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Old 06-10-2008, 05:00 PM   #46
Road_map
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Quote from T3slider from comments:
Quote:
However, discouraging users from even attempting it is just plain bad journalism.
Very good point.

However, I take her article like a story - her story about a 3 week Slackware 12.1 experience - not like a review. A reviewer who really respect his readers will never say: "inane and ridiculous argument".
 
Old 06-10-2008, 07:56 PM   #47
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I was trying so hard not to reply to her, but that comment about slackbuilds not being a substitute for a package repository got my goat up.

As digger so eloquently put it earlier....

Oh well.
 
Old 06-10-2008, 08:56 PM   #48
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She gives "Linux Professionals" a bad name.

In all honesty her remarks remind me of what what was said about the country of South Africa by a 'softy' not too far back.

Her real problem is that is seems that for a distro to be 'good' in her eyes it must be brainless. Computers are like any other equipment. If you want to use it you should at least know the basics of it and understand how they work. I guess her mechanic is pretty busy (and laughing all the way to the bank) because why should she (just an operator) be expected to know that the little orange peg pointing to E means? I happen to LIKE knowing that I need to open up my xorg.conf file and what driver to tell it to load. Call me old fashioned, but you can't take what I know away from me. Only tool needed, a simple text editor of your choice.

The problem with most of these types of reviews is that they are based on the assumption that a complete imbecile should be able to pop in a disk, click one button and everything 'just works'. I would like to see ANYONE get that out of an MS o/s. Aside from that I am on a laptop and other than installing the madwifi drivers (thanks Alien) everything in my machine did "just work" (including of HAL that she seems to claim is really hosed). I expected more trouble than that considering I am on a laptop, but not with Slack (I should have known it would live up to it's expectations).

I have no college degree, and picked up Slack when it was version 4.0. I still will NOT call my self an expert, professional, guru or any other title, simply because the only claim I make is that I can (usually) just make my boxes work. Beyond that, what do I need? Maybe I should apply for her job since she seems to think it too large a task to just get something set up and never have to worry about it again. It just dawned on me. There would be no job security for her regarding Slackware. I understand, sounds like most of the politicians and government employees.
 
Old 06-11-2008, 12:22 AM   #49
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The O'Reilly Review is not bad

Some previous Slackware reviews that I have seen in the past have suffered from a reviewer who did not read the included documentation (namely CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT) and then complained when things did not work properly.

Based upon the initial reactions to this article, and some out-of-context quotes, I had assumed that this article was similar to past reviews like this.

However, after I read some of the comments from Caitlyn Martin and others on the O'Reilly site I felt that it was a good idea to read through the article (twice) to really see what all fuss was about.

If you haven't already done so, I recommend you read through the entire article. While there are certainly some points I disagree with, I think the review overall is very good and balanced.

In fact, Ms. Martin had quite a few good things to say about the newest Slackware. Here are some quotes from the review.


** Slackware Praises **
Quote:
Slackware has a well earned reputation for reliability, stability, and performance.
Quote:
The main strength of the Slackware installation process is flexibility.
Quote:
If you don't mind the work needed to configure Slackware it is an outstanding choice for older hardware and systems with limited resources.
My favorite two quotes praising Slackware are:
Quote:
During my first three weeks running Slackware I have yet to find a single bug. That is something I've never been able to write in a review of a Linux distribution before and it is truly impressive.
Quote:
Slackware clearly has some very strong points. It is stable and reliable, offers good performance, and gives the user absolute control over what goes onto his or her system and how things are configured.

However, this is not a one-sided review so there are some criticisms of Slackware as well.


** Some Statements I Disagree With **
Quote:
It may also be the least user friendly major Linux distribution on the planet short of building Linux From Scratch.
By itself, that statement sounds very harsh, but when taken in context the effect is lessened.
Quote:
Slackware has a well earned reputation for reliability, stability, and performance. It may also be the least user friendly major Linux distribution on the planet short of building Linux From Scratch.
The real problem I have with this statement is that the common term "user friendly" is somewhat ambiguous. Slackware can be indeed harder to setup the first time than many other distros that walk you through everything. However, once it is setup, I don't see how Slackware is possibly the "least user friendly major Linux distribution on the planet". It may not "just work" out of the box before you do all of the normal installation tasks (including the ones not taken care of by the initial setup program), but after the installation is complete Slackware typically "just works" very well. In that sense it is very "user friendly".

