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Operating Systems Software Linux

Living Free With Linux, Round 2 936

Posted by timothy
from the once-you-go-apt dept.
bsk_cw writes "About a month ago, in Living free with Linux: 2 weeks without Windows, Preston Gralla wrote about what life was like for a long-time Windows user trying to live with Linux. His main problems came when he tried to install or update software. Loads of people responded with advice — so he went back and tried again. Here's what he learned, and what did and didn't work for him."
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Living Free With Linux, Round 2

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  • Lol (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @12:46PM (#27136573)

    (I won't cover apt in this piece, because it's simply too confusing for newbies; even many experienced Linux experts stay away from it.)

    Lol wat?

    apt-cache search

    apt-get install

    Yup, my head just exploded from the complexity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      Heck, that's the advanced version. You can even just 'apt-get search'.

      He also doesn't get that the command line utility is the -same thing-. Ugh.

      Well, if he's trying to review from a 'clueless user' perspective, he's certainly on track.

      • Re:Lol (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cromar (1103585) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:04PM (#27136843)

        Well, if he's trying to review from a 'clueless user' perspective, he's certainly on track.

        That's exactly what Linux needs. The only way to get respect is through an easy to use UI, which is what the "clueless users" need who, you know, drive the market for desktops. If Linux was easier to use and free/cheap (as in beer), it wouldn't take long for it to be adopted. It just isn't there yet. And the only way to get there is to listen to these "clueless users."

        • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:07PM (#27136873)

          "That's exactly what Linux needs."

          I disagree. What it needs is people who can write for clueless users. NOT people who are actually totally clueless writing about it.

          We seem to have the latter here.

          • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

            by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:23PM (#27137145)

            But not everyone WANTS to learn how to use apt. Most people want to turn it on, click an icon, and have something install. Not have to add a repository, update the package listings, install it, etc.

            Writing for a clueless user and telling them how to do that only works for non-lazy clueless users. Which are somewhat rare. Most clueless people are clueless from laziness.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Nursie (632944)

              I'm not saying he should have gone into detail about how apt works and how to use it, I'm just saying that his assessment of it is a bit off.

              By all means leave it out and tell the clueless users how to use the GUI, I just didn't think his comment on apt was useful, and it was kinda funny.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                I would agree with that, then. Actually, I found the comment "...even for command-line veterans like myself" kinda funny, too. I don't consider *myself* a command-line veteran (I'm very comfortable with it, but "veteran," to me, implies about 10 years of using it ... I've only used Linux for about 6 or 7 so I can't quite claim veteran status =P) but I found apt to be pretty easy.
                • Re:Lol (Score:5, Funny)

                  by livewire98801 (916940) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:57PM (#27137781)

                  He probably means 'command line' not 'linux command line'. He's been using the DOS command line for a long time, but he's implying that the Linux command line is different.

                  He's right. . . 'ls' never has worked on the Windows machines I work on, no matter how often I try :)

            • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

              by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot AT pitabred DOT dyndns DOT org> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:07PM (#27137971) Homepage
              Being lazy doesn't work for Windows, either. Why do people keep thinking it does? There's a reason that Geek Squad and countless local techs are in business... it's because computers are complex no matter what OS they're running.

              People take lessons to learn how to ride a motorcycle after all they've known how to drive is a car. Why would software be any different? Hell, I'd think it would be MORE important with software, it's a much more complex system than just driving.
              • Re:Lol (Score:5, Funny)

                by jshackney (99735) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:08PM (#27139015) Homepage

                There's a reason that Geek Squad and countless local techs are in business...

                So, I guess we need the Gnerd Hurd.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by ianare (1132971)

                People take lessons to learn how to ride a motorcycle after all they've known how to drive is a car. Why would software be any different? Hell, I'd think it would be MORE important with software, it's a much more complex system than just driving.

                The basic principles of operation may be less complex, but in practice it's much harder to ride a motorcycle than use software. Harder because any mistakes are punished by instant injuries or death, there is no 'undo' button !!

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Bryansix (761547)
                The difference is in intuitiveness. You might have to take a course to learn how to ride a motorcycle but you don't need to read a book to figure out which way to lean when you are making a left turn. Linux distributions can be so complex or assume so much that you literally have no idea where to turn when you have a problem because there is no intuitive nature in the UI. Great strides have been made but it is still not there and really not much has changed since 6 months ago when I last played around with
            • Re:Lol (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Burnhard (1031106) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:24PM (#27138267)

              Most clueless people are clueless from laziness.

              This is, with respect, complete rubbish. Most "clueless users" have other things to do and don't want their computer getting in the way. Not everyone is an anally retentive command-line nerd, or has dreams about being one. I shudder reading this guy's Linux experiences. I wouldn't use it as it is now. My life is too short.

              • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

                by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:33PM (#27138423)

                Actually, I agree with you to some extent. I should have said from laziness *OR* from lack of time/interest. However, the people that know and admit they are ignorant are seldom the ones that are the problem, in my experience. It's the ones that are ignorant and seem to think they should be able to do it anyway, without any effort.

                My parents are an easy example. They know they are "ignorant" about computers. If they have a question, they ask me... and they are also aware that Linux (which they're using now, due to viruses on Windows that they kept getting) is different, has quirks, and isn't perfect, but it is preventing them from having to completely wipe the computer annually (literally).

                I'm a huge fan of making Linux way more user friendly than it is. I think this guy's Linux experiences are not quite proportionate to most people's Linux experiences, unless they tried to do it themselves.

