Your First Steps with Linux

Over the years I think I helped to influence few people here and there to actually start experimenting with linux. I count that as a personal success. I’m sure I was not the primary influence in most cases, but I’m glad I could help people to start tinker with the new OS. Note that I didn’t say switch. I do have an issue with this whole switch mentality. People say “I have switched to Linux” or “I have switched to Mac” and I can’t help but roll my eyes.

I just want to put out there this novel idea: you are not marrying you OS. Regardless of what Microsoft may want you to think, there is no rule anywhere that says you can use only one OS. Personally I think a well rounded human being should be able to use several operating systems. Hell, you can have several OS’s installed on the same computer, and simply boot into the one that you need when necessary.

When people ask me how to go about switching to Linux I tell them not to. I tell them, to try using it along side Windows (cause it’s usually Windows folks who ask it) for a while, play and explore. Whenever it gets scary or overwhelming you just go back to comfy windows zone. Whenever you need that crucial windows application that has no Linux equivalent it will be right there for you. Don’t switch – just start playing. Have fun with it and learn. Then if you one day realize that you haven’t touched the Windows box in months, you can say you have switched. However, most of us never reach the point where they can honestly say they use linux exclusively. I don’t see it as a honor badge or anything. Most of us are perfectly content having a windows box (for gaming) sitting in the corner, a MacBook laptop, and a linux workstation all working together.

But the question does have merit. Starting with linux is usually a little bit different than starting with windows, or Apple. Why? Because this is the only OS that most people have to install by themselves. When people start messing around with Linux and BSD they usually tend to install it on a system that originally came preloaded with Windows. And this is where many issues crop up. Here are the few tips I usually pass down to the newbies. I figured that I might as well record them here and just point people to this post from now on.

Consider buying a system that comes Linux installed

Best advice I can give to total newbs is to consider purchasing a system that already comes preloaded with Linux. This is naturally the most expensive option you can pick but it does solve two main problems a lot of people run into:

First, you side-step the whole installation process. Your machine will be equipped with hardware that works well with linux, and will ship with all the right drivers. Your drive will be partitioned for you and the OS will be right there. All you need to do is go through few easy initial steps such as creating a new user and you will be ready to go. The biggest linux adoption hurdle for many people is the issue with hardware that doesn’t play well with linux. If you buy a linux machine you circumvent this whole problem.

Second, you are getting a brand new computer. This means that if you for some weird reason hose the linux installation you still have your old Windows machine to fall back on. People are often scared to try linux because they don’t want to get stuck with a botched installation and a PC that can neither boot windows or linux. You will be working on a dedicated Linux machine so even if you hose it you are still fine. You can still go online and research your issues, and try to get help.

Where do you get a machine with linux on it though? You don’t have to go to some shady online company that promises to ship you linux powered PC. You can get one from Dell. Yup, dell sells machines preloaded with everyone’s favorite distro (Ubuntu). You can say what you want about dell, but at least they are trustworthy, and usually make good on their warranties.

If you feel more adventurous, or you hate dell/large corporate behemoths you can try something like System 76 which sells laptops, desktops and mini boxen all running Ubuntu out of the box.

Consider Using A Spare Computer

If you can’t afford a brand new PC at the moment. If you are like me, you probably don’t like to throw out old computers. I usually stash them in the attic planning to one day turn them into some low powered server or something like that. I also inherit hardware from relatives and sometime even co-workers who bring me their old PC to dispose of (“here, maybe you can do something with it or scrap it for parts… If not just throw it out”). Old machines are perfect candidates for Linux test boxen for all the reasons I listed in the previous section. If you mess around with your primary PC you will be nervous, and you will worry about hosing your windows partition. If you are working with a spare junker that you really don’t care about you will be in the care-free tinkerer mode.

If you mess up, just start over. Wipe the drive and start again. That is the mindset you want to get yourself into. You are messing around and experimenting on some random machine while your data and most importantly your internet connection is safe and secure on your windows box.

