the necessary links and cache (for use by the run-time linker, ld.so) to the most recent shared libraries found in the directories specified on the command line, in the file /etc/ld.so.conf, and in the trusted directories (/usr/lib and /lib). ldconfig checks the header and file names of the libraries it encounters when determining which versi

    • Re:.so hell (Score:3, Informative)

      by ratboy666 (104074)
      first, you can run programs with local libpath. second, multiple library versions can co-exist. third (under solaris) apis are versioned.
    • Re:.so hell (Score:2, Informative)

      by Neil (7455)
      I don't recognise the description of the problem at all. Normal shared object handling in Linux and other Unixes seems to have this covered entirely. If you need versions 3 and 4 of shared library "libfoo" then you typically have something like: /usr/lib/libfoo.so (symlink to libfoo.so.4) /usr/lib/libfoo.so.3 /usr/lib/libfoo.so.4

      When you run a binary which which was originally dynamically linked against version 3 or version 4 ldd loads either .so.3 or .so.4, as appropriate.

      The libfoo.so symlink tells ld w
    • Re:.so hell (Score:3, Insightful)

      by moonbender (547943)
      I've spent the last ten years extensively using Windows and, lately, Linux machines, and I have never, not once, had a problem with this in either operating system. And I install and remove software all the time on both platforms. Of course, with Linux it helps to use Gentoo and Debian, which are basically the only distributions I've used. And with Windows, I don't know, the problem never came up. In both cases I'm not even really aware of the underlying dependencies, things just work.
  • OMG (Score:5, Funny)

    by Donoho (788900) on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:45AM (#10211915) Homepage
    'A novice's greatest fear is sitting in front of a motionless command prompt with no idea what to type;

    It's as if he's looked into my very soul... or tapped into my webcam.
  • Please.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cocoronixx (551128) on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:47AM (#10211931) Homepage
    $command -h
    $command --help
    man $command
    info $command
    http://www.google.com/search?q=$command

    use brain;
    • Re:Please.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fajaboard (795317) on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:53AM (#10211985)
      The problem is that n00bs don't know what "command" to even look up.

      $how do i read a file from my floppy? "mount?" who woulda thought.

      The problem is knowing where to look sometimes. I am still learning useful commands.

      • Re:Please.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192)
        I am still learning useful commands.

        Isn't that great? In UNIX it does take a little longer to reach basic competency, compared to windows. But the learning curve doesn't stop there. There's always something new to learn, to give you more control over your machine, and make you more productive. A little time invested reading HOWTOs pays back immensely over time.
    • You have got to be kidding me. Say Grandma Jones just bought a machine and her grandson installed WHATEVER version of linux on there. For whatever reason, she boots up, and there is a command prompt. How will she know what to type? I mean, christ, how on earth does she even know what COMMANDS are available, LET ALONE how to get help on them? Google seems the most likely candidate, but have you ever googled for a Unix/Linux command? More times then not, you get a bunch of crap that holds no relevance to what
    • Re:Please.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pomakis (323200)
      command -h $command --help man $command info $command http://www.google.com/search?q=$command use brain;

      Knowing these tricks assumes that you've already had some experience with command-line interfaces. I'm sorry, but none of the examples above are common sense to anyone without command-line experience (except maybe the Google search).

    • Although I was an early adopter of Linux back in 1994 I still remembering having trouble when I first got it. And I had a strong DOS background.

      1. ls except for dir well DIR did work but it kinda sucked.

      2. now that I see the files and I found out that cd worked too. So now I can at least explore the file system. (Kinda it was hit and miss because I didn't know much about ls -l even when I did a man on these commands I wasn't use to taking in information in that method so the man commands were useless fo
    • Re:Please.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Malor (3658) *
      But what if you don't even know the commands?

      Back in around 1993, the Internet came to the place I was living at the time, in Northern California. My roommate and I were big BBS users, so we were all over that, and signed up the instant that CRL offered service.

