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jeremy 07-27-2016 10:45 AM

Feedback on New Q&A column on
I'm launching a new Q&A column on and I'm fine-tuning what topics I'll cover. Anything Linux, Open Source and community-related are fair game. What do you wish you'd known about Linux before you started using it? What questions do you have about building and maintaining communities? What would you like to know about contributing to an Open Source project? If I use your question in the column, you will get full attribution (and I'm certainly interested in hearing general feedback about the column itself).


Note that the content will also be available here at LQ.

josephj 08-02-2016 03:59 AM

A couple of topics
TL;DR How can I get Python programmers to join our project? (For the purpose of an article, you could substitute something more generic than "Python programmers".)

Long version:

I inherited a project coded in Python when the original developer quit and no one else stepped forward. It is currently hosted on GitHub and has a GPL 3 license.

It's a tool I use every day and I don't want to see it die. I know very little Python and very little GUI programming, so I can't maintain it myself.

How do I go about finding one or more Python programmers who actually have some time to help out?

I found 2 or 3 programmers in the past, but, despite the best intentions, no one has stayed long enough to get a lot done.

I have no idea how many users we actually have, but I keep hearing from new ones on GitHub and on our support list and I would guess we have (at the very least) hundreds - possibly many more. A number of distros offer the application in their repos, so we also get new users that way.

This brings up another topic: If you don't make users pay money or sign some other agreements, etc. (because it's a FOSS project), how the heck can you know how many of them you have? They seem invisible until they get stuck and ask a question or report a bug.

Since the project is a real live product and requires all aspects of FOSS development/support, but is also not a really large/complex system, I thought it might be appropriate for a university to use as a training system for a few upper class or graduate programming students, but I haven't figured out how to connect with anyone who could make that happen.

JZL240I-U 08-02-2016 05:35 AM

Before startin out I'd have liked to have better understanding of the differences between windows drive letters (A:\ or C:\ etc.) and the idea of linux / unix directory trees with mounted partitions in the leaves. This was a huge step for me when I finally understood that. Not to mention the versatility to (u)mount during operations.

biosboy4 08-02-2016 09:12 AM

Virtualization and SDN.

linxpatrick 08-02-2016 03:10 PM

I have found it very difficult to pick a distro of Linux. As an experienced Linux user knows, some distributions are better for certain environments than others but, even as an experienced Linux user, I still don't have a completely clear understanding of which distro of Linux I should be using. As a bit of a back story, I started with Ubuntu several years ago because it was easy to install and had a graphic user interface. Today, though, Ubuntu isn't my first choice. OpenSuSE is because it seems to be geared more towards developers and not general users. The Mir GUI in Ubuntu is quite slow on VMs, too.

Maybe there's a better choice for the development work I do. Maybe I should use a non-free distribution for better stability or better features or something I've not even considered.

It would be nice to have a description of the best distributions out there and what makes them the best and for the list to stay current.

JeremyBoden 08-02-2016 05:01 PM

I find things like Ubuntu have "mission creep" lots of Jargon and stuff developed by them.

So I use Debian because its stable and relatively simple (if you remove systemd).

jc1742 08-02-2016 09:48 PM

One of the problems I've had from the very beginning is one that can easily be dismissed as "not really a linux problem", but it's an ongoing problem for anyone trying to diagnose problems on a failing system: I have a collection of boot CDs and USB drives, but it can take a lot of tries to guess how to tell a given box's boot loader to boot from one of them. The hardware folks have done a good (i.e., bad) job of making PC-like boxes inconsistent in how this most basic of all startup code works. I wouldn't be surprised if someone has collected a pile in info on the topic, but I haven't found it. Is there (or would it be possible to start a project to create) a collection of the various ways that one wakes up a box and tells it to boot from file system X on gadget Y?

Linux does get involved in this in an important way: Since linux has drivers for nearly every kind of file system that's every existed, and has the original unix/posix low-level binary access capability needed for troubleshooting and repair, it's often the support guy's system of choice to diagnose and fix problems on lots of non-linux boxes, especially those running Microsoft systems, but also various others. But doing this effectively requires knowing the magic key sequences that bring up a portable linux system on a plugin file system.

