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Worst Linux Annoyances? 1918

Posted by michael
from the don't-be-shy dept.
greenrd writes "Ever spent hours trying (and failing) to get a printer driver to work on Linux? Struggled to configure something ever-so-slightly out-of-the-ordinary? What have been your biggest annoyances when using Linux? Three O'Reilly authors are compiling a book on Linux annoyances - and their suggested solutions - and they've started a mailing list here. I can't help but think, though, that such a book will be dated quite quickly. Sure, some problems do languish unfixed for years - but equally, I suspect many of the problems will be fixed before, or soon after, the book's publication date. Still, increased visibility might motivate developers to create fixes or workarounds for some of the problems, so maybe this is an ideal opportunity to get your pet peeve finally addressed!"
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Worst Linux Annoyances?

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  • Biggest Pet-Peeve? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jonfromspace (179394) <jonwilkins@gAAAm ... inus threevowels> on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:42AM (#6644775)
    Gotta be lack of informed mainstream media coverage.

    If I hear "No one ever got fired for buying Microsoft" one more time, I am gonna snap.

  • Hunting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PktLoss (647983) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:43AM (#6644785) Homepage Journal
    By far, hunting down layer after layer of dependency while trying to install software, only to meet conflicts is my biggest problem.

    I am running RH8, and an somewhat of a linux newbie, but i have speant hours trying to get the right versions of software installed, often with two four levels of dependency, (ie Software i want needs x, which needs y, which needs z, which needs a...). I recently installed apt, which made it a bit easier for software it indexes.

    Windows software downloads can be big and bloated with DLLs but they generally work out of the box.
  • Unmounting devices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wumpus (9548) <IAmWumpus@gmaiPARISl.com minus city> on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:43AM (#6644787)
    Not being able to unmount a removable storage device (CD, my digital camera, whatever) because some process had the bright idea of keeping an open file on it, or hanging around with it as its cwd. Nautilus used to be especially bad in this regard.
  • by grennis (344262) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:43AM (#6644795)
    The most annoying thing about Linux is that people compare it to Windows and point out the differences as "annoying".

    Different can be better, but yes, there may be a learning curve... and that can be annoying for some.

  • The lack of ..... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:44AM (#6644796)
    The fact that linux isnt linux, there isnt a unified linux architecture, which will hinder in its growth into mainstream as commercial packages are harder to build for just "linux" rather than mandrake redhat debian whatever
  • by cnelzie (451984) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:44AM (#6644799) Homepage
    ...is that someone will take my annoyances and write a book about those annoyances and then make a hella amount of money from it... leaving me holding my annoyances, until someone fixes it, since I can't code myself out of, let alone into a box...

    Cripes...
  • by relyter (696205) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:44AM (#6644804)
    Using windows for more than ten years (from parents, school, work, etc.) then being dropped to the wolves in Linux. Not than Linux isn't several magnitudes better than windows, just unfamiliar.
  • DVD Player (Score:2, Insightful)

    by leafsfanatic (621492) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:44AM (#6644808)
    DVD support is the only reason I keep a Windows partition.
  • Worst annoyances (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enry (630) <enry@w[ ]a.net ['ayg' in gap]> on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:45AM (#6644822) Journal
    Anyhting having to do with USB or Firewire support
  • dated?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sirius_bbr (562544) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:45AM (#6644824)
    I can't help but think, though, that such a book will be dated quite quickly.

    If I wrote the book, that'd be exactely what I want. If the book's outdated, it means it has brought all those problems to the attention, and that proper solutions were made. What more can you wish?
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:45AM (#6644827) Homepage
    Why cant everyone pick a fricking filesystem layout and KEEP IT FRICKING THAT WAY?

    Redhat thinks that apache and KDE's developers are idiots so they move the default install, Mandrake has things in different locations, SuSE,Debian,Slackware.... they all think they know where it is supposed to be.

    All it does is piss off the Linux user.

    This is one of the biggest problems. Leave where things go ALONE!

  • fonts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gazuga (128955) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:46AM (#6644835) Homepage
    The default font (at least every time I installed X) is always *tiny* on my screen. No matter how hard I tried, when I changed settings, it never seemed to work.

  • by Patik (584959) * <cpatik@NOspAm.gmail.com> on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:46AM (#6644847) Homepage Journal
    ...is being able to do anything useful with it.

    I'm a Windows user who likes open source software but can't get Linux to work. I don't know how to write drivers, work the command line, or program. I guess you have to be an expert at all of these to use Linux.

    I've installed Linux (Mandrake, Red Hat, Knoppix) three or four times and always end up going back to Windows shortly thereafter. I can't get Firewire via PCMCIA to work properly, the driver for my mouse makes movement awkward, and XMMS sounds awful on my Sound Blaster. Yes, I can read the web and do word processing, but anything beyond the basics is a hassle, and I'm not given any clues as to what needs to be fix to get things working.

  • Re:Hunting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zifty (692892) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:49AM (#6644880)
    This is exactly why BSD's ports, Gentoo's portage, and Debian's apt systems were invented.

    I tired of installing software on Redhat very quickly after trying linux for the first time. I almost didn't pick it back up, but someone told me Debian made all those problems with dependencies go away.

    Do yourself a favor and try one of the above. I run Gentoo currently, and I would NEVER go back to a an unintelligent package management system (like RPM) ever again.
  • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda.etoyoc@com> on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:50AM (#6644899) Homepage Journal
    There really are WAY too many half-assed ways to do things in script. Perl, Tcl, Python, Bash, Csh, Tcsh, PHP. I must have 20 MySql drivers to support all of these bloody languages. I have to run several Apache modules because some software uses mod_perl, others use PHP, and all of my In-House software uses TCL.

    All of the script languages have morphed into accomplishing the same goal, they all just do it with a different syntax. Some scripts are clean looking and easy to follow, others are executable line-noise.

    It would make documentation and maintenance a LOT simply to pick one scripting language and develop it into an all-purpose tool. I'm sick of reimplementing script libraries.

  • by BoomerSooner (308737) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:52AM (#6644929) Homepage Journal
    is vendor supported drivers.

    Printing, video drivers, sound drivers, etc are ALL significantly easier to setup and use under windows. This is reality because windows controls 90%+ of the desktop market.

    Until Linux has the ease of use with devices that both windows and macs enjoy, drivers will be my largest annoyance.

    BTW I've been using linux since '95 and it has come a very long way, but it has a lot left to be desired.
  • Re:RTFM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deanpole (185240) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:54AM (#6644972)
    Why can't tar figure out if the archive is compressed and with which method without me giving the -z or -j option?

    Why can't rpm figure out the next arg is a file (not a package with an illegal package name ending in .rpm) and assume the -p flag?

    Why can't cdrecord by default create a sane ISO if the request specifies a directory or file which doesn't look like an ISO?

    etc.

    Sure, let someone override this behaviour if they give the special flag after RTFM, I propose --literal. I am tempted to implement this using a bunch of perl wrappers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:54AM (#6644976)

    I'm a Windows user who likes open source software but can't get Linux to work. I don't know how to write drivers, work the command line, or program. I guess you have to be an expert at all of these to use Linux.

    Being melodramatic only annoys people into ignoring you. No wonder you aren't getting any help.

  • by nutshell42 (557890) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:55AM (#6644980) Journal
    two things:

    1. Oh *that's* intuitive - I know it took quite some time till I found lsof

    2. what if you don't want to kill that app? Often you're already browsing a completely different directory or -in case of Konqueror instead of Nautilus- you have a number of additional tabs open.

  • by zifty (692892) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:57AM (#6645012)
    Why is this insightful?

    I firmly believe that the very reason open source software (including Linux) is popular on any scale is because of the choice involved.

    If I have a task to perform, and there is just ONE solution, I'm stuck with it's quirks and annoyances (present in all software). I would much rather have many solutions, where I can learn of the pros and cons of each one and then choose a solution that works for that situation.

    There are precious few software titles I have found that have problems with only SOME distributions (except Oracle, but they're trying). I think problems like this are problems with closed source software in general, and if this hinders growth in the mainstream, so be it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:59AM (#6645044)

    Isn't something from the OS itself, but the "1337" attitude from the users. "Use a different distro!", "RTFM!", "l4m3r!"

    I don't know where you've been looking, but I never see any of that. Not even here. And really, if you are told to RTFM, perhaps you really should have. Very few people want to provide a free helpdesk for people who can't be bothered reading the manual. Most people consider themselves to be worth more than a bit of paper.

    How about, instead of asking "how to", you read the manual, and if that confuses you, ask about the bit that confuses you. If you don't know where the documentation is, ask for that. Ask questions the smart way [catb.org].