      What they offered was a dial-in, UNIX command prompt. You were only allowed to run one command at a time, and they didn't offer PPP or SLIP for years, perhaps never. And they didn't ship a manual of any type. You got a dialup number and a logi
  • Education. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Raven42rac (448205) on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:47AM (#10211938)
    Any halfway decent teacher/guide will include an overview of the "man" command. So if you don't know the arguments/what a command does, just type "man command", that will teach you fairly quickly what a command does.
    • Re:Education. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dcordeiro (703625)
      this is when you know what command to use. If you don't?

      and even if you know the command: man man
      man, version 1.5k

      usage: man [-adfhktwW] [section] [-M path] [-P pager] [-S list]
      [-m system] [-p string] name ...

      uau... much better now

      Admit it: cli is not for joe average that only needs to change its pc configuration once in a decade. Even if he learns something, he will forget everything in a couple of months
    • just type "man command", that will teach you fairly quickly what a command does.

      I've worked on UNIX systems for something like 10 years, and I can say that "man" is frequently my last resort. Usenet/Google Groups, normal Google searches, freindly UNIX admins, some bookmarked web pages and books are all things I try before using man.

      Maybe man on Linux is much more useful than the AIX system we use, but frequently I find it far too cyptic to be of use. The sort of man pages I see are only going to scare

      • It isn't more useful. The best place to go is google IMHO. The problem with man is that it doesn't give any sort of hands on examples usually, sort of like the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Man pages are obsoleted by current search technology and the irreplacable veteran user who helps other people.
    • Re:Education. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TrailerTrash (91309) * on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:10AM (#10212190)
      I have a hard time with man - yes, it's full-on documentation, but 19 times out of 20, I don't need the 15 highly obscure switches for a command, I just need the command in its simplest form.

      What man is missing is an example section, e.g., "To find all files with mary in the title, use ls -R *mary*" or whatever; "to find all files modified in the last 10 days do..."

      I will say right out that perhaps such a facility exists, but I am unaware. I am a GUI user of Linux (SuSE 9.1 X86_64) and my command line skills have rusted since I lived in VMS 20 years ago...
      • Re:Education. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Brandybuck (704397)
        Most GNU man pages, such as you will find in Linux, are woefully bereft of examples. That's because GNU hates man pages and consider them obsolete. But if you go look at FreeBSD man pages (as one example of non-GNU man pages), you'll find them full of examples.

        Here's one example from the FreeBSD find man page:

        find / -newer ttt -user wnj -print
        Print out a list of all the files owned by user ``wnj'' that are newer than the file ttt.
      • Re:Education. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MarkedMan (523274)
        Couldn't agree more about the lack of examples. I find the example-less man pages extremely frustrating as they seem to require a pretty detailed understanding of the inner workings of every command. They mix detailed, "wires and bolts" stuff with the basics. Perfect example is the "locate" command. I wanted to find a file and "locate" seemed like a dream come true. But doing a little research showed up all this abrupt language about databases. What databases? What are they for? Oh wait, maybe these
  • Site is dead within minutes.. mirrors anybody?
  • Fear? (Score:2, Funny)

    by amacedo (779821)
    'A novice's greatest fear is sitting in front of a motionless command prompt with no idea what to type; or, as so frequently happens, knowing a command that he copied verbatim from a document discovered on the internet somewhere, but with no idea of what it means or how to alter it if it doesn't behave exactly as advertised.' Is it? I for once get all fuzzy inside when that happens. It's called being a geek.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:50AM (#10211963)
    someone without a clue writes a crappy essay

    someone else w/o a clue links it on slashdot

    lemmings knock the site offline
  • by savagedome (742194) on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:53AM (#10211991)
    Check out the old story.