I first got involved in this back in the early 1980s, before linux existed, when I worked at a company that had a big central IBM system with VM and lots of OSs. The engineering staff all used unix systems, and we got a release of unix that ran on VM. I found myself writing software that could "mount" disk partitions from other OSs, run diagnostics on them, and often fix problems. The IBMers, of course, hated us for this, but their favorite OSs mostly rejected such partitions on the ground that they were damaged. Unix didn't care, and would accept any partition as a binary file, which our software could read and write on a sector basis.. Since then, I've often got involved in similar tasks on smaller machines that don't have an equivalent of IBM's VM system. This results in the usual problems of wildly inconsistent ROM boot software, with never any documentation in sight. It'd be very useful if we could do something to fight this problem.

(Actually, I wouldn't be at all surprised if others are working on such problems. But google seems to be no help in finding them, probably because they don't use consistent terminology to describe what they're doing. ;-)

fixer1234 08-03-2016 01:45 PM

Linux poses challenges for non-technical people that are different from those faced by computer-savy newcomers. The kind of orientation and paradigm shift that would be especially useful to non-technical people requires discussion that is too long to fit well in a forum or Q&A format. Something like a series of blog posts would be better suited (collectively, they would make good chapters of a book). Consider making that a part of the endeavor.

p_i_n_o 08-03-2016 04:11 PM

IMHO a working approach must be a brutally faithful one. Tell the people that everything is great in Linux and that for everything there is a drop-in replacement in the repositories, which you just have to click on in order to get something even better than you had in Windows.

This leads to masses of people trying it, rolling it back, throwing it away and spreading the bad opinions (we all know those phrases, which are often technically inexact but more often entirely comprehensible when you see it from a users perspective).

I would tell the people that there are restrictions. Something works great, other stuff is broken, other stuff doesn't exist at all. Much stuff works differently and needs technical knowledge. This technical knowledge is not just required at installation time, but really every time (depending on what you're doing - just email and youtube _might_ work (but just the non-flash variant)). Many things are not logically structured but historically grown. Nevertheless, experts in forums will tell you it was logically structured (as my Latin teacher really was as detached enough to tell us about the great logical structure of the Latin language). Experts will tell you that you are an idiot all the time, while the actually idiot typically is the expert in this situations (although the expert is technically right and the user got it wrong how to work with some weird Xfree modelines ^^).

Tell people that - if they compare it in a fair way - Windows often is more comfortable, better structured and muuuuch more stable (not in terms of crashes, but in terms of technology fluctuation between versions).

There are of course many good reasons for Linux as well. I don't use any other OS in my private life. Work out those advantages somehow. But don't lie about the weak parts ;)

Just my 50ct.

p_i_n_o 08-03-2016 04:48 PM

...btw, I see a steady decay in the weight of some of the advantages. Maybe you have to work around that in a rhetorically clever way.

Beyond the bare technical things, Linux is much about Free Software and about ideological ideas. Modern people are largely uninterested in that (due to planned defects in educational system - at least here in Europa but obviously in Trump-valley as well). They are - I'm not happy to write it - working drones in the first half of the day and zombies in the second one, consuming what they got from Amazon Prime. No WhatsApp? No Deal! Maybe I'm wrong. It's just what I see and hear all the times. And don't come me with Sokrates ;)

Are you good in writing? Maybe we get a nice text which inspires people to think more about things like real open-ness vs. fake open-ness (what e.g. MS does sometimes nowadays, but Google and Apple as well) and which makes people think deeper about replacing email by proprietary closed networks. This all has an impact, since otherwise, in the end it doesn't matter if you click the kittens' Like-button on a Lindow or a Macdroid or a whatever restricted consumer platform.

brkothari 08-03-2016 05:24 PM

1. Difference between Windows and Linux OS?
2. Comparison of some of the windows command prompt commands and linux commands
3. What is the equivalent of windows registry in linux?


JeremyBoden 08-04-2016 05:12 AM

The Windows registry is its Achilles Heel.

grdy 08-04-2016 10:16 AM

I began using Linux in 2005 and almost returned to MSWin. because I did not see any convenience to using Linux. I read another newbie's decision to stay the course and learn the "Linux way". With perseverance, I continued using Linux and after the first year I became a dedicated Linux fan.
The worst part of Linux is definitely setup. People coming from Windows world do not have the technical knowledge to follow complex CLI intructions to setup wireless, printing and other things that they take for granted. Some distros are easier than others for some things and more difficult for other things. Instructions are great for the technical person but the average Win user needs for everything to "just work out of the box". So, I would like to see more people dedicated to writing programs to help ease the setup of printing, sound, etc. Cups is fine for setting up a printer until it "can't find any printers" or asks for admin password. The average user becomes frustrated and returns to Windows after telling friends that Linux is a disaster.
I have experienced this with several people and even offering to help with their setup does not draw them back. They are lost forever in the Windows morass!

