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Old 04-05-2015, 12:03 AM   #16
astrogeek
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There is nothing techno-elitist in recognizing fundamental design features, and impediments to their use.

Unix/Linux is fundamentally different from the others at the concept level - text/filters/pipes. Those are the strengths of the design. The interactive text based shell is the primary user interface of that design.

It is naive and incorrect to think that you can overlay a gui, an interface from a fundamentally different design concept, and think that it will all just work the same - it will not.

This is not to say that gui interfaces do not have their place - but that place is definitely not as the primary user interface for a Unix/Linux based system. Using it that way is very limiting and presents a huge obstacle to the user ever understanding the system they are trying to use.

It is not a matter of meeting half-way. If you were a bicycle rider and wanted to move up to a motorcycle, it would not be helpful to conceal the fact that it has an engine! You would need to learn a few new user interface controls - starter, choke, throttle, clutch, etc... It would be naieve and incorrect to think that you could continue to sit on it and pedal down the road - oblivious.
 
Old 04-05-2015, 12:09 PM   #17
joe_2000
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To me this whole discussion seems a bit pointless. I am certainly a "mindless" car driver because I don't know the ins and out of how my car's engine works exactly. I actually want the complexity hidden behind an ignition lock.
Certainly that takes a lot of power away from me regarding the customizability of my car... which I don't mind one bit.

Probably many computer users feel the same way regarding their computers. And it's good that they can still use them with Linux thanks to "distros which meet them half way".
For us "tuners" it's nice to be able to choose a distro which suits or needs as power users. However, I am just as greatful for distros such as Ubuntu / Mint which I can install on my family's computers and know they will be able to use them... and benefit from this fact by not having to administer Windows...
 
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Old 04-05-2015, 08:31 PM   #18
astrogeek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_2000 View Post
To me this whole discussion seems a bit pointless...
Apparently so...

But you have given an incorrect analogy and only spread a false assumption once more.

The false assumption is that the shell is somehow "under the hood" - it is not. The shell is by design the primary user interface for Unix and Unix-like operating systems.

The incorrect analogy is comparing the shell to the things under the hood - it is instead the primary control on par with the steering wheel and gas pedal.

If you drive without some familiarity with your vehicle's controls then, while convenient for you, it poses a hazard to those around you!

All you must do to immediately see the bad effect is observe the trend in threads here on LQ today, vs just a few years ago. Troubleshooting almost any system related problem requires use of the primary user interface - the shell. But more often than not these days, those offering help must first teach the poor skills-challenged user how to open a shell, tell them what commands to type and interpret the results for them!

Even when successful in these cases, the user has no more clue about what was wrong or how it was fixed than before they started - all they know is that they had to use that scarey cli!

If they were simply, and correctly introduced to their primary user interface from the start, they would learn the basics and be able to solve most problems for themselves, or at least be able to intelligently interact with their systems in response to advice from those helping.

It does them no favor to pretend that it is somehow OK to be mentally-crippled with regard to their Linux system, and is a major problem for those knowledgable people eager to offer help.

It is an unnecessary waste of everyone's time and a great disservice to new users.
 
Old 04-05-2015, 09:42 PM   #19
Timothy Miller
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Assuming that developers want more users to start using Linux (which I'm guessing many do), then getting away from the shell is a necessity. In Windows or Mac, shell usage is almost never needed. Like it or not, that's what most people get started with, and that's what people expect. Yes, many will be forced to use it at some point, but forcing them to use it from the start for many today is basically saying "we don't want you to use this, it's too stuck in the past and is archaic". We know that's not true, but perception is what it is, and you can't change that. GUI-centric "easy" distro's are the way of the future for the vast majority, simple number dictate it to be so. They're the ones that people mostly gravitate to. Obviously there will be the exception, but by and large, that's the future.

Also, your analogy is completely flawed. The shell isn't anything like the wheel and pedals. That would be the keyboard and mouse. Input devices to control a vehicle, input devices to control a computer. The shell (that which actually does the controlling) would be the engine, brakes and transmission).

Last edited by Timothy Miller; 04-05-2015 at 09:45 PM.
 
Old 04-06-2015, 01:59 AM   #20
astrogeek
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Well, as was stated earlier, this is a mostly pointless discussion as our respective minds are already settled I suspect, and I have no desire to seem argumentative.

But for any unsuspecting future readers I would like to address these last points and will then defer to any further comments you care to add.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
Assuming that developers want more users to start using Linux (which I'm guessing many do), then getting away from the shell is a necessity...
I reject that premise. Based on what? It does not follow.

