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Old 11-03-2009, 03:37 PM   #16
XavierP
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Luckily I didn't start out with apt You're probably right, but I think that any resource aimed at total newbies needs to ensure that all baby steps are fully mapped out. Maybe that's why we get so many very basic questions?
 
Old 11-03-2009, 06:35 PM   #17
DavidMcCann
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I don't know what Windows documentation is like, but I remember the manuals I had with MSDOS, and they were not much better than Linux documentation. The real problem is probably that people who can talk to computers can't talk to humans, and vice versa

I have noticed that experts often tend to give too much information, or give the most complex solutions. Some-one asks how to install software, and the guru starts talking about apt-get or yum, instead of saying "You click on the System menu, then on Administration, then on Add/Remove Software." As Goethe said, few can resist educating others into counterparts of themselves.
 
Old 11-03-2009, 07:43 PM   #18
XavierP
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It's down to what seems easiest to the tutor - to me, sudo apt-get is easier than tracking down the package manager and so I am likely to be blinded to whatever instruction the user needs. O'Reilly, Apress and friends all make money out of writing books that fill in the blanks that the man pages and manuals don't.
 
Old 11-03-2009, 08:42 PM   #19
exvor
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No matter what operating system it is people will be confused on how to install or remove programs. I for one used to work for MS as OS support and believe me when I say that windows newbies are just as frustrated as Linux newbies and there is even less to help them out.

On a personal note I for one think that the current state of things with software needs a bit cleaning up. In reality there does not need to be 3 places to house software. Maybe if you have each one of these directory's on a different partition but even then I think the benefits are no longer there. I am of course talking about /bin /usr/bin and /usr/local/bin and the oddities that put stuff in /var or even /opt. Some better solutions would for each non system software package to have its own folder and then house its statically linked libraries in its own lib folders and such this I call the program files method. Tho this is how windows "kinda" does it and ill admit it would become a nightmare of directorys. This would allow software removal to be a lot more smooth I think some package managers do this internally before installing to the system. Another method would be to just create a single directory maybe just /bin and house all software there.

The /etc directory could probably use a bit of cleaning up on a lot of distributions. Especially the need to remove redundant or unneeded bash scripting.
 
Old 11-03-2009, 10:07 PM   #20
SaintDanBert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgoddard View Post
...
Now could someone please forgive me for this rant and direct me to a good source that does not leave out important information for newbies and isn't written in incomprehensible jargon that it hasn't defined.

I am willing to pay for it.
I don't claim to have all the answers ... or even understand all the questions. I teach technology and have found some skill in getting technical messages across.

There is a state of mind called "unconscious competence." In this state, one does the motions, actions, thoughts and behaviors that deliver results, but they have little awareness of what they are doing or, more importantly, how they know what to do. We have all had experience of driving somewhere only to realize that we have no recollection of the task. [I'm talking about sober folks...] We also have experience of watching someone work only to ask, "how did you [know to] do that?" I'm been a technologist since the late sixties. There was a time when I could look a pages of hexadecimal core dump and just see the errors. It took years before I learned to know how I knew what I was doing.

Contrast this state with "conscious competence." Someone who knows what they know, how they know it, how and when to use what they know, and how and when they don't know what they are doing and when to ask for help.

Technologists are in conversation with the machine most of the time. Many have given little thought to the art and science of communicating with others -- much less communicating about their technologies. No excuses! Simply an explanation from someone trying to deliver the words, working to discover how to teach the technologies.