A new user armed with something like the SlackBook in addition to CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT could very well go through all the steps needed to do the installation on their own. If they run into trouble, the LQ community is almost always very helpful.

Quote:
Slackware 12.1 is the first release to include HAL support.
As Ms. Martin mentioned this was an honest mistake. The Slackware 12.1 Announcement clearly had some sections that were copied over from the 12.0 Announcement.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ANNOUNCE.12_1
We have added to Slackware support for HAL
However, the CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT, which is a must-read guide for every Slackware version says:
Quote:
Originally Posted by CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT
HAL is not new anymore, but here are a few notes related to it:
I am not pointing my finger at Ms. Martin and saying she did not read the CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT. She very well might have read it. However, this misunderstanding on HAL underscores the fact that very few reviews (including this one) mention the importance of reading CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT.

Quote:
There is only a tiny repository called "Extra" which contains things like international aspell libraries. There are no additional applications to speak of.
Even though /extra has almost no applications (around 20) when compared to some other distros repositories, I think "no additional applications to speak of" is not the best choice of words. Grub, jdk, parted, slackpkg, and the various bit torrent software are very useful to many people. At the very least I would have mentioned grub and slackpkg.

Quote:
The lack of a package management system with proper dependency checking is pretty much inexcusable in 2008.
Again, I think this is a harsh choice of words. It's like saying
Quote:
The lack of a motor in a bicycle is pretty much inexcusable in today's fast paced world.
The point is that this lack of dependency checking is considered a feature of the OS. If someone doesn't like this they can add the feature through third party sources (some of which Ms. Martin graciously mentioned including Stefano Stabellini's modified PACKAGES.TXT and RequiredBuilder).

That being said, most people probably do want dependency checking, so I understand (particularly from a consultant's point of view) why Ms. Martin complained about the lack of it in Slackware. Still, I would have rather seen it stated in big bold letters that Slackware has no dependency resolution than have it called "inexcusable".

Quote:
The alternative, building everything you need that isn't included from source, is time consuming even with the third party tools available and requires a fairly high level of knowledge on the part of the user.
Honestly I do not see what "high level of knowledge" is required of the user to use a slackBuild script from slackBuilds.org. The user simply downloads the slackBuild and unpacks it. They then download the source (linked from the slackBuild page) and put it in the slackBuild folder. Finally, they run the slackBuild script and run 'installpkg' on the created package under /tmp. With the exception of running 'installpkg', this is all basic file management stuff that can be done in the GUI as well as command line.

The user doesn't have to modify the script of use any run time environment variables if they do not want to. There's a detailed HowTo on the site for all of this as well.

Using slackBuilds.org to build your third party packages also has the advantage that it can help you keep your software up to date. Simply subscribe to the RSS feed for the Changelog or join the mailing list. This is easier than subscribing to the various upstream sources' mailing lists (or manually checking for updates). In addition, there's a tool called SBo_pkg that helps automate slackBuilds and keeping them up to date.


** Some Supposedly Controversial Statements **
Quote:
The fact that Slackware is largely developed and maintained by one person and offers no commercial support makes it inappropriate for the corporate or institutional server room.
I understand where Ms. Martin is coming from and she already explained herself just fine on this one. Say you have Slackware boxes nicely setup and deployed across a network and everything is hunky-dory. If one day your main Slackware Admin leaves the job and problems arise, what do you do? Most companies would rather pay up the nose for official corporate support rather than have to lean upon a few knowledgeable people. Slackware obviously does not have a large company to provide this kind of corporate support. Rather, Pat refers people to LQ and a list of private consulting companies to help you when you are in need. If nothing else, IT departments can blame their corporate support for their continued problems instead of the one admin who decided Slackware should be installed everywhere.

Quote:
The only newcomers to Linux who should consider Slackware are those who wish to really learn how Linux works under the hood and are ready to roll up their sleeves.
I think this depends on what role the user will play with the OS. The thing to realize is that many, many new Linux users don't install their own OS. They have a friend, relative, or fellow peer do it for them. In these cases the "hard part" of Slackware is already done, and the user can enjoy a wonderful system. For other Linux newcomers, I think the above statement is fair. Linux newcomers who don't want to learn really should use something else or have someone nice set it up for them.