Of course when you are using old hardware you may run into problems. Some of it might not be compatible, some might actually be really broken, and naturally it will be really slow. Then again, older hardware may actually be a blessing – having been around for years, the correct drivers may have made their way directly into the currently used kernel.

Use a Live CD First

This is less of a concern now since most of major distros ship with a Live CD installer these days. It wasn’t like that when I was starting. Still, probably a good first step for anyone is to download and burn yourself a Knoppix CD and stick it into the machine you plan to use for Linux. If Knoppix has major problems identifying your hardware and getting to work, then you may need to reconsider your choice. Chances are that any distro will have simillar issues, if not worse. If Knoppix just works, it doesn’t necessarily mean your distro of choice will but it is a sign that your hardware can and will work with Linux.

A lot of distros ship a Live CD installer (I know Ubuntu does) which lets you try out the system before you install it. I highly recommend burning yourself several such Live CD’s of different distributions and messing around with them. See how they interact with your hardware, how they handle driver installation and etc. Pick one that gets everything right out of the box, or has the best, most intuitive system for loading the needed drivers and applications.

Most of them will be very simillar but different people tend to be comfortable with different types of interfaces or ways of doing things. Some distros are more n00b friendly than others. Some will require you to drop down to CLI while some other ones will have nice GUI menus to do these things. You just need to find one that you feel comfortable with.

Avoid Dual Booting if Possible

Having your machine set up with both Linux and Windows is great. Dual booting is an awesome feature and you should definitely try it at one point, but it is a lousy way to start your Linux experience. It’s not that it’s hard – it’s just that it’s not trivial. In most cases it will require you to resize your windows partition (which may hose your system), then format that partition (if you choose the wrong one you may hose your system) and then make sure that the bootloader works correctly. This process has many points of failure and you don’t really want to be dealing with all this stress and uncertainty.

Most distros come with a nice “wipe the drive and let me set up the file system my way” option and that’s the one you should be using your first time around. You can fuck around with custom partition on your third or fourth installation. The first time around though your mission is to get linux onto your box with as few steps, and in it’s most default form. It’s much easier to troubleshoot a system that was installed with the default configuration rather than with a meticulously tweaked one.

Know what you want

Before you start messing around with linux you should do some research and get to know the vocabulary we all use. At he very least you should be able to differentiate between different package management systems. You want to know whether you want a Deb based system or an RPM based one. You should also look into desktop managers – look at screenshots and reviews of KDE and Gnome and see which one you like better. Try live CD’s which ship with both of them. Your first linux experience will be largely depend on whether you like or hate the desktop manager. So it’s a good idea to try both Gnome and KDE beforehand. If you hate one of them, it will narrow down the list of distros you have to choose from.

Pick the right distro

Finally, do some research into different linux distributions. You want to pick one that is newbie friendly – so probably probably not Gentoo in which you compile everything from scratch. You probably don’t want slackware either which hails itself as the most unix-like linux out there. You want something like Ubuntu, or Fedora or SuSE. You want something with a graphical installer, shipping with either Gnome or KDE out of the box and providing a nice package management front end (ideally a GUI one).

You should also pick a distro that has a large community. This helps immensely – a large community means lots of backports, frequent patches and active forums and discussion groups where you can finds answers and solutions to many of your problems. At some point a distro reaches a critical mass where nearly every problem you run into is already well documented and resolved by the community.

How do you know if a distro is popular? You will likely know it by reputation – people on technology blogs will mention it and talk about it. If you are at a loss, you can try Distrowatch which tracks the trends on Linux distribution market. Just be careful with their data – you want to pick something that is consistently popular over a long period of time, not the flavor of the month.

If you follow these few suggestions, your first steps with linux will be a positive, rewarding experience even if you mess up. You will learn a lot, you will gain new perspective on things and most importantly you will have fun.