    The Command Line - Best Newbie Interface? [slashdot.org]
  • symphony OS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:56AM (#10212028) Homepage
    takes care of the multi-.so problem... by installing each package AND ITS DEPENDENCIES in a per-package subdirectory.

    mad as xxxx and staggeringly heavy on disk space but it takes the problem away.
    • Re:symphony OS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by grumbel (592662)
      A clever filesystem could even remove the diskspace problem by simply hardlinking the dependencies in, instead of copying them. So you only still have the dependency only once, but ever application sees its own pseudo-copy of it.
      • Re:symphony OS (Score:3, Interesting)

        That's exactly the same thing as having all the shared libraries in the same place, isn't it?

        The problems with shared libraries boil down to exactly two things:

        • Most DSO authors don't understand how to avoid breaking software when they change the code. If they do, they assume the versioning mechanisms they have available give them a free license to break backwards compat whenever they feel like it.
        • There is no such thing as the Linux platform, not yet. Linux is still making the transition away from "a
  • Goto tldp.org (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:56AM (#10212035)

    The linux documentation project is great. Lots of howtos, but also great guides.

    I always recommend for a newbie to read:
    Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
    Bash Guide for Beginners
    The Linux System Administrators' Guide (for "power users")
    Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide (for "power users")

    And maybe the network administrator guide.

    All these are cool because they are generally distro agnostic. Anybody can benifit from their knowledge.

    AND remember GOOGLE!!!!

    The command line IS your friend. It's another form of user interface, and combined with a gui like X makes Linux (and other Unix-like operating systems) have the most flexible and powerfull user interface aviable.

    At times it may not be freindly to newbies, but once you have a decent idea what is going on, it's definately worth it.

    Those guides will give you the nessicary tools to understand and become comfortable with your Linux installation. No more fighting thru layers of obsofacation and a deep bridge becuase the knowledge of MS insiders/advanced administrators vs Windows users. In linux users can be as knowlegable as the best programmer or developer.

    But you don't have to any more due to people like Gnome/KDE/Fedora/Redhat/Suse/Mandrake etc etc. Now it's just a matter of what you want and what you feel most comfortable about.
  • Fear? (Score:4, Funny)

    by UncleBiggims (526644) on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:57AM (#10212046)
    A novice's greatest fear is sitting in front of a motionless command prompt with no idea what to type...

    This is true, a novice's greatest computer fear is sitting there not knowing what to do. This is why a novice:

    does not use linux

    calls me all the time to ask stupid questions

    has a pc infected with spyware

    and so on

    To me, the attraction of linux is having a need and then discovering how to fill that need. Then finding out that my solution is cludgy and could be done a different and better way. This leads to other cooler and more elegant solutions. Thus a process of learning that is both satisfying and productive. That's why I love linux and it is why the "novice" is afraid.

    • Re:Fear? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285)
      For a true novice, sitting in front of any machine not knowing what to do is hell. The GUI is not a silver bullet. The GUI can merely provide a way to explore or for a graphic learner to remember.

      I remember sitting in front of a DEC or UNIX machine when I was younger a not knowing at all what to do. I had teachers to help me, and books to learn, so I am not so afraid anymore. I remember sitting in front of the first mac confused. I looked stuff up, and used prior experience, and figured it out.

      My m

  • man oh man (Score:3, Funny)

    by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@NoSpam.devinmoore.com> on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:58AM (#10212060) Homepage Journal
    Queue the obligatory "Orgazmo" theme song reference...

    now you're a MAN!
    a MAN, MAN, MAN!

    If it's really that hard, Linux should come with a default command prompt that includes " for help, type man [command]. #"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:59AM (#10212068)
    Hello,

    Recently I've been introduced to an operating system known as Linux.

    Lured by its low cost, I replaced Windows 98 on my computer with Linux. Unfortunately the more I use it the more I fear that this "Linux" may be an insidious way for the Dark One to gain a stronger foothold here on Earth. I know this may be a shocking claim, but I have evidence to back it up!

