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The Clueless Newbie's Linux Odyssey

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the men-turned-into-pigs dept.

Linux 998

overshoot writes "Just what we've always (said we) wanted: people who are fed up with Microsoft and are willing, even eager, to give Linux a real try. Well, she did. And did. And did some more. Not only that, she's a technical writer and she took notes. Not fun reading, but worth reading anyway."

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Article Summary (4, Insightful)

Drunken Coward (574991) | more than 11 years ago | (#5670996)

After finding herself stuck behind the times using Windows 95 in 2002, the author took it upon herself to convert to Linux. After trying Mandrake, Lycoris, SuSE, RedHat, and Knoppix, she found them all seriously lacking and has since switched back to using Windows 95,

If a computer literate technical writer can't even get Linux working properly, how can we expect it to be widely adopted by the masses? Linux is not ready for the desktop.

Re:Article Summary (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671027)

"If a computer literate technical writer can't even get Linux working properly, how can we expect it to be widely adopted by the masses? Linux is not ready for the desktop."

If a computer literate techical writer is still using Windows95 after eight years and does not understand the concept of "upgrading", we have bigger problems. This is like a race car driver bitching because he can not figure out fuel injection and he keeps getting smoked with a carbed engine.

Hey, France! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671034)

U.S. armor and soldiers are in Baghdad --- and finding arms and ammunition that YOU fuckers sold them. Do you see how MEN conduct themselves, you pansy-assed French fuckers???

Maybe after we're done with your pal, Saddam Hussein, we oughta swing over and take Paris. We'll fuck your women and they'll be thrilled to be with real men for the first time in their miserable, whore lives.

Re:Hey, France! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671056)

you know americans put saddamn in power right? and sold him weapons?

Re:Hey, France! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671082)

So, now that the job we hired him for is done, why are you so upset about us firing him?

Re:Hey, France! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671085)

Americans live in this cute little fantasy world don't spoil it for the poor guy. He doesn't have healthcare or decent schools so let him have the fantasies at least!

Re:Hey, France! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671114)

If you French guys ever stop making the best clarinet reeds, we're going to fucking smear your juice all over the face of Europe, you know....

Good point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671154)

Because of what we did yeaaaars ago, that makes it OK for France, Russia, Yugoslavia, Germany, and China to be arming Saddam as of last month.


Re:Good point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671188)


"I said do as I say, not do as I do"

Re:Hey, France! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671185)

The U.S. has sold Iraq about 4% of their weapons since the 70's. France sold them about 20% and Russia over 50%. France also sold him a nuclear reactor knowing that he'd use it to make weapons.

But hey, if being a morally bankrupt hypocrite who points fingers is working out for you, keep it up.

Re:Article Summary (2, Insightful)

Eight 01 (614650) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671168)

This is like a race car driver bitching because he can not figure out fuel injection and he keeps getting smoked with a carbed engine.

Not really. It's more like a writer for a car-racing magazine not being able to figure out their fuel injection. She is a writer who is technically-able. She needs a computer to get her job done. Linux didn't work out for her. Windows 95 does.

Re:Article Summary (5, Insightful)

Pyromage (19360) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671180)

Your attitude is why Linux sucks so much.

I use it every day. I don't have Windows installed on any of my systems. I *still* think it sucks.

Why do so many people think that it's always the users problem? Bah, it's so stupid I won't even argue this one.

The thing is, why hasn't anyone tried to make a *good* distribution yet? We have Debian "we have ten thousand pounds of shitty, buggy, out of date software, but hell, that's a lot, so its good". There's slackware (my favorite) which just has this "you had better know how to do everything because I aint helping you" attitude. Mandrake is as broken as the above. RH is as broken as the above.

Most niches have decent software in them. There are some genuinely good word processors for Linux. Ditto for web browsers, email clients, etc. Why package 45 shitty ones in a distro?

And on the topic of hardware support, I'll just paint an analogy: BeOS. BeOS supported almost no hardware. It has worse support than any other OS I've used, in terms of quantity. But what it *does* support, it supports perfectly. Swap video cards? You won't get any messages. The new one will just work, same resolution, same bit depth (assuming they both were supported, but that's not avoidable). THIS is what support should be: when it works, it should *work*.

When I installed my HP722C a while back, I had to manually write a magicfilter print filter because no existing system supported it at the time. Unacceptable.

And people like you come along and make jackass comments like "You're not l33t enough to move to Linux, because you're still running Windows 95! Only Win2Kers are cool enough to join my OS!". Asshole. Shut the fuck up.

Re:Article Summary (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671135)

I think the key point of the article is that Linux (not the kernel, but the whole experience of a distro) is severely lacking in usability engineering. It takes a different kind of mindset to be able to write software that less technical people understand. I think we've all known this, but have never been able to find a way to address it. OTOH MS throws *lots* of money on usability and comes up weak, but reasonably usable products. Anyone have any ideas how we can improve usability in Linux?

Re:Article Summary (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671152)

How did you read the article and get first post?

Paypal Taco the Munnies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671170)

;-) []

Re:Article Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671191)

It takes time to get used to linux, but once you
find out that it can use the memory you have,
and not just 64MB like win95, and all the other
features, such as decent and reliable hardware
detection, KDE (spend lots of time playing with
the settings), then you'll get to like Linux.
Soon it'll seem normal, and open, easy to deal
with, unlike Windows. Every PC should have
Windows 98, of course, and a nice set of Linux
partitions. I use System Commander to boot a
bunch of OS's, including MS-DOS Arachne. (using that now
to post this..)
Trick is to install lilo in the root partition of each
Linux install, not in the MBR. Let System
Commander pick them up from your Win 98
partition. Nice, especially Mandrake Linux!

Re:Article Summary (4, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671192)

It won't be ready for the masses until you can insert the CD, click Install and leave the computer for 20-30 minutes. When you get back you should have a Linux system that has recognised all your hardware, still lets you run all your Windows tools and your background, sounds, themes and screensaver are all intact.

This is what the masses will expect, the average computer user doesn't upgrade their OS and they're likely to get a friend, relative or shop to do it. It is these people who will make the decision to deploy Linux.

With Microsoft clamping down on piracy it is becoming more likely that these people will be deploying Linux at some stage in the future as some computer owners just don't want to pay anything for an OS upgrade.

Tsu Dho Nimh (5, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671001)

Say the name out loud until you get it.

Re:Tsu Dho Nimh (2, Informative)

peripatetic_bum (211859) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671102)


Please this has got to be an april's fools joke. late though

Re:Tsu Dho Nimh (1)

Theodore Logan (139352) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671164)

Hey, don't spoil the fun! Those who really didn't even get it after reading the parent post don't deserve to anyway.

Re:Tsu Dho Nimh (4, Funny)

Theodore Logan (139352) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671143)

Very clever, very clever indeed. I sense a conspiracy! Let's see what we can make of this: there are ten letters in "Tsu Dho Nimb" and Bill Gates was born on October 28, 1951. 2+8+1+9+5+1=26. 2+6=8, and 8 is written 10 in octal. Coincidence? I think not!

Even a moron can see that there's got to be something more than meets the eye to a story that purports to show how Linux is still too complicated for the masses. I wipe my ass on your article, Bill. You're not fooling me!

Technical writer? (5, Funny)

labratuk (204918) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671012)

I'm a lousy typist, and text mode is not an efficient way for me to interface with an operating system.

Let me get this striaght. She's a Technical writer, but a lousy typist.