About your error message "rant" -- I've fought that battle for decades. At least, today, you get cryptic <native language> text instead of
Code:
?E47B39C
...
... rows of hex dump digits ...
...
Fill in your favorite human language for <native language> above.

~~~ 0;-Dan

Last edited by SaintDanBert; 11-03-2009 at 10:12 PM.
 
Old 11-03-2009, 11:11 PM   #21
evo2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgoddard View Post
This will require an example, so please bear with me.

On the page http://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/Apt-get, the first entry under "tips" is:
to install a package:
# apt-get install NameOfPackage
Now please consider just the object of this line "NameOfPackage".
There is no information whatsoever as to what this "NameOfPackage" must be.
-- should this be a tar file?
-- must it be a deb file?
-- can it actually reside on the internet ?
-- if it can reside on the internet what must be included in the name of the package?
-- must it reside on the computer hard drive?
-- if it resides on the computer hard drive, must the path be included or will apt-get seek it out and find it?
-- if it resides on the hard drive is there a preferred or necessary subdirectory it must be in?
-- etc.
I understand your frustrations.

I think there is an important distinction to be made here: what you are looking for is a "user guide" not a "reference". Most wiki's are written in the style of reference documents with very little explanation or discussion. This sort of documentation is of little or no use unless you already have a good understanding of the prerequisists... which are rarely listed.

Since you are asking the question from the standpoint of a new user and using apt-get I assume you are using Ubuntu or one of it's derivatives (not actually Debian). Have a look at https://help.ubuntu.com/9.10/index.html. Since you say you are willing to pay, also have a look at places like Amazon.

Good "user guide" style documentation does exist but it will rarely appear in the top 10 of a google search. Can anyone here in this thread address the op's actual question and suggest good documentation? Or do you all just prefer to spout on with the"apt-get sucks" and distro X is better that distro Y rubbish.

HTH,

Evo2.
 
Old 11-04-2009, 01:19 AM   #22
exvor
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Quote:
Good "user guide" style documentation does exist but it will rarely appear in the top 10 of a google search. Can anyone here in this thread address the op's actual question and suggest good documentation? Or do you all just prefer to spout on with the"apt-get sucks" and distro X is better that distro Y rubbish.

HTH,

Evo2.
I can suggest good documentation for apt-get its called the man page. Apt-get is a command line tool and if your using this then your probably not a Linux newbie. If you are then I would say you need to stick to the many GUI software installers that are offered. I do not have the intention of sounding pretentious or saying that Linux is something so hard that that the average person cannot learn its just that some things in the operating system require you to do a bit more learning or searching for documentation. You must remember that this system is a collection of software from Linux the kernel AND the GNU community which is mostly compromised of programmers. Sometimes things do not have good documentation so you have to do a little more effort into finding your answers LQ is one example of a good place to start. The Wiki on this page was created by volunteers that are not getting paid by anyone to offer this information. I think we have given good information and even if some have said that apt-get sucks I wouldn't say that we have degenerated this posting into what your saying.
 
Old 11-04-2009, 02:31 AM   #23
evo2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exvor View Post
I can suggest good documentation for apt-get its called the man page.
The man page is quite a good reference, but in but as a user guide it's not so great (although much better than many man pages). Good user guide style documentation for apt can be found in the apt-howto:
http://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/ap.../index.en.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by exvor View Post
Apt-get is a command line tool and if your using this then your probably not a Linux newbie. If you are then I would say you need to stick to the many GUI software installers that are offered.
I tend to disagree. Many users first introduction to package management was with apt-get. The difference is that 10 years ago more new GNU/Linux users were introduced to GNU/Linux by a "real-in-the-flesh" person, that was able to guide them and fill in the gaps that may have been missing in the written documentation. I guess in many ways forums like this are helping to perform that role.

Quote:
Originally Posted by exvor View Post
I do not have the intention of sounding pretentious or saying that Linux is something so hard that that the average person cannot learn its just that some things in the operating system require you to do a bit more learning or searching for documentation. You must remember that this system is a collection of software from Linux the kernel AND the GNU community which is mostly compromised of programmers. Sometimes things do not have good documentation so you have to do a little more effort into finding your answers LQ is one example of a good place to start. The Wiki on this page was created by volunteers that are not getting paid by anyone to offer this information. I think we have given good information and even if some have said that apt-get sucks I wouldn't say that we have degenerated this posting into what your saying.
True, there are a number of instructive posts on this thread, and the emphasis of my post was unfairly on the less constructive ones.

