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...Linux Newbie (fwd)

This was posted to my local lug, I thought I'd forward it on.

--                   ,------------------------------,
,====================| S H U N  A N T I O N L I N E |===================,
|  David M. Webster  '------------------------------'  (aka cogNiTioN)  | 
| cognition@bigfoot.com |=============| cognite.net will be online RSN. |
'====== I use Linux everyday to up my productivity - so up yours! ======'     

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Linux is not for you.

(if you are a normal everyday Joe).

Okay, you've got a home computer, most likely a PC, you've been surfing the net
for a year to six months so you reckon you are pretty wired, but you've been
hearing a rumour, a little whisper, a voice in the back of your head that states
"there is another operating system and it's cool and funky, free, stable,
powerful and fast". Memories flash up of the time you were working on that
really important letter and the system suddenly locked, the day that you finally
found an interesting web site then the screen went blue, and you never found
that site again. This hint "at a better way" plays on your doubts and
suspicions, after a little surfing you come across the holy grail of Operating
Systems, Linux, probably a document like this one
(http://www.linuxdoc.org/LDP/gs/node3.html), stating "Linux is no longer for
UNIX wizards who sit for hours in front of a glowing console".

Okay Sparky stop right there, Linux is not for you. I really should add
"currently" to that statement, for there does remain hope for the future, but at
the moment Linux is out of most people's league. Let me introduce myself, I am
the guy that your Uncle Bob calls when his computer crashes, the knowledgeable
friend of the family, the man that can sort things out. Self-taught, I don't
know everything, but when it comes to the home computer I can sort out most
things. Generally this means Windows 95 and the faults that I find with most
people's systems are extremely easy to rectify but it does give some insight
into "the average user" and what they want, can and can't do. Also I myself have
been 100% conned by the Myth and indeed have over the last five days installed
Linux three times all with varying degrees of success, so I now have a pretty
good idea of what is wrong with it with reference to using it for the first

It is sad but true, that Linux is moving rapidly away from being usable by "the
average user". People may choose to argue that with the latest major
distributions including Partition Magic and Boot Magic, that things are getting
simpler, this is not the case. Look at what the distributions come with, four to
six cd-roms, big manuals, yet hardly any help unless one is prepared to search
for it. Give me a single windows 95 cd-rom and a boot floppy, and I can install
an operating system that will have a nice friendly interface, where most people
will be able to work out where their hard drive is, it'll have a printer
installed and attempt to sense any other devices.

With the KDE install that Caldera ships, I was pleasantly surprised to see that
on the desktop was my Cd-rom, and floppy, but where was my hard drive ? and what
about that ATAPI Zip drive ? why is my printer not working ? they'd mysteriously
disappeared. Eventually after searching the internet (through windows because
there is no obvious quick way of installing an internet connection on Linux), I
find out how in theory to install the zip drive. Imagine my surprise when I type
in :

# dmesg | less

and see that somewhere and somehow,  my computer already knows that I had a zip
drive there, it just didn't put an icon anywhere or indeed mount the drive so I
have to do this by typing stuff in, arrgh, horror of horrors. I am not even
going to go into the problems I had with the sound card which resulted in severe
feedback and waking up the neighbours. I have not even attempted to install a
printer yet, because quite honestly my nerves aren't quite up to it.

Now that deals with the installation problems, no visible hard drive, though
with a little bit of guesswork you could probably work out that it is /, that's
not really as intuitive as a Hard Drive Icon. As for finding the other
partitions on the drive, well I can do it and am feeling pretty damn pleased
with myself, but the average person could not, even though the operating system
is perfectly aware (just like with the Zip) that these exist.

Now dealing with the issue of Linux moving rapidly away from what the user
wants. One of the first things I did was click on the big K and I see a wealth
of software; games, Text Editors (both advanced and normal), various things that
I don't know what they do, but I'm going to click on them anyway, but the
question is, do I need this stuff ? Of course not, the installation does not
provide what I need. A good example would be SANE which apparently is scanner
software, this I know because I already knew what the KRPM did so I had a look
to see what was installed on the system. Apparently I have SANE, I can even
uninstall it by clicking on the button in KRPM, but I can't find anyway to run
the program. I've looked in the manual, it tells me to do various things, whilst
this may be good for a UNIX guru, I don't actually understand what the words
refer to.

This is a plea on behalf of the home user, will companies stop concentrating on
adding as much software as possible and redirect their efforts into producing a
sound, simple, base installation ? Take a good look at Microsoft's products,
study what they install and how the user navigates around, Microsoft may be
despised by the Linux community but it would be best if one were to study the
enemy and exploit their strengths as well as their weaknesses. The home user
does not care about open source codes, they don't program. They want to get a
system up and running that they can use, and where they can then install any
additional components, preferably without having to type anything in. Keep it
simple, concentrate on wizards rather than adding features. I've tested out the
speed of Linux using my dual booting system these were the results :

Copying a folder containing 4 files totalling 149 megabytes to another partition
on the same hard drive,

Linux	1 minute 47 seconds
Windows	2 minute 37 seconds

Now I have no idea how or why etc.. but Linux seems faster so I am keeping it. I
know that at some point it could be the OS of the future, and would like to
discuss with anyone that is interested, what form the perfect, simple base
installation could take. One of the fundamentals was that Linux was for the good
of everyone, and as I'm a newbie I figure that I'm the perfect idiot to test it

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