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CNN Installs Linux

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the haven't-we-all-seen-this-story-enough? dept.

Linux 432

Almost everybody seems to have submitted this CNN "Ignorant journalist has a tough time installing Linux" story. I'm a little tired of this theme, but decided to run it not only because so many of you submitted it, but also out of nostalgia; I wrote something similar myself back when Slashdot was so fresh and new that "getting slashdotted" meant maybe 200 e-mails max, and now I'm a full-time Linux user. So please be kind to this poor overworked journalist. Everybody (even you) started out ignorant and had to learn, right? ;-)

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better off without it. (2)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651568)

He'd have better luck is he tried Redhats install after going thru the kickstart on the web ( [] or trying demolinux ( [] ..wouldbe been a lot simpler. This guy did it the hard way impressed.

He has to learn... sure (2)

Listerine (7695) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651571)

But in the meantime he shouldn't be writing articles about it.

It would be like SportsCenter doing a segment on Astronomy.... they would have NO idea what they are talking about.

:) (1)

Thrakkerzog (7580) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651574)

Sometimes when you think back to the silly things you did when you were first learning.. :)

My advice is to install it and play with it till you seriously break it. Then you have a pretty good idea of how it works.

"Linux installation is so hard!" (5)

Pyr (18277) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651577)

As roblimo mentioned, it is an old theme.. and most of the stories share something in common.. the author hasn't even tried installing Windows before, much less linux. They've never installed an operating system before yet they feel qualified to say "Linux is hard to install". Hard to install compared to what?

This same guy would probably have a hard time doing a windows 98 upgrade. NT would probably take all day, just like linux. Linux is (depending on the distro) often easier to install than NT, so it's not fair to say that linux is harder to install.

RTFM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1651579)

If this guy just took the time to read some HOW-TOs instead of complaining. Furthermore, it should have been obvious to anyone with half a brain that the following the monitor cable into the computer will take you to the video card.

Hmmmm. Perhaps we need a demo mode. (4)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651581)

I'm reading something along the lines of, "Ok, it's supposedly installed. Now what?"

Perhaps there needs to be a tutorial of sorts, to point out what tools are available? (Problem: they may or may not have been installed...). A novice, after all, isn't necessarily going to have a clue what he or she has just installed, how to start it, or so forth, and handing 'em a pointer to the HOWTOs and LDP guides may be just a tad too overwhelming in terms of reading material.

So, what do y'all think? Is it better that they be encouraged (just) to read, possibly driving people away; or should they instead be shown a demo, featuring the various apps and so forth?

Re:"Linux installation is so hard!" (1)

Dogun (7502) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651583)

I have to agree. I have yet to get a win9x box up and running within 20 minutes of sticking in a cd.

yeah (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1651584)

like, take a box that you dont know what hardware is in it, and tell me you dont swear a few times. someone send this guy a redhat cd, quickly.

before you all start flaming... (2)

Hurst Dawg (79706) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651683)

Remember that at least he had the guts to try and install linux. Most just dismiss it as "geek only" and are done with it. Granted there were a *few* mistakes in his article, but he isn't a computer genious. And most of his install problems could have been subverted with a knowledgable friend poking their head over the cubicle wall, but hey, the best way to learn is by doing.

Try installing Slackware as a newbie! (2)

StimpyBoy (11864) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651687)

That's what I tried to do waaay back. Now THAT was a challenge. With no documentation, and like 100 odd floppies. I learned how to use fdisk and mount, got it up and running, and was then baffled for an hour, looking how to start XWindows (XDM? Is that it?)

Of course, I'd like to think I've progressed past that stage today. Now all my downtime is related to hardware problems (says sadly as newly fried 8.5 GB HD sits on desk uselessly).

Re:He has to learn... sure (1)

FugaziMan (86826) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651690)

The whole point is to show how a linux installation looks from the perspective of a
novice computer user

Re:He has to learn... sure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1651695)

Well, Gee, to destroy Microsoft, Linux has to be usable by the common man, not superlosergeeks only. If this relatively intelligent human being had difficulty installing Linux, I think its a valid point about Linux that the press needs to understand. With the buzz around Linux, I'm sure many people, who probably don't have the super genius computer skills that you do, are interested in installing Linux and should be aware of what they are getting into.

Positive Story (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1651702)

They guy's story is actually rather positive. Though he seems to know next to nothing about computers (he had to ask someone if he had a video card), he still managed to get Linux installed.

Re:Hmmmm. Perhaps we need a demo mode. (1)

infojack (25600) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651707)

He shoulda just installed redhat, they don't have that know what feel to it. You get it installed.. log into X and its there with alot of programs you can play with.

Re:"Linux installation is so hard!" (1)

Demona (7994) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651711)

The strangest thing is that for an accomplished websurfer, a 404 error should be no big deal. Backtrack along the URL until the server gives you something, and go from of the first things I learned on the web.

That said, I think it's both more fun and more productive to A) expect to meet a computer halfway, instead of expecting it to do all the thinking, and B) have someone more experienced act as a friendly tutor whenever possible. Half of the fun of free software is the user community. Heck, if I lived near the author, I'd drive on over with coffee and doughnuts and do my best to explain things without dumbing them down. "What do you want to do with this thing? Okay, let's figure out how to do it."

I remember Caldera 1.3! (2)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651713)

I think that was the one I tried installing on my ThinkPad about a year ago. It was horrible.

But it was also prehistoric - according to their web site, Caldera 2.3 is the latest version, and I remember reading a review here saying installation was wonderfully easy.

I can only conclude that someone at CNN made a dumb mistake in issuing him a mouldy old copy of the software.



Some sort of class would be nice. (2)

Listerine (7695) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651716)

I have only installed Solaris, and all I had to do was click.

But when it came to setting it up, I had to call people over, for I am no expert in such matters. It seems that the only real way to learn is for other people to tell you how to do while you are actually installing and setting it up.

A (one-time?) class on this would be nice... like something at a Comm. College or of that sort, but there don't appear to be any.

Oh well.

Caldera 1.3? (2)

rsidd (6328) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651731)

Exactly why did he try installing Caldera 1.3, when the current version is 2.3, I wonder. Yes, we all had a hard time installing linux the first time, but we didn't write articles on CNN about it. Total newbies can go for a preinstalled system, the way they do with windows. Even here in India I know dealers who preinstall linux.

Ignorant Journalist? (2)

counterpart25 (52916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651734)

I think it's just as naive to jump all over the
poor author for saying it was hard to install as
it was for him to try installing it without
knowing what he was doing. I'm probably beating a dead horse here, but to those of you that are
part of the development process, it would behoove
you to not dismiss people like this guy out of hand. Yeah, yeah, I know, elitism this and we
don't want the morons that, but if you plan on
World Domination, you have to learn to convince
the unwashed masses. And sometimes even smart people aren't adept at computer use. Imagine that!
Different kinds of intelligence! Anyway, just think twice before you jump down some Linux
newbie's throat. We all had to begin somewhere. Let the moderation as 'Redundant' begin!

Why 1.3? (0)

Mondo54 (48155) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651740)

And not the latest Caldera version? 2.2 (or 2.3) may have some bugs in the installation, but generally, it's as easy as installing Windows.

