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The Clueless Newbie's Linux Odyssey 998

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

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  • by DeadSea ( 69598 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @09:48PM (#5671042) Homepage Journal
    She's installed half a dozen distributions. That's five more than I've ever installed. Such bravery.

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

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

  • by timothy ( 36799 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @09:50PM (#5671048) Journal
    First: This article makes some very good points, ones that people who push Free and otherwise Open Source software on others to the point of being annoying (like me) often have to skirt around. This kind of criticism is really important!

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

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

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


    p.s. A very similar, just-as-damning article could be written about the various interface flaws that infest Microsoft Windows; a few recent visits to my dad, trying to help him set up wireless networking under Windows led me to show him how if I popped in a Knoppix CD, everything Just Worked, but we never did get Windows XP happy with his network.
  • Brief comment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @09:55PM (#5671069)
    1. It must have a GUI interface for installing and configuring the system. I'm a lousy typist, and text mode is not an efficient way for me to interface with an operating system.

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

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

  • Re:Article Summary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05, 2003 @10:10PM (#5671135)
    I think the key point of the article is that Linux (not the kernel, but the whole experience of a distro) is severely lacking in usability engineering. It takes a different kind of mindset to be able to write software that less technical people understand. I think we've all known this, but have never been able to find a way to address it. OTOH MS throws *lots* of money on usability and comes up weak, but reasonably usable products. Anyone have any ideas how we can improve usability in Linux?
  • by tarball_tinkerbell ( 664105 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @10:13PM (#5671151)
    I'm someone who tinkers with computers for fun, it's not part of my line of work at all (though it used to be, a while ago). I was a helluva newbie when I installed Mandrake 9.0 as a dual-boot on my XP Home system, having first tried Red Hat 8.0 & ditched it after it refused to recognize my sound card. Bottom line being, Mandrake works like a dream. Yes, it took me a whie to get some of the minor details fixed, but everything I needed worked right away, & a lot of what went wrong was due to my own stupidity/ignorance/not having bothered with TFM. Not being much of a gamer, I hardly use XP at all now. Anyone, newbie or not, who goes for an ~entirely new OS~ without at least some basic background research is bound to get bitten a few times. Would you buy a new car without reading up on it first? A new house? Yes, as has been pointed out, Tsu Dho Nimh is obviously someone trying very hard to act dumb, & like a man in drag trying to come off as a woman, is just trying too damn hard.
  • by J. J. Ramsey ( 658 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @10:18PM (#5671171) Homepage
    "Honestly, I don't know how you're going to fix this aspect of the OS without doing what Microsoft has done - compromise fundamental stability and security in favor of useability."

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

    IMHO, the problems with Linux's usability have more to do with the availability and quality of GUI config tools, and the lack of a standard target for third-party developers to build against, which in turn makes it tricky to install third-party binary applications. Making Linux usable by the masses is doable. Both the technology and the standardization efforts are in place. It just has yet to gel.
  • How come.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cliffy03 ( 663924 ) <> on Saturday April 05, 2003 @10:25PM (#5671200)
    ...I seem to be able to install almost any form of *nix on practically any machine, and it usually works. Kinda spooky if you ask me. I will admit that not every component works, but I generally have a usable system. I have walked up to a machine that someone else had a failed install and it works for me. I started with Mandrake 7.2 on an Inspiron 3800. Over the past few years I have tried, Red Hat, Lycoris and Debian (Gentoo and Slackware don't seem that forboding now). I was even happy with getting FreeBSD 4.5 running, even without network access. I will admit I generally stick with the defaults on install, and it seems to work. I just installed Mandrake 9.1 on the laptop, and let it repartition WinME. And whaddya know, it worked!
  • Tool or toy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @10:27PM (#5671214)
    The only short sighted thing I could see in her article was the requirement it work with existing hardware. Up to a point thats fine but if your PC is really tool then I sure as hope the price of hardware is not more of an issue than the system maintinence. the cost of a new computer every 5 years (shes running windows 95 remember) is neglible in an office environment. or if its not then you should wonder why the person needs the computer at all.

    figure it this way. If you futz with your computer more than ten days a year (trying to get it to print, boot, re-install, upgrade) and you are paid more than 10$ an hour then you should seriously ask yourself if its cheaper to futz with an old machine when a new major system change is affoot or to get a new comuter.