                Also, I might add that I think it's unfair to think we have to make Linux be able to be installed by someone who can't install Windows, either. If they don't know what to do when their computer "gets really slow" then in order to use Linux, someone else will have to set it up for them... just like someone else has to fix Windows for them.

                And again, having other things to do/not wanting computer getting in the way, point taken, and you're right. I have argued that before, as well, but didn't think about it, my mistake. I should have used "non-busy clueless" ... would have been more accurate, probably.

              • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

                by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:38PM (#27139501) Homepage
                Yeah they don't want their computer eating up their time or getting in the way. That's why the navigate through the menus so damn slowly and peck type things out slower than I could type as a 13 year old in business typing class.

                He is quite right. I've seen more than enough people not able to find things on the screen because they simply can't even take the time to read the equivalent of a sentence or two worth of words on the screen.

                It's a shame we can't get everyone to agree to start developing innovation and stop pandering to the stupid. Over night you'd see the quality of the net improve ten-fold.
            • Re:Lol (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:42PM (#27138541)

              But not everyone WANTS to learn how to use apt. Most people want to turn it on, click an icon, and have something install. Not have to add a repository, update the package listings, install it, etc.

              Writing for a clueless user and telling them how to do that only works for non-lazy clueless users. Which are somewhat rare. Most clueless people are clueless from laziness.

              Lazy, clueless? Why does simplicity always have to equated with stupidity or lazyness?

              1. Download software you want to install.
              2. Drag said software to a main "Applications" folder marked with a big fat distinctive icon.
              3. Enjoy.

              That's how easy it can be. Why put up with repositories, RPM files, dependency hell, etc... when installation can be that simple? When it comes to complicated, most users are defeated even by Windows install packages. Sacrilegious as it may be of me to say this Windows install packages are often less complicated to use than Linux RPM packages can be. The poor UI design of many Linux package managers doesn't help either. What Linux needs, and this has been pointed out by more people than me, is a simple well thought out installation mechanism that is used by all Linux distributions. It would have to be two fold, firstly you could retain an RPM like package system for the non-consumer oriented 'professional' software. For GUI apps, which is what most of your "clueless and lazy" consumers are installing anyway, it is hard to beat the OS X concept of a drag-and-drop application-bundle for ease of use.

              • Re:Lol (Score:5, Informative)

                by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:05PM (#27138969)

                1. Download software you want to install.
                      2. Drag said software to a main "Applications" folder marked with a big fat distinctive icon.
                      3. Enjoy.

                or the linux way:
                1. Find the software you want to install
                2. apt-get (or GUI) install it
                3. enjoy

                Why put up with repositories, RPM files, dependency hell, etc..

                Spoken like someone that hasn't used linux in 5 years or more.

                Sacrilegious as it may be of me to say this Windows install packages are often less complicated to use than Linux RPM packages can be.

                When was the last time anyone using a recent distro and recent software touched an rpm? I played with an rpm recently because I Wanted to install a piece of software that hadn't been updated in a decade.

                What Linux needs, and this has been pointed out by more people than me, is a simple well thought out installation mechanism that is used by all Linux distributions.

                Why? The whole point of FOSS is that there isn't one "true" path. And which clueless home users are going to be installing software across multiple distributions anyway? In all liklihood they'll have Ubuntu, Fedora or one other distro and to them that will be linux. Or even "the computer".

                For GUI apps, which is what most of your "clueless and lazy" consumers are installing anyway, it is hard to beat the OS X concept of a drag-and-drop application-bundle for ease of use.

                It's already been beaten. Start up your software installer GUI, select a piece of software, click install. I believe in Apple terms that would be an "App Store" except they're all free.

                Seriously, get your knowledge up to date.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Matt Perry (793115)

                  or the linux way:
                  1. Find the software you want to install

                  The software is too new of a version. I want/need version 2.5 and the version that apt-get wants to install is 3.0. Now what?

              • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:34PM (#27139437) Homepage Journal

                Some people keep saying this implying it is true, without any substantiation of this whatsoever.

                In which way is Windows installing easier than Linux?

                First of all, both things are nor remotely comparable. IN a Linux machine you have thousands of packages readily available, once the software is installed you can pretty much forget about it: no pop-ups, no reminders, no auto updates, no nonsense.

                In Windows, the software will keep pestering you about all of the above, but because you say it was easier to install all of the sudden we should close your eyes and enjoy the constant pestering of all these applications.

                As for RPMs and debs packages, what could be simpler than double click on them, wait for the graphic installer to pop-up and click one or two buttons at most? And if you are actually running he tool provided with modern installations you simply search for what you need, highlight it, dependencies are resolved for you, and click an install button that gets things done.

                Honestly, the underestimation of the computing literacy of most people is very patronizing.

                • Yeah, I don't get it.

                  In Windows, you want to install something? First you have to search the web for it, come up with dozens of results that may or may not be what you want. Of the ones that will do what you want, half of them are crippleware with only half the features, or come bundled with spyware, or is some kind of trial-only nonsense, or you have to pay for it.

                  Once you find something that fits your needs, you download a completely untrusted executable from god-knows-where, and run it. Windows is all too happy to let even the most simple program install things in half a dozen different folders it has no business touching or creating. Then it'll clutter up your setup -- create new start menu folders that have nothing to do with anything (Start > Programs > Manufactuer > Developer > Program Name > Run program.exe ? WTF IS THAT?), a quicklaunch icon, a desktop shortcut, and helpfully installs yet another systray party favor to start on boot and hog memory for no reason.