[tags]linux, ubuntu, distribution, first steps with linux, linux tips[/tags]

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23 Responses to Your First Steps with Linux

  1. Aaron UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    My first Linux experience was installing Fedora 5 and attempting to dual-boot it with my pre-installed XP. Long story short: Linux worked, Windows dead, start Linux, Google like crazy, mount Windows, move files to cds, “I hate Linux, it ruined my computer”, use system restore disks, success, error: grub not found, “Oh [beep^infinity] what does that mean”, no way to Google for help, grudging reinstall of Linux, wipe windows completely, and I never looked back.

    I never reinstalled windows on that PC, although I upgraded Fedora several times, and eventually figured out how to create a separate home partition which lead me to try version after version of Linux. (Once 3 in as many days.)

    So, after I got new computer, I decided to try dual booting again. Without any issues I got Vista, Ubuntu and Suse to triple boot with a shared home partition for Ubuntu and Suse, and a shared partition for all three to share files and my FF profile. (Then I remembered how much I hated RPMs and got rid of Suse, repartitioned my drive, and then decided later to re-repartition it again and install antiX for when I need fast startups.)

    So back to my original point: definitely wait to try dual booting. it is so much easier after using Linux a few years.

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  2. Starhawk UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Over the years I think I helped to influence few people here and there to actually start experimenting with Linux. I count that as a personal success.

    Well indeed you did influence me ;) I was well aware of Linux probably since near the beginning of the OS because I read and try to stay up to date on some things. And I had of course played around with Cygwin and in the DOS days various ports of Unix commands, and as about all C programmers in those days knew something about Unix and many programming exercises in books were simple attempts to code various Unix commands, I wasn’t totally a Noob. But reading your blog revealed to me that Linux had came a long way in easy of installation and of use and that in all honestly I was quit ignorant about alot of things that actually mattered to me. So yes you were a major influence on my choice to install Ubuntu.

    And of course I always agreed with you that a “well rounded human being should be able to use several operating systems.” If all you do is point and click drag and drop, windows, GUI based Linux distros, and Mac (and others) are all very easy to use, and much alike. My friend who I installed Ubuntu on 2 machines told me there was no real difference in ease of use for what he did. If on the other hand you wish to be a power user or a CLI guru then there are significant differences. And btw I haven’t touched my Windows partition in months, not counting booting into it once in a while to update everything that needs it.

    Best advice I can give to total newbs is to consider purchasing a system that already comes preloaded with Linux.

    Hmm that is horrible advice to give anyone that is poor. You live in a different reality than me and all I know is poor people, and I mean some are sleeping under bridges. Literally, that is when the cops ain’t beating em up and dragging them off for some BS. People struggling to eat can’t afford that and to even suggest it is to say the least rude, esp when they might be working 2 jobs at min. wage and driving a junk car that breaks down every 2 weeks, with kids that think they need the newest toys and the coolest clothes, and selling their food stamps to buy dope just so they have some happiness in life. The same is true for using a spare computer unless of course I give or buy them one, I’m not nearly as poor as they are. lol. But as i said we live in different worlds, and I have no desire to be part of the machine/slave state any more than I already am.

    You should also pick a distro that has a large community. This helps immensely – a large community means lots of backports, frequent patches and active forums and discussion groups where you can finds answers and solutions to many of your problems.

    I can’t speak for other distros but ubuntu forums really don’t provide much help unless ya ask an obvious question. Questions go unanswered there for months until they disappear from the forum and can be only found in Google. Not a single question I have ask there has been answered unless i answered it myself. I hate to even say that but it is true. I was an active participant on a windows spyware forum helping people with crapware and win problems for a couple of years and in that time questions NEVER went unanswered there for any more than a day or two. Questions were always resolved tho sometimes the answer wasn’t what the user wanted to hear, ie, “Your hard drive is toast. sorry.” I know Ubuntu forums is all volunteers but so was the spyware forum. lately I’ve been trying to help people there with buntu issues but I only know so much and have so much time. Tho I’m not afraid of the harder questions and Google is my best friend.

