back to article Gnome cofounder: Desktop Linux is a CHERNOBYL of FAIL

Gnome project cofounder and current Xamarin CTO Miguel de Icaza says he's done wrestling with Linux on the desktop, and that he now uses Apple kit exclusively for all of his workstation needs. De Icaza is well known in the open source community for developing a number of client-side technologies for Linux, including the Midnight …

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Anonymous Coward

FreeBSD

A shame he obviously hasn't heard of FreeBSD

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Anonymous Coward

Re: FreeBSD

Given the mess he's caused in Linux-land, it's just as well for BSD folks that he hasn't heard of FreeBSD.

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Re: FreeBSD

Why, is Apple OS based on BSD or something ?

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Heretic

Call the Mormons and the Church of Scientology.

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WTF?

Re: FreeBSD

You must have some serious hate for FreeBSD users if you want that clown to use it.

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Meh

Huh.

Desktop Linux is not user friendly and probably never will be. Every new distro only makes the entire premise more fragmented and less likely to ever gain traction outside those that already use it and i honestly think a lot of current users keep on with it out of sheer spite.

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Re: Huh.

As for Linux not being user friendly "Huh" indeed. I'm writing this on a computer that started as Ubuntu 6.04 and eventually got upgraded to 8.04, which is what it has now. That means that it has been a user friendly and functional desktop machine for 7 years, and that the current Linux on it is now 5 years old. That's a pretty good track record. I'm sorry if you haven't been as lucky, though I do suspect that bad luck isn't actually your problem.

If you want to put down Linux, I'll join you, but I'm not going to say that it isn't user friendly, easy to install, and very functional - because it is. Still, I'm with AC at the top there, about FreeBSD being the best choice.

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Devil

Re: Huh.

I have a 4 year old using a Linux desktop for a year now and an 11 year old who has been using his for 6 years. In both cases it is on a networked system with NFS shared $HOMEs so they are dutifully logging with their own accounts. They have been doing their homework with the older one preparing for exams (SATs) doing his school research and playing games (as all 4 and 11 year olds do) on that too.

When I observe them having problems with the system being unfriendly I will sure tell you (from a desktop Linux machine too). Or I can ask their 70 year old grandma to do so (she has been using a Linux desktop since the days of enlightment 16 - 1997) also without problems. When her linux desktop broke 5 years ago she had windows for 3 weeks. At the end she lost it, took the comp to the local repair shop smacked it on the table and said that she is not leaving until they "fix it".

As far as the Mac CoolAid - I have a Mac in the household too - SWMBO got a MacBook Pro. She regularly ends up turning around and using the Linux thin client in her home office instead because that "always works" (TM). While it is a nice machine, Apple software (especially when mixed with MSFT) tends to manifest some temperament when you do not want it to.

Note - I do not use gnome (and never will), neither does anyone in the household.

In any case, as far as Miguel being a troll - nothing new. He has always been. Though he is probably applying for a job @apple now instead of Microsoft so he has changed his naso-rectal orientation.

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Flame

Re: Huh.

Even though some call me "Linux-Adolf", I cannot help but mod this post up.

Because I am very sure, that with basically a single desktop - like 'our' single kernel - we would have conquered the world. The 'all the choices' ought to have been in the applications, designs, etc., not in seemingly totally different experiences, with different keyboard shortcuts, and stuff. No, those don't scare me at all; and don't scare most in here. But, and that's an enormous 'but', the very large majority of users out there; those who don't understand the underlying principles, those who struggle to open a file, and save another version, and are happy as can be once they got the grasp of some sequences on how to click, drag and drop to get things done, no chance.

Yes, I have to agree to the 'every new distro makes the PROMISE more fragmented'. Nobody in their sane mind - except the many of us in the field - wants to relearn Synaptics after YaST, Thunderbird after Evolution, and so forth. I for one started with RedHat 5.1. But I also had the time and opportunities to go through Debian, Solaris, Ubuntu since then. And From Gnome to Gnome2, xfce, unity to KDE.

Come on, guys, get a life. Don't tell me that's what we wanted the majority of computer users do; and still love us and our systems!?

They would have loved the stability, reliability, the price-tag, the good common sense; if those had not been beclouded by a seemingly senseless though continuous switch of widgets, gadgets, approaches, colours, locations on the so-called Linux desktop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh.

It's fine so long as your needs are modest and you choose your hardware to suit the OS.

As as an Internet OS it is fine, but when you get creative it is a pain in the ass.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh.

'Upgraded'? Surely you mean reinstalled. Only Windows lets you upgrade between major versions....

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Re: Huh.