Her work day must be living hell.

Re:Technical writer? (4, Funny)

Theodore Logan (139352) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671040)

A technical writer who doesn't know the first thing about computers and can't type? Either it's still the first of April or all those people who whine about how hard it is getting a job in tech these days are damn, cursed, liars!

Re:Technical writer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671073)

You do realize technical writers do a whole lot more than write about computers? Probably not, you sound ignorant.

Re:Technical writer? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671100)

She said:

Windows 95 works well enough for my needs, but I'm eight years behind the technology curve.

so shes a technical writer? enough said.

Re:Technical writer? (5, Funny)

Soko (17987) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671070)

Doubt it. This guy Rob Malda [] makes his living posting "news" stories, and his typing seems to be rather lousy, his spelling and grammer are rather poor, too. I don't see him suffering much.

Besdies, from what I've seen, "Technical" and "Writer" don't belong in the same sentence, unless the sentence is "Techncally I'm a Writer, but I'm not terribly creative..."


Re:Technical writer? (3, Insightful)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671117)

Actually, technical writer != writer of things technical. Although the focus of a technical writer often is producing materials associated with engineering, a good technical writer is a generalist and good at making things understandable and "user friendly."

Technical writers don't just write about things technical though. They write business process manuals, assembly instructions (ala IKEA), and so on. It's a wide field.

Also, saying a technical writer lacks creativity is like saying a programmer lacks creativity. They both deal with important rules and standards and may seem "rigid" to a layperson, but it still takes creativity and talent to do it well.

(My fiance has taken technical writing courses, though she's switched to doing research as a career goal. Anyone in the field, feel free to add your two cents.)

Re:Technical writer? (4, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671089)

Let me get this striaght. She's a Technical writer, but a lousy typist.

She's a fairly regular posted on comp.os.linux.advocacy, and explained this there. Here is what she said:

We're not paid by the word, so speed doesn't count. We're paid for the ability to collect, collate, edit, and publish accurate technical information.

I have chronic tendonitis and nerve damage in both arms ... with documents, I run a spellchecker, print it out, mark it up, and have multiple chances to get it right. With a CLI, it either works, or it doesn't, or it does something I didn't intend for it to do if I happen to issue a command that is legal.

Here's the posting [] .

Here's the complete thread [] .

Re:Technical writer? (1)

labratuk (204918) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671113)

Hmm. Interesting.

Now I know.

Twirlip of the Mist sucks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671013)

he gives Mac users a bad name!

It is hard, but possible (4, Insightful)

Blaine Hilton (626259) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671014)

It is hard, but it is very possible now. If people would realize that they need to do a little study, a little tweaking and a lot of "playing" around learning. I use Windows, but have now turned my old computer over to Red Hat Linux and I am trying to slowly use that one more and more. Espcially now with OOo relasing an API I think its just going to get better and better.

Re:It is hard, but possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671026)

windows (and mac) has taught people that doing that type of tweaking, research, etc., is not necessary. if linux wants to compete with windows on the desktop - they'll have to match their idiot-proof usability on the desktop.

Re:It is hard, but possible (4, Insightful)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671036)

Tweaking and "playing around" is *not* what the typical desktop user wants to do. (No, the typical desktop user is not the average slashdot reader.) They simply want their computer to work. They want to do typical desktop things like word processing, not searching on google for some obscure error message and hacking their way to fix it.

Re:It is hard, but possible (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671124)

well if you want a computer that just work and dont want tho fiddel with it . you have no businies instaling an operating system of any kind. i work at a computer shop ind the horrors never ned with customers complainig that there new computer dosent work and 99.9 % its a busted windows installation. the worst thing is that we offer to install the os fore free but no they want to do it themeself and they fuck it up and think the computer is busted.
so if they only want hte computer as a toll and they dont want to learn and they dont want to fidel. leav that to the techs end of story and that applays fore all operating systems

Re:It is hard, but possible (4, Insightful)

rot26 (240034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671197)

well if you want a computer that just work and dont want tho fiddel with it . you have no businies instaling an operating system of any kind.

This may be the kernel of truth that the author should have deduced and commented on.

Re:It is hard, but possible (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671047)

Nobody said it was impossible; they said it was too hard to do.

Re:It is hard, but possible (1)

Dr_Cornholio (569153) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671140)

I agree. I gave up on windows in '99 and switched to linux. I took me a couple of tries to fully abandon windows, but I got it. All you need is a little patience (and a very thick, very expensive book that helped out alot!). I also had some fun along the way, learning how my system REALLY worked, not the over simplistic, ambiguousway that windows advertises. It was great fun especially trying a new distro. I fully recommend it for anyone that thinks 'There must be a better way to use my system!' However, I must point out that now I use Mac OSX so now I still have fun with UNIX and X11, but I also get a few more software choices (And OSX is oooohhhhhhh so perty!!!)

Linux not so bad.. (1)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671019)

I have had similar problems as the author, but this was about five years ago. Redhat's installer has come a LONG way (although I still have problems with certain hardware configurations). As developers, our PRIMARY goal has got to be to make things as simple and standardized as possible for the end user. We should assume the end users are stupid (as they sometimes are) and make things as easy as we can for them.

Not fun reading, but worth reading anyway. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671025)

With that wonderful endorsement, how can I *not* read it?!?

The Real Problem... (5, Insightful)

JJahn (657100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671029)

is that most people don't understand that Windows is not the universal basis of good operating systems. People expect everything to work the same as it did on Windows. Of course that has to be the case for wide-spread desktop acceptance, but IMO that is not the way it should be.

At least Linux is reliable and after you get used to working with it, is powerful and useful. And also I don't seem to have so many damn device driver problems as in Windows...with those clueless vendors writing garbage drivers (I'm thinking Creative and ATI at the moment, grumble)

Re:The Real Problem... (0)

Weenis-X (658333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671088)

It's unimaginable for most people to run linux. VERY few people have fundamental system understanding required. Additionally, I've found that proper linux operation requires a penis no larger than five inches. It is understandable, therefore, why slashdot users are so capable with it - while myself and other well-endowed individuals suffer. Oh, and also.. you are teh ghey. Thank you. Weenis

Re:The Real Problem... (4, Insightful)

Teancom (13486) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671107)

Did you read the article? Or even skim it? One of her main problems was not that it doesn't work like Windows, but that the various installation routines and setup programs would either not work the way they were supposed to at all, or work sometimes and not others. I'm thinking specifically of her redhat 8.0 problems, where didn't see her soundcard at boot until she ran snconfig, then it saw it the next time, and offered to configure it for her (too late!); and the knopix random segfaulting and mouse cursor disappearing; and mandrake not seeing that it was connected to the 'net even when it was; and various cd burned programs not seeing her drives, or burning coasters; etc, etc, etc. You can't claim reliability as a plus to linux, unless it is actually stable and reliable!

Now, before you get your panties in a twist, I think you have to differentiate between the kernel and the gui. I will agree that on average, the Linux kernel is more stable than windows 9x, me, and 2k (I've never used XP, couldn't tell you). *However*, the Linux GUI is just as unstable and crappy as those listed. Now I personally take that as a challenge, and help out with various KDE projects, with bug reporting/fixing, and the like. But pretending that the general state of the GUI in linux is that of stable, reliable, user-friendly, and intuitive programs would be self-deluding.-

Re:The Real Problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671146)

the real problem (at least on the GUI side), is that Linux people don't understand that 90%+ market penetration IS universal.

