“Many ‘gurus’ teaching new users about Linux make it look harder than it needs to be, and apparently fail to explain that yes, you can make PowerPoint-style presentations in Linux, you can view Web Pages that use Flash animation and other “glitz” features, and that you can manage all your files though simple “point, click, drag and drop” visual interfaces. Could the biggest problem with Linux usability be that most of the people teaching newbies to use Linux are too smart and know too much?” Robert Miller’s excellent editorial found on NewsForge.
Making Linux Look Harder Than It Is
2001-12-07 Editorial 25 Comments
Yes, I have also noticed a tendency by many Linux “power users” to inform users only about complex solutions where simple ones exist (TeX/LaTeX instead of FooOffice, vi instead of kate, manual printer configuration instead of graphical front-ends, unusual window manager behavior instead of Windows-like settings etc.) . This is a gap that has to be filled by free guidelines and newbie-to-newbie oriented communities.
The problem is, however, that there are no standards. GUI printer setup is different in Mandrake as in SuSE and you change the fonts in KDE in a different way than in Gnome. The command line approach is, unfortunately, the only one that works across distributions.
If a Mandrake/KDE user asks a Debian/Gnome user for help, it’s almost like a Windows user asking a Mac user for help.
The problem is, however, that there are no standards.
The problem is, however, that there are no standards.
Nuff said. –OpinionBoy
Ditto to that!
The other problem is that too many of the geeks who hang out in the Linux newsgroups where newbies go for help would rather impress the newbies with their superior knowledge of *nix jargon than to actually help solve problems. Seen too much of it.
wow, that was a amazing, before break check osnews and read stories. After break check slashdot and what do I see this exact quote, word for word. chrisd plagerizing? Or is there more then meets the eye here.
firstly, OSNews put the news up before Slashdot did.
Second, the quote is a quote from the actual article. It is CUSTOMARY among news web sites that when you link to a longer article somewhere, you always quote its first paragraph, as a teaser. This is what both OSNews and Slashdot did. And it is perfectly normal.
I know you did it first yer on top of stuff I wasnt saying that slashdot did it first, however the way slashdot wrote it up made it look like they ripped it from you but then again I haven’t read the article yet. I guess with slashdot quoting the person emailing them and not saying ‘the website says’ or something along those lines makes it look like someone quoted you and you got no credit.
What a bunch of crybabies. You want help from the Linux community, but you’re unhappy with the free help and you think Linux is “too hard”. Your system probably gets the “It won’t let me do anything” bug once every couple weeks too…
I often help pitch in on the alt.os.linux.slackware and other newsgroups, and the constant flood of newbies asking the same questions can be quite annoying. But those of us who spent more than 2 minutes with the documentation AND TOOK OUR TIME learning a new OPERATING SYSTEM (not a new Playstation game) figured the darn thing out, and if the answer has ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN in the documentation ON YOUR HARD DRIVE then DON’T BUG ME.
On the other hand, if you’ve read the docs and done the tweaking, beat the newsgroups over the head with a big hammer until somebody helps you. And the problem will get resolved.
Linux too hard? At least it’s not proprietary… there are options…
In racing, when a new driver has been running for a while, and things aren’t working out, there is a classification made: OSB. Other Sports Beckon.
If YOU DON’T WANT to use Linux bad enough to make it work, then give up and quit whining. Other Operating Systems Beckon.
Imacs are real cheap now…
WTF “Linux too hard? At least it’s not proprietary… there are options… ”
What kind of comment is this. Do you think this makes any sence. Since when does proprietary make things hard if thats what your implying. The three easiest OS in the world are proprietary Beos Windows Mac. An if thats not what you meant where was that comment going? And how does not being proprietary give you more options far as making it easier. Linux people need to learn the majority of the planet can give a rats &^(*& ass about that. Being open source will help them none. Being open source just means everyone is off doing their own thing causing a lack of standard throughout the system(s) so a new person is completly lost.
Linux people need to learn that 99% of the people in the world can do ablsolutly nothing with the code. and if a person had a problem with a bug or wanted something changed most odds are very very good they don’t know any coding. And even those who know some don’t know where to start with a ugly beast like linux. If one needs a driver you would say “well its open source write one”. Well sorry few know how to do this and most likly the person needing the driver does not know how to write one. Or “I know its safe cause I can see the code”. OK so do you look through the code of everything you run and know what is all does, doubt many people out there could.