  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:00AM (#6645055)
    WRONG! Whenever I have to use lsof to find a goddamned open file handle on the CD-ROM, my blood boils.

    When I hit that eject button, I want the goddamned CD out of my sytem, Now! No exceptions. I don't care if I get an I/O error. Just give me the damned disk.

    How in the hell is any normal user supposed to know about lsof anyway? All he knows is that the CD drive is broken.

  • by Akardam (186995) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:03AM (#6645110)
    And this isn't an annoyance that's limited to Linux -- I deal with it in Windows from time to time. When I hit eject, I want the damn media NOW. Both Linux and Windows will bitch in their own special way about open files or locked files or stupid processes... it's beyond me why someone can't code up an intelligent solution that will close all read handles, and close all write handles with some message along the lines of "Completing write in /dev/cdrw0, please stand by" (of course this wouldn't apply to regular CD-ROMs).

    Anyway, the whole point of this rant is that there should be something more elegant than having to manually kill proc's by PID. I don't think Grandma's gonna ever use Linux if she has to do that kinda stuff.
  • Re:Hunting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KeyserDK (301544) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:06AM (#6645171) Homepage
    Don't compare DEB's with RPM. They are just a fileformat. Compare the tools....

    What you should compare is up2date(rh),urpmi(mdk),apt-get(debian),portage(gen too) and red-carpet(ximian).

  • Lack of finish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kingpin (40003) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:07AM (#6645185) Homepage

    I heard one guy state that "When you're 80% done with a project, you've probably only spent 20% of the time that it takes to complete it with splendor".

    I think that Linux is there, it's 80%. Things just don't work out of the box, and they should if we wish to hope to compete with Windows or Mac OS X. Try daisy chaining external firewire drives on RH 9, it just doesn't work. Try changing network profiles smoothly with RH 9/XD 2 - it just does not work. And get your funky i18n characters to display properly in RH 8 and later - it's not as easy as selecting a country during the install process. These are supposedly not rocket science issues, it's finish, it's what makes the difference to the average user, it's the difference between 80% and 100%.

    Linux has not really evolved beyond the 80% during the past 3-4 years. Sure, we've gotten GNOME2, KDE3 and so forth, but these still lack the same finish as their predecessors did.

    I'm beyond wanting to fiddle with my desktop PC, which is why, after 5 years of using Linux on the desktop, I'm switching from Linux to Mac OS X once the next powerbook update occurs.
  • by sjbe (173966) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:07AM (#6645197)
    • Inconsistent location of files. /usr , /usr/local , /bin , /sbin, and the like are not intuitive and not consistently used either. I shudder at the thought of trying to explain this structure to my wife or mother.
    • Dependency hell. This can and should be resolved automatically without needing user intervention.
    • Too much dependance on editing configuration files by hand. While this can and should always be an option, I've had to do it too many times where it was obvious that the feature should have been accessible through a gui. (most recently, getting samba to boot up automatically instead of being started by hand. Not hard but I can't believe I'm the only one who ever wanted to do that.)
    • Ugly fonts. Particularly bad in Mozilla. This has been getting better, but there still are issues to be resolved.
    • Documentation. Usually you can find out how to do something but you had better be technically adept. Previous exposure to unix systems helps a lot. Documentation under linux usually sucks big time.
    • Lack of formal driver support from hardware vendors. Most hardware these days seems to work, but far too often is unsupported by the vendors and as such doesn't always work as intended. (there are notable exceptions) I understand why they don't support it, but that doesn't mean they couldn't. This is much better than it was a few years back but it still lags windows significantly.
    • Awkward and inconsistant user interfaces. Virtually all linux applications are guilty of this at some level. Everything from abiword to KDE/GNOME to the GIMP to xv has it's weird interface issues. (I love GIMP but it's interface is bizarre) This has been steadily improving but there is a long way to go still.
  • Re:RTFM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) * on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:08AM (#6645212) Homepage
    perl wrappers? Great, just what the newbies need, ANOTHER fucking dependency.
  • by Frater 219 (1455) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:08AM (#6645213) Journal
    I'd like to suggest that any form of It doesn't work like Windows! is a poor example of a "Linux annoyance". Problems of this form do not represent anything wrong with Linux (and often not anything wrong with Windows, either), but rather usually differences in design between the two systems.

    Trying to understand Linux as a "Windows substitute" is a doomed prospect. Their differences aren't just a matter of tradeoffs: they are radically different kinds of system, much as an MP3 player is different from a turntable. If you found two people arguing over whether an MP3 player or a turntable was "better" -- or a turntable user saying that MP3 players were "annoying" due to the lack of an RPM control -- you would of course recognize this as nonsense.

    An example of this sort of difference between Linux and Windows is the difference in the handling of drives. Windows uses drive letters; Linux uses mount points in a single filesystem. While there may be advantages to each, they are more a design difference than a set of tradeoffs. Another example is the difference in balance between CLI and GUI. Windows (or, moreso, Macintosh) users who come to Linux looking for that kind of carefully tuned GUI are likely to be disappointed -- and pushing the KDE control panels on them as "almost as good" is inviting their disappointment. There is a difference in design intention between GUI-focused and CLI-focused systems. The new user just has to un-learn old assumptions, just as the turntable user needs not to be looking for an RPM switch if he wants to become familiar with the MP3 player.

    Things I would describe as "Linux annoyances" are points which remain difficult, problematic, or simply grating even for the already-familiar Linux user. Many of these will sound entirely foreign to the Linux novice or non-user, since they are matters that only occur to the already-familiar. These are points which seem out of place, or insufficiently regular or predictable, even to the expert.

    Some examples of what I mean:

    • Differences in regular expression syntax. Regular expressions are common enough, but the various programs which make use of them accept different syntax. Contrast vi's regular expressions with grep's, and those with Perl's. They are all different; can you remember which one has which features? Thankfully, most newer software that uses regular expressions (like Postfix's mail filtering) uses the Perl-compatible PCRE library, which makes life much easier.
    • Lack of consistent readline support. I use a lot of command-line interactive programs -- programs that aren't just run from the shell, but have their own command prompt and language. Sometimes for licensing reasons, and sometimes because the creator did not think of it, many of these programs don't use readline. This makes command entry unnecessarily bothersome. There is the rlwrap program which makes a good attempt at adding readline support, but it's still irritating to have to remember which programs need it and which don't -- especially when working on someone else's system.
    • Inconsistent scroll wheel support. Hey, Windows users -- this is a Linux GUI annoyance! :) Most current X11 applications that I use understand the scroll wheel and support it. Some don't. That irks.
  • by Robmonster (158873) <slashdot.journal2.store@neverbox.com> on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:10AM (#6645235) Journal
    I'm with the original poster on this one....

    How many times do you HAVE to read a manual to get a Windows installation to run?

    If Linux really wants to make headway into the desktop/home PC market it needs to get to a point where you dont need to read manuals to install your software/hardware.
  • My Linux Headaches (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Who_Sez (693254) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:13AM (#6645272) Homepage
    Hello Team, I thought I would offer my 2 cents. Here are the problems I've had working with Linux on various occasions; 1. Configuring Bind - Why isn't this simple? Seems like I have to fight with this every time. 2. Configuring Acces by other systems - Samba works ok, could be better, but there needs to be a better way to allow Macs to log on. 3. Linux needs to be more "forgiving". In many cases a mistake means starting from scratch rather than just correcting the error. 4. Installing programs can be easy, or a nightmare. More standarization is needed here especially with regard to dependancies. - Sez
  • by lordcorusa (591938) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:13AM (#6645281)
    The parent contains an insight that many Linux hackers simply don't get. It's better to have some process generate a thousand I/O errors than to have a computer that is not responsive to user input.

    Having to use a command-line utility to track down and kill apps that are accessing a given device is a complete *failure* of the OS to just do what the end-user wants it to do. In the case of a disk eject, the OS needs to forcibly unmount the disk and allow the user to eject, and it should be the responsibility of any programs to gracefully fail, or even better, handle the error, if they really needed to access that disk.

    It should never be the user's responsibility to clean up other programs so that the system can perform a task the user requested. When the user makes certain requests of the system, such as those of the "give me my disk" variety, the system should be expected to bend over backwards for the user, not the other way around. Anything less should be considered a severe usability bug.