For example, you can't force ordinary people to join the holy war of RPMs vs. Debian. When they want to install software, they expect a link to it to show up in the Start menu after the installation. In most distros that I have tested, I still needed to find out myself where Netscape installed its bins, wading through /etc, /usr/etc, /usr/bin, etc. and then create a link to it. Sure, I found out eventually, but if I had been running a race against a Windows user to install the software, I'm way past behind.

Another example is the screen refresh rate. Can you expect an ordinary user to edit XF86Config, let alone find it? Why not just integrate a control like in Windows?

nice quote (5, Funny)

mrpuffypants (444598) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671038)

Well, you shrieking geeks

that's a nice way to endear yourself to the readers. I'd like to read some of her technical writings...

Now configure sendmail; you know where the file is, you twit!

Re:nice quote (0, Flamebait)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671163)

Well, you shrieking geeks...Yea that was a nice intro.

Before each installation, I deleted the Linux partitions from the drives and restored them to formatted FAT32... ah, fat drives very technical thing to do.

This is more of an experiment to see how ready Linux is for the average Windows-user than how it stacks up for my own migration to Linux. .... She runs windows 95, and she thinks she is average?

I had well-known, mass-market video cards with chipsets that were allegedly supported, but getting a GUI to show up was never a sure comment....

Root gets locked out of files. ...ok, im no genious here, but root can't get locked out of files. Really.

Ok, enough of her stupidity. This girl reminds me of Ellen Feiss [] , the girl from the Apple/Switch commmercials, whose computer ate her paper, so she had to write another, and it wasnt as good? (wasn't as good as that joint she smoked maybe) Cute, but dumb as a bag of hammers.

Newbie? I'd call her an expert! (4, Interesting)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671042)

She's installed half a dozen distributions. That's five more than I've ever installed. Such bravery.

I have had similar frustrations trying to get my printer at home to work. I've never been able to do it properly. Its an HP USB inkjet and it works just find from Windows 98. I really wish I had a postscript laser printer [] , since those are so easy to set up from Linux. (Never mind that Windows makes it harder than it should be to install one.)

As far as the CD burner goes, she had problems getting it to work on Redhat. I've found that whatever version comes with RedHat is pretty bad. Upgrading to the newest version of XCDRoast [] solved all my problems. They even have RPMs that are a breeze to install in RedHat. Yes you have to run it as root, but only once. You can give anybody permission to run it from its graphical interface.

Re:Newbie? I'd call her an expert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671080)

How to install a USB printer on WinXP (which, being two years old now, you might want to get):

1) Plug it in.
2) Click "Yes" a few times, if necessary.

I haven't run into a step 3 on a properly installed OS.

Your USB HP inket problem (1)

Confessed Geek (514779) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671167)

Bite the bullet and move to CUPS. I did and while it has its own pains and problems I just can't consider moving back to LPD/LPRNG.

Its not perfect. I would say it has about 80% of the functionality it claims, but that is still about %200 more than I had before. Just imagine, Never having create a printcap again. localhost:631 is your friend.

plain old troll (4, Insightful)

blastedtokyo (540215) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671043)

It's funny how the author posts misconceptions about WindowsXP in the first page to say why they'll never try it. Then they go on to bash everything else in sight.

Sounds like one of those people who love to complain and are just looking for an audience.

Absolutely Wrong Windows Evaluation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671110)

The author starts off with saying that Windows XP is not an option because it will break his modem, printer and CDR, and that it will not run Windows 95 software. Further complains that newer versions of Microsoft Office won't correctly open documents from older versions of Microsoft Office. Unless the author has a penchant for DOS software (unlikely since he refuses to use a command line) he is trying to pull one over on us.

One might assume that if the author hates Windows, he will be predisposed towards Linux. Read the rest of the article to discover that that isn't the case either.

I agree with the parent. This article is a troll written by someone who enjoys complaining and has little concern for spreading facts.

Re:plain old troll (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671118)

It's funny how the author posts misconceptions about WindowsXP in the first page to say why they'll never try it. Then they go on to bash everything else in sight.

Don't forget OpenOffice!

There's still a slew of bugs that OoO has to beat before it can snuggle with MS's office suite. Em-dashes will be fixed in 1.1 (the spell-checker was catching two em-dashed words as one word--all Q#@$ing non-alphanumeric characters should be treated as spaces, damnit!), but there's still (apparantly) no room for a "center on page" feature.

Re:plain old troll (1)

SN74S181 (581549) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671136)

It's some some of the usual stuff dragged over here to Slashdot from C.O.L.A.*

This kind of 'testimonial' (testify, brotha!) is their meat and potatoes over there in the nutty regions of the net. Yes, there are places online where people flame and rant about Linux and their love/hate relationships with Micro$oft that make this website seem calm!

(* the comp.os.linux.advocacy newsgroup)

this is so obviously a plant. (1, Troll)

nounderscores (246517) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671045)

the author writes: "It's based on my impressions as a technical writer, Linux neophyte and curmudgeon"

It is so not!! the sophistication with which she is able to pinpoint the names of recent features and *cough* *features* *cough* of some operating systems says that this is obviously a much more sophisticated user, taking on the mantle of an imaginary "typical n00b" and then proceeding to post a wish list of one-touch solutions.

this is not to say that the advice is bad

Rather it is to say that if you cracked into the author's box, you'd find it didn't run Win95. The problem with an imagined "typical user" is that if any of the assumptions used to create this mental image are wrong, we might waste development effort on features that "nobody wants and can't delete" (without recompiling that is, and what typical n00b wants to do that?)

so as far as I can see her complaints about usability etc are pretty valid, but just take it with a pinch of salt...

better yet, hand out distros to ALL your friends (techie and non-techie) with their birthday cards. watch reaction, rinse and repeat.

Cracking the box (2, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671166)

Rather it is to say that if you cracked into the author's box, you'd find it didn't run Win95.

Except that I have it on very good authority (tOSG from the story) that she indeed runs Win95 at home, although at the office she runs whatever IT sets up. Right now IIRC that's Win2K and Solaris, but these things change.

Don't confuse knowing the language with having skills.

Not a lot of variety (5, Insightful)

1nsane0ne (607735) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671046)

Let's see 12 distro's tested. Of those 8 are red hat / mandrake and 2 were suse. To give linux / alternative operating systems a try there should be more choices. She never said that linux was her only choice she just thought it best met her requirements. Seems to be that FreeBSD or any other BSD would be a good choice to try at as they meet all the requirements. Or if your hell bent on linux at least use a bunch of different distros just not red hat and mandrake. Doesn't seem like she gave enough alternitaves a try. I'm personally a fan of using what works best, be it windows, unix, linux, bsd, mac, beos, or whatever. It varies from person to person and from situation to situation and from computer to computer. There is no end all perfect for all, hardware, situations, and uses operating system and until there is one, we'll be stuck dual booting or using windows in some situations or whatever. Anyways thats just my two pennies.

Why keep banging your head?! (2, Insightful)

mekkab (133181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671115)

If version X of a release is difficult to use, why try Version Y? And if Version Y is also not working for you, what kind of a moron do you have to be to say "Hmmmm, Version Z, that's gonna be the one to solve MY hyper-specific and unique problems!"

I was told the definition of insanity was doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Now I've had some bad linux installs (*Cough* linuxppc *cough*) but I take that as an indicator that I have to move on. This woman is crazy!

