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Author Topic: How and what to ask to ensure a positive Linux experience  (Read 2288 times)
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machiner
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« on: March 13, 2007, 08:14:28 AM »

I hope that this thread will culminate into a set of questions that will become the norm that novice Linux users will go by when seeking help or deciding at all if Linux is for them.

Please offer up your insight to this thread.  Use your own experiences with failure or your own inability to ask an appropriate question that would have yeilded the answer that you sought.  Remember those "elitists" out there that want you only to RTFM!

Quetions like -- "Will X hardware work with Linux" won't be part of this "document" as it is addressed very well web-wide.  Please relegate questions to those that a novice would need addressed.  Please also consider real-world expectations of an operating system, of its usage and its limitations.

I suppose a preamble of sorts, an introduction would also need be here.  I should think it should include a rough outlline of what to expect with Linux, and I would also expect that concepts are defined in footnotes.  eg - Open Source, virus, etc.

We have the opportunity here to make a mark in the Linux world.  Vista has been out and is a failure, New Linux distros come out all the time and the world is waiting on Etch -- but Apple is about to release Leopard, or whatever cat name it's using this time -- apologies, I'm not a follower of Apple news.

Hardware manufacturers are being forced to include DRM schemes within their products -- to satisfy the RIAA hit-squad, and nothing else.  Microsoft and Apple have already pledged their support, turning their offerings into highly relegated and locked media center offerings.  This is not the computing experience I was always promised.

So -- have at it.  I suspect we'll get a good thing going with this.  It may take some weeks, but it will get accomplished, nonetheless, with the input of serious and honorable members such that you all are.

--bogusword
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2007, 09:02:29 AM »

IMHO there are two sides to the story here (as always  Undecided):
There is the side of the person that wants to start out using Linux or who has just started using Linux and
the side of those who are (some somewhat more than others) familiar with Linux and who will be replying.

This post is not intended to be complete, just thought I'll the ball rolling!

IF YOU ARE A STARTER IN THE WORLD OF LINUX

If you are just starting out on Linux it is good to know that Linux is NOT a "plug & pray"  Wink sort of operating system.
Please understand: LINUX IS NOT JUST A FREE VERSION OF WINDOWS!

There are many good interfaces/screens that can help you achieve what you want, but these are to support you and is not the main focus.
The main focus is to provide software that does the trick and installation and/or configuration may require effort from your side!
Be aware of this when you install either Linux as operating system of when you install software.
Although installation usually is not a problem, getting the application working the way you want may require that you have to sit down, read quite a bit and use a TERMINAL.

There is another thing, the terminal, often mentioned in replies. Those who are old enough, like I am, will remember the DOS prompt.
An ancient interface before the era of windows. You had to type in commands to start a program and had to write "programs" in order to have a menu that facilitated the choice of programs.
The terminal is similar to this, you have a screen in which you have to issue commands in order to achieve things.
Don't be afraid to use the terminal! It is good to check if you are not certain how to use a command, there are many links on the internet with clear explanations.
Get familiar with the terminal since it helps people to understand what you have done and what errors you encounter (you'll be surprised how much info you get from the terminal which is not shown when you use a screen).

Get familiar with search functions! Most forums or distro pages have search funtions. Use them wisely and read, read and read some more.
Get to understand the system you are working with since this will enhance the joy of LInux!


IF YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO HELP OUT A STARTER

One of the things I hated most were replies like RTFM or look here (with a link to some page with lots of code) without any additional explanation.
What I usually try to do is try to get info on the user's experience (does he know what the terminal is) and get clear what is question is and what action(s) he has taken.
This means sometimes ask for the obvious (I also indicate this in my reply "maybe I am asking for the obvious, but have you ...."). But I still think it beats just printing a link.
Refrain from terms like newb/novice, remember .... not many of us are born without having to go through this phase so you have been there also!

Another thing I didn't like is to say type fill in any command here without an explanation. I remember a thread in another forum where someone just said sudo rm -f *.
Fortunately the question was asked what does this do. Imagine what damage could have been done!
I try to explain -- most of the time -- what the command does and why it can be used or provide a link to where additional information can be found.


Who'll take it up from here?

