back to article The Reg guide to Linux, part 3

Linux has changed almost beyond recognition since version 1.0 in 1994 and Ubuntu is about as polished and professional as it gets. It's approaching the level of polish of Mac OS X, is faster and easier to install than Windows, includes a whole suite of apps and offers tens of thousands more, runs on cheap commodity hardware and …

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Epic Goddamn Fail

Why recommend Ubuntu because it's friendlier than Debian and then give a guide to setting up Debian?

You're exhibiting the most annoying trait of Lunix git-wizards: the irresistible urge to show off that you've learned the painful old fashioned way to do it.

As a way of filling up an article, it's a great strategy, but as a way of selling people on the benefits of Linux distros in general or Ubuntu in particular, it's FAIL.

So far, everything that you've recommended could be boiled down to:

Download ubuntu 10.04 32 bit

Burn to CD

Reboot.

Try the live CD version.

When you're happy, click Install.

Accept the defaults.

Grow your wizard-beard.

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Boffin

But...

"So far, everything that you've recommended could be boiled down to:..."

But then he wouldn't have got to publish a cool multi-part guide spread across several days

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Grenade

It's worse than that.

The best distro for end users is actually Mint, not Ubuntu.

I just installed Mint 9 as a test (into a Parallels VM; I already run a perfectly good *BSD-derived OS). Took just a few clicks. Easy as pie. No need to download additional codecs or jump through any hoops deliberately put in place by the FSF Taliban.

THAT is how easy Linux *can* be, but you'd never guess it from this series of articles.

The mere fact that Linux still appears to require a *three-part tutorial* to set it up shows just how much the politics behind the FSF have held it back. Articles like these are *part of the problem*, not the solution.

The equivalent process for all of GNU / Linux's rivals consists of:

(1) Buy (or be given) an off-the-shelf computer,

(2) Take it home and plug it in,

(3) Switch it on,

(4) Er...

(5) ... that's it.

If you get an upgrade DVD—e.g. you've bought Windows 7 for your Windows XP box—the process is still piss-easy: insert DVD. Reboot PC if / when told to do so. Job done. OS X upgrade DVDs are much the same.

(NOTE: Very, VERY occasionally something will go wrong, but that's no less true of GNU / Linux or any other OS. You don't get to cite such occurrences as a reason to switch.)

There's no "Copy and paste this horrifically cryptic-looking *five-line* command into your Terminal!" crap either.

If the puritans want to have their own "genetically pure" distros, they're more than welcome to do so, but that shouldn't stop others creating more pragmatic options for those users who couldn't give a gnat's chuff about Stallman, and who think "GNU" is some kind of weapon for dyslexics.

Nor should these pragmatists get any stick for doing so. The kind of person who tells me to my face that I "shouldn't" use Software X is the kind of person I'll kick in the nadgers and defenestrate at the earliest opportunity. NOBODY gets to tell me I have to do *without* unless they can provide a bloody good reason. Tiresome, post-hippy, anti-corporate politics do not constitute "good reason".

The vast majority of end users *couldn't care less* about the politics of Open Source and "Free" software. They just expect the magic box to do what they tell it to do.

To sum up: the FSF Taliban can install Ubuntu. For everyone else, there's Mint. The article's author could have written just one article—with pictures, even—and saved a lot of people an awful lot of bother.

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You miss the point me thinks.

"Off the shelf." Which means brand new hardware. Which means cost. Linux runs on old machines, making that old windows box last quite a few more years under ubuntu.

In ten years of working in IT, I have never had an off the shelf PC that isn't bundled with crud from the seller (acers 14 pieces of software that do everything you want but have no idea if you need or actually can stop, so they just sit there greedily eating your files. Or HP and Dell that ship their recovery CD's so you actually find you 250GB hard drive is 120, that a partition of recovery exists and that you can't do a thing about it.) I also haven't seen a PC off the shelf that comes with all settings built in or bundled and valued copies of software for things like anti virus, anti spyware. What you actuall get is lots of pop up boxes that ask you to pay for things. Because it is all trial software.

So what would you prefer, 5 lines of command or "trial software" and pop up boxes demanding cash with 14 apps you don't need or want chewing up resources?

And the last upgrade DVD I was involved with. Well PC world said they shipped it with vista, just before win7 was released. 1 phone call was all it took. Not from PC world but from Acer, that call was to Germany. The DVD didn't arrive, so a second call was needed. When it did it was in a plain envelope from the Czech republic, took four weeks overall to arrive and used a foreign language to ask for it. When it arrived it didn't work with the acer 14 apps, too many partitions arguing. In the end a second complete install and a removal of all partitions just to get it to install and upgrade so it could work. All of this was expected to be done by an elderly relative that just wanted a new PC.