And do you think it would be so hard to bribe that geek to install it for her?! Just show him a little ankle flesh and I'm SURE he'd do whatever you wanted!

Re:Why keep banging your head?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671195)

LinuxPPC? How bad was that install?

I installed Debain/PPC 2.2r4 on a PowerMac 7600 about a year ago, and was that ever an experience.

About all that sticks in my head now was the fact that the version of quik (the Old World Macintosh OpenFirmware boot loader for Linux) installed wouldn't work if it was installed pointing to a symlink. Guess what type of file the default Debian install of quik pointed to?

Well, that and the fact that the installation documents claimed to be written for both Old World and New World PowerMacs, yet the documents contained information that applied to either just New World Macs (how to set up a bootloader, Old World Macs can't use the same loaders as New World ones), or very general information that applied to both (and was probably the same as that found in the x86 documentation if I had bothered to compare the two)

Re:Not a lot of variety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671130)

Or if your hell bent on linux

I will die happy if morons learn that "you" + "are" = "you're."

Re:Not a lot of variety (5, Funny)

overshoot (39700) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671176)

Let's see 12 distro's tested. Of those 8 are red hat / mandrake and 2 were suse. To give linux / alternative operating systems a try there should be more choices. She never said that linux was her only choice she just thought it best met her requirements. Seems to be that FreeBSD or any other BSD would be a good choice to try at as they meet all the requirements.

Help me here -- she's having trouble with Mandrake's installer and you want her to try the BSDs?

what about from the other direction? (5, Interesting)

timothy (36799) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671048)

First: This article makes some very good points, ones that people who push Free and otherwise Open Source software on others to the point of being annoying (like me) often have to skirt around. This kind of criticism is really important!

Second: The author talks about the need (in her case) of a dual-boot system, and that's surely a common situation. However: What about Windows? If someone has a mostly happy, generally successfull Linux installation on a machine with a few tens of gigs of hard drive space, can Windows be nicely (non-destructively) installed as a novelty or ... for what Windows users use it for?

I have installed Mandrake Linux (versions 7.1 and 8.0) on Laptops which arrived with different versions of Windows, and contrary to the upshot of this article, those installs (dual-booting with Windows) went pretty automagically (though I regret that I ended up with a big never-used partition on each of those hard-drives ;)). However, that's because Linux distros know they exist in a MS-dominant environment. Microsoft seems to offer tips on removing Linux, but how difficult would it be to go about creating a dual-boot system the other way?

(This question is out of ignorance, and is not rhetorical.)


p.s. A very similar, just-as-damning article could be written about the various interface flaws that infest Microsoft Windows; a few recent visits to my dad, trying to help him set up wireless networking under Windows led me to show him how if I popped in a Knoppix CD, everything Just Worked, but we never did get Windows XP happy with his network.

How do I play games on Linux? (0, Offtopic)

IgD (232964) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671054)

I can do internet browsing, e-mail, OpenOffice (MSOFFICE functionality), DB with MySQL, programming with Kylix/BCB but what about video games? BattleField 1942 etc. Games are the only thing holding me back from going 100% Linux.

Re:How do I play games on Linux? (1)

nounderscores (246517) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671116)

Re:How do I play games on Linux? (1)

r00zky (622648) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671156)

try this [] if you haven't already.
battlefield 1942 has a working ratio of 3/5 more info about it here [] .

Re:How do I play games on Linux? (1)

ktorn (586456) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671174)

Last Xmas I spent a couple of weeks at my mum's, where all my old desktops are, now converted to Linux app & web servers. I couldn't get to terms with the fact that my former gaming machine, a dual P3-800 with a 22" monitor, was just sitting there being wasted. My only Windows (XP) machine left is my laptop, which is hardly good enough to run Chuckie Egg, never mind CS.
After a quick search on google and a couple of days fiddling around with Wine [] I got Counter-Strike working on the app server. What joy! Frame-rate not the best around (30-60fps) but still playable.
Not all games will run, and I hear EverQuest is the reason why many people need to keep at least one Windows machine lying around, but support for new games and applications is making the list of supported apps [] grow all the time.
Certainly worth a try...

Faith in moral paradigms (4, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671055)

During WWII, Charles Lindburg went over to germany, looked at their massive numbers of factories and aircraft, and concluded that the USA could never win the war. I suppose also, that in 1950's USSR, many people saw their huge building projects, factories, and the space program and concluded that the USA would never beat out the Soviets which at the time seemed more elloquent and "sophisticated" in their approach. But if you believed that people had inaliable rights as dignified human biengs, and believed that freedom was an end in itself - then there was only one way to go.

Well the same is true with Linux. Some Microsoft features may seem more "sophisticated", others may see Microsoft's huge amount of cash and never believe that they could loose to Linux. But if you believe that copying things is not a sin, but a human nature; and you believe that property rights derive from physical truths and not from artifical monopolies imposed by the government - like copyrights. Then there is only one way to go, and that way will free and benefit the people who believe in it over the long run, and destroy the people who don't.

Re:Faith in moral paradigms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671084)

Uhh, so your saying that the underdog will always win?

Re:Faith in moral paradigms (1)

greck (79578) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671106)

mod the parent up... whether one agrees or not, it's definitely food for thought.

Re:Faith in moral paradigms (1)

SN74S181 (581549) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671179)

Actually, most Linux/Unix features seem more 'sophistcated'. It is better planned, not laid out for purely commercial reasons. But because it depends not on public acceptance, but rather the whims of the narrow elite who wield it, it has difficult achiving mass appeal.

The fact that it can be freely copied isn't going to 'save' Linux. Looking on the title page to my copy of 'J.V. Stalin- Works Volume 7, 1925' I don't see a copyright there either. Just 'Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954'. No copyright.

Summary (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671057)

So basically, chicks are too stupid to use Linux.

Got it.

Brief comment (4, Interesting)

smoondog (85133) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671069)

1. It must have a GUI interface for installing and configuring the system. I'm a lousy typist, and text mode is not an efficient way for me to interface with an operating system.

No, you probably just aren't familiar with the shell. Many very good typists get very frustrated with UNIX because of the need to understand the shell.

BTW - Is anyone else totally baffled by the choices Mr. Gates and co used when developing MSDOS many years ago? The MSDOS "shell" has commands that are totally crazy. Some, like "dir" (and its output) are a little more intuitive than the default "ls". Others, like md are (arguably) less intuitive than mkdir. Still others are inexplicable, like using \'s instead of /'s for directory structure. What's up with that? It's almost as if they said, we need to create a new shell that looks like UNIX but is different, so lets randomly change a bunch of stuff.


Re:Brief comment (5, Informative)

richi (74551) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671125)

The different direction of slashes is due to MS-DOS using '/' as a way to denote command-line options (e.g. DEL /S/F *.* ). Early version of DOS didn't have a heirachic filesystem, so when MSFT added the concept of directories, they couldn't easily choose '/' as the separator, so they thought that they should use '\' instead.

Muscle memory sanity for people switching between DOS and Unix wasn't exactly seen as an issue to those guys ;-)


Re:Brief comment (1)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671194)

So MSDOS 1.0 didn't support directories at all. By the time MSDOS 2.0 came around, there was already an existing application base that used / as an option prefix (like - under unix!) and so they chose \ to separate directories so they could tell options from filenames, without breaking all the existing programs.

md and dir are totally just "if you know it you know it, if you don't know it, you probably won't guess it", just like ls and mkdir.

not very objective... (2, Insightful)

thadeusPawlickiROX (656505) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671072)

I can understand the points the writer brings up: Linux can be tough to use and install at first. However, there are several faults in the logic in the article. For example,

Before you say RTFM, make sure there is AFM to R: ...and make sure that the table of contents of a specific software's help file opens when I click the corresponding help button. Context-sensitive help is over a decade old -- I have written a lot of it for Windows -- but doesn't appear to have taken hold in Linux.

