LinuxQuestions.org
View the Most Wanted LQ Wiki articles.
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Distributions > Slackware
User Name
Password
Slackware This Forum is for the discussion of Slackware Linux.

Notices

Reply
 
Search this Thread
Old 05-04-2014, 07:47 AM   #76
vdemuth
Member
 
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: West Midlands, UK
Distribution: Slackware 14 (Server),Suse 13.1 (Desktop),, Mepis on the wifes lappy
Posts: 768

Rep: Reputation: 92

Not a single mention here of Opensuse. I moved to it a while ago, as some here might remember. What a breath of fresh air. It's everything you listed on your requirements and is good not just for people new to Linux, but those amongst us of advancing years that just want something a little easier.
 
Old 05-04-2014, 11:58 AM   #77
Woodsman
Senior Member
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
Posts: 3,482

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534
I did look into OpenSuse but not deeply. While OpenSuse would satisfy the requirements of the original post in this thread, there were other reasons I did not pursue OpenSuse.

My biggest concern is we are working with people who are not computer literate. Asking them to understand the relentless pace at which free/libre software develops, which leads to rapid updates and reinstallations of the entire OS, is just beyond their comprehension. While OpenSuse has a longer period, 18 months as opposed to 6 months, the process is much the same with reinstalling the OS when support expires. The users we serve are incapable of understanding that. They are not computer literate, so asking them to perform installations is a dead topic. That is why they are hiring us in the first place to help them migrate. They cannot afford to hire us every 6 or 18 months to perform a full reinstallation.

OpenSuse has a rolling relase model available but a rolling release model is volatile. We decided that a semi-rolling release was a happy compromise and only two distros supported that model that also were well supported and popular in the market.

While offering other desktops, OpenSuse tends to be KDE-centric and I won't use KDE for this project. All of these users have old hardware that is adequate to run XP. KDE would not run on these machines in any kind of palatable manner. We need desktops that are more kind to old hardware. I also have no use for Akonadi with respect to single-user systems.

As I have worked on this project I have come to embrace the idea that one reason why Linux has not become popular on the desktop is the volatility of Linux distros. Rolling releases are buggy because they are bleeding edge and breakage is the norm. Full reinstallations every 6 or 18 months of the entire OS is asanine. LTS releases grow stagnant in short time. To me, controlled semi-rolling releases seem to be a sane approach.

Not only distros fall into this wicked cycle. The latest Firefox 29 release is another example. Firefox is very much software designed by geeks for geeks. The majority of users are not geeks and the interface overhaul of FF 29 is traumatic to most non geek users. Geek developers refuse to see that. Their six week rapid release cycle is a joke as well. Sadly, there are no meaningful browser alternatives to this madness.

As I mentioned elsehwere, there are no right or wrong answers. Only what works best for each person. I am not pretending to have all the answers. I am just one person trying to help others and the people I am helping are not computer literate. I have to work with them at their level, not at the geek level. Working with them has helped me see computer usage in a new light.
 
Old 05-04-2014, 12:39 PM   #78
vdemuth
Member
 
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: West Midlands, UK
Distribution: Slackware 14 (Server),Suse 13.1 (Desktop),, Mepis on the wifes lappy
Posts: 768

Rep: Reputation: 92
Actually, upgrading Opensuse between versions on line is a fairly easy process and I dare say could be offered as a 'value added service'. But I do understand you wanting to keep it as simple as possible.
Still, it's an interesting exercise and I wish you well with it and hope it turns out to be profitable (in more ways than the obvious) for you.
 
Old 05-04-2014, 04:53 PM   #79
Woodsman
Senior Member
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
Posts: 3,482

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534
Quote:
hope it turns out to be profitable (in more ways than the obvious) for you.
Me too!
 