Now how is that five command line looking?

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Happy

At least he pointed out...

...the teeny tiny issue of the Windows built-in CD writing software being unable to deal with a .iso file. This could be an issue for those who aren't really familiar with their computer who may follow your instructions thusly:

Download ubuntu <version#>

Burn to CD

Reboot

Windows appears, I guess ubuntu is broken or something... when in fact it was the CD writing software at fault.

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Happy

Sorry bud, but you're mistaken. It's the US .gov not the FSF/GNU! :)

Sean Timarco Baggaley,

You seem to be miss-attributing the Free Software Federation (you know, the guys that have brought us GNU and the license which the Linux Kernel was released under) with the US Federal Government.

Ubuntu is not a free operating system as per the FSF (free as in freedom, not as in beer). Even if it is installed with the "Free Software Only" option it still does not meet the FSF's, possibly draconian, standards. The reason Ubuntu doesn't have all the MP3, WMA, and other codecs out of the box is because it would be illegal for them to distribute those codecs in the United States (and others). This is again, thanks to the DMCA and other misguided bits of legislation.

The same is true for your beloved Linux Mint, which does release a build similar to Ubuntu for just that reason (so it can be legally distributed in the United States). Aside from that, Linux Mint does lack some features out of the box that Ubuntu has, but that is mainly beside the point regarding your post above.

While I definitely agree that the FSF/GNU (especially Stallman) can take things too far (dogmatically), I am hugely grateful that they exist as the good they do definitely far out ways the bad (and the bad can be easily side stepped by using distro's LIKE Ubuntu AND Linux Mint).

So, dismiss them if you will, and miss-attribute legal issues to them, but that seems a bit misguided and narrow minded to me.

Cheers man!

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FAIL

Ah, a totally unbiased opinion!

This guide seems to have been brought to you by Canonical.

Linux Is Not Ubuntu.

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It kind of is though

Like it or not, Ubuntu is ubiquitous with desktop Linux.

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They know Linux is not Ubuntu

If you had bothered to read the rest of the articles in the series you would know they introduced all the major distros with pros and cons for the first time Linux user. If you are trying to get a Linux first timer to try installing Linux, Ubuntu is a great place to start.

It is this kind of whining and infighting (my distro is the real Linux) that makes MS and Apple smile and helps to hold Linux back.

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Canonical or not`

At least its an article designed to help get people working with Linux (specifically Ubuntu).

Have you ever written one? Or do you only ever write FAIL comments?

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Happy

Linux as an acronym

Shouldn't that be "Linux Is Not Ubuntu <something beginning with X>"

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FAIL

Ubuntu is not Linux

But it is the most likely distro go gain mainstream traction as it requires the least configuration to perform all the average users' functions.

Remember, the vast majority of computer users neither care how they work nor have the inclination to pursue lengthy customisations and that, had you been paying attention was the point of the article.

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Linux

Yes we Know

Linux isn't an OS while Ubuntu is an OS. Linux has the unfortunate trait of being only a kernel and nothing more.

Of course we don't have a generic name for the set of tools we've built up, but I know I aint going to be calling it Gnu and I aint going to be calling it Linux, both those idiots have had their egos stroked enough to forget the piles and piles of input from the rest of the community.

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Coat

Maybe

Linux Is Not Ubuntu, Xtupid?

Still sounds right...

Coat, taxi, etc.

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Bronze badge

wanna boost the amount of users

I would use it.

But im a gamer.

Tell me you can get steam and all steam games inc l4d bc2 burnout paradise and a plethora of other games working perfectly without hours of hassle.

Then I will happily switch.

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Anonymous Coward

if you want that with no hassle

buy a xbox360

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Bronze badge

your comment disgusts me :p

I detest consoles and would never buy one.

The very idea that i have to rebuy games just to get a better system pisses me off alot.

I still enjoy going back playing old games e.g. defcon Css etc etc

If i was a console player i would either have to keep all of my old consoles and games or rebuy the game !!

PC is the most price effective way to game and mostly hassle free. the only issue is that you cant really game on a pc from the sofa ... which is probably better i would spill my beer way more often !!

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Linux

Steam is coming to Linux

Steam & (AFAIK) associated games are being or have been ported to GNU/Linux. I think the release is imminent

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Steam

There is a Linux version of Steam, and from what I understand they're working on adding support for more games.