kensor 08-05-2016 02:36 AM

Learning Linux the old-fashioned way -- personal lab experience
One thing I wish I had realized was the value of one or two back-bench, non-production machines (even, and perhaps especially, at home) for the purpose of testing, checking out the differences in builds and installations, and for observing results of operations over time. Using such machines to teach oneself, by experimentation and observation, what is really going on inside a particular system configuration is valuable experience, for which there really is not an operational substitute. Having an extra workstation or two, or a server-workstation pair, with which to experiment is a useful learning lab. Illustrating how to get the most from such gear would make valuable articles.

hydrurga 08-05-2016 03:21 PM

Some possible questions:

Backups - how and when should I make these?

How do I search for and find solutions to my problem?

How can I phrase my technical question well in order to increase the chances of having it answered?

JeremyBoden 08-05-2016 06:26 PM

The backup frequency depends on how vital the information is to you.

If you don't customise anything or install any non-package software then
1) A list of the packages installed (to enable you to resurrect your OS) and
2) Regular backups of /home
would cover 99% of your needs.

However, you would also need a few bits of fairly static files such as

so that you would have a cross-reference of user names with UID's.
/etc/groups would give you a cross-reference of user names with GID's.
You might also need relevant copies of various crontab files (if used).

All this can be easily automated, given time.

johneb47 08-06-2016 08:21 PM

Its all about computer literacy.
People who understand and know computers can enjoy the power of GNU/Linux.
People who use the computer as a toy/tool don't really care what OS they use as long as it works more than 95% of the time.
It saddens me to see Linux distributions following the path of the proprietary operating systems where the full knowledge of how these distributions operate is restricted to the privileged few. Somehow it seems to defeat all the FLOSS and GNU goals.

p_i_n_o 08-07-2016 06:19 PM

@johneb47: I would not see _this_ as the problem. There actually is a big problem, but you must see it from a different perspective. I don't see that much evil distributions, which try to hide some great secrets in a bad way. Maybe some Ubuntu developments (Mir, Snap) are really in a bad direction. And we should be sceptical about them. But in most cases, what the distributors do is making a big big mess a bit more consumable.

Why do they hide messy technical stuff like XFree modelines (I know, this particular issue is gone - but it is a great example, which can stand for everything we see today)? It is not because modelines are great things to deal with and distributors want to steal you something. It is because there was a configuration interface, which was way too complicated and too low-level. For John Doe, it was just impossible to deal with them. For the expert, it was something to show power. He sits on his big throne of wisdom and can tell people in forums what idiots they are.

Whenever I have the choice between (a) using YaST or whatever for making some weird config stuff for me and (b) asking the expert on a forum, I suspect you are faster and more successful with (a), while (b) would just bring you lots of social insights (like the bitterness and evilness experts can have, when you don't pay them).

Nowadays, my only OS is Linux and I fought for understanding everything I need in the last decade (neary two decades meanwhile). And nowadays I can solve nearly all of my problems by means of my intuition, knowledge and the Web. But in the bare beginning, you are mostly faced with lots of stupid idiots in forums, thinking they are Gods. You have some Windows-steered ideas how things worked before. You ask stuff with that background and you get back piles of sarcasm and bullshit, paired maybe with a web link, which can help you after some months of reading.

And those idiots are not the guilty party as well. Since they never get money or anything (just the fun with degrading other people). The issue is that there is no party responsible for helping the noobs.

And this is where the distribution tools can jump in and save lives :)

I love to make hard-disk partitioning in a graphical installer instead of weird command line tools (even if I love to use those command line tools in some automation projects, where the graphical tools obviously would not help me anything).

linxpatrick 08-08-2016 12:18 PM

I have to agree with p i n o. There are two main reasons for Microsoft's success. Same with Android. The first it marketing. I wish Linux could be marketed better. The second is that Microsoft and Android are focused on allowing users to get their work done, not on requiring end users to know how the OS or software works under the hood. I am grateful for yast, LibreOffice and VirtualBox and many other packages that make getting to work a priority. I have seen some forum posts from Linux users saying that using the command line is the way to go and that some things can't be done with a GIU. Simply not true and a properly written GUI provides the instructions and allows many settings to be changed all at the same time. So, I also have to agree with p i n o that there is also an elitist attitude amongst some Linux users (just as you find in the Microsoft world) that isn't necessary and doesn't help most end users make the most of Linux and Linux based software.

linxpatrick 08-08-2016 12:30 PM

Another thought on the same topic. You can learn the internals of Linux and other open source projects to your hearts content. It's just a matter of getting connected to the right people in their respective development communities.

eredwood007 08-12-2016 12:41 PM

I want to get my Linux+ Certification, what would be some good tips to put together a study group.