Old 05-11-2014, 08:28 AM   #80
sfzombie13
Member
 
Registered: Dec 2003
Location: wv
Distribution: suse, ubuntu, fedora
Posts: 105

Rep: Reputation: 15
i was just wondering how it was going. i am in wv and was going about the same thing at the same time and just didn't know it, main difference is i am by myself. i was wondering if you may want to share details of what you are using, any pitfalls to look out for, and even as far as pricing if it's not too rude and prying for me to ask that. it's just that this is always the hardest part for me, charging people for what i consider playing. i was thinking of having training classes in my basement, then giving copies of the os away on dvd's and maybe installed on a usb or something and throwing in two months of free remote and phone tech support. i have everything all set up as far as everything except the actual os; i was going to try to make one from scratch, until i tried the lfs thing. then i went with fedora or mint, but i saw your thread and thought i would just ask instead of reinventing the wheel. anyway, happy mothers day and good luck with your business (and i know you're not female, no insult intended).

Last edited by sfzombie13; 05-11-2014 at 08:29 AM. Reason: typo
 
Old 05-11-2014, 01:16 PM   #81
Woodsman
Senior Member
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
Posts: 3,482

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534
I can offer the following:

Do not underestimate computer illiteracy and be prepared to never mock that illiteracy. Most of the people that I have thus far interacted all freely and readily admit their computer ignorance. They also do not want to know how to "change the oil." Most users mostly surf the web, check email, waste their life on Facebook. A few are more adventurous and will stream a video or two, usually of the youtube variety. Most do not know about streaming music. Most do not know anything about ripping CDs or DVDs. Most who stream Netflix do so from a network-enabled TV and not the computer. Most have never used a keyboard shortcut. These folks are good people, enjoyable to have a conversation, skilled in other areas of life. Just expect little in terms of computer knowledge. Be prepared to meet them at their level and not your level.

Most of the people migrating from XP have maturing hardware. I ran into one customer who has a 20GB IDE drive and the drive was not full. These folks do not know what they are missing so don't enlighten them. Just work with them at their level.

Although most of these users do not use unique software, a few do. Right now I am working with a customer to test a proprietary Windows app in WINE.

Thus far we have not run into the classic MS Office/Quicken/QuickBooks/Visio dependent user. We don't really expect much of that because those types of users are business users and at the moment don't fit our target audience. I do nonetheless spend time thinking about those users and how we can help them when that day arrives. I have several ideas but at the moment nothing concrete to offer.

Most of these users have no concept of man pages or online forums. Most do not know how to search the web to help themselves. Few will remember to use email. Tell them about online forums as a means to find help, but don't berate the point. They use the phone to ask for help. Tech support over the phone is challenging but that is how these folks do things.

Don't try to educate them about all of the different desktops. The result is glassy eyes. Just install whatever desktops you want to support. That each desktop has a goofy geek name is irrelevant to them. They don't care. Currently we are only supporting Cinnamon and Mate. The latter is for the really old hardware.

Don't try to educate them about 32-bit or 64-bit. Over their heads. Currently I am using a basic 2GB RAM threshold and CPU model to start my decision-making as to which version I install. However, there is also gut feeling after booting into the new system on the old hardware. When in doubt use 32-bit. These folks do not know and cannot tell the difference.

The default desktop with just about any distro expects command line usage. That is a sad statement. The die-hards and the arrogant believe Linux can't be used strictly from the desktop. One of the first things I did was modify the default desktop and removed the terminal from the panel and top levels of the menu. The terminal remains available in the System Tools/Administration menu. I use the terminal all day but not for these people.

The default desktop is designed by geeks for geeks. There is a flawed philosophy floating around to "maximize screen real estate." Thus panels are too small, sliders and scroll bars to narrow, fonts too small. Watch a non geek use the computer with such defaults. They start squinting and craning their necks. So I fix all of that too.

These users know nothing about security and have no exotic needs. (G)ufw is sufficient. Allow all outgoing and disable all incoming. Disable all services.