    The foul language used by the parent detracts from his argument, however in this case it can be forgiven due to the extreme annoyance of this bug^H^H^H feature.
  • by dytin (517293) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:15AM (#6645305) Homepage
    I don't help many Linux beginners because they want Linux to be just like windows and don't want to even attempt going to a command line

    The problem is, you have to tell new Linux users that Linux is different than windows. I know from my experience, that I had only been using windows as an OS for about 5 years when I started to learn Liniux. The person that was teaching me stuff just told me, "Linux is different than windows, you can do a lot of stuff in graphical mode, but if you want to do anything powerful, you have to do it through the command line. It may be hard at first, but you'll soon find that unlike windows, your conrol over the OS is only limited by your knowledge, rather than being limited by what the OS will let you do." After he said that, I had no problem trying to use the command line.

  • Re:Hunting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:16AM (#6645327) Homepage
    I read all the responses to this post, and they are all basically "Use distro/OS Foo, and all your problems will go away" or alternatively "This is what apt is for"

    I find it rather funny that so many people recommended apt when the author made it clear that they were already using it.

    My personal view on this is that the model in which software developers only make available a source tarball and leave packaging to others is inherantly flawed. Packaging and making your software easy to install is as much a part of writing quality software as producing documentation and testing is. It makes just as little sense to leave packaging to third parties as leaving documentation to third parties does, or leaving development of the website to third parties.

    The main problem that causes dependency hell is pretty clearly that the programs that resolve dependencies cannot always locate a suitable package to meet the dependency, or alternative suitable packages do exist but metadata mismatches prevent the connection from being made.

    One of the reasons for that is that there is no way for developers to produce packages that can install on many forms of Linux. While the source code as a lowest common denominator is required for platforms that are not binary compatible like Linux/FreeBSD/Solaris, generally Linux distributions are binary compatible so there is no need for nonsense like a separate package for every version of every distro.

    I also believe it's not feasible for a single (or even a group) of 3rd party repositories to package every piece of software somebody might ever want. Even in extremely large repositories like Debians, the software you want is sometimes missing, sometimes out of date. The effort required to maintain it all is enormous.

    Eventually a decentralised model will fall into place, of this I am sure. Thomas Leonard already pointed out the excellent work him and his team are doing with Zero Install, and of course I pimp my project in my sig.

    But basically, what both these projects have implicitly agreed upon is that the current model is fundamentally broken - it will take time to shift the inertia of the status quo unfortunately.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:18AM (#6645363)
    And what happens if the person who is opening the CD drawer really has no right to and then completely
    screws up whatever some other user(s) are doing. Remember Linux/unix is a MULTIUSER system , its not single user like Windows. Ejecting the
    CD is not necessarily the brightest thing to do in all circumstances and shory of endowing the machine with AI how is it supposed to know
    which action is appropriate?
  • Re:Easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Uruk (4907) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:19AM (#6645372)
    Not far off the mark. Although I'm a geek myself, it does seem strange that many in the GNU/Linux community automatically assume that everybody else is the same way. It's a total lack of vision on the part of those who are all too consumed by computing.

    I mean, really what is computing about? (Not just GNU/Linux) it's a means to an end, NOT the end itself. Computers are really interesting, and that's how I earn my daily bread. I even like them just because they are, not necessarily because of the benefits that they bring to people. Still, I have to acknowledge that the majority of computer users only bother with them because they allow the user to do specific things, like balance their checkbook, order books online, or curse clippy with all the vitriol in their hearts.

    The people involved in the GNU/Linux community are smart, and intense. Probably too intense. For all of the hacker humor that's out there, it's often suprising just how seriously people take things.

  • cut and paste (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:20AM (#6645389)
    Cut and paste never works they way you want.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:20AM (#6645392)
    The biggest problem i think Linux faces, is that an End User cannot simply go download software, and have it be self-extracting and installing. Instead they have to fiddle with RPM dependancies, or apt software, that is just another backwards solution. We all hated it when Windoze progs shared dlls and created problems with different versions, so why is Linux going that route? Maybe someday developers will start using programs like Linstall Wizard [newerepublicsoftware.com] and shipping static libs, to fix this problem.
  • by robbo (4388) <slashdot@sRABBITimra.net minus herbivore> on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:20AM (#6645394)
    My god, it's been how many years and backspace and delete still behave strangely and inconsistently between xterm, kterm, gnome-terminal, etc. Half the time, only C-h does the trick. And then there's these terminals' inconsistent ability to deal with unicode and color characters so half the man pages render incorrectly. Someone stop the madness!
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:21AM (#6645401) Homepage Journal
    Here is my #1 annoyance with Linux. It's the main thing that keeps me using Windows or Mac OS X to do a lot of my day-to-day stuff like email or web browsing.

    Copy and paste doesn't work consistently, and when it does, it often behaves in nonsensical ways.

    I feel that world domination will come when the following "Just Works" for every Linux user:

    • You can copy text from any application that can supply text into any other text application that can receive text. Many Linux applications can't copy and paste between each other, or if they can at all, you can only do it in one direction.
    • You can copy some text from any application, close the window to get it out of the way, because you don't need it anymore, then paste the text into any other application
    • You can copy some text in any application, activate the window of any other application, select the text you want to replace, then paste the text you copied first, thereby deleting the second text which you had selected and replacing it.
    This last thing I try to do quite a lot to paste a new URL into the URL textbox of a web browser, so I can replace the old URL with the new URL I want to visit. However, in X11, highlighting some text makes it "the selection", so a paste will just paste in the text I'd selected, which was the text I wanted to replace.

    All of these things have consistently worked flawlessly in every version of Mac OS and Windows I've ever used. Note that my first Mac ran System 5 and my first Windows box ran Windows 3.1. Yes, I am an old man.

    I've been using Linux since I first installed Yggdrasil Plug-n-Play and I've never been able to get this to work right.

    Consider how frequently office workers in a business need to copy and paste text, and consider that this is my main frustration, even though I am an experienced Linux user. I nearly had my Windows-loving wife talked into trying out Linux, but when I explained this problem to her, she said she wasn't even willing to give Linux a chance.

    And yes, I understand one reason this doesn't work in X11 is that the fact that this network-transparent GUI sometimes has to work on X terminals with limited memory, so you can't provide a dedicated memory buffer for a clipboard like on Windows or the Mac. But my friend, the PC I'm typing this on has 512 megabytes of RAM, and frankly I rarely if ever run X over a network, so I don't see this as a valid excuse anymore.

    It's enough to make you chew your own foot off.

  • Re:DVD Player (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:22AM (#6645422) Homepage
    He probably means:

    1) The non-obvious way in which you have to enable DMA mode for good performance, typically off in most distros, how you switch it on varies between them.

    2) The fact that mplayer and Xine have UIs from hell. I use mplayer, but I had to figure out "mplayer -dvd 1" by trial and error, basically. The 1 is for chapter, I think. Not to mention the way you specify crop rectangles manually.

    Fortunately the UI situation will be hopefully fixed by Totem, a really delightful video player. At the moment it's kind of screwed by a bug in XFree, but that is fixed in the next revisions of all the major distros. It's also a Gnome app, so I suspect some distros that have a policy of KDE only will miss out, as far as I'm aware there is nothing that quite matches up to Totem out there.

    It's based on Xine or GStreamer, take your pick. The Xine version is currently more featureful, but the GStreamer backend is catching up fast, and hopefully Totem will be in gnome 2.6

  • by angle_slam (623817) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:22AM (#6645426)
    I don't know where you've been looking, but I never see any of that. Not even here.

    You've got to be kidding. It happens all the time here. If someone asks a question about moving from Win to Linux, he will get flamed with comments like "if you don't know what distro to get [or whatever simple question was asked], Linux is not for you."

  • by kasperd (592156) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:24AM (#6645453) Homepage Journal
    In the case of a disk eject, the OS needs to forcibly unmount the disk and allow the user to eject, and it should be the responsibility of any programs to gracefully fail, or even better, handle the error, if they really needed to access that disk.

    I don't completely agree, but something similar to what you describe would be a nice feature. (As long as we don't force it upon anybody, choice is the answer). I don't like the Windows way of handling removable media. I don't like the Linux way of handling removable media. I don't like the Machintosh way of handling removable media. I don't like the IRIX way of handling removable media. And I don't like the SunOS way of handling removable media. AmigaOS got it almost right at first attempt. Now if somebody will please tell me how to detect the eject button in software, I will try to make an AmigaOS-like implementation for Linux. I also need to know how to detect that a disc was inserted.
  • by wuchang (524603) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:25AM (#6645462)
    Cryptic errors like this seem to happen more to me on Linux than on FreeBSD. YMMV, but if it weren't for google, I'd have given up long ago... http://www.redhat.com/archives/redhat-install-list /2003-July/msg00098.html
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:25AM (#6645468)


    > Oh *that's* intuitive - I know it took quite some time till I found lsof

    The error is in thinking that a computer should be intuitive. Computers are equivalent to Turing machines, modulo the bounded memory; they can go far, far beyond our intuitions. The only way to make them intuitive is to dumb them down, i.e. limit what they can do. So be prepared to choose between having your computer dumbed down to a consumer appliance or else having to learn a lot in order to master it.