Yes, I dumped Windows for linux ten years ago and have hated every moment of it, but my seething spite makes it all worthwhile. If I could get my webcam to work I would post a picture of me sneering at you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh.

Switched to Macs 2 years ago from a Windows/Linux combination. Best decision I ever took as it saves me massive amounts of time, and I still have an OS for which there are commercially supported products that are actually worth the money (Omnigraffle Pro, for instance) as well as some that are not (any version of MS Office).

Costs are down (sw is cheaper and is typically licensed to a person, not a machine), GUI is reasonably stable and actually very user friendly once you get used to it (I miss PgUp/PgDn/Home/End as individual keys), and for me it always works - I think I have had maybe 2 crashes in 2 years of solid use. I have WinXP and Linux Mint in VirtualBox, but I now rarely use it. On top of that, I have a decent UNIX command line at hand and all the *nix tools I need, a decent X11 environment so I can run stuff like wireshark and etherape, and a few Bitnami stacks allow me to experiment with other stuff. To me, it's the best of both worlds.

YMMV, but for me, Macs were a revelation. Should have done this years ago, but maybe they weren't as good then..

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Re: Only windows lets you upgrade...

You haven't heard of Ubuntu then?

(or maybe Android)

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Re: Only windows lets you upgrade...

OpenSUSE upgraded seamlessly from 10.X to 11.X to 12.X for me. It work fine even to the point that between 10.X and 11.X the system partition was upped from ext3 to ext4, but it left the user partition untouched.

I work with a Debian-based distro at work. As long as my compiler/matlab/LaTeX work (oh, and a browser) I am happy with essentially any OS. Multi-media (sound in particular) can be a pain now and then under Linux. On the other hand, I like it when my computer SHUTS UP.

I have used OS-X when visiting other institutes and had no problems with it. The only problem for me is that the current crop of MacBooks in the size I want don't have nVidia graphics (me use CUDA).

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Re: Huh.

"older one preparing for exams (SATs) "

This derailed my brain a bit. To me, the SATs are something that you take when you are 18. I took mine in 1984, in Endicott, NY. So either you have an exceptionally gifted 11 year old child, or you are talking about something different.

(Yes, I'm a Welsh-speaking Englishman in France, but I spent almost the whole of the 80s in the US.)

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FAIL

Re: Huh.

Ubuntu... do-release-upgrade

Nuff said.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh.

That's because GNU/Linux is not targeted at the user-on-the-street. It's only intended for the technical elite (or those who have a technical elite prepared to support them).

GNU/Linux also offer far too much choice. A normal user will panic when they have to decide what filesystem, what size of partitions, what DE, what...they don't want to have to do a Comp.Sci degree just to use their PC. Normal people will simply use a Windows or a Mac, as they are aimed at non-technical end-users who just want to get their stuff done and not futz around with config files or debate which window manager is best.

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Re: Huh.

"A normal user will panic when they have to decide what filesystem, what size of partitions, what DE, what..."

Well it's good that you don't need to do any of that on a desktop-oriented Linux. Well, not unless you want to.

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Linux

Re: Huh.

"A normal user will panic when they have to decide what filesystem, what size of partitions, what DE, what..."

Good job the 'auto' buttons on the installers work these days huh?

The ubuntu install and windows install are now very similar. It's just that most people will never see either one becaue their computers come preconfigured.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh.

Which you have to do from the CLI. Epic fail, right there.

No normal user should ever need to see or know about the CLI.

A PC is just an appliance to them. They wish to see the CLI iin the same way you want to program your washing machine by flipping dip switches.

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FAIL

Re: Huh.

"Which you have to do from the CLI. Epic fail, right there."

Assuming you're talking about Ubuntu upgrades - no, you can also use software centre. So FAIL yourself, idiot.

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Re: Huh.

"Which you have to do from the CLI. Epic fail, right there."

Or you can just click the 'upgrade' button in Update Manager.

Epic failure to check facts, right there.

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Gav
Boffin

Totally missing the point

"I have a 4 year old using a Linux desktop for a year now ... blah... blah..."

I love it when people totally miss the point about criticism of Linux. Sure, you have your entire family using and loving Linux. But that's because you install it, you maintain it, you upgrade it, you fix it when it goes wrong. You are an IT geek happy to spend your time doing this. I am very happy for you all. But it can't be emphasised enough; ***the rest of the world is not like this***.