    To begin with, Linux is based off of an older, obsolete OS called "BSD Unix". The child-indoctrinatingly-cute cartoon mascot of this OS is a devil holding a pitchfork. This OS -- and its Linux offspring -- extensively use what are unsettingly called "daemons" (which is how Pagans write "demon" -- they are notoriously poor spellers: magick, vampyre, etc.) which is a program that hides in the background, doing things without the user's notice. If you are using a computer running Linux then you probably have these "demons" on your computer, hardly something a good Christian would want! Furthermore in order to start or stop these "demons" a user must execute a command called "finger". By "fingering" a "demon" one excercises an unholy power, much the same way that the Lord of Flies controls his black minions.

    Linux contains another Satanic holdover from the "BSD Unix" OS mentioned above; to open up certain locked files one has to run a program much like the DOS prompt in Microsoft Windows and type in a secret code: "chmod 666". What other horrors lurk in this thing?

    Consider some of these other Linux commands: "sleep", "mount", "unzip", "strip" and "touch". All highly suggestive in a sexual nature. I know that our Lord cannot approve of these, and I urge them to be renamed to something appropriate to the Christian community. Interestingly "CONTROL-G" (the sixth key from the left of the keyboard) does an abort. To write files a "VI" editor is included. All these are to ensnare the unsuspecting christian who could get tempted by typing "VIVIVI" all day long.

    Fourth, Linux uses a flavor of DOS known as Bash. Bash is an acronym for "Bourne Again Shell". On the surface this would appear to be supportive of the Lord. However, remember that even Satan can quote the bible for his own purposes! While I believe Linux may be born-again, its obvious by the misspelling of "born" that its not born-again in an Christian church. Will the lies ever cease?

    Additionally, one of the main long-haired hippies involved with the GNU Free Software Foundation supports communism, contraception and abortion. He has consistently supported 60's counter-cultural "values", and his web site even advocates government support of contraception. He also wears fake halos, and has quips about his made-up church that relates to his free software. I find such blasphemy to be extremely unsettling.

    One must also remember that the creator of Linux, a college student named Linux Torvaldis, comes from Finland. I'm sure all the followers of Christ are aware of the heritical nature of the Finnish: from necrophilia to human sacrifice, Finnish culture is awash in sin. I find little reason to believe anything good and holy could arise from this evil land.

    Finally, let us remember that there is an alternative to using the Satan-powered Linux. I think history has shown us that Microsoft is quite holy. I'm told that its founder, William Gates is a strong supporter of our Lord and I encourage my fellow Christians to buy only his products to help keep the Devil at bay.

    I wish I had more time to expound upon my findings. Unfortunately a family of Jews has moved in across the street and I must go speak to them of Jesus Christ before they are condemned to eternal hellfire.

    Please investigate this as you see fit and I'm sure you'll reach the same conclusions that I have.
    • by Eddy_D (557002)
      Indeed. You INVOKE a daemon by FORKing it into a seprate process whereby it may EXECUTE other processes via children, then on a whim, KILL it's child process.... insideous.
  • Lost in Linuxland (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rueger (210566) * on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:02AM (#10212111) Homepage
    My experiences parallel the author's in one important way:

    Yes, most user friendly distros will manage a forehead install [wordspy.com], but invarably there will be at least one critical function that doesn't work. In my experience that has been Palm hotsync (always), printing over the Windows network (usually), and wireless networking (most recently).

    I know from hard experience that trying to find a solution for any of these will involve hours if not days of trolling newsgroups, forums, and that special hell called man pages.

    I'm not afraid of command prompts, or of learning new things, but I simply cannot afford to waste a whole day trying to print, or sync my calendar.
  • For all thos saying man command as an answer, this can cause more confusion. try man tar. There are a bewildering array of options, some create, some mentioning /dev/td0 [but not /dev/tdr0 that rewinds the device after completion]. Untarring and ungzipping is a fundamental operation, but it takes something like 30 steps to understand.

