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CNN Installs Linux 432

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

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  • 1) let's be honest, linux (or any other os, for that matter) can always get relatively (even) more nongeek-friendly.

    2) articles are written about nongeeks having difficulty using (incl install) linux.

    3a) developers are encouraged to make linux even more nongeek-friendly versus other os'es.
    3b) some (ok, maybe lotsa) people are (still) scared out off tryin linux.
    remark: the magnitude of 3a) and 3b) is directly proportional to the 'magnitude' of 2)

    4a) ...developers goin about their stuff with even more determination...
    4b) ...nongeeks' patience with winboxes everything but increasing, desire to get better stuff probably increasing...
    remark: apology to the mac-folks for jumping over them in this slight oversimplification of things :-)

    5) hey, linux just got relatively more user-friendly today!

    6) somehow, the word gets out on 5) (perhaps an article on

    7) more people are tempted into trying out linux (again). [they are able to do so at little or no cost coz it runs on everything and is free.] some stick with it, others don't. this ratio is directly proportional to linux's relative user-friendliness.

    8) go back to 1)

    - for the developers: keep doin what yer good at.
    - for the non-developers, relax.

    pretty soon (within 2-3 years?), linux could be the easiest os to install and use in our solar system (chances are aliens have even better stuff).

    (the above also applies to functionality etc)

    Flippo from Flanders (Europe).

  • My first linux installation was maybe a year ago. I created a root and a swap partition on my second HD and installed RedHat 5.0 in 30 minutes with the help of a Sams Learn Linux in 24 Hours book I got for $15.

    I'm not a pimped-out software developer like a lot of people who post, but I still got it to work. In fact, for about a month, whenever I had a problem it was always faster and easier to reinstall the OS than to try to fix the problem (yes I was a real dumbass). Maybe he should have tried OpenLinux 2.3, Red Hat, or Mandrake.

    Take care,

  • by wmeyer (17620) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @04:16PM (#1651542)
    Let's settle for inexperienced but intelligent newbies. As to your math and science majors, perhaps they, like so many others, fail to RTFM.

    I've been working with small computers since 1975, and have written in C, C++, Pascal, assembler, and even Forth. I've designed embedded processor systems and designed and written serial protocols.

    In spite of my experience, I have suffered tremendous frustration with Linux. Also, as one who writes user docs, I do RTFM. The source of the problems is as follows:

    1) Linux docs are, to be kind, less than wonderful. They make too many assumptions about the background of the reader. I have yet to find a good presentation of disk partitioning strategies, for example.

    2) Distros which use the RPM installation offer only one safe option: Install Everything. Selective package installation leads to things which don't work, boots which stall for many minutes, and a grand variety of other mysteries.

    3) Red Hat, in particular, has an installation process which is easily fouled by the user making an unexpected response. Why would the user do that? Because the instructions and/or prompts are inadequate.

    4) X server installation and setup is a very interesting source of problems. My video cards and monitors are capable of 1600x1200, but Caldera is the only distro to have correctly set up that configuration on my machines. And talk about user-hostile: tweaking in Hz, KHz, and microseconds is definitely not for newbies. I'm a hardware designer with a lot of experience with deflection systems, and I still don't want to go there.

    5) Sending a newbie to the HOWTOs is a great way to send someone postal. The HOWTOs I have attempted to use have not been very well written, some have been horribly out of date, and for the most part, I was left (after an hour or more) with no solution to the problem they were supposed to help me resolve.

    Now before the flaming begins, I freely grant that Windows docs suck. That is irrelevant. the subject is Linux, and Linux docs suck, too. The difference between Linux and Windows at installation time is that Windows (mostly) does a better job of handling the routine setup issues.

    I've used Windows since 2.0 (which only stayed on my system for a few hours), and routinely install and manage NT installations. I'm getting better with Linux, but only after having invested nearly full time activity for several weeks, and am not by any means ready to commit my company to using Linux in product.

    With all respect to everyone here, the proliferation of Linux will soon be limited by precisely these issues: documentation and setup.

    Caldera has it mostly right, and I will soon install their 2.3, which will likely be still better. Let the others look to their model.

    Documentation is my biggest issue. All the Linux users insist that it's anywhere from adequate to great, but those of us who didn't cut our teeth on *nix know it just ain't so. Until the Linux cognoscenti come out of denial on this, things won't improve.

    My complaints are usually greeted with suggestions that I write some HOWTOs. Hello? I've already stated that I have problems in need of answers. How does that qualify me to write instruction for others? The people who need to write HOWTOs are the Linux gurus who insist there is no need. See the problem?

    I live in hope, but I can only work with reality, so for now, Linux is only a dream.
  • Being a Linux user myself I have a
    hard time saying this but here goes...

    This post has convinced me that
    Linux users are as much mindless
    snobs as their BSD counterparts.
    NOTHING is ever obvious, else you
    do not need a user.
  • Win98 and NT,

    Always copu the .cab files to the hard drive and then run setup. much quicker and cleaner installs for some odd reason,
  • Sorry, but I agree with the first guy: if one doesn't want to use the command line but has to anyway, the software is flawed. Grep may be fast, but it's not intuitive. If you already know how to use it and need to search a huge file quickly, that shortcoming is irrelevant. If you've never seen grep before, though, that shortcoming is real. Yes, you can overcome the software's shortcoming by spending time to learn how to use it, but that's just a workaround, not a true solution (like solving NT's stability problem by rebooting every night). For the occasional user who doesn't use it enough to justify studying it, an intuitive interface is the superior solution.
  • They may be kinda sticky, but they DO help if you have no idea what you are doing. But by using one you are in no way a computer expert.
  • It may be instructive to compare the easy of install and maintenance of the PC with Linux to something other than a PC with Windoze.

    I work as a game programmer, and in these discussion I see another perspective that often gets left out. When talking just about games, the console games sell many more copies than PC games ever do. There are many factors that contribute to the situation. I'm fairly convinced however that one of the top reasons is the ease of install and maintenance of the hardware and softare. To play a Playstation game, pop the cd in and turn the thing on (and take both steps by pressing these large inviting round buttons). But how often to people critize Sony for producing hardware or software for idiots? How often do "power" users scoff at Playstations because the hardware and software is for the simple minded?

    To play a PC game (on Windoze), you must go through potentially several cycles of checking the hardware requirements, looking for the latest DirectX distribution, looking for the latest drivers for your specific hardware, clearing out disk space, installing the game, and installing patches.

    My point is to say that designing hardware (and system software: the OS) to be as simple to use as possible is not a bad thing (TM). Designing the OS to be more useable more quickly and with less research and knowledge of the hardware is not a bad thing.

    Linux advocates scoff when windoze people complain of Linux's complexities, but I question the motivation to dismiss these criticisms out of hand. If Windoze were even less complex than it currently is (and I consider it less complex to use than Linux), potentially I could program games for the PC such that people could pop the CD in the drive and play I'd be happier and less stressed in my job (and probably more successful ;) ). I have to assume that application writers and hardware designers feel the same way.

  • COL 2.2 does, in fact, do video card autoprobing for any card supported by the VGA or SVGA servers.

  • I'd have to disagree. I've installed Windows 95 twice, and upgrade 95 to 98 once, and all these installations were much easier than my installation of Linux (and subsequent problems getting X to actually start). Windows 95/98 auto-detected my video card and monitor and chose a default resolution that worked, auto-detected my modem, network card, and USB scanner, and set those up properly, and auto-detected my non-IDE proprietary Panasonic CD-ROM drive (an old 2x one). PPP setup took about 2 minutes.

    Linux (Slackware 3.0), on the other hand, didn't auto-detect anything, and my USB scanner never did work. I had to create a special boot disk (sbpcd.i) to work with my CD-ROM drive, had to look up detailed specifications of the resolutions/refresh rates supported by my video card and monitor (XF86Setup apparently can't choose any reasonable defaults), and PPP was *really* annoying to get working properly.

    Now some of these problems are the fault of device manufacturers for proprietary interfaces and drivers, but a newbie can be forgiven for not knowing that it's not *really* the OS's fault - to the newbie, one OS works with his scanner, while the other doesn't. Whether this is the OS's fault or somebody else's fault is somewhat irrelevant.