I see some problems with this. Last I checked, Windows did not have very good tech support, online or offline. The "help button" in most Windows apps is usually pretty useless. And, the author needs to RTFM.... there are plenty of good resources to use for Linux help, being one I frequently used when I needed help. The writer falls into the trap that most do, assuming Windows is THE perfect operating system. And, it's not, there are just as many faults in installation as there are in Linux. I've seen many failed driver installs, no/bad video, etc. I think linux support is better in some aspects, actually. And the use of non-standard parts for the writer's test PC's (video card in first computer, SCSI card??) would not be 100% in Win95 to begin with. I just wish writers would view things a bit better before going off complaining about how tough Linux is. If Windows was held to the same standard, the same complaints could be made as well.

I've got your manual right here! (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671145)

Lesse, I'm having some memory problems...
Oh, I've got the manual! Right here! [] /* $Id: dma.c,v 1.7 1994/12/28 03:35:33 root Exp root $
2 * linux/kernel/dma.c: A DMA channel allocator. Inspired by linux/kernel/irq.c.
3 *
4 * Written by Hennus Bergman, 1992.
5 *
6 * 1994/12/26: Changes by Alex Nash to fix a minor bug in /proc/dma.
7 * In the previous version the reported device could end up being wrong,
8 * if a device requested a DMA channel that was already in use.
9 * [It also happened to remove the sizeof(char *) == sizeof(int)
10 * assumption introduced because of those /proc/dma patches. -- Hennus]
11 */

22 /* A note on resource allocation:
23 *
24 * All drivers needing DMA channels, should allocate and release them
25 * through the public routines `request_dma()' and `free_dma()'.
26 *
27 * In order to avoid problems, all processes should allocate resources in
28 * the same sequence and release them in the reverse order.
29 *
30 * So, when allocating DMAs and IRQs, first allocate the IRQ, then the DMA.
31 * When releasing them, first release the DMA, then release the IRQ.
32 * If you don't, you may cause allocation requests to fail unnecessarily.
33 * This doesn't really matter now, but it will once we get real semaphores
34 * in the kernel.
35 */
38 spinlock_t dma_spin_lock = SPIN_LOCK_UNLOCKED;
40 /*

Tired of reading about installation (3, Insightful)

bstadil (7110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671075)

I don't know about you all but I have had it with "reviews" that spends two third of the space with the installation issue.

If the installation prevents Linux from world domination in someones eyes, so be it. There will always be issues with some hardware or unique configuration, but that is the case with Windows as well.

If installation is a major issue for anyone get someone that knows to do it.

Tempt them with Free as in Beer and stop yammering about something that is not so important compared with how does this work once installed.

Re:Tired of reading about installation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671126)


Most users DO NOT install their own OS, they run whatever was given to them by Dell/Compaq/HP/whoever and never touch it again. Most of them will never configure a piece of hardware more complex than a printer. Most of them will not upgrade any software. Most them will only ever install software (not uninstall).

If the average driver treated their car like the average computer user treats their computer, I'd be afraid to drive down the freeway behind them.

Oh boy. What this chick needs.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671079) a MAN to help her out. HAR HAR HAR.

No seriously she's exactly right about most of that stuff. Linux usability STINKS. That's right, STINKS. I use it every day (and have since using TWM under 0.99) and I still think it STINKS.

Buttons don't do what they suggest. Documentation doesn't correctly describe
the buttons. Little-used options are usually buggy. Customization is encouraged but if you do it in a way the author didn't test, BOOM! Every programmer has their own idea (read EGO) about what needs to be done and how an interface should be laid out. This is bad because good design is EGOLESS.

Menus are way too deep. Distro authors need to be MINIMAL and not try and shove every goddamn program in the menues.

I'm STILL trying to figure out why you need a plethora of buttons like "Ok", "Cancel", "Save", and "Apply" buttons in config dialogs! What happens if I click "Ok" without "Apply"? And how do I know the author really tested all paths out of the dialog? Many times, "Apply", "Save", and "Ok" all do the same thing anyway.

And KDE uses that ugly "K" WAY TOO MUCH!

On the other hand, I've never had too much trouble at install time. In fact I recently built a new PC and installed RH7.3 and was pleasantly surprised that it basically installed itself and discovered everything. Of course maybe I subconciously knew what options were most likely to NOT work because of years of experience dealing with free software.

Of course once I logged in I started noting bugs by the handful, and reported a lot of them, and even FIXED a few and sent in patches.. but .. it ain't OS X, that's for sure.

Interestingly enough, I've had similar problems with Windows, *especially* Win95 .. I'm surprised this writer didn't note any of the warts of Win95. I remember trying to install Win95 for friend once, and I actually had the stupid idea to CUSTOMIZE the install and remove some cruft. BAD MOVE! I removed something that was needed to uncompress the install files, and it wouldn't install, and I looked really stupid... the installer didn't even so much as give a warning. So WHY did offer me the choice?

Though with Linux I don't mind so much because I get the source code and could at least TRY and fix the problems.

Anyway, in conclusion YES Linux usability and GUI design needs some serious help. What it needs is an ALL-POWERFUL DICTATOR to come in and carve up the system and create a new one with the best and most usable pieces. Let's NOT try and please the egos of every software author out there. In fact I don't even think Red Hat should offer both Gnome and KDE. They should just pick ONE and develop it.

And this writer should stick with Win95.. she said it "worked well enough for her needs". It seems she still has a little "Windows-centric" view of computers to begin with, since all her requirements seem to be "do this and
this exactly like windows". So stick with Windows! I have an old 486 that I use regularly, because it STILL WORKS FINE!

And of course .. mumble mumble .. Mac OS X .. mumble mumble. Unfortunately OS X has its warts too, but they are like ONE TENTH the warts of the other two.

Before everybody piles on... (5, Insightful)

Fritz Benwalla (539483) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671083)

I have to add that this was my experience too.

Let me preface this by saying that I run a web design company, I maintained our servers for the first few years, I put in my time on PETs and TRS-80s, and APPLE IIs and Windows 3.0 and 95 and NT and 2000 and Linux. Take my word for it, I'm a seriously fucking technical guy. I offer as further evidence the fact that I'm posting to Slashdot on the Linux holy war at 9pm on a Saturday night.

I made an honest go of making my home main OS Linux, but I quit in frustration. The main problem is that it's not that Linux isn't *capable* of doing everything I need, but the tiny things that are slightly greater hassles in Linux end up being a death by a thousand cuts.

If there's one main way I can think of to characterize my regular use of my main OS, it's "freewheeling." I need it to be a transparent conduit in my productivity, whether it be hitting the Net, writing documents, personal finance, etc. Linux was *always* functional, but *never* transparent. I constantly had to tweak little things to make it work, find new libraries, etc. That's fun when I'm using hobby time, but not fun at all when I have shit to do on a deadline.

Honestly, I don't know how you're going to fix this aspect of the OS without doing what Microsoft has done - compromise fundamental stability and security in favor of useability. Personally I hope the debate stops, and we stop trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Let MS spend their money catering to the masses, let's keep Linux stable and robust for hard core needs.