Don't you dare criticise him (4)

konstant (63560) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651744)

If he finds Linux is more difficult to install than Windows, it's not because he's stupid. It's because Windows is superior.

Deal with that. Take a deep breath. If you have trouble doing that, smash some China, then take a deep breath.

Blaming the user for their difficulties setting up a program is like blaming a driver because when their car breaks down on I-5, they don't understand it's due to a dirty spark plug and a frazzled timing belt. "Well, Duh! Obviously your coolant line is leaking, MORON!" Well designed software, like well desinged cars, let you choose your level of abstraction. If you want to work on your OS at the command line level, that's wonderful. But if there are no other choices, then the software is inherently poor.

Anybody still out there who remembers the days when they admired Microsoft for bringing software to the masses? I think I do... dimly. And making the complex simple is and admirable thing. One of the most admirable things, in my mind.

Don't flame this poor man. Fix what sucks about Linux. If there are no things that suck about Linux, then we might as well go home because there is no longer any room for improvement. But we all know that, along with the many wonderful things about a free and community-defined OS, there are also some pitfalls. Wouldn't it be great to impress the world with our response to these concerns?


Maybe we should sit back and think.... (1)

smoondog (85133) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651748)

I really think there is a message here that many of us aren't really getting. It seems to me that if linux is going to go mainstream, linux is going to have to streamline the installation/administration process. I know unix has a long history and so on, but isn't it possible to build utilities that non-technical users might be able to access without having to even understand what a shell is?

-- Moondog

Re:Hmmmm. Perhaps we need a demo mode. (2)

HydroCarbon10 (40784) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651751)

I agree, an interactive tutorial covering the basics would help tremendously. Also, it might be helpful if there were a team of people dedicated completely to hardware autodetection, so Linux can be installed without the person having much knowledge of the details of their hardware (just the basics, i.e. "I know I have a video card made by ATI, but that's all I know"). Something like what Windows 95 does when you install it, except no thrashing of the hard drive and lock-ups (thought as I understand it, due to the way the PC architecture was designed lock-ups are inescapeable in auto-detection).

Novice... (1)

Listerine (7695) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651754)

I think he'd have trouble installing Win(insert year) too...

A novice computer user should not be trying to install an OS. They should be familiar with it to the point where they are not a novice any more. Get someone else to install the OS, just like a pre-manufactured MS machine.

Retract your flames... (5)

geon (7807) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651756)

Don't start flaming the guy. Please.

1). He knows he is ignorant. No need to point it out.

2). He is like most users, therefore his experience is valuable info.

3). I don't think he really should have known all this stuff. I mean, the guy probably just used his pc for word, email, the web, and maybe a game or two. There is really no need for him to learn all of this stuff.

4). Don't wail about stupid users - you were once like that too. More importantly, you have to realize that most people don't give a rats ass about the insides of their computers, and don't want to. Just cause you like to putz about with arcane stuff doesn't mean others do.

5). This was supposed to be funny - and I think it was hilarious. So those of you planning to roast the guy, get the sticks out of your ass.

This kind of a preemptive strike directed at the very vocal majority who always seem to take these things to heart. I don't mean to offend anyone.

Cheers, Geon

Re::) (2)

toolie (22684) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651757)

I never had any problem installing Linux. Of course, I was so paranoid of screwing up my system that I read the entire LDP Installing Linux twice. If people would just learn to read the documentation available before doing anything they don't understand, life would be so much easier. Oh, and we would quit hearing "you have to be a programmer/hardware/geek type to even begin to understand this".

-- Not a programmer

Fake article (0)

invoke (68920) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651769)

This article has to be a fake. Try as I might to be "nice" about this journalist, either the man is somehow completely lacking reasoning skills, or he is pulling the readers' legs.

For example: The guy claims he doesn't know what a video card is, much less how to determine the brand of card. Yet he does know that it is something inside the computer. Given that one bit of knowledge, figuring out what bit is the video card becomes utterly trvial. Basic reasoning follows:

"Hey, maybe I should follow the cable from my (running!) monitor. Oh look, the cable only enters the computer in one place. Maybe that's the video card thingie."

It is a FAKE, no doubt about it.

Re:before you all start flaming... (2)

Demona (7994) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651775)

To add to that, the author's acquaintance who snidely remarked, "You're installing Linux?" when the author showed the tiniest bit of ignorance reminds me of those who have nothing but scorn for anyone who knows less than they do. With friends like that, who needs enemies? The author might just have been writing a news story, but they were also being courageous and curious. No wonder newbies get frightened off. It's not the software, it's the attitude of the loud minority that pimp it and their own insecurities in an endless cycle of DickSizing Wars(tm).

Re:Don't you dare criticise him (1)

konstant (63560) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651777)

And yes, I'm aware that there are two wonderful UIs available for Linux. But the fact is, this guy didn't feel the love.

Re:He has to learn... sure (1)

Listerine (7695) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651783)

(Copy of my reply above)

I think he'd have trouble installing Win(insert year) too...

A novice computer user should not be trying to install an OS. They should be familiar with it to the point where they are not a novice any more. Get someone else to install the OS, just like a pre-manufactured MS machine.

Re:Try installing Slackware as a newbie! (1)

jeff.paulsen (6195) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651787)

I did that too. I learned a whole lot about unix, X, and vi, really really fast.

HOWTOs? Luxury.

Tell that to journalists today and they won't believe you.

There are real installation issues (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1651789)

I've installed many versions of linux on my systems since late 1994 and always run into a few problems. The last time, about 2 months ago, I ended up installing RH6 3 times trying to get my cable modem and adaptec 1520 SCSI card working. I got the cable modem running fine, but the SCSI card now sits idle.

The typcal installation documentation sucks for people who are used to the dos/windows filesystems and the standard types of driver installation options they run into.

Many are hailing Linux as the great Microsoft killer and at the same time complaining about clueless newbies. Sorry, wrong number. MS software may crash all the time due to buggy drivers, layer after layer of marketing department-driven needless OS additions, and general bloat, but even a clueless newbie can usually get it installed.

This isn't a very good article. (0)

thopkins (70408) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651791)

Why is this guy installing 1.3? 2.3 is the current version. I've never used Caldera but I assume that they've improved it a lot by then. Also, why doesn't he try another distribution? Some distributions are better than others for certain people. Maybe he can say Caldera sucks, but until he uses linux more he shouldn't judge it.

uhhhhh. (1)

bano (410) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651794)

"I open the computer case to look for brand names and memory sizes. I don't even know for sure if I have a graphics card."

uhhhhhh, i got that far and stopped.
im affraid ill piss my pants in laughter if i go further.

Re:Caldera 1.3? (1)

rsidd (6328) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651797)

As a followup to my post above: for newbies who want linux
installed on their existing computer, this could be a
useful "service" provided by linux service providers.
Does anyone actually do this? Say, rather than
pay $50 for just the CD, pay a bit more for the
CD plus installation service.

The ending is good :) (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651799)

No matter what, the ending is funny: "I may have no idea how to use this OS but I won the video game."