    > what if you don't want to kill that app? Often you're already browsing a completely different directory or -in case of Konqueror instead of Nautilus- you have a number of additional tabs open.

    Yeah, that would be annoying. Next time it happens, write the app developer and aks him/her to fix it so that it doesn't hold stuff open that it isn't actually using, and explain the problem it causes for you. In my experience Linux app developers are very approachable, and though they may be very opinionated about how their application should behave they tend to be receptive about pragmatic suggestions regarding unintended effects.

  • Re:Straw men (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tal197 (144614) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:29AM (#6645526) Homepage Journal
    Thomas, you make some good points about some of the shortcomings of APT, but at the same time, you also set up quite a few straw men to knock APT. For example, the "Security and Stability" section criticizes the Debian model of a centralized, high-quality, well-tested software repository for not being trustworthy enough, but in the "APT is not scalable" section, you critize Debian for making it a little more difficult to be part of the repository.

    OK, try this. Log in as 'guest' and run ROX-Filer. Since ROX-Filer isn't in the main repositary, you'll need to edit /etc/apt/sources.list to include a new server (which you might not trust). But now, when you install ROX-Filer, you're running some of that code as root (not as guest), possibly risking your whole system.

    In Zero Install, you'd just log in as guest and run the filer. Nothing would run as root, and you could test it in safety. Thus, I think both claims are valid.

    There's more stuff about this in the security model [sourceforge.net] document, which I forgot to link to before.

    Thanks for the comments,

  • by ishmalius (153450) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:30AM (#6645533)
    People so often forget the best way to get their problem addressed in the Open Source environment. Along with your problem report, send in a suggested fix. Not just "here's what I want," but "here's how to do it." A person will get so much more respect if he exhibits a little altruism. Maybe he should even send some candidate code to acomplish the feat.

    It will rise much more quickly to the top of a developer's TODO list.

    It will be much more appreciated if the user with the problem has thought the thing through, rather than just complaining.

    It is basic to the spirit of Open Source, where people contribute .

    Selfishness has no value here. Ayn Rand would die of hunger in the Open Source world.

  • Re:Hunting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pyros (61399) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:30AM (#6645538) Journal
    don't forget there's apt-get for redhat via freshrpms and fedora, and I think one other. And Connectiva is and RPM based distro built around apt (I think they actually made the port of apt for rpms that freshrpms and fedora use).
  • My annoyances (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CoolVibe (11466) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:32AM (#6645574) Journal
    GNU libc is a godawful bloated mess. Why most Linux vendor ever stepped away from libc5 is beyond me. When I write code that's totally posixly correct which compiles perfectly and warningless on most other platforms, I have to use GNU libc specific defines to make glibc conform. (_POSIX_SOURCE, _GNU_SOURCE and _BSD_SOURCE spring to mind). Having code break on me in Linux while it works fine on almost everywhere else is pretty annoying.

    The multiline strings suddenly being illegal in gcc 3.3.x are annoying too. Much code still uses multiline strings. Yes I know about ANSI concatenation, but I'm not talking about my code here, I'm talking about the heaps of OPC (other peoples's code) out there. Many wasted moments were filles cleaning up other people's mess. Oh well, not really a linux issue, but a gcc one, but what the heck.

    The Linux VM swaps an awful lot when it really shouldn't. Well, it doesn't suck as much as it used to, It used to be a whole lot worse, but it still sucks. I have quite a bit of memory in my machine. I bought the extra mem just to avoid the godawful paging to disk. Linux somehow still sees fit to page to disk. Yes I could turn off swapping, but I just want to be safe instead of sorry. The OOM killer isn't very nice to your processes when you run out of mem or swap.

    Linuxisms in code. Programmers that write very cool software (e.g. KDE) but fall into the GNU libc-extension and Linux-only features traps, and thereby making their code instantly unportable. Linuxisms are the bane of my (and others') existance when porting stuff porportedly written for linux to another OS. Instead of a straightforward recompile, I have to monkey around to beat all the linuxisms out of the code to get it to function well on other systems. Examples include /proc abuse, library/system calls only available to Linux, assuming the env is little-endian, alignment assumptions, filesystem feature assumptions, and wearing 32-bit blinds. Not really a linux system annoyance, but more a Linux-attitude-towards-other-systems and brainfarted programmer annoyance, but hey, we're on a roll here.

    Bash-isms. Yes, I know the venerable bourne-again shell is the "default" bourne type shell in Linux. It's actually quite featurefull, and can do a heap more stuff than the normal POSIX bourne shell can do. Linux coders seem to thing *all* systems use bash as their bourne shell and write their supposedly bourne shell scripts with bash extensions. For someone using systems like the BSD's, IRIX and whetever doesn't ave bash as their default shell it's mightily irritating. Also the linux bash shebang cancer is an annoyance. If you absolutely must have bash, use env(1) to find bash, instead of hardcoding it into your shebang. Else, just stay away from those bourne again extensions. Use the korn shell if you must.

    GNU's rabidness against man(1). GNU has deemed the info(1) documentation the "standard". info(1) sucks. It's counterintuitive, bloated, and redundant. It has absolutely no advantage over HTML, SGML or even LaTeX docs. And the man(1) system is nice and lean for a quick reference. For some reason, GNU wants to stamp out man(1). Luckily, many linux developers still embrace the man(1) system and still write manual pages (bless their little souls). But to find any useful docs about say gnu autoconf, you have to interface with that monstrosity that is info(1).

    That's it for a while. I'll think up some more concrete really linux application related ones and post them to the list if I have time. FOr now, this is just a small list of some tings I find annoying about Linux and GNU.

  • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:32AM (#6645581) Homepage
    Anybody who thinks they deserve unending, 24 hour support without showing any gratitude is a zealot in my book. Do you get ever helpful, unending support for Windows and all its software only moments away? I think not.

    Some people expect the world, and when people point out how unreasonable that is, decide to shoot the messenger rather than deal with the problem. Nobody has any sympathy for them.

  • Re:RTFM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FooBarWidget (556006) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:32AM (#6645585)
    Because they're traditional commandline apps. They're not supposed to do too many things automatically. Doing so can break scripting behavior.

    If you want easy and automatic, you shouldn't be using commandline apps in the first place. Go use GUI desktop apps.
  • by wik (10258) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:34AM (#6645622) Homepage Journal
    Related point: one of the sad things is that very few Unix applications can gracefully handle errors such as out of disk and I/O errors. A particularly popular response is to blindly continue execution after a failed system call and eventually segfault. In the case of X11 applications, this means the program simply disappears.

    Behavior like this should be unacceptable.
  • by aussersterne (212916) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:38AM (#6645685) Homepage
    NVidia stands out in my mind as having done a decent job (though they could definitely have a better installer) with this, and I'm sure there are a few others that are doing at least as much.

    But... where is Canon's EOS digital software for Linux? Where is the support for my Acer parallel scanner in Linux, so that it doesn't have to sit in the closet any more? Where is the formatting software for my Panasonic DVD-RAM in Linux so that don't have to use mkudffs (since mkdosfs doesn't work on DVD-RAMs for some reason)? Where is the video capture software for my usbvision TV adapter?

    I'm tired of having to dig through spec sheets and deja to find out if the general chipset-oriented driver in Linux works, and to what extent, so that I can decide whether n% is % enough for me in terms of device functionality. I want to be able to go retail and see something like what Loki used to put on their boxes:

    Linux Requirements:
    300MHz or faster Intel, AMD or VIA CPU
    Kernel 2.2 or later
    Loadable module support
    USB (EHCI or UHCI) support
    KDE Desktop Environment support
    200MB or more available on /home filesystem


    The Linux community has done an excellent job of cooking up software and drivers for some devices (gphoto2 can fetch the photos from my Canon EOS digitals, my DVD-RAM is reasonably well-supported by the sr.c driver) but the bare, general drivers are still lacking compared to the manufacturers' often full-featured software driver-applications.

    It's a major peeve to me that not only will many manufacturers not develop drivers or supporting applications for Linux, but many will also not provide information to independent developers to that they can write similar tools. I've tried to contact vendors for development information for a couple of chipsets even recently, and the responses are less than helpful. It seems like peripheral manufactuers are the last great market segment that say with a straight face "Linux? What is Linux? Your PC runs either 'Windows' or 'Mac OS'. Please tell me which you have."

