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Old 05-05-2004, 07:16 AM   #1
neocookie
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Just some thoughts


For those who don't know me, I'm a new linux user. I've been "brought up" on Windows, but I'm making the move to slackware mainly because I don't like what windows is, but also because I'm a web developer/designer by trade, and work a lot with open-source technologies such as Apache and PHP.

The thing I do like about windows, however, is that its "quick to use". Put me infront of an app on windows for a day, and I'll know it inside out. Linux hasn't been so easy on me. I've had to do a hell of a lot of googling to get simple things done, such as get X configured, make xFce work, install programs, and even unzip archives.

I'm sure linux has the power to probe for hardware, and make decisions based on general consensus and pratices (such as noting that the monitor and graphics card can do 1600x1400, and setting the resolution to 1280x1024 because its big enough to use and small enough so as it isn't silly).

Your average user doesn't know whether he's got a Matrox or NVidia card. They didn't ask for one specifically when they purchased the box two years ago. Hell, they just had some sales guy rant on about the features of what could have been a cruise missile for all they knew. All they wanted was... email. web. music.

I understand the concept of linux, but the community doesn't make it easy for the average guy on the street who just wants email, the internet, and to listen to music. Sure, there are distros that try to make things as easy as possible. But, unlike Windows, they don't force any constraints, offer so many choices that its confuzing, and tend to just "dump" you at the end.

I first toyed with linux two years ago when I bought Mandrake. I put it on my computer, and after being presented with hundreds of programs to choose from, I just gave up and went back to (ugh) ME.

You've probably heard many comments like this before, and I'm sure I've read one or two on here previously. What I've noted though, is that most users who are used to linux usually say something along the lines of "learn linux if you want to use it".

I don't want to.

I want to use linux. Then I want to learn it. I don't want to be treated like a 4 year old, and I don't want to be thrust neck-deep in man pages and CLI switches. I just, like your average user, want to pick up email, browse the web, and listen to my MP3s/CDs while I do that.

And I know the average user only wants that. I've set up many computers for family and friends, and that what they all want. Sure, they say they'd also like to scan in images, print things, write books/letters/notes, etc. And thats all fine, because that can come later.

Windows has got a head start there, because once its intalled its very easy to get the basics going: email, web, music.

Fair enough, I'm entheustiastic. I do want to learn the intricacies of linux. I do want to learn the power of CLI switches. I do want to understand the fundamentals. But I want to use the bloody thing first! And I can't do any of that without a net connection, my email, or music (it helps me focus).

My perfect distro would be one that installs itself with the minimum of fuss. No long lists of software choices. Just a nice simple (and graphical if possible) interface that says: "Where would you like to install? OK, here we go...", and installs the basics of what the standard user needs: email, web, sound.

And thats it. Sure, I want to be asked questions. But questions such as "What filesystem would you like? ext2 (this is...) | ext3 (this is...) | reiserFS (this is...)", not "Please select which programs you want from the following list: vi | vim | gv | tar | xpdf". They're just a bunch of acronyms. What do I want with a load of acronyms?

I remember first logging into KDE. It looked purty, sure, but then I hit the start bar and was presented with so many apps, most of them doing the same as another, that again I just gave up and went back to windows.

I would have prefered to have been presented with a boot "splash" screen, a graphical login screen, and xFce. I would have prefered to be presented with Mozilla (or possibly Firefox and Thunderbird), OpenOffice.org, a simple calculator, XMMS, a simple PDF viewer, and a very simple, easy to use file manager (such as rox, but even simpler). That would have been nice. I could have started with that and stayed with it. No fuss. No choices. No bumf. No bloat.

Just some thoughs. Please feel free to comment.
 
Old 05-05-2004, 07:57 AM   #2
MultiBooter
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I've been using Linux for a little while and tried out a few distros. While I haven't tried slackware, from what I've read it isn't one for noobs. For a setup as simple as you would like try either Mandrake or SUSE. Both use graphical setups and, while you can get nitty gritty questions if you want, neither make you as both have the option to use a simple install. (I usually opt for the advanced since I am a control freak and _like_ to answer all of those questions about what I want.) I've used Mandrake from 7.x through 9.0 and recently tried out SUSE 9.2. (which I am in right now) I haven't tried out Mandrake 10 so somebody else could better tell you about that, but up through 9.0 it defaulted to the simple install. SUSE also defaults to _not_ asking you to pick out the individual packages but groups (e.g. games, network client). While it might not completely fulfill your requirements, I believe that it should come pretty close. For example, if you wanted to do some word processing press the Start Applications menu button (K in generic KDE but it looks a little? different in SUSE), go to Office, the Wordprocessor and select one of several choices. So it is pretty simple to use. Personally, I would recommend it. Anyone else out there have any input?
 