Ira123 08-12-2016 05:48 PM

First of all I would check with some of your friends that are using Windows10 and see if they would be willing to try using Linux a free and open sourge program and then I would put an add in your local paper, if you have enough computers, a place to teach, Ira123

linxpatrick 08-13-2016 06:08 PM

The response that Ira123 made to a different post is a good idea for this post. That is, get some Windows 10 users together to install Linux. Then use their questions as possible candidates for the Q and A.

doxxx 08-17-2016 03:01 PM

Just over two years with Linux and 30+ years using dos, win, cics, ibm...
Even with all my experience with computers I still struggle...

The first thing I noticed was that seemingly everything had different terminology.
A dictionary of equivalent terms would be great.

All Linuxs are somewhat similar, but; all do the seemingly same things differently.

I suppose an impartial review of distros noting who would benefit from using it; newbie, user, expert...
Ubuntu was labeled as being a beginner's OS, but; Linux Mint is so easy to use from a newbie POV.

HELP when NEEDED is always a plus.
Ubuntu seemed to take forever to get help. Debian was worse!
Linux Mint has been very helpful, especially the irc channel.
and I have learned quite a bit just observing the channel.

Not enough instructions for newbies on irc;
This whole damn attitude of; "if they learn it the hard way they will remember."
I quit debian over this crap!

fatmac 08-19-2016 11:19 AM

Linux is not Windows - Unix is not Windows - BSD is not Windows - Android is not Windows

The biggest problem is that (nearly) all computers come with that other O/S pre installed.

Most people don't install their own O/S - this is where their problem lies.

Show them how complicated it is to install Windows - then show them how easy it is to install Linux.

Once they see that Linux isn't as complicated as Windows, they are more likely to learn the differences between the two.

Also, it took them some time to learn Windows; they should at least take that amount of time with Linux.

Edit: My recommendation is, as always, AntiX (or MX). :)

mybrothersentme 08-19-2016 03:35 PM

Well, You Asked
You asked what we wished we had known before we started using Linux. Well, my Linux-crazy brother started me on Linux in 2005. Now, what I wished I had known is that there really was no GUI and you had to command line too often. And, while my little brother (I'm 60 yo and he's 54 yo) and I went to the same school and took the same classes, I took the hardware path and the first job that came along was data communications (now called telecommunications) and while he started out hardware, he morphed almost immediately into a software type. (I still love him.) It seemed like I was always calling him up to find out how to do something I think I quit Linux and went back to Windows around the time of Ubuntu Intrepid. I don't believe in Jackialopes, either.

So, I went back to Windows because by that time it was Windows 7, which was as awesome as Microsoft ever got Windows IMHO.

Now, what made me go back to Linux? BECAUSE I JUST SAID NO TO WINDOWS 10! Anything (from MS) that tried to install itself is evil. (Kind of like Evil Corp in Mr. Robot. You do watch Mr. Robot, don't you?) By now, I knew that the GUIs work, and there are a Billion Applications available. While I started out with Mint/Cinnamon, I didn't really like Mint. Now, I am running Ubuntu 16.04 with Cinnamon 3 desktop.

WHAT DID I WISH I KNEW BEFORE GOING (COMING?) BACK TO LINUX? There's a book called "How Linux Works:What Every Superuser Should Know" by Brian Ward. It is an AWESOME book. Probably more helpful for people who relate to the OSI 7 layer model a little more than those who are not. But you don't have to be a Superuser to use this book successfully. And at least now I know what's going on in all the little directories like usr, bin, lib, etc. There are other books I've bought just didn't work for me.

But, while I say I stayed on the hardware side, I had to know the software our machines were running. Because I eventually was the Product Manager. You at least have to know when the software engineers are lying about how long it will fix a bug, or that it can't be fixed. And enough so when you cruise through the cubicle farm, you can look over someone's shoulder and see if they're working on what they're supposed to be or on some pet projects that won't sell any more machines.

So, I know you weren't looking for a book, but I write in Verbose Mode. Good Luck on your project. I will come and take a look in a couple of months. Got it in my calendar already.