However, I think the OPs question still stands. It seems that too many new users are somehow missing the bigger picture and therefore getting stuck in the details. I don't claim to have the solution... I hate writing documentation as much as the next guy, and probably do it worse than most. I do however, when time permits, and motivation is there (can often be years in between) try to contribute by being active in email lists, irc, and forums.

Cheers,

Evo2.
 
Old 11-04-2009, 03:34 AM   #24
Disillusionist
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The biggest issue for Linux newbies when it comes to using apt-get is knowing what the name of their application is, this is not a failing in the documentation of apt-get.

This is a failing in the abilities of apt-get, in that you cannot produce a list of applications that are available to be installed.

This is where front-ends like synaptic are a life saver. You can scroll through the list of applications (complete with descriptions of what they do) and select the application that you need/want.
 
Old 11-04-2009, 03:35 AM   #25
Dralnu
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Saying Linux is doomed to some backwater niche is akin to saying Windows is secure. If OP wants to know that much about their system, then I might suggest (s)he attempts to install LFS. IIRC, it links you to docs covering several topics which OP may be interested in, and gets him/her involved with the guts of the system moreso than Debian, Ubuntu, or whatever other crap distro[0] (s)he has attempted to install will.

1. Stated simply because they are all crap. The only diffrence is how thick it is in certaint spots.
 
Old 11-04-2009, 03:47 AM   #26
evo2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disillusionist View Post
The biggest issue for Linux newbies when it comes to using apt-get is knowing what the name of their application is, this is not a failing in the documentation of apt-get.
This is done with apt-cache. Both apt-get and apt-cache are part of the apt package. apt-cache is referenced in "SEE ALSO" section of the apt man page.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Disillusionist View Post
This is a failing in the abilities of apt-get, in that you cannot produce a list of applications that are available to be installed.
It is not a failure of apt-get. It is a failure of people not knowing that apt-get is just one part of apt.

This again boils back down to people not having being shown the bigger picture.

Evo2.
 
Old 11-04-2009, 04:42 AM   #27
tony-kar
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A How to Question which illustrates the worst impediment to Linux

I am aware of the date of dgoddard's post which is 2007 but it is still very much relevant today in 2009. I agree with him 98 percent and I have read the other posts in reply to it. I am new to Ubuntu and I am impressed with its usability and GUI aesthetics. In the 4 months I have been using Ubuntu the problem I always encounter as new user is installation of new applications and hardware in Ubuntu. I had to buy a new usb wifi dongle with linux drivers BEFORE i could access the internet and download the linux driver of the EXISTING wifi and net cable hardware and a previously used usb wifi dongle in the laptop. Software programmers and longtime linux or Ubuntu users take it for granted that everyone is comfortable with entering strings of code when using Operating systems based on linux. This is the strength at the same time weakness of linux and Ubuntu. If we want linux or Ubuntu to be used by more people in the world as against other established OS free or not, installation of new applications should mimic binary executable files for maximum intuitive use of Ubuntu or any linux software. I am not a programmer of code and would like to use Ubuntu extensively. Always encountering difficulties with linux software installations and strings of code doesn't make it more endearing. Not everybody (majority of software users actually) DONT WANT TO VIEW CODE AND STUDY THEIR WORKINGS. THEY JUST WANT IT TO WORK PERIOD. Please forget the retorts I often read by experienced linux users against newbies to linux. Newbies to Ubuntu linux should be able to use it effectively to do everyday tasks within the first day or week of installed use. We are more concerned about OS like Ubuntu RUNNING WELL AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE and not so much about programming code of the linux kernel. WINDOWS AND osX will always lead until linux OS addresses this concern by the majority of people who try linux.
 
Old 11-04-2009, 04:59 AM   #28
tony-kar
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This is a reply to dgoddard's post and is very much relevant today in 2009. I agree with him 98 percent and I have read the other posts in reply to it. I am new to Ubuntu and I am impressed with its usability and GUI aesthetics. In the 4 months I have been using Ubuntu the problem I always encounter as new user is installation of new applications and hardware in Ubuntu. I had to buy a new usb wifi dongle with linux drivers BEFORE i could access the internet and download the linux driver of the EXISTING wifi and net cable hardware and a previously used usb wifi dongle in the laptop. Software programmers and longtime linux or Ubuntu users take it for granted that everyone has programming experience and is comfortable with entering strings of code when using Operating systems based on linux. This is the strength at the same time weakness of linux and Ubuntu. If we want linux or Ubuntu to be used by more people in the world as against other established OS free or not, installation of new applications should mimic automatic (binary?) executable files for maximum intuitive use of Ubuntu or any linux software. I am not a programmer of code and would like to use Ubuntu extensively. Always encountering difficulties with linux software installations and strings of code