I think we'd be doing the world a lot more good putting Microsoft's server products out of business than their desktop products. I'd feel a much greater sense of accomplishment knowing that I helped get the world's credit cards onto a Linux server than the world's Mom's on a Linux desktop.


Re:Before everybody piles on... (3, Interesting)

J. J. Ramsey (658) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671171)

"Honestly, I don't know how you're going to fix this aspect of the OS without doing what Microsoft has done - compromise fundamental stability and security in favor of useability."

Stability is not antithetical to usability. If anything, reliability improves usability, since it means that things work more consistently. Security can be a pain, but basic stuff like having separate root and user accounts isn't too much of an issue.

IMHO, the problems with Linux's usability have more to do with the availability and quality of GUI config tools, and the lack of a standard target for third-party developers to build against, which in turn makes it tricky to install third-party binary applications. Making Linux usable by the masses is doable. Both the technology and the standardization efforts are in place. It just has yet to gel.

Re:Before everybody piles on... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671187)

doing what Microsoft has done - compromise fundamental stability and security in favor of useability

Ha ha I think you confuse "familiarity" with "useability". Windows still has a lot of problems and "annoyances" that come between me and my work. Sure, not as many as Linux, but usually I can just turn to the guy next to me for instant answers for Windows annoyances, while Linux I have to hit the newsgroups or the source code.

Let's not even talk about Mac OS X, I've NEVER had any problems with OS X and have in fact often been pleasently surprised that I could do stuff that I didn't even THINK of.. wish that would happen with Linux or Windows once in a while.....

Hey... (2, Funny)

1nv4d3r (642775) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671087)

Tsu Dho Nimh my ass...John C. Dvorak, is that you?

I found her problem.... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671092)

Problem: "I think a computer is a tool rather than a hobby.

Solution: Get a Macintosh biznitch.

Mandrake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671094)

I find it interesting that Mandrake, one of the distros most often said to be targetting the desktop and new users, scored as one of the worst here. Note also that Mandrake currently seems to be teetering on the verge of financial collapse. Looks like Darwin and economics at work.

Re:Mandrake (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671160)

If you read the article you'd see that Mandrake was the lesser of many evils, and she ended up with mandrake 9.0. The older mandrake distros had some pretty big problems. I have been messing around with mandrake since 7.0 I couldn't even get mandrake 9.0 to work with the hard disk on my main machine. I downloaded knoppix 3.2 and played around with it. As she said.. the hardware detection works great. I liked all the goodies in knoppix, but I am a glutton for punishment, so I downloaded Mandrake 9.1, and lo and behold, it installed and worked like a champ. Only been messing around with it for a few days, and one thing I have noticed is that Win98se blows it out of the water for performance. Everything runs quicker, and feels snappier including mozilla 1.3. Win98se crashes about every other day though. not a big deal for my home machine though.

Linux vs. XP migration... (2, Insightful)

BadElf (448282) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671097)

#2 Existing hardware must remain usable. At a minimum, the printer, modem, and CD player/writer must work, and the new operating system must make them work without my having to tweak configuration files. If it can't get that far, it's not ready to inflict on the general public as a migration route, and I certainly will not recommend it to my friends.

#3 Existing software must remain usable unless the new operating system has equivalent features to the ones I use, there is no loss of data and data-transfer is easy.

Note: Requirements 2 and 3 eliminate WindowsXP as an upgrade route. I would need to buy a new computer, probably new peripherals, and replace some eXPensive software to get the dubious benefits of product-activation codes and embedded functions I don't want and can't delete.

At least we know she hasn't bought into Redmond's bullshit about XP's features.

Well... (1)

big_groo (237634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671105)

Before you say RTFM, make sure there is AFM to R: ...and make sure that the table of contents of a specific software's help file opens when I click the corresponding help button. Context-sensitive help is over a decade old -- I have written a lot of it for Windows -- but doesn't appear to have taken hold in Linux.

Maybe they should have started with this [] manual.

Unrealistic expectations,Unfair without benchmark (4, Insightful)

NZheretic (23872) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671121)

"Migrating to Linux not easy for Windows users" article in Linuxworld, while somewhat informative, is unfair and one sided, because it is based upon expectations that not even Microsoft's Win2k and XP can live up to. Tsu admits as much
Note: Requirements 2 and 3 eliminate WindowsXP as an upgrade route I would need to buy a new computer, probably new peripherals, and replace some eXPensive software to get the dubious benefits of product-activation codes and embedded functions I don't want and can't delete.

The expectation that Linux will fulfill the hardware driver installation off the distribution CD, when you admit that you may have to replace the entire hardware for XP, is inherently unfair and beyond what can be reasonably expected in any operating system. XP is not without it's major problems when it comes to older hardware ( especially scanners ) support and driver conflict problems.

The lack of any relative comparison in your article to the Microsoft alternative, paints Linux in a far worse light than is the reality. Compare your article to the recent articles by Joe Barr, comparing Linux installation with XP [] and Windows 2000 [] .

Also, given the rapid improvement of Linux distributions, 18 months is in my opinion, too long ago to represent the current state of Linux on the desktop. See Michael C. Barnes updates look at leading desktop operating system options [] on the market.As with Joe Barr's article, it benchmarks Linux against Microsoft's offerings.

There is nothing inherently wrong with pointing out faults, in fact any *constructive* criticism over current releases of Linux is both welcome and necessary to the Kazan like rapid improvement of Linux. However, just repeating war-stories without acknowledging either that the issue has been fixed in the lastest release of that distribution, or similar problem also exists with Win2k and XP, does nothing but provide fodder for Microsoft's trolls. I am surprised that this article in it's current form, made it past the editors at Linuxworld.

Not all linux distributions are targeted for the non-technical deployer. For example: Lycoris, Xandros and ELX are more likely to have SMB functionality preconfigured on install.

However, does not someone also re-configure windows for your colleagues? When they log in, is the SMB shares,printers and defaults always pre-installed for them? If not, who ever provides techsuppport for you is not doing their job properly.

Deployment, day to day management and just using a computer, require a different level of technical knowledge, no matter what operating system you are using.

Although many non-technical people to install and with windows often reinstall the operating system, that does not mean that they do a good job of it. I have been too often called in to repair a screwed up home based 98 to XP systems to personally attest to that.

That some Linux distributions, for example RedHat 8, do require a lot more knowleadge to deploy, once properly deployed and configured, they are a hell of a lot easier to remotely manage on a day to day basis, even using GUIs. ( hint - ssh -X root@TARGET-IP ). The quality of the technical knowledge from Linux user groups and distributions forums, especially in comparison to phone support from Microsoft, can more than make up for the difference in relative difficulty. That Tsu Dho Nimh set up a a pre-requisite that no external support was aceptable, is unrealistic even for windows XP.

Dispite the absolute terror of the Microsoft advocates, Linux is NOW a more than adequate as a desktop for the enterprise, a replacement for XP and an upgrade from window98 and NT4.

At work , we have upgraded 80% of our ghosted win98se desktop from Microsoft Office 98 to StarOffice6 and Mozilla and we have actually replaced win98se, deployed Redhat 8.0 on 50+ of the desktops. I fully admit, that providing helpdesk support for the first month was more trying, but over the last two months the helpdesk have actually logged less calls and incidences from the RedHat desktops than the remaing majority of win98se desktops. Providing remote support for the RH boxes is a breeze and well than make up for the effort required to configure and deploy RedHat. It works well for us. However, I admit that today, RedHat 8 would not be my first choice in Linux distribution to deploy, although I await the release of RH9 with interest, and those existing RedHat8 desktops as well as many of the existing win98 desktops will likely be upgraded to a newer release of Linux.