Oh, and my brother didn't send me here. I found it all on my own. Cheers! Susan

mybrothersentme 08-19-2016 03:57 PM

You don't like feeling degraded by Know-It-Alls?
I am quoting only part of your message, but lots of it resonates with me. I believe that computers should work for us. We shouldn't work for the computer. In 2005, when I first started on Linux, even with a brother who was a programmer/Linux guru who would (fairly) patiently answer my questions, it was way too much command line sh*& required. I stayed on Linux until Windows 7 came out.

Now I have a book called "How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know", and I'm not a Superuser, but the book has helped immensely because I need to see everything in terms in how they fit together. Now I call my brother to just discuss regular stuff. And now with Ubuntu 16.04 and the Cinnamon 3.0 desktop (hate Unity!), my computer works for me. And while I sometimes have to go to forums to find stuff out, I just ignore the ones who sound like they are sooooo much smarter than the rest of us. (Sometimes I forget and get mad and throw my trackball across the room, but I'm working on my anger management issues.

Ignore the people who act superior. You have things you are far better at than they are I bet. :-) Like I can rejet a carburetor on a Harley a lot faster than many of them can even find the damn thing. (Yes, I know some have EFI now, but...)


Originally Posted by p_i_n_o (Post 5587518)
@johneb47: I would not see _this_ as the problem. There actually is a big problem, but you must see it from a different perspective. I don't see that much evil distributions, which try to hide some great secrets in a bad way. Maybe some Ubuntu developments (Mir, Snap) are really in a bad direction. And we should be sceptical about them. But in most cases, what the distributors do is making a big big mess a bit more consumable.

And those idiots are not the guilty party as well. Since they never get money or anything (just the fun with degrading other people). The issue is that there is no party responsible for helping the noobs.

And this is where the distribution tools can jump in and save lives :)

I love to make hard-disk partitioning in a graphical installer instead of weird command line tools (even if I love to use those command line tools in some automation projects, where the graphical tools obviously would not help me anything).

danrevell 09-06-2016 09:10 PM

My, my, what an angry group of people... could it be that they have tired of being bent over the barrel at every turn? I thought it was just me, being my grumpy complaining self, disadvantaged by my years away from Linux.
But no, it appears that these folks have ALSO been stymied by downloads that don't work, aggravated by convoluted processes to accomplish what should be a simple change, and aghast at the number of hours spent in search of answers to questions that shouldn't exist in the first place.
I submit that what is needed is a small set of "how-to"s. Concise but thorough one-page manuals on the bare basics of computing with Linux; choice of version(s),installation, use of defaults vs adding apps...
This would, of course, predicate the need for a particular type of writer, a rare species, not a blathering meandering old fool like me.
Any volunteers?

p_i_n_o 09-07-2016 04:40 PM

Hi Danrevell.

You aren't the only one. By no means. Nowadays I use Linux and nothing else, and I master everything I do (this is stuff about server administration, workstation 'John Doe' stuff, software development, video cut from time to time, photo post-processing, ...). But it would be a big big lie, if I had told you that it wasn't fucking hard in the beginning.

One phrase of your message put many of my thoughts in a nutshell: "aghast at the number of hours spent in search of answers to questions that shouldn't exist in the first place".

It could be, that more FAQ for end users isn't what we really need at all. Maybe we need one for the devs? Obviously, developers are a kind of people who don't always really love to get feedback. But if we had some general guidelines, which would help to write better software, could that help?

I don't mean low-level stuff. This is for the Stroustrup books. But maybe a word or two about 'dont make your gui as esoteric as only you understand usage', providing convenient and working automation interfaces (e.g. use libraries instead of parsing command line tool outputs - I love all the GUI frontends for command line tools; they are all terribly broken and I've never seen a working one for any tool more complex than 'shutdown'). Maybe something about typical user interface concepts. It should encourage better error handling (I've seen too much tools, interacting with other ones in a rather complex way, but without any serious error handling). It should encourage the developer to make interfaces (i.e. GUIs, config files, command line, file hierarchies, ...) which are logically structured and more n00b-compatible. I've seen so much config interfaces, which would become perfectly easy after some non-rocket-science restructuring, but which actually need hours of research due to weird structure. They are often result of uncontrolled growth, while no felt responsible for cleanup from time to time.

When I'm at work and I go to our documentation department with weird crap, they ask me if I would prefer to fix that in code instead of writing manuals about how to deal with a broken interface.

In the open source / free software ecosystem, this is obviously by far more difficult, admittedly...


JeremyBoden 09-07-2016 05:23 PM

LyX is a really excellent tool that provides a GUI for a complex text input system - LaTeX.
There are exceptions to every rule!