    On the other habd I can see why people might want to keep some of their accumlated perfrials if they are particularly expensive or many. Likewise using old software is nice too.

    However if you really want to make the switch from windows to linux then most of your software is our. and much of your perfirials are out too.

    This article sort of proves the point. So if you want something thats easy to use and is still unix, well you better get a mac. You only have to do the switch once. you can run Windows 95 and all your old apps on your old machine. Even keep the perifrials going during the trasition period.

    macs work. yeah sure they have problems too, just none of the ones she mentioned. And mac hardware not only works its insanely interchangable. When I used to blow up a mac in my lab I would just yank the hard drive and boards and jam them in another mac. Ha! try that on your linux machine or windows machine. That effect alone saved me DAYS of time and kept my lab working.

    in short the cost of a machine is how much you futz with it, not the 300$ you thought you saved buying a dell dude. (I say thought because you did not get all the cool software that comes with macs) Of course none of what I said applies to gamers.

  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @10:54PM (#5671317) Homepage Journal
    I don't see anything in the actual article or the page it's on to indicate whether the author is male or female and I don't know if the story submitter (overshoot) knows for sure or just assumed.

    That probably is a pen name and not the author's real name, but it's not unheard of for columnists to do this.

    The author might not be able to whip up a brand new operating system in assembly overnight, but it's obvious from reading the entire article that he or she knows a lot more about computers than the average user and is no stranger to installing software.

    We need to get Taco to set up one of those best 10 question interviews with him/her.

  • Re:Article Summary (Score:2, Interesting)

    by randyest ( 589159 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @11:02PM (#5671348) Homepage
    If a computer literate techical writer is still using Windows95 after eight years and does not understand the concept of "upgrading", we have bigger problems.

    This is not insightful. In fact, it's the opposite of insightful. You just don't get it. There is no evidence that the author does not understand the concept of upgrading. The fact is there was no prior motivation to upgrade until now, and the author decided to try Linux. It didn't work out.

    And, believe it or not, lots of people (not me), still use Win95 for thier purposes, and are quite satisfied with it.

    As another reply mentioned, your attitude is why Linux isn't more popular. Enjoy your egotism -- no one else does.
  • Re:Article Summary (Score:4, Interesting)

    by earthcrosser ( 653266 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @11:04PM (#5671357)
    If a computer literate technical writer can't even get Linux working properly, how can we expect it to be widely adopted by the masses? Linux is not ready for the desktop.

    As a Linux newb, I couldn't agree more.

    I'm a programmer on the Microsoft side of the development fence (keep comments to self, please), and decided a few months ago that it would be a good idea to learn Linux. So I put together a decent box and downloaded a couple of distros (Red Hat 8, Debian). So far, so good.

    Well, in my desire to keep things simple, I apparently chose a mobo that isn't really a good starting point for Linux newbs to work with (Asus A7N266-VM... Nforce chipset). RH8 and Debian both installed fine, but when attempting to start X, the box just went to (and stayed at) a blank screen. Head to the newsgroups and forums, right?

    Everything I read online related to the problem I was having either A) was too general for a newb to understand, or B) listed specific steps, but those steps didn't match what I was seeing. A friend of mine (a rabid Debianite) insisted that I let apt-get grab anything it needed off the net. If my net card worked, I would have been happy to try that. He kept going around with "apt-get will grab and set up modules you need," and "you need net modules for apt-get to work." Chicken and egg.

    After two weeks of nightly work on trying to get things going, I gave up in frustration. My buddy continues to bitch incessantly about Microsoft "sucking" and being "a bitch to use." Guess what, though? Here I am, a computer literate, pro-Microsoft guy who honestly wants to learn Linux, and I can't even get something as rudimentary as network, sound, and video working. It shouldn't be this hard to evangelize the willing!

    It's very frustrating, because I want to get into Linux and OSS development.
  • by Theodore Logan ( 139352 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @11:14PM (#5671407)
    Erhm... Linux doesn't have a shop. That's sort of the point.
  • Re:Tsu Dho Nimh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jpetts ( 208163 ) on Saturday April 05, 2003 @11:30PM (#5671475)
    Yes, look at the original url at the top of the printer friendly version: anything strike you? .tsu.html
  • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <> on Sunday April 06, 2003 @12:23AM (#5671672)
    OpenBSD/NetBSD is definitely not up her alley, and the FreeBSD ports tree would probably scare the bejesus out of her.