    Some of the problems really are the fault of the OS and the windowing system, however. XF86Setup could be a lot more friendly with auto-detection. X could start with some decent VESA defaults (like Windows does), so somebody could start X for the first time without even needing to run XF86Setup at all. PPP configuration could be nicer, and (for laptops) PCMCIA support could be built in, rather than having to be added separately.
  • Mentioning how x86 is old outdated hardware, that is one reason I love linux. The only reason we have stuck with x86 for absolutly so long is because of microsoft. Everybody wants to remain compatible, that makes sence. But if linux can truly take off, people will be able to migrate from x86 to alpha to PPC to whatever easily. As you would mainting the same operating system and be able to aquire the same look, feel, and programs available. We could get some real work done in the hardware architecture buisness. Instead of spending all our time on legacy support. I mean seriously when someone buys a new computer, nothing usually gets transfered over but a few datafile. Have a common tranfer interface, and or network backup available. And we can start to move into the next generation. And transmeta will help us all along :) Thanx Linus
  • Can someone clearly explain to me how RedHat is so "user friendly" and "easy"? I tried RH6 (twice in fact) and I can't beleive that this is the distribution that is the flagship of the Linux "World Domination Tour" I prefer back to basics like Stampede and Slackware myself, and have a better time understanding the install process as well. As far as the article that this thread is for, if the guy doesnt know what a kernel is, or what linux is even for, why is he even installing it?
  • I hate when people trash the command line. What do you use in real life...... words? Do you talk to people using a complicated syntax with all kinds of rules? OR Do you use pantomime? Walking around pointing to things to communicate.

  • The story was basically an unfair contest:
    Journalist: I tried something I was unqualified to do and had a hard time.

    To be fair he should also have tried installing
    Win98, BeOS, Bsd, Os2, Plan 9, ... Well at least Win98 on a system running Linux already.

    Granted the installation should be easier for the general user but this was not a comparison story.

    How many general users install their OS? Was that mentioned?

    Did he mention: The computer was supplied with Windows and he never had to install windows?

    Did he mention: You can order computers with Linux preinstalled just like winTel boxen?

    I would call it a slightly unfair article.
    Would you consider a story about a fast food employee attempting to repair a car for the first time and finding it hard a fair story?
  • but i have a feeling that the author knows more about computers than he lets on, but by acting the way he does accomplishes two things:

    1) Prevents the alienation of Lo-Tek readers (remember: CNN and /. have vastly different target audiences).

    2) Squirts in a dose of humor for the more well-informed.

    i just think it's something to consider...

  • Yes, autodetection is your friend. If it can be optionally bypassed, I don't see what's wrong with adding it in.

    I find it fairly pathetic that X can't even run with some decent defaults. You have to run XF86Setup before starting X, or else X won't start *at all*. It should at least start at 640x480x16, as you mentioned, and then inform the user to run XF86Setup if he wants to configure his display beyond what the defaults have set.
  • I just find it amazing that someone who used to program is actually that ignorant of his computer that he had to check what kind of mouse he has.

    I am also upset that he is using Caldera 1.3 and not 2.3 if he's checking out the Linux scene using Caldera 1.3 ... that's like saying... I wanna check out that internet thing so I'm getting MSIE 2.0!

    Afterward I can hear them complain... ugh! the internet stinks... it keeps crashing!
  • He'd have better luck is he tried Redhats install after going thru the kickstart on the web ( [] or trying demolinux ( []..wouldbe been a lot simpler. This guy did it the hard way impressed.
  • Well sure, no one's born knowing Unix, or any other OS, but in the olden days, learning how to use Unix was a separate task from learning how to install and maintain Unix. Your college would have machines running Unix with everything already set up for you. A quick intro to a couple of commands (man, ls, vi or emacs, how to start X if you had X terminals, etc.) and you're on your way. No need to set up networking, printing, X, or any of the other systems that are needed. It was all done for you.

    As you use the system, you're bound to start picking up on how some of the configuration is done. So that by the time Linux was available and you decided you wanted to run it, you already knew a whole lot about Unix.

    In my own case, it was Unix at school (SunOS and NeXT), and an Amiga at home, with GCC and an accompanying suite of Unix utils (including a nice port of csh) that helped me learn Unix. I used Unix for years before I ever had to worry about being my own sysadmin.

    So yeah, sure, everyone starts ignorant. But not everyone had to go from Unix novice to Linux expert overnight. That's gotta be rough, I feel for everyone in that position.
  • But in the meantime he shouldn't be writing articles about it.

    It would be like SportsCenter doing a segment on Astronomy.... they would have NO idea what they are talking about.
  • The command line is not like "real life." In "real life," I can talk to someone using all kinds of variations on English syntax and vocabulary, and that person will understand it. I can say one thing in a million different ways. The command line, on the other hand, demands that you use one particular format for your input. You can't say, "search that file and tell me which lines contain this word." If you don't know how to use grep, you're stuck until you read the documentation.

    A user looking at a graphical search program, on the other hand, will understand instantly what input it needs. Click on the icon for the file you want to search, or type its name in the box. Type your search string in the other box. Click on "search."

    Grep is more powerful, of course, and a user who needs that power will find learning how to use it to be well worth the time. But that does the new user no good when he doesn't need that power. He would spend more time reading the man page than it would take for him to just run the point-and-click application and find what he's looking for. And ultimately, the program that allows the user to finish the job sooner is better suited to the task.

  • by Pyr (18277) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:27PM (#1651577) Homepage
    As roblimo mentioned, it is an old theme.. and most of the stories share something in common.. the author hasn't even tried installing Windows before, much less linux. They've never installed an operating system before yet they feel qualified to say "Linux is hard to install". Hard to install compared to what?

    This same guy would probably have a hard time doing a windows 98 upgrade. NT would probably take all day, just like linux. Linux is (depending on the distro) often easier to install than NT, so it's not fair to say that linux is harder to install.
  • by Stonehand (71085) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:30PM (#1651581) Homepage
    I'm reading something along the lines of, "Ok, it's supposedly installed. Now what?"

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

    So, what do y'all think? Is it better that they be encouraged (just) to read, possibly driving people away; or should they instead be shown a demo, featuring the various apps and so forth?
  • I am not sure I can see any reason for the Linux community to be so worked up about "World Domination" Why do we need everyone and their grandmother to be able to use Linux.

    Call it "economy of scale".

    If you have a Hot New Product (be it software or hardware) being introduced into the Home and Buisness computing marketplace, it will support Windows. Why? Everybody and their grandmother uses it. Most likely your potential customers do too.

    It would be nice if that situation changed. If every other person and their grandmother used Linux, Hot New Products will most likely support Linux too. If it doesn't, there's a good bet that a competative product will. We, as Linux users, get more choices. Choice is good.

    We as professional IT workers could bennifit also. I would love to make my living off supporting Linux platforms. Right now I support Solaris and HPUX systems. My organization's IT budget is amazingly slim. Linux could help us augment our existing environment at a price we could afford. However, the apps we use aren't available in Linux... yet. The developer for our primary app has made some noise about doing a Linux port. Why? Everybody and their boss is interested in it.

    "World Domination" is good for Linux. And one key aspect about Linux' version of Domination lies in its configurability; if you don't like the features that lead to "World Domination", don't use them. Its all about choices. Its all good.

  • by brianvan (42539) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @04:40PM (#1651595)
    Ok, this isn't directly on topic. So sue me.

    This guy tried to install Linux. So did I, about 2 months ago. He knew very little about his computer equipment and was somewhat unprepared. I, on the other hand, was intimately familiar with everything in my system and was extremely prepared. At the end of the day, both of us were in the same place... at the ugly prompt. Sure, being ugly isn't a sin, but being useless IS. At that particular junction, I was forced to boot back into Win98 to read e-mail/burn CDs/web surf/type documents/play games. I can do all of those in Windows, but after 2 months I still cannot do all of those things in Linux. (the read email and web surf things were solved when I got PPP to work in Linux - but I just never knew where to look for getting anything else to happen)

    Linux is not hard to install. It's actually quite simple if you're well prepared. But it's not nice to learn how to be a Linux power user.