That's about how I felt! :)

Linux hard? Try Windows! (3)

Monty Worm (7264) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651811)

I remember having similar sort of troubles adding hardware to my Win98 PC (all the software I have is Windows based. I use my PC mostly for gaming, and Linux support lags way behind.).

  • Add Voodoo Banshee. Install drivers with supplied disk. Throw away S3Virge. Discover half stuff crashes. Download new drivers off web. Most things run better. Except Quake II based stuff. Go off to 3dfx and pickup new 3dfx.dll for Banshee. QII runs better.
  • Then I tried to run the same system on linux (thank godness for Partition Magic :). Banshee drivers _do_ exist for Linux: they're alpha. I managed somehow to get it set up. Then I decide the resolution is too high to actually see. Run XConfigurator. It coredumps. Leave linux alone for a month. Delete partition because I wasn't using it...
I tend to run a policy of periodically buying bleeding edge hardware. Neither Linux nor Windows particularly like this, but Linux does it better. It's way easier to find a web page that says "Linux doesn't support this" than "Ummm.... certain Win32 apps don't really like this card..."

Because Linux geeks like new h/ware you can usually find information fast!

Re:He has to learn... sure (1)

Mignon (34109) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651815)

And as many have said, that's not really a new theme. Now why don't they try a review of a Linux system after it's been installed? Readers might be curious to know what delights await them.

Don't be mean to him, but... (1)

SmileyBen (56580) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651819)

Sure we shouldn't be nasty about this guy just because he finds installing Linux - I'm sure everyone found it a nightmare the first time (I certainly did) - but come on, he does seem to have been a little stupid with various things. Does he seriously expect us to think 'This is a professional doing a serious investigation' when he manages to switch off his computer fiddling about with it while it's on. I'm surprised he didn't totally destroy his computer if he did that whilst installing an operating system...

Use for 8.5 gig hard drive (1)

HydroCarbon10 (40784) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651823)

If you can get the cylinders out of the drive undamaged you can string them together and use them as a wind chime. When my 1.3 gig drive died, I hung the cylinders on my wall and when i'm tired of working on a paper or program i stare at them as they spin around and reflect nifty patterns on my wall :-) (they're so much more interesting than writing papers on The Scarlet Letter).

Linux is for Everyone! (4)

Rahga (13479) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651826)

An eye-catching topic, but slightly sarcastic one too.
With support from friends who know linux and can walk you through the installation, or if you just happen to be a natural-born computer person, linux can be for you. But, it's all in what you want to use linux for and where you want it to take you. Nobody is forcing you to use Linux. If you don't like it, then go back to Windows hell :)
Yes, Linux is free, and that's great, but it's not something that you should even take as a factor at first in whether or not it's right for you. The fact that it's free makes it a great choice for those who already use it and want to develop for it. You have the power to improve and to contribute, and that, above all, is the main reason that Linux is free.
If you want a great server, Linux is for you. If you want a reliable, mission-critical OS, Linux is for you. If you want to use one of Linux's many tools and applications, or just want to get away from Windows, or develop new software on an open operating system, Linux is for you. If you want to become more productive, put time into learning linux and how to put it's powerful tools to use.
Linux is NOT for you if it's going to make you look cool. Linux is not for you if you can't accept the fact that it's not perfect either. Linux is not for you if you do not want to put forth any work into making it into a more perfect OS. And linux is not for you if your definition of a "contribution to humanity" is yet another bitchsession about how the world doesn't revolve around you.

Re::) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1651828)

to bad you have to be a geek to understand whats in the LDP sometimes.

alot of newbies just really need a friend to help them get by.

oh no. Joe Cocker's song is stuck in my head now.

"I was unable to do something new without effort!" (4)

Imperator (17614) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651831)

He might have had more success if he read the documentation and installer help before screwing around.

As to his inability to identify his video card...
Let's say I'm installing a new widget for my Thingamajig. Knowing nothing about Thingamajigs beyond how to use them, I first read up on them, particularly on the new widget I'm installing. What if I want to know what widget is currently installed, but I don't know enough about my Thingamajig to find out? I could ask a friend who is knowledgeable about Thingamajigs. I could contact the manufacturer or distributor of my Thingamajig and ask. Or, I could throw my hands up in the air, give up, and despair that "Thingamajigs are so hard to use!".

Linux is not drool-proof by any stretch of the imagination. Linus, Caldera, and the like may talk of the desktop market, but outside of IT-supported corporate networks, only users with at least some technical bent will install Linux. Microsoft isn't going to lose their market for a drool-proof OS any time soon. The fact that the users of said family of OSs don't know that with a little bit of effort they wouldn't be so Blue is irrelevant: if they aren't interested, they won't make the effort.

I'll be surprised if Linux ever penetrates the drool-proof market. It's an OS built by its users, for its users. OSS will tend to be designed for the people by which it is designed.
Forget it, non-technical journalist, you aren't going to run Linux well unless you're willing to make some effort; if you aren't, Windows may be better for you.

Re:Don't you dare criticise him (1)

drivers (45076) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651833)

What makes you think this journalist has installed Windows? No one is flaming this journalist. It is true that this kind of story has been overdone. Specifically: Journalist who has not installed any operating system from scratch (upgrading windows is much easier than installing it from scratch, you have to set up a boot disk with the right CDROM drivers, set on config.sys and autoexec.bat and MSCDEX.EXE, run fdisk and format /s your drive, copy the setup files to the hard drive (so you don't have to keep inserting the CD when you detect new devices) and then you get to get all your device drivers installed and get all your resource conflicts straightened out) tries it him/herself and has a challenging time. Their conclusion: Linux is not ready for the masses.

I found the article to be very amusing because of the self deprecating humor. Like the bit about using fdisk.

Or are you upset because Rob said ignorant? That just means they lack knowledge. It's not an insult.

You are the only one who needs to take a few deep breaths.

Caldera's install difficult? (1)

mattwork (70639) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651837)

Ok, so I'm a linux newbie, but I have an extra system at home and a cable modem.

Last week I downloaded iso's of Mandrake 6.1, Caldera's 1.3, and Debian's latest release. I burned them each to CD, and started installs of each on a fresh drive.

I wanted to go with Mandrake and nothing else because I'd successfully installed Redhat 5.2 on a computer at work without any trouble. On my home system I knew everything that was on it, so I didn't think I'd have any trouble.

I started Mandrake. When I got to the x server install, it probed for my graphics card (AGP Banshee card) and couldn't find it. The installer wouldn't progress after that. I couldn't find a banshee card in the listed cards so I quit the Mandrake install, as it was going no where after that step anyway.

A longtime linux user at work told me Debian was the best distro and that if I had probs, he could telnet in and fix things. Well, I got through the install, but no networking because of a lack of DHCP and no x server either because of another failed autoprobing. So I got a command line with no networking so I couldn't search deja news for answers. I was stuck. Since he couldn't telnet to it, I said forget it.

So finally, I plopped in the Caldera disk, rebooted. Fancy wizards walked through everything. The choices were much the same as Redhat/Mandrake's installers, but just looked nicer. DHCP worked fine, and it found my graphics card no prob. Time to go from formatted drive to running Netscape under KDE in Caldera's Linux? 30 minutes.