Quote:
To me Slackware is a fantastic base on which to build a first rate distribution. It is not what I consider to be a good distribution in its own right.
I don't see why people have a problem with this statement as it is very clearly a personal opinion. I think Slackware is a fantastic base on which to build first rate distros as well. However, I think Slackware is great on its own as well. That being said, the people who really come to love Slackware are the ones who take advantage of its great flexibility to tweak things to exactly how they want it. In a way, they have made their own distro. It is no wonder that many of these same people (myself included at times) can quickly become offended when someone criticizes Slackware! You should expect the same reaction you would get from a mother who had her baby called "ugly" by a stranger. That, at least, is my theory of why Slackware users (again, including myself) can often become over-zealous of their personal distro.


** Conclusions **
In conclusion, the O'Reilly review of Slackware 12.1 by Ms. Caitlyn Martin is what I believe to be, overall, a good well-balanced review. She praised many of Slackware's strong features, but also pointed out many things she saw as flaws. Unlike some past reviews, none of her criticisms that I could see were due to ignorance of how to manage Slackware. She does have a different view of what "user friendly" means, and this does seem to go against some Slackware philosophies. This brought about many of her criticisms, but she offered some advice on third party solutions to make Slackware more in line with what I imagine many of her clients consider "user friendly". My main complaint with this article is that it did not mention the importance of using CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT and did not stress the support of the LinuxQuestions.org community. Other than that, I think it is a fine review.
 
Old 06-11-2008, 03:14 AM   #50
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@shadowsnipes I was glad to see your last post - I was thinking along those lines too, but haven't had time to express my thoughts in words.
 
Old 06-11-2008, 05:39 AM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowsnipes View Post
I don't see why people have a problem with this statement as it is very clearly a personal opinion.
By very definition, a review is all personal opinion. Prefixing that particular statement with "what I consider" in the context of a review is redundant. The danger is that a reader who doesn't already have their own opinion of Slackware will take a statement like that as gospel. Sadly, in the Attention-deficit and sound-bite afflicted world we live in, these conclusive statements are all that will be remembered. The fact she said 20 good things about Slackware on the way to drawing that conclusion will be forgotten before the average reader gets to the end of the review.


Anyway, She clearly shows no respect for anyone that posts a response to that article, I've no more time for this, or any of her future ramblings.


Right... time to get back to the Zealotry... Heathens don't burn themselves you know...
 
Old 06-11-2008, 08:43 AM   #52
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I guess the part that bugs me most about her article, is that she never asks the "why?" question. Yeah, its legitimate to point out that Slackware doesn't have dependency resolution built in. But the immediate next question I would expect from a Linux professional is "Well, why is that?". Instead she simply dismisses this as "inexcusable". And this is where she gets in real trouble because she is substituting her opinion for fact. She does this with pretty much every aspect of Slackware that doesn't meet her personal standards.

I don't know why I expect bloggers to conform to some level of fairness and separation of fact from opinion, but I do. And in this respect, she failed miserably.
 
Old 06-11-2008, 12:32 PM   #53
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I think the article was OK, but not great. However, her responses to her readers are very close-minded, rude, and unbending (and I'm talking about before I posted). She has a "my way or the highway" approach but accuses others of having that approach instead, and I guess it just doesn't sit well with me. If you don't share her opinion, you're a zealot. Oh well, zealotry isn't that bad, is it?
 
Old 06-11-2008, 03:54 PM   #54
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Quote:
Oh well, zealotry isn't that bad, is it?
Off with her head!
 
Old 06-12-2008, 12:09 AM   #55
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Hi,

I've read this thread and the article(s) referenced. First, I found that catlyn fell into the same trap as most newbies do when attempting to start their Slackware birthing. They failed to read the informational text. No brainer here, RTFM! Catlyn stated she has used Slackware in the past so there's no excuse for her to not read the documentation. I guess her Linux Professionalism out weighed the need to open the text file(s)?

I'm not offended by what she wrote as it was not objective. I hope that some newbies don't use the article to weigh their decision to use or not use Slackware.

I've spent too much time on this. Back to talking to people who do need help or direction.
 