Old 05-05-2004, 08:43 AM   #3
qwijibow
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my distro of linux... (fedora core1 redhat 9 and knoppix) all autodetected my hardware fine.

anyways....

the thing ive noticed about linux, is almost everything is a command line tool with an optional graphical user interface...

for example, un taring archives is done via command line, and this is the way it is taught because everyone has a different graphical frontend..

you can use konqueror to graphically unzip archives.. but not everyone has kde.

anyway.. i find un taring archives easyer in llinux...

not long ago i had to configure a windows box, i came across a zipped driver..
just to un-zip the driver, i had to download a program caled 'winzip' (which you have to PAYY FOR ! (i used trial version )) because windows itself cannot handle this common compression.
 
Old 05-05-2004, 09:24 AM   #4
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MultiBooter, that was the whole point: there is just too much choice. I actually went out and bought the packaged version of Mandrake 8.0 on advice from some long-time linux users, and they said it would be perfect for my needs. I did the standard install, on a new-ish machine (at that time).

It didn't detect my network card. It didn't detect my sound card. It didn't help me fix these problems. And it gave me way too many choices when it came to packages.

Quote:
For example, if you wanted to do some word processing press the Start Applications menu button (K in generic KDE but it looks a little? different in SUSE), go to Office, the Wordprocessor and select one of several choices.
And that is my point exactly: select one of several choices. I'm new to linux. I don't want several choices. I want one. If I don't like it, then I'll look on the net for other choices to download and install.

I chose slack mainly because I didn't want to have my system bloated with KDE or GNOME. I've nothing against them, but I just don't like them. IMO, they're muddled, and there's no consistancy, however this can be said about most apps in linux.

As an advanced windows user, I've some preconceptions, and as a web developer/designer, I know a little about usability. I mainly posted to voice some thoughts on my experiences as a linux newbie. Sometimes too much choice and too many decisions can be detrimental.
 
Old 05-05-2004, 11:30 AM   #5
satinet
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Exclamation

Well,

I think if you can't even be bothered to choose which software packages you install then this whole linux ethos isn't going to appeal to you. Do you like people to tell you what to eat on a Morning and tell you how to dress as well? Pleeeease.

If you took, say 3 hours, to install Mandrake 9.2 (for example), you would be able to select the software packages you wanted install and would find that it detects most hardware with no issues. I have no idea why you chose slackware, which is not really appropriate for completely inexperienced users. This site is full of advice for newbies.

Do you honestly think that Linux distro's would be better if you where given no choice about what to install and how to install it? If you don't care about such things then stick with MS Windows. The whole linux ethos is based around configuration and flexibilty. It is most definately not a shrink wrapped product that you can just install and forget about. Of course it is not a product at all. As you don't even seem to know what a file system is, maybe you should have taken some more time to learn some computing basics before trying something more complex.

If you where only given one choice, how would you know what was out there and what linux apps are available. Surely it would be easier to trying things and uninstall them if you don't need or like them.

I really am not sure what you point is or what you where expecting from linux. It sounds like you want an out of the box solution like MS Windows but somehow different. If not why not try a Mac instead.

You say you don't like Windows but decry all the things that are different about linux and extole all of MS constraints as virtues. Linux is not a FREE version of windows you know. Linux is free as in free. not just something that costs nothing.

Of course it is not perfect. But everything that most people here seem to dislike about MS windows are things you seem to want. So why don't you just stick with it???
 
Old 05-05-2004, 12:30 PM   #6
Crito
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Linux is unnecessarily cryptic and inconsistent. I mean, come on, application names like K3B and XMMS might as well be Gobblygoop and Whatchamacallit. Switches are inconsistent even between related commands. Like passwrd uses -l to lock an account but usermod uses -l to change a username and -L to lock an account then, of course, chage has to use -l for something completely different too. Why? Nobody knows.

On the other hand, once you learn how to use the CLI out of sheer repetition (because memorizing switches in a logical manner is impossible), the power of the OS becomes readily apparent. The ability to do things like assigning passwords and administrators to groups is amazingly flexible and has no equivalent in the Windows world. Some of the CLI commands like, say, using chkconfig to manage SysV startup scripts, really are easier than their GUI counterparts, believe it or not.

So, IMHO, a lot of confusion comes from the hodgepodge manner in which Linux (and UNIX in general) evolved, but whenever I think of something I need/want seems someone else already wrote it. I don't have to wait for MS to respond to the appeals of its users or worse, have them dictate the "MS way" to everyone, as seems to be more the norm nowadays. <insert Frank Sinatra song here> I did it my way.

Last edited by Crito; 05-07-2004 at 01:29 PM.
 
Old 05-05-2004, 01:14 PM   #7
witeshark
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It's still vastly more fun to tinker Linux app/components then to try to out - pace doz bloz security/stability crap. DOZ: I want my money back!
 