It was easier than installing Win98 on the same machine (which takes about 45 minutes). No fumbling with a serial number either, that was nice too.

You know, this is kind of interesting.... (2)

smoondog (85133) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651839)

The fact that he installed Caldera 1.3 raises an issue, I hadn't really thought of before. As linux gets more mature there are lots and lots of old versions and distributions lying around that are going to make it difficult for newbies, such as this journalist, to figure out how to get started. Does fragmentation of distributions really improve the OS?

-- Moondog

Caldera should be most upset... (5)

Hobbex (41473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651845)

If I were Caldera this article would bother me greatly. After all, he bases the article on an old version of OpenLinux, and then recommends people to use Redhat or stick with Windows.

Personally, what scares me is that this guy is a technology journalist... What sort of technology does he cover exactly? farming tools?

/. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.

COL 1.3?? (1)

Lx (12170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651847)

I'm not trying to flame, but the current version of OpenLinux is 2.3 - was this just a misprint, or was he seriously trying to install an obsolete version? If it was the older one, I wouldn't be surprised that he had trouble. The new COL is one of the simplest linux installs.


Dont take it easy on anyone (1)

Xafloc (48004) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651849)

I am tired of this attitude that because people are newbies we need to "forgive" them. The whole point of RTFM is that no one ever does. Im glad I was told RTFM when I was first getting into Linux, because if it weren't for that I would be like all these other saps that pop in linux help channel on IRC and ask "Can I ask a stupid question".

The question is only stupid if you haven't tried to find the answer to it yourself.

I think the reason that Linux has progressed so much, and so quickly is the fact that not many people are told how to do it...but are told rather where to look to figure it out yourself.

Installing is no longer the problem (2)

rve (4436) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651850)

Installing a standard installation of Red Hat or debian (haven't tried any others) or FreeBSD is more or less exactly as difficult (or easy once you've seen it before, or even know what you're doing) as installing Windows NT4 from scratch, which in turn is easier and smoother (imo) than windows 95 (haven't tried '98). The only problem is, windows comes pre-installed and mostly preconfigured, the other OS-es don't. This guy would have had the same trouble and would have had to answer the same questions when installing Windows NT, or windows 95 from scratch.

other notes (2)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651852)

(side note: my suspicion is, given the drawing, that many are using the wrong pronoun... but anyways...)

* Anybody else notice that the "Related Sites", which include sites that mirror various HOWTO docs, and so forth? I wonder whether they were used.

* It might be nice if the installation, in one of the very first screens, describes what information will be asked (like network foo, video stuff, etc).

Re:Try installing Slackware as a newbie! (2)

named (3909) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651854)

heh. I did this too :) Except that the machine I tried to do it on was a brand-spakingin-new P100 (late '94 i think) and it had a (wait for it...) PCI bus in it.

Sadly, linux didn't support PCI at that time. Boy was i mistified, then disappointed when I found I couldn't use the operating system I'd just spent several hours trying to install.

I tried again (same stack of disks even) 6 months later and everything just worked. "cool" thinks I, and then I got to learn all about unix admin.

those were the days (when i had the time and inclination to spend hours/days thrashing about blindly figuring out how things worked)

mmmm, isn't nostalgia great?

Re:"Linux installation is so hard!" (3)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651855)

Of course, the day will come when Talking Barbie says "Installing Linux is hard!" and both computer activists and womens' rights activists beat up Mattel.


oops I meant Caldera's 2.3 linux (1)

mattwork (70639) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651858)

I meant 2.3 instead of 1.3 in my second paragraph

OT: /. needs comment pointers (1)

Imperator (17614) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651859)

(Copy of my reply above)

Slashdot needs a system of comment pointers. You should be able to reply to a message with a special pointer to a cid within the same story. Of course, you can always provide that cid link now, but that's at least 5 lines of text for what could be accomplished in 2.

Re:"Linux installation is so hard!" (1)

Sethb (9355) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651861)

Gee, I set up Windows 98 boxes at work in five minutes every day, starting with a blank hard drive and inserting only one floppy disk. Complete with an installation of Microsoft Office 2000, Adobe Photoshop, Premiere, Illustrator, and Pagemaker. Filemaker Pro, Netscape Communicator, SETI@Home, and all the correct device drivers.

How? I boot from a DOS disk that runs DriveImage from our Novell Server and download my images that I created for each machine. Cheating? Maybe, but I'm just trying to show you that install time doesn't mean crap.

What I want from an OS is for it to support all of my hardware with little or no insertion of driver disks even. I can handle doing that, but the main reason I run Windows98 still is that I run bleeding-edge hardware which Linux/Windows NT both can take months or years to support fully, yet Win9x supports out of the box.

Can You Install Windows 98? I think I can! (4)

fireproof (6438) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651865)

Today I decided to take the plunge. I'm going to try to install Windows 98. I don't know my video card from my mouse pad, and I have a hard time doing that "point and click" thing, but I'll do it anyway.

1. I boot to "DOS" and I get this ugly prompt. What to do? I got get breakfast.

2. After breakfast, I come back and call my friend, a MSCE. He tells me to change to the CD-ROM drive. It won't let me. He says I need something called a "driver." But, I don't know what that is. So, he comes over and makes it work.

3. Now I've run this "setup.exe" file and it's doing some weird stuff. It's asking me for some number I don't know. I call Microsoft and sit on hold for 2 hours before I find out where it is--on the "Certificate of Authenticity." What's that?

4. OK, the darn thing froze up while installing. Time to reboot. It takes me only 2 minutes to do what took hours before.

5. I'm all installed up, but it didn't detect my sound card and I can't get my screen to display more than 16 colors! My MSCE friend says it's because I need to get a "video driver" because I've got an "AGP" graphics card, whatever that is. He says to get it off the internet, but I can't get Windows to dial out on my modem. It won't see it.

6. Now it says I've performed an illegal operation! What did I do?

I don't know what I've done and I can't get it to work, but now I feel like a real live major geek! I'm cool!

Re::) (1)

GrenDel Fuego (2558) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651867)

My advice is to install it and play with it till you seriously break it. Then you have a pretty good idea of how it works.

Does that mean that someone who can destroy their linux install in 5 minutes is a quick learner?

I thought it was a great story... (1)

Filter (6719) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651868)

I chuckled right through it...she sounds like she had a blast installing it...installing linux as an adventure.

Embedded on MB? (1)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651870)

I've had plenty of PCs where I couldn't figure out what video card it had installed. These were mostly crap PCs with everything, video, sound, modem, etc is all "built right in".

Um really (4)

aheitner (3273) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651872)

Have you ever tried to install Windows from scratch on a computer (Win95, win31 was a pleasant breeze as long as you had the disks on a network. We used to set up Win31 machines with scripts in like 2minutes each)?

It's a royal pain in the ass.

You sit there searching for drivers for your hardware that works (unless you get shafted and something happens like the protected mode drivers for the IDE controller are on a CD-ROM ... which doesn't work because you're using the realmode drivers).

It's even worse if, like this guy, you don't even know what hardware you have.

Win95 tries to plug-and-play. It invariably screws up complex machines.