Eventually I want to provide SSH/VNC support to help customers. I intend to create a one-click script that will start the respective service only as needed and vice-versa, stop the service. Everything must be GUI for these folks.

As all of these users are migrating from XP, install the ms-core-fonts package.

Most of these people will not use 80% of the pre-installed apps and most are likely to never even look at the apps. Thus one-app per task is sufficient for these users.

Most of these folks do not use user accounts. Most do not understand them or even know they exist. Most expect auto-login, even in multi-user homes. They all use the same computer and same desktop.

I stopped installing from the DVD after about two attempts. Installing from a DVD is painfully slow. After I fine-tuned my customizations, I made partition images and now install from those images. I use gparted and the grub2 super disk to complete the installation.

I am writing an installation shell script to help me automate the process after copying the partition images. The script will help me migrate app settings as well, such as Firefox, Chrome, Chromium, Thunderbird, etc.

For Outlook/Outlook Express users, install Thunderbird in the Windows side before migrating the user to Linux. Thunderbird imports Outlook/Outlook Express very well. I have read this only works with OE up to the 2010 version and but we are working only with XP migrants and thus far is not an issue.

Likewise for the web browser. I install Firefox and import the IE settings in Windows.

I have read many times through the years how challenging installing Linux is for newbies. We needed actual Windows partitions to simulate the same setup as the customers and I must say, installing Windows from scratch is hideous, painful, slow, and limited. There are no options to partition a drive. Installing an original XP disk and then SP2 and SP3 takes about 1-1/2 hours. You're screwed if something goes wrong because you get to start from scratch. Familiarity might indeed breed contempt but I'll take installing a Linux system any day over Windows.

I am working on a basic backup strategy with rsnapshot, cron, and a separate partition. XP users are accustomed to System Restore and expect something similar.

We use a second drive rather than repartition. Most of these users do not have hard drives large enough to repartition. A second drive allows retaining the XP system untouched, which provides the users peace of mind and a drop-back recovery plan. I explain that repartitioning is doable but they would not save money because of the time involved to backup XP, defrag, resize, and retest. Thus far we have not run into a laptop user where a second drive is not possible and we would have no choice but to repartition.

As most of these people have aging hardware, proprietary video drivers have not been a critical need.

We have not attempted to make the desktop look like XP. All of the users accept that they are not using XP and are prepared for a desktop that is mildly different --- but works very similarly.

We have not started any training classes. When we do we more than likely we will focus only on cross-platform apps and a basic desktop class. I do not foresee ever having a class on the command line. While we might charge a nominal $5 or $10 for the classes, we just as possibly might charge nothing and use the classes as "loss leaders" to encourage people to let us install Linux.

Most distro user guides waste half the document with installation steps and command line usage. I have always believed installation and command line usage should be separate documents. This is the geek mentality shining bright. As we provide these systems pre-installed and "hide" the terminal, we plan to rip those sections from the user guide. I plan to write our own user guide and most of the guide will be task-oriented in the form of "How do I...."

We plan some day to post tech support web pages and an FAQ.

Pricing is regionally dependent. We are in a rural area. Folks are not rich. They can't afford new computers. If they could then the XP EOL would not be an issue. We provide a new 250G drive that is about 4x times more than they need, a demonstration, an assessment, installation, migration of user data and two hours of tech support. Use that information and a base rate palatable for your region to determine a fixed fee.

Although I am still fine-tuning the installation process, my original estimate of two hours turn-around still seems realistic. Currently I am spending more time than that because I am working hard toward automating as much as possible, but I discount my time toward startup "R&D" costs.

The demonstration is done at the shop. We have a dual booting XP/Linux system. Most are not interested in cool features. Most are interested in the basic pointy-clicky things. Most are interested in migrating data. Most are annoyed by the stupid popup reminder that XP has reached EOL. Most are concerned that the new system will be secure. So the demo period is not exhaustive and I don't try to impress them with anything.