    Of course, with all of this said, thanks to the community Linux has much better driver support than other Unixes. For me it's a choice among Unixes and not between Windows and Linux. But I'd still like to someday see an commodity-hardware Unix with real driver and applications support from manufacturers...
  • by swb (14022) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:38AM (#6645690)
    Back in the olden days, weren't most applications statically linked? Ie, the libraries included in the application linked into the final executable? That became a problem because apps were using more and more large libraries which lead to huge bloated duplication of libraries, bugs in the libraries meant not just replacing a given library version but rebuilding all the executables.

    Could it be that we've gone too far the other way? Is it possible to statically link in obscure or highly version dependent libraries but leave common libraries dynamic?
  • Re:RTFM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by daVinci1980 (73174) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:44AM (#6645783) Homepage
    Wow! You completely made the parent's parent's post's point. What you're basically saying is:

    RTFM. If you don't like it go use windows.

    Now why isn't linux catching on again? ...
  • Re:Hunting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by budalite (454527) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:48AM (#6645851)
    There. Right there. My major annoyance with Linux and all the flavors. Well, actually, two or three annoyances. All these flavors don't play very well together. (Lack of good daycare in childhood?)
    1). Any dependencies should #$#%-well be handled by the installing app. with decent explanation of requirements (warnings) in the install manual (A man can dream...)
    2.) When you must descend into Dependency Hell: Look in the parent post. 5 Linux OS's, 5 tools. (There are probably more.) Having a choice is a good thing, but if all these Linux flavors keep going the way they are, they will probably not having anything in common in, say, ten years. By then, I guess they'll have all evolved into new distinct species, unable to interact except by tcp/ip and the like. Doesn't sound like progress to me, though.
    MOTOW - Master of the Obvious, What?
  • by iLEZ (594245) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:50AM (#6645880) Homepage
    Some time ago i DLed Slackware 7 (or whatever, im a Linux noob) from the Swedish University Network and installed it. It was not the first time i installed linux so i had some clues on how to get a window manager, sound and the internet connection running. But to my frustration the resolution was always off somehow and everything farked up. SO, i return to my filthy imperialistic pigdog Windows and ICQ my Linux-geek friend. Guess what? Couldnt fix it. After a few weeks in windows, i hear the distro on the SUNet was corrupted and averyone downloading the ISO had problems with X-resolution. The bottomline? Peer-to-peer support is way too hostile in the linux community. Go ahead and tell me i shouldnt run linux if i cant get it running in 10 minutes. I still think the community could use some more happy faces and a friendlier attitude towards noobs like me.

    Ok, im gonna duck now and try to keep myself from catching fire.
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Friday August 08, 2003 @11:56AM (#6645970)
    1. A lot of people have said it already, but installing new applications is a pain in the tuckus

    2. changing the screen resolution. playing with modelines and sync rates at the risk of my display exploding is not my idea of fun. and no, x-configurator is no better.

    3. RTFM responses from junior highschool students to legitimate requests for help. Google didn't help, or gave me an answer in Portuguese, and no it really didn't occur to me to read the FAQ on fuzzwurzle.com/blips/linux? You know, the FAQ that is not archived and has been moved to its new home at mxlplix.org/ribbons which no longer exists?

    4. General pain in the ass that it is to configure anything, install anything, upgrade anything, or modify anything. Even when I've gotten something to work after hours of effort, the fix I finally get to work does not always work for the next machine I have to do the same thing on, nor do I always remember what that fix was by the time I have to do it again.

  • by jonman_d (465049) <nemilar.optonline@net> on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:01PM (#6646024) Homepage Journal
    That could never, ever be a reality in anything other than propriatary hardware+software configurations. So kiss any hopes of having that under Windows or Linux goodbye.

    The only reason that's possible is because Apple knows that "this slot will have an airport card in it if it's occupied. If it's not occupied, just ignore it."

    Unless you want your motherboard to have 5000 different slots for every single PCI card made, and then have a bootup program run through each one, detecting which are empty and which are used, and then installing the software for the used ones (a process which would take up yards of physical space and loads of processing time), you're going to have to deal with installing drivers and kernel modules.
  • by aussersterne (212916) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:06PM (#6646105) Homepage
    There is something to what the original poster said.

    Many, many existing Linux users have volumes of existing scripts that were written to expect certain behavior from commands.

    If you fidget with commands break all of those scripts in hopes of gaining Windows users, you will severly break the working environments of the existing Linux users in ways which may take years to repair. More importantly, most of these are the same people doing most Linux application and driver development.

    It's the classic "make it so that even a fool can use it and only a fool..."

    You see: you "fix" a whole bunch of silly RTFM problems all over Linux, so that the "obvious" (to a Windows user) behavior occurs. You gain a whole bunch of happy Windows users who don't want to learn about "old fashioned" ways of doing things. But you break a whole bunch of older scripts, methods, and tools in the process. Congratulations, you've just lost a huge portion of the original Linux community (esp. the development community) to *BSD, where Unix is still Unix.

    You're back where you started. All the interesting development is now happening on BSD because the active technical community now lives in BSDland. But BSD is still Unix-y and so you're back to whining "Why do I have to RTFM? Why can't you *BSD people make this stuff easy and do things the obvious way? How do you ever expect to get any of us Windows or Linux users?"

    The answer is simple. Unix developers want Unix. Windows users considering a switch should come to Unix for Unix, not for a cheaper Windows.

    My own $HOME/bin directory contains 214 scripts, some of them very long and not seen by human eyes in years. All of them use piles of shell tools. If Linux breaks them, I'm outta here. I don't have time to rewrite and/or debug all of them from beginning to end in some kind of "It's the New Linux!" audit.
  • by shroudedmoon (533918) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:06PM (#6646108)
    And, you've just proved parent's point! Linux is an awesome server os, but if you're going to keep all of the server cruft tacked on to a desktop OS, it will NEVER gain wide acceptance.
  • Re:RTFM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Old Burke (679901) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:08PM (#6646131)
    Now why isn't linux catching on again? ...

    If I had to point out one reason why "linux isn't catching on" it would have to be a reason whom is related to the area where Linux is particulary weak, the desktop area.

    In my humble opinion the temporarily failure or maybe just a delay of Linux on the desktop area has to do with bad documentation. For end users that are new to Linux, but willing to learn, bad or weak documentation can be real turndown.

    Actually I think the bad documentation is related to the hacker culture and the "do it on your own" attitud. This also influences the developers whom often take easily on the commenting and documentation of their code. All this is a vicious circle that can lead to a not very newbie- friendly environment.

  • Admin issues (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dalcius (587481) <chrism3413+slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:11PM (#6646166)
    What I'm reading is almost strictly related to administration issues: installing the OS, drivers, programs, etc. I'll be the first to admit: this needs a lot of work from distros and from hardware manufacturers.

    That said, if you've got someone who knows how to manage it, a friend or IT tech, Linux is usable for everyone. For the vast majority of normal tasks done on a computer, the programs are capable and easy to use. This is why Linux is ready for the corporate environment and for friends of Linux users.

    Then again, not many folks do admin tasks on their Windows installations either. The only lacking element is the non-hardcore-but-regular computer user.

    I hope this post doesn't get lost in the crowd...
  • by Helmut Kool (624923) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:12PM (#6646177)
    /root is not under /home.
    Which is good. /home is often on a network file system or another hard disk. If it cannot be accessed for some reason, it is nice to be able to login at least as root. And you can make a symlink /home/root -> /root if it bothers you :-)
  • by jensend (71114) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:18PM (#6646252)
    That's the trouble. Linux often seems to have two levels of operation: omniscient programmer and absolute moron. While I've always been a big Gnome fan, the latest push is to dumb down the default interface to the point of being suitable mostly for users at the "gee, where do I launch The Internet?" level and requiring hacking xml files to reconfigure things to make it work the way you want it to (because everyone knows that options are confusing, right? we can't give users who can't grok xml the ability to modify the way their programs work in non-trivial ways, they'd be completely overwhelmed!). File-roller is somewhat slow, its interface gets in the way, and it doesn't have enough of a range of abilities to be able to replace learning all the CLI archive commands for anyone but beginning users. Why can't GUIs and command-line commands be at least somewhat targeted to the users who generally know what they're doing but aren't programmers and can't remember all of the command line options for hundreds of programs?
  • by imbezol (588268) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:19PM (#6646266) Homepage
    My biggest pet peave is useless documentation. I have no problems reading the docs to figure out how to do what I'm trying to do. But for example, the other day I really wanted to get shoutcast links to play with xmms when I click on them in Mozilla (it defaults to xine on my system).. I searched everywhere for how to use mime-types because I added this to Mozilla and it didn't help.