                  When all is said and done you have the program but unless you're really on top of things, your computer slows down under the weight of all the extraneous garbage and malware that comes from doing things this way. Which is why salespeople are always whining about how slow their 2ghz dual core setups are.

                  Oh yeah, and each program will insist on having its own little update system, so pretty soon you've got forty seven different applications all bitching that they want to update individually.

                  Woo! That's easy and convenient!

                  Let's look at the complicated Linux way using Synaptic and Gnome. First, click "Add Programs". Type in a keyword or two to search the repository. Results come back with names and descriptions. Put a checkbox next to the one you want, click "install", and a few seconds later it's on your system, in a sane folder under "Applications", and didn't leave any horsebull behind afterwards. Full featured, no registration, no nagging. For free.

                  Oh, and it'll update from a central update panel, along with everything else. One click to update everything at once.

                  Man, that's so hard. Only a true IT God could ever master this process!
            • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

              by JTorres176 (842422) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:40PM (#27139517) Homepage

              Most clueless people are clueless from laziness.

              I don't think it's laziness. This guy admittedly has been with windows since version 2.0. He has windows interface and doing things the windows way burned so deep into his skull that it would take a flamethrower and some napalm to remove it.

              Imagine coming from windows and being used to windows updating just updating windows. Suddenly you click on something that updates every single piece of software on your entire computer. Imagine how scary that would seem to a windows user. I'd imagine it's much more complex for him, even using the gui, to update things that he doesn't understand like bind, tzconfig, or even allowing ubuntu to update his openoffice.

              If windows update told me it had to update my firefox, I'd be more than a little leary. Coming from the windows world into linux and moving over to a completely different philosophy behind the word "update" would be hard enough.

              Using apt (command line anything) is in an entirely different ballpark. Most windows users probably don't even know how to get to a command line, much less use it for anything useful. Trying to tell them to go to a command line interface to update their computer is even more alien than the computer updating all software at once.

              It took microsoft years to teach people their interface and philosophy. Giving someone a cd and allowing them two weeks (referring to article) to learn an OS on their own is a ridiculous task. Imagine taking a clinical engineer from a hospital after 20 years of working on that equipment and putting him into a mechanical engineer in the aerospace field. Sure it's the same general job title "engineer" but they are vastly different jobs. Even though Linux and Windows are both OSs, they are vastly different in makeup, interface, philosophy, and interaction. Two weeks is hardly a primer.

            • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Deagol (323173) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:55PM (#27139767) Homepage

              Yeah, and I'd like a full-service gas station at every fracking corner so I'm not required to learn how to pump gas.

              The the hell is wrong with people?!? Not everyone in the 80's with PCs were early-adopter whiz-kids. You remember the 80s, right? The pre-GUI-centric days of the PC where people had to actually type in commands to get shit done? Where the hottest programs of the day were Lotus 123 and Wordstar and Wordperfect that required byzantine key combinations to do half the interesting stuff? If Granny could figure out Word Perfect 20 years ago while being a secretary at the local elementary school she sure as hell can deal with popping open an xterm and typing a few "apt-get" commands today.

              We see phrases today about people being more "technology savvy"? Give me a break. Pressing "Play" on the Blu-Ray player, being addicted to WoW, or running around like a pompous ass with a bluetooth phone dongle hanging from your ear at the 7-11 does not make people "savvy" at anything, except knowing how to fashionably piss away their money.

              An "apt-get" or "portage" one-liner or two typed into a command prompt is no more effort than going to a web site, finding the downloads page, clicking a button, and then running the installer with all its options to choose from and EULA to read. In fact, the typical command line package manager is LESS work for the end user.

              I've had it, man. I'm totally fed up. I've been rooting for the Linux underdog since the late 90s. No more. Linux just is what it is, which is a kick-ass operating system for the PC and various other devices. Chasing the "Year of the Desktop" is a fool's errand for Linux and other open source efforts. Come *ON* people, quit making excuses for the users. If Linux were the the only OS in the mass market, people would be doing wonderfully, just like in the 80s when MS-DOS was king. The truth is, people don't want it. Period. They like what they have (Windows mostly, with some OS-X sprinkled around), and fear change. At least Linux is gaining traction in the netbook market, where at least some people will inevitably cut their teeth on the OS and become set in their ways.

              There is simply no point in these articles, as all they do is highlight not only how lazy the end user has become, but how tech-oriented people not only expect, but condone, such laziness. It's really sad when you think about it. To hell with the lowest common denominator. Let them sink or swim on their own. They truly don't deserve the fruits of open source developers' labors unless they're willing to roll up their sleeves once in a while.

        • Re:Lol (Score:5, Informative)

          by Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:53PM (#27137691)
          There already is an easy to use UI for apt that's been around for years. It's called Synaptic.
          • by Rob Y. (110975) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:27PM (#27138325)

            It's not that apt-get is hard to use, either from the command line or via synaptic. It's that you need to know what you want to install, and lots of the packages have cryptic names that, yes, are not newbie or oldbie friendly.

            Try getting your AAC files to play. It's easy if you know *exactly what* to type to get apt-get to install the codecs. But, even if you have the right repositories set up, you can be an old unix hand like me and still not know which packages you need to get the job done.