Regardless if you're a hardcore gamer you should stick with Windows. As much as I love Linux it's not the best system for everyone.

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A circular problem?

You make a fine demonstration of how this sort of thing goes.

Likely, you complain not infrequently about this shortcoming or that about Windows but, as soon as the subject of another platform arises, your priorities become apparent. Games are less common on non-Windows platforms because there is less of a market because games are less common on non-Windows platforms because there is less of a market because games are less common on non-Windows platforms because...

If games alone drove the OS market, Microsoft might be well and truly invincible as long as Windows is capable of running a graphics-intensive game for at least a day. (Then again, if games alone drove the OS market, Microsoft itself might have perished quietly during the 1980s and we might all be using AmigaOS or BeOS or something likewise designed to be good at the sort of things games require.)

Thus, a person who identifies himself as a gamer may complain about Windows while vigorously defending the status quo. His powerful aversion to any inconvenience in the short term and reluctance to depart from the herd--lest he miss something--ensures that he will be bound to a platform he may despise almost categorically (or maybe he really does love Windows and goes about trying to share the Kool-Aid with his friends, but that's far less common because it usually means finding more to like about Windows than the development benefits of popularity), save for its support for games, for the forseeable future. If it crashed every three days because of some gory drunken car accident of API design*, phoned home without his permission*, and accidentally deleted his files sometimes for no good reason*, he'd probably still use it and he'd probably still attack other platforms for their comparative paucity of high-profile games, even if they were to beat Windows categorically on reliability, security, and cost, and even if the only regard in which they were harder to use than Windows was that they didn't behave exactly the same (thus, that people raised in the Wintel monoculture found anything different "too hard for the average Joe"), because his first priority is playing games. Really, that's up to him and is entirely his prerogative, but sometimes he seems to go out of his way to trap himself in an unpleasant place on account of it.

Now, as other folks have pointed out, some game development is beginning to target platforms such as Linux (Mac OS X already has a substantial amount of game development, if I remember well) because there is now sufficient user base--no thanks to self-proclaimed "gamers", by and large, but thanks to people more concerned with the other ninety-eight percent of computing who, on occasion, simply might like to play a game and who, for the sake of that other ninety-eight percent of computing, are willing to try something new and willing to admit that, sometimes, "good enough" isn't good enough.

I don't mean to defend Linux, mind you. I really don't and, in fact, I'd rather not. Please don't get that idea.

*Not unheard of in Windows.

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Linux

Cedega

Nuff said.

Or you could try CrossOver Games.

The adventurous will even try to run games using the stock Wine package, with varying results.

Tux. Because this is a Linux article.

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@Capt 'n

its not all about drinking cool aid and being in the gang

Regardless of how much my mates bang on about WOW i dont really like it or want to like it.

Same goes for consoles getting releases earlier than PC i wont switch just to be In the crowd.

Have you played TF2 with Mac users ?? Its just F'ing LOL. Noob is just not a sufficient word, And this is comming from somebody who is not very good at TF2 .....

I dont mind Mac's being able to game with PC users but at the same time dont feel that they fit in quite right. square in a round hole etc etc

in regards to MS dominating the scene in the 80's although other platforms were mainly game based the world of gaming has become more widespread. It is a normal for a father of 29 to be playing games in the eveing whereas in the 80's this was not the Norm (dont bother flaming that you gamed i wore abstestos today)

But in the end i would switch to linux even just out of curiosity and re-download hundreds of gigs worth of games If only i knew they would work.

I think today alot of young home users will base their decision of what OS to use with gaming being a major factor. although not the only factor.

i like windows and i marvel at what it can do. e.g. run multiple hardware setups generally rather well and stable, for your average user.

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I switched, and I'm a gamer

Quite simply, I wish I'd bought Windows 7. I love everything about Ubuntu, except game support.

Games don't run, people don't swap to Linux. People don't swap to Linux, games aren't written with Linux in mind. Vicious circle.

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Heart

I think I'm in love.

See above.

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Steam Coming to GNU/Linux (Ubuntu) ETA End of Summer 2010 (this year!)

Funny you should ask. Valve is releasing Steam under GNU/Linux with a current ETA of end of Summer 2010. Linux will be a first tier system which means it will be receiving the same support and development as Windows and OS X. Third parties are already planning on releasing some games. It'll definitely be a while before they all come over, but all the new stuff and all the main stuff like HL2, CS:S, TF2 will be there at launch (everything that's available currently on OS X, and possibly more by the time it launches on GNU/Linux).