Assessment is important because that is the only way I can know what problems I might experience. I won't take a customer's computer until I am confident I can migrate them. A current customer has a non-negotiable need for a proprietary Windows app and I had to test the app on my own in WINE. This was the first WINE need and I again discounted my time and effort to startup "R&D" and improving my knowledge base. Assessment includes peripherals. I note the model numbers and return home to surf the web for potential problems. Surprising to me, all-in-one printers/scanners/fax/copiers are popular.

Don't forget "unseen" peripherals, such as web cams and digital cameras. Always remember that in Windows these peripherals "just work" and these users lack the computer knowledge to understand or appreciate why they might not work in Linux.

Be prepared to recommend certain users stay with Windows. I did that many weeks ago. The person was deeply locked into various forms of vertical software.

I probably could charge extra for a lot of this research but I am willing to live on the proverbial shoestring during the startup phase and tally my time and efforts to R&D.

In summary, Linux is still designed by geeks for geeks. Be prepared to think and act differently with customers. They are not geeks and have no aspirations to become one or play one on TV.

Last note: this is the Slackware forum. As can be learned from reading the entire thread, many topics have been covered beyond my original post. We are not using Slackware for our venture. We are using LMDE. (I personally still use Slackware.) There are folks in Slackware land trying to massage the base Slackware into something more palatable for non geek users. As I shared previously, when I am more experienced with customers I hope to return to evaluating how I can bring together these different derivative efforts into something non geeks would enjoy. Slackware is not alone in my observation. Currently all distros are designed by geeks. I don't foresee usability changing much until distro maintainers focus on non-geeks rather than rely on fellow geeks for feedback and back scratching.

I too am looking for the experiences of others.

So far I am not making gobs of money but am having fun meeting people and find the whole venture stimulating and challenging.
 
6 members found this post helpful.
Old 05-11-2014, 02:13 PM   #82
cwizardone
Senior Member
 
Registered: Feb 2007
Distribution: Slackware64-current & "True Multilib." PC-BSD.
Posts: 2,233

Rep: Reputation: 176Reputation: 176
Excellent!
Very well said!
Something that the geeks/programmers/developers should be forced to read and memorize.
 
Old 05-11-2014, 09:17 PM   #83
sfzombie13
Member
 
Registered: Dec 2003
Location: wv
Distribution: suse, ubuntu, fedora
Posts: 105

Rep: Reputation: 15
very much appreciated. some of these things i have learned, it amazes me what some people don't know about computers. this is truly the hard part. i think at this point the thing i am missing the most is getting the word out. i am too broke for advertising and work out of my house. maybe if i would quit going to school, i would have more time for this part, but where is the fun in that? i like the idea of giving away the hard drive as part of the cost. that would make the install a breeze as well using images. you could clone the system quick. it is pretty rural here as well.

just a couple of more things. the mint website said to use the no codec version for copyright something or other, did you use that one? i can't seem to get the usb to boot that image. and about how big do the installs usually run? i was thinking around 5-8 gb installed, and if i recall correctly it will compress to an image of under 4, maybe 3? have you thought of any type of monitoring software that emails you if something happens on the system?

thanx for the info, can't wait to read one of your guides when you get to it.
 
Old 05-11-2014, 11:03 PM   #84
Woodsman
Senior Member
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
Posts: 3,482

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534
Quote:
did you use that one?
No. We use the normal LMDE. I used the Mate version as a base and then added the Cinnamon meta packages.

We created a 20GB partition image. We add packages beyond the standard install and we have several packages in the /var/cache/apt/archives we downloaded but do not install unless the customer needs the package, such as proprietary video drivers, virtualbox, etc. Saves us bandwidth to install those packages. There are several admin tools not in the stock LMDE: mc, lssci, most (nice for colorful man pages), etc. At 20GB, we only fill the partition to about 30%. Lots of future space to add packages if the customer becomes a software junkie.