Linux people (not to sum all of them, but the seaminly bulk and the loud bulk) scream about the GPL and the whole open source thing. Get off that damn case. No one cares! not many people are running political protest with there operating systems or love to code. They just want a nice operating system they can use. If the effort put into the GPL/opensource screaming went into making one refined unified OS you would have something. Set some standards to keap things the same throughout. Get a new freaking bootloader all ready, get a real GUI. Look at windows, i don’t see people struggling to develope for it, and guess what, no source code. If you want to make big statements about open source make a damn nice product that any joe or jane can just start using and then show how its open source then you might find people who care. Untill then you will always look like a bunch of complaining nerds who still live in their parents basements coding, hacking, watching porn and Anime, protesting everything the government does and complaining cause its not legal to rip of software or music etc. If your not one of these people you might want to try and work on your fellow users to clean up their act/image some.
I’m using mozilla to write this and you know what i don’t care that its open source. It works well for me, if someone made a identical browser that was closed source fine. I don’t care. I don’t browse the web with the code. I’m glad there are people out there who like to do such projects and its fine for them to share their code. Good for them, and thanks for a nice product. But do you think people go and use it cause its opensource? I just hope good developers arn’t scared away from such projects cause of people yelling about its code instead of what it does and how well it does it.
Please remeber that what you refer as “linux” is many times incorrect…
the Os is GNU, linux is just one of the may kernel that GNU can use.
If you want to try GNU all is ok try it, if you have problems you have loads of docs, howto and if you buy a Distribution you have also phone support, what you need more?
Using GNOME+sawmill is nearly as easy as use a MAC, using KDE is nicer than winXP.
I’m a Enlightenment user and I like it, I know may people that just love WindowMaker/GnuStep. On linux you have choices. on the other Os you have less
“…if the answer has ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN in the documentation ON YOUR HARD DRIVE then DON’T BUG ME.”
Your response proves my point. If YOU don’t want to answer those questions, then DON’T. I can see from your attitude that I wouldn’t want your free help, which apparently consists of, “Read the #^%&$^% man pages, you looser.” Gee, maybe if so many new Linux users have the same questions, doesn’t that tell you something? In a commercial product environment, the common occurrance of issues like this raises a red flag to engineers and managers that they need to do something to make the product more suitable for the intended market. People like you demand that the market change to fit the product. Dumb. Why hasn’t Linux made more progress on the home desktop? Look in the mirror. At least M$ knows that if they make Windows hard to use for normal people, and then flame them when they have problems, that they will lose money.
I have been using Linux for a few months, and am getting more comfortable with it, but questions still arise, and sometimes I can’t find answers in references. Just what do you expect people to do in such situations? Sometimes the answers are not in the man pages, and they can be very hard to find.
I agree totally. The majority of readers on this site are Geeks/Nerds/Turds and I have often stated they need to get out more. Soon, all you GNT’s will learn that you do not have a monopoly on PC’s (inc Mac’s). The letters PC are now synonomous with MS. They’re here to stay and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from being a little more proffesional, but then that isn’t what Linux is about is it?
>Using GNOME+sawmill is nearly as easy as use a MAC, using KDE is nicer than winXP.
I think this is only in your opinion, at home I only use Solaris 8 as a server because it’s free (and cool) and BeOS because of it’s FS and I’m comfortable using its IDE, the GUI was never a top priority it was “Can it do the job I want it to do?”, Windoze couldn’t, Linux wouldn’t. My employer let me evaluate several Distro’s of Linux on our internal network. Out of RedHat, Suse, Mandrake and Caldera, Caldera 3.1 was the only Distro that integrated with our existing network well, has nice GUI’d admin tools. Some people use things becuase they’re pratical and work well, some because they’re flash, politics is such a lame argument for using things. As I travel up and down the country covering 6 counties and London all I see is Microsoft. I used to see a lot of Novell servers but they are slowly disappearing. MS might be crap, and I think EU’s will tell you that after they’ve lost hours of work, but that’s all they’re interested in, WORK. They don’t want to spend hours trying to get there XFree up to 4.1.0, GNT’s might masterbate or dream over such challenges but I think you’ll find GNT’s are definatly in the minority.
So not only does Linux need to be standardised, if it wants to meet the masses it needs to be friendlier. But I don’t think Linux wants to do that, it wants to be at the back serving.
Until Linux meets the Majority requirements, Windoze will remain and reign supreme.
BTW, I used to be a GNT sitting in dark rooms until sunrise, drinking Cola.
But then I grew up and discovered bugs are expected not accepted
That was for Eugenia.
You have to PAY for help that doesn’t come from doc…
People that helps you is just sparing you money so if he points you to a manpage or a URL with the docs you need you should just say thank you.
setting up a linux box took not so much. the standard are already present.
use the COMMON TOOLs or build the one you want to use.
if using ls,cp,mv,rm isn’t enought you can use mc gmc nautilus kfm etc etc etc
but even if you are using them you can always use the standard cli.
you can extend it on every part of the OS
btw taking and install xfree 4xx took me just the time to download it unpack write make World install
and then XFree86 -configure and then add an additional fontdir and remove the stuff I don’t need..
people willing to learn can learn in free time (ok days for know everyting but just about 1 hour for the basics)
Sadly most peole doesn’t want to learn nor try…
those are the one that ask about how to [place a common silly question]
>setting up a linux box took not so much. the standard are already present.