Old 05-05-2004, 01:19 PM   #8
Mega Man X
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It's just impossible to compare Windows and Linux that way. Windows does not give any good choices during the install, but at the end of what, over 1GB of hard disk space, all you get is a terrible text editor, an awful buggy browser and a file manager(which is practically the same as the browser). That's all you got and most likely you need to upgrade them right away because of holes here and there, or in the case of IE, use something else because that is a nasty product.

About the same amount of disk space, with Linux, you can get Office, firewall, image editors, gnome, evolution, gnu-cash, xmms, media player, cd burner tools, scanner applications, etc. If you ever used an easy to use distribution as Mandrake, you'll notice that you've few things to choose when _not_ selecting individual packages during the installation.

Updates and bugfixes are just as easy to use as Windows at Mandrake Control Center, which by the way, is much more organized then Windows Control Panel, and has about the same functionality, configuring display, sound, add/remove softwares, firewall rules, usb devices, printers, etc.

Installation of applications with Mandrake is a breeze too. All you've to do is to download the .rpm and double click on it. gurpmi will take care of the rest. If a dependency problem is found, you will either be asked for your CD's or it will download the packages from the net for you as long as you've sources added to urpmi... It cannot get any easier then that... seriously. But maybe Windows users prefer to do things more "manually", install Windows eXPensive, then Kazaa, then download and install all the rest ilegally: Nero, PowerDVD XP, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Office eXPerimental, Games,.... oh well....
 
Old 05-05-2004, 01:47 PM   #9
witeshark
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Well the time wasted doing new patches on a week to week basis alone... How many hints does it take??? nuff said
 
Old 05-06-2004, 10:20 AM   #10
laceupboots
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If I can do it, you can do it. While I do have a background in IT it's all software, the hardware issues about ate my lunch. I just read and googled and used osmosis to learn what I needed to do. Still way new, but now all those choices seem like a good thing rather than the overwhelming quagmire it seemed like in the beginning. Good luck.
 
Old 05-06-2004, 10:48 AM   #11
andredude
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Hi neocookie. I couldn't help but sympathize when I read your mail - I used to feel exactly the same way. I started on redhat 5.5 and it just blowed. The installation, the usage, everything just sucked when compared to windows 2000 which I was dual-booting at the time. I also didn't have an internet connection from my flat at the time so you can imagine what a mission it was to find information. And yes I hated the experience so much that I trashed my box (after a year) and just loaded windows on it again. Fortunately some time later I tried linux again, this time with rh7.2. I was amazed at the usability improvements, and although I still thought it wasn't quite there yet it grabbed me enough to stick it out and learn it properly - of course, having a full-time internet connection helped enormously.

The latest bunch of distros that I've seen (currently Mandrake 9.2) on the other hand are in my opinion as easy to use as windows, if not easier. I think your problem stems largely from the fact that you don't want an OS that is as easy as windows, but rather one that is exactly like windows. You need to remember that there was a time when you did not know how to use windows either.

Here is my challenge to you: Put a user that does not know how to use windows in front of a pc and ask him to set up his web, email, sound. Step one is usually to install drivers, I can guarantee you the user will not make it past that step. With linux on the other hand, you are usually good to go straight out of the box, and most distros provide gui's that allows you to set it up, just like windows. It's not the same, but it's just as easy to someone that doesn't know either operating system.

So how do you get to the GUI where you set up your network?

In windows: click on start (or my computer), go into the control panel, go into network and dial-up connections, right-click local area connection (why?), click on properties, click on TCP / IP (whoops, it's not installed, now what?), click on properties. It's not that difficult.

In redhat 9: Click on the red hat, click on system settings, click on network.

I'm just using your own example. Remember not to confuse 'easy' with 'familiar'. Trust me, new users don't know how to set up their windows boxes either, I still do it for my whole tech-illiterate family.
 
Old 05-06-2004, 10:51 AM   #12
neocookie
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I'm not having a go at linux. Not at all. I found my install operation with slackware much better than that of Redhat, Mandrake, Debian, and Gentoo. Being thrown in at the deepend was expected with slackware. I chose it due to space and hardware limitations.

Its not that I don't want to choose what apps I want. Its the fact that there are so many choices I don't want to have to sift through them all to find one that is suited to me. Especially when I'm installing the system, and I'm offered 5 different packages for viewing PDFs! I don't want five, I just want one that works and doesn't cause my system to crash or doesn't actually open the PDF I want to view (I really, really don't like gv. It just doesn't do what it is supposed to).

True, windows gives you no choices and sticks everything on. And its 1GB of pap. Why is it then that there isn't a distro that can just put on the basics, the minimal of what will run on a minimal of hardware, which includes a minimal GUI and basic apps as a starting point.

I don't want to have to sit there for three hours with the mandrake install system infront of me asking me a bunch of questions about which group of letters I want on my system.