That is the often used "numbers" and "fashion" argument, always tossed out as somehow inevitable or universally agreed upon, but not supportable outside marketing circles.

George Santayana remarked,

Quote:
Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.
Innovation without reason and imitation without benefit - just about summarizes "gui to the exclusion of the shell" mindset on Unix like operating systems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
In Windows or Mac, shell usage is almost never needed. Like it or not, that's what most people get started with, and that's what people expect.
Windows and Mac are both different - non-Unix like operating systems by design (even though Mac was largely built on a BSD base). There is a reason for that - they sell glitz - aka guis. More direct and powerful textual interface methods are difficult to package and repackage in ways that shout "New and improved!".

And like it or not, whatever the mythical "most people" start with is immaterial, really. Most people learn to ride bicycles with training wheels, but as they mature most of them move on to better vehicles - and learn how to operate them as they go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
Yes, many will be forced to use it at some point, but forcing them to use it from the start for many today is basically saying "we don't want you to use this, it's too stuck in the past and is archaic".
There is that fashion argument again - text interfaces are "stuck in the past and archaic"... that is just silly and unfounded marketspeak.

And if they are "forced" to use a shell at times, they should consider the reasons why... there are not only things best done through a shell, there are things that can only be done well or efficiently through a shell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
We know that's not true, but perception is what it is, and you can't change that. GUI-centric "easy" distro's are the way of the future for the vast majority, simple number dictate it to be so. They're the ones that people mostly gravitate to. Obviously there will be the exception, but by and large, that's the future.
And there it is again... inevitable, can't be changed, gui is easy, shell is hard, guis are the future, shells are the past, the vast majority says so...

Fashion and numbers and inevitability... sounds like someone's washed up election campaign!

But still no actual reasons to shun the shell at every turn. Someone mentioned techno-snobbery or something like that earlier in this thread in reference to shell users. But if you will consider the arguments and attitudes the "gui only" camp seem to be the ones looking down their noses at those who understand the value of the shell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
Also, your analogy is completely flawed. The shell isn't anything like the wheel and pedals. That would be the keyboard and mouse. Input devices to control a vehicle, input devices to control a computer. The shell (that which actually does the controlling) would be the engine, brakes and transmission).
No, I stand by the analogy. The shell is primarily just an interface, not a controller.

Well, as Henry Spencer noted, with a nod to another famous George Santayana quote:

Quote:
Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.
Fashions will come and go, marketeers will shout "New and improved!" at regular intervals.

But the gui cannot supplant the shell - it simply is not versatile enough, powerful enough nor useful enough for a vast range of use cases. Hopefully sanity will prevail and we can learn to use the right tool for each job, gui and shell.

I suspect that 20 years from now some brilliant young researcher will announce a powerful new human/computer interaction paradigm - text based allowing ad hoc complex operations to be constructed from simpler programs which do single operations, and do them well! Revolutionary!

And the marketeers will shout "New and improved!"...

Thanks for the discussion, I hope the comments are helpful to some, and best of luck to all.

Last edited by astrogeek; 04-06-2015 at 02:16 AM. Reason: typs, tpos, typos...
 
Old 04-06-2015, 05:22 AM   #21
joe_2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
Apparently so...

But you have given an incorrect analogy and only spread a false assumption once more.

The false assumption is that the shell is somehow "under the hood" - it is not. The shell is by design the primary user interface for Unix and Unix-like operating systems.

The incorrect analogy is comparing the shell to the things under the hood - it is instead the primary control on par with the steering wheel and gas pedal.

If you drive without some familiarity with your vehicle's controls then, while convenient for you, it poses a hazard to those around you!

All you must do to immediately see the bad effect is observe the trend in threads here on LQ today, vs just a few years ago. Troubleshooting almost any system related problem requires use of the primary user interface - the shell. But more often than not these days, those offering help must first teach the poor skills-challenged user how to open a shell, tell them what commands to type and interpret the results for them!

Even when successful in these cases, the user has no more clue about what was wrong or how it was fixed than before they started - all they know is that they had to use that scarey cli!

If they were simply, and correctly introduced to their primary user interface from the start, they would learn the basics and be able to solve most problems for themselves, or at least be able to intelligently interact with their systems in response to advice from those helping.

It does them no favor to pretend that it is somehow OK to be mentally-crippled with regard to their Linux system, and is a major problem for those knowledgable people eager to offer help.

It is an unnecessary waste of everyone's time and a great disservice to new users.
While I agree the analogy may be flawed, I was not trying to correlate the command-line to "something under the hood" but rather trying to give an example of how based on personal interest you might be grateful for hidden complexity, which is what a GUI comes down to.

