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Old 05-16-2008, 07:29 AM   #1
psargaco
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Something that is really missing in Linux


Hi.

I've been using Linux for some years, even if not as my primary OS. For professional reasons I mostly use XP. Now, even though I've known Linux since oh, maybe that long gone year of 1995, I think I'm not being modest when I say I've never passed the newbie level. Ok, maybe the level after that one, whatever that is. I have never dedicated enough time to really get a grasp on Linux. Of course, this is nobody's fault but mine, not saying otherwise. Now, after banging my head for ages trying to get things to work on Linux, after following numberless "how to"s telling me how to do reach the same objective in ten different ways (and none of them working for my case), I am reaching the conclusion that one of the things that is really missing in the Linux panorama is a good old troubleshooting manual. Now the "How to"s you can find plenty, but something that tells you what to do when things go wrong... that I have never seen. Where do you look for error messages? How to undo stuff? What does usually go wrong? Are there behavioural differences between Intel and AMD? And so on, and so on. Is it just me that finds that such a good manual is missing?

Peace

Paulo
 
Old 05-16-2008, 08:19 AM   #2
unSpawn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psargaco View Post
I have never dedicated enough time to really get a grasp on Linux. (..) I am reaching the conclusion
If you never did then, you being a test manager, you know that a good command of things, objectivity and taking all the facts in to account is the only valid approach. Drawing conclusions based on "circumstantial evidence" is flawed to begin with.


Quote:
Originally Posted by psargaco View Post
Where do you look for error messages? How to undo stuff? What does usually go wrong?
It depends. But whatever it is, I'd like to think troubleshooting anything GNU/Linux can be done in an efficient and structured way provided there's enough facts to go on. I think you should just search LQ for related problems and if you can't find anything useful start your own thread stating your problem, provide as much (exact!) (error) output as possible and take it from there.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 08:47 AM   #3
psargaco
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unSpawn View Post
If you never did then, you being a test manager, you know that a good command of things, objectivity and taking all the facts in to account is the only valid approach. Drawing conclusions based on "circumstantial evidence" is flawed to begin with.
I'm not sure I know what you're getting at. I mean, if what you are trying to say is that I simply haven't found the manual but that it does exist, them do tell me where to find it. Please.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unSpawn View Post
It depends. But whatever it is, I'd like to think troubleshooting anything GNU/Linux can be done in an efficient and structured way provided there's enough facts to go on. I think you should just search LQ for related problems and if you can't find anything useful start your own thread stating your problem, provide as much (exact!) (error) output as possible and take it from there.
Ok, that I know how to do. And have done it. But it is not what I'm asking about. Is it your opinion that such a book is not possible to write and that forums like this one are the only possible approach?

Maybe I should make it clear that I did not start this thread as an attack to LQ.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 09:06 AM   #4
pixellany
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The issue with Linux is not a lack of documentation, tutorials, etc. The issue (if there is one) is that there is too much......information is everywhere. Many people have written all manner of documents: Big ones like those at tldp.org (eg the ABS), and small blurbs such as many of us have linked in our sigs.

I have found that the most efficient trouble-shooting guide is a few well-chosen words typed into a Google search.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 09:10 AM   #5
Stéphane Ascoët
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Question I can't see where is the big problem

I don't know anything like this for any OS. Perhaps are you unlucky or doing things in a bad way. Personnally, I never have any big problem with GNU/Linux.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 09:18 AM   #6
Honeysuckle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psargaco View Post
Hi.
Is it just me that finds that such a good manual is missing?
I think I know what you mean. I am a newcomer, but I have found it difficult to find the type of thing you are referring to on the web (I haven't yet bought a hard-copy text, which might be better). Why I think that a single useful reference isn't practical is that linux isn't one program - it's hundreds of variants of a basic structure AND it keeps changing so documentation you do find may already be out of date.

