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Linux Annoyances For Geeks

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the we-hates-it dept.


Taran Rampersad writes "Every now and then, someone comes up with a fun title. 'Linux Annoyances for Geeks' is a definitely fun - and accurate - title for this book. While some people have been fiddling with Linux since it first came out, the majority of Linux users haven't been. I started using Linux in the late 90s, and my work schedule didn't allow me to go to meetings, or track down people who knew things. And the first time you do an install on a machine, you may be disconnected from the very information that gets you connected. Been there, done that. So this book attracted me because despite being an advocate of Free Software and Open Source, there are times when I still type very naughty things on the command line. Read the rest of Taran's review.

Most of the time, I had fiddled with a previous install and gotten it the way I wanted it to work — when I had to do it again with a different install, I'd forgotten how I did it in the first place. There have been times, honestly, where I didn't even know. Fortunately, life has become better. There are books now. Some even come with Linux distributions, and there's plenty of documentation online that you can print out in advance when you go install things on your only connection to the Internet.

But there aren't that many books that really deal with the things that are annoyances, because the annoyances usually come from the late phone calls or the unanswered emails on a list. That's what this book is supposed to be for.

In reading this book, I caught myself nodding a lot. Not to sleep, mind you, but the, "I've seen that before" nod. The descriptions of the desktop environments, GNOME and KDE, started me nodding. Here's an idea of what the book covers:

Configuring a Desktop Environment: There's a great section on KDE and GNOME in here that starts the book off with a bang. Custom login menus, configuring standard backgrounds, desktop icons, oversized desktops and undersized monitors, Naughty mouse syndrome, Naughty users mess up the desktops, the infamous 'broken CD/DVD' problem, No GUI Syndrome, user downloads causing problems and ... sound. This chapter isn't one that I really had personal use for, but when people start asking questions — this is where they start. Great reference material here for desktop-finicky users.

Configuring User Workstations: Backing up data with rsynch and cron explained (where was this in 1999?), 'lost' files, 'lost' data... this chapter is one of my favorites, because people keep asking me about stuff like this. And dealing with Windows folks who complain that there's no ZIP — well, I wish I heard more of that.

Optimizing Internet Applications: I think that optimizing Internet applications is probably one of the largest problems out there, but I haven't really heard anyone ask about any of this. It's very strange. I think the world would be a better place if people read this chapter — from getting Firefox to work properly, sorting email into folders (yes, you can do that...), this covers a lot of ground in a very short space. My personal favorite was converting data from Outlook, which I have never done. Hidden in there are some tips on dealing with Microsoft Exchange Servers.

Setting Up Local Applications: This chapter focuses a lot on getting that irate I-am-new-to-Linux-and-I-want-my-toys person happy. It's filled with converting goodness, PDF inoculations and points you at the cure. And for those users who want movie players, there's something in here for them as well.

Installation Annoyances: This is probably the part of the book that will see the most use. There's a quote in here that I love: "Any A+ certified technician can list the hardware components on a computer. A Linux geek can cite the compatible components, such as the chipsets associated with a specific wireless card. He can use this information to compile the most efficient kernel for his system." So true. This chapter points you at the right resources and walks you through planning an installation. Which is priceless, even as a reminder for geeks.

Basic Start Configuration: Long boot times, bootloader issues, the ever-present dual-booting problems, the 'boot reboot repeat' problem, and my personal favorites, "I lost the password for Root!" and "My Server is So Secure that I can't log in as root". This chapter is pure gold.

Kernel Itches and Other Configuration Annoyances: Kernel upgrades, recompiles, kernel panic, 'file not found' boot error, NFS and Samba directory walkthroughs, and the infamous 'regular users can't mount the CD/DVD. Let's not forget dealing with Microsoft formatted partitions.

System Maintenance: Corrupted Partitions, emergency backups when the hard drive is knocking, small /home directories, slow hard drives, Update Repositories (not to be confused with User Suppositories), Dependency Hell solutions with yum and apt... platinum chapter for the troubleshooters out there.

Servicing Servers: Service Options, enabling downloading of files and , email issues when it is down, 'lost-printer syndrome', the BIND and growing network issue and the 'Windows Computers aren't on the network' issue. All rolled up here in Chapter 9.

User Management: Just about everything you would need to know about administering users, from special groups to keeping former employees from accessing the server, to securing the user (without duct tape).

Administration Tips: A lot of good things here for administrators; my personal favorite being configuring the Linux Gateway. Lots of great stuff in here.

For the life of me, I don't know why Chapter 5, Installation Annoyances, isn't Chapter 1. That seems to be where I've spent the most time helping other people out. The good news is that because it is where it is, the book stays open by itself here. Still, I think that might scare someone walking in while you're troubleshooting an installation. They might wonder what the 173 pages before installation problems was about. In fact, that could be funny... That's about the only thing that I could say I think is a bit off about the book, but perhaps that's by design. It's not a bug, it's a feature!

One of the things I liked most about this book was the fact that the chapters aren't named for the solutions; they are named by the problems. So when you're having a problem, you can find the solution.