JZL240I-U 09-08-2016 02:20 AM


Originally Posted by p_i_n_o (Post 5602094)
"aghast at the number of hours spent in search of answers to questions that shouldn't exist in the first place".



Originally Posted by p_i_n_o (Post 5602094)
But if we had some general guidelines, which would help to write better software, could that help?

Hmm. I'd rather guess, that those developers either don't read those in the first place or might understand them in a way different from what they are trying to tell.


Originally Posted by p_i_n_o (Post 5602094)
better error handling

Oh, please yes ;).

I think best would be for developers to look over the shoulders of a few noobs when those first try the mearvelous new software. Then they would get a first hand impression what normal users expect and how they "tick".

JeremyBoden 09-08-2016 07:23 AM

So what is Beta testing for?

JZL240I-U 09-08-2016 08:22 AM


Originally Posted by JeremyBoden (Post 5602367)
So what is Beta testing for?

To iron out errors in the program logic. What I was driving at is the interaction of the user with the software. Example: The installer for Fedora (Anaconda). During F17 - F19 (mayby to this day, I didn't check) was unable to handle multi-boot environments since in one menu there was no viable exit. No program error, but...

JeremyBoden 09-08-2016 10:41 AM

As a user, if a piece of software didn't satisfy an obvious requirement, then it ought to be rejected.

JZL240I-U 09-08-2016 10:48 AM


Originally Posted by JeremyBoden (Post 5602474)
As a user, if a piece of software didn't satisfy an obvious requirement, then it ought to be rejected.

As I did, I'm not using Fedora anymore.

p_i_n_o 09-08-2016 03:29 PM

@JeremyBoden: Yes, of course, there are indeed some exceptions. There are even some more. But there are much more, which are broken, erratic and unstable. I've seen tons of frontends for cd-burning, for multimedia operations (ffmpeg and all its friends), for debugging, version control, and so on, which all probably worked 'in the laboratory', i.e. in the most benign cases, but never in the real world. And this is because those tools didn't use an api from a library, but they tried to communicate with a command line tools. What a brainf*cked idea, isn't it? The command line tool changed details in the output for the next version or a different language/environment/whatever, and the frontend needed an update. I don't know what the exact reason was in each case. I just know those tools were terribly broken in virtually all cases.

@JeremyBoden again, about your Beta-question: I could maybe lament about that for hours now^^ But shortly: imho, just a few large project seriously have systematic beta tests. Firefox, Linux (in some way), KDE, Libreoffice, and similar. The majority of (smaller) projects assign beta version numbers from time to time, but that's mostly it. And another truth: The bugtrackers for virtually each project is full of actual unfixed bugs and a large amount of them never become fixed. Instead, new imcomplete features appear all the time. And new major versions or even entirely new projects appear, which begin to make large parts of the same nonsense of the last iteration again, before at least the quality of the last one is reached. If ever. The two biggest desktop environments appear to always make 0.9 steps backward for each step they made forward in the last 5 years. It's all an incomplete, erratic and inconsistent mess. Client Side Decorations. What a _terribly_ _stupid_ idea. Okay, sooorry, back to the point: I don't think that the quality control we currently do in FOSS is enough for more than 1% market share. Regardless of how great it is documented (Note: Here I talk more about the Desktop world and not so much about Linux as a server system).

p_i_n_o 09-08-2016 04:07 PM


Originally Posted by JZL240I-U (Post 5602298)
Hmm. I'd rather guess, that those developers either don't read those in the first place or might understand them in a way different from what they are trying to tell.

Yes, could all be a problem. There are even more. I'm not sure if the idea would work at all, admittedly. My imagination was some kind of short document, pleasureful and easy to read, ultimately accepted as a good thing, visible and easily accessible to the beginning FOSS amateur developer, which tells about some abstract (i.e. language-agnostic, environment-agnostic, ...) and basic best practices. Like 'please also test some corner cases', 'please implement error handling' and 'please dont design your gui similar to an airplane cockpit if it just steers a bicycle'. Maybe with some funny and catchy examples and anecdotes. When I try to write documentations, they never become any kind of pleasureful or funny :-/ But maybe we have some great technical authors (the OP?!) here which could see an idea for a new project in it :D

josephj 09-09-2016 12:28 AM

@p_i_n_o - You just accurately described my experience with KDE (which I still use.) :(

p_i_n_o 09-09-2016 02:14 PM


Originally Posted by josephj (Post 5602763)
@p_i_n_o - You just accurately described my experience with KDE (which I still use.) :(

I'm not glad to hear that :( Is it still that immature? Which version do you use? I stopped using KDE years ago, somewhere in the earlier times (but not _that_ early) of the 4.x line, when I had the impression to use a desktop environment, which tries hard to be broken in every place I look at. It was everything from crashes (e.g. just for moving some plasmoids 'too fast'), broken presentation (some people really try to blame the gpu driver for bad dialog layouts with cropped labels everywhere), poor performance (ever compared ssh-kioslave with native scp?) and things which really did not work at all (KMail/Akonadi to just mention one part). On many machines and many distributions and kde versions.