Why is my workplace putting the effort into changing desktop ? Price and Security

That Microsoft's products are overpriced is well proven by the 80% NET profit returns for Microsoft's OS and Application divisions in it's SEC filing [] .

Both win98 or NT4 is no longer being provided with all security patches by Microsoft and security is a MAJOR issue with Microsoft's products... Dispite Bill Gates Email, Microsoft's attitude to the security of it's own products and it's own customers remains abysmal. See this Email concerning Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer []

None of Microsoft's own hotfix/patch status scanning tools designed to prove "baseline security" were able to help administrators avoid Sapphire. This entire scenario, this comedy of errors, illustrates the security risk created by any organization that pushes security around from department to department, passing the buck and hoping that somebody else will know how to deal with the problem. The result is a system so flawed that it borders on the absurd.
Microsoft attitude to client security is best reflected in the dispropotionate number of vulnerabilities in one of the exposed of applications and subsystems, Microsoft's own Internet Explorer [] .
That the scripting systems used in IE have not been rewritten to be sandboxed by default is bad enough, but to have outstanding know vulnerabilities to remain without a patch for months is abysmal.

Filewalls and Anti-virus scanners no longer provide adequate protection. Keeping Linux update to date is far easier and create FAR less interuption to the RH desktop users. We have even evaluated Ximian redcarpet enterprise [] and for less skilled support teams, I would advise it's adoption, but we manage quite well with a combination of ghost, shell scripts and remote logons.

Depending on you needs, Linux can provide a better solution.

Ever repeating that "Linux is not ready for the desktop" today, is as redundant as was saying "Linux will never be used within the enterprise or data center" yesterday.The latest Evans enterprise survey shows almost 60% of respondents' companies now run Linux in some capacity throughout their enterprises, up from 40% a year ago, and 43% six months ago. For larger organizations, that same skill base in the data center can be use to provide first rate technical level support for Linux on the desktop as well.

MacOS X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671122)

She should try a mac. It's the *nix for the rest of them.

Minimum IQ (0, Flamebait)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671127)

Doesn't the side of a Linux Box state the Minimum IQ requirements alongside the CPU and memory requirements?

All kidding aside, she essentially tried installing it on some crap hardware without having an either net access to search the newsgroups for solutions or having the geek that gave her the distros on hand.

Another thing I would note is that the best technical writers are essentilly retarded monkeys. Nothing personal, but the best tech writers and testers are retarded monkeys.

Re:Minimum IQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5671142)

Okay Mr. 180 IQ, no more driving until you build your car from parts no larger than a grapefruit.

What the lady needs. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671128)

Let's see what she says again,

Spare me your "how much more enlightened, knowledgeable and confident I will be if I know the intimate details of my computer if the installation is treacherous!" speech. ... Requirements 2 and 3 eliminate WindowsXP as an upgrade route. I would need to buy a new computer, probably new peripherals, and replace some eXPensive software to get the dubious benefits of product-activation codes and embedded functions I don't want and can't delete.

Fine, give the Office Super Geek $50 to put Red Hat 7.x or 8.x and Open or Star Office on the "bonepile" motherboard. It will dual boot, print, write her CDs, modem and all that jazz. If he/she/psuedo-name was in Baton Rouge, I'd do it for them.

-Hugh Whenn Ivan. (say that out lound until you get it)

Well, I tried Mandrake (2, Insightful)

Tuxinatorium (463682) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671148)

Well, I tried Mandrake, and it honestly didn't seem to have any real benefit over WindowsXP other than the dozens of cool freeware games that came with it. For normal work, WindowsXP gets the job done fast enough and is perfectly stable. Plus, even though it's "bloatware" it's a lot faster than emulating windows apps from Linux. When both OSes are free (heh heh heh) I don't see any compelling reasons to use Linux instead of WindowsXP.

Too obviously fake... (2, Interesting)

tarball_tinkerbell (664105) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671151)

I'm someone who tinkers with computers for fun, it's not part of my line of work at all (though it used to be, a while ago). I was a helluva newbie when I installed Mandrake 9.0 as a dual-boot on my XP Home system, having first tried Red Hat 8.0 & ditched it after it refused to recognize my sound card. Bottom line being, Mandrake works like a dream. Yes, it took me a whie to get some of the minor details fixed, but everything I needed worked right away, & a lot of what went wrong was due to my own stupidity/ignorance/not having bothered with TFM. Not being much of a gamer, I hardly use XP at all now. Anyone, newbie or not, who goes for an ~entirely new OS~ without at least some basic background research is bound to get bitten a few times. Would you buy a new car without reading up on it first? A new house? Yes, as has been pointed out, Tsu Dho Nimh is obviously someone trying very hard to act dumb, & like a man in drag trying to come off as a woman, is just trying too damn hard.

Article has a bad tone (4, Insightful)

lkaos (187507) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671161)

Being one of the lucky open source developers who gets paid to work on Linux for a living, I love reading constructive feedback about how to improve Linux. I did not like this article because:

1) It was degrading. I'd rather not be condescendingly referred to as a "shreiking geek".

2) She says she has problems that are absolutely absurd. For instance, "Root gets locked out of files". If this is occuring, then Linux has some serious security problems...

I hear so much complaining about how Linux developers aren't helpful to new users and such. Well, I'm sick of new users who aren't helpful to Linux developers and just sit around complaining about how things don't work like they should and then fail to explain how they should work or make general statements like "all my old legacy applications should just work".

End-users of Open Source software have as much, if not more, of an obligation to be helpful to developers as developers have to be helpful to end-users.

Bull, bull, and bull (4, Insightful)

freeweed (309734) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671178)

I've been a faithful Windows user for almost a decade now. Mostly because it's getting expensive to buy software every time I want to do something new, and mass piracy is turning my stomach, I've been looking into this whole 'free software' thing. Also, my current co-op work term required me to learn Linux and Solaris.

Ok, so at work we have about a dozen test machines. At home, I have a couple of spare machines. Broad range of hardware, from cutting edge XP1800's and 128mb video cards, to barely usable p100's with 64mb ram and 1mb video. ISA, PCI, AGP, sound, network, scsi you name it, it's here.

So freeweed decides to try installing linux. Ooo, I've heard good things about this Red Hat. Download the isos, burn, start the install. Wow, looks as good as, if not better than, the current batch of Windows installers. Very slick and intuitive (as long as you understand drive partitioning, something required even in the Microsoft world). A short while later and I'm in Gnome thinking "huh. except for a really odd filesystem, it's like Windows with nicer graphics". So, I carry on. Mandrake. Debian. Slackware (ok, that was a bit of a bitch and I needed to ask for help :). Once they're installed, I poke around a bit, look for the GUI configuration tools in the 'start' menu, and bang, I can change almost anything I want. Hmm. Just like Windows, where every new version means you have to hunt and peck (mouse wise) for where they've moved everything, and for all the new features you're unfamiliar with.