What I would like is a very minimal system I can build on, with nice helpful advice on what an acronym is, what it does, and other similar acronyms I can choose from.

I'm sorry to say, and with this I mean no disrespect or harm, but most regular user's of linux say "why do you want that, when you can configure everything yourself?"

Firstly, your average user hears of the wonders of linux, and what it can do, and then is presented with too many choices and not much help along the way. If I didn't have a spare machine knocking around, I would have spent weeks trying to get linux on a box.

Secondly, even your Windows power-user needs a helping hand every now and again. I've got slack on both my main systems now. I've got it working, I've got a GUI, and after a week of googling and asking questions, I've got enough knowledge to get me through the simple things. On windows, even though you don't get much when you start, you get more than with linux. I don't mean power, or flexability, or configurability. I mean you get more further forward. You've got a GUI. For your average user, along with the box, thats what a computer is. Without that, they're lost. You've got the means to quickly set up a net connection. That gives you access to whatever else you need. You've got a browser. Built in! Its just there, and it works. You've got email. Yes, they'll even give you an email account! Straight off! No messing about!

Thats why windows it better for your average user. And I feel that linux, while it doesn't need to live up to windows, should have at least one distro which offers this from the get-go. As rightly stated by Megaman, for the same space as the basic install of windows, you get a hell of a lot more with linux. What you don't get is a basic system, without the bloat, that just works.

Having said all that, I'll probably not go back. Since slack went on, I've not rebooted, and I've not switched to the Win partition. I've not even run WINE (probably because I don't know how... yet).

My system is getting better. I've just installed OpenOffice. I'm having a bit of a problem with Thunderbird, but I'll work through it. Gimp is next, along with other windows-alternative software which I need as a developer.

But for the minute I've got Firefox. And a net connection. That gives me access to my email.

And I'm happy.
 
Old 05-06-2004, 11:07 AM   #13
neocookie
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AndreDude, thanks for the reply.

Again, I'm not bashing linux. I don't like windows. Its bloat in a box. I really don't want to go back. And I won't.

I haven't got a problem. I don't want linux to be the same as windows. I don't want linux to do anything it doesn't want to. They were just my thoughts, after trying numerous distros while trying to set up an old machine as a net/email/music box for a family member.

Setting up '98 was a breeze. Just keep clicking "Yes". Once its up, download Mozilla, set up mail, erradicate all traces of IE/Outlook. Done.

Then it came off, because it would have brought more annoyance than anything else, and I went through: Redhat, Mandrake, Gentoo, numerous floppy distros in an attempt at "LinuxFromScratch", before finally settling on slack. I've loved the slack experience, because it didn't provide me with too many options. There were i think 9 sets, of which I chose 4. Things got a little confuzzling when it came down to individual packages, so I just selected the first ones and de-selected the later ones that did a similar job. Then I left it to it. The only problem I had was configuring X to work with the monitor.

Currently its waiting for more ram. But other than that its stable and happy. And so am I.

Again, to re-itterate, I don't have a problem with linux. I love it. These are just some thoughts, those of a new user getting to grips and wondering what Windows did so well that its got most of the market share. And hoping linux will do it better in the future, as I am sure it can.
 
Old 05-06-2004, 03:40 PM   #14
andredude
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I realise that you're not blasting linux, if I thought you were I would not have bothered responding. What I'm saying is that I had a similiar frustrating experience with linux in the beginning. I just don't agree that your web, mail and sound is set up straight from installation on windows, unless I've been missing something BIG . You've still got to set up your dns servers, email accounts, drivers etc. etc. just like with linux, and in my experience this is generally more difficult to do in windows than it is in linux if you know both OS's (think: reboot, reboot, reboot, reboot...). I had to 'fix' a friend's windows pc a couple weeks back, the problem turned out to be that the techie at the shop didn't install the motherboard drivers, and it was on one of those obscure cd's. I've never seen that happening in linux.

As for all the options and apps, yes i suppose it can be a bit intimidating, personally I just install them all even if I only use half. But I suppose that's something you either love or hate. And I hear you on X as well, personally I've been lucky enough to never have problems in that department (except for redhat 5.5, sigh). but there is still some way to go, one of my gripes is the support for games, for example. because of that I've still got to keep a windows partition, which blows. But i think that's one of the next things that's going to get sorted out, it's just got to get big enough for developers to start developing for linux, which i think will happen soon.

anyway cheers and good luck
 
Old 05-06-2004, 03:55 PM   #15
Whitehat
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Hehe

Been gone for almost 2 months and just came back....

Funny how nothing changes

People still frustrated because Linux won't do things in as few steps as Windows. I am now Linux free and I have to say I don't miss it one bit.
All I use is Windows XP Pro with SP1 and also Server 2003. Both run like champs.

Sorry...that's just how it is.

Peace,
Whitehat
 
  


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