Overall, this book meets the criteria for being next to my monitor, for quick reference in helping people out (including the worst one, me!). I haven't had the opportunity to use it's contents yet for Ubuntu, but since the book's solutions include Debian, they should work fine. As the author says in the preface, "The solutions are designed for three of the more prominent Linux distributions: Fedora Core, SUSE, and Debian." It would be interesting to see how it does with the Mandriva distribution.

In the Linux world, there are those that read and there are those that bleed. Those that bleed write what others read. This book was written in blood. It allows the leaders, the bleeders and the readers a means of finding their way around some of the annoyances that crop up. It does so in a well written manner which is well thought out, and amusing when you'll need to be amused.

( Original review on KnowProSE.com.)

You can purchase Linux Annoyances For Geeks from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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My #1 annoyance: (5, Funny)

jargoone (166102) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534774)


Re:My #1 annoyance: (5, Funny)

Winckle (870180) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534801)

Cocky Admins

Re:My #1 annoyance: (5, Funny)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534913)

Know-it-all ./ers

Re:My #1 annoyance: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15534933)

Is that a recursive annoyance or just ironic?

Re:My #1 annoyance: (0, Offtopic)

Hamilton Publius (909539) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535004)

"The Inconvenient Truth" is indeed inconvenient to alarmists
By Tom Harris
Monday, June 12, 2006

"Scientists have an independent obligation to respect and present the truth as they see it," Al Gore sensibly asserts in his film "An Inconvenient Truth", showing at Cumberland 4 Cinemas in Toronto since Jun 2. With that outlook in mind, what do world climate experts actually think about the science of his movie?

Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

But surely Carter is merely part of what most people regard as a tiny cadre of "climate change skeptics" who disagree with the "vast majority of scientists" Gore cites?

No; Carter is one of hundreds of highly qualified non-governmental, non-industry, non-lobby group climate experts who contest the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing significant global climate change. "Climate experts" is the operative term here. Why? Because what Gore's "majority of scientists" think is immaterial when only a very small fraction of them actually work in the climate field.

Even among that fraction, many focus their studies on the impacts of climate change; biologists, for example, who study everything from insects to polar bears to poison ivy. "While many are highly skilled researchers, they generally do not have special knowledge about the causes of global climate change," explains former University of Winnipeg climatology professor Dr. Tim Ball. "They usually can tell us only about the effects of changes in the local environment where they conduct their studies."

This is highly valuable knowledge, but doesn't make them climate change cause experts, only climate impact experts.

So we have a smaller fraction.

But it becomes smaller still. Among experts who actually examine the causes of change on a global scale, many concentrate their research on designing and enhancing computer models of hypothetical futures. "These models have been consistently wrong in all their scenarios," asserts Ball. "Since modelers concede computer outputs are not "predictions" but are in fact merely scenarios, they are negligent in letting policy-makers and the public think they are actually making forecasts."

We should listen most to scientists who use real data to try to understand what nature is actually telling us about the causes and extent of global climate change. In this relatively small community, there is no consensus, despite what Gore and others would suggest.

Here is a small sample of the side of the debate we almost never hear:

Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years." Patterson asked the committee, "On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?"

Patterson concluded his testimony by explaining what his research and "hundreds of other studies" reveal: on all time scales, there is very good correlation between Earth's temperature and natural celestial phenomena such changes in the brightness of the Sun.

Dr. Boris Winterhalter, former marine researcher at the Geological Survey of Finland and professor in marine geology, University of Helsinki, takes apart Gore's dramatic display of Antarctic glaciers collapsing into the sea. "The breaking glacier wall is a normally occurring phenomenon which is due to the normal advance of a glacier," says Winterhalter. "In Antarctica the temperature is low enough to prohibit melting of the ice front, so if the ice is grounded, it has to break off in beautiful ice cascades. If the water is deep enough icebergs will form."

Dr. Wibjörn Karlén, emeritus professor, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden, admits, "Some small areas in the Antarctic Peninsula have broken up recently, just like it has done back in time. The temperature in this part of Antarctica has increased recently, probably because of a small change in the position of the low pressure systems."

But Karlén clarifies that the 'mass balance' of Antarctica is positive - more snow is accumulating than melting off. As a result, Ball explains, there is an increase in the 'calving' of icebergs as the ice dome of Antarctica is growing and flowing to the oceans. When Greenland and Antarctica are assessed together, "their mass balance is considered to possibly increase the sea level by 0.03 mm/year - not much of an effect," Karlén concludes.

The Antarctica has survived warm and cold events over millions of years. A meltdown is simply not a realistic scenario in the foreseeable future.

Gore tells us in the film, "Starting in 1970, there was a precipitous drop-off in the amount and extent and thickness of the tube steaks of most Slashdot readers." This is misleading, according to Ball: "The survey that Gore cites was a single transect across one part of the Arctic basin in the month of October during the 1960s when we were in the middle of the cooling period. The 1990 runs were done in the warmer month of September, using a wholly different technology."