doesn't make it more endearing. Not everybody (majority of software users actually) DONT WANT TO VIEW CODE AND STUDY THEIR WORKINGS. THEY JUST WANT THE OS TO WORK PERIOD. Please forget the retorts I often read by experienced linux users against newbies to linux. Newbies to Ubuntu linux should be able to use it effectively to do everyday tasks within the first day or week of installed use. We are more concerned about OS like Ubuntu RUNNING WELL AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE and not so much about programming code of the linux kernel. WINDOWS7(better OS than Vista) AND osX will always lead until linux based OS like Ubuntu addresses this concern by the majority of people who try linux. Instead of cutting and pasting strings of code to install applications, the ubiquitous double click of an icon that does the same automatically would do wonders to the usability and intuitiveness of Ubuntu linux. Leave the kernel to the programmers and students of code.
 
Old 11-04-2009, 12:25 PM   #29
mudangel
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@tony-kar- Installing software is nowhere near the level of complexity of kernel(or other) programming, not even remotely comparable. You can always use a frontend(what is it, Synaptic, or something like that?) to install software, thus eliminating any need to enter commands like apt-get or whatever, right? I don't use Ubuntu, but the idea behind it, if I'm not mistaken, is to be easy to use, with a minimum of command-line use.
Quote:
Software programmers and longtime linux or Ubuntu users take it for granted that everyone has programming experience
Not really. You say "intuitive"...using a computer, with any OS, requires you to learn how. No one is born with an innate knowledge of Windows or OSX, or any linux distro.
 
Old 11-05-2009, 02:08 PM   #30
SaintDanBert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evo2 View Post
...
I think there is an important distinction to be made here: what you are looking for is a "user guide" not a "reference". Most wiki's are written in the style of reference documents with very little explanation or discussion. This sort of documentation is of little or no use unless you already have a good understanding of the prerequisists... which are rarely listed.
...
In an all volunteer world, documentation is a scarce commodity ... good documentation takes as much if not more work than working code. Let's ignore issues of content written in language-A by folks who are native speakers of NOT(language-A). IMO (in my opinion) words get collected into artifacts that are more like laboratory working papers than quality documentation. Often this means that one "doc file" tries to cover all of the needs for description and explanation about a product.

Years ago I worked for a big iron computer company and later with other companies using the same big iron. They offered several different sorts of documentation. Here are the names as I remember things:
  • user's "guide" -- Sit at the console and use whatever it is.
  • operators "manual" -- Data preparation, data input, system requirements and preparation, output options, requirements and preparations, error messages, troubles and corrective actions.
  • theory of operation "manual" -- A detailed explanation of the motives for product existence, business domain benefits, features that deliver those benefits, technologies that implement those features, description of design decisions, flow-charts, data-flow diagrams, etc. At some level this material might serve as a justification and specification for the product.
  • maintenance "manual" -- Nuts and bolts and bits and bytes, knobs and lights and such so that one might accomplish repairs if they were needed. Yes, these existed for both software and hardware products.
  • programmer's "guide" -- Information that a programmer might need to make the product dance: Control Register settings, data formats, data set-up timing, etc for hardware; API (application programming interface), SPI (systems programming interface) details, protocols, etc. for software
  • ???? -- (I don't remember the name.) These were intended to describe products to semi-technical or non-technical folks who would need enough knowledge and explanation to make informed decisions without dragging them through what may be complex technical details. If the topic was technical enough, say TCP/IP networking, there might be several books with layers building awareness of concepts and vocabulary.

I have offered to write documentation for several linux software packages that I use routinely. I've even had "package developers" hurrah at the existence of those offers. However, when I start asking detailed questions, the answers are seldom available. I'm not fixing blame. I've been a developer. I know the reality. There is this long list of features and bug-reports that don't happen if Mr. or Ms. Developer takes time for documentation ... and if they are going to take that time, why use some know-very-little writer when they can just cobble some prose?

As a commercial software product "lead developer" and later "project manager" we routinely wrote the user's guide then wrote the code. The user's guide was often built directly from the user stories and use cases identified during design. At that point we had code or placeholders for all of the details presented to the end user. This also made the testing folks very happy.

There are dozens if not hundreds of pages written about "how to create code" for linux. There is precious little about "how to create documentation." I stay on top of the Linux Documentation Project. This writer, me, SaintDanBert, wants to contribute documentation. No one can do that without support from the code writing and power user community. Support means time spent ... time that is a scarce commodity for volunteers.

~~~ 0;-Dan
 
  


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