            Of course, there are websites out there that'll give you step-by-step copy and paste instructions for a particular distro, but by the rules governing articles like this, I think 'use google to figure out what website tells you how to do this, and then go there and copy/paste away' isn't going to be accepted.

            Now, the reason you need to do this is that nobody's willing to stick their necks out and vouch for the legality of doing that. As far as I'm concerned, even if it's not legal, it's legal. For it not to be legal is clearly anti-competitive, and I'm not about to wait for the US legal system to catch up with reality.

            It wouldn't be unreasonable, however, in a 'why Linux is hard' article to explain why it is that some things that should be simple in Linux are hard, and maybe you should write your congressperson...

            • by AndrewNeo (979708) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:56PM (#27138795) Homepage
              But what plays AAC files in Windows? By default, Windows Media Player doesn't, so clicking on the file won't play it. You'll probably need Quicktime or iTunes.. but why would you know it plays AAC files? Because someone told you, or you searched Google for it? Same thing for Linux.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by mhall119 (1035984)

              Try getting your AAC files to play. It's easy if you know *exactly what* to type to get apt-get to install the codecs. But, even if you have the right repositories set up, you can be an old unix hand like me and still not know which packages you need to get the job done.

              I haven't tested it with AAC, but I seem to recall that when I tried to play an MP3 on a clean install of Ubuntu, it told me exactly what package I needed, and even downloaded and installed it for me.

              Now, the reason you need to do this is that nobody's willing to stick their necks out and vouch for the legality of doing that.

              I seem to remember that being covered before Ubuntu installed the codec. I also heard that they were going to let you buy licenses to codec from within Ubuntu.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ais523 (1172701)
            Ubuntu (in particular, I don't know about whether other Linux distributions do this) also has an even easier to use cut-down version of Synaptic called Applications | Add/Remove... No good for installing most command-line applications, but people who are scared of apt probably don't want those anyway (and can use Synaptic if they do).
        • Why the GUI? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by macraig (621737) <mark...a...craig@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:05PM (#27137937)

          Actually, it's more complicated than merely attracting "clueless" users: what about people like me who are anything but clueless but who have incredibly poor memories for certain things? It's a well understood fact that one of the values - if not THE value - of GUIs is the dramatic reduction in memorization and rote learning required to use such a system versus a CLI. I've been-there-done-that with CLIs, but for less than constant use I'm now forced to use cheat sheets and reference books, and that's a time-wasting pain.

          I first used Linux back in 1991/92 in a job capacity, so I was an early adopter. However, I have neurological issues that result in a very unreliable memory; as a result I've been obsessed my entire adult life with retaining "reference" materials. I also suspect that poor memory caused me to develop a compensatory advanced reasoning IQ: I am often able to reason things out on-the-fly when others are dependent upon memory and rote learning. Consequently I've also been obsessed with understanding how things tick, because the better I understand the system the better I can handle unexpected situations and reconstruct things I've forgotten.

          This is the primary reason why a Linux distro with a GUI and menu-item equivalents for CLI commands is important. GUIs are all about reducing the rote learning requirement. Why is rote learning so tightly bound to our perception of elite-ness? I suck at rote learning, but I can reason my way out of a black box when others dependent on memory will remain stuck inside. I shouldn't be penalized for that by my operating system.

          Gimme my GUI!

        • by mangu (126918) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:37PM (#27138487)

          If Linux was easier to use and free/cheap (as in beer), it wouldn't take long for it to be adopted.

          You haven't actually used Linux, have you? Linux is and has been for several years *much* easier to use than MS-windows.

          I just realized this when I had to give some lessons on Python programming to some people at work. I hadn't used a Windows desktop for several years, but since none of these people were Linux users I used XP for the course. I then realized how hard is XP for someone who's not used to it.

          Starting with the "Start" menu, which is organized by software supplier, not category. Now where the fsck do I find a file manager? I just downloaded this file, where did it go? Where is my "home" directory, which in Linux has an icon intuitively shaped as a house? I want to copy a file, why did it create links for some, but not all copy operations? And so on. Windows is *extremely* hard to use for a beginner.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ozphx (1061292)

            Where is my "home" directory, which in Linux has an icon intuitively shaped as a house?

            Whoa. A house? A little picture of a house? I expect to find my letter to your mom under a picture of a house?

            That is what is called "A lame geek pun on a legacy naming convention". Not at all a nod to usability.

            In Vista it would be called "Documents", with a little picture of a folder full of documents. Incidently you don't go and "find a file manager". You just click "Documents", "Pictures" or "Porno".

        • Re:Lol (Score:5, Interesting)

          by digitalhermit (113459) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:12PM (#27139091) Homepage

          Here's my take:

          Linux to me is like a great fishing spot. There are few people hanging around. All of them fairly experienced. No one asks, "What's a lure?"

          Having millions of clueless newbies flocking to Linux is like building an interstate highway next to my fishing spot. Sure, it makes it easier to get to my fishing spot, but then it's not quite the same.

          Of course, it's not a perfect analogy. In the Linux world there can be thousands of fishing spots. Some of them can have interstates and access ramps right along side of them. Some can only be accessed via a mile long spelunk and a hike.

          There's room for both. But I think it's misguided to invite users just for the sake of market share. Market share is irrelevant to Linux. Or at least it is to me.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        blah@blah:~$ apt-get search test
        E: Invalid operation search

      • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

        by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:40PM (#27137441) Homepage Journal

        Well, if he's trying to review from a 'clueless user' perspective, he's certainly on track.