We create a separate /home partition. We populate /etc/skel for additional user accounts.

We don't compress the partition images. We store them on a test rig and use removable drive bays to prep the new disks. The main system disks are cloned no less than every three days, which provide backups of the customer images as well. With gparted, copying the customer images takes about 11 minutes.

We split the new 250 GB drive like this:

sdb1: 2GB swap
sdb2: 20GB /
sdb3: 90GB /home
sdb4: remainder of the drive /backups

I have thought about system monitoring and forwarding system emails to us. However, they are not (yet) paying us any kind of admin support fees. We want to implement SSH/VNC at the customer's request. At the moment we haven't moved forward with any of that. SSH/VNC also requires modifying routers to allow port forwarding. I don't yet know how we are going to do that.
 
Old 05-12-2014, 01:47 AM   #85
allend
Senior Member
 
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Melbourne
Distribution: Slackware-current
Posts: 3,408

Rep: Reputation: 835Reputation: 835Reputation: 835Reputation: 835Reputation: 835Reputation: 835Reputation: 835
Quote:
At the moment we haven't moved forward with any of that. SSH/VNC also requires modifying routers to allow port forwarding. I don't yet know how we are going to do that.
You could get the the customer machine to set up a reverse SSH tunnel to your server. As an outgoing connection, it is likely that it will go through the router firewall without issue. If the customers are trusting you to set up their computers, then they are unlikely to worry about a connection to your server through which you can tunnel back.
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 05-12-2014, 03:21 AM   #86
Alien Bob
Slackware Contributor
 
Registered: Sep 2005
Location: Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 5,234

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
You could also consider setting up a web of OpenVPN connections between your office and any of your customers. You only have to setup port-forwarding for the openvpn server at your own office. The openvpn client on the computer of your customer(s) will "call out" and connect to your Internet-accessible openvpn office server.

If you do something intelligent with IP ranges and routing, you can give every customer their own IP range so that you won't get confused when connecting to one of their computers.

Eric
 
Old 05-12-2014, 04:25 AM   #87
commandlinegamer
Member
 
Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 80

Rep: Reputation: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodsman View Post
The default desktop is designed by geeks for geeks. There is a flawed philosophy floating around to "maximize screen real estate." Thus panels are too small, sliders and scroll bars to narrow, fonts too small. Watch a non geek use the computer with such defaults. They start squinting and craning their necks. So I fix all of that too.
Indeed. If you're a system builder, it's up to you to set up something which the majority of your customers will find comfortable.

Quote:
Thus one-app per task is sufficient for these users.
Choice is great but if you have several programs which do the same thing, then it makes sense to standardize on one, preferably that which is closest to the desktop environment you're using, e.g. stick to using GNOME apps with GNOME, KDE apps with KDE, where at all possible.

Quote:
I stopped installing from the DVD after about two attempts. Installing from a DVD is painfully slow. After I fine-tuned my customizations, I made partition images and now install from those images.
Though I don't do large-scale cloning currently, I found clonezilla to be very useful.

Quote:
I have read many times through the years how challenging installing Linux is for newbies.
Again, if you're a system builder you're doing the hard work. Far more important to teach users how to use. When I started university 25 years ago, we didn't start by attempting to install Unix on the VAX 11/780. We were given a username & password, and taught cd, ls, etc.


Quote:
Don't forget "unseen" peripherals, such as web cams and digital cameras. Always remember that in Windows these peripherals "just work"
Most do, but not all. Only a couple of days ago I came across a device which could not be installed on Vista. Drivers for XP, 7 and 8. Nothing whatsoever for Vista.
 
Old 05-12-2014, 02:18 PM   #88
Woodsman
Senior Member
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
Posts: 3,482

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534
Quote:
You could get the the customer machine to set up a reverse SSH tunnel to your server.
My intention with SSH is only to help the customers. They all are pointy-clicky users. They are not going to open a terminal. These are people who call on the phone for help rather than use email or search the web. So my perspective about SSH is, with their explicit permission, for me to connect to their box to perform long distance maintenance or repairs.