    All in all I still recommend Ubuntu and the forums do help Noobs with simple questions like help I lost my task bar. lol.

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  3. Aaron UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Hmm that is horrible advice to give anyone that is poor.

    It is actually the best advice. Anyone who is poor, but wants a computer, is going to have a harder time buying a functional computer that runs Windows well for cheap rather than one that can run, say, DSL well.

    One of the 99 – 199 Black Friday deals will run bleeding edge versions of Ubuntu better than better computers run XP.

    As for Ubuntu forums, I find that nearly all my questions are answered either by Google just within the forums or asked no matter the difficulty.

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  4. Starhawk UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    I agree Aaron

    Anyone who is poor, but wants a computer, is going to have a harder time buying a functional computer that runs Windows well for cheap rather than one that can run, say, DSL well.

    I’m talking about people that can’t afford even $10 much less a couple hundred to buy a used functional PC. Better advice would be to tell them to go to the local college and steal a laptop. Not that I advise that. lol. But one of the great things about Linux is older used PCs can be quite functional running the right Linux distro but crawl running even win 98 :)

    As for Ubuntu forums, I find that nearly all my questions are answered either by Google just within the forums or asked no matter the difficulty

    That’s great but i still go by my comment “Not a single question I have ask there has been answered .” It is the truth, us Buddhist don’t lie.

    At this very moment on the Ubuntu forums, Absolute Beginner Talk, click unanswered post and there are 10 pages of questions with no response not a single one. The oldest being dec 20. Who knows how many questions have responses but no answers. And it seems the forums there only show 10 pages of unanswered post when ya click that button. Questions i asked there almost a year ago got no answer and don’t even show up now. This is really unacceptable for a forum to me. Post should never go longer than a day or two without some response even if retarded. And all questions should be answered.

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  5. Aaron UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    As someone sitting on a laptop in a university library: I’d rather you didn’t. :p

    I’ll give you that point, but there are a lot of duplicate questions that could easily be answered by slightly better searching habits, so I can understand it to a point.

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  6. Starhawk UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    LMAO!!

    As someone sitting on a laptop in a university library: I’d rather you didn’t. :p

    Don’t worry I hate thieves, people steal off of me every year it seems. Too many junkies here sadly.

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  7. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Aaron – heh, I didn’t hose my windows the first time around. Still, it was nerve wracking experience. If I was doing it over, I would have left my windows machine alone and went hunting for junky old PC’s that I could mess around with. :P

    @Starhawk – Re: the purchase thing. I do realize that not all people can afford a brand new computer. Hell, I can’t afford one right now either. I am saving up for a new(er) gaming machine though.

    This is why in the next paragraph I said an alternative is to use an old spare computer if you have one lying around. A lot of people do – see my posts about that ancient Compaq presario I rescued. No one would even think about running windows on that hardware anymore, but Ubuntu is running on it pretty well.

    Again, this was just a suggestion which by nature does not apply to everyone. I surely did not intend to offend anyone. :P

    I don’t use Ubuntu forums but I take your word for it. Keep in mind however that users of these forums are only a fraction of the community centered around Ubuntu. When I say Ubuntu community I mean everyone: bloggers, casual users, maintainers, people who roll up Ubuntu packages, people who submit bugs and patches via Launchpad, developers who choose Ubuntu as their platform of choice and etc… The fact that you can google for just about any Ubuntu related problem and get bunch of relevant hits from outside the official forum simply speaks about the immense size of the user base.

    With smaller distros it is the opposite case – your only resource is the official forum/mailing list because almost all the users end up there sooner or later. If that forum sucks you are out of luck.

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  8. Starhawk UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    I luvs Ubuntu Luke. you know that and yes the bloggers do a great job, you included. I am however clearly a little disappointed in the forums. And I can and do help people with the problems I can deal with :)

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  9. Ian Clifton UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    you are not marrying you[r] OS

    Can I at least get a civil union?

