[Techtalk] What distro?

L J L lists at laubenheimer.net
Mon Oct 18 00:51:03 UTC 2010

Billie Walsh wrote:

> At the risk of making some enemies.  [ Please - my observations are 
> generic and in no way reflect on any one person or list. They are my 
> observations of conditions on several lists. ]
> 1) Linux has a bad reputation as being a GEEK operating system. Only 
> geeks and nerds can use Linux.
> I've had friends see my computer and be amazed by what they see. A 
> couple releases ago I had one friend see my wallpaper doing the 
> slideshow thing and wanted to know how to get her computer to do it. I 
> handed her a Kubuntu CD. I see that Windows 7 now does that.

Some people think that only geeks use computers.  Yet I've taught 
grandmothers to use Linux, and shell accounts - command line *only*, no 
GUI!  If you can read, or be read to, you can use a terminal.  Icons and 
bling?  Not always.

> Believe me, I am _NO_ geek or nerd. I am just an ordinary home computer 
> user. The kind that you normally find using Windows. Somehow I manage to 
> use Linux with no major problems. I don't run cutting edge hardware and 
> stay away from beta and RC software like the plague. Upgrades I only do 
> weeks after they are released. The only major annoyance I have right now 
> is that Quanta Plus doesn't work and play well with KDE 4 and my Wacom 
> Bamboo Pen and Touch is just to much trouble to get to work properly. 
> Quanta still works but is crippled and the Wacom is not really a show 
> stopper, just a toy I would like to use.

Yeah, the people who do the bleeding edge hardware usually don't make 
drivers for anything but bleeding edge Windows.  It comes down to money 
and market muscle.

> 2) When someone does try Linux out and joins a mail list for help, the 
> replies they get and some of the messages flying around turn them off 
> and they go back to Windows.

It's not just Linux.  Some of the Windows forums have really snotty 
people on them.  'RTFM', "don't be so wordy", "didn't you read the 
help?", "It's on the microsoft site, look it up, don't ask here", blah, 

> If I wanted to use the command line routinely I would still be running 
> DOS. I want a GUI. I want things that run in windows.

A terminal is just another window.

> I want 
> convenience. When questions are asked and long strings of esoteric 
> command line strings are given in reply it's an automatic turnoff. I 
> understand that there are many that have used Linux from long before 
> there was a GUI so they know more about CLI than they do GUI. But 
> common, move into the twentieth century you guys. There are some things 
> you can do with the CLI that you just cannot do with the GUI but when 
> someone asks for help give out the GUI method when it's possible. Those 
> esoteric command line string scare off people. Only add to the GEEKINESS 
> quotient. "RTFM" is _NOT_ a helpful answer.

Email is text.  Unless you want people to c/p screenshots back and 
forth, or write turgid paragraphs decribing what each icon and piece of 
bling looks like, text commands are faster for troubleshooting.  It's 
getting down past the customizations to the underlying problem.  Hell, 
even in Windows, when you have a nasty problem you use text menus, 
lists, or the run command.

> Then there are the long, near flame wars, that seem to carry on forever 
> on most Linux help lists. If you don't have an answer to someones 
> request for help don't answer the message just because you can. Theres 
> no need to have a months long discussion over whether the borders should 
> be red or blue when someone originally asked how to make some simple 
> setting.

People who do that have no lives, IMO.

> [ If you intention is to run people away from Linux use please ignore 
> the above. Your all doing a good job of keeping Linux only in the club. ]

Being able to read or use a screen reader is a minimum requirement for 
using a computer, IMO.  Even URL's are text.

> 3) Microsoft just plain plays dirty.
> Microsoft has just about locked out any operating system other than 
> their own as OEM installations. Most people use Windows because that's 
> what came with their computer. They are not aware that there is any 
> other option. In those cases some really intelligent advertising might 
> go a long way.

True.  Plus they throw some heavy money and contract pressure around to 
get the OEM vendors to not install any other OS - even if you want a 
naked system - but won't let them install decent Linux distros.


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