I have been searching for some time for how to do something which I think is fairly basic. After reading and reading I finally found a clear explanation, command and instructions how to do it. Then I find out that that command isn't enabled in the distribution I'm looking at. Sigh.

There are texts available (which I haven't yet looked at, so I don't know if they would provide what you are looking for). The information I've found most useful has been instructional material from educational institutions. I find these clear and easy to follow.

Also, I think troubleshooting ability comes from knowing the fundamentals really well - if you are strong on how it works, you'll have an idea how to fix it when it goes haywire. I'm hoping so, anyway, otherwise I might as well give up right now.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 09:32 AM   #7
unSpawn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psargaco View Post
Maybe I should make it clear that I did not start this thread as an attack to LQ.
...and it was never perceived by me as an attack.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Honeysuckle View Post
I think troubleshooting ability comes from knowing the fundamentals
Exactly! Once you know that about everything can have output and about everything can be tested for you can train yourself to be methodical about troubleshooting. It does take some time to get there though.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 09:59 AM   #8
b0uncer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psargaco View Post
--- For professional reasons I mostly use XP. --- Now, after banging my head for ages trying to get things to work on Linux, after following numberless "how to"s telling me how to do reach the same objective in ten different ways (and none of them working for my case), I am reaching the conclusion that one of the things that is really missing in the Linux panorama is a good old troubleshooting manual.
But Linux isn't a solid one-piece product of one company that has a receipe of the ingredients. You're probably referring here to something like the Windows Help Center -thingie (where you can point-and-click-answer questions like "Do you see something on screen?" or "Did you check your power cable is connected?") or a fat book with a title like "Windows Inside Out". Such things can exist, because Windows is a package that holds certain things, or in other words, is more of less just the same on every computer it is installed - even between different versions, to some extent. Operating systems ("distributions") that are nowadays generally referred to as "Linux" aren't such thing - they come in many sizes and flavours, may use different sort of package sets, different sort of configuration utilies, they can have their configuration files placed or named differently, and the list just goes on. Shortly put, to make a perfect trouble-shooting manual out of that would mean creating the biggest book in the world that was always out-of-date, because during it's latest version printing there probably came a few new things out of the oven that may do things again differently.

But don't panic - there's "man" aka manual pages, or if you prefer, info pages. Anyway, documentation in digital form about many pieces of the system, mostly including all the information you need if you just care to read them. Try out
Code:
man -k man
man man
and start your journey. For fun, see
Code:
man bash
Quote:
Originally Posted by psargaco View Post
Where do you look for error messages? How to undo stuff? What does usually go wrong?
These are good questions. And answered here, and in other places - if your graphical application won't give you output (more than "died unexpectedly"), try starting the application from a terminal, because the usual place to put information, useful or not, is stdout (standard output, which is in most cases connected to the console) - or for errors stderr (standard error, typically printed on the console too).

To undo things..well, it depends a lot on what you did. Some things can't be undone, like if you decided to start overwriting some of your files with random data a few times. If you removed a file, your first try is a program that knows how to try to "undelete" files, the same as in Windows. If you renamed a file, rename it back. That's logical. And "backup" is the keyword whatever you're doing.

Usually what goes wrong is somebody doing something before thinking it through. At least that's what I see most of the time, especially at work.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 10:12 AM   #9
trashbird1240
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psargaco View Post
Hi.
Is it just me that finds that such a good manual is missing?
No, it's not just you, it's the approach you've taken. Try the one I did: learn, learn, learn before you try things. Read all of Running Linux, browse Linux in a Nutshell, and Learning the Unix Operating System, read the history of Unix, GNU and Linux. Then use a LiveCD or virtual machine installation on a regular basis. Don't do a full install until you've really got a handle on things. One of the things you need to have a handle on is exactly what you're talking about: how to handle problems. That's part of the game.

Above all, use the command line. If you fear the command line you are extremely limiting yourself. Things probably will not work, and that's not because the GUIs available are not good enough, it's because the GUIs are wrappers for the command-line utilities --- you might as well go to the source.