Several of my friends built high-end machines this summer. Dual-slocket Celerons, DVD drives, CD burners, sound cards, NICs. We were using a variety of standard video cards while waiting for G400s. The only piece of hardware that didn't give us any trouble was the one that doesn't work in Linux -- the DVDs. Everything would have been fine in Linux, where I could have configured it without the bloody PnP drivers magically making up rules, and the operating system idiotically failing to detect conflicts as it assigned IRQs. It took several days to get those systems working with Win98. (NT was unhappy with the large HDs and never quite worked right, though I don't remember if it was the 20gig IDEs or 18gig SCSIs it didn't like, or if it was just a partition size thing).

Face it. You think windows is easy because you buy computers with it already installed. It's way more of a nightmare than Linux. At least someone who knows hardware and Linux can install Linux quite easily. I'm an extremely experienced windows user, and I can't necessarily make windows work right.

Re:uhhhhh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1651874)

I have a system who's motherboard has on-board video. So I guess I don't have a video 'card' in that system either. Have you wet yourself yet bladder-boy.

Re:Fake article (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651875)

Not having read the article - what if it was an embeded vid card? A laptop? Oh, look, the cable on the monitor goes to the motherboard - I'm FUCKED.

They should not have to know what kind of video card they have. At least the system should come up with a VGA driver and let the user try to find better.

The problem is that installs should detect the card, not that users are dumb. Come on, that's what computers are for, doing things automatically for users!

Re:Retract your flames... (1)

geon (7807) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651878)

sorry, I meant minority, not majority. Majority is pretty reasonable, but minority is very loud.

Re:RTFM (1)

Sethb (9355) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651880)

So what if your graphics chip resides on your motherboard? Following the monitor cable might lead you in the general area, but can your mom tell me which of the fifty chips on a motherboard is the one that identifies it's video card? I think the easiest way for any newbie to know what hardware they have is to install Windows98 first, write down all their devices, then install Linux, that's what I do when installing it on unknown hardware when I'm too lazy to open the box and play the model guessing game with Network cards.

Re:better off without it. (3)

-stax (34630) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651881)

personally, i feel that the best quote one can garner from this article, and the one that MOST all of us should pay attention to is this:

"Now in the 1990s, I'm dual platform and can read some HTML -- in other words, I know nothing about the innards of contemporary PCs.

"My advice is if you've just barely mastered Windows, extremely literal and never touched a computer in the DOS/UNIX era, stick with Windows or go with a more user-friendly Linux distributor like Red Hat.

"If you've opened up a box and know all about UNIX, perhaps you'll even find this fun. "

This is a very honest and true gauge of where exactly linux is:
A) If you've stayed in your windows all your life, go learn SOME dos and basic Unix commands before you install Linux (OR ANY unix for that matter)
B) If, then, you DO decide to install linux, try and use an Up-to-date and user friendly version- IE RH 6.0.

take it or leave it, but that's where linux stands right now. I remember my first time, i had barely ever used unix, and when X didnt detect my video card (some slackware version, don't recall) i junked it and re-installed win95. Now, RH 6.0 is nothing, could do it in my sleep...
/. poster #104543567

One good thing. . . (1)

G (2545) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651885)

For all if it, they did spell out a few things that we could do to shore up the installations for idiots. Some really simple stuff too.


This IS a problem with Linux!!! (2)

jonr (1130) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651886)

People here need an attidute change, reading the posts here make that obvious.
"He should have used Red Hat"
Not relevant, the poor sod was trying to install Linux, what the heck should he care about this or that distributions?
"A novice computer user should not be trying to install an OS"
Why not? Obviously, a novice user open-minded enough to try to install alternative OS should been encouraged.
"The strangest thing is that for an accomplished websurfer, a 404 error should be no big deal."
Excuse me sir? The documentation was plain wrong! Is it too much to ask for have it correct?
Linux is difficult to install, (so is Windows, but let's not sink to their level, shall we?) :), but I think there intelligent and clever people out there that can (and will) fix it. Maybe Linus and Alan and others should take a deep breath and look at Linux from end user perspectvie, instead of figuring out what cool feature should be put in the next kernel release. I do want alternative to Windows, although a BeOS user myself, I think right now Linux has the momemtum to become a viable alternative to Windows, but this is one of the things that needs to be tackled.
At least until we get Linux pre-loaded on 20% of new PC's :)


Old Version of Caldera (0)

smooge (3938) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651888)

The main problem I see with the article is that
he was using a very old version of Caldera. If Roblimo or someone else know how to contact him,
he should be let known that he needs to have gotten Caldera 2.3 versus 1.3.

This happened to us back in 1998 when we got a bad review for what we thought was 5.2 as that was what we were shipping. It turned out to be 4.0 that the person had found at a shop.

What Nightmare??? (1)

HydroCarbon10 (40784) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651890)

My first distro was Redhat 4.2, it was great, until I got to the point where it said localhost login: . I had never used UNIX before and the only reason I bought Linux was because it looked like it might be cool. After finally getting logged in, I was faced with another challenge: [root@localhost] #, after trying a bunch of stuff I finally figured out that you have to type ./ before the filename of things you want to run. Then I disoverd X, WOW graphics (this was right after I almost fried my monitor). My suggestion for Linux, always keep something nearby that you can smash without costing you much, even with KDE and GNOME things don't always go smoothly, but hey Linus said that Linux was supposed to be fun, not user friendly.

Re:"Linux installation is so hard!" (4)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651892)

That said, I think it's both more fun and more productive to A) expect to meet a computer halfway

Some find it "fun" to figure out things the computer should be able to figure out itself; others don't.

I've been working with computers and UNIX-flavored OSes for over 20 years, and have been doing OS code for over 20 years, and I fall into the latter category. For me, making some piece of software do something cool is fun; digging through documentation, or popping open the machine's case to figure out what hardware I have, may start out as fun, but it gets really old and tired after a while.

And, after all, isn't making software do something cool such as, well, figuring out what video card you have, and automatically setting up X to drive that video card, fun?

Or, as Alfred North Whitehead said:

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are cavalry charges in a battle - they are limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.

Do you really want to waste a cavalry charge figuring out what video card you have, if software running on that machine could find that out for itself? (I had the impression that on at least some modern X servers, etc. did, in fact, do that....)

(Yes, I have the source. Yes, I could probably add improvements to installation/autoconfiguration/etc. code in various pieces of software (but, in a lot of these cases, people already appear to be working on that). No, I'm not saying "dammit, it's inconvenient, fix it!", so don't even think of dragging out the tired old "don't whine, contribute!" line - I'm just saying that making a system easier for novices to use may make it easier for us to use, too. Would you rather spend time configuring your computer to make it do something it and the software it runs already supports, such as accepting input from your mouse, or writing code to make it do something it can't do at all yet?)

Re:Don't you dare criticise him (1)

bhirt (95181) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651894)

You (and other) ask "What makes you think this journalist has installed Windows?". First off, what does this have to do with anything? Second, I didn't see anything is the article saying "I have never installed windows" Your assumption is just as bad *and* off topic. The article isn't called "Linux harder to install than Windows" it's called "Can you install Linux? I think I can"

Re:Installing is no longer the problem (1)

PhillC (84728) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651896)

I agree entirely. Over the last three years or so I have installed Slackware, FreeBSD, RedHat and Debian in that order. All the installations have gone relatively smoothly. The really hard bits come after the install.