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  10. Ricardo INDIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I think another good suggestion for new comers is to use Linux as a virtual machine. I used VMware for it last year and it worked great.

    Of course you need enough RAM memory for it (I had 1,2Gb and reserved 512Mb for the Ubuntu) but it’s another easy way to install Linux: No need to worry about partitions or defecting your current system.

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  11. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Ian – no! :mrgreen:

    @Ricardo – good point. But you do need to have relatively string hardware. Otherwise the emulated OS will be slow.

    I used VirtualBox in the past and it worked pretty well for me. Not as fancy as VMware but functional and it’s open source.

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  12. jambarama UNITED STATES Epiphany Linux Terminalist says:

    My first linux experience was before LiveCDs, preloaded machines, and mot o the other suggestions. I started with Red Hat 7 way back in 2000. I got a semi-usable system: no audio/modem and some of the ports – parallel/serial didn’t work, but my blazing fast 10/100 nic worked, and I got X running. It did what I needed ans was far more stable than Win98 – the popular alternative at the time.

    Eventually I got frustrated not having audio, and I found Mandrake (now Mandriva). Everything was so bloody easy, I was shocked. I had a nearly-fully usable system that was fully stable. Then I took a break from all technology and media for 2 years: 2001-2003. When I came back Mandrake was still king of ease of installation, but I found Debian and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve spent time with FreeBSD (later PCBSD), and Gentoo, but Debian is my favorite.

    I like your approach. I’ve encouraged others to use LiveCDs, and I’ve discouraged setting up a dual boot without my help. I had an old machine I used as a lender for a while. It was an old P4 with 512 ram & a crummy integrated intel video card, installed with Kubuntu & some fancy beryl graphics. So I’d let others borrow to test Linux out. When I moved the lender went to a friend.

    I do like the VMWare idea. I know I’ve got some Ubuntu vmx/vmdk files sitting around. And installing vmware player is dead easy. The only issue, I guess, is transferring the monstrous file – it won’t even fit on a dvd uncompressed!

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  13. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I had a brief foray into trying out Ubuntu a while back. I then retreated after some problems with graphics drivers and some other weird stuff that I think was my fault… now intending to give one of the newer versions a go, at some point, eventually, in a while (I’ve been vaguely intending this since Edgy :wink:)

    In pretty stark contrast to Starhawk’s experience, I got an answer on the Ubuntu forums every time I asked. Maybe they just didn’t like you :P

    Really should give it another go some time soon.. maybe give KDE a look over this time.

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  14. Starhawk UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Ah Matt` you’re a nut dude (in a good way ;) )

    In pretty stark contrast to Starhawk’s experience, I got an answer on the Ubuntu forums every time I asked. Maybe they just didn’t like you

    I know the forums help people. hell I help people there. I think what it is, I ask questions after I’ve searched forums and google and read the docs and the readmes the applications web site and so on. After spending 4 days (part of the time prob also doing other things) searching and reading and finding either nothing or nothing that helps, then I ask on the forums.

    Most people don’t want to try to answer something like that. I’m having a problem now trying to get an certain app to compile ya can find the problem on google only ya can’t find an answer. After getting no help on the forums, tho in this case I did get responses and all but one of them actually tried to help me, I wrote the developer with all the dirty details…And He’s actually very nice and is trying to help, but it has him stumped at the moment after a few e-mails all I have is less warnings and errors. it still won’t install. He insists it should work (in Dapper in theory i might add) but he’s never tried it nor does he even use Ubuntu. So basically I’m stuck and so is he at the moment. At this point I don’t think it is compatible with Dapper, but I can’t figure out why (but I do have an idea maybe possibly why…just not sure) because it should be. I meet the dependencies and all. So maybe together me and him will find the solution to the problem and maybe we won’t.

    What I’m trying to say is people only want to answer the easier stuff, and probably many couldn’t answer the harder esp if google is no help.