    Not scare. This is a common misconception among Linux users, that complicated things scare us. (By us I mean the non-geeks and ex-geeks of the world, those of us who, in Tsu Dho Nimh's words, do not consider computers to be a hobby.) It's not true. Complicated things, like the ports tree, and for that matter all UNIX and UNIXesque operating systems other than Mac OS X, do not scare us. They piss us off. We get pissed off when things that should work, won't. We get pissed off when things that should be easy to find and use, aren't. We get pissed off when things are harder, more complex, more time consuming, or more needful of our attention than we want them to be.

    That's the key, you know. The ticket is not to ask yourself, "What can we do to keep from scaring the users?" The ticket is, "What can we do to keep from pissing off the users?"
  • similar experience (Score:4, Interesting)

    by siliconwafer ( 446697 ) on Sunday April 06, 2003 @12:27AM (#5671686)
    I had an experience similar to hers.

    The first command I ever ran on my Linux box was "rm -rf /", as root of course. This was on Slackware 2.0. I was taking the advice of some people on IRC, in #linux on EFnet, and supposedly that command was "the one" to run. What a mistake that was.

    That was my first, and last Linux installation. Don't get me wrong, I've tried to install other flavors of Linux since then, multiple times. Never been successful though. Mandrake installer would always freeze, or something wouldn't go right with the distro of choice at the time. Funny how FreeBSD has installed every time with no problems, and is remarkably stable.

    In the end, I bought a Mac. I'm suprised that hasn't been mentioned more, as many comments are discussing Windows vs Linux. Try a Mac running OS X. Awesome GUI, very powerful, and stable. What more would you want?
  • by Osty ( 16825 ) on Sunday April 06, 2003 @12:54AM (#5671781)


    - It's made by developers for developers

    So, why not one good interface?

    together makes one wonder, what developers was (because like it or not, the various Linux distros are trying to target Joe Sixpack-type users these days) Linux trying to target? There are essentially three types of developers in the world, with variations on each:
    • The casual developer. This guy likes quick&dirty tools, because he's focused on getting the job done. RAD environments like VB or Delphi make it easy for this developer to get his work done with a minimum of fuss. He doesn't spend time thinking about development issues or reading books to learn esoteric (to him) ideas. He pops open his RAD environment with a specific goal, throws together a form that does something (reads data, munges it, spits it out on a form), and is done. I'd say this is the most common developer out there, and thus is why VB and Delphi are so popular. I'd say this group also includes your average sysadmin, if you consider scripting languages to be RAD tools.
    • The professional developer. This guy is competent, and likes a job well-done, but isn't obsessive-compulsive over having the cleanest or most elegant solution. He's usually writing code under deadline pressure, and it's more important that it works than that it's clean. These guys usually write in Java, .NET languages like C#, or C++, though they often use other languages like SQL or various scripting languages to support their work. The professional developer likes a good IDE, because it helps him get his job done, but he can get by without it holding his hand. He'll often buy books and learn new technologies. These guys are less common than the casual developer.
    • The hardcore. This includes researchers and the unix-style system programmers. It doesn't matter if it took ten years to ship their product so long as it's elegant and clean. They're obsessive-compulsive about their development environment, and will rage on and on over their choice of editors. These are the guys you'll find in protracted debates about emacs or vi, while everybody else is using neither. They like low-level languages, usually C though some use C++ without being ostracized. They're also fairly uncommon outside of a University setting.

    It seems to me that the last developer type is what Linux is targetting. Maybe it's a little short-sighted to target the least-common of developer types?

    Regardless, all of that is more or less a red herring today. As I mentioned above, nearly every distro is moving towards one of two things (or both, in the case of Redhat) -- they're targetting servers, or desktop users. The hardcore developers don't really matter, because they know how to get all the tools they need if they're not distributed with the system, like you mentioned. The other types are more or less ignored -- there's no real RAD solution under Linux other than Kylix, and there's no single, coherent object model or set of interfaces (I just re-purposed the word "interface", because while I know you meant "user interface", I think it should also apply to programming interfaces) for writing software (there's GNOME, KDE, GTK, Qt, GNUStep, etc, none of which are guaranteed to be available for any given end-user, so they either have to make a conscious choice to exclude potential customers, or take pains to make sure the neccessary depenedencies are available at install time).

  • Re:Minimum IQ (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Sunday April 06, 2003 @12:58AM (#5671797) Journal
    " Doesn't the side of a Linux Box state the Minimum IQ requirements alongside the CPU and memory requirements?"

    Sure, because insulting potential users by calling them stupid whenever they have a problem is the quickest way to build up a strong user base.

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

    And you call Redmond's software junk? I can throw Windows 98 on the hardware you call "crap" and it works fine. Let me ask you this: if she had tried windows 98 and it had worked flawlessly, could you really say that Linux was the superior solution? Personally, if one thing works and another doesn't, I'm going with what works; even if it is M$. Secondly, why should she have to search through newsgroups and ask for outside help for something as simple as an OS installation? Would she have had to search through newsgroups to install Win98? Let me give you a hint: no.

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

    There's that Linux fanboy mentality showing once again. You're the worst enemy Linux could ever have. Why? Because no one will believe an accusation from a liar (M$), but people will believe a confession from anyone. As a user of Linux, your attitude that it's just the greatest thing on Earth and anyone who has a problem using it is a "retarded monkey" goes to show that Linux and its supporting community is comprised of simple-minded, immature children. Your ranting and raving does absolutely nothing to help Linux whatsoever. On the contrary, your arrogant and dismissive attitude belies the true nature of Linux and the vast majority of its users and contributors. But since your voice is the loudest and most noticable, to whom will people listen?

    With every fanboyesque post, a part of Linux's potential is killed. The single greatest threat to Linux is not Microsoft; it is a small group of very loud, very vocal fanboys who shout down the intelligent and helpful majority. If you truly want to see Linux succeed, you need to re-examine your attitude towards discussion of its strengths and weaknesses. This writer wasn't just someone commenting on Linux; she was a potential user. Linux has lost this potential user for a number of reasons. How many more potential users has Linux lost because of the very same issues she encountered? If people really want to see Linux make it big and take down Redmond, they need to talk to people like this writer and find out what can be changed to win over her, and those like her. It's the regular users who feed M$'s pocketbook, and it's the regular users the Linux community should be working to get.

  • by Micah ( 278 ) on Sunday April 06, 2003 @01:13AM (#5671837) Homepage Journal
    ...when and only when a couple appropriate neurons spark inside the skull of an appropriate entrepreneurial computer manufacturer and he/it/they start producing a "ready to go Linux system" which comes with all the software people will likely need and markets the heck out of it.

    As long as people have to choose to wipe 'Doze of their box and fiddle with Linux CDs, and getting everything to work right, there won't be much incentive for it to happen. But when a consumer-savvy manufacturer steps in, makes it all just work, provides decent hardware and decent tech support, and sells it all for less than an equivelant 'Doze system, we'll be getting somewhere!

    I have written up a Proposal for such a system []. Come on computer manufacturers, listen up!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2003 @01:13AM (#5671838)
    The real problem is the stranglehold Microsoft has on PC manufacturers. The author claims that the user should be able to put the CD in, click a button, and everything should work. Hell, even Microsoft doesn't work like that. Installing Windows isn't always easy - it doesn't always recognize hardware, etc. The problem is, though, that most people don't know that! They've never had to install Windows from scratch, it's preinstalled.

    Until Linux is preinstalled on people's machines, this is unlikely to change.
  • Re:Article Summary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Sunday April 06, 2003 @03:04AM (#5672182) Journal
    How about one or two *good* ways, instead of half a dozen not-so-good ones?

    Do you know why there are 45 "shitty" variations on a theme? Becuase there were 45 different people/groups who had a good idea. And guess what? Each one of those looks oon the distro list and says "gee, why are there 44 shitty variations on my theme?"

    Whats *good* for you, might not be good for me. I rock in nvi, suck in emacs. Taking your magical "The One Program" and making it the only thing available is bound to be disasterous: in college, I helped an English PhD candidate proofread her thesis... not for spelling or grammar errors, but for Weird Word Tricks that MS Word did to her. I asked her why she did this in Word instead of TeX or some other real document typesetting system, and the answer was "this is all I had".

    Claiming that Linux is somehow alone in this UI problem completely ignores that every new version of *every* piece of software Microsoft releases from the OS to the browser scrambles the locations of the menus and/or options. If they "have the money and resources to hire someone who knows a thing or two about UI design", they must be wasting it, since whoever they hired doesn't know that not suprising the user by moving things they already know about is one of the biggest mainstays of CHI. (Heck, the whole "lets hide options you've never used so its impossible to find them the first time you need them!" idea is the absolute worst idea, ever, from both a pro and a newbie standpoint!) I've never used a macintosh personally (nothing against them, just lack the $ to maintain both a PC and a Mac), but from what I've been hearing in the CHI community, they're going to hell for the changes they've made in OSX.
  • I think I may be missing something.

    you say that you have "administered Linux web servers for several years." but:

    - you don't know that the window manager and the underlying OS are different?

    - you don't understand how to make the distro install work?

    - you were surprised that you had to do some research when you tried to do something in linux that you had never done before?

    - you were not sure what distribution you were going to install, based on your own knowledge?

    I've only ever used two distros (RedHat [] 6, then that pissed me off and I installed LinuxFromScratch []), but the first three of these are issues that I had figured out by the end of the FIRST week when I started using linux about 4 years ago.

    admitedly the last issue took me a good year to figure out, but at that point it was an academic decision, not a research project to choose my next distro.

    I did have the same problem when I tried to install my Lexmark Z51 about a month ago. but I knew I was ignorant on how to do what I needed to do, and I knew it was going to take a while to get things working. none of these ever caught me off gaurd.

    I have never managed a web server, print server, ftp server, or any other kind of server. in fact, aside from managing my own at-home system, the only computer-related work i have ever done is about two-months of assistant administrator (in a win2k environment) between when I received my BS in CS and when I went off to the Navy's nuclear power school in Charleston, SC about 3 years ago. but the issues you pointed out, together with your surprise that they popped up, does not seem to jive with my experiences.

    all that being said, i will agree with you that linux is not ready for prime time, despite what anybody ever will say. it should "just work." it should support most of the hardware that's out there actually in use. I should be able to configure everything via GUI, *if* I so chose. the big-ticket items (priting, networking, and major applications) MUST ABSOLUTELY WORK (printing is NOT there yet, the other two are close enough to be viable). we have some work to do. we are not there yet. but we are improving -- when I first started with linux, networking was just coming up to speed and office applications were cumbersome at best. and in only 4 years, we're at least close.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2003 @04:56AM (#5672448)
    If you look past the picky details, her message is clear: "The typical Linux distro isn't ready for Joe User straight out of the box."

    I'd have to agree. I'd even argue that the typical Linux distro isn't even ready for "Joe Windows Admin" right out of the box.

    I only hope that the Linux community at large understands how big a problem this really presents for the growth of Linux. There is always a percentage of people willing to work hard for something they believe in; but most users would never even dream of spending over a year and a half to try to make their PC do all the stuff that Win95 did (passably) 7 or 8 years ago.

    I've been hoping to migrate the company I support from a fairly simple Win2K environment to a Linux environment for about 2 years. The tools keep getting closer, but there is no way I could be anywhere near as effective with Linux (for our specific needs) as I can with Win2K. Mod me down if you must, but from where I'm sitting that is the view.
  • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Sunday April 06, 2003 @06:36AM (#5672586)
    The reason why no one has tried to make a *good* distribution is that the set of people capable of making distributions (call this set A) is not a representative sample of the population of people who need a *good* distribution. Members of set A tend to be just fine with using command lines and writing printer magicfilters.

    The members of set A you are talking about are those who put together Debian, Gentoo, etc. I'm happy to leave these people alone and let them contribute in their own way. I don't expect them to ever have a distribution usable by the general public, just as I don't expect expect the Linux kernel to ever have a built-in fancy GUI interface. This doesn't mean their contributions aren't extremely valuable.

    For the most part the writer is talking the commercial distributions, Redhat et. al. We are paying them to do this, and they need to pay more attention to this. I pay them for this and I don't think they are doing their job. Although they are getting better at it, they still aren't taking this seriously enough and are only hurting themselves.

    This problem is *hard* to solve.

    Parts of it are and parts of it aren't. Many of the issues the writer brought up are just sloppiness that ends up alienating newbies. I have brought up a number of these kinds of issues with Redhat support, sometimes over and over, and it is hard to get them to pay attention and not just email you back a canned response. I want them to pay attention not because I personally have trouble with the installation, but because I know others will. I want the product to succeed because I want Linux to succeed. And, ok, also because I happen to also be a Redhat stockholder.

    There's no rush to solve this problem.

    In the long run, Linux will succeed. The only problem is, as John Maynard Keynes famously said, "In the long run, we're all dead."

  • by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Sunday April 06, 2003 @06:44AM (#5672606) Homepage Journal
    I agree

    I am no geek but Mandarke 9.0 installed painlessly, recognising all my hardware. Even with Mandrake 8.1 I only had to edit a config file once (to mount my camera as USB mass storage).

    I have also tried KNoppix on a number of several machines and it works every time as long as there is enough memory.

    The other thing is that Windows is not that easy to install - it is just that most people do not do it as it is already installed when they buy their PCs. I know plently of people who struggle for hours if they upgrade Windows(or need to re-install for some reason).
  • Re:Article Summary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Sunday April 06, 2003 @08:35AM (#5672778)
    A friend of mine (a rabid Debianite) insisted

    Urgh. I hate this. Nobody should EVER recommend Debian, Gentoo or Slack to newbies - no matter how elite they think they're being, they are just making more work for themselves and people on tech support channels further down the line.

    What I really hate is the attitude that "they'll learn quicker if they use Debian". There is of course nothing stopping you from learning quickly on any distro if you so wish, they are all Linux after all. It just turns what is already a steep learning curve into a learning cliff.

    I swear blind that people who hype Debian or Gentoo to newbies are the worst enemy of Linux right now. The number of times I've had to clean up the mess left by people who didn't understand what they were doing with the hard core distros is incredible - all too often the answer we end up with is "just drop Debian until you're more experienced, try Redhat/Mandrake/SuSE instead". It's much easier than trying to explain everything they need to know to make Debian work for them.

    I feel for you. There are nForce drivers here []. No DEBs of course, they assume that if you're on Debian you probably don't want binary only drivers anyway or something. I dunno.

    In short, you were shafted from the start by somebody who gave bad advice. Newbies to Linux can be shafted by all kinds of things, even when all the cards are stacked in their favour it's still too hard or baroque for them for instance, I can understand that.

    They often try again a few years later, or with different distros, or with more experience. I hope the same will be true of you.

  • by lars_stefan_axelsson ( 236283 ) on Sunday April 06, 2003 @10:50AM (#5673106) Homepage
    The chip still cycles the same even if it's doing less work.

    No it doesn't. I quote "hlt - Halts CPU until RESET line is activated, NMI or maskable interrupt received. The CPU becomes dormant but retains the current CS:IP for later restart." That's why it's called the (surprise) halt-intruction.

    There is no advantage to keeping the processor idle as long as it is within its working temperature range, it won't increase the life of your chip even a little bit. And the money save in electricity would add up to maybe 10 cents a year. Stupid Fucking Cunt.

    The powersavings are substantial. A modern AMD ( e.g 2500+) has a current draw of 41.4 A in execution state, and only 7.2 A in stop grant state (powersaving 'hlt' with bus disconnect). Since power depends on current squared (it's a bit more complicated than that, but that's close enough for someone of your limited capacity), the powersavings are indeed substantial.

    If you save only 80 W, over a year of 24/7 that adds up to about $40 where I live, which is again an order of magnitude more than you calculated.

    And if you really believe that operating temperature doesn't have anything to do with life span, even when operating within the specified tolerances, you still have a bit of semiconductor physics to learn (hint 'kT' crops up again and again). Cooler is always better. (For cool enough the projected life span may be enough for one not to matter, but again if you think that running your AMD at the stated 80C continously is a good idea, well, what do I care, be my guest). Again this is a simplification, and again it's clearly good enough for you.

    Now be a good boy and hit the books, you're welcome back when you actually know something.

  • Definately "She" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Sunday April 06, 2003 @01:25PM (#5673691)
    I don't see anything in the actual article or the page it's on to indicate whether the author is male or female and I don't know if the story submitter (overshoot) knows for sure or just assumed.

    Tsu Dho Nimh has been posting to Usenet for a loooong time. Several posters to bot and comp.os.linux.advocacy have met her in person [1], and "tOSG" of the article is a known poster who works with her.

    Just in case it matters to anyone.

    [1] Under another handle, I'm one of them.

Loose bits sink chips.