OK, now we have an OS installed. Now let's do something with it - buwmpbow (insert Wheel of Fortune Bankrupt sound)

Basically I always ended up fdisking the hard drive and going back to Windows. Why you may ask ? Well it wasn't a lack of patience, more like a lack of prodctivity. I have never seriously owned more than one working machine, and always needed that to be available for productivity. Sure, sure partition the hard drive I hear you cry - then I run out of disk space.

What I need is a pre-installed Linux box. Here's your word processor, spreadsheet, database, email client, web browser and net connection. Go hard or go home.

Re::) (1)

Thrakkerzog (7580) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651897)

Well, you have to do an awful lot in those five minutes to seriously break the system. (not including rm -rf / and the like..)

Uncoordinated driver having hard time learning (5)

LL (20038) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651898)

{Parody mode on of original [] }

These god-fangled Model-Ts may be Ford's hotest piece of metal but are they the car of the people?

Would you recognise a z-crank if you tripped over one?

My month-long effort to be cool and try and move from point A to point B without crashing at point C,D,E,F gives me chilling flashbacks to learning how to ride a horse without having people laugh at me. For now, I'm glad to have ol' Silver back with me to rely on.

The good ol' boys warned me beforehand. They had trying finding the pedals and their friends throw bits of metal around on that silly assembly line thingy. I'm car-literate since I've actually washed an early model before becoming a news flack. We're in the 90s but I'm a bit clueless about all the moving odd bobs inside.

My advice is if you've barely mastered whip-cracking and never changed a tire, stick with the ol' feller or take the train. If you know an oil change from elbow grease, perhaps you'd even find this fun (gasp of shock and horror).

In truth, stalling made the task of backing out the driveway wasted the whole day, wasting at least 3 hours figuring out those crazy levers. In the end, with no decent horse sense and as chummy with a wheel as I was with phys-ed torture sessions, you know, the one where the teach' nursemaided those skiiny geeks and prevented us jocks from having fun.

I opened the engine and figured out the hole for that metal thingy you call the crank handle, right? I try to yank the gear as written on that flimsy bit of paper they call instructions manual but those gunshot backfires nearly gave me a heart attack. Not a good omen.

I turn to the "Cleaning Engine" page in teh manual but couldn't figure out that picture with all the bits and pieces meant. The next page says something about changing oil but all I want to do is drive this silly hunk of junk, not build it. Opening up the engine didn't show any spots to hook the reins.

I turn the handle but think something's wrong as it was making all these funny noises like my horse has colic or something. I press the pedal and nearly wiped out my favourite mail box. At least a horse is smart enough to avoid impaling itself.

Well, it least it seems to move but don't know why I have to keep looking over my shoulder to see where I'm going all the time. I survive smashing into the barn door but the manual warns against driving without flags and horn blowing. I get outright dirty trying to count the cylinders and rpms as suggested, taking half an hour to motor 50 feet back to the house.It then dies for some strange unknown reason so I know it's time for lunch.

After a nice big juicy steak, I give the od' editor a hollar but he mentions something about gas fill-up and to check the tank (as if I'd containminate my washing water!). After a while, a neighbour drives by so I swallow my pride (yes siree, gave me indigestion for resta the day) and asks what a gas tank looks like. He mocks me "And you're learning how to drive?". Next time he gives any mouth, I've gotta shotgun handy. He helps me fill it up a bit (at least I guess which is the right hole) but then some shit musta hit the fanbelt so I drop this project for a couple of hours.

At this point, I'm burnt out. I start wildly guessing buttons to push. God must have been with me as it started again (must remember to buy a new can for that mailbox). I can make it to the barn (and even stop!) without hitting anything too important. That's good enough for me.

Then I head home, bleary-eyed. My superficial knowledge of gasoline engines made this project frustrating. I would have helped if I were a mechanic. On the other hand, I'm surprised I got as far as I did, just like trying to connect with a baseball bat. It was mildly fulfilling in a mysterious way. I may have no idea how to use this car but I got my hands dirty.

{Parody mode off}

I sure would go a lot better when someone invents the automatic GUI transmission! No disrespect to the poor guy but unfortunately it is relatively early days and the only way to learn is to be willing and get those hands dirty. Congrats on making a start and a warning to the rest of the Linux mechanics that exotic details of kernel file spaces is as relevant as quantum physics to the average driver.


why is this person a tech journalist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1651899)

if this person does not know what a modem or a video card is, why is this person writing about computers? i do not know anything about medicine, so i do not write article for the New England Journal of Medicine on how my sinuses hurt (and they do). i also do not call myself a medical jouralist. if this person was news journalist and tried installing linux, then i would be impressed...but a tech journalist should be an expert at least with windows and pc hardware...or else why would you read any articles by that person?

dumb shit. (1)

PimpSmurf (20322) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651901)

not to be rude...
but installing caldera when you know nothing about your computer??? silly! He should have gone with slackware/redhat/suse... anything except caldera or debian... they are great distros... but NOT... and I mean NOT for 1st time linux folk!
This article is kind funny... but also misleading about linux.

Windows (2)

infojack (25600) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651902)

I can install Linux just fine. I can install Solaris just fine. But installing Windows is another story. I'm not sure if it windows, or people creating crap for windows. I still can't get a driver for my sound card. (the manufacturer won't give it out), and the major vendor I bought the thing from doesn't give it out. So by following the logic of all the people who hate linux, if my sound card doesn't autodetect during windows install, then windows sucks right? Oh ya.. and windows did not detect the modem either.... so does that make windows suck even more? On a brighter note, installing redhat on my alpha, everything was detected. :)

Autodetection is not evil! (5)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651904)

Fair warning, minor rant coming up.

The one good thing about the Windoze install is autodetection of hardware from a huge variety of vendors.

To us geeks, that's lame. I mean, fer chrissakes, how could anyone not know what their hardware is, and if we don't, we know what's close-enough-to-work-on-boot. Don't have an SBSuperMegaWowzersLive! driver on your Windoze CD? Tell Windoze to pretend it's an SB64 or whatever, which'll be close enough for now, and install the right drivers later, simple, right?


The fact that the guy didn't even know if he had a video card (i.e. that "having a video card" is exactly the same in terms of installation as "having a chipset-built-into-the-motherboard") should be telling us something. I'll bet you any money that if the Linux install had popped up a cute little window with a penguin and an animated magnifying glass (to show the user that the system hadn't hung) and said something like "now looking for video hardware... you have a FooBar video card... now installing FooBar video drivers... now looking for sound card...", the guy would have been happy. Since the home user still has to install Linux him/herself, it's incumbent on us to make that installation at least as easy as a Windoze install.

Your installer can't fully identify the hardware? Make a guess based on the manufacturer. Can't even guess? Default to 640x480x16 VGA, just like Windoze, and pop up a note to the effect of "I couldn't figure out what you've got, but I know this'll work. Read this file or go to this URL for assistance." Heck, since we're not M$, we can even provide useful information - like "I dumped the information I could glean from your hardware into this other file. Show this file to someone who knows a lot about computers, and see if he can recognize something."