As far as disservice to new users is concerned: Again I agree with what you are saying... basically. But then these new users are making their own choices. Nobody tells them to start that way... quite the opposite. Especially here at LQ people are encouraged to use the command line all the time. After that, it's their own choice.
 
Old 04-06-2015, 06:10 AM   #22
joe_2000
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Also agree that it is highly speculative to guess what developers may want. Clearly there are developers who do not care about how "userfriendliness" (as in "easy to use for newcomers) at all. Typically these are the people who make the types of distros I like to use myself, and I am hence grateful that these exist!

I do argue however, that there would be benefits to Linux users in general if more people were adopting it.
The most obvious one being that hardware manufacturers would feel higher pressure to provide Linux drivers and refrain from producing devices that can only boot Windows. (The secure boot discussion is rising again with the "Windows 10 suitable" label apparently making the secure boot on/off switch optional).
 
Old 04-06-2015, 06:22 AM   #23
joe_2000
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Last, I'd like to comment on
Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
It is an unnecessary waste of everyone's time and a great disservice to new users.
I have a very simple answer to that. If you consider it a waste of time to answer questions that you consider too basic to deserve your attention, you could easily choose not to answer them to avoid the "waste of time".

I appreciate the above sentence may come across cynical or aggressive - It is not meant that way. I am genuinly trying to make a point that noone should answer questions he considers "stupid" or "annoying". I keep seeing people linking to Eric S. Raymond's "how to ask questions" article and talking down to newbies, sometimes even "shouting at them" through bold or uppercase font as if that newbie had required them, personally, to waste their precious time.
While I think it is perfectly appropriate to encourage people to use search engines and man pages, I also think that the default reaction to people showing too little effort should not be yelling at them but rather ignoring them and / or letting other people, who do not mind, help them.

There is even a benefit involved. When I started answering questions at LQ I was actually grateful for such low-hanging fruit. It helped me to get used to the process of answering questions on a forum...
 
Old 04-06-2015, 11:28 AM   #24
Timothy Miller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
I reject that premise. Based on what? It does not follow.
Based on simple numbers of users. What distros consistently show in the top for Distrowatch? What forums here are consistently having new users post in. This says new users gravitate towards something that is more familiar looking to what they're used to.

Quote:
And like it or not, whatever the mythical "most people" start with is immaterial, really. Most people learn to ride bicycles with training wheels, but as they mature most of them move on to better vehicles - and learn how to operate them as they go.
It's not immaterial if you're a developer that's attempting to attract new users. Then it's very much the key to your targeted audience.

Quote:
There is that fashion argument again - text interfaces are "stuck in the past and archaic"... that is just silly and unfounded marketspeak.
Not marketing speak, PERCEPTION. This is how many who start with Windows (probably 90+ of users in 1st world countries) see it. Right or wrong, perception is a powerful force.

Quote:
And if they are "forced" to use a shell at times, they should consider the reasons why... there are not only things best done through a shell, there are things that can only be done well or efficiently through a shell.
I don't argue that. I argue that new users don't want it, and the reason distro's that hide the cli as much as possible are so successful is because that's what new users want.

Quote:
But still no actual reasons to shun the shell at every turn. Someone mentioned techno-snobbery or something like that earlier in this thread in reference to shell users. But if you will consider the arguments and attitudes the "gui only" camp seem to be the ones looking down their noses at those who understand the value of the shell.
There is no reason to shun a shell, for users who aren't coming from a gui-centric background. Yes, it's often much easier, simpler and more powerful. But in general, again, people coming from windows DON'T want a shell, and if you force them to use it, many will simply choose to put up with paying for the next new version of Windows. If instead you embrace the "easy" distro's, in a few years after they've gotten used to be Windows-free, they're much more open to the idea of getting into the guts more and more. But those "easy to use" distro's are the perfect thing to get people using linux, and learning to like linux.

I personally use cli for most things. I uninstall apper and other gui software management tools on just about everything I use. I do netinstalls for Debian on all my systems. I very much use linux exactly the same way as you do. However, having switched several friends to linux when they were in need (computer died, no money to buy a new one, so I gave them a linux pc), and having forced my wife to start using it (tired of supporting Windows, she had 2 choices, learn to support Windows herself of switch to linux), I have seen very much how well the distros that hide the cli as much as possible make it much more pleasant, less "scary" and smoother for someone coming from Windows to transition to linux, and support it fully, even if I myself can't stand using them most of the time.

Last edited by Timothy Miller; 04-06-2015 at 11:33 AM.
 
  


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