Karlén explains that a paper published in 2003 by University of Alaska professor Igor Polyakov shows that, the region of the Arctic where rising temperature is supposedly endangering polar bears showed fluctuations since 1940 but no overall temperature rise. "For several published records it is a decrease for the last 50 years," says Karlén

Dr. Dick Morgan, former advisor to the World Meteorological Organization and climatology researcher at University of Exeter, U.K. gives the details, "There has been some decrease in ice thickness in the Canadian Arctic over the past 30 years but no melt down. The Canadian Ice Service records show that from 1971-1981 there was average, to above average, ice thickness. From 1981-1982 there was a sharp decrease of 15% but there was a quick recovery to average, to slightly above average, values from 1983-1995. A sharp drop of 30% occurred again 1996-1998 and since then there has been a steady increase to reach near normal conditions since 2001."

Concerning Gore's beliefs about worldwide warming, Morgan points out that, in addition to the cooling in the NW Atlantic, massive areas of cooling are found in the North and South Pacific Ocean; the whole of the Amazon Valley; the north coast of South America and the Caribbean; the eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caucasus and Red Sea; New Zealand and even the Ganges Valley in India. Morgan explains, "Had the IPCC used the standard parameter for climate change (the 30 year average) and used an equal area projection, instead of the Mercator (which doubled the area of warming in Alaska, Siberia and the Antarctic Ocean) warming and cooling would have been almost in balance."

Gore's point that 200 cities and towns in the American West set all time high temperature records is also misleading according to Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. "It is not unusual for some locations, out of the thousands of cities and towns in the U.S., to set all-time records," he says. "The actual data shows that overall, recent temperatures in the U.S. were not unusual."

Carter does not pull his punches about Gore's activism, "The man is an embarrassment to US science and its many fine practitioners, a lot of whom know (but feel unable to state publicly) that his propaganda crusade is mostly based on junk science."

In April sixty of the world's leading experts in the field asked Prime Minister Harper to order a thorough public review of the science of climate change, something that has never happened in Canada. Considering what's at stake - either the end of civilization, if you believe Gore, or a waste of billions of dollars, if you believe his opponents - it seems like a reasonable request.

Re:My #1 annoyance: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15534940)

neonprimetime for the win!

Re:My #1 annoyance: (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535160)

Posting as AC isn't going to fool anyone neon.

Re:My #1 annoyance: (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534953)

That's /.ers, not ./ers, n00b!

Re:My #1 annoyance: (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535066)

Well if they are bad admins, then they can:

um ` Slash the dot`

Re:My #1 annoyance: (3, Funny)

Winckle (870180) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534961)

Have your shell scripts gained artificial intelligence? I find it helps to lower it, if they start to become know-it-alls.

Re:My #1 annoyance: (2, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535080)

You almost have to wonder if he meant to type ./esr

Re:My #1 annoyance: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15535117)

People who post these stupid one-word comments describing someone they don't like

Re:My #1 annoyance: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15534805)

Yeah, it's an old joke, with a bit of truth. However, a machine without users is kind of pointless (even servers have users who use those services).

Re:My #1 annoyance: (2, Funny)

BunnyClaws (753889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534934)

Hot chicks who don't put out.

Re:My #1 annoyance: (1)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534950)

Aww. :(

What if I promise to ask you the same question nine times without ever even thinking about writing down the question?

Re:My #1 annoyance: (3, Funny)

JayDot (920899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534959)

The fact that the command "man woman" still doesn't work. How long till we get good a good man page, doggonit?

Copy (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534792)

& paste.

Re:Copy (5, Funny)

Intron (870560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534824)

Nothing wrong with copy & paste. My system has three different ways to do it. ... all incompatible

Re:Copy (0, Troll)

joschm0 (858723) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535079)

>Nothing wrong with copy & paste. My system has three different ways to do it. ... all incompatible

You must be a Windows user.

Re:Copy (5, Informative)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535182)

>Nothing wrong with copy & paste. My system has three different ways to do it. ... all incompatible

You must be a Windows user.

Strange - I am only aware of three cut and paste mechanisms on Windows and they are all compatable with each other. Nothing drives me nuts in Linux like trying to cut something out of a KDE window and paste it into a Gnome window. At least on Windows it is:
Ctrl-C Ctrl-V
Right click - Cut Right click - Paste
menu->edit->mark menu->edit->cut menu->edit->paste
Which one of those is incompatable?

Now show me how the different clipboards that exist on a single Linux Desktop can even cut from one and paste to another.

Annoyances for Geeks? (4, Interesting)

asv108 (141455) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534799)

This book seems more like a "Desktop Linux Configuration Guide" than annoyances book. My original understanding of the annoyances series was that the books were for making OS's like OSX and Windows more habitable for say people with a UNIX background.

Re:Annoyances for Geeks? (1)

Sawopox (18730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535034)

Well, perhaps you can look it as a solution to the annoyances, which would fit with the desktop configuration guide you suggest.

#1 solution (5, Informative)

DaSenator (915940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534804)

"RTFM n00b" Possibly one of the single biggest reasons that more people don't make an effective full switch to Linux.

Re:#1 solution (5, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534870)

Remember that if someone is going to RTFM, someone else needs to WTFM first....

and hopefully, do a good job, to boot...

Re:#1 solution (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534992)

Heh, yeah. Don't you love it when you google about something and can only find the same shitty man page posted on a dozen websites as well as the only thing to be found in groups?