Miguel is just saying what occurs to many people who give Linux a shot; he's got better things to spend his time on. I came to the same conclusion. I can, but don't chose to, spend hours fixing things when my audio drivers refuse to work, yet again. I could, but don't want to, spend hours trawling through Linux forums finding the one person on the planet who is using the same version of the same distro with the same hardware as me. Only to discover that they too have got nowhere configuring the damn things to work together. I choose not to spend hours trying to follow laughable "user" documentation written by a Linux coder for other Linux coders. My interests are in using a computer, not in compiling OS kernels.

So I fully understand Miguel de Icaza when he decides that he'll use something that just works.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh.

Well that all depends, doesn't it? Are you going from LTS to LTS, or do you want to go to one of the interim releases? This may mean jiggling around with the settings, which means understanding package managers, repositories etc., understanding the consequences of leaving the LTS cycle. And we're back to having to be technical to know what to do, which is another GNU/Linux epic fail.

No matter what you do on GNU/Linux you *ALWAYS* have to spend time trawling the 'net trying to interpret poorly written and out-of-date guides. It's why people use Windows/Mac. They may offer less choice and be dumbed down - but at least they work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Totally missing the point

"You are an IT geek happy to spend your time doing this. I am very happy for you all. But it can't be emphasised enough; ***the rest of the world is not like this***."

Bingo. As I said, it needs to be installed or supported by a technical-elite.

Despite it's technical merits; it's just too fragmented, offers too much choice* and relies too much on the end user being savvy.

*Yes people, too much choice IS a bad thing. Ask any psychologist.

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Pint

Re: Totally missing the point

"Bingo. As I said, it needs to be installed or supported by a technical-elite.

You know that everyone without this support on hand absolutely hates computers regardless of OS? Because they're unreliable, or slow, or the printer stopped working, or suddenly I've got advertising popping up at me from nowhere, or there's no sound or....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's fine so long as your needs are modest

Wouldn't be much good as an OS for supercomputers, then, I suppose?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh.

The ubuntu install and windows install are now very similar. It's just that most people will never see either one becaue their computers come preconfigured.

Slight amendment here it should read -

The ubuntu install and windows install are now very similar. It's just that most people will never see either one becaue their computers come preconfigured WITH WINDOWS

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Re: Totally missing the point

" But that's because you install it, you maintain it, you upgrade it, you fix it when it goes wrong"

Are you seriously trying to say that friends and family don't come to you to fix their windows computers?

If they actually don't you should check whether your personality isn't giving them the creeps.

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@another coward Re: Huh.

"No matter what you do on GNU/Linux you *ALWAYS* have to spend time trawling the 'net trying to interpret poorly written and out-of-date guides."

No you don't. That is all.

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Re: Totally missing the point

"Bingo. As I said, it needs to be installed or supported by a technical-elite."

No it doesn't. You may have said that, however it doesn't make it true.

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WTF?

Re: Huh.

It must be very dark in Windows world. I've upgraded through Ubuntus 9, 10, 11 & 12 on this here desktop. The install was when I bought the box.

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Re: Huh.

"No matter what you do on GNU/Linux you *ALWAYS* have to spend time trawling the 'net trying to interpret poorly written and out-of-date guides. It's why people use Windows/Mac. They may offer less choice and be dumbed down - but at least they work."

Because following these tips to make Windows more usable is the sort of thing that every Joe knows how to do, right?

This is not 1991 any more. Please, move with the times. You want to arse about under the hood of Linux? Sure you'll have to know your stuff. Same as with Windows. Same as with Mac OS X. Difference being that if the distro maintainer decides to go all GUIdiotic, it's not hard to apt-get the old interface back in.

Windows 8 on the other hand...

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Linux

Re: Huh.

You're kidding, right? Window users fill web forums with pleas for help when Windows fails. Some times it is Microsoft updates causing the problems.

"Technical elites" are out there fixing Aunt Martha's windows computer every minute of every day! When they read about Java not being needed for most users, and about the security issues, do you think most of them know how to completely uninstall it themselves? Or which of the dozens of windows patches are unnecessary and may actually cause problems for them? Or how to make Windows behave as they want it to?

They also turn to "technical elites." Major Geeks, Bleeping Computer, Seven Forums, Tom's hardware, all these sites are busy as hell fixing Windows for the non-geek user. This doesn't count the friend everyone bothers to death for support.

Hell, there is a cottage industry in showing people how to use Win 8 since it is so different from what they're used to. Another reason why 8 is so slow to be adopted. And don't start with number of licenses sold. The OEMs bought those, they are not on the street...

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Meh

Re: @another coward Huh.

Sorry but in my experience trying to dig deeper into Linux with web written articles by Linux experts is next to impossible for the beginner.

Why?

They all make the biggest IT Tech failing the world over of assuming the person reading knows what they are doing in the first place.