        You don't get it, do you?

        Adding a user through GST's "Users and Groups" is also the same thing as editing /etc/passwd, /etc/group and /etc/shadow. Guess which one a newbie end-user migrating from Windows is going to understand?

        Vim and Gedit also do the same thing (more or less). Guess which editor newbies have an easier time understanding?

        In fact, Brasero and cdrtools do the same thing. Brasero even calls cdrtools to do it's thing. How many newbie users migrating from windows are going to type 'man cdrecord'?

        Big hint: if the answer to all of these questions is not obvious to you, my friend, then you are decidedly not helping 2009 -- or any other year -- be the Year of Linux on the Desktop.

    • Re:Lol (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @12:57PM (#27136745)

      You know what's really funny? People used to balk at package managers, yet now everybody is scrambling to use these "App Stores" that are weak versions of the exact same thing. I could have told you that the Apple App Store would be easy to use because the jailbroken installers were easy to use. And I could have told you those would be easy to use because they're based on apt.

      As a Linux user for 12 years, I would like to congratulate the rest of the computer world on discovering the convenience of package management systems. Just one suggestion though. You can't put all software in a package management system, so please don't go giving up the ability to install software in other ways. You'll regret it someday if you do.

      • Re:Lol (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:55PM (#27137725) Homepage

        Just one suggestion though. You can't put all software in a package management system, so please don't go giving up the ability to install software in other ways. You'll regret it someday if you do.

        Not one repository, but I don't see why you couldn't have one package management system. Having to deal with the kazillions of different auto-updaters on windows is quite frankly annoying, I wish they'd just register with some apt-get like utility for updates. I've got several repos where I'm only pulling a single applicatino like WINE, and payware could be exactly the same with a little license key management on top. Except they'd probably roll it into some sort of horrible DRM nightmare instead of a convienient update center.

      • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pushing-robot (1037830) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:47PM (#27138629)

        Try sitting someone inexperienced with computers in front of Synaptic, and sit someone else in front of the Apple App Store. Don't help them. See who figures out how to install a program first.

        There's an absolute night-and-day difference between a package manager, written by and for people who don't ever think outside the *nix box, and an App Store, written by design experts for people who have never installed a software program before. Claiming that a package manager is "more powerful" is utterly missing the point.

        You don't have to be a mechanic to put gas in your car. You don't have to be an electrician to plug in a lamp. You shouldn't have to be a CS major to install a program.

        • Re:Lol (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel&hotmail,com> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:47PM (#27139651) Homepage Journal

          Sure, let's pit Apple App Store against package manager.

          What do you need with app store? A signon. Note that no help is given as to aquiring the signon.

          But, I'll let you in on the "secret". You need to install iTunes, and give your credit details on-line. Fill in the details on app store and then start buying applications.

          Package Manager? You launch it, and it asks for a password. No credit details needed, or second computer, etc. Categorized list with search comes up.

          Since App Store needed iTunes on another computer to create an account, and no guidance to that is given, I would imagine the Package Manager would win.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Requiem18th (742389)

          Congratulations in your FUD, why compare Apple's to the simple Gnome Application Installer right in the Applications menu when you can use the power user Synaptic inside System>Administration.

    • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @12:57PM (#27136757) Journal

      Yeah, pretty bizarre that a two word command causes so much vexation. Most people can handle a command line interface to, for instance, their dog. "Rover, fetch" "Rover, sit" etc. Is "apt-get install" really that much different?

      • Re:Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Captain Spam (66120) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:25PM (#27137197) Homepage

        Except that a better comparison is if you named your dog "Farciot-Shake", "Sadi-RollOver", "Satyendra-Heel", or, in general, some combination of a name completely outside of your native culture and a verb which sounds like a command you've already given the dog.

        (note: obviously, I'm assuming an American English culture; substitute names alien to your culture to fill in the gaps if need be)

        Forget Debian/Ubuntu/etc. Then, ask yourself what an "apt" is. And why it has anything to do with installing programs. Then, still remembering that you're forgetting you know Debian/Ubuntu, ask why you need "install" at the end of "apt-get", which sounds like you're already asking the system to get the program you're asking for. Non-geeks don't care about the difference between "get" and "install", and the redundancy throws a wrench in their understanding.

        Same goes with "yum" (same situation as apt, minus the redundant verb). Same with "emerge" (which is on a system with far more baffling points for a non-geek). Same with "ports" or "portmanager" (while "manager" helps, the "ports" part of it can cause non-BSD geeks to puzzle over the new meaning). It's the sometimes strange, it-made-sense-at-the-time command line names that, at times, drive the laypersons away from the command line.

      • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:25PM (#27137203)

        Is "apt-get install" really that much different?

        Yes, it is. "Rover, sit" works because "Rover" is the name of the dog, "sit" is a common English word, and the command pattern has been drilled into us since childhood. "apt-get install" - WTF is that to someone new to Linux? What's "apt" (I'd expect "app" at least)? Why the hyphenated "-get"? If I'm saying "get" the application, why do I have to include the redundant "install"? Heck, I'm a long-time hardcore geek and _still_ have to look it up every time; it's just not intuitive to someone who either is new to the concept of operating systems, nor to those who have to deal with a half-dozen or more OSes on a regular basis.