    Further some man pages say 'this has moved to info', this has a bastardised Emacs commandset with pagination and hyperlinking, and the novice friendly Emacs keybindings.

    Don't

    • by Daniel Boisvert (143499) on Friday September 10, 2004 @11:13AM (#10212858)
      Untarring and ungzipping is a fundamental operation, but it takes something like 30 steps to understand.

      Sure, but you can do pretty well by the RTFM method, and using "tar xvzf file.tar.gz" until you discover that you really want to learn what each of those letters means. By then you'll find yourself wanting to use the man pages, because it tells you about all kinds of other nifty stuff you never knew about.

      I find all kinds of useful stuff in man pages all the time. Hell, they're oftentimes more useful than all the newbie-friendly documentation on the web. The difference is that each level of information is ideal for a different level of user. Start with web & HowTo docs, then move to less specific HowTo docs, then go to manpages. It's not that hard; it just takes time.
  • oh right (Score:5, Funny)

    by macshit (157376) * <(gro.ung) (ta) (selim)> on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:09AM (#10212178) Homepage
    Actually, my greatest fear is Clippy.

    ...shudder...

  • by aprosumer.slashdot (545227) on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:10AM (#10212186) Homepage
    I know this is offtopic, however Slashdot should seriously consider Coralizing popular links by appending .nyud.net:8090 to the URL. At the very least the first page would be cached by the Coral servers.
  • by hey! (33014) on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:11AM (#10212194) Homepage Journal
    Let me clue you in on the sly reference in the title.

    It refers to Richard Henry's Dana's autobiographical Two Years Before the Mast, what is hands down not only among the best maritime adventures ever written, but is one of my favorite books of any kind.

    Dana was a Harvard sophmore in the 1830s who came down with scarlet fever. As a result, his eyesight was suffering. The common prescription for this in those days was to take a sea voyage. Dana, despite being a young person of privilege, didn't take the normal route of travelling to Europe as a tourist. He signed on as a common seaman, a grueling, uncomfortable and by today's standards incredibly dangerous job. He joined a vessel that rounded the Horn in July (through the teeth of the Austral winter) bound for the wild and nearly uncharted region of California. The common seamen slept in the foc'sl, the part of the vessel at the bow; thus "Before the Mast". Two Years Before the Mast became historically important when gold was found at Sutter's Mill, setting of the great gold rush. At the time, it was practically the only book available that had any information about California.

    His account is exciting and riveting, and probably unique. Many talented writers have written of the sea, and have gone on sea voyages, but I can't think of anyone else of Dana's literary powers who actually lived as common sailor, did their dangerous job, and slept and ate with them. Dana, who later became a lawyer and great advocate of seaman's rights, comes across as a ready lad, brave, good hearted and adventurous. A fine role model, I think, for people who buck the trend and go with Linux.
  • ahh yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by geeveees (690232) on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:12AM (#10212195) Homepage Journal

    I still remember my first experience on a Redhat box. Being my usual 14 year old arrogant self I figured that I didn't have to read any manuals. Hey I figured out DOS by myself, right?

    So I type in "X". "Hey wtf this stupid shit is broken, all I see is a grey background and some fucking weird cross? huh? linux sucks".

    Oh boy :)

    • For Linux n00bs (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zoloto (586738)
      For the linux n00b, and general community we should create the following piece of software:

      linux.exe ;)

      It would scan your hardware. Completely. Then leave a text file on your desktop explaining what sound, video, chipset, usb, firewire, cd(rw)/dvd(rw), monitor, network, modem and any other hardware you have in your computer system (which is trivial b/c a lot of people just buy pre-packaged systems etc.) and tell you what you'll need in the way of modules you'll need. Possibly even tell you what distro you
  • by krunk7 (748055) on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:16AM (#10212235)
    Linux isn't perfect, there are still plenty of valid critiques, but "dependency hell" just isn't one of them. I can honestly say I haven't had a single dependency problem for at least 2 years (probably more, but I'm too lazy and it's too early to think too hard about it). Every major distribution has dependency checking today.