    As to people liking me, yeah that’s funny. Certainly I sometimes piss people off and or shock the hell out of ‘em, got death threats even from assholes on the net, but I don’t think I’ve upset anyone there. And certainly I’m racking up the thanks ya get when people click that star to thanks ya, i’m double digits on thanks now :) So i don’t think like or not like is the problem.

    And yeah KDE is cool, i have both gnome and kde. But I use gnome more and of course i mix and match applications, usually with not much problems. Give it a shot, its pretty and seemingly more tightly integrated than gnome.

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  15. Gamgee UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    That’s “Slackware”, with a capital “S”, n00b.

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  16. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Matt` – Definitely give Gutsy a whirl. Btw, if you want nice CD’s I recommend using ShipIt. Just put in an order and Canonical will send nice original ubuntu CD’s to your house for free. There is also a Kubuntu version.

    @Gamgee – that’s “N00b” with capital N to you. :mrgreen:

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  17. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Luke – I think you’ll find that Ubuntu has a capital U. :mrgreen:

    and yes, ShipIt would be a good option for getting nice CDs, the stack of blanks next to my PC and a quick download on the other hand… that has speed and convenience written all over it.

    Question is, did I already download Gutsy, in preparation for trying it out, or is Feisty the most recent one I did that for?

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  18. vacri AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    rant on

    having switched to ubuntu for my work desktop about five months ago, and helping my housemate to install ubuntu on his laptop around the same time, I’d have to say I’ve encountered a very, very mixed response for both of us.

    Some things are really nice, other things are just plain impossible. The big downer is that finding help in the linux world is a skill in itself. For example, my housemate inherited a pair of bluetooth headphones. In order to get them working, I had to pull information from three disparate sites, the primary one being in Spanish. And that was just to pair the device – apparently if you use linux on the desktop, you’re a nonentity if you use any bluetooth device that isn’t a phone.

    But this is just one facet of what I consider to be a big neg for the linux world: finding discrete help is difficult. There’s so much chaff out there (I’m particularly looking at you, ubuntu forums) across so many sites, so many distros, so many versions of distros, that you have to have a fair understanding of what’s going on so you can tell a) whether the help you find for another distro is useful to you; and b) whether the help you find is going to help you or hose your system.

    Example: a while back when I first started playing with linux on a laptop, I saw that the way to get my wireless card working was with NDISWrapper, which I installed and got working from a howto on the net. Telling the story to my two experienced linux sysadmin friends (independently), they both shuddered, said I should never, ever use NDISWrapper because it causes untraceable instability, and both of them refused to ever do any troubleshooting on that system. And having seen their skills elsewhere, it’s not because they were hiding a lack of skill.

    Example: this machine uses a Matrox G550 graphics card. Old hardware, and matrox is a favourite of linux users. The card is good enough to use compiz. But nope, no can do. There’s incompatablities such that the official matrox drivers and the ones installed by gutsy only support X.org 7.0, the ‘unofficial’ drivers support X.org 7.1, and gutsy uses X.org 7.2. This information wasn’t the easiest thing to find, either – it was buried deep in a thread about something else on some far-flung forum. The result is most definitely that it doesn’t ‘just work’. It could work, but it requires a lot more effort than I was willing to put in.

    Ubuntu on the desktop is great if you only ever use webapps and maybe play a bit of music (the only people I’ve found that like OOo are linux power users/advocates). Once you start doing things a little more complex, you start running into trouble. I’ve yet to have a question answered on the ubuntu forums (and having worked in support, I know how to write a lucid, concise question), though I have had a bunch of ‘me too’ replies. Newbie questions – low hanging fruit – is easier to answer, but the more technical stuff just gets lost in the chaff.

    This experience has made me value the slow release cycle of Debian a lot more. Need help? Well, fundamental changes to Debian aren’t common, so the help isn’t quite so fragmented. It’s like when you ask a question of windows – unless you’re a sysadmin, you use XP, 2k or Vista, full stop. In linuxland, it’s ubuntu/debian/fedora/centos/suse/pclinuxos/gentoo/whatever, and then you have to work out the version numbers. And while the fundamentals might be the same between distros/versions, the specifics often aren’t. I just find help for Debian less quickly outdated than for other distros, I guess. And version numbers do make a difference; there’s been several times I’ve used help for the previous version of ubuntu only to find out that x or y has changed rendering that help suboptimal or useless.