My thoughts about VNC was not so much to solve maintenance or repair problems but to teach them when they are stumped.

My plan is to write a script, wrap the script as necessary in GUI dialogs such as zenity, and insert the tool in the Administration menu. This allows them to continue using the mouse to start/stop SSH or VNC. One click so to speak.

I do not want the SSH or VNC ports open unless they ask for help. They would have to start the services. Otherwise the ports remain closed.

That said, I never heard of a reverse SSH tunnel, but I will look into that.

Quote:
You could also consider setting up a web of OpenVPN connections between your office and any of your customers.
Will that allow me to control their desktop (for teaching purposes as mentioned just above)? If I understand correctly, sounds like they connect to the OpenVPN network and once they are in the network, they are just another machine on that subnet. I am guessing they still would need to start the VNC service but sounds like everything is done within the OpenVPN environment.

Quote:
Indeed. If you're a system builder, it's up to you to set up something which the majority of your customers will find comfortable.
Yes, but distro and desktop designers need to step up too. There remain too many geek presumptions with just about every distro. And at some point, when the GUI experience fails, developers and SMEs then revert to the infamous "Just open a terminal...."

To me, the terminal is a powerful tool but developer reliance on the terminal is, well, to be nice, just lazy for not adding proper GUI controls.

For example, look at the Cinnamon thread where I asked about changing scroll bar slider width. I have edited my share of config files through the years and often don't think twice about that, but working with non geeks helps me see the challenges with such "laziness."
 
Old 05-12-2014, 02:36 PM   #89
Alien Bob
Slackware Contributor
 
Registered: Sep 2005
Location: Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 5,234

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodsman View Post
The default desktop is designed by geeks for geeks.
I thought long and hard. but this deserves a comment.
The often-heard complaint of new users of Linux environments is "it's too hard, why should I learn shell commands, this is geeky nerdy stuff juck, why can't these developers understand what I need" and so on.
The point is the typical developer in an open source eco-system will think, as long as you don't pay me, why should I be bothered by what you want? It is my personal free time which I devote to whatever I create, so it is my itch I am scratching. The fact that you may find it useful, really comes second place.

It is only natural that the only Linux environments where the average non-technical "Joe End User" feels comfortable, are those environments that have been shaped with a commercial goal in mind: invest in ease-of use and reap the rewards after drawing in lots of installed-base. Take Ubuntu, look at Android, Redhat Enterprise Linux.

If you try to build your company on a free-to-use Distro or Desktop Environment - mostly maintained by a group of volunteers and perhaps a very small percentage that gets paid - you will inevitably run into the geek factor. I would not know how to avert that, it is the natural cause of things.

Eric
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 05-12-2014, 03:00 PM   #90
Woodsman
Senior Member
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
Posts: 3,482

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534Reputation: 534
Quote:
I would not know how to avert that, it is the natural cause of things.
I don't know either. Keep customizing and file bug reports and enhancement requests is the best any non coder can do.

The topic is a classic discussion where there are two sides to the conversation and both sides have merit. Where the happy medium lies will be discussed for a long time.
 
2 members found this post helpful.
  


Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
yum association between "Administration Tools" and @admin-tools qwkfish Linux - General 2 03-21-2012 04:14 PM
System admin tools siawash Ubuntu 4 07-07-2011 10:22 PM
Would you like to see more graphical tools in Slackware? sahko Slackware 93 10-11-2010 01:34 AM
mysql admin tools sunhui Linux - Software 2 05-09-2007 12:20 AM
Admin tools juno Linux - Software 3 10-03-2002 05:16 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:47 PM.

Main Menu
My LQ
Write for LQ
LinuxQuestions.org is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
Syndicate
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
identi.ca: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration