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Re: Newbie Idea

> I just joined the list.  I tried to push the idea of a desktop version
> of UNIX at DEC for years.  Built a stockpile of ideas but didn't get
> any takers at the company.  In my official capacity I was a member of
> the architecture team that did the installation and diskless
> workstation support.

The problem is you were trying to make a user friendly _UNIX_ and UNIX
was expensive.  This meant it was not deployed at home by people
having to administer and use it for real work from day one, it was not
used by secretaries for office work.  It was restricted to mission
critical and high tech tasks (the tasks were the cheaper MS and Mac
systems fell short) and the people for these tasks get plenty of
handholding while training: they don't really _need_ an easy system so
there would have been little additional sales for a user friendly _UNIX_.

Linux is not Unix: the fact it is cheap allows its use at home and
also using it for office tasks: it faces the same constraints than
Macs and Windows and one of these is you can't count on the user being
very bright at computer tasks and being hand held during his first

> I don't think newbies have any business thinking about servers.

Neither do I.  Except for the kind of servers whose use translates
into $$$ because it reduces your connection time.  One difference
between Linux and Unix is that many users of the former pay power and
phone from their pocket.

> A newbie shouldn't even be thinking about doing installations, the
> hardware vendor is supposed to take care of all of that.  Suggest to
> any random PC user that the way to fix thier chronic Win95/Win98
> problem is to back up their data and reinstall and you'll see a
> shudder go up thier spine and their eyes will glaze over.

Right.  That is why I want just relatively small fixes in RedHat's
install when designing Indy's instead of designing an install able to
read minds.  The best install is preinstalled Linux (available from
IBM, Dell and HP plus Linux-dedicated companies but still not on
noname PC manufacturers), the second one is go to a Lug and let an
experinced user do it.

> I can imagine that there are two things that have been under
> consideration here: what the newbie experience is when they sit down
> at the system for the first time and how do we take them there....

Also sooner or later to assume a newbie who is a "normal person".

> My personal bias moves towards a linux system that upon completion of
> the newbie install is about as functional as Windows, read "minimal".

One of the reasons Windows is minimal is in order to allow make you
pay for everything.  I try to put _additional_ programs better suited
to the Linux user (remember Linux is _not_ Unix) respective to the
base distrib but I don't want Indy becoming a monster and in
particular I avoid redundant software except when there is a very good

> I favor getting the whole thing running in a single partition,
> even if this means swapping to a file in the filesystem.  This make
> the FIPS thing pretty straightforward:  "we need 140MB, we found
> a Windows FS with 800MB, how much can we take?"

Today there are installs who ask you a single question: "What kind of
box do you want: Servee, Workstation or Custom".  If you select
anything but Custom they partition and load a selection software
without user interrvention.

> So a newbie install would always be an "install everything" install
> but "everything" might be some 50 MB of real core goods: cat, ls,
> bash, etc.  X11, KDE, etc.  run-time libaries.  No ftpd, telnetd,
> httpd, etc. - these are not newbie toys.

httpd allows CGI scripts for better handling of docs that what you can
do with plain HTML.  This is used in Caldera but not in Indy.

I agree about telnetd and ftpd wgose sole intereeeest in most home
boxes is allowing some never-do-well to try to intrude in it.

> One of the things that is mighty scary to UNIX newbies is the sense
> that one gets that the system owns everything.  I would propose
> putting everything we know and love today under /linux, leaving the
> top of the filesystem to read: /linux /.lost+found, /disk, /apps,
> /home.  /disk has the mount points for your removable media
> (/disk/zip, /disk/floppy, etc. which automount on insertion, -o sync)
> and you windows partitions (/disk/c, /disk/d, etc.).  /apps fills
> the role of /opt in some terminologies.  /home gets user directories.

Problem is the apps look for another hierarchy.

> Perhaps we've already discussed the concept of the "default user"?

This is something I have in mind: the one who is the same physical
person than root but no root rights at leaset not the full of them.
For instance he should automatically get messages sent by daemons to
root.  Presently the user is supposed to discover about this and
configure mail by hand.

> Who you are if you've not decided to create a user account yet?
> Perhaps user tux, group tux, uid.gid = 1001.1001?  Whatever this user
> is called, it should own the root directory, mode rwxrwxrwt.  That
> way there's no question about who owns *this* disk.

I disagree.  Problem is that too many things could be done by tux.
Like spreading virusses or breaking things.  Remember that you are
supposed not do normal work as root, avoid untrusted programs and in
addition you spend only little time (thus you can keep concentration)
as root.

> I know a lot of this flies counter to the desire to stick close to
> a Red Hat based system but I've been walking around with this stuff
> in my head for months and had to get it out there somewhere.

I am certainly not happy about this RedHat defaults the box to
server/like with about every daemon defaulted to started, some of them
like NFS being dangerous and in addition useless for many home users.

Also I never dared to try the canned installs but at the end of Custom
install there is a surrealistic dialog where they ask you if you want
httpd, atd, smbd started.  I would like to know if it is in Server and
Worksttion installs

> Oh, yea: startup.  Init state 4: nobody's listening on the net because
> we're a client box and ONLY a client box.  KDE session starts (as in
> startkde) on the console under the default user id.  No login.  I turn
> it on, it comes up, I go to work.

I agree about we need an X level without daemons (but we need to
fix every chkconfig file in the distrib and it will be impossible for
0.2).  I don't agree about nologins: most people would be happy being
protected against mistakes of another person in their family, plus
trojan/virusses coming from programs installed by your kids.

The KDE (and I think Gnome) Display maneger allows you to login by
just clicking on your photo.  But you still need a password.  And I
think this is right: otherwise the virus just issues commands using
"su -c".

			Jean Francois Martinez

Project Independence: Linux for the Masses