    Now, perhaps the author has inadvertantly drawn attention to the heart of Linux's adoption woes: documentation. Why doesn't this author know about apt-get? Why doesn't he know about urpmi? Why isn't he aware of the vast amount of documentation normally available in /usr/share/docs/ ?

    The common answers people receive for this are:

    • google idiot!
    • Sheahhh! Everyone just knows all the docs are in /usr/share/docs!
    • RTFM!!

    But to even adept computer users (not uber geeks, just adept) the location of "the manual" isn't obvious, they don't know about */docs and, lets face it, man pages are written FGBG (for geeks, by geeks).

    In comparison to it's top two competitors, linux is the only OS to date where a user is expected to magically know the location of appropriate documentation, by default have a degree in the documentation jargon of advanced coders, and to be willing to read a small novel on the intricacies of his particular distro's package and system management methods to even use the os to any degree of efficiency.

    This is what people mean when they say Linux isn't ready *yet* and to tie it back to the article, these are exactly the sort of apparently groundless complaints that surface as a result of this gaping hole in useability.

    • by cortana (588495) <sam@robots.orAAAg.uk minus threevowels> on Friday September 10, 2004 @11:07AM (#10212776) Homepage
      > Now, perhaps the author has inadvertantly drawn attention to the heart of
      > Linux's adoption woes: documentation. Why doesn't this author know about
      > apt-get? Why doesn't he know about urpmi? Why isn't he aware of the vast
      > amount of documentation normally available in /usr/share/docs/ ?

      Perhaps the author did not RTFM? The following is addressed to all computer novices everywhere:

      I don't expect you to magically know about the 'man' command. I don't expect you to randomly chance upon /usr/share/doc/ by spazzing out at the keyboard.

      The 'M' that I expect you to be capable of reading is your DISTRIBUTION'S MANUAL.

      Let's say you installed Debian. Why the hell aren't you looking at http://www.debian.org/doc/? This is the place where you _learn_ about man, info, /usr/share/doc/, etc.

      Redhat? http://www.redhat.com/docs/.
      Mandrake? http://www.mandrakelinux.com/en/fdoc.php3

      FreeBSD? http://www.freebsd.org/docs.html

      And so on. You managed to find an ISO for a Linux distribution, how can it be so difficult to follow the links on the web site to the distro's documentation?

      What's that you say, you bought it in a box at a shop? What's that strange thing, why yes, it looks like a... book, with the words MANUAL or DOCUMENTATION printed on it?

      I wouldn't expect you to be able to configure a network on Windows or the Mac OS without consulting the documentation. Why do you expect to be able to do the same on Linux?
  • Bull (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SlashDread (38969) on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:34AM (#10212440)
    I was raised with the zx81/spectrum and Commodores.

    If there was ONE THING that fascinated me, then it was the blinking prompt, inviting me to just try -anything-

    I LOVED it, when I found out about a new command, such as PEEK/POKE.

    People are like, born CURIOUS. If it fears you, you have more issues than a GUI can solve.

    Dread.
  • by cbreaker (561297) on Friday September 10, 2004 @10:47AM (#10212584) Journal
    Did you guys actually read his nonsense? He makes so many generalizations about "Linux" that it's basically all bullshit.

    He says "On Linux, you single click to run a program." "On Linux, when you double click the title bar, the window shades instead of min/maximize." WTF?! What does he mean "On Linux"? On Mandrake, SuSE, and any other machine with KDE, these options aren't default. Did he write this in 1994?

    Bah, with a whole article filled with this crap, I don't know how anyone could take him seriously.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday September 10, 2004 @12:00PM (#10213380) Homepage
    There are worse things than the command line. There are programs with many hotkeys, and hotkeys that do different things in different states. With some of those programs, it's not obvious what state you're in. Some of the state switching hotkeys may be toggles, for extra confusion. Many of the hotkey functions have no corresponding menu entry. And they may not have a good "undo" capability.

    Now that's fear. One wrong move and you're dead.

    See Blender [blender.org], the open source animation system. In the manual, the "Hotkeys Reference" extends from page 480 to page 505. There are so many hotkeys that they use combinations like SHIFT-PAGEDOWN and ALT-CTRL-T.

    Now we'll hear complaints from Blender fans. OK, Blender fans, you're in mesh edit mode. What does ALT-CTL-RIGHTMOUSEBUTTON do? No looking at the manual. Only if you can answer that do you get to comment.

  • by dcroxton (812365) on Friday September 10, 2004 @12:29PM (#10213654) Homepage
    Yikes! I had no idea my review would stir up so much controversy. I don't want to add to the antagonism, but I would like to make a couple of points: (a) it is precisely when using a package management system that one runs into problems with different library versions. I've had a number of managed installations fail because the required library conflicts with an existing one. If there is an easy solution, wonderful! I would like nothing better than to know what it is. (b) while apt is wonderful, not everything is in apt. If you've never wanted to install a program that wasn't available in your distro's dockyard, you're lucky. (Or maybe I'm just too demanding.) (c) I'm not bashing Linux! I love Linux and I have invested many hours reading books, man pages, web sites, and experimenting with it. I would *much* prefer that my effort pay off with being able to switch 100% to Linux and ditch Windows altogether, than having simply to say, "Oh well, it was a nice idea, now back to Windows." I just wanted to point out that some things have been very difficult for me, in spite of the fact that I'm not an idiot (some of you will disagree with that judgment, I realize). I would like to push more friends and relatives into Linux, but I'm afraid to because I know they will run into some of the same problems, and I won't be able to help them. Sincerely, Derek
  • Article Rebuttal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LibrePensador (668335) on Friday September 10, 2004 @02:28PM (#10214884) Journal
    This whole article is ridiculous. It appears, as it often happens, that no one here read it.

    Here's why in no specific order.

    0) He claims to have been running Linux since 1993, but does not know that Macromedia offers easy rpms to install its software and the instructions on how to run the script are also dead easy.

    1) He rubishes Linux by claiming that it's just gueswork to know whether what works in one distribution will work in the next one. Nonsense, the four big distributions generally provide identical hardware support. (Suse, MDK, Red Hat/Fedora, Debian).

    2) Check out the screenshot on that review. It is of Arklinux, which never had the horrible unattractive KDE 2.0 look, because it didn't ship until much later. This guy is out to make look Linux as bad as possible.

    3) The whole thing is his opinion at best. Yet every other sentence has the word fact in it, when the review is far from being factual.

    4) "Several distributions have had no trouble recognizing the touchpad on my laptop, but I haven't found anywhere to configured its advanced functions - things like being able to tap directly on the pad rather than using a button..."

    Why doesn't he tell us which laptop and which distributions? Because I can use my touchpad fully on MDK, Suse, Red hat and Debian.

    He then goes on to claim that powermanagement isn't compiled into the kernel by default. What planet is this guy on? All current distributions will display a nice icon with your battery status and most allow you to suspend to disk and resume without any issues. There are some issues, both because Linux is still maturing in this area and because many bioses have a buggy ACPI implementation, but for the most part, it just works. Of course, if you choose to run Gentoo or LFS, it is up to you to make it work.

    5) "If I had been able to buy the laptop with Linux pre-configured on it, no doubt everything would be fine."

    But you have been able to do so for the past 4 years.

    http://www.emperorlinux.com/

    http://www.linuxcertified.com/linux_laptops.html

    IBM's laptops were sold with Linux for a while, are known to work with linux and are internally tested to do so. Wait for announcements by year's end.

    And as of late:

    http://www.hp.com -> See the nx5000

    6)Since this is an article directed at new users, can someone tell me how speaking about something that you don't understand helps new users? I quote:

    "If the difference between widget style, window behavior, desktop environment, and window manager is still unclear to you - well, that's probably because it's unclear to me, too. I have certain notions of what they each mean, but I could not begin to give a good definition of each."

    Well, don't bring it up, damn it. Just say to the user that you will be clicking on things to open programs and that your experience in this sense will be fairly similar to what you now do in Windows.

    He continues to do this throughout the article to make Linux seem messy and difficult. There is too much choice in window managers, too many in text editors, too much choice everywhere, and you will be confused. The truth is that most distributions that you would put on a desktop, particularly the one on the screenshot, Arklinux, now default to one desktop, install sane defaults and choose best of breed programs.

    7) "Since I am considerably more comfortable with computers than the average Windows user, I think I should prepare you for .conf files now: get used to them. Although things are getting better, [...] the fact is that most Linux programs still operate this way."

    Nonsense. Utter nonsense. This is an article about desktop usage. My wife has never ever had to touch a configuration file. Everything that she needed to do whether it was in evolution, Mozilla, OpenOffice, Juk, Bookcase or whatever was always readily available through a GUI menu option.

    8) "You see, when I right-click o
  • by rnturn (11092) on Friday September 10, 2004 @03:56PM (#10215826)

    ``A novice's greatest fear is sitting in front of a motionless command prompt with no idea what to type; or, as so frequently happens, knowing a command that he copied verbatim from a document discovered on the internet somewhere, but with no idea of what it means or how to alter it if it doesn't behave exactly as advertised.''

    Just how is the above is different than the following:

    ``A novice's greatest fear is sitting in front of a motionless dialog box prompt with no idea what to click; or, as so frequently happens, knowing a menu option that he discovered on the internet somewhere, but with no idea of what it does or how to undo it if it doesn't behave exactly as advertised.''

    Just call me curious. Computers are complex machines. Expect to be befuddled once in a while. It's not a cash register that makes change for you when you press the button marked "hamburger".

  • by MacGod (320762) on Friday September 10, 2004 @09:38PM (#10218482)
    Perhaps one of the biggest problems with Linux is that the very nature of its origins lead to non-intuitive thinking. Hear me out please, before you mod me down as the troll that I'm not.

    Think about it, and read some of the other comments here. People talk about finding documentation is /usr/share/docs, or using urpmi, apt-get or various web sites. They lament how it is that people don't just use the "man" command. This highlights two problems:

    - Linux names tend to be more counter-intuitive. What, exactly does apt-get or urpmi mean? I can't tell by looking at it. "About this Macintosh" or "Windows Read Me" on the other hand are extremely descriptive,m as is the omnipresent "help" menu. /usr/share/docs vs "Read Me Folder", which is clearer? This is made even worse on Linux due to its case sensitivity (ie to a new computer user "Help"=="help"=="HELP")

    - Secondly, there seems to be a prevailing attitude that Linux is by the hardcore, for the hardcore. Too often I've seen simple questions shot down because those responding essentially felt that "every should know this, how can you not?" This attitude is quickly off-putting for new computer users. This is extended to books; there are scores of (arguably) decent intro-to-Windows (or Mac) books on the shelves at Chapters, but very few Linux books of the same type (no, a new computer user doesn't want to read "Hardening Linux for IP-based security hacks" they want to read "Linux for Dummies", sad but true)

    Dismiss the new computer users all you want, but understand that the concerns are valid. I have 15+ years of computer experience, almost exclusively on Mac and Windows. But when I use the Linux boxes in my Eng or CIS labs, I barely know the basic commands. Furthering this problem is that in three different labs each uses a different method for something as simple as mounting a floppy.

    Yes, there are some dumb computer users out there; but there are also some experienced users who just need to get their foot in the door, and there are several road blcosk to Linux which make that harder.

FORTH IF HONK THEN

Working...