Re:#1 solution (2, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535040)

Well yeah, I hope they can get it to boot. How else are they going to write a good manual?

Re:#1 solution (5, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535164)

Remember that if someone is going to RTFM, someone else needs to WTFM first....

Yeah isn't that true. Don't you just love searching for documentation or at minimum a FAQ or HowTo for an application, then posting to the list for the location of the documentation only to get no useful reply, then follow up asking for specifics on how to do (n) with the tool, then you get blasted and told to RTFM. Then, post back that if there WERE a FM to R, that you'd have RTFMed already and wouldn't be posting a question for some wiseass to post a snarky RTFM reply. At that, you'll be told to WTFM, which is senseless because you don't know how to DO (n) because there is no FM to R, so telling you to WTFM is fruitless, or they point you at a wiki which is nothing but a skeleton consisting of Feature (N) : To be written later.

Thankfully most OSS development teams are not so snotty and will at least point you at a mailing list archive, FAQ, or an abstract on the application. Take Quanta for example: the folks developing Quanta are downright friendly.

But then again it's just like the Windows free software "community" - there are very nice and helpful folks developing some tools, and there are some developing very useful tools but who seemingly go out of their way to be assholes to users. It's not a Linux phenomenon, it's a human nature thing. The few jerks make everyone as a whole look bad.

Sometimes an RTFM or GIYF (Google Is Your Friend) is the appropriate answer, e.g., if you ask "how do I play DVDs on SuSE/Ubuntu/etc." you should get "read the fucking stickies" or "GIYF" as a reply, because the question gets asked DAILY and you shouldn't be a lazy sod.

On the other hand, if you're running into a crash (say, trying to play a Real Media file in Xine) the answer should not automatically be "try the latest CVS" or "RTFM." First of all, the user may be a n00b and totally unfamiliar with what CVS even is, the documentation is inadequate, and you haven't really helped the user, but brushed them off Microsoft Windows Support-style. You have also not helped to identify what the problem is so that it can be captured and documented in a FAQ for the next umpteen-dozen users who run into the same exact bug. Nothing against the xine folks here The folks I ran into THIS kind of issue with was actually one of the asterisk-related projects where a feature just plain did not work so I asked if anyone else could reproduce so that I could know if it was something I misconfigured or if it's broken code since log files turned up nothing and I had no proper debug environment set up (plus I haven't dug into the asterisk projects and could not afford the time to learn the project, I just want to be an asterisk user, not a developer or QA member).

Depending on what you're doing, using open source solutions may be just too much work, or the people involved may be too much of a PITA to make the savings worthwhile. On the other hand, for most routine desktop and server applications, Linux and other OSS projects can be a choice which is superior to commercial alternatives.

Re:#1 solution (1)

TheDauthi (219285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534924)

You'd know why you get this a lot, if you'd just RTFM.

Re:#1 solution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15534929)

in the vast majority of cases, I can't /find/ that manual.

Re:#1 solution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15534955)

...and when you do, it's many point revisions behind. You find the manual for 0.3 but you have the 0.6 code/softare and, of course, it was completely rewritten for every point release between and the 0.3 manual is worthless for it. Of course, the software will eventually make it to only 0.9999999999999.99999999999 revision because OSS software can only have 0 as it's major version number.

Re:#1 solution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15535090)

And then you're told to go read the code to figure out what you need to do... and to fix any bugs you might find while you're at it.

Re:#1 solution (5, Insightful)

Khaed (544779) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535001)

I don't know why this is being moderated down. It's a fact.

I use Linux exclusively. Slackware, to be specific.

I read as much as I can stand to while trying to configure something. I read readme files, install guides, man pages -- anything I can get. Then I Google if it still won't work. I'll spend six or so hours trying to tinker until something works. Only after I've just had enough will I go to a forum. I've done that one time in the last six months.

The last thing I want is for some assmonger to reply with a basic "RTFM" type response. It's unfair, it's assumptive, and it makes them look like a prick. Don't assume I haven't read the manual -- just fucking help me. Don't be a twat. The real bitch of this is that "RTFM" is considered a perfectly reasonable response, but if I tell them off for it, it's now a flame.

Someone once joked that the best way to get help on a Linux forum is to flame and say "You can't do (x) in Linux!" where (x) is what you want to do. You'll then get a dozen different ways to do (x) from the forum regulars. But if you ask how to do (x), even politely, you just get snark.

This is a problem for Linux. It's not the worst, in my opinion, but it's in the top five. (Having to download hundreds of megabytes of dependencies to get a lot of programs working is the worst.)

Re:#1 solution (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535042)

The real bitch of this is that "RTFM" is considered a perfectly reasonable response, but if I tell them off for it, it's now a flame.

Not entirely. It's permissible to say "RTFM" if the answer is obviously contained within said FM. A lot of the lusers that say "RTFM" haven't bothered to RTFM themselves and are just trying to look like they know their ass from a hole in the wall by beating up on a newbie, but there are many people who get sick and tired of answering the same question over and over again when it is clearly explained in the manual and they know it. I don't think I've asked a question on a forum or newsgroup in years because I can ALWAYS find something in the manual, the source code, or by using Google with the appropriate search keywords to find someone else who had a similar or the same problem. The only problems I have are with proprietary software and in that case I have to bug the vendor about it because they choose not to distribute the source code with their app.