The kernal maybe standard, the rest will vary from dist to dist.
>use the COMMON TOOLs or build the one you want to use.
If you read the article and previous posts, this is beyond the mojority user.
>if using ls,cp,mv,rm isn’t enought you can use mc gmc nautilus kfm etc etc etc
but even if you are using them you can always use the standard cli.
Again, no standard.
>btw taking and install xfree 4xx took me just the time to download it unpack
>write make World install and then XFree86 -configure and then add an
>additional fontdir and remove the stuff I don’t need.. HOW HARD
And then do this, and then this and this. This is the point made in the article, a simple GUI or ./install would do and what happens when the upgrade doesn’t work? too much for the Joe/Jane user.
>people willing to learn can learn in free time (ok days for know everyting
>but just about 1 hour for the basics)
Most people I meet want to get on with things, learning is a part of any system, but it shouldn’t take over your user experience.
>Sadly most peole doesn’t want to learn nor try…
>those are the one that ask about how to [place a common silly question]
Drinking beer and socialising beats getting your eyeballs fried.
I have helped some people with a variety of operating systems and i am very glad to give assistance. I try to be as clear as I can because I can remember a time when I had to figure it out too. What really frustrates me though is when someone is asking for help, but they are not willing to take the time to learn.
Learning an OS is not just learning how to solve one problem here and there. It it learning how to find the answers to your problems too.
I remember clearly in second grade continually asking the teacher, “How do you spell …?” I asked about every word I ever had a question. It was so much easier to ask than to try to find the answer. After a while, the teacher got wise and instead of answering my specific question of how to spell that specific word, she solved my real problem. She kept answering “Go look it up in the dictionary.” I really hated that answer because it took me five times longer to go look up the word in the dictionary than it did to just ask how to spell each word. But I wasn’t learning anything by asking how to spell each word because I would often ask the same question the next day. The teacher realized that I really didn’t need to learn how to spell any specific word nearly as much as I needed to know how to find the answer myself.
It takes time to learn something new. There is no better way to teach than to teach someone how to take themselves to the next level themselves.
“Gee, maybe if so many new Linux users have the same questions, doesn’t that tell you something? In a commercial product environment, the common occurrance of issues like this raises a red flag to engineers and managers that they need to do something to make the product more suitable for the intended market.”
You know what this tells me? Nothing! This is not my problem. It’s the job of the distribution to package everything up nicely and write a good manual, and provide a phone number users can call if they are really stuck. That’s what they *pay* for. As someone who has written a few Linux apps, I can tell you that my target market is not Joe Sixpack. I write useful software for programmers and sys admins, and I do it because it’s fun.
It’s also a distributor’s job to impose standards, and say “Every piece of software in my distro must have at least 5 wizards!”, if the home desktop is their target environment. And if they can’t find enough software like that, than they can hire programmers to add wizards. It’s open source, after all.
What they can’t do is tell me how to write my software. Neither can 1000 whiny users, or anybody else.
“At least M$ knows that if they make Windows hard to use for normal people, and then flame them when they have problems, that they will lose money.”
RedHat knows the same thing. Try calling them up. As for me, I don’t like being asked a bunch of questions when users haven’t read the docs. That’s why they’re there! I’m not making any money off my software, so I am free to flame newbies as I please.
“If you want to make big statements about open source make a damn nice product that any joe or jane can just start using and then show how its open source then you might find people who care.”
I like using Linux because it’s a comfortable UNIX environment, it’s free, and it runs easily on all my hardware. If you don’t like it, well that’s what Windows/MacOS/BeOS/etc. etc. is for.
Joe, Jane Lamer
>>>Untill then you will always look like a bunch
>>>of complaining nerds who still live in their
>>>parents basements coding, hacking, watching
>>porn and Anime<<
>>>protesting everything the government does and
>>>complaining cause its not legal to rip of software
>>>or music etc. If your not one of these people you
>>>might want to try and work on your fellow users
>>>to clean up their act/image some.
What does P0rn and or Anime have to do with anything?
And why would you equate one with the oor with “nerds?”
If it hasn’t got any relevence to the discussion, I (and
many other otaku) would appreciate it if you’d stop with
the sterotyping! Sheesh! try and have a conversation about
computers and this guy wants to add anime into it?!?