        The App Store model, cheezy as it may be, works precisely because it's easy to find, easy to run, and easy to find & install applications. Linux doesn't have it yet. Having to spend hours Googling for what apps depend on what other apps, and how to install each of them in their own peculiar way, is largely what keeps Linux sidelined for now. At least with Windows I just stick in an installation CD for an application, or click on "install" on a distribution web page, and the install process just starts; with my iPod I just tap AppStore, find the app, and hit "install"; but with Linux I'm not even sure what the name of the application is, much less the precise command needed to install it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          The App Store model, cheezy as it may be, works precisely because it's easy to find, easy to run, and easy to find & install applications. Linux doesn't have it yet. Having to spend hours Googling for what apps depend on what other apps, and how to install each of them in their own peculiar way, is largely what keeps Linux sidelined for now.

          I am pretty sure that all modern Linux distributions come with a full-blown GUI frontend for their package management system that handles all of that for you. Here's

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      I'm an Ubuntu user, since Apr 07, and I couldn't tell you what exactly apt is. I know how to do stuff like sudo apt-get update though, and I know it downloads updates. It's not rocket science, even for a non-techie noob user like myself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Saffaya (702234)

      I think the article author meant the complexity involved IF a problem arises when using apt-get install.
      A beginner user wouldn't know how to troubleshoot it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      However, for most people, they are used to popping in a disc or double clicking an icon that says "install". That's it. Believe me, the fact that one drags and drops most applications on a Mac boggles people minds. That's why I think we've seen more applications come with installers on OSX even if all the installer does is just copy the .app to the application directory.

      Now there are GUI front ends to APT or Ports (if you're a BSD user like myself), and dare I say I find the command line easier for such

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mandelbr0t (1015855)

      Yup, my head just exploded from the complexity.

      I think you miss the point of this article. This guy is talking about what Windows users feel about Linux, and you make a sarcastic comment about how easy it is to type something on the command line that accomplishes what you want.

      Here's a challenge for you: try using your Linux box without ever opening a terminal window. We all know that command line junkies who have memorized every command and parameter and have some shell scripting knowledge can do anything in a single command, but your non-Linux friends

  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @12:48PM (#27136615)

    People don't run OSes, they run the applications the OS runs on. It will probably be the case this guy doesn't WANT to change from Photoshop to Gimp, from IE to FireFox, from AIM to Pidgin, to run Wine for WoW. The list goes on.

  • One size fits all (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toreo asesino (951231) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @12:52PM (#27136685) Journal

    I find these reviews of "converting to linux" a bit pointless really; they're only ever one persons' perspective on what a conversion is, of which I often find I can't relate to much of what they go through.

    I'd suggest if someone wants to do a "Linux conversion log" type write-up, they consider a target audience. In particular, i'd like to see:

    - The web-user; email, web, and IM (99% of reviews fall into this category)
    - The business user; Exchange, blackberry, important Office data (spreadsheet, word), Wifi, power-saving management, enterprise facilities
    - The multimedia user: MP3, iPod sync, games, DVD, video editing.

    That in my opinion makes up most computer users, and in particular most MacOS/Windows users...the target audience. Take a person from each category and see how they survive 2 weeks on Linux; that I'd be truly interested in.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Corson (746347)
      And don't forget "speciality software" users:

      - mechanical/electronic design engineers: AutoCAD, Inventor, OrCAD.
      - artists/game developers: Photoshop, Maya, 3ds max.
      - molecular biologists: DNA Strider, Vector NTI, Pathway Studio.
      End-users choose a platform mostly for the availability of the software they can run on it.

  • by moonbender (547943) <moonbenderNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:06PM (#27136857)

    Choice quote:

    The Update Manager is accessed via the starburst at the top right-hand top of the screen. Click it, but be prepared -- you're about to be confronted with literally hundreds of potential updates with incomprehensible names and unenlightening descriptions ...
    By default, every update has a check next to it in the Update Manager. Uncheck the boxes next to those you don't want to update -- I recommend updating only software that you recognize.

    That's terrible advice.

    He might have a point about the huge number of updates on an initial boot confusing users -- doesn't Ubuntu pull updates as part of the install process? If not, it really should.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)

      He might have a point about the huge number of updates on an initial boot confusing users -- doesn't Ubuntu pull updates as part of the install process? If not, it really should.

      A perfect example of why moving to Linux will not help users - his advice amounts to "don't install security patches". I those are the only ones available by default, though it's been so long I don't remember.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by k.a.f. (168896)

      Choice quote:

      The Update Manager is accessed via the starburst at the top right-hand top of the screen. Click it, but be prepared -- you're about to be confronted with literally hundreds of potential updates with incomprehensible names and unenlightening descriptions ... By default, every update has a check next to it in the Update Manager. Uncheck the boxes next to those you don't want to update -- I recommend updating only software that you recognize.

      That's terrible advice.

      No, it's excellent advice. Why? Updating software brings your system from a state that you know works to a state that may or may not work for you. It doesn't matter that the developers find their shiny new features utterly adorable and consider everyone who doesn't share their enthusiasm a thick-headed troglodyte. A user wants to get things achieved, and if a program does what they want, they should not have to or even be urged to update, ever.

      The proper time to update is when you know a program well enou

  • by Intellectual Camel (1230692) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:07PM (#27136885)
    "I recommend updating only software that you recognize" say what?! you do this on windows too?
  • Whenever "Linux" is being evaluated on the desktop, Ubuntu is fronted...so my question is: Is Ubuntu equal to Linux? The last time I checked it was not the case. So why does it [seem] to be the case?