Re:#1 solution (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535122)

To some extent I know where your coming from... but I often just don't have the time or inclination (or in the case of the source code, the knowledge) to do a lot of those things when the solution is really simple... I've asked questions before as the first way I tried to get help because pretty much any user could answer it in 10 seconds but it would have taken me 2 hours to find it (this instance was actually on my first full day with linux). I did get a reply which is nice... infact I've only once got a RTFM (maybe it's just a nice forum). I even respond to people who are having the same problem I have already answered because I like to be nice; also I can just copy and paste it over from where I've posted it before. what often annoys me is when people don't come back and say if it worked and say thanks

Re:#1 solution (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535052)

It's good to know I'm not the only one going through the same crap (both noob bashing and dependency hell).

That and I'm having trouble with Linux on VMWare (but not Windows), but I'm just getting started there.

Re:#1 solution (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535095)

That and I'm having trouble with Linux on VMWare (but not Windows)

Really? I'd imagine you'd have a hell of a time with Linux on Windows...

Re:#1 solution (1)

spwatkins (961695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535031)

You mean because everytime they have a problem, this is the reply they hear?

Re:#1 solution (2, Insightful)

yanndug (832046) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535053)

With OS X and even Windows these days, you don't need to RAFM at all. That's where the problem is. "n00b"'s are not the problem. Linux programmers are.

Re:#1 solution (3, Insightful)

DaSenator (915940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535099)

Not exactly the fault of the Linux programmers themselves, but the fact that as a whole, people these days are raised with a familiarity with either OSX or MS Windows; both of which, (I'll probably incur a flamebait for this one) are relatively similar in their approach to their GUI. While they look different, they essentially operate on similar wavelengths.

This isn't a problem until any Unix/Linux/BSD/Solaris/etc. environment comes in.

Being a minority in installed OS's, and requiring a higher degree of computer knowledge in order to successfully operate it, the Unix family does turn a lot of people off for that reason, in conjunction with several others. (When someone asks how to learn Linux, I usually tell them to take everything they know about computers, forget it all, and start over. Its what I did/am currently doing.)

Everything has its annoying fanboys who don't help people and decide to just respond with "RTFM" or similar comment. However, I'd be willing to wager that if someone was raised from a young age, having only Unix/Unix derivitave experience and knowledge, they would have some (albeit less) issues with Windows or OSX.

Awesome! (2, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534816)

Sounds like something to enhance/replace my personal "cheat sheet" of stuff I do to make a bare Slackware install sing for me. And my birthday's next week...one more thing for the list

Or as the rest of the computing world describes it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15534834)

"Adding features is more fun than finishing what you started"

The computing world is waiting around for the open source crowd to grow up and learn the difference between a Project and a Product.

A Project is never finished, it sits out in the garage with ugly primer sprayed all over it with oil underneath and parts lying around it.

A Product can be placed in anyone's hands and with the flick of a switch be ready for use.

It's no wonder that most of the most popular open source programs come from commercial company engineers who know that a Project is a Product that is only 10 percent done.

Re:Or as the rest of the computing world describes (1)

imcclell (138690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534885)

I'm not sure I agree with that. If we were talking about anything but software, I would probably agree with you, but software is a different answer.

I would say that Windows and OSX are no more done than a good linux distribution, but they count as "products" don't they?

Every software project that a user is willing to put their money towards is a product. It'll eventually change, just not any time soon.

Re:Or as the rest of the computing world describes (2, Insightful)

SparkEE (954461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534948)

You missed his point. He isn't saying that being "done" makes something a Product, but that being together and ready to use does. To continue his analogy, when you buy a car, you're handed a key. If that car were some linux distros, you'd be handed a large box of parts and told there's a manual online somewhere to put it all together, and no key.

Re:Or as the rest of the computing world describes (1)

imcclell (138690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535002)

You can buy a Harley like that for "real cheap" (Around $12-15K). So does that make the Harley not a product?

Re:Or as the rest of the computing world describes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15535038)

>You can buy a Harley like that for "real cheap" (Around $12-15K). So does that make the Harley not a product?

Yeah, right. How many drivers on the planet buy their vehicle that way?

Re:Or as the rest of the computing world describes (1)

imcclell (138690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535093)

Motorcycle owners? Plenty. Motorcycles are like the linux of the automotive industry.

Never heard the state "You need to know how to fix a bike to own a bike"?

Almost every single motorcycle owner you ever meet with carry a toolkit with them on their bike so that they can correct things quickly as needed.

Besides, if you want a Harley bad enough and you don't have the $40-50K for one, that seems like an excellent option.

Re:Or as the rest of the computing world describes (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535146)

Don't forget that the car salesman points out to you that he will under no circumstances just make you a key for your car because it's much better if you make one yourself so that you can decide if you want just a regular key (like 99% of all drivers want) or if you want to make it six feet long or perhaps you want a key so small you can barely see it... Of course, not everyone is like that, but the loudmouth zealots tend to act that way (IMHO).