Redundant: exceeding what is necessary; repetitive.
sorry brad, i couldn’t read the entire speech on how you’d like to have everyone that is saying with pride that they should shut up and be like everyone else but you could of summed the the whole thing in one paragraph. And what you were saying is that you don’t want people to be proud that there’s GPL and that we should just shut up. thus saying that in an anology you can say that it would be like saying that anyone that is gay shouldn’t go out and flaunt it around, that anyone that had a differnt religion that they should just keep it to them self. And heck, lets just not show that any of us are Americans (if you are).
As for GPL and GNU and FSF i’m glad there is some on commercial organizations out there. And i’m glad for open source which is comparable to a democracy which allows people to be more than just end users.
And to sum this up really quick for my comment on the origonal topic, I’m here to say that i’m proud to be that 5%, you know the people who flaunt and express what they stand for.
yeah i see this trend alot, where some one will explain something in a complex manor and expect the “newbie” to get all of it. This is one of the reasons i’m making a tutorial for the GNU/Linux operating system basics and then the GNU/Linux apps made more down to earth for newbies, course i’m doing this on my free time so it wont come out within this month.
On linux you have choices. on the other Os you have less
nbut its not linux, its GNU!!!
> On linux you have choices. on the other Os you have less
Yes, especially in terms of vector graphics software or games 😛
>>Gee, maybe if so many new Linux users have the same questions, doesn’t that >>tell you something? In a commercial product environment, the common
>>occurrance of issues like this raises a red flag to engineers and managers
>>that they need to do something to make the product more suitable for the
>You know what this tells me? Nothing!
Not the brightest tool in the box, are you?
>This is not my problem.
Who said it was your problem? Are you a Linux distributor?
>It’s the job of the distribution to package everything up nicely and write a
>good manual, and provide a phone number users can call if they are really
>stuck. That’s what they *pay* for.
>As someone who has written a few Linux apps, I can tell you that my target
>market is not Joe Sixpack.
Joe Sixpack is who this thread is about, or at least Joe Windows Sixpack. In this context Joe could be a corporate executive or salesman who needs to get work done, and isn’t concerned about what is under the hood.
>I write useful software for programmers and sys admins, and I do it because
Great. It should be fun. Do you also not care what these people want?
>It’s also a distributor’s job to impose standards, and say “Every piece of
>software in my distro must have at least 5 wizards!”, if the home desktop is
>their target environment. And if they can’t find enough software like that,
>than they can hire programmers to add wizards. It’s open source, after all.
>What they can’t do is tell me how to write my software. Neither can 1000 whiny
>users, or anybody else.
As they say here in the South, you are a piece of work. Of course programmers let users tell them how to write software. If they don’t listen to their customers, they will soon look for another brand of software. Can you really be this clueless?
>>At least M$ knows that if they make Windows hard to use for normal people,
>>and then flame them when they have problems, that they will lose money.”
>RedHat knows the same thing. Try calling them up.
I’m sure they do. They are in business to make money.
>As for me, I don’t like being asked a bunch of questions when users haven’t
>read the docs. That’s why they’re there!
They should also be encouraged to buy a good book and learn about Google. At the same time, people new to Linux don’t always know where to look! You have to have some idea where the resources are before you can find them. Everybody starts knowing nothing. If I have an answer, complete or partial, I point them in the right direction. But I suppose you were born knowing this stuff. Once again, if you don’t want to answer questions, then don’t. Flaming them only shows that your ego is as bloated as XP.
>I’m not making any money off my software,
With your arrogant attitude, I’m not surprised. I hope you don’t expect to earn paying customers by telling them you don’t care what they want.
>so I am free to flame newbies as I please.
Everybody is free to be a jerk. It appears you enjoy it. I suppose *plonk* is a word you see often on the usenet.
>>so I am free to flame newbies as I please.
>Everybody is free to be a jerk. It appears you enjoy it. I suppose *plonk* is
>a word you see often on the usenet.
This was a sarcastic comment :]
My point is that most software developed for Linux is made by advanced users, for advanced users. If newbies are confused by the CLI and so on, then they should start by reading up on their distro’s documentation.
Also, I don’t think you understand the mindset of many OSS developers, including myself. I make software to ‘scratch an itch’, so to speak. If other people find it useful, fine – but I don’t develop it for them, and I probably never will.
Well, I can tell you why I am running BeOS and not Linux.
The writting style of most Linux docs stink. The info you need may well be in the docs, but reading the docs and understanding them is another thing all together. All the docs seem to assume that you have a university degree in Computer Science (maybe because that is who writes alot of the code) but the average user out there does not understand most of the terms used.
Example: recently I needed to find a file — So I went to use the find command. UGH! What a mess, and the most common use to find a file is buried halfway into the docs instead of being at the beginning where most people would easyly find it.
Earl Colby Pottinger