See here for more information: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=valve_steam_announcement&num=1

Cheers, hope you'll keep your word! :D

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FAIL

FAIL indeed

So you want to convert people to Ubuntu, yet start throwing commandline stuff around that is totally unnecessary. What the hell did they invent the Software Center for?

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Linux

Overblown fear of the shell

> So you want to convert people to Ubuntu, yet start throwing commandline stuff around

> that is totally unnecessary. What the hell did they invent the Software Center for?

Type "this" is a lot more direct and to the point than trying to describe a bunch of steps in a GUI.

Even this "hard way" is not the worst possible option between Linux, Windows or MacOS.

It's simply "scary". Certainly people spend a lot of time scaring the end users and convincing them that everything is too difficult for them to deal with.

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(untitled)

I do agree with you to a certain degree, but it's a damn sight easier for the article to say "copy and paste this into a terminal ..." than "click menu item one, click menu item two. On the dialogue that opens, select the 'I'm bored now' tab". Horses for courses.

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Anonymous Coward

re: FAIL indeed

christ, what could be easier than copy/pasting 5 commands into what is essentially a text box?

if you can't manage that, someone really ought to replace your computer with a more age appropriate toy.

It's not like you'd even have to read or understand the commands you're copying*... and in that respect it boils down to a set of clicks that is substantially easier than navigating a GUI. "no click THERE, not there, no there! See the icon that looks a little bit like a unicorn's vagina? It's 5 icons down from that one"

* obviously you SHOULD read and understand the commands... but if you're a newbie copying them off The Register then you can be forgiven for not doing so.

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Average users are scared!

This is exactly the point: command line stuff scares people away *in droves*.

So called (and mostly self-appointed) Linux "evangelists" continuously gripe and whinge about the dominance of Windows and how Linux is so much better and open and god-knows-what-else, and that people would switch to Linux in a heartbeat if they only tried it.

What none of these people get into therir heads is that

1. most people simply have no desire nor the time to invest in learn a new operating system

2. a lot of people (if not the majority) are NOT geeks. Linux-heads are so isolated from the real world that they can barely comprehend how little the average user knows about operating systems. This kind of user sees a command line and panics. Typing some cryptic commands that they'd have to write down to remember is bound to end in tears.

Lets be clear here: I'm not dissing these users -- they may not be able to install a device driver or edit the registry in Windows, but they tend to be highly skilled using the applications they work with on a daily basis, like Excel, Word, Photshop, etc. Which is usually all they want.

The ones I *am* dissing are the Linux -geeks who bemoan the low acceptance of Linux, but at the same time are completely unaware that concepts like "usability" and "user experience" even exist, much less that they will have to embrace them.

The day there's a distro that doesn't come with a shell is the day Linux is ready for prime time.

Oh, and where's the "penguin with horns" icon?

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IT Angle

You're right, but....

Love and agree with your post, right up to the "The day there's a distro that doesn't come with a shell is the day Linux is ready for prime time."

Maybe I misunderstood you, but the way to improve Linux isn't by removing features that are already there. The way to make it more user friendly is by (what Canonical/Ubuntu are doing) adding and supplementing the already power-house, power-user features with super easy GUI utilities like the Ubuntu Software Center.

Aside from that, you're dead on. Most "linux-heads" (of which I am an aspiring one) don't seem to have ever worked with your average computer user. Coming from a tech support and it background, it definitely gives one a different perspective.

To that point, as much as I love Linux and Ubuntu, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is the first release that I am comfortable recommending for general use to friends and family. And, even still there are caveats (like no easy blu-ray, not full Ipod support), but the same can be said for most anything in life and I try to steer people toward technogies that while still functional are better supportive of Linux and vice versa.

Cheers!

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Gates Horns

Advertising, not fear

Windows is no better, in terms of usability. I recently installed Windows 7, and more recently, Linux Mint. It took me longer to switch from XP to 7 than to learn Linux.

Windows has just as much scary stuff, and although MS try to hide the inner workings of your computer, they do so erratically, and at the expense of usability (usability != user-friendliness). They're both good and bad in different ways, although Linux has the edge re security and cost.

The problem with Linux compared to Windows - and the one point which makes it VASTLY inferior - is advertising. Microsoft spend billions on advertising, marketing, FUD, pushing their software to government departments, etc, and get many times this amount back by continuing to dominate the market.

Linux, on the other hand, is free (ultra-specialist distros aside). Nobody in the Linux community is able to fight Microsoft's marketing muscle power, and so nobody goes to PC World and says "I saw Ubuntu advertised on TV last night, is it really as good as it looks?"