Old 06-12-2008, 12:32 AM   #56
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+1 with shadowsnipes. I found it a very fair and balanced article (or pair of articles) which does contain one or two errors and some points that readers might disagree with. Some of the blinkered responses, calling her a newbie (and misogynist remarks such as "I guess her mechanic is pretty busy (and laughing all the way to the bank) because why should she (just an operator) be expected to know....") look inappropriate and foolish to me. There is absolutely no point in reviews which serve only to praise, and fail to give people some real impression of the subject. Ms Martin is quite obviously technically accomplished, experienced, knowledgable and a good writer to boot. It's unfair to also expect her to be simultaneously infallible and to only offer opinions that exactly coincide with one's own. It's doubly unfair and terribly blinkered to let differences of opinion (or even mere interpretation of terminology) blind one to the positive things she found to say about Slackware. My impression is that her review is overall extremely positive about Slackware and it's amazing that she's received such a lot of bad feedback. One of the great things about LQ is that all the tedious distro vs distro/which-distro-is-best (it's Debian by the way) debates get squashed very quickly and the response to this review looks like a good indicator of why.
 
Old 06-12-2008, 10:32 PM   #57
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Hi,

I disagree! She writes well but does fail to read or research a OS fully. She also doesn't present a view point from a objective end. Her review of Slackware 12.1 was being judged with or compared to what is relative to her experiences with other distributions.

I really think the review was comparative and not with a standing review of Slackware 12.1.
 
Old 06-13-2008, 12:12 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onebuck View Post
I disagree! She writes well but does fail to read or research a OS fully.
Could you elaborate on this, please? I know she did not realize that HAL was in 12.0, but other than that I didn't see a lack of technical knowledge of Slackware.

Quote:
Originally Posted by onebuck View Post
She also doesn't present a view point from a objective end. Her review of Slackware 12.1 was being judged with or compared to what is relative to her experiences with other distributions.

I really think the review was comparative and not with a standing review of Slackware 12.1.
When analyzing any piece of literature you have to keep in mind the main intended audience. I don't think current Slackware users are the intended main audience. The four areas that Ms. Martin specifically finds lacking in Slackware (see her comments), namely, "dependency checking, user friendly GUI tools, properly managed software repositories, and decent hardware detection" (auto-configured X)- are all things that are excluded by choice as per the Slackware design philosophies (KISS, vanilla-ism). The thing to keep in mind is that Slackware is the minority when it comes to these design choices. Most people want dependency resolution, GUI tools, and other features that help them manage their system and make decisions for it.

O'reilly's site is not even aimed at Linux users. They have content for a vast array of computer users including Mac, Windows, Linux, and programmers. This demographic is probably similar to what Ms. Martin has experienced in her work as a consultant. Again, most of these people want dependency resolution, GUI tools, etc. This is her main audience.

This is not to say that Slackware is flawed for being different. I rather like the fact that Slackware does its own thing and bucks the trends- and it does its own thing very well. Even Ms. Martin said admitted this. There is a reason Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distro that, more importantly, still has a very strong following.

So, Slackware users (and others who like the Slackware design philosophies) need to simply take the criticisms of articles like this with a grain of salt. It is simply a case where we have to choose to agree to disagree on design philosophies and what determines "user friendliness". As I said previously, I was mainly bothered by the fact that the review did not mention the CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT (or highlight changes from the last release) or the strong support offered by LQ. I was quite pleased that this was not another article where the reviewer complained because they had trouble getting things to work that were covered in the documentation.

I think it will be very hard to find many reviews for Slackware written by non-Slackware users that do not have criticisms similar to this article. This is to be expected, because if the reviewer agreed with all of the design philosophies they would probably be a Slacker! This is simply a consequence of being unique!
 
Old 06-13-2008, 01:28 AM   #59
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Hi,

My point is that she doesn't read or really delve into the support information that is provided by Slackware. If she had then some of the mistakes and/or the problems that she developed would not have been present.

A lot of people fall into that trap and she was one of them. The other thing is that she states that she used Slackware and would continue to use it BUT. Then she starts a long comparative review.

As I stated before, I've wasted more time on this review than I should have. I'm not a zealot, at least I don't think so. I enjoy Slackware because of the feel for a *NIX. Sure BSD would work for me but I chose Slackware for the fit.

I'll say it once more and then I will not include myself in this thread any longer. No point in wasting more time.

The review was not objective.
 
Old 06-13-2008, 07:43 AM   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onebuck View Post
Hi,
Her review of Slackware 12.1 was being judged with or compared to what is relative to her experiences with other distributions.

I really think the review was comparative and not with a standing review of Slackware 12.1.
Comparison is the raison d’ętre of a review. To criticise a reviewer for making a comparison and drawing on their knowledge/experience with comparable products is simply bizarre.
 
  


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