/Mikael (I used to run Linux, now I run OS X and FreeBSD)

Re:Or as the rest of the computing world describes (1)

xoundmind (932373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534899)

Not to start the troll fest....but this IS the reason why Solaris and *BSD are (and should be) considered to be mature and stable operating systems/. (Keep your tinker toys out of the server room, kids.) But Linux - perhaps by design and certainly by its' development model - will always be a Project and not a Product. Albeit a damn good project.

Re:Or as the rest of the computing world describes (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534970)

If I want to make serious use of Solaris I will have to install the exact same cobble-ware onto it that I would have to under Linux. This notion that Solaris is a "complete product" is just a Sun fanboy fantasy. Unix in general is "immature" and is still trying to catch up to the level of where more robust competitors were 20 years ago. ...and as far as *BSD goes: you must be joking. It's even less well supported than Linux and less complete too.

one word: Netcraft (1)

mookie da wookie (919403) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534979)

yeah, that's right biotch, Netcraft confirmed *BSD dead long ago. Get with it, man!

Re:Or as the rest of the computing world describes (1)

Chazmyrr (145612) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534986)

A Project is a temporary endeavor to create a unique product or service. Commercial projects can be much easier to manage. When you're paying someone to write a particular feature, they write the feature or you replace them. When you rely on unpaid contributions, you get the features that people want to write instead of the features you need.

Re:Or as the rest of the computing world describes (1)

xoundmind (932373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535068)

The Project/Product nuances are worth exploring more. Here's my take:
Any Linux distibution is an amalgamation of the currently available feature sets: kernel, basic system, security and networking tools, xorg (if you need it), etc. In a word: snapshot. That reeks of Project status. ("Support for diver XYZ won't be available until the next release, as the hardware was released just after the launch date.")
Solaris and *BSD do not work that way. They are vastly (and centrally) planned operations. Goals are established and they are released at the pleasure of the developers. Yes, it is a pain in ass to get a Sun or *BSD system fully useful with many Project addons. But the point is to release a powerful, stable BASE system for your use. If that's tooo dificult for someone, well...too bad. Enough homework should allow you to be ready for the next release. (No finger pointing at anyone in particular here!).
Like my automobile, I want my OS to be a safe, reliable Product. There's a reason most Project cars probably won't pass inspection.

And this necessarily makes a product better? (5, Insightful)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535097)

I live in a house, I have two cars and a boat. The cars are products. I buy them, I run them, periodically I have to replace something. The house and the boat are projects. They are continually being modified - the only rule being that the house has to work all the year round and the boat has to work from March to November. I find things, I fix things, I improve things. But then for me cars are just a form of transport, and for some people they too are projects.

I can't be the only person who believes that, now that software does all the basic things, much of it is evolving from Product to Project. Even Microsoft, the supplier of boxed software par excellence, has got to come to terms with this; we now know that under the shiny paint there are hidden recesses with rust and loose parts and we expect them to be fixed as they are discovered. We also know that a company of some size can release stuff and label it beta, simply being more honest than labelling it "release 0.8" or whatever.

You can see Open Source as the logical outcome of all the work that was done on quality in the 80s and 90s: everybody involved, continuous improvement, no hiding place for bad work. You can see it as a response to the perception by many people in the standards world that software standards were abysmal. Oh, and I have yet to see the new product that can just be placed in someone's hands and used. It may be "ready for use", but the user will not be. Continuous improvement and user feedback makes the learning curve easier.

Naughty Commands? (5, Funny)

ArmyOfFun (652320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534854)

there are times when I still type very naughty things on the command line.
Like what? "touch me"? "finger her"? "man kill"?

Re:Naughty Commands? (1)

DaSenator (915940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534946)


sudo apt-get remove kde

Re:Naughty Commands? (2, Funny)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534947)

Whatever it is, I'm guessing it's typed using only one hand. (shudders)

Re:Naughty Commands? (1)

flooey (695860) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534952)

Like what? "touch me"? "finger her"? "man kill"?

I think he's more talking along the lines of "look you &*$#@^$ing &*(@#&*er, change the $^&@#@ing piece of @&^*@!" And of course, the machine always plays dumb, with its "usage: look [-df] [-t char] string [file]", like it doesn't know what you're talking about.

Re:Naughty Commands? (1)

ArchAngelQ (35053) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535092)

man touch
man scottsman
touch sheep

Re:Naughty Commands? (5, Funny)

Penguin Programmer (241752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535110)

killall bitchx

If that's not naughty, I don't know what is.

And where is the book (1)

TristanGrimaux (841255) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534859)

that mocks on users with funny anecdotes and stuff like that? A GUIDE?!
Donde Ser Geek No Duele [blogspot.com]

Enjoying those B & N kickbacks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15534873)

Once again Slashdot links to the book at BN.com when Amazon.com has it much cheaper [amazon.com] .

Re:Enjoying those B & N kickbacks? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534922)

We'll just order it from your kickback link. No reason you shouldn't make a buck off it, too. Thanks AC!

Re:Enjoying those B & N kickbacks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15535167)

BN.com is much cheaper for me after membership discounts (10%), coupons (15%), and cash back (5%) on the B&N mastercard.