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FAIL

Percentage Fail

1 Billion PCs of which 12 Million Ubuntu Machines (Assuming US billion of 1000000000)

= 12 000 000 / 1 000 000 000

= 0.0012

= 1.2 %

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FAIL

Mathematics fail

No it isn't.

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FAIL

Percentage Fail Fail

Epic maths fail

= 0.0012

!= 1.2 %

100% = 1.00

1% = 0.01

1.2% = 0.012

0.12% = 0.012

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Boffin

Back to school Ray 11

1.2% == 1.2 / 100 == 0.012

0.0012 == 1.2 / 1000 == 0.12%

You need a calculator.

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Coat

Not the mathematics FAIL you think

It's only the middle line that's wrong.

12 000 000 / 1 000 000 000 = 0.012 = 1.2%

Ner ner ner-ner-ner.

V.

Mine's the one with the solar powered Casio calculator in the pocket. Works a treat in all this sunshine...

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FAIL

Self deprecating fail

Last line of my post should have read

0.12% = 0.0012

I shall now hit myself with a casio fx102.

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Linux

Re : Percentage Fail

Oh good grief !

100*(12e6/1e9)

=1.2%

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Typo Fail

Sorry for the typo of 0.0012 instead of 0.012 but the final result was still correct, 1.2%

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Silver badge

Or, more easily

To get DVD playing...(from Ubuntu website https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RestrictedFormats/PlayingDVDs)

Ubuntu 9.04, 9.10 and 10.04 (i386, amd64)

To Install the libdvdread4 package (no need to add third party repositories) via Synaptic or command line:

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4

* Then open a terminal window and execute:

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

* Rebooting may be necessary.

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Already installed

If you installed ubuntu-restricted-extras from the Ubuntu Software Center, then you'd have libdvdread4 installed already.

So all you really need to do is run that script at the end there.

Rebooting isn't required.

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Bronze badge

I don't get it

I installed Ubuntu and could immediately play MP3s. I didn't and don't use the command line and found installing and updating easy.

Also: You can run downloadable programs from the command line, it's just not a good idea and they're not common, oh and unless you use sudo they'd not run as root.

You can download program install packages directly from web-sites as well. NX nomachine is a good example.

Perhaps I mis-read but you seem to make a simple no command line procedure into a bit of a gong and dance.

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Linux

Not really true

"So if you download a file off a website – even a special Linux program – you can't run it by double-clicking it, nor even from the command line." That's misleading. You can do both of those things with certain downloads. Firefox, some games, shell scripts...

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No you can't

Everything downloads with read only permissions. Unless Ubuntu is set up to bypass that (which is possible but not considered a good idea by most of the Linux community) you'll have to chmod it first.

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Gates Horns

Yes, but...

chmod is a terminal-centric view of it. Don't get me wrong, terminals are great (I have two lurking in my task bar as I type), but for the scenario you describe, I would probably go to Firefox's downloads list, right click, Open Containing Folder and then right click the download to change it properties and make the change there. It's a lot of clicking, but still less trouble than cd to the location, probably ls to get the file name, copy, type chmod, paste, etc. I'm sick of Microsoft's market churning, but I'm not allergic to user friendly stuff.

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Linux

That works

That's basically a GUI frontend approach to chmod so it works to.

Really I hadn't thought of that. Honestly between my typing speed and shortcuts I have set up I can usually have chmod +x ~/downloads/whatever&&~/downloads/whatever punched into a teminal in about a quarter of the time it would take me to do it in a GUI.

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while I applaud the sentiment

directing new users straight to the command line is perhaps not the best way to cure people of The Windows.

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yep.

Especially if they don't actually need to do that in order for the thing to work.

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FAIL

Epic package fail

I do realize that this article series is targeted to those not familiar with Linux (although still I'm rather dissapointed, come on el Reg, you can be more technical - we're not children), but your assertion that APT is superior to RPM doesn't even make any sense. One could compare dpkg (the actual packaging system used by APT) and RPM, but really, no virtually no one uses RPM directly, just as it is unlikely one would use dpkg directly. So a more relevant comparison would be APT vs yum vs urpmi and so on - and even then, it wouldn't hurt if you would say why APT is better than the alternatives. No really, I'd like to know. I don't use either at the moment, but as far as I can tell, they all resolve dependencies and have various GUI frontends in addition to CLI usage. So what makes APT so great?

But in a similiar fashion I'll simply conclude that pacman is superior to all the alternatives combined - I could offer reasons why, but why bother.

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