So I thought some days ago, 'well, the 4.x line was just obsessed by the devil in some way, kde 5 looks really great at least, hopefully all the K-devs learnt a lot of stuff and maybe it is less buggy and I should give it another try'. Do you use 4 or 5? Is it better than the early-to-mid 4.x versions? Should I give it a try? :)

josephj 09-10-2016 03:49 AM

General thoughts on KDE
I started with KDE (3.1?) in Mandrake 9.1. Now I'm using 4.14.2 on Kubuntu 12.04 with backports. I'm gradually configuring Kubuntu 16.04 in a couple of other places which uses KDE 5.x. I can't look at the version right now.

kdm crashes occasionally, but if it didn't tell me about it, I wouldn't know. It must respawn.

I missed the early 4.x days which apparently were not much fun.

My most major complaint is that it can't seem to restore the session with programs in the correct previous virtual desktops unless they're KDE apps.

I haven't played with KDE5 much yet, but it doesn't seem to restore applications at all - but I may have missed a setting somewhere.

In the old days activities were a nice idea that didn't work. Now, they seem to work, but I haven't explored them much yet.

I guess my biggest overall beef with KDE is that getting support is very hit and miss. The unofficial KDE site has died, but the official site is still there. Sometimes I get answers, but sometimes no one even replies. I never had any luck with the KDE look site.

I stay with it because I've used it forever, I know how to get it to do things and I like the general look and feel. We'll see how long that lasts.

I was a Firefox user for many years until I finally got fed up with them changing and breaking things I loved. Now, I use Vivaldi - which still needs work, but is already much nicer than most parts of Firefox. The point being that there may come a time when I finally switch from KDE to something else.

Most of the alternatives I have looked at are too spartan for me.

Now that there are all sorts of ways to set things up with VMs, containers, or even the old dual boot way, I would say go ahead and try it off to the side somewhere.

Desktops are the way you talk to your computer when you're not at a terminal command line, so it tends to be a very personal decision rather than one size fits all or one way is just better.

p_i_n_o 09-10-2016 10:32 AM


Originally Posted by josephj (Post 5603268)
Desktops are the way you talk to your computer when you're not at a terminal command line, so it tends to be a very personal decision rather than one size fits all or one way is just better.

Yes, maybe. I don't see this as a law of nature; but at least with the desktop environments we currently have, you are right, no one is flexible and mature enough to fit for all (or, at least 95%). I'm downloading a live cd with kde 5 for tests now. Btw: xfce isn't as large as kde, but not as spartan as many people think it is ;)

JeremyBoden 09-10-2016 01:27 PM

I find that Cinnamon, in appearance an improved Gnome 2 to be pretty good as a universal desktop.
At least for me. :rolleyes:

mybrothersentme 09-13-2016 08:13 AM

Okay, I'm going to Double Dip
I already answered this, but now that a several weeks have passed, I find that there are more times I need to use Command Line than I had originally thought. I find myself using Aptitude a lot. And grep.

Recently, I had a GUI file manager eat most of my home directory. It is a double pane GUI application (won't say which one so I don't start a firestorm). I went into a folder shared by Win7 running inside VM. I had VM closed because I'm not a total idiot. I went into the shared folder and selected all folders within the shared file (it was music and iTunes makes a folder for every artist and inside that for every album -- but you already know that) I moved these files into my /home/me/Music directory. When the move was done and I clicked back to /home/me directory EVERYTHING further down the alphabet - including all hidden files were gone. (No, I was NOT running in root mode - again I'm not an idiot.) There is no UNDELETE left in that GUI application. The files weren't in my trash.

So I don't trust that particular GUI application. And since I'm not sure what happened and my Linux Sysadmin brother couldn't give me any help besides trying some command line stuff, I ended up having to reload Ubuntu once again. Then put back all my apps and restore my data files - which I mostly had on DVD from when I had done the migration to Windows in the first place several months ago.