So, I'm pretty used to installing linux at this point, and with all these different configurations, the worst I had to deal with was looking up how to get an old ISA network card to work. Huh. Just like Windows. Now, it's time to try using some of this software. Holy shit! There's an office suite installed, free! Mp3 player, ftp client, multiple browsers, packet sniffers, IRC clients, you name it. I have almost everything I need, without the 18 reboots and hunting down cd after cd after cd trying to install everything I use. Ok, let's see how hard it is to get something not on this system. Hmm.. download a package, double click it in nautilus, it's installed! No easy desktop shortcut or start menu entry, so let's try just typing its name on the command line (just as I've done for years in Windows). No pathing errors, this is pretty damn cool!

Summary: I've been a Windows kid since the early 90s. Installing linux was at least as easy as Windows (it even told me that 'root' was the linux word for 'administrator'). I can do everything I want, for FREE. So far it's been pretty easy, and I'm hooked.

This writer who's coming from Windows 95 obviously hasn't tried installing 2000 or XP, they're at least as involved as a Red Hat install. (Oh, and for the record, anyone with an older machine that finds Gnome/KDE a tad slow, try windowmaker. Nope, it doesn't look like Windows, but boy, is it fast!).

Stating the obvious (1)

worst_name_ever (633374) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671196)

Not fun reading, but worth reading anyway.

Not fun reading? Is this perhaps the first time that you've ever been informed that Linux is, for the average user, hard to install and configure as well as lacking in number and quality of applications?

Not trying to flame here, just somewhat peeved at the tone of the comment, which seems to be whining because *gasp* somebody doesn't LOVE LINUX!!!1!

Linux printing is a nightmare. (5, Informative)

SlashChick (544252) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671199)

My experiences mirror this author's.

Having administered Linux web servers for several years, I decided to set up a dedicated Linux print server at home. My printer is an HP Color Laserjet 4500 which installs easily with pretty much any Windows version; I decided to forego buying the JetDirect ethernet card for the printer and use Linux as a print server instead.

I asked my friends what to use on my AMD K6-2 300 that had been commandeered for the purpose of running Linux (no dual-boot attempts here.) They said "Debian." I shouldn't have listened.

dselect is the most nightmarish application I have ever seen. I spent a good 15 minutes reading the help files, most of which were of no use to me. I then somehow managed to exit out of dselect by hitting some keystroke. BAM! I was dropped into a console prompt with absolutely no packages installed.

Aha! I thought. Apt-get to my rescue! After all, that was the saving grace of Debian. I tried "apt-get install kde." Not the right package name. Okay.... "apt-get install gnome." No? I just need to apt-get some sort of GUI!

With tedious Google searching, I finally figured out the sequence of commands to install KDE, and I was off and running. (I think I ended up installing some calculator program that required the KDE libraries, and it went ahead and installed KDE for me.)

I rebooted and was dropped into KDE.... exxcept that Debian wouldn't detect my USB mouse. I ended up having to go into #debian on freenode and get the instructions on how to edit some mouse configuration file just to make Debian understand that my mouse was on a USB port. After my mouse worked, I started using Debian, except that I got this weird C error dialog whenever I ran any application. I gave up and tried Red Hat 7.3 (then the latest) instead.

Red Hat was much easier for me to use. It detected my mouse during the install program, which was nice. However, it didn't detect my printer. I finally got the printer installed under the "control panel" sort of thing that KDE had, only to find out that most of the computer's applications didn't recognize that I was using CUPS! I went back to IRC and asked what the deal was. "Oh, that's normal," was the response. "If you set up the printer under KDE, only KDE applications will recognize it! Then you have to go in and tell all your other applications that the printer is now defined under CUPS instead of LPR. A window manager doesn't control your entire system! You should learn the difference between a window manager and the underlying OS."

By this time, I was miffed. If I set up a printer in Windows or Mac OS under the Control Panel, all the applications realize that that printer is now my default printer. Why in the world couldn't Mozilla (to use one example) do this? As far as I was concerned, the GUI control panel was the system control panel. To force users to learn the difference between window managers and the underlying OS and to force users to understand that changes they make in the window manager won't apply to the entire OS is a usability gaffe of such proportions that it hasn't been committed since Windows 95 took DOS out of the picture 8 years ago.

It took me several more hours to set up Samba to share my printer out to my Windows XP box, most notably because of a bug in Samba that prevented sharing printers to Windows XP. I then had the printer working with over 7 hours of work. It was a very long day for me.

I used the print server successfully for a few weeks. I then went away for Christmas and turned the computer off. When I came home and turned it on, there was no print server (and yes, I'd made sure that all the correct services were set to run on startup, which was yet another annoyance I had to consider in the 7-hour setup process.) Instead of being frustrated, I remembered that I had an old Pentium 75 in the garage that ran Windows 95. 15 minutes later, I had downloaded the Windows 95 drivers from HP's website, clicked the "enable printer sharing" button, and was printing from my XP computer. I used that solution for 3 months -- in fact, until about 3 weeks ago when I finally got a JetDirect.

Linux is a great web server solution, and I'll be the first to tell you that, considering I administer 15 Linux web servers right now. As a print server or a general desktop, it falls dramatically short, even for those of us who have used Linux before and aren't afraid of the command line. Linux's printing capabilities are years behind even those of Windows 95. I really wanted my experiences with Linux printing to work out, but I can't even recommend it over an 8-year-old copy of Windows running on a 7-year-old PC. :-/

How come.... (2, Interesting)

Cliffy03 (663924) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671200)

...I seem to be able to install almost any form of *nix on practically any machine, and it usually works. Kinda spooky if you ask me. I will admit that not every component works, but I generally have a usable system. I have walked up to a machine that someone else had a failed install and it works for me. I started with Mandrake 7.2 on an Inspiron 3800. Over the past few years I have tried, Red Hat, Lycoris and Debian (Gentoo and Slackware don't seem that forboding now). I was even happy with getting FreeBSD 4.5 running, even without network access. I will admit I generally stick with the defaults on install, and it seems to work. I just installed Mandrake 9.1 on the laptop, and let it repartition WinME. And whaddya know, it worked!

a few suggestions (1)

windows (452268) | more than 11 years ago | (#5671201)

First of all, I suspect that some of the more "user-friendly" distributions already support most of those features. What I'd like to have is a nice front-end to know what packages do what and to be able to easily install them. This means having a utility in X to automatically download and install packages.

Second of all, I'd like to suggest Lindows or Xpde. Neither is perfect, but they tend to do a reasonably good job of simulating the Windows interface once installed. I know next ot nothing about either, otherwise, though, except from what I've read in various accounts on this site and others.

As for the part about setting up a dual boot, even Slackware 7.0 will attempt to configure LILO. It's not that hard to do. It'll even attempt to set it up automatically for you. What I would like to see is some utility such as GNU Parted included in the setup program for resizing existing FAT partitions. I don't know if it does NTFs. It's useful for people who already have Windows on their computers and don't really want to mess with installing it again from scratch to also install Linux.

Also, to be easily installed by the average user, consise, easy to read, and clear documentation is needed. This means a short user's manual needs to come packaged with any Linux distribution intended for the passes. It needs to be printed. This doesn't mean README files, .TXT files, or .PDF files. This means a book. While the author of the article doesn't seem to consider it important, it can be invaluable.

Lastly, Microsoft provides technical support over the phone. If a Linux distribution is to be used by the masses, it should provide this as well.

It's not just in the quality of the installation program, it's the overall experience and what's offered that makes a new operating system friendly to users. A little effort in these areas will do wonders for getting Linux on the desktop.
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