    Regardless of the reason for why this is the case, the final result is this: for the non-elite enduser that does anything even mildly unusual, appropriate help is often difficult to source in linuxland.

    anyway, getting a bit long and incoherent, so:

    /rant

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  19. Starhawk UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    I’ve yet to have a question answered on the ubuntu forums (and having worked in support, I know how to write a lucid, concise question), though I have had a bunch of ‘me too’ replies. Newbie questions – low hanging fruit – is easier to answer, but the more technical stuff just gets lost in the chaff.

    Amen bro. Ubuntus forums need a lotta work. I think the problem mostly is a lot of newbies go there for help and very few gurus are there to help. This is bad for ubuntu as peoples questions are actually important to them at least. Ubuntu is losing users as questions go unanswered and some of the new users go back to Windows or Mac or whatever. I myself i can deal with it because i love ubuntu and any question i ask unanswered there I will either figure out myself or I will just ignore it if I can. If my system is totally trashed and doesn’t work any more and I can’t fix it in a reasonable time and get no help I guess i would just have to reinstall. So far that hasn’t happened. lol.

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  20. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Heh… I sometimes I forget how normal people use computers. It’s like we have completely different mindsets. ;)

    Me: I managed to get my sound working under Gutsy in like 20 minutes by installing one package, and adding a single line to /etc/modules. I seriously didn’t expect it to be this easy. Gutsy is awesome!

    Normal Person: I spent 20 fucking minutes trying to get my sound working. I had to install packages and edit cryptic config files. Why doesn’t this shit work out of the box? Gutsy is teh suck!

    Yup… Different wavelengths.

    Ubuntu forums are a mixed bag. I never tried posting a question but I found answers there one or twice by goggling. But I agree – a lot of traffic there is just n00bs helping n00bs.

    I guess this might be the unfortunate outcome of popularity. As the forums get swarmed by new users, the quality of discussion decreases and amount of silly question grows exponentially. In effect the experienced members withdraw themselves, or change venue seeking a better community.

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  21. Starhawk UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Unfortunately the Noobs are not just new to Ubuntu they evidently don’t even know how to use the internet. The same questions get ask again and again and again … The forums do have a search ya know, duh. Not to mention Google, there’s even a google just for linux too. lol

    And the forums there are aware of this problem

    I’ll tell you that 99% of the time when threads remain unanswered it’s because no one knows the answer. Either your problem is too obscure, your hardware is too obscure, or the program you’re having problems with is too obscure.
    To all those with zero-reply threads…

    they also have a “team” that is supposed to be working on unanswered questions, unfortunately they don’t seem too active and looking thru that part of the forum I see a couple of questions ask there that haven’t been answered. lol. In fact the forums recently started this thank you thing where ya can rack up thanks and it shows beside your avatar and all the team members working on unanswered posts have less thanks than me except one, LaRoza. And she ( I gather she is a she from a post there) has a ridiculous amount of thanks and is active every day. She is also a vegetarian vegan actually according to another post there, but that is beside the point. I just notice things like that because I’m vegan too. lol

    I guess this might be the unfortunate outcome of popularity

    Yep, I believe you are right there.

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  22. Personally I think a well rounded human being should be able to use several operating systems.

    That’s why I use both kinds of operating systems: Linux and BSD.

    Note: I tried to post this from OpenBSD, but this isn’t possible since you require Javascript, which requires a browser that requires X, which I am not using. :-( In short, one needs to run X to post comments.

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  23. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Chris Wellons: Yeah, stupid WPSpamFree. I hate to use it, but without it my blog starts filling up with Spam posts at astonishing rate. :( Sorry.

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