    Here's why: In the computer world, there's two kinds of software/UI design: software that's designed by programmers, and software that's designed by professional designers. Linux is the former, Windows is the latter. Windows is much better to look at and deal with, which makes it SEEM easier. Also, everything's easy to find if you know how to look, and in Windows since looking is universally better, finding is also universally better. Finally, there's better tools in Windows for that kind of stuff, tools which are easy and obvious to find. Even though the tools are there in Linux and they are comprehendable, they are damn hard to find and still not entirely as easy to use as their Windows counterparts. Although intelligent programmers who spend hours and hours learning (no one learns how to be a Linux guru in 60 min or even 60 days) are able to get around, most of the humans on the planet don't have the willpower, patience, time, blood, sweat, and tears to put into Linux like the real wizards do. And that's assuming that all humans are as highly intelligent as those big programming brains, which they're unfortunately not. Oh, and anywhere from 5-50 years of intense experience with computers does give some of the linux guys an edge over others.

    Naturally, I knew how to change directories, run certain programs, get around X-Windows, etc. But that was all. God knows I had thousands of programs before me in myriad subdirectories, but as I was walking through the directories I felt like a lost child in a store who kept walking into rooms I wasn't supposed to be in. My biggest problem, however, was the lack of a nice centralized place to go to when I needed to do something and wanted to look through the available programs for something to help me.

    For example: I had to set up PPP. Didn't know how. Read the HOWTO, but it confused the hell out of me (and I have an exteral modem, so configuring it SHOULD have been trivial). Finally a week later, I heard someone mention linuxconf. Then I used that to get PPP to work, so I downloaded Seti@Home. Didn't know how to unzip/untar/un-rpm it.(I didn't know the specific command, and didn't know where I could find it) That took a week to find out too. Then I did, and couldn't figure out how to run it properly. Another two weeks to figure out it needed a chmod. This is for an easily configured program that runs from the prompt! Imagine what it would be like to try and write CDs? Or if I downloaded source that needed compiling or a kernel patch?

    My point? If you show me how to do it, I can figure it out easily. If you don't show me, then I'm not dumb for not knowing. There's too many of you elitist swine out there who think everyone who says they are having a hard time with Linux are against Linux and are the "enemy". I nor the author of the article are the "enemy", yet you damn well treat us like it just because we don't have 50 years to scour our hard drives and man entries for simple commands. Yes, I still want to know how to use it. No, I don't want 50 replies with "go to freshmeat and there's cd writing programs there". Yea there are programs like that on freashmeat. I just don't know which one is best for me. Until I can figure out this stuff easier (not easily, cause a lot of it is a bitch in Windows too) I won't use Linux until I feel comfortable using everything that I need to use that works fine for me in Windows.

    This guy who tried to install Linux is ultimately on our side. He wants to learn. You think that he's dumb because he needs help to learn. But he's not. In the end, if he can never get Linux to work like you can, then he at least can probably write better news articles than you can.
    But I digress... he represents the next big wave of Linux users. They are going to be OKAY installing it (not without pain, but neither is Windows) but clueless on how to get around in it. RTFM is a useless strategy here because:
    1. It's the system that's hard to use and understand (and it does have SERIOUS room for improvement), and RTFM just helps you learn specific things. It doesn't let you "poke around". Well designed tools and tips will help the situation, but it's Unix. It's hard to begin with. Even for geniuses, it takes a while to sink in.
    2. How can you RTFM if you can't FTFM? (Find The Fucking Manual)
    So, a better way of helping people explore will need to be created. That way, people can look around and figure out what they want (or need) to use rather than need help every time a different situation comes up. Until then, if you want Linux to grow past being a tech fad, then you'll cut out the shitty attitude toward anyone who's not the level of Linux Guru that you are.

    If you harbor no malcontent toward those who are seemingly clueless about computers, my apologies for this article... it doesn't apply to you.

  • I definitely have to disagree with your statements. You learn MORE by reading the documentation and working it out on your own. If you were to ask me something, say, "how do I get the files out of this .tar.gz file", I could just say tar zxf filename.tar.gz. And you could do what you're trying to do. But, if I instead just told you to read the tar manpage, you'd learn why the z, x, and f are there. By knowing that z means to treat it as a compressed file, x means to extract files, and f means to read the data from a file rather than a device, you will probably actually REMEMBER it the next time instead of having to ask me or someone else again.

    As far as "information irrelevant to you at the time", this is actually a good thing about reading the documentation yourself. To go back to the tar example, let's say you read the man page and found what options you needed for the task at hand. 2 weeks later, you need to make a tar file. There's a good chance that even if you don't remember the exact syntax to create a tar file, you'll know whereabouts to look in the man page. It's a progressive process...the more documentation you read, the more little bits of knowledge you'll build up without even realizing it. You'll be looking at manpages less and less and using your system better and faster.

    Don't cheat yourself by depending on the minds and skills of others. RTFM, for your own sake.

  • Here, here. I fully agree. For Linux to become the Microsoft killer that a lot of people want it to be means it has to get beyond the server market and on to the desktop in significant numbers. How does that happen? Ease of use, of course. That means hardware autodetection, default drivers, plain english instructions for set up, and other "hand holding" features that will walk the average computer user through the installation process.

    If you want to bypass all the ease of use stuff, have an "expert setup" that will allow you to customize the kernel to your heart's delight, create modules and so on (one of the real strengths of open source software), without all the little help features along the way. That way we can have the best of both worlds.

    Until Linux can address the ease of use issue, it's not going to dominate the world.
  • If you system hard drive has no partitions on it and if your computer can boot directly from a CD-ROM drive (either ATAPI 1.2 compatible IDE or SCSI connected to Adaptec host adapter), you can literally install the full or OEM installation version of Windows 98 directly from a CD-ROM boot. Try THAT with Linux.

    I have. It works. Has worked for some time with RedHat, at least.

    I think the BEST thing about Windows 98 is the fact Microsoft _has_ heard the complaints about Windows 95 installation and has done something about it. On most modern computers, I can have Windows 98 installed and running in about 45 minutes. If you're not used to UNIX, installing Linux will take at least twice as long.

    The only difficult steps in installing RedHat Linux (other distributions can vary in difficulty) are: partitioning the disk (still difficult with Windows) and selecting the video adapter (can also be a pain in Windows if your adapter is not auto-detected, which seems to be about half the time). If you do know your video adapter, RedHat will ask you if you want to automatically start X. If you do, it will set up xdm to run at startup, so you never even see a command prompt.

    My last Linux install took about 45 min...but that was because I was doing an remote FTP install from THAT with Windows. :-D

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page []

  • by wannabe (90895) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @04:43PM (#1651609)
    .to screw in a lightbulb. Answer: they'd have to live in the dark because noone could give anyone else any advice on how to fix it, therefore noone would ever learn how to change the lightbulb. The attitude expressed by some of the posters in this situation amazes me to no end. Constantly belittling these people. At least the reported tried to install the operating system. As a new user to Linux it amazes me that older users would have such a pompus attitude to a person in this situation...for any reason. I've installed NT, 98, 95, 3.1 etc, etc., and must admit that with minor bumps I found my first full Linux install pretty easy, just different. If I were to have had a problem though I would like to think that there are people out there that would help and not look at my email client or my browser info or whatever else and reject me because the only computer that's currently hooked up has win98 on it. Look around people, Linux is something special as in it's an old concept reborn in new technology. If y'all can't grow up and learn to be supportive and helpful of someone who at least tries for whatever reason, ya might as well go find someother operating system to worship because Linux won't survive much less grow.
  • Ok.. I don't think this guy is in any place to say "Linux is hard to install" he doesn't know crap about computers (it's not that hard to figure out that the card the monitor is pluged into is the video card) and from my understanding has never installed any other os. I'm 15 years old.. and i had no problem installing Linux on sevral difrent Computers.. . I will admit that to the "webUser" (users who only use a computer for word processing/email/web) Linux can seem dificult.. But what about win98? the only Reason it was easyer for them is because it came PREINSTALLED. these people are the type of people who want to run linux to make themselfs look like a hacker or a computer wiz.. . well, right now.. linux is not the right os for those people.. . linux is a powerful network/server os w/ alot of featurs and stabelity.. . not some AOL style user interface.. made for only email and web browsing.. . althoue companies like RedHat and SuSE are makeing Linux much easyer to install and configure.. there's still the fact that people just don't want to see a prompt and type 'startx' to get into a gui.. these are the type of people who would be beter off w/ an imac.. Linux is not some "fad" it's an os that was designed to offer the power of the unix os for the pc.. and it's exceeded that expectation.. Linux is getting more user freindly.. but do we really want it to be? when it gets to the point that we need to click throw 20 questions to delete a file or hear a cute little message whenever we have new mail.. or even see a nice little animation when copying files.. then it becomes annoying.. and loses some of it speed and power.. people were forced to learn how to use a mouse and how to use windows.. why cant they learn linux and like it for what it is.. if they want a "computer game" of an os they can stick with windows and suffer the countless lockup's and data loss's.. or they can do a little work and learn a bit about there computer and linux and be rewarded with a much more powerful os.. if i can learn it they can as well.. i spent a grate deal of time learning linux.. and most of them spent even more learning windows.. they just want a free windows.. thats what it all comes down to. anyone with a little common sence and a bit of knolage can install linux. i love linux the way it is.. i admit.. there are somethings that i would want to change.. or add.. but thats reserved for the years when i decide to make myself my own distro ;) for now.. my hat goes off to SuSE for provideing one of the Best overall distro's of linux i've seen.
  • Having started out with slackware 3.somethingorother, I'd like to point out that Slackware is probably one of the most difficult distros to set up. It took me a long time (more than a year) to get to the point where I could set up slackware on most boxen in less than 4 hours and have it be right. Then I switched to SuSE due to the fact that I needed a copy of Linux fast one day and it was the cheapest ($30) thing I could get my hands on. I was amazed at how easily it went in; it was almost on par with Windows. (Not quite, but close.) Thus, as much as I love it, I don't think Slackware is really a fair distro to judge ease of use by...
  • by Tino (1418) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @05:04PM (#1651642) Homepage
    I've installed Linux, Windows 95, 98, and NT (among other OSes), both on computers originally fitted with another OS and on vigrin machines.

    Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it isn't -- with all OSes, with different mixes of hardware, etc. I've had Windows NT install with no tears (okay, with few tears), and I've spent days struggling to get Linux installations working worth a damn. On different occasions, I've had the opposite experience. My current theory is that it's the phase of the moon.

    We should try to get a major news organization to attempt installing Windows NT on a machine that has Linux pre-installed. Send 'em the machine and a shrinkwrapped copy of NT Workstation. I'll even volunteer to provide the machine and the copy of Windows to CNN if they promise to try to return them safely.

    The reality is that despite the efforts of various Linux vendors to change this, no operating system is simple to install for someone with little or no computer knowledge, and that it's more confusing still for them to install an OS over another, pre-existing one. It's about time that that fact gets reported in the press, rather than just that "Linux is hard to install".

  • The reason we need to focus on world domination is that the world is full of people who would choose a free product over a grossly overpriced one...

    iff they could use it as easily as or with only slightly more difficulty than Windows.

    Why would anyone pay $1.50 for a quarter-pound hamburger when you can get almost 4 times that amount of meat and bread at the store and make hamburgers for yourself and three friends, exactly the way you wanted them?

    Some folks will answer, "I won't pay that much. If I want a hamburger, I'll make one, regardless of hassle, just so I can get extra onions and no mayo without having to say 'extra onions and NO mayo' to the counter clerk four times." These are Linux users at heart.

    Others will say, "I don't want to dine: I want to eat, and fast, so I can get to the movies!" These are Windows users.

    Now, if you (warm-hearted open-sourcer that you are) made burgers, and recalling the adage that two can use a kernel as cheaply as one, invited your friend to drop by on his way to the movies, and have a burger with you...
    He'd take the free burger(install Linux), because it was cheap and easy.

    Don't get me wrong--this is not a free beer/free speech mix-up... just an analogy to explain why we need to work on ease-of-use.

    b.t.w., I'm a Windows user who recently uninstalled Linux because I didn't have time to spend maintaining it. I re-installed Windows in just under three hours. Hate me, but I'll re-install when Linux is easy like Windows.
  • >Geeks don't want Linux to be easy to use. They don't want the masses to be able to use it.

    The negative traits you attribute to "geeks" are more the province of the flaming idiots who inhabit the lunatic fringe of the religious wars between operating systems. Most of us just want everyone to be able to choose, to have access to a meaningful variety of choices, and to be able to make informed decisions. (Ignorance can be cured, but stupidity is forever.) If Linux is made easier to use without sacrificing its power, efficiency and flexibility, I have no objection, and I don't believe any rational person would have an objection.

  • Looks like what he's actually doing is installing pre-configured Windows98 disk images, so if his systems are all bleeding edge in exactly the same way, it should all fit fine.


  • I thought that was:

    "Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll drink himself silly all weekend long."



  • by Booker (6173) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @07:31PM (#1651667) Homepage
    Well, hell, it's probably way to late for anyone to actually read this comment, but does anyone remember the Lothar Project []? It's a hardware autodetection package that Mandrake is working on. It was mentioned on Slashdot a while ago. The hope was that geeks would read about it, and help.

    Maybe you should do that now?

  • by DragonHawk (21256) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @05:18PM (#1651673) Homepage Journal
    Linux docs are, to be kind, less than wonderful.

    I actually like them. I hate it when a manual for, say, a word processor, starts out by talking about the mouse and menus, like I have never used a computer before. What a waste of space that could be devoted to better covering the product I purchased.

    They make too many assumptions about the background of the reader.

    This is, perhaps, true. While I think manuals should avoid duplication of effort, I think they should also state what you are expected to know already, and point you in the right direction if you do not. Linux HOWTOs sometimes do this, but often do not. Point.

    I have yet to find a good presentation of disk partitioning strategies, for example.

    Linux does have a "Partition" mini-HOWTO, which does a good job of explaining it all, but it is not for the faint-of-heart. Most new users will need to read through it twice (at least).

    Unfortunately, if you want to setup your own partitions (required to dual-boot), there is no magic bullet that will make your life easier. This is a fact of life, and there is nothing Linux can do about it.

    Distros which use the RPM installation offer only one safe option: Install Everything.

    Incorrect. One of the key design goals of RPM is dependency management. If package A depends on package B being installed, and you attempt to install just A, the installer will not move on unless you agree to install the dependencies.

    Red Hat, in particular, has an installation process which is easily fouled by the user making an unexpected response.

    I have never had this problem, but I have no doubt that you have. Installing an OS is generally rather a difficult process. Sometimes things go wrong which break the auto-install. Red Hat usually falls back to a menu at that point, at least. Windoze locks up the machine.

    X server installation and setup is a very interesting source of problems.

    I think that it is universally agreed that configuring X is about the least fun thing you can do on Linux, with the possible exception of writing your own file.

    Plug-N-Play monitors are starting to be supported, but the fact of the matter is, you pretty much need OEM support for video setup to be easy, be it Linux or Windoze.

    For example: It took me about 10 seconds to get my Samsung SyncMaster 900p 19" monitor working under Linux. Why so quick? Because Samsung posted mode-lines for XFree86 on their website, bless 'em.

    The difference between Linux and Windows at installation time is that Windows (mostly) does a better job of handling the routine setup issues.

    I disagree completely. What Windoze has that Linux does not is OEM support. If every computer company under the sun committed to supporting Linux the way they do Microsoft, then your problems would be solved. Since they do not, however, you are limited to the small set of hardware which has been figured out by third-parties.

    Documentation is my biggest issue. All the Linux users insist that it's anywhere from adequate to great, but those of us who didn't cut our teeth on *nix know it just ain't so.

    I really have to disagree here, as well. Have you ever looked at what comes in the box of Windows9X for docs? A 60 page booklet that explains how to use the mouse! Please! Linux's documentation may suck, but Windows' is much worse!

    It is not documentation, online help, auto-installers, or other stuff that makes Windows easy and/or Linux hard. It is OEM support:

    • OEMs generally install Windows for you.
    • If they do not do that, then they check their system configuration to make sure Windows installs cleanly before they ship it to you.
    • They provide device drivers for Windows to Microsoft, so Microsoft can include them on the Windows CD.

    If the OEMs did all that for Linux, Linux would install much smoother. I know; I was careful to pick supported hardware when building my system, and Linux installed like a dream.

    Windows98 will not boot at all. Despite weeks of hacking, it appears to be a fundamental conflict with the OS. Microsoft agrees.

    In the end, it all comes down to OEM support.
  • Remember that at least he had the guts to try and install linux. Most just dismiss it as "geek only" and are done with it. Granted there were a *few* mistakes in his article, but he isn't a computer genious. And most of his install problems could have been subverted with a knowledgable friend poking their head over the cubicle wall, but hey, the best way to learn is by doing.
  • ...until the entire OS becomes usable by the average Joe. I don't know any non-technical person using Linux. Linux GUIs don't manage the machine for the user. Ever seen a non-technical person try and install a piece of software on a Linux machine? I haven't - they didn't even get that far.