    Preferences->Navigator->Helper Applications
    mime-type: audio/x-scpls
    extension: pls
    open with: /usr/bin/xmms

    I checked around with google and eventually when frustrated (I tried /etc/mailcap and /etc/mime-magic as well) I checked Mozilla documentation.. I quote:
    The Helper Applications preferences panel allows you set up how different file types are opened by other applications in Mozilla:


    * Specify which application should handle each file type:
    o File types: Displays the file types that Mozilla uses. Select one of them to show the following information:
    + Extension:Displays the file extension of the selected file type.
    + MIME type:Displays the MIME type of the selected file type.
    + Handled by: Displays the program that will be used to open each file of the selected file type.
    o New Type: Click this to add a new file type. Type or choose the description, file extension, MIME type, and application.
    o Edit: Click this to change the file-handling information of a selected file type.
    o Remove: Click this to remove a selected file type.

    Now would someone please tell me what the hell the point of documentation like that is? It reminds me of my bios..

    AGP_FAST_WRITE: you can enable of disable.
    F1 reveals the following help: choose enable or disable

    I mean come on, I think we've got the interface figured out in both the BIOS and Mozilla.. if we're smart enough to be changing these options then I think we can handle the elementary interface. I can understand the BIOS with the limited storage it's in, but Mozilla? If you're going to write documentation like that, just write "Sorry, no help available"
  • by Speare (84249) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:22PM (#6646309) Homepage Journal
    My biggest annoyance with Linux is this attitude that
    • all Linux users can code,
    • all Linux users want to code,
    • all Linux users know every api to code,
    • all Linux users want to join every devel mail list,
    • all Linux users know every application's architecture,
    • all Linux users have infinite time to solve obvious problems.

    I am a software developer by trade. I know a fair amount of user interaction design principles. That doesn't mean I have the lifestyle that affords me ninety hours a week to add nothing but polish the nits out of the hundred different Linux applications I use every week.

    I submit suggestions when I can. I even submit code when the problem is isolated in such a way, and the existing codebase is conducive to productive spelunking. Most software annoyances I have are conceptually easy to explain but require in-depth knowledge of the codebase before I could hope re-architect or retrofit a solution.

    This isn't about selfishness or altruism, it's about specialization: people can (and do) have legitimate issues without having the capability to fix it, even in so-called Open Source projects.

  • by Le Marteau (206396) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:30PM (#6646441) Journal
    Hate it when I man a command, comes back with 86 cajillion options, but few, if any, examples of usage.
  • Re:RTFM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hankaholic (32239) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:31PM (#6646457)
    That's against the point of such command-line programs.

    Many UNIX command-line tools are meant to do one job, and do it well. There's no reason for tar to know about compression formats -- what about UU-encoded stuff? Should tar have to know about ARJ, LHA, ZIP, gzip, various encoding formats (BASE64, etc.), and other issues?

    This isn't an RTFM thing -- you don't really want to be using tar or rpm or cdrecord in the first place, because these are programs which are meant to do things very literally, without room for misinterpretation.

    Strict behavior is better than undefined behavior.

    The ideal solution is NOT for GNU to add all sorts of heuristics into tar to figure out what you want it to do -- that addresses the wrong problem. The ideal solution is to have front-end programs which invoke tar, gunzip, rpm, cdrecord, and such. Perhaps a "suggest" script could invoke "file" to determine what the file contains, and suggest things to do with the file based upon its contents.

    Simplicity is key to having bug-free programs. Let front-ends handle dealing with people who don't want to learn how to get a specific program to do a specific task for which it was designed.

    Besides, what is the best default action for tar? To uncompress an archive? To list the contents? To add files to it? What if the user specifies two tar files on the command line? Does tar add the second to the first? The first to the second? Does it list them both? Does it create a third with the merged contents of the two on standard output?

    It sounds to me like tar should have command-line options to let the user tell it EXACTLY what to do, so the user isn't surprised by something unexpected happening.

    Oh, wait, it already does.
  • by 73939133 (676561) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:36PM (#6646527)
    The configuration of the Linux kernel and version specificity of kernel modules is a major headache. Other operating systems manage to let developers distribute kernel modules that can be compiled and run against a wide variety of kernel versions and that have a lifetime of several years. But the Linux kernel interfaces apparently are not guaranteed to be stable and most kernel modules are just distributed as part of a monolithic kernel source tree (millions of lines!). And configuring a kernel itself is a big headache, usually requiring several tries to get something working.

    Many of the things that are in the kernel probably shouldn't even be in the kernel but could easily be implemented in user space if the Linux kernel only had appropriate interfaces. For example, many file systems, PPP, and many USB drivers could be put into user mode programs, but the Linux kernel lacks the interfaces to do it.

  • Re:RTFM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sikpig (618887) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:47PM (#6646678)
    From scp(1):

    -P port
    Specifies the port to connect to on the remote host. Note that
    this option is written with a capital 'P', because -p is already
    reserved for preserving the times and modes of the file in
    rcp(1).
  • by HomerNet (146137) <homernet.gmail@com> on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:54PM (#6646771) Homepage
    What do you think would happen if the CD being ejected was RW and some process was writing to it at the time?

    This and all arguements like it are clever little distractions, but one should remember that Linux has a nice little feature that Windows or even MacOS does not, total and complete customability. So some code is added that allows you autounmount and eject a CD from a drive just by pushing the drive button. 24 hours later, someone else adds code that makes it a script option in the automount/unmount program so you have to "manually" unmount it in a server environment. 2 weeks later, this is incorperated by yet another programmer into a nice GUI interface for one of the Window Managers, and within a month it's incorperated into all the WMs. By the end of the year, all *nix variants have it, and by second quarter of next year, there's access security built in.
    Write the damned code and the users AND programmers will come!
  • Re:CUPS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rusty0101 (565565) on Friday August 08, 2003 @12:55PM (#6646783) Homepage Journal
    My biggest problem with cups is the occasional failure to stop printing when canceling a job.
    Senerio:
    • Print 10 page document.
    • Realize you really don't need it in high quality color which will take a good half hour to print on the ink jet printer, so cancel the job.
    • Cups comes back with (effectivel) "I will cancel that job for you when I get done with the job."
    • Go to a command prompt.
    • type "lpq" and get back the print job number.
    • type "lprm 'job number'".
    • Printer is still working on the job.
    • Job is not in lpq any more, so it must be in the printer buffer.
    • reset the printer.
    • watch over 200 pages of one to 10 lines of random text print as Cups continues to send postscript color job to printer.


    It's often easier to just go away and brew and drink a pot of coffee.

    -Rusty
  • by Matrix272 (581458) on Friday August 08, 2003 @01:00PM (#6646848)
    You see: you "fix" a whole bunch of silly RTFM problems all over Linux, so that the "obvious" (to a Windows user) behavior occurs. You gain a whole bunch of happy Windows users who don't want to learn about "old fashioned" ways of doing things. But you break a whole bunch of older scripts, methods, and tools in the process.

    This is definitely going to draw a lot of fire from the *nix people here, but I can't hold back. Fixing things that break over time is called PROGRESS. Keeping everything old-school just for the sake of saving time (and admittedly money) by avoiding the task of re-writing scripts isn't going to further the goal of the Linux community.

    Now, I will admit that a lot of things shouldn't be changed. I personally don't see any problem at all with the operational use of the command "ls" or "cd". However, do a man on any choice of commands, and you'll see all kinds of "obsolete" and "outdated" remarks about options that no longer work, or have been replaced. At what point in the future can we FINALLY get rid of all those things that were obsoleted 8 years ago? What if they finally did remove that option and break some of your precious scripts?

    Say it's a very simple change... like changing "ls -l" to "ls -z" (for example). A very simple sed command can change all the ls -l's to ls -z's. Voila, all your scripts work again.

    I haven't even gotten into the fact that every now and then it's healthy to go back through all the scripts you've written to find errors, omissions, etc. I wrote a bunch of scripts about 6 months ago, and just went back through them this week to make sure everything was running as well as it could be. Re-writing scripts is one step of optimizing your system. If you never revisit the work you did 10 years ago, you never know if it could be simplified. What would your response to Microsoft be if they announced they were going to keep DOS commands around for all future versions of Windows, just to make sure that everybody's batch files worked properly? There'd be a massive Microsoft bashing session on /., I can guarantee you that...
  • Re:RTFM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Friday August 08, 2003 @01:06PM (#6646934)
    "Actually I think the bad documentation is related to the hacker culture and the "do it on your own" attitud."