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machiner
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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2007, 09:55:22 AM »

Are you leaving WIndows because you feel that it has let you down?
What do you expect from Linux?
Do you know what a "command line" is?
Are you confortable reading and following instructions?
Have you any experience with the keyboard?
Can you commit to periodic simple system updates?
Are you running all just released hardware?
Are you comfortable with change?
Have you considered other operating systems?
Is your computer very old?
Do you feel that you need to pay for software in order to get quality?
Are you ready for certainl personal computing responsibility?
Do you need to blame others for failures?
Are you comfortable installing your own hardware?
Have you ever fixed your Windows problems?
Are you aware that you need not run certain software like an anti-virus?
Are you confortable modifying text documents?
Can you be precise in your descriptions?
Do yo expect to use the full power of your computer?
Do any other users use your system?
Is your system stand-alone or on a LAN?

Is your computer a specific purpose appliance?
Are you willing to devote 5 hours to learn the subtle and profound differences that your new Linux system will bring?



Please stick to the facts, your computer is a Compaq WHATEVER built in 2001 that has been running Windows 2000; you are a cigar afficianado that wants to create and host your own web site.....

Your machine will be making birthday cards and spreadsheets.  You surf the web to find shopping deals and install everything that any web site tells you to....you are a sucker for marketing...

your machine is a stand alone Gateway WHATEVER from 1997 and you hope to use it as a firewall for your new LAN - which consists of 3 computers that you will be building....

your whole family uses one computer.  It's a new Dell and runs Windows XP but you're tired of all the fees that you must pay.  you're not computer savy, nor is anyone else in your home, and you're more than a little curious of this thing "Linux" that some of your colleagues have been talking about...you want to switch and can follow directions....your hardware is newish, and you expect everything to work in Linux as it does in Windows...


You want to build a machine for your kids that will help them with homework and give them some multi-media pleasure...but you want to safeguard their web experience...

you want to build a media center pc that will also rip your dvds and play them accross all systems on your LAN or pipe movie output to one screen and music to your living room stereo or the speakers in your garage.....


Am I to be expected to sit for hours reading and configging just to get a working computer with a pleasurable desktop experience?
Can my mother be comfortable running her favorite apps?

Are you married to X-Specific application? 




......I hope that this post further clarifies what I'm looking for, what I think is needed to introduce new Linux users, or the curious, to what their systems can be.

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macondo
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2007, 08:16:09 PM »


Please offer up your insight to this thread.����  Use your own experiences with failure or your own inability to ask an appropriate question that would have yeilded the answer that you sought.����  Remember those "elitists" out there that want you only to RTFM!

After 3 yrs using Win98, i got sick of it for all the common reasons (virus, adware, etc), i decided to install Linux. I chose to install Mandrake 8.0, i didn't know how to partition, so i erased win98 by accident and installed it. Not bad, the problem was i couldn't install rpms, i did not understand it. I got into a dependency hell. I promptly uninstalled Mandrake and reinstalled win98. Jeez! all this time and the linux bastards couldn't arrange something simple like installing abiword. Sad

A couple of weeks later this article appeared in osnews.com:

The Very Verbose Debian 3.0 Installation Walkthrough
http://osnews.com/story.php/2016/The-Very-Verbose-Debian-3.0-Installation-Walkthrough

I read it, it was written in plain English, went step by step, even a neophyte like me could do it, i knew i could do it. After Mandrake, the thing that called my attention to Debian was apt-get. I printed the article, it was 24 pages long, re-read it, told my wife and kids i was incomunicado that afternoon. I followed the instructions to the letter, there was no provision to keep Windows, so what? I could always reinstall win98, no sweat! I never did.

Finally i ended the installation of Woody, it was a minimal installation with Mozilla and WindowMaker. Jeje! i couldn't understand wmaker, mozilla was ok, had mail, browser, and apt-get was sweet. From that installation guide i learned to use cfdisk, apt-get, and gave me confidence i could do anything. This distro made sense. I ran to my wife and told her proudly that she was married to a frigging genius, she yawned.

The date was 27 Oct 2002.