Linux Articles written by Linux Experts for Linux Experts basically.

They all manage to miss out the first three pages of prep and start off on stage 7.

"I do what with this tar.gz thing?" or "Why can't I just double click and install it rather than type all this guff into a terminal window?"

This makes most beginner Linux explorers just reformat their HDD and walk away muttering "maybe in another couple of years I'll try again!"

Maybe as Linux Experts you don't notice these things but trust me as I've tried on three or four occasions it's out there and it's no fun.

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Re: Huh.

SATs in England, and possibly other parts of the UK, are exams taken at the end of years 2, 6 and 9. An 11 year old would be doing the Key Stage 2 SATs in year 6. After that you have GCSEs (year 11) and A Levels (year 13). Scotland has different exams at those stages. English A Levels are equivalent to American SATs.

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Childcatcher

Re: Huh.

The native younglings in Blighty are currently forced to sit SAT's at 7, 11 and 14. They're pronounced sat, not S.A.T. and are more to do with seeing where the younglings are for their age rather then if they are good enough for college.

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Re: @another coward Huh. - Jason

"I do what with this tar.gz thing?" or "Why can't I just double click and install it rather than type all this guff into a terminal window?"

If your complaint is "it doesn't work exactly the same as windows", which it seems to be, then congrats you've totally missed the point.

Do iPads and Android tabs let you install random crap off the net without warning? No. Because downloading software from random places on the net and just installing it is a terrible idea. In desktop linux, same as on these other platforms, you go to the software store and install stuff. You should never be dealing with tar.gz's to install software unless you're playing with advanced, experimental stuff.

Maybe as Linux Experts you don't notice these things but trust me as I've tried on three or four occasions it's out there and it's no fun.

If you've tried and failed to get a linux system going in the last... 5ish years? Walk away from your tech career. Now.

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Unhappy

Re: @another coward Huh. - David

No you see you've missed my point. Oh and you've gone off in a bit of a rant at me for trying to get to grips with Linux on a deeper level as you may have encouraged me to do before I wrote my post earlier.

You see you all ask us to have a go and then when we ask questions we get shouted down.

Those questions I posted would be perfectly justifiable questions from a ex. Windows user moving to the Linux world.

I have got several linux systems working fine. I have two of them as VMs on my PC right now. It's just I would like to delve deeper (surely something that you would encourage?) but when I try I get told off or just find crappy documentation.

We try but get told to fuck off.

What exactly do you want us to do if you wont help people move to your world?

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Re: @another coward Huh. - Jason

I'm sorry, but you want to "delve deeper" but you're complaining that you can't just double click and install a tar.gz file?

Firstly, if you google 'what is a tar.gz file?` you get 56 million pages back, the first being a detailed wikipedia entry on tar files.

Secondly, as tar.gz is an archive format (like zip, which you find out from the wiki page) you would know that it's not an installer and double clicking to install is not a reasonable expectation.

Third, if you double click on it on any recent linux it will pop up a GUI app showing you the file content, just like in windows.

Fourth, that first page of google results already has several forum entries about installation from archives, many of which give instructions and repeat the warning that it's probably not a good idea.

Think about going onto a Windows developer forum and asking "I've got this zip file from an unknown source on the internet, why won't it install when I double click?", is that a question from someone delving deeper or someone who hasn't even bothered plugging "zip file" into google?

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Re: Totally missing the point

No, I think you miss the point.

The only - ONLY - reason I install Linux on friends computers is becuase I *don't* want to spend my life maintaining it and fixing it when it goes wrong. So up yer bum, frankly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Only windows lets you upgrade...

I've heard of Ubuntu and most others down even to Slackware, worked on (paid work) and administered them, along with Solaris, AIX, HPUX, BSD varieties, Ultrix ...

I agree totally with the article. Ubuntu was the last straw, when a normal upgrade would not boot and I had no interest any more in trying to make it work. I wanted a BSD system, either would do. But the disc partitioning never worked properly with my windows system and so that fell away. I did not want, ever again, to have to trawl the internet to find codecs, printer drivers, video drivers that would work with the screen and not against it .... Hunt for libraries that had moved in this distribution to a different place from some other distribution ....

In short, I wanted to use the computer, as a tool or as an entertainment medium, not work repairing and maintaining it. I get paid for that and at home I've got better things to do.

But then I got a second hand Apple powerbook, the old white one - what a revelation: proper BSD, full X including my favourite window manager, twm, all the compilers, interpreters, full media, ability still to add GNU, mac ports or whatever software. Now I've got an ageing Apple Intel white laptop. Even better, with a free VM package that runs XP faster than my XP machine.