    No, I don't think that bad documentation is caused by the "do it yourself" attitude. Bad documentation is caused by the fact that good documentation is so damn hard to write and so damn hard to maintain.

    Go ahead, go write some documentation, publish it on your web site, and help reverse the trend. Every bit helps. But again, it's not that easy and it takes more work than people realize.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2003 @01:13PM (#6647028)
    You make the same mistake as the post below yours. I'm not certain were people got the idea that code is the only way to contribute? For a virtual room full of geeks, you guys can be awfully unimaginative. Can you draw? Can you write? Can you understand more than one language? Can you reason logicaly from facts, and opinions to proper conclusions? How about expertise in a particular field?

    1) Icons and other artwork. UI mockups.
    2) Documentation, both expert and newbie. Help and error messages.
    3) Translationing present text to another language (internationalization)
    4) Linux advocate, write articles about the pros and cons, amoung other things.
    5) Advisery role.

    6) Use your imagination.
  • Re:RTFM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kaworu-sama (608217) <kaworusama AT mchsi DOT com> on Friday August 08, 2003 @01:17PM (#6647089)
    Ya, there's no shame or anything in using graphical apps in Linux (OH NOES IM NOT LEE7 ANyMORE!).
    The way I see it, those basic commands like tar, cdrecord, and oggenc provide raw and broad functionality. Taking that functionality and making it normally usable are programs/scripts like Ark, xcdroast, and dekagen. When these two things come together, you have something easily usable and intuitive, which is the goal for a desktop operating system.
  • Exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Epistax (544591) <epistax@gmailUMLAUT.com minus punct> on Friday August 08, 2003 @01:26PM (#6647210) Journal
    Everyone wants linux to be used more, but no one wants to help to make it happen. Look at any newbie to *nix going to an IRC channel for help. By them alone going there, they are already in the top 5% of knowledgable computer users. What are they told to do, no matter what they ask? RTFM. You don't need to read a manual to use windows, so why for nix? If you need to for linux, then you've already added a separation from a normal person. But as people have said, there shouldn't be a huge division between regular linux using, and newbie linux using. Over simplification is a disaster. People will be upset because they can't do anything, then some jerk will come along and say "well obviously you can't do that without being in " (insert some cryptic word here) " mode.", they hit a key combo, recompile the kernel, whatever it does't matter, and leaves the user with what amounts to a completely different operating system. Write a script so a program will work? That's less than the half of top one percent of users. That's horrid to make a newbie do. You want to know why linux isn't around? Open up.
  • WIRELESS!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nege (263655) on Friday August 08, 2003 @01:30PM (#6647271) Journal
    My biggest annoyance right now is wireless for linux. I run linux on my laptop, and I love my wireless access (when I dual boot over to XP) but I cannot for the life of me get it to work - in that its certainly not even a download tar, ./configure; make; make install type of procedure - you have to read like books full of info to figure it out, and, sorry I dont have time for all that...I wish there was an easy way to do THAT!!!

    Does that task belong more to the linux community of developers, or the wireless hardware manufacturers? Probably a bit of both.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2003 @01:49PM (#6647534)
    I see it happen every day under windows xp...time for you to move on i think....
  • by duck_prime (585628) on Friday August 08, 2003 @01:58PM (#6647643)
    I haven't even gotten into the fact that every now and then it's healthy to go back through all the scripts you've written to find errors, omissions, etc. I wrote a bunch of scripts about 6 months ago, and just went back through them this week to make sure everything was running as well as it could be. Re-writing scripts is one step of optimizing your system. If you never revisit the work you did 10 years ago, you never know if it could be simplified.
    I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you here. In my world scripts that Work Just Fine never, ever need to be reviewed for tinkering or just for the heck of it. Unless one unaccountably has scads of free time on one's hands.

    I think the distinction I'm trying to make here is that many people's scriptbases are working scripts, whose job is to save time and effort, freeing up bandwidth for other uses. A good script library should be managed like a commercial product -- after a strict test cycle, leave the source alone. These are not hobby scripts, or fun scripts. They are grim workaday scripts which ardently want to be left alone to do their work in peace.

    Over the past 10 years I've accumulated a massive library of scripts which I carry from job to job. Back to the original point, about "fixing" unix tools for ease-of-use, where is my benefit in breaking my whole library by redefining how "ls" works? If you don't like "ls", create a new command with a different name.
  • by Azog (20907) on Friday August 08, 2003 @02:09PM (#6647776) Homepage
    Yeah, I think the ideal thing would be:

    when running X, if I hit the eject button, and some app is using the CD, I should get a popup dialog on my screen saying specifically which app (or apps) are accessing the CD, what files they have open, and giving me three options:

    "Do you want to (a) eject anyway, possibly causing problems with those applications, (b) close the applications and then retry the eject, or (c) cancel?"

    When running at the command prompt, when the eject button is pushed I'd be happy just to see a message printed on the console stating which app or apps (and their PID's) have files open on the CD.

    I think there may be hardware limitations in some CD/DVD drives that would not allow this to work in every case, but if it could work on 90% of hardware that would be good enough for me...

  • by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Friday August 08, 2003 @02:22PM (#6647945)
    to getting acceptance.

    I've tried to convince a few people to convert but
    when I find out that they have all that wintel crap, well...

    Setup of winmodems. Currently that's a hellish task.
    I went through a dozen of them trying to build a box
    for my dad until I found one that worked.

    There's tons of this cheap shit out there but people
    do NOT want to be told that they have to buy new hardware.
    They bought a Dell or whatever and the video card, modem, etc.
    that came with it, well, they expect it to work.
    "it worked under M$, why the hell should it not work with Linux?"
    You can't tell them, "Sorry pal, your modem (and or video) is a
    piece of shit and you'll have to replace them, despite the
    fact that they work just fine under M$..
    Yeah, that's a no starter.
    The Linux for free concept just got a $150+ price tag nailed onto it.

    cut/copy/paste is pretty sucky. They really need to work this out.
    I'm no big fan of "klipper" but there has to be a better way.

    In M$ you can do like codes to get foreign characters.
    For the most part I do not want
    to totally switch my keyboard from English to German to type a
    simple letter when I only occasionaly need to use a German character.
    That's just silly. It was easy to do with M$, not easy to do
    with Linux. There may be a better way to do it but I've not
    found it yet.

    Nicer people. I've found that Linux people are brutal and ruthless
    when it comes to help.

    It usually goes something like this,

    nube: Hi, how do I install a winmodem? I'm brand new to Linux.

    vet: RTFM!! RTFM!! modprobe !! Damn dude!

    nube: Uh, I can't understand all this modprobe stuff, I'm NEW to linux.

    vet: RTFM DAMNIT!!

    nube: I'm still confused.

    vet: man modprobe !!! Do we have to hold your damn hand?!!

    nube: Jeez, with windows I just turned it on and hardware wizard
    installed everything for me. Maybe I'll just stick with MS..

    vet: Well, if he was too stupid to understand man modprobe then he doesn't
    need to use Linux. Jeez! Dumb ass newbies..


    That's the sort of bullshit that makes potential converts turn away and
    stay in la la land and crayolas..

    Either Linux needs to get better at hardware handling or the people
    that want to convert others need to get off their high horses..
  • CD automounting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roystgnr (4015) <roystgnr@t[ ]m.utexas.edu ['ica' in gap]> on Friday August 08, 2003 @02:51PM (#6648277) Homepage
    About five years ago I configured my computer to automount floppies and CD-ROMs when their mount point was accessed, to not cache writes to the floppy drive, and to autounmount those media a few seconds after the last access to their mount point stops. It's been working like I like it ever since.

    I'm occasionally stunned, after all that time, to see how many distributions are still fiddling with KDE or Gnome CD-watching daemons, special kernel patches, etc. to try and get reasonable behavior out of removeable media without just putting a couple lines in the config files for autofs.
  • by FooBarWidget (556006) on Friday August 08, 2003 @03:35PM (#6648851)
    You only call that sane behavior because that's the behavior you're used to.
    Unix commandline apps assume that you know what you're doing, and do *exactly* what you tell them to do. This behavior is very useful in scripts or graphical frontends, because you know exactly what they will do. And this is the correct behavior because these apps are meant to target users who know exactly what they're doing.

    The less technical people should use graphical desktop apps. They make sure (more or less) that the user won't make big mistakes, like Windows. Those users wouldn't use commandline apps in the first place. So why modify commandline apps to target them if they won't use the apps anyway? It's not worth losing the scripting flexibility.