I did not know what a kernel was, a firewall, or anything else. I was a novice with no clue, i had installed the default kernel 2.2. But i kept reading, i live in a small town in Central America, no Linux User Groups, libraries, or bookstores. I read forums, asked questions, told to RTFM which i never understood, but kept reading, figured out how google worked (configured it to show articles in english, spanish and portuguese). Got into a lot of trouble, reinstalled a lot of times, because i didn't know how to fix things. Later on, i read that if i typed 'bf24' at the prompt at the beginning of the install, i would get kernel 2.4 which in those days was the latest and most advanced kernel, two months later i installed my first firewall, and install icewm, fluxbox, my nights were busy reading and screwing up, and reinstalling. I didn't know much about Linux, but i was one hell of an installer. Grin

My box, a PII 266 with 128 MB of RAM, was becoming outdated, tried gnome and kde, but it made it slower, mastered icewm and the other wm, and kept on reading google.com/linux and the debian mailing lists. Google for me has been a life saver, i still don't know how to cdwrite, never had one until now (i got a newer box). Life with Linux is simple, fast (i use ratpoison), no frills, just pure unadulterated speed; the wife and the kids use icewm. I use mostly the keyboard to navigate, my wrist doesn't get tired anymore, looks mean nothing to me but speed does. My monitor offers more space now that i don't have any toolbars. All my apps are small and fast, got no complaints, i keep things simple, the bigger the app, the more chances something will go wrong.

My .02 panamanian
« Last Edit: March 13, 2007, 08:36:51 PM by macondo » Logged

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machiner
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2007, 10:15:34 AM »

http://www.debiantutorials.org/content/view/183/265/

I'll work on the article -- by the time you read it it should be better.  More focused.  I wrote it immediately following an exasperating conversation with a user that needed support.

Oh, my.
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machiner
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2007, 09:08:03 PM »

Pffft, a user.  When I was growing up a user was a druggie.  Now it's  a person sitting on their ass trying to operate a thing they have no idea how to.

Funny how things change.
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2007, 02:15:17 AM »

Pffft, a user.  When I was growing up a user was a druggie. 
I remember those days ... same here Wink

Now it's  a person sitting on their ass trying to operate a thing they have no idea how to.
And therefore expressions like PEBCAK emerged

Funny how things change.
Yes ... and even languages completely alter ... my kids even start to talk MSN language ...
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2007, 08:58:55 AM »

The main thing to remember when migrating to Linux is not to give up. There will be stumbling blocks to be sure, but such is life. Using this forum and others will reward the new user with a positive Linux experience. Theres not a single question about Linux that cannot be answered. Set up a dual-boot system and soon you will forget that OTHER operating system is even there
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machiner
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2007, 10:02:59 AM »

Sing it, brother.


No doubt.
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2008, 12:42:11 PM »

novice:  "is it vista?"
geek:  "No!"
novice:  "Okay, I'll use Linux."
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RichBarna
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2008, 12:43:01 PM »

Amen to all of the above. I have noticed while doing a bit of research here in Spain that the society here is afraid of change (in more ways than one).

Although there are a lot of linux users her, the majority are still willing to pay for a preinstalled Windows machine, software, tech support. This kind of mentality doesn't just run with computers, it can be applied to almost everything here that may improve Joe-Publics life if they would just inject a little effort and try something new.

I personally have converted about 12 people here to Linux, 9 of whom still use it and Love it. That's because I explained it black and white, no technical shit, just plain old tasks.

I got each person to write me a list of what they need to do each day with their 'puter.

Most were basic demands, internet (most already had Firefox on Windows anyway), Gaim was a great substitute for messenger (they love the fact that you can have Msn, Yahoo, gmail etc all mixed together in one app). Evolution is practically the same as Outlook, and Open office was acceptable instead of MSoffice.

I only had 1 problem when the person, my sis-in-law needed Photoshop CS. Gimp just couldn't cut with the stuff she needs to do, and although it is possible to run Photoshop 7 (yeah, that old thing) with wine, I didn't want to attempt it. I am not a big fan of Wine (unless it's the Rioja variety Wink)
I have noticed that the Live CD really takes away a lot of fear for most people. When I explained that you can use linux without even installing it they flip.

So that's how I do it, every time; They supply me a list of tasks and I install, and let them play with the Linux alternatives. Of course I show them what Compiz-Fusion is capable of, as well as a link to a list of games that can be played on Linux.

See if I can convert some more this year. Ubuntu is still the newbies' favourite. But I have managed to get 1 friend to move from Ubuntu to Debian, to be honest he didn't notice much difference, but he does like the idea of using a respected distro instead of a (considered) Newbie distro. He's starting to get to be a bit of a distro snob now, and snorts at Ubuntu, and proudly proclaims how HE uses Debian.

Whatever.

Just my 0.02€
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