    Every non-technical person I know that decided to jump on the bandwagon and try to install Linux had trouble. It never goes smoothly. The installs ask questions that novices don't understand. And those that make it through (usually with help from me or another engineer-type) give up a couple of days later. So I say try and head them off at the pass, keep the install difficult, so that they don't waste a week more of their time getting more frustrated and learning to hate Linux!

    I love Linux - because it rewards my technical abilities with power. The fact that it is not Micros~1 Windows has much less to do with it.

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

    Of course, I'd like to think I've progressed past that stage today. Now all my downtime is related to hardware problems (says sadly as newly fried 8.5 GB HD sits on desk uselessly).
  • I wrote a story like the one mentioned here. check it out, but excuse the rest of the the place, its' und^H^H^Hnot done.

    Go here []
  • No, I trust a good hardware specification and electronic engineering practices MUCH more than I would trust the general state of software production practices in the computer segment of the computing market.

    And you trust folks writing BIOS code to act like electronic engineers rather than like software engineers "in the computer segment of the computing market"?

  • Go easy on this writer. Ho or She made an honest go at doing an install and lets not forget how much fun we have had with all the other Linux newbies who did just that and got slashdoted with _ADVICE_ and very little if any pure flames.

    I.e. RobLimo started this way and I was one of the people holding his hand from 4,000 miles away. He has graduated to Slashdot host now. As has Katz. An interesting tidbit is that RobLimo had pretty much this attitude when he did his 1st butched install and I thought he was a kid ( 19/20 ) and said as much ( in a nice way ;).
  •'s [] a link to paper I wrote about a day I decided to install a couple of OSes. Please excuse the rest of the site, revolution in progress.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They guy's story is actually rather positive. Though he seems to know next to nothing about computers (he had to ask someone if he had a video card), he still managed to get Linux installed.
  • My view is it's not in Linux becouse it's not reliable. Thats really a running theam with Linux, not supporting unreliable technology. Linux dosn't do FS compression while Windows dose becouse it's not safe but it is neat.
    Of course thats also why Windows and Linux are for two totally diffrent users, Linux users stress reliability Windows users want neat toys.
    On a PC autodetection is more of a "neat toy" than a useful and reliable technology sence it dosn't work a lot of the time.
    There are horror storys of people fighting Windows over trying to get a sound card driver installed. I find adding new hardware to Linux much more fun than installing hardware on Windows becouse Linux dosn't try to do it automaticly. Linux dosn't go "Ohhh you have ABC multifunction data transport card" when you have a "ZXY soda machine addapter".
    To be fair Microsoft is TRYING to make Windows user friendly and "Plug and play" is part of that but the PC wasn't originally a plug and play system and the PC plug and play support is a joke.
    To do this right the system has to be designed for it from the start like TIs Explorer and the Mac II line where plug and play ment the driver was built into the card.. not that you couldn't use an optomised driver but if you were a clueless newbe you didn't have to.
    In short it's just one of those legacy issues. Any PC OS is "Hard to install" excluding maybe PC/MS-Dos before hard disk support was added and CP/M 86 again before HD support. After that it all heads down hill.
  • I think that was the one I tried installing on my ThinkPad about a year ago. It was horrible.

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

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


  • Linux install sucks. Everybody knows that. Why is this news?

    Because a CNN journalist, installing a age old version of Caldera OpenLinux finally figured this out. He's so smart!

    I think that Windows 3.1 was a pain to install also. Big deal. Well, after he recuperates maybe he'll try the latest version.

    Of course, these people don't realize that people *don't* install their own OS. I don't drop a clean PC on my grannies counter and give here the CD and tell her, "Pop it in, there's nothing to it!" In fact, I even have to help my friends who are relativily computer literate to install Windows the *second* and *third* times and even after that.

    No, consumers *always* buy a computer with the OS preloaded. How long well it take for people to realize that? If this guy wanted to do a real comparison between the ease of use of a Linux and Windows desktop, he should have gone to or, and ordered a PC.

    What he did was to "evaluate" the ease of comptuer illiterate's in getting into a computer field. Hopefully no one was too surprised at his answer, it's too difficult. It's supposed to be. Learning something new takes time. Believe me, I'm not going to go out this Saturday with a new transmission and a "Replacing Your Tranmission for Dummies" book, and hope to instantly become a mechanic. Niether can I expect to become a medical specialist by just reading "1,2,3 easy step to doing a heart tranplant". People should get over the idea that they can become a computer expert by just sitting done with a copy of Linux, or an MSCE Exam Cram and spending one afternoon on it. It just won't happen.

    But this guy I think was looking at it from a consumer point of view. And I'll therefore ask, do you know one consumer who has installed Windows 9X unassisted? How about Linux? Consumers shouldn't be expected to install their own OS, and that's that. Bill Gates knows it, who don't these journalists get the clue?

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

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

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

    Oh well.
  • Windows 98 is indeed much, much improved over 95 for installation. It's certainly easier to install than any Linux distribution I've ever installed. God help you if you don't have a 98 startup disk handy (if you can't boot from the CD), though, or if you need to re-partition the disk, or anything else out of the ordinary. Then you start getting odd messages like "Incorrect DOS version" and such, and you start reaching for the antacids.

    Windows NT installation is truly hell, though -- and face it, NT is the real parallel to Linux -- even when everything goes perfectly. Go have lunch while DOS sloooowly copies just abour everything off the CD onto the hard drive (don't have DOS handy or a disk partition that DOS can read? Sorry!) and then actually begins to install the OS. Oh, and it waits for you to say "OK" several times while doing this, so you'd better eat lunch at your desk.

    In fairness, NT 4.0 *is* getting long in the tooth, and it appears that Windows 2000 is a lot better about this.

  • Exactly why did he try installing Caldera 1.3, when the current version is 2.3, I wonder. Yes, we all had a hard time installing linux the first time, but we didn't write articles on CNN about it. Total newbies can go for a preinstalled system, the way they do with windows. Even here in India I know dealers who preinstall linux.
  • I think it's just as naive to jump all over the
    poor author for saying it was hard to install as
    it was for him to try installing it without
    knowing what he was doing. I'm probably beating a dead horse here, but to those of you that are
    part of the development process, it would behoove
    you to not dismiss people like this guy out of hand. Yeah, yeah, I know, elitism this and we
    don't want the morons that, but if you plan on
    World Domination, you have to learn to convince
    the unwashed masses. And sometimes even smart people aren't adept at computer use. Imagine that!
    Different kinds of intelligence! Anyway, just think twice before you jump down some Linux
    newbie's throat. We all had to begin somewhere. Let the moderation as 'Redundant' begin!
  • Let's assume that we want Linux to achieve World Domination(tm). In effect, we want to displace Microsoft.

    How do we do this? By making the best software? Hah. Pull the other one. The best does not always win, especially when the mediocre has a stranglehold on the market.

    There are at least two ways Linux can inflitrate the desktop market: (1) display Microsoft as the OEM OS, and (2) get people to defect over once they get sick of Windows, or see The Light(tm).

    Now, (1) doesn't look very possible. MS will shoot on sight anything that looks like a competitor.

    (2) is much more possible, however, and the key to it is simple: **MAKE LINUX EASIER TO INSTALL THAN WINDOWS**. They pop in the $5 CD, Tux waves at them and looks for their hardware, and poof, X is up and running with replacements for all of their Win9x apps.

    This is not the current state of events. I'm not a Linux guy, for various reasons. I tried to help a friend install RedHat 6.$latest. He has some duct-taped suped-up video card. X ran at 150x150. I could see the GNOME toolbar and part of a menu. Not fun.

    Now, for a couple of computer geeks hanging out after-hours in the local computer store, this wasn't a big deal. Now imagine your mother faced with this problem.

    So, in order to make inroads into the desktop market, Linux needs to be the drool-proof choice. It needs to be as easy to install as a small application.

    Now, why do we want Linux to take over the desktop market? Because power users should not have to suffer idiots. Hardcore computer people shouldn't have to put up with the closed-source/closed-mind/shortsighted mindset common to most computer companies. If the users change, the companies have to, or they go out of business.

    How do you kill bloatware? How do you stop insecure server software? You get people used to fast, lean applications, and robust server apps. Then the crap will stand out like crap in a rose garden, not crap in a shit exhibit.