Werd (4, Funny)

rmadmin (532701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534886)

there are times when I still type very naughty things on the command line.

root@kungfu:~# history | wc -l
root@kungfu:~# history | grep fuck | wc -l


Finally, some respect! (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534889)

For the past decade, my Linux books have been calling me a "Complete Idiot" and a "Dummy" for reading them. Finally, one that only thinks I'm a "Geek!"

Where is "Case Sensitivity" (5, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534896)

Where is "Case Sensitivity" on this list? I mean, have you really ever used CASE to distinguish two different files? (Worse, have you ever had to try to describe cased files over the phone?)

Re:Where is "Case Sensitivity" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15534944)

you know, some people shouldn't use computers, let alone linux

The loser coward demonstrates the problem... (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535024)

...and then you wonder why Windows continues to smack Linux around like a little girl when it comes to desktop OS deployments. (Ever try a case-sensitive search on Google? Why not?)

Re:Where is "Case Sensitivity" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15535086)

Some people shouldn't even use English, let alone type.

Re:Where is "Case Sensitivity" (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535088)

>you know, some people shouldn't use computers, let alone linux

I think you meant:

some people shouldn't use Computers

Re:Where is "Case Sensitivity" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15535072)

Case insensitivity was originally a bug. Early file systems discarded the two high bits from file name characters, leaving them with 6 bits, so all file names became uppercase.

Later file systems corrected this bug, but ignorant users came to expect this behavior. Case insensitivity is a bug, Linux does it the correct way.

Re:Where is "Case Sensitivity" (4, Funny)

griffjon (14945) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535156)

I use case to version. The current working file is all lower case, the current muck-around with is in all upper case, and versions are in mixed case, with the location of upper case letters indicating recent-ness,


test.pl - known good working copy
TEST.PL - testing copy, under current development
Test.pl - testing copy 1 rev back
tEst.pl - testing copy 2 revs back

This becomes a bit less useful for multiple revs on the current branch, but then I just add silly letters at the end, e.g.


Re:Where is "Case Sensitivity" (2, Funny)

ednopantz (467288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535176)

We keep that kind of thing in our company's list of "programming practices punishable by death." right below magic numbers.

Re:Where is "Case Sensitivity" (2, Funny)

drauh (524358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535171)

not for files, but for job security, i distinguish variables purely by case: aaaaaa, aaaaaA, aaaaAa, aaaAaa, etc etc

No WYSIWYG (0, Troll)

Rethcir (680121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534908)

That shitty text editor that you can't even backspace in. Join the 21st century and give us a better gui damnit!


jedidiah (1196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534987)

Where have you been?

I've been able to "backspace" in my text editor since 1988.

As someone who has learned many operating systems (2, Insightful)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534918)

The secret is to spend less time complaining and more time reading.

Of course a different operating system will act differently than the one you're used to. That's kind of the point. Treat it as something unique rather than as an inferior version of your current platform and you'll get farther.

Parsing Error (2, Funny)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534939)

I read the title as 'Linux Avoidance for Geeks'. I was reaching for my flame retardent suit when the flashing red error light went on.

The Absolute #1 Annoyance (0, Troll)

jo42 (227475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534973)

Every frickin' distro does things its own way.

Give me FreeBSD..!

Grrrrrrrrrr... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15534975)

I'm glad someones finally publishing a book on how to get rid of PAM.

Documentation (3, Insightful)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 8 years ago | (#15534981)

/* [ Go back later and write comments on documentation - 02/22/01 ] */

Re:Documentation (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535102)

Yes.. I have a file on my computer entittled "A_Great_Idea".

I open it, and read: Ok I remember.

What the hell was that idea?

mod 04 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15534985)

is EFNet, and you

Vi. Burn in hell Vi, and all those who "like" you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15535007)

die die die.
argh die vi damn you


I'd have to agree (3, Informative)

phorm (591458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535064)

One of the first things I do on a new debian system is:

apt-get install vim links-ssl curl-ssl wget finger bzip2 tar aptitude ssh

Hopefully you weren't stirring the old Vi/Emacs debate, because though plain ol "vi" is a real pain, "vim" is much nicer than "vi"
(oh, and for those using Debian, the newer versions come with aptitude already installed, which is generally preferable to 'apt-get' and can be used with the same syntaxes, except there is no 'aptitude moo' command)

For others, what are the first apps you install on a fresh linux distro?

Poltical Annoyances for the real poltical party (-1, Troll)

elmerf9001 (921143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535015)


My Linux Annoyances as a Hardended Windows user (4, Interesting)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535027)

Well folks, i've been meaning to write this down anyway; here seem's like the perfect place.

Now, I am a 100% Win fan. I love it; things just work. But, I have made the switch to Linux (Fedora Core 5) at home, seeing as it does 99% of what I want. After a couple of months of constant, un-interupted use, my biggest issues with Linux are broadly thus:

1. No fecking media support! I get XMMS inform me on first attempt at playing an MP3 that it won't because of licensing conflict. Wtf? Codecs for avi's and DVDs were a simular story; all had to be downloaded via yum (bloody excellent tool!). Seriously; not good, but fixed in the end.