Troubleshooting is what Google and forums like this are for. I must say that I've had the opposite experience with Windows/Mac documentation versus GNU/Linux documentation. I've always felt that free and open source software documentation actually tells me what to do if something goes wrong, not to mention that you can just look at the source code and learn about how the program works. I have about two years of experience in programming, all gained through just doing that.

Joel

Last edited by trashbird1240; 05-16-2008 at 10:15 AM. Reason: italicizing book titles
 
Old 05-16-2008, 10:28 AM   #10
H_TeXMeX_H
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What distros have you tried ? Just Ubuntu, Kubuntu ? If so, your experience is to be expected.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 10:52 AM   #11
oskar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H View Post
What distros have you tried ? Just Ubuntu, Kubuntu ? If so, your experience is to be expected.
Oh Jesus Christ!
This is what makes the Slackware fanboys look bad. Ubuntu is very well documented. So is Slackware. Don't pretend like Slackware is all cotton candy and lollypops. It's the same goddamn system! Don't think you can pretend to be the linux elite - you use the same kernel, the same drivers, the same display manager - it's all the same crap!

I agree with whoever said it - there is way too much information out there - much of it outdated, incomplete or simply wrong.
There are a couple of efforts that try to do exactly what you are describing - most of them distro specific. The Gentoo Wiki is great, even if you don't use Gentoo:
http://gentoo-wiki.com/Main_Page

For Ubuntu:
https://help.ubuntu.com/

And the unofficial page:
http://ubuntuguide.org/wiki/Ubuntu:Gutsy

There are a couple of those. The best way is really to post here or in the distro specific forums (I usually have more luck here) - and have someone point you in the right direction.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 11:22 AM   #12
ciden
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Wikis are the future of knowledge sharing. I agree that the Gentoo wiki is great and is of much help even though I am on Debian.

I think the problem faced by newbies is that they suddenly gain great power. In Windoze everything is hidden behind fancy GUIs and usually only programmers ever care to use the pitiful 'cmd'. With great power comes great responsibility, something learned by trial and error. In Windoze you dont know about a problem until it has become irrepairable(usually).
Not so in linux where since noobs are initiated invariably as Root, and exposed to the magic of the Command line, they are soon flooded with strange error messages that do not necessarily mean that the system is going to crash, but do manage to scare the newly initiated.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 01:32 PM   #13
H_TeXMeX_H
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oskar View Post
Oh Jesus Christ!
This is what makes the Slackware fanboys look bad. Ubuntu is very well documented. So is Slackware. Don't pretend like Slackware is all cotton candy and lollypops. It's the same goddamn system! Don't think you can pretend to be the linux elite - you use the same kernel, the same drivers, the same display manager - it's all the same crap!
Yes, but I'm just saying that Ubuntu won't teach you anything about Linux ... so his experience is to be expected. Distros like Gentoo, Slackware, LFS will teach you a lot more. Say whatever you want tho, you can't change the facts.
 
Old 05-16-2008, 02:49 PM   #14
mburu
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Smile problem! what problem?

Ok doc to me the problem is really you which you undoubtly accept coz it seems you expect everything as per windows based,I'm a newbie but i like the idea of tackling problems sequentially to a point I troubleshoot problems in linux better than windows - except for most drivers. I mean you just need to understand the linux structure.
Good luck Man!
 
Old 05-18-2008, 01:41 PM   #15
psargaco
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Ok, guys. I haven't read all the questions, but on a glance it seems like maybe some of my questions have been answered. But the main message, at least as I read it, is that Linux is an OS for people with time on their hands. It's like surf, people can give you hints but you will have to invest time in order to be able to start doing it properly and eventually master it. Unfortunately I don't have that time available any more. Anyway, thanks for all of your opinions. I'll keep asking for help.
 
  


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