    This doesn't mean dumbing Linux down. This means making the amount of rope variable, from "Enough To Power A Yo-Yo" to "Enough To Hang Yourself From The Empire State Building". Start new users off with Tux The Magical Penguin's Guide To Linux, and they can work their way out of the GUI if needed. Most people won't. Power users could always click on the "skip the bullshit" button and get dropped into the real thing.

    But *please* don't keep that elitest "make the users learn" attitude. If you really want people to learn, make it easy for them to learn. If you just want a clubhouse, keep at it.
  • by konstant (63560) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:37PM (#1651744)
    If he finds Linux is more difficult to install than Windows, it's not because he's stupid. It's because Windows is superior.

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

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

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

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

  • I agree, an interactive tutorial covering the basics would help tremendously. Also, it might be helpful if there were a team of people dedicated completely to hardware autodetection, so Linux can be installed without the person having much knowledge of the details of their hardware (just the basics, i.e. "I know I have a video card made by ATI, but that's all I know"). Something like what Windows 95 does when you install it, except no thrashing of the hard drive and lock-ups (thought as I understand it, due to the way the PC architecture was designed lock-ups are inescapeable in auto-detection).
  • by geon (7807) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:38PM (#1651756)
    Don't start flaming the guy. Please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Cheers, Geon

  • by toolie (22684)
    I never had any problem installing Linux. Of course, I was so paranoid of screwing up my system that I read the entire LDP Installing Linux twice. If people would just learn to read the documentation available before doing anything they don't understand, life would be so much easier. Oh, and we would quit hearing "you have to be a programmer/hardware/geek type to even begin to understand this".

    -- Not a programmer
  • Back in my day there was only one distribution. Slackware, and it was poorly maintained. I remember my first install of kernel 1.1 on a 486 notebook with no floppy. I used a cross compiler and It took me two weeks to figure out how to get it on without a floppy drive and a couple more to do all the compiles.

    These days I can have Linux up and running in 20 minutes with either a RedHat CD (yes you can boot directly to the CD) or a single floppy and a decent network connection (try that with Windows 98).

    I'll freely admit that RedHat's install program needs work. For instance I installed on a machine with a 3Com card on it that is supported by the 3c59x driver, but I didn't know that and the menus don't list the supported cards. I also recomend that anyone who thinks 98 is easier to install try it sometime. The last time I tried it it took 3 hours and asked me at least as many questions as RedHat does, the fact that it had a pretty VGA interface didn't change anything, I still had to use text forms to select things.

    Also, I take offense to the fact that this CNN guy says that he, now that he is experienced at it, can install 98 in 45 minutes, but his first attempt at an old version of Linux took him much longer. That's bogus. Someone experienced at installing Linux will rarely take more than half an hour. Someone with no experience with Windows will take about as long with it as he took with Linux.

  • To add to that, the author's acquaintance who snidely remarked, "You're installing Linux?" when the author showed the tiniest bit of ignorance reminds me of those who have nothing but scorn for anyone who knows less than they do. With friends like that, who needs enemies? The author might just have been writing a news story, but they were also being courageous and curious. No wonder newbies get frightened off. It's not the software, it's the attitude of the loud minority that pimp it and their own insecurities in an endless cycle of DickSizing Wars(tm).
  • RPM may handle dependencies, but that doesn't make things work. Install everything, and the boot goes well. Be selective, and things hang the boot for long periods. I clocked one particular fail-over at over 8 minutes. This is NOT what a newbie needs. In-depth problem solving is an acquired skill. When you're starting, you need something which works, with a minimum of tweaking.

    The LDP needs coherent management. It currently suffers from what appears from the outside to be do-nothing management. Linux is good, but it could be great.

    Your opinions on documentation are your own. Mine likewise do not yield to your own. We agree to disagree. This is not a comparative issue. Windows docs suck, too. But that does not make the Linux docs acceptable.

    Whether the support is from OEMs or MS, the result remains: Windows installation mostly handles adapters better. When installation is unsuccessful, no one cares whose fault it is. Linux wears the black eye, or the distro does. Not the OEM. That's life; that's reality.

    I never buy computers pre-assembled or installed. I configure my own, and have for many years. Windows is easier to install. That's based on many installations. It's not good, and I don't like it, and yes, I have a battery of tricks I have learned painfully, but even so, without resorting to those tricks, it's still easier.

    I use only components which are well supported. I have pre-checked the claims of the distros, and all of my components and peripherals are claimed to be supported. Of course, that doesn't speak to how well supported they may be.

    I have installed (successfully) on my machines: Win95, Win98, WinNT, Caldera, Mandrake, Red Hat 6.0, and BeOS. I multiple boot, and I use the boot manager which comes with BeOS (simpler and more sensible than most, and trivial to install and set up.

    My preference? If allthings were equal (and they never are) I prefer BeOS. It installs in just over 5 minutes, and has more of what I want than any of the others, and good docs, besides. (I include 3rd party docs as acceptable alternatives, in all cases.)
  • >

    Ok, here goes. I just HAPPEN to have a Caldera 1.3 manual, RIGHT HERE in front of me. Let me describe it to you. It is about 3/4 inch thick, with instructions in English, Deutsch, French, Italian, and Spanish. EACH section is 60ish pages long. The ENGLISH liscense is on page 55 of the ENGLISH section. Guess where she was looking? Seem so smart now?

  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @09:16PM (#1651798)
    I just find it amazing that someone who used to program is actually that ignorant of his computer that he had to check what kind of mouse he has.

    This brings back to mind the quotes concerning "public trust" of traditional journalism and said jouralist qualifications. This guy's qualifications?

    I did some minor programming as a software troubleshooter in the 1980s before I turned to teaching statistics and then technology journalism.

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

    No knowledge of contemporary PCs. And he's a tech journalist. Now THATs funny.

  • by Monty Worm (7264) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:43PM (#1651811) Journal
    I remember having similar sort of troubles adding hardware to my Win98 PC (all the software I have is Windows based. I use my PC mostly for gaming, and Linux support lags way behind.).

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

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

  • by Rahga (13479) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:46PM (#1651826) Homepage Journal
    An eye-catching topic, but slightly sarcastic one too.
    With support from friends who know linux and can walk you through the installation, or if you just happen to be a natural-born computer person, linux can be for you. But, it's all in what you want to use linux for and where you want it to take you. Nobody is forcing you to use Linux. If you don't like it, then go back to Windows hell :)
    Yes, Linux is free, and that's great, but it's not something that you should even take as a factor at first in whether or not it's right for you. The fact that it's free makes it a great choice for those who already use it and want to develop for it. You have the power to improve and to contribute, and that, above all, is the main reason that Linux is free.
    If you want a great server, Linux is for you. If you want a reliable, mission-critical OS, Linux is for you. If you want to use one of Linux's many tools and applications, or just want to get away from Windows, or develop new software on an open operating system, Linux is for you. If you want to become more productive, put time into learning linux and how to put it's powerful tools to use.
    Linux is NOT for you if it's going to make you look cool. Linux is not for you if you can't accept the fact that it's not perfect either. Linux is not for you if you do not want to put forth any work into making it into a more perfect OS. And linux is not for you if your definition of a "contribution to humanity" is yet another bitchsession about how the world doesn't revolve around you.
  • He might have had more success if he read the documentation and installer help before screwing around.

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

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

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

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

    -- Moondog
  • If my hardware is going to be reliably auto-detected it will be done so at the BIOS level.

    I.e., you trust the code written by the BIOS vendor more than you trust the code written by the OS supplier (which isn't necessarily Microsoft...)?

    Those same facilities can be and are exploited by any other PC OS, including Linux.

    ...although the Linux on my machine (Debian Slink) doesn't, out of the box, manage to handle the plug-and-play ISA soundcard on my box (no, I have no interest in devoting a PCI slot to a sound card).

    Another PC OS - which doesn't come from Redmond - does manage to recognize and support the card, however.

  • by Hobbex (41473) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:49PM (#1651845)
    If I were Caldera this article would bother me greatly. After all, he bases the article on an old version of OpenLinux, and then recommends people to use Redhat or stick with Windows.