2. Why the hell do I have to install a new kernel? Why? I've never had to on Windows - why is Linux different? Is it so buggy? I installed with a factory version something ending 054. Now I have something ending 122 I believe. I did it ok, but that's not the point I'm making; were there really 68 cock-ups so great in the kernel build from release-time until that now they had to re-release 68 times? I'm guessing probablly not, but still.

3. Point 2 also breaks my nvidia drivers. I don't want to re-compile new drivers everytime there's a new 'patch'. For the love of god, why?!

4. X-Windows. What a mess. Why do I have to tell it my x & y refresh rates for my monitor? Windows just 'knows'. Many more things here I feel that X-Windows should just 'know' - the number of buttons on my USB mouse for-instance. If Windows can do it, there's no reason why Linux can't. Also, X-Windows 'feels' slower than Windows. I'm sure there's good reasons for this, but I don't care; Windows is snappier.

5. Lack of decent file-browser. The best I've come across is Nautilus in a mode that resembles Windows Explorer. It'll do for now, but as far as I'm aware, offers no context-sensitive menus for applications (like the Winamp "Play in Winamp" right-click menu on folders.

Actually, I think that's largely it. In all, Linux has, and is continuing to be great fun to play with. So many cool tools - yum being one of them. I'll stick to Linux @ home; it can only get better, but I'd be interested to know what people think of the above points - any suggestions maybe? I want this to work after all...

-Sr. Samwel.

Re:My Linux Annoyances as a Hardended Windows user (0, Troll)

LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535059)

Congratulations. One of the best trolls I've seen in some time . I'll just step back and watch the flames.

Re:My Linux Annoyances as a Hardended Windows user (1)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535106)

I'm not meaning to troll at all. It's geniune critism; which is more or less what this whole thread's about.

I'm even writing this from our wonderful Linux too, so I'm not being hypicritical either. I hope people see that.

Re:My Linux Annoyances as a Hardended Windows user (2, Informative)

ShibaInu (694434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535140)

Switch to Ubuntu. No bullshit with the video drivers and with automatix getting all your codecs/media players is easy as pie. Faster too.

Re:My Linux Annoyances as a Hardended Windows user (1)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535169)

I might well try that. I've only heard good things about Ubuntu, not that Fedora 5 is particually bad either.

Incidently, this link was very usefull getting multimedia support in FC5 - http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/html_single/Fedora-Multi media-Installation-HOWTO/ [tldp.org]



The predecessor (3, Insightful)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535054)

The Unix Haters Handbook [amazon.com]

It would be interesting to see how many Linux complaints and annoyances date back to Unix.


Linux Book Annoyances for Geeks (and Others) (3, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535083)

For the life of me, I don't know why Chapter 5, Installation Annoyances, isn't Chapter 1.

I think the OP just nailed down the problem with 90% of Linux books, and one of the big problems with Linux adoption by the less-than-ubergeeks. Very few Linux book authors seem to know how to teach someone to use Linux. Either they spend three chapters on the basics of PCs and lose me, they dive straight into stuff that goes way over my head, or they just present the material in as counter-intuitive an order as possible for maximum frustration.

I can't remember how many books I've picked up, started reading, and ended up shelving between chapters three and five. Reasons:

1) They never actually got around to discussing Linux beyond the sales pitch about why I should use it.

2) They skipped a lot of important basics that left me wondering just what they were talking about.

3) They had me configure the desktop, type a few commands in the shell, install Linux, and THEN talked about the file system and various other basics that are relevant to everything you do in Linux.

so... what has this all to do with LINUX??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15535104)

From what i read, his complaints are mainly with:

- Unix Distros
- KDE/Gnome
- various GNU and OpenSource programs

there is only a tiny mentioning of Linux itself (THE KERNEL!!)

so, all in all i'd say this is a nice rant about non microsoft software in general.

Re:so... what has this all to do with LINUX??? (2, Informative)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535184)

It's really hard to seperate Linux from KDE/Gnome and "various programs" on the desktop level. Linux alone isn't exactly viable for much. You need Apache to make it a web server. Samba to make it a file server. XWindows to make it a desktop system. EXPECT people to lump them all as "Linux" because in all reality, Linux isn't anything without them.

File copy = lost file date (2, Interesting)

Gnavpot (708731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535127)

My favourite annoyance is the default behaviour of 'cp'. Unless I add additional command line arguments, the file date will be changed into today's date. I don't want that. I cannot imagine why anyone would want that so much that it is the default behaviour.

At least it has been changed in Konqueror now. Two years ago I trashed the dates of some 100s of vacation photos by using Konqueror on a Knoppix CD to copy them from the camera card and clear the card afterwards. Konqueror on my Ubuntu Dapper Drake doesn't seem to do this. Nautilus doesn't either.

Re:File copy = lost file date (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535173)

And the sad thing is, you've probably got alias cp='cp -p' somewhere in your environment and aren't even aware of it.

Annoyances? (0, Troll)

TyrainDreams (982007) | more than 8 years ago | (#15535183)

Whatever do you mean? Linux is perfect with no flaws what-so-ever.
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