NO, the Windoze way of "plug it in and watch the installer scribble on your hard drive as it makes educated guesses as to your hardware config" approach isn't the kind of flexibility we want for ourselves, but if Linux is ever gonna Dominate The World, we've gotta stop designing for ourselves and start designing for the guys who don't know whether they've got video cards or not.

Re:You know, this is kind of interesting.... (1)

hunterotd (45809) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651905)

Does fragmentation of distributions really improve the OS?

Of course! Seriously though, if you had always used Linux (Just go with it), and you saw some Windows 3.11 floppies sitting around, wouldn't you install it? Once you had, wouldn't you be complaining about how hard it was to use, how slow it was, and how ugly it looked? How would you know that there was a better and faster version out there? How would you know that the reason it was hard to use and didn't have drivers for your hardware was because the hardware hadn't been made?

The same thing holds true here. How was he to know that there were better versions? How was he to know that the video card he was using would have been autoprobed by current distros? He just had bad luck, that's all.

Re::) (1)

tecnodude (31328) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651907)

Yep. They just quickly learned what not to do to their fresh linux install.

Re:Dont take it easy on anyone (1)

Lx (12170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651912)

I think the concept of RTFM is silly. Sure, manuals come in handy sometimes, but it's much easier to ask someone who knows what they're doing than to dig through pages of documentation. Plus, you'll probably learn quite a bit asking an experienced user a question than you will reading from a manual filled with information that is irrelevant to you at the time.


Re:Try installing Slackware as a newbie! (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651913)

Heh...I know what you are talking about! The first versions of Linux I installed was Slackware. I got used to the boot disks, the shell install, and other Slackware-isms(getting the CDROM was an added speed up bonus! :-) ). Was I really surprised when I saw the latest installs for RH and Debian! I'm happy that the install process has progressed beyond this...I know I can do an install like Slackware but I don't think many others would be. :-)

Re:Um really (1)

konstant (63560) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651914)

I install Windows all the time. Literally every week. It's part of my job. I don't feel it's difficult in the least. Unless my machine has hardware too recent to be included in the drivers library, I do not need to know a thing about the internals of my machines. If you're having trouble with Windows intallations, I recommend you install a more recent copy, which is more likely to include drivers for unusual hardware like yours.

Oh the good old days :) (1)

nevets (39138) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651915)

I did my first install with old Slack on floppies as well.

Now-a-days, I just got done installing RedHat via FTP. One floppy for the bootnet.img and the rest was to locate a RedHat mirror that was accepting anonymous users. Boy that was easy, and quite fun.

I still have a dual boot of slackware because it will always have a place in my heart (boy am I a geek :)

Steven Rostedt

He has a point (2)

Mock (29603) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651916)

Actually, he has a point there.

Why can't the linux installer check the hardware automatically like windoze does?
Why can't you ever back up in an installer menu system?
Why aren't installers ever checked to see if they work properly in situations other than the "everything worked perfectly and the user didn't deviate from the script" situation?

I've yet to see a linux installer that a) works properly and b) is low on headaches.

I even tried the new Caldera installer (the one with all the flashy animations running around) but it has its own share of headaches.

What really bothers me is how the braindead distribution creators choose what programs get installed on your machine.

Ever try to install Redhat without X?
Ever try to install it with ftp/http and no X? I'm not sure if it's possible.

Caldera has an install that supposedly doesn't install X, but if you look under the hood afterwards, there it is.

Have you ever looked at all the crap that gets installed?
Why do I need to have giftrans and xfig installed on a non-X machine that will only run a web server? Why did it install TeX? Why did it install gimp? Why did it install xbill and a bunch of other stupid games?
I could probably shave off a few hundred megs if I went and manually selected files (like I do in redhat) but Caldera doesn't offer that option, and I'd rather not spend an hour doing it anyway.
What was redhat smoking when they decided how to categorize the programs in the installer?

Why do I have to select and deselect, only to find dependancies on something I don't want to install (because it has dependancies on a few hundred megs of other stuff)? Why is there no option to deselect the packages causing the dependancy failures? Don't they realize how LONG it takes to go back through the million categories (chosen by random number generator, I'm sure) to try to find the packages causing the dependancy failures? (after writing them down on pad and paper because they forgot to include a dependancy window)

Linux is fine if you don't have to change anything. If you do, get ready for a week of document reading and cryptic rc file configuring (and don't expect all the config files to be in the same place!).
Want to add a user that has ftp access, but no web page and no mail, or has mail but nothing else?
Want to change the permissions of one ftp user but don't want to create a bunch of groups?
Want to make an ftp user that doesn't exist anywhere else on your system?
Good luck, and good hunting (in the dox)!

This is what NT has over Linux. If Linux can't address these (serious) issues, it won't get very far.

I do hope that once Borland gets c++ builder out for linux, developers will start to realize the benefits of a gui-based configuration system (designed by gui designers, not engineers!!!).

Re:There are real installation issues (3)

hunterotd (45809) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651917)

even a clueless newbie canb usually get it installed.

Really? A clueless newbie you say? Strange that many of the Math and Computer Science majors at my college can't install Windows 95 on their machines, and call me instead.

Time after time I've said (not on here, but in RL) that if you have not done something before, it will be hard. It won't be hard after doing it a couple of times. Operating System installation, sky diving, you name it.

I find Operating System installation easy, be it Windows or Linux. I don't know the first thing about automobiles, and have never changed the oil in my truck, so if I tried it now, would that be a fault of the vehicle? No!

You can't make everything so simple that Joe Schmoe can do it easily and quickly on the first try. Heck, my mom didn't learn how to change channels with a remote control until about a year ago. She is of above normal intelligence, she'd just never done it before, and always had someone else there to do it for her.

Just remember Pig Latin. Really hard until you got the jist of it, and then it suddenly became second nature. The same thing holds true for Computers. If you've never formatted a hard disk before, it will seem impossible to you.

so much bellyaching, and yet.. (2)

hatless (8275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651918)

The writer only really went through the install process once! And it worked! Hell, the first time I installed Linux back in 1995, after a year of Solaris expeience and with some serious geek credentials, it took me two whole weekends to get it more or less running.

And as nasty as the process is (take note here, geeks: there's too much jargon in even Caldera's installer!), it doesn't sound all that much worse than installing NT 4.0. There are good lessons here.

For all the writer's sarcasm and suffering, I'd say Caldera deserves some quiet applause. And--oh-yeah--all distro maintainers should take note; say it along with me: there's too much jargon in installers.

And fer chrissakes, the warning about XF86 autoprobe damaging hardware really isn't necessary, is it? Sure, it's correct, but friggin' DirectX autoprobes and you don't see it warning anyone of peril. We're such pedants, us Linux folk.

Arghh (1)

Xafloc (48004) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651920)

There is _nothing_ wrong with asking an experienced user. But how is it fair for them to spend the time to help you if you haven't tried to solve the problem yourself?

Unless you are going to start paying the people who are helping you when your not contributing, I suggest you read the manual.