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

    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • Installing a standard installation of Red Hat or debian (haven't tried any others) or FreeBSD is more or less exactly as difficult (or easy once you've seen it before, or even know what you're doing) as installing Windows NT4 from scratch, which in turn is easier and smoother (imo) than windows 95 (haven't tried '98). The only problem is, windows comes pre-installed and mostly preconfigured, the other OS-es don't. This guy would have had the same trouble and would have had to answer the same questions when installing Windows NT, or windows 95 from scratch.
  • (side note: my suspicion is, given the drawing, that many are using the wrong pronoun... but anyways...)

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

    * It might be nice if the installation, in one of the very first screens, describes what information will be asked (like network foo, video stuff, etc).
  • It is not merely a question of whether Linux is easy or Linux is difficult in some ablsolute sense.

    As Einstein said: "Things should be made as simple as possible - but not more so."

    Bill Gates does very well selling Excel, and I would love to see my mother work that.

    The point is: to what extent are we burdening the user with Mickey Mouse issues that advance no real purpose. These are good, if you want to establish and maintain some sort of monopoly of Linux expertise and exclude outsiders. But then, you are no different from Gates, you just want to establish a different sort of monopoly.

    Take regular expressions, for example. By their nature, they are complex. Nobody's mother can do them. But do you need a different set of rules for each program that uses them? What purpose does that serve - other than to make life difficult and to create a subsidy for those who have mastered the arcane details?

    And why does every command have to be some arcane soundbite? What is wrong with plain English?

    It's stuff like this that needs to be gotten rid of.

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

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

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

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

    mmmm, isn't nostalgia great?
  • by the_tsi (19767) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:51PM (#1651855)
    Of course, the day will come when Talking Barbie says "Installing Linux is hard!" and both computer activists and womens' rights activists beat up Mattel.

  • by fireproof (6438) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:52PM (#1651865) Homepage
    Today I decided to take the plunge. I'm going to try to install Windows 98. I don't know my video card from my mouse pad, and I have a hard time doing that "point and click" thing, but I'll do it anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by aheitner (3273) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:54PM (#1651872)
    Have you ever tried to install Windows from scratch on a computer (Win95, win31 was a pleasant breeze as long as you had the disks on a network. We used to set up Win31 machines with scripts in like 2minutes each)?

    It's a royal pain in the ass.

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

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

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

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

    Face it. You think windows is easy because you buy computers with it already installed. It's way more of a nightmare than Linux. At least someone who knows hardware and Linux can install Linux quite easily. I'm an extremely experienced windows user, and I can't necessarily make windows work right.
  • by -stax (34630) <> on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @02:57PM (#1651881)
    personally, i feel that the best quote one can garner from this article, and the one that MOST all of us should pay attention to is this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • RPM may handle dependencies, but that doesn't make things work. Install everything, and the boot goes well. Be selective, and things hang the boot for long periods.

    Thereby implying that not all the dependencies were met, which takes us back to the point. Your argument is bogus for proper RPMs.

    Yes, back in the days of Red Hat 4.0, sendmail, amd, or other things could hang at boot if they did not like what they saw. This was, in fact, caused by installing everything as often as not, because a service would be installed to do such-and-such, and fail trying to do it at boot. These were bugs, and they have been fixed.

    Red Hat has worked out the bugs W.R.T. dependencies and boot scripts, and they finally realized that installing a service does not always mean it should be started at boot.

    I have installed RHL 6.0 in full, selective, or minamalist configurations, and I have not had a single problem with hangs at boot. Your information is old.

    The LDP needs coherent management.

    They are well aware of this, and are taking steps to fix it.

    Linux is good, but it could be great.

    I am not saying things are perfect; far from it. As I say below, the problem is, you are blaming the wrong thing.

    This is not a comparative issue.

    Windows installation mostly handles adapters better.

    If this is not a comparative issue, then why do you keep comparing Linux to Windows? If you want to take Linux on its own, then fine. If you want to compare it to Windows, that is fine, too. But do not compare it to Windows, and then dodge the reply.

    Linux wears the black eye, or the distro does. Not the OEM. That's life; that's reality.

    You are perfectly correct here. My point was that you were jumping up and down and pointing at Linux, when the problem lies with OEMs, not Linux itself. If you want to point fingers, point at your hardware vendor who is not supporting Linux. Linux is practically helpless without their support. I find it completely amazing that it has come as far as it has with practically no OEM support.

    I never buy computers pre-assembled or installed... Windows is easier to install.

    I heard you the first time when you talked about this. You are missing my point. OEMs make sure their stuff works with Windows. They do not do so for Linux.

    Yes, if everything goes right, then Windows is easy. The same applies for Linux. The problem is that because few OEMs support Linux, everything goes right for Linux far less often then for Windows. Blaming Linux is not the answer.

    Furthermore, when things go wrong with Windows, you are generally dead in the water. You get useless error messages like "Windows protection error" or "Cannot start Explorer -- Reinstall Windows". If Linux has a problem during install, I can usually fix the problem and move on. Windows prohibits that.

    I have pre-checked the claims of the distros, and all of my components and peripherals are claimed to be supported.

    Now there you may well have a legit complaint. I do not have data on how accurate distribution compatability lists are. I just know that I looked for good equipment that was praised as Linux friendly, and Linux worked perfectly.
  • by Guy Harris (3803) <> on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @03:00PM (#1651892)
    That said, I think it's both more fun and more productive to A) expect to meet a computer halfway

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

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

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

    Or, as Alfred North Whitehead said:

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

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

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

  • by LL (20038) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @03:16PM (#1651898)
    {Parody mode on of original []}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    {Parody mode off}

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


  • I can install Linux just fine. I can install Solaris just fine. But installing Windows is another story. I'm not sure if it windows, or people creating crap for windows. I still can't get a driver for my sound card. (the manufacturer won't give it out), and the major vendor I bought the thing from doesn't give it out. So by following the logic of all the people who hate linux, if my sound card doesn't autodetect during windows install, then windows sucks right? Oh ya.. and windows did not detect the modem either.... so does that make windows suck even more? On a brighter note, installing redhat on my alpha, everything was detected. :)
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @03:03PM (#1651904)
    Fair warning, minor rant coming up.

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

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


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

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

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

  • Actually I install Linux all the time. It's pretty easy (for me). Yes the first time I installed linux I had trouble (Slackware on floppies) but I learned how to do it. I also have (and still have) trouble installing Windows. But that is because I usually don't install Windows often.

    So I think this installing of Windows and Linux comparison is quite off. If you are use to installing Windows then yes it is easy. If you are use to installing Linux, that is easy to. As I have noted in an earlier post, I installed RedHat via ftp (try that with Windows) and the only problem I had was to find a mirror that didn't have the anonymous users maxed out.

    I recommend you install a more recent copy, which is more likely to include drivers for unusual hardware like yours.

    Funny, I usually say the same thing when I hear people installing old versions of Linux (say Caldera 1.3)

    Steven Rostedt

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

    Why do newbies need your forgiveness? Have they committed a crime against you, specifically, or against the community in general? The answer, of course, is NO. Newbies who incur your annoyance are doing only that - annoying you. They are people sharing the same virtual space as yourself but without the skills to move as quickly or as adeptly. In that sense they're kind of like bikers or pedestrians or even new drivers - except luckily, newbies can't cause traffic accidents. You have a choice in your reaction to them. You can blast the horn, give them the finger, or yell at them to get out of the crosswalk. Or you can be a polite citizen and be patient or help the little old lady across the street.

    At the very least, I'm asking you to ignore them, because unless we WELCOME new members to our community, it will DIE. Not everyone was born knowing how to use computers and people who are making the effort to learn deserve patience. Even if they go to the help channel to ask their question instead of leafing through an intimidating manual (what a crime).
  • Actually, he has a point there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I do hope that once Borland gets c++ builder out for linux, developers will start to realize the benefits of a gui-based configuration system (designed by gui designers, not engineers!!!).
  • by hunterotd (45809) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @03:05PM (#1651917) Homepage
    even a clueless newbie canb usually get it installed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And fer chrissakes, the warning about XF86 autoprobe damaging hardware really isn't necessary, is it? Sure, it's correct, but friggin' DirectX autoprobes and you don't see it warning anyone of peril. We're such pedants, us Linux folk.
  • I've been using linux for about 6 years... I'm no expert at it, certainly not in this circle, but it is what I develop on, and use for 10+ hours a day. I've built and installed linux on many boxes, and I've had trouble more times than not.

    The point is, the author is correct, to the average computer user, this is not the easiest task. The installation DOES requier that you know what hardware you have installed. But more than that... my generic ethernet card installs as ne2k-pci, my adaptec scsi card as aic-7000... what's that all about... my tnt2 is a riva 128..