Moral of the story? You WILL have to learn to use command line. Because I would rather use command line than another GUI that could eat my home directory again. The good news? I am learning more about command line because there is a lot of help available (like on this site). I have partitioned my system and sort of duplicated my "live" system. That way I can learn to use command line and not screw up my "live" system.

So, because everybody thinking of going to Linux always hears about how much they'll need to use command line, they should know there is plenty of help. And don't forget |grep !!!!

Once again, I have written a novel. Sorry, folks. I write in Verbose.

JZL240I-U 09-13-2016 08:21 AM


Originally Posted by mybrothersentme (Post 5604548)
... I moved these files into my /home/me/Music directory.

In the normal usage this means copying, then deleting the source. To me it is not exactly clear, what you really did...

JeremyBoden 09-13-2016 08:38 AM

"I had VM closed because I'm not a total idiot.":)

Surely, because this was a shared directory, you should have had the VM running?
Isn't the idea to share data between machines?

Most file GUI's are pretty similar e.g nemo, nautilus etc
It would have been interesting to look at your files - almost certainly:D a slight slip of the mouse could cause the files to apparently disappear.

For example:-
If /home/me/Music already exists you might add the files as /home/me/Music/Music (its easy to do).
It is likely that all your files still existed.

If it gets f**ked up again, try logging off, then on.
This tends to make things more obvious, since you are in a standard configuration.

mybrothersentme 09-15-2016 08:28 PM

Disappearing Files from Home Directory & we may be off topic now

I thank the last two posters for their comments.

First, I copied the files from the iTunes\media\music directory into the shared directory, which was D:\meMusic on the Win 7 VM. I closed VM down. The next day, when I fired up my machine again. (I try to remember to shut it down every night), I moved the files from meMusic which was /home/me/meMusic to /home/me/Music. I did not have VM open.

Now, although my sysadmin brother is far away, I live in an apartment complex 80% full of RPI (Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute) students. In my building, every student but my daughter (who just graduated with her BS in Civil Engineering specializing in Geotechnical. Not that I'm proud of her or anything...) is a graduate student and you'll never guess what every one of them is majoring in. Computer Science! So, with 2-3 grad students per apartment , I was able to have other, more qualified people look at it before I gave up and reloaded Ubuntu from scratch. Nobody could find the lost files. And reboot didn't fix the problem either. Nobody ever said anything about having to have the VM running. And I had followed the EXACT same process several times before - always with the VM closed and never had a problem. So, I still believe -- and a couple of other people who looked at it agreed that it was probably something wonky in the GUI Double Pane File Manager (which was not just Nemo in dual pane mode).

I hope I addressed the questions/comments of the last two posters. If there is a reason why I should have VM running, I don't get it. I can access the file no problem with VM closed. Yes, when I start VM up again, the file is empty, but since the shared file is only to copy my music from iTunes into and I never copy anything the other way (from Linux to the VM Win7). All I want is MY music in a nice place with all of the rest of my ripped music so I can play them all in Linux.

JZL240I-U 09-16-2016 02:06 AM

Okay, did you ever run "find" or "locate" all over your machine (i.e. starting from "/") to verify that your music is gone?

JeremyBoden 09-16-2016 06:43 AM

If it should happen again :eek:
A good command to try is simply

df -h
This shows the size (and percentage usage) of all your mounted file systems.
Run this occasionally to check that your disk usage is "reasonable".

jeremy 09-16-2016 12:15 PM

Please keep posts in this thread on topic, any troubleshooting should be done in a dedicated thread. I've selected one post from this thread for the column so far; stay tuned. Thanks for the suggestions and keep them coming.


goumba 09-19-2016 07:27 AM


As you see from the responses here, "Anything opensource and Linux related is fair game," is going to get a lot of varied responses (and lack of focus apparently ;) ). May I suggest that you have a weekly (or some other periodic) focus, where for that period you only answer questions of a specific type. Maybe keep the "anything open source or linux related" query out there, but in the column itself focus on several related questions, and keep the others available for a future theme.

Not that I'm unfamiliar with open source, but maybe for those new, a good question to answer would be: What is Open Source software, and why should (not does) it matter to {myself, my community, my business}? Trying to be as objective as possible, avoiding injecting an opinion as many other sites do.

As much as I will likely get flamed, avoid the Windows comparisons when answering questions when it's not absolutely necessary. Obviously by this I mean the references should be present when warranted and absent when not so. Plenty of that abound on the 'Net and accompanying flame wars. Any focus should be on the merits of Linux and F/OSS as it stands alone, and not having to use some other OS to show it's strengths.

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