    • by despisethesun (880261) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:38PM (#27137411)
      Because Ubuntu has been the one to make the biggest strides towards user-friendliness. There are others who have come a long way in this regard as well, but Ubuntu stands at the front of the pack. It's probably the easiest to use, it has probably the largest amount of available pre-compiled software, it has a large user community. I could go on, but this is basically why Ubuntu gets the nod when people try to get newbies to try Linux. More advanced Linux users have their own personal preferences, but I don't know how many of them would put the proverbial Joe Sixpack on a Gentoo system, for example.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mishotaki (957104)

      In the same way, we can use a car analogy:

      Is a Ford Taurus a car? Is a car a Ford Taurus?

      Ubuntu is Linux, but Linux isn't Ubuntu about the same way that a Ford Taurus being a car, but all cars aren't Ford Tauruses...

  • I did RTFA... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates (106458) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:11PM (#27136935) Homepage Journal

    And have to say that it is rather well balanced. But it also reminds me of something: I've been using Linux for more than a decade, and things to which I'm accustomed - like using the command line - are not at all intuitive to the Windows user.

    There is this tendency among Linux evangelists to try to "fix" a neophyte's problems rather than listening to what he's saying. While Linux has made large inroads in the desktop arena, at its heart it is UNIX, not Windows. One of the larger issues of Linux adoption is that Windows users have a mental model of computers which is Windows-specific:

    1. Typing is for documents, not the command line.
    2. Reading is for web pages, not system configuration.
    3. Configuration is about making choices, not thinking, and certainly not about knowing what hardware is installed in the machine.
    4. If it can't be installed with a few mouse clicks, it doesn't work. End of story.

    Making Linux ubiquitous on the desktop will be a matter of coming up with a simpler, more accessible mental model of a computer for the end user. It will not come about by fixing a particular problem with a particular distribution.

    The average computer user is an expert in something *other* than computers. They're not interested in learning the vagaries of hardware configuration or knowing about kernel dumps and command lines. They use a computer as a tool to *do something other than programming*. They want something easy to use, secure, and reliable. Windows comes through on the first part. Linux on the latter parts. However, security and reliability are a moot point if you can't use the computer in the first place. Hence, Windows gets chosen time and again, in spite of its flaws.

    • Re:I did RTFA... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jdgeorge (18767) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:05PM (#27137929)

      Generally, I agree with the parent, but as a long time Linux user (Slackware, Debian, Ubuntu) and arguably a computer expert, I have (or WANT to have) a mental model of computers that essentially matches this description of Windows users.

      Sure I can figure out how to get things working that don't, how to make the system start up faster, how to fix the problems I encounter, how to configure my firewall, etc. However, I don't WANT to do any of those things.

      For example, the mental model I would like to have is that I'm going to write music, NOT that I'm going to use the computer to write music.

      Much of my time, I'm not interested in the computer at all. I just want to do something that's also relevant outside the context of computers. Interacting with "the computer" in order to accomplish my task is a distraction.

      Now, I think Ubuntu (for example) does a pretty good job of minimizing the distractions from the end goal. But I thoroughly agree with the parent that there are still some good opportunities to improve the way the computer gets me into the context of pursuing my ultimate task-related goal.

  • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:13PM (#27136983)

    From page 4 of TFA [computerworld.com]:

    By default, every update has a check next to it in the Update Manager. Uncheck the boxes next to those you don't want to update -- I recommend updating only software that you recognize.

    This seems like really bad advice. I would say the opposite: only forego an update if you recognize the software and are sure that you don't want the newer version.

    The vast majority of updates will be for "underlying" software, like the kernel, libraries, and so on. These are also the things that a newbie is most likely to "not recognize". But these are the things that critically need security updates. If a newbie only updates OpenOffice and Firefox (which he recognizes) but skips the kernel, cron, openssh, iptables, and so on (because he doesn't recognize them), he may be left with significant vulnerabilities in very important subsystems.

    In a modern world the default advice should be to install updates and thereby stay as secure as possible. Users should only be skipping updates when they have good reason to think that the new version isn't better (e.g. breaks a feature they like). This is especially true on Linux, since there are no updates that are being pushed out just to limit/inhibit the end user (like, e.g. Windows Genuine Advantage does).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RalphSleigh (899929)

      I agree that the update manager exposes too much to the poor end user who just wants to press a button and be told that everything will be all right.

      Perhaps the answer here is for the update manager to wrap up any updates that do not change a bit of software exposed to the user in the applications menu as a generic 'Ubuntu system update'. You could put the details of the actual packages included somewhere accessible, and just push one system package a week/2nd tuesday of the month.

  • The bitter irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steveha (103154) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:15PM (#27137011) Homepage

    The thing he found hardest, the thing he singled out for special mention as the worst problem, was: installing new software.

    Eeek.

    That's what Linux distros, particularly Debian-based ones, do best! The package management is the best single feature of Debian and Ubuntu, light-years ahead of the situation in Windows.

    Now, he's not a troll and he's not an idiot. Which means that he has just helpfully identified something we should work on.

    His basic problem is that he is used to Windows, where things are done differently. Either Microsoft Office is installed or it isn't; and the only pieces of Office that you can see are large chunks like Word, Excel, etc. It was surprising and alarming to him when there were hundreds and hundreds of little packages with odd names. For example, the updater told him it would update "anachron -- cron-like program that doesn't go by time" and he didn't know what to make of that.