    Point is, getting linux up and running is a headache to more than a few people. Installation programs bail out with cryptic error messages, package and program descriptions read like a foreign lanugage textbook. It's not about cramming features in anymore. The platform is well ahead of the next best thing, the software can do anything, and it's getting better every day. The problem is that the audience is expanding.

    My mother can't tell the difference between the TI typewriter and her PC, but I've seen her install windows, ms office, type up a report and print it out in under a few hours. I shudder to think what decisions she'd have to make configuring the printer port to use a postscript filter, or configuring the sound card.

    So the suggestion I humbly offer is that the error messages be decoded into normal speech, the installation programs given detailed descriptions to each of their options (not only what the choice is, but when to pick it, when not to pick it, and what happens after you do). Also, programs need to behave in a more intelligent manner when dealing with errors. Instead of bombing out to the console when my X server can't find one font server or font, it should move on, make a substitution, etc.

    And if all of this can be done already, that's great, but it should be done by default, or it should be made perfectly clear up front which button to push to get it.


    Now if someone can tell me how i can get ssh and ncftp3 to appear back as options in my debian package manager, i can continue work... one day they were there, the next day, gone...

  • Well, I have to admit - I havn't been using Linux for *that* long at the console, so I was totally lost when I first even thought of installing Linux. BUT, I took my time.. and planned my moves over about 2 weeks. I read lots and lots of documents written by various people. Sure they were way over my head, sure they had bad grammer, sure they didn't tell me step by step what to do but they certainley gave me a clue.

    I think that these journalists are looking for a high-end OS that has a high-end setup program. It doesn't matter if the guy knows what he's doing, it's if he thinks he knows what he's doing. It's basically a mind over matter situation here - and it's utterley pathetic.

    Ok, ok.. so your a bit bitter on anyone giving negative comments to linux. Uhm.. tell me this - why? Sure you like it, and maybe you like the Backstreet Boys too.. I don't give a flying frig about any of it - I have opinions on linux and the Backstreet Boys that I keep to myself because I know people would be offended to hear them - on either side of the spectrum. For example, one of these statements below will offend you:
    • - Backstreet Boys suck...

    • - Backstreet Boys rule...
      - Linux sucks because...
      - Linux rules because...

    It's a primary yelling match that belongs in the sandbox or on the playground, not in office buildings or tech-savvy places.

    So these journalists are just looking for things that please them.. whether it be a blue setup screen or a red setup screen, whatever appeals to them is what effects their point of view in their column. But at least try to give them credit.. somebody has to write crappy articles or else we'd never have anything to criticize :-)

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

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

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

    Unix sucks - it's too powerful!


  • by ninjaz (1202)
    Regarding newbie-friendly docs, [] has NHFs (newbieized help files). On the LDP, the Guides [] - particularly the Installation and Getting Started Guide and the Linux Users' Guide are informative and accessible.
  • I believe the poster was refering to the comment remark of

    If he finds Linux is more difficult to install than Windows

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

    Sorry ;}
    Steven Rostedt
  • But on different hardware every time, always late model hardware, and on full machines.

    I work at a video game company. We don't use standard computers, we use rather high-end gaming systems. We use the latest video cards, sent to us by the manufacturers.

    The last machines I installed had serious issues because they had so many peripherals, they used every one of their IRQs even after you disabled the parallel port, the serial ports, and anything else you could find. None of the hardware was unsupported by Windows -- it was all fairly standard stuff. Multiple IDE and SCSI HDs, Plextor SCSI burners/CD drives, vid cards, 3Com NICs, MS mice (USB I think, or maybe PS/2).

    Of course, if you set up the same machine every time, you can get it down pat and efficient. Setting up the second of these two identical machines was much easier than setting up the first. Similarly, installing windows on standard hardware is very easy (assuming you know enough and have good drivers ready etc etc), but I find this no different from Linux.
  • by jflynn (61543) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @03:15PM (#1651943)
    Ok, this guy had an older version, and installation has improved a lot in the meantime, so that's a little unfair.

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

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

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

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

    This doesn't mean Linux can't be used by everyday computer users. It just means that it is highly recommended that they buy a pre-installed system, or be ready to buy Linux compatible hardware before installing. At the least, get a geek friend to help. Microsoft is no different in this respect except having less unsupported hardware, and that is changing.
  • by fougasse (79656) on Tuesday September 28, 1999 @05:40PM (#1651951)
    Most of the negative comments here fall in one of three categories:

    1) If you don't know what a (video card/modem/etc.) is, you have no business installing an OS.

    2) Linux isn't much harder to install than Windows NT, so what are you complaining about?

    3) If you don't know what a kernel is, what are you doing installing Linux?

    Numbers one and two are pure crap. Number one is untrue and elitist; the vast majority of people don't know about all the components in their computers, but quite a few people could install, say, Win98. (A few people have talked about how hard the Win98 install is. They have either talked about difficulties like not finding the CD key - hmm, maybe the sticker on the CD marked CD Key? - or talked about how long it takes, which is irrelevant as ease of use is not a function of length.)

    It is true that a Linux install (BTW, when I say Linux install, I mean "a recent version of RedHat". And no, I don't mean an ancient, pre-GUI-install version of OpenLinux.) is not much, if at all, harder than a WinNT one. This is because the WinNT install sucks. The first time I installed NT4, I encountered blue-screen STOPs at three different places. There are also some very stupid parts to its design... for instance, why does trying to install your hard drive and CD-ROM as separate devices cause problems during the install? And on that topic, since when is an IDE hard drive a SCSI device? This may be a reason why WinNT has had little success in non corporate/power-user areas. Another installer being bad is no excuse, though; I'm sure RedHat has HP/UX beat too.

    The next point makes sense, though. This is all because there is a huge Linux-for-grandmas push on. Power users should have no problem installing Linux. The problem is that it is now being targeted to home users, and you simply can't expect home users to know all about their hardware and know some commandline Unix.

    Anyway, the install front has been given too much attention lately. There are quite a few projects: Caldera's Lizard (already out, now open source), Mandrake's Panoramix (pretty bad interface and design, in my opinion), and whatever RedHat's is called (Lorax? Or is that the distribution?). This should soon be improved. And once it is, tech journalists will continue to use outdated version and talk about how hard they are - "Compared to Win98, Debian 0.9 is very difficult!".
  • Find something that's really complicated and not Linux-related. Now explain that something to someone, using only words. You can't draw diagrams, you can't wave your hands, etc. Now do it again, with diagrams, hand-waving, etc. Which way is easier?

    I'm in a calculus class right now with a superb teacher. If he was stuck without being able to walk around, make funny shapes out of his hands, and draw stuff on the board, it would be one of the suckiest classes I've ever had. This holds true with almost every conversation I have that goes above simple social interactions.

    What do I use in real life? I use words AND pantomime AND pictures.
  • Im NOT saying that they shouldn't ask for help. Im saying....Investigate First....then ask. How hard is that to understand.

    Has no one heard the saying "Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he'll eat forever"?

    I dont see what is so wrong with that you?
  • If I were Caldera this article would bother me greatly. After all, he bases the article on an old version of OpenLinux, and then recommends people to use Redhat or stick with Windows.

    Great point. I wish I would have thought about that. Doesn't that amount to basically something like libel and slander? I mean, seriously, what would Microsoft do if tommorrow /. posted an evaluation of NT 3.51 and said, "It really sux, I'm glad I have Linux to fall back on." Or a journalist in a Chevy magazine test driving an 89 Ford and saying that it was lacking many of the features that the Chevy's had as defaults. Perhaps Caldera is in a position to get a few lawyers involved?

    I don't mind people saying that computers isn't the easy field to get into. But at least if you are writing about it, you should have some understanding about what you are writing about. There should be some ethics in journalism. This was just too pitiful. Wow, I think I'm going to write an article for the local newspapers Music section this weekend. Never mind that I don't understand the first thing about good music...

  • I recently installed a copy of Caldera 2.2 and I must say that the installation routine seems to have progressed a long way from 1.3. It's graphical, did a pretty good job of finding my _ancient_ hardware, and even lets you play tetris while the software installs itself! Also, the new version gives you a graphical KDE login screen by default (which you can't CANCEL like a certain other OS's login dialog...)

    Tetris rules.

Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis. It makes sense, when you don't think about it.