Out of the Box?!? (1)

Tim (686) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651923)

"the main reason I run Windows98 still is that I run bleeding-edge hardware which Linux/Windows NT both can take months or years to support fully, yet Win9x supports out of the box."


If you run bleeding-edge hardware, you almost never get support for it "out of the box," even with Windows. You have to install the drivers that come with the hardware, maybe, but that's a matter of manufacturer support of Windows, NOT Linux support of the hardware in question. Of course, if your idea of bleeding-edge hardware is a new floppy drive or a Zip drive, well...

Re:COL 1.3?? (1)

Roblimo (357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651925)

I wondered myself, then decided he/she must have meant 1.3, because OpenLinux 2.3 does a pretty decent job of detecting video cards. I almost called, but decided "Naahhh....." I'll save Andover's long distance money for more important stories.

BTW, the conclusion of my own (I think it was the first ever) "journalist has a rough time installing Linux" story was: find a local LUG and get help. I took my own advice, and not only learned a lot about Linux, but also met a bunch of great people, many of whom now work for Andover in one capacity or another.

With this attitude, Linux will never succeed (1)

SadisticFury (75530) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651932)

As I read the comments posted here, I get the general feeling that you all think the guy is a total moron. If this is the classification that all people who can't install Linux sucessfully(which this guy managed) get, then Linux will never succeed. Most people could care less if Linux is open source, or whether kernel modules can be loaded dynamically, or even about stability. They want the product to work out of the box, and once its installed, they want it to be easy to use. If all you can tell these people is RTFM, then Linux will simply remain an OS for the elite computer users of the world.

Secondly, people can be intelligent, and yet be ignorant in computing at the same time. Installing Linux, and using it successfully, versus using Windows/MacOS, is the same as writing essays in college, versus writing a novel. It is a big step, and the vast majority of the population can't do it. Even though most of you, like me, know how to compile modules that allow for SCSI emulation, you have to be open to that fact that an entire world exists outside of computing, and that there are people that dominate those other parts, like we dominate the world of computing. It is our job to make it simpler for the rest of them. This is the only way Linux will become widespread among the general population.

Exactly. (1)

fireproof (6438) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651933)

Although the writer should be commended for wanting to try out Linux in the first place, a person who doesn't know what a video card looks like has no business installing an operating system.

I know a good bit about automobiles, and I do minor repairs on my car from time to time, but I'm not going to go out and try to install a new transmission or rebuild the old one and expect it to go smoothly. In fact, if I wanted to learn how to do such a thing I would FIND SOMEONE WHO KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING and get them to help me with the process. Why? Because I wouldn't know a synchro from any other part in the darn thing!

Can you imagine if I wrote an article about doing something like that for CNN? I would be laughed off the face of the earth.

It frustrates me when people write articles like this. But, on the other hand, maybe the writer will take the time to learn the OS and will actually like it. Maybe some knowledge about computers will be the result of the experience.

Re:RTFM (1)

abliz (47971) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651934)

As a complete newcomer to linux, I have to agree
with the rtfm comment. I installed a redhat 5.2
on an old 486 after reading the install guide, and
didn't have any of these problems. But I did take
the trouble to note the devices listed in the Windows control panel.
I can't wait for the story about the difficulty in
programming a vcr. I guess it blinks 12:00 still.

Re:Unix sucks! It's too powerful! (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651935)

If you want to work on your OS at the command line level, that's wonderful. But if there are no other choices, then the software is inherently poor.

Uhhhh, no. grep is the fastest search program available, and can parse gigabytes as fast as the HDD can supply it. But grep is strictly command-line, so it sucks? What planet are you from? It may be the wrong choice for somebody who isn't aquainted to the command-line, but that doesn't mean it sucks.

You're implying that because you don't own a ferrarri, you're entitled to say they suck. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way in the Real World(tm). If you don't own/know how to use something, that doesn't mean it's bad - it simply means you don't know how to use it . 'tis this, and nothing more. Claiming that the user should not require any training to be proficient is a Microsoftian-fallacy. To use power-tools, you need to know how to use them.

Unix sucks - it's too powerful!


What about doing the same with Windows? (1)

Carey (2195) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651936)

I would recommend that the author be given a new PC with only DOS (or maybe nothing) installed and then asked to install Windows 98 only with what comes in the retail box.

Where's that CD-ROM driver now?

Linux developers can learn something from this. After all, why should people have to know what a kernel is?

Re::) (2)

ninjaz (1202) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651937)

Regarding newbie-friendly docs, [] has NHFs (newbieized help files). On the LDP, the Guides [] - particularly the Installation and Getting Started Guide and the Linux Users' Guide are informative and accessible.

Re:Don't you dare criticise him (2)

nevets (39138) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651939)

I believe the poster was refering to the comment remark of

If he finds Linux is more difficult to install than Windows

So I have to say that your assumption is bad *and* off topic.

Sorry ;}
Steven Rostedt

Server (1)

Yebyen (59663) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651941)

Has anyone else noticed the slowness of CNN's servers whenever they're on slashdot? And they've been on so frequently lately that they're almost constantly slashdotted. Maybe they should upgrade if they wanna keep writing tech stories :-) (Recommended rating: Slightly offtopic, funny. 2) haha not likely, eh? i just need karma

Patrick Barrett

Not that unrealistic (4)

jflynn (61543) | more than 14 years ago | (#1651943)

Ok, this guy had an older version, and installation has improved a lot in the meantime, so that's a little unfair.

But most of what this guy complains about has something like a kernel of truth to it. Win9x does do a very impressive job of probing for hardware. When it gets it wrong, you are in real trouble, and it will take hours to fix it, if possible at all. But nearly all the time, it gets it right, and you have to give them some credit for that. If for any reason, you don't know what kind of hardware you have, things get tough in Linux installation.

Two examples personally, with RH5.2, both with video setup. Until recently I had been using a very ancient Mitsubishi monitor to which I had lost the little booklet. It happened to be one of those models with zillions of close relatives and it took me a flashlight and a magnifying glass to pull the actual monitor model number off a microprint label on the back of the monitor. The model wasn't on the compatible monitor list so I had to specify frequencies on my own. Eventually I found a web reference to the monitor that specified it's frequencies. Using those got my monitor setup, but it didn't quite work yet. Turned out the whole number horizontal frequency was *just* short of being sufficient for the resolution I desired, so I had to bump it up by .25 before it would play.

The other problem was with my video card, a Spider Tarantula. Spider is now out of business with no web page. Card is not mentioned in compatibility list, though I remembered it was an S3 964. My manual does not mention what kind of dot clock setup is on the card. So guessing time again. Eventually I guess right, and finally X starts.

In the process of getting X started I also had to learn Emacs (well, *learn* is a little strong ) to be able to edit the configuration file, after finding it in /etc. I also learned about "man" on the way. All in all a good experience because I wasn't expecting much different and I learned a lot. But to someone who has been protected from all knowledge of how computers work, and who could care less anyway, this is a nightmare. Sorry, but it is.

This doesn't mean Linux can't be used by everyday computer users. It just means that it is highly recommended that they buy a pre-installed system, or be ready to buy Linux compatible hardware before installing. At the least, get a geek friend to help. Microsoft is no different in this respect except having less unsupported hardware, and that is changing.
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