    Don't use rm, hit the Delete key in Konqueror or Nautilus. Don't use tar, use File Roller or KArchive. They're easier to use *and* won't let you make stupid mistakes.

    "My personal pet peeve? why is it that with >75% of apps that I download as source have either configure scripts that simply don't work, or include code that doesn't compile."

    Then you must be running some weird or outdated distro. 90% of all source code here compiles and installs out-of-the-box.
  • by jdray (645332) on Friday August 08, 2003 @03:42PM (#6648925) Homepage Journal
    You basically want Linux to target the "Middle 50%" of users that Microsoft writes their software for.

    This will make Linux better?

    Yes, actually, it will. I, for one, don't mind hacking config files, so long as they're well documented. Most of them that I've encountered have been, but then I've only configured some large-project packages like Apache and whatnot. I'm sure there are examples of config files that read like the've been ROT13'ed.

    But then I look at a tool like Webmin, and think, gee, it sure is easier to install packages using this thing, and I can configure some of them here, and get on with USING my computer rather than CONFIGURING it.

    I think it's cool that, as a "normal" user, I can't do certain things on my Linux boxen; I have to log in as root to do them. But there are a lot of things that I should be able to easily assign to groups of users, such as having R/W priveleges on FAT partitions.

    "Whaddya mean, noob? RTFM! It's as easy as hacking your /etc/fstab file and adding /def/hda1 /mnt/win_c fat defaults 0 0 on a line. How hard is that?"

    Pardon me for polluting the traditional Linux model, but somewhere between that and checking a box that says "Allow all users read write priveleges to everything this computer can possibly access" (which is, I believe, an actual setting somewhere in XP) is a middleground where computer users can feel comfortable without being either hackers or id10Ts.

  • Re:RTFM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by abradsn (542213) on Friday August 08, 2003 @04:12PM (#6649258) Homepage
    True, but if documentation were part of the design process, it would get done more often.
  • by 8string (316088) on Friday August 08, 2003 @04:34PM (#6649528)
    You basically want Linux to target the "Middle 50%" of users that Microsoft writes their software for.

    This will make Linux better?


    It's funny how slashdotters always want linux to replace windows, but shun targeting the same user level which MS has successfully exploited. Umm, if we want to take over their market share and thereby users, don't we have to target them? I sometimes think that slashdotters think that the rest of the worlds users should learn to program and understand their computers like a geek. Most people don't have the time, patience, or inclination to delve into it so deeply.
  • by seraph93 (560551) on Friday August 08, 2003 @05:37PM (#6650238)
    I think that the previous poster just wants more configuration options to be available via GUI. It might threaten the exhalted status of all the CLI Ninja out there, but it probably won't, and other than that I don't see what would be so bad about it. All the more advanced options for whatever could be hidden behind a tab or button marked "Advanced" or whatever, to keep Grandma from getting too confused.

    You talk about targeting the "Middle 50%" like it's going to just ruin Linux entirely for the "Ninja 10%" or whoever. But it hasn't ruined anything. Certain distros are already well on the way to that Mid-50, with lots of GUI and ease-of-use and what-have-you, but you don't have to use them. Gnome might be dumbed down, Red Hat might install with a single mouse click, but my Slackware box is still as obtuse and difficult as ever.

    I know that if I could install a printer just by clicking on something instead of digging through man pages and HOWTOs and screwing around in vi for hours, I'd get miserable. Linux is the greatest text adventure game ever written, and letting some GUI play for you just isn't any fun. But I also understand that most people don't feel the same way. They just want their computers to work. Why do so many people think the needs of the Mid-50 and the needs of the Ninja are mutually exclusive? I thought Linux was all about choice and customizability, why should this issue be any different?
  • Re:What he said (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KhanAFur (693723) on Friday August 08, 2003 @07:09PM (#6651032)
    You don't need to replace the text in the address line... Just middle click anywhere where there isn't a link -Mary
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday August 08, 2003 @07:32PM (#6651175)
    The fact that all those things you listed and more are the same goddamned things people have been saying for years and years, and yet it never changes. And then people flame you for bringing it up.

    "So why don't you contribute?"

    Okay, so let's make Linux an OS only for programmers. Next.
  • Theft of focus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2003 @07:58PM (#6651316)
    There's a little problem I like to call theft of focus. OK, it's not a Linux problem, it's a GUI problem, and it's not unique to X-based GUIs, since Windows does the same thing.

    A typical scenario:

    You are composing an e-mail message and you need to include some information from a spreadsheet, so you launch Open Office to read that document. Since Open Office takes a while to load, you go back to writing your message for a while. Some time later, all of a sudden, you are typing at the Open Office screen, which has stolen focus away from your e-mail.

    Maybe this behavior is overrideable in KDE, but if so I've never found the option for it.
  • Repeat after me: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cola Junkee (255516) on Friday August 08, 2003 @09:31PM (#6651938) Homepage
    The path to dominating the desktop market does not go through requiring the end user to recompile the kernel!

    Joe and Jane everyman have no skillz and simply will not do it. If they can't get their brand new xxx or yyy peripheral working within 1/2 an hour maximum, Linux will be dead in their eyes. You can also be sure they will tell their friends about it.

    I am a seasoned programmer, and I just spent the entire day trying to get my @#$% USB video camera to actually show any pictures. Still doesn't work. damn...
  • My list (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bmasonnz (181847) on Friday August 08, 2003 @09:37PM (#6651966)
    I'm probably a bit late but here goes.

    Kernel modules: Its stupid that something compiled for say 2.4.19-43 won't work with 2.4.19-44. I don't see why they can't be compatable aross the whole stable release eg, 2.6.x. I'm not just thinking of binary only drivers. It would make installing 3rd party and updated drivers much easier.

    KDE/Gnome/X: Various core parts of these still crash semi-regularly.

    But the biggest one has to be simply installing software: Its not the package formats that are the real problem, its the people who make packages that require "libsometing == 1.45-beta5" when "libsomething >= 1.0" would have worked.
    There must be a reasonable common denominator amongst all recent distros. I've actually found commercial software to be the easiest to install because they have a moativation to do this.

    As for all the different locations for configuration files etc. Just fscking pick one, flip a coin if you have to. I'm sure your way is a million times better but thats what you get with standards.
  • by Asmodean (21717) on Friday August 08, 2003 @10:31PM (#6652251)
    My biggest gripe is the linux directory structure. Going from windows(or even DOS) to linux is very frustrating when you have stuff scattered all over the place.

    I like my directory structure to be more organized. The OS and it's stuff goes here, my installed programs go here, etc, etc.

    The linux structure just seems too chaotic.
  • by muonzoo (106581) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @12:59AM (#6652902) Homepage
    And as long as that's the case, there's little reason for anyone to run Linux, except for their own religious issues.
    Again, the right tool for the right job. If I want a reliable, effective server platform, a good software development environment or a suit of *NIX style tools, then Windows isn't going to work. You are right, for many people, Linux isn't the right tool and Windows might be. There are other offerings that are likely a better fit for most people. The gamers are going to find themselves better off in the Windows world for now. Not because Windows is better technology for games, but because Windows is what games companies develop for.
  • Re:Hunting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @07:01AM (#6653730) Homepage
    Windows and MacOS do have these problems, just not to the same extent. Typically there is not a culture of code sharing on these platforms. That makes code reuse more unusual than on Linux.

    Generally apps only use what the OS provides them, then rely on installers to fill in the missing pieces if for instance you need a component that didn't ship with Windows 98 - unfortunately that has traditionally led to DLL hell.

  • GODDAMNED PRINTERS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Conor Turton (639827) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @08:25AM (#6653879)
    Why the hell can't CUPS or Foo just install the fucking printer? Why the hell do I have to go through a dozen steps just to add the damned thing? Why have a "Search Local/Network" if it DOESN'T WORK? This is pretty much the same as alot of stuff for Linux IME. Eevrything is a battle. Install an app/game. It comes with a menu entry but because whatever distro has fucked with the directory placements, it doesn't get installed so you go hunting for the executable then launch a dozen apps just to add the menu entry.
  • by EnglishTim (9662) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @12:12PM (#6654868)
    No, it's NOT. And it's especially not when the thing you want needs to be simple, easy to set up and you don't want to spend many hours having to learn all sorts of things you really aren't interested in just to get that thing to work.

    One of the things that annoys me is when people accuse those who don't want to have to learn all the ins and outs of a Linux system of being lazy. I'm not lazy - I just don't have a great deal of time and have far more interesting things that I'd like to be doing with it.

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