    In his Part 2 article, he recommends that you never update any package you don't understand. Eeek, again! What if there is a critical security update to DNS or something? He is unlikely to know what it is, so he will decline it. And he will be working very hard to go through the list and uncheck the update box for the vast majority of his packages.

    The correct policy is to have the updater pull from a trusted source, and just let it update. Trust the system.

    In all fairness, Windows has its share of similarly weird stuff. But they have done a much better job of wrapping it up to present to the user.

    When you run Windows Update, it won't give you anything called "anachron", but it will give you things like "hotfix 967363: A Windows Server 2008-based DHCP server does not register DNS records for earlier version DHCP clients that do not send option 81 to the DHCP server". But this will be labeled as a "critical" patch that you really need to take.

    Perhaps Ubuntu should have a popup on the update manager that gives newbies a quick overview of package management on Linux? Things are much better than the mess in Windows, so we need to make sure that newbies understand what's going on. When new users are confused, that should be treated as a bug, and fixed.

    steveha

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I was quite surprised that he singled-out installation as being difficult. Like you, I consider this to be one of the selling points of Linux: package management makes installation centralized and streamlined.

      I offer an anecdote to counter the author's experiences (yes, I know anecdotes are not worth much, but TFA is essentially just an anecdote, too...): A friend of mine recently got fed up with Windows XP and switched to Ubuntu (with no prompting from me, other than mentioning "I use Ubuntu" when he asked

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swillden (191260)

      Perhaps Ubuntu should have a popup on the update manager that gives newbies a quick overview of package management on Linux?

      You know, a five-minute video tour is a really good idea. Just a quick intro to package management and updates is probably sufficient, because Ubuntu already does a good job of making the applications menu very simple and accessible.

    • I think the main problem with the Linux package management architecture is that it completely ignores the reality of the web.

      For many people nowadays, the web is where you first discover an application: you might read a review of it, or see it mentioned in a forum thread, or in a mailing list archive you chanced upon while doing a google search for some problem you're having. Maybe a friend will recommend the application to you, and paste the url to its website during an IM section; or maybe he'll just gi
  • by reashlin (1370169) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:30PM (#27137291)
    "I recommend updating only software that you recognize."

    No No No NO! Update everything. People didn't spend time updating software for you to ignore them. They updated it often because it needs securing.
  • App Installation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aarmenaa (712174) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @02:33PM (#27138425) Journal

    The author had lots of trouble installing things. I've gotten into arguments over it before, but here's my take: package managers were the wrong answer to the installation problem. They make installing and updating the the libraries and components that make up the the OS itself very easy, but you'll never satisfy diverse application preferences with a central repository. In his original piece, he tries to update OpenOffice from the web because the package manager isn't offering the update yet. Naturally, this is difficult and not really designed with users in mind. This is why I hate package managers - they leave you with two really crappy choices: either don't use it and have no install management at all, or use it and be doomed to only what's in the repositories and having to wait until New Widget 3.0 is blessed by your distro. Certainly don't try to mix the two options or you'll break everything. The fact that some projects now offer their own repositories is just a terrible band-aid.

    My Windows box on the other hand always has the latest version of OpenOffice, and I didn't have to touch a console - anyone could do it. I just go download the installer and run it, without even bothering to uninstall the old version. And it's very easy because it's not just a tarball full of crap - it's actually a well-tested package. This way, I get managed installs - I have a list of programs and if I chose to remove one I just choose it and click the uninstall button. I know the Windows install system is much-maligned for being fragile (breaks, or breaks other stuff), messy (throwing crap everywhere, and not completely removing things), and causing as many problems as it solves. I don't disagree with that assessment, but I'd blame the implementation. The open source community could have made a standard install system. Something nice for a front end, something reliable. Hell, you could even integrate it with your fancy package manager, if you really want to. But apparently nobody finds having to wait to get software they want to be as unpleasant as I do. While I could honestly care less about system libraries most of the time, I demand very specific things of my applications, and I don't like handing control over to whoever runs the package servers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by John Jamieson (890438)

      Repositories are the future. Having to go out, find your own programs and updates is what you are used of doing.

      Who would ever contemplate a system where the average computer user is expected to find their own updates is beyond me.
      Then the absurdity of expecting them to vet good executables from malware is difficult for me to understand. The repository creates a trusted source.

      The simplicity of the repository and app store are the future. IMO you are taking a strength of many Linux distro's and spinning

  • by davide marney (231845) * <(davide.marney) (at) (netmedia.org)> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @03:32PM (#27139421) Journal

    As mentioned elsewhere, the different mental model of Windows and Unix is laid bare by the often cringe-inducing "mistakes" made by the author. Whenever I recommend Linux to a Windows user, I always take the time to warn them that the will need to adjust their thinking to remain sane during the switch-over:

    1. In Linux, you never install just any old application from the web. You install software from a known repository. The repository has tens of thousands of applications to choose from, all of them completely free. No, really.
    2. When you update in Linux, you are updating all the applications on your system at once, not just a single program here and there. You use a program called the update manager to update your system.
    3. You should regularly run the update manager to keep your system up to date. Sometimes, there are big cycles of changes to the software repository, and an update may involve hundreds of items. That's a good thing; it means that people are fixing problems and making the software more secure. Don't worry, go ahead and let the system update itself.

    The Linux update system is truly a wonder, and is by far one of the best things about the operating system. But Windows people really do need a few minutes of preparation to adjust their thinking, just like the author.

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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