Result, I use Linux (Redhat) at work and Windows of course -- all pain and no gain. I have to stomach XP at home on my wife's machine; but I have got a cunning plan: buy a new OS X machine and give her the old one - less maintenance, more speed and it "just works". Generous of me.

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Re: @another coward Huh. - Jason

There are ways and means David, ways and means.

Unfortunately often the way you Linux guys explain things just comes across as rather abrupt and rude.

Instead of just doing the Jackie Chan meme stance and shaking your head incredulously you could just go "Ahh yes a tar.gz, thats just a blah blah that allows you to blah blah, you don't really need to worry about them unless you want to blah blah, so maybe when you have a few more linux miles under your belt you can then try blah blah!"

or

"Ah yes, why isn't there just a simple installer file like you would have with Windows, that's a good question and I'm glad you asked me that. Well with Linux 99% of all the software you could ever need is actually tucked away in this really neat repository of software. It's like a large library of juicy free stuff that you just select from the menu and it all installs directly on your machine! Now isn't that really cool?"

Ways and means. You don't have to jump down people throats.

Thats all we ask as beginners. Encouragement.

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Re: @another coward Huh. - Jason

"Instead of just doing the Jackie Chan meme stance and shaking your head incredulously you could just go "Ahh yes a tar.gz, thats just a blah blah that allows you to blah blah, you don't really need to worry about them unless you want to blah blah, so maybe when you have a few more linux miles under your belt you can then try blah blah!"

or

"Ah yes, why isn't there just a simple installer file like you would have with Windows, that's a good question and I'm glad you asked me that. Well with Linux 99% of all the software you could ever need is actually tucked away in this really neat repository of software. It's like a large library of juicy free stuff that you just select from the menu and it all installs directly on your machine! Now isn't that really cool?""

Which is *exactly* what you get when you stick "what is a tar.gz file?" into google. I'm serious, try it. All of that stuff is in the results on the first page. Not seeing a problem here...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh.

And children playing computer games at 4 years old! Think some parents need to do some research about children and media. 11 year olds needing computers for homework? Desperately, horribly sad. Even worse than using the television as a baby sitter.

Get a life.

Kick the little b-g-rs outside to get some fresh air and climb a tree, or even, dangerous, meet other children and run around, draw pictures (pen, pencil, paintbrush - messy, real, excellent). Buy them books, real, paper books that can get damp, dropped, crammed in a pocket or dirty and still be read. Get a dog and make them take it for walks and play with it. Take them on a sailing course or rowing on a lake. Ban computers and mobiles till they are at least 12 and then limit them from constant use.

Spare me the nonsense about preparing for the modern world. Your physical body and brain have not followed the appendix just yet. The vast majority of the most modern, cleverest inventions and developments today were created without the people having frittered away their developing years on computers, locked into the electronic vision of somebody else.

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Re: @another coward Huh. - Jason

"Unfortunately often the way you Linux guys explain things just comes across as rather abrupt and rude."

How many beginners are there? How many "experts"? How long does it take the expert to answer the question? How often will they have to repeat themselves? This is why people are told to RTFM.

Now, if someone comes up and says "See this bit? Why does tar.gz do blah and not blah?" Odds are good they'll get help because that someone has at least put the effort in.

Unfortunately a lot of the documentation is obtuse or out of date. My current favourite example is Canoncial's own documentation on a KVM networking bridge causing the node to lose its network. Now this is community documentation and I could change it but I don't know enough about networking/KVM to understand if this is truly a general issue of the docs, or something peculiar to my set-up.

I'm not even sure where/who I can ask.

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Re: @another coward Huh. - Jason

And thats fine.

But in future if people ask what you think are dumb noob questions, just count to three and imagine how you would like to be treated if you were say learning to fly.

Its all about learning a new OS. Not Officer and a Gentleman or Full Metal Jacket.

If you welcome people with tolerance and patience they will come.

(sound of needle being pulled off a record)

But that'll never happen.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @another coward Huh. - Jason

You Linux types: *.tgz please. tar(1) is the archive format, gzip(1) is one of many compression tools. You need to get out a bit. I suppose you use Wiki because you can not type "man" or even, ugh, "info".

Linux "experts"; search on the internet for some LE's wonderful shell script that does this wonderful thing and see all the others saying, "wonderful", "you saved my life" .... But then read the script and realise the bloke got some mish-mash of "magic" and what he typed at the shell prompt, with a slim understanding of pipes and filters and none of functions, structure, comments. Even some of the Linux code is like that.

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