Re: Learning UNIX

Subject: Re: Learning UNIX
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: techwr-l digest recipients <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 11:08:44 -0700

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- jci -dot- com wrote:

>Personal experience: I've set up four Linux systems under three
>distributions, including full servers with apache, netatalk and samba. I do
>know that installing SW on Linux can (note: "can" not "must;" sometimes it
>goes quite well) be a real nightmare. Let's see, I can't install this
>package because I don't have this particular file. OK, I can go out to the
>web and find *that* file, but now that I have it, I need to go back out
>again and find this other file to install.... This is a true adventure, and
>one which recursed to about 5 levels before I finally got what I wanted.
>There was no way of telling for sure (easily, anyway) just what I was going
>to need before I embarked on that journey.

The start of this quote says it all: personal experience has a
lot to do with how people regard operating systems. However, I've
heard horror stories about every operating system available,
including Windows. Given all the different types of hardware and
the possible combinations, some trouble is inevitable. The only
way to be sure of avoiding it is to buy a machine with the
software pre-installed.

It does sound, however, as if Arlen was doing things the hard
way, doing everything for himself. This is the stone techie way
of doing things. A few years ago, it was the most common way to
install Linux, but, now, the cautious can buy a boxed version of
Linux with everything they need on the enclosed CDs. As a result,
only a few Linux installs are going to match Arlen's horror

>Which points up a deficiency in Linux, so far. The documentation ranges
>from quite well done to huh? to non-existent. They could certainly use some
>more tech writers on the LDP, to get more topics covered well for more
>distibutions (all of which differ just enough to make a lot of docs

I agree fully - although I'd say that the huh? is the most common
type of documentation.

>And Linux, being hot, is driving several magazines on the newstands right now, so it might just be
>more Pro than Bono.

In case anyone is interested:

There's 3 major Linux magazines, and a couple of new ones. A
full-time editor at Maximum Linux (the magazine I work for) comes
in at the top of the senior tech-writers' salary range. Freelance
articles at Maximum Linux and Linux Magazine pay $500 - $1000,
and about $200 at Linux Journal. Perks include all-expense paid
trips to conferences - which can be very pleasant working
holidays - and the chance to rub shoulders with some of the
leaders of the computer industry.

If anyone wants to know more, go ahead and drop me an e-mail.

>Probably one of the most useful differences between Linux and Windows is
>that Windows makes things look easy when they aren't, while Linux makes
>things look hard that should be easy. That means Joe User is less tempted
>to mess about and break something.

I'm not sure that Linux is hard so much as different from what
people are used to - that is, Windows. Or maybe I'd say that
Windows holds your hand, while Linux encourages you to do things
yourself. Far from being "less tempted to mess about" with Linux,
I find that I'm finding out far more about Linux than I ever did
about Windows. Of course, you have to take a few basic
precautions, such as having a boot floppy and making backups of
files before you edit them, but I find that Linux and the
community behind it encourage a do-it-yourself attitude.

>Oh, well. Don't interpret my statement as True Forever. Give the desktop
>apps a couple more years to get their act cleaned up a little more, and
>give the Eazel folks some room, and my statement may no longer be valid.

I agree: things are only getting better. The changes in the two
years I've been involved with Linux are overwhelming. People
often say that high tech companies move three times as fast as
old economy companies. I like to add that Linux development moves
at about three times the speed of other high tech companies.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | Tel: 604.421.7189

"That proud, fast Queen of the Grand Banks Fleet portrayed on
every dime,
Knew hard work in her time - hard work in every line,
The rich man's toys of the Gloucester boys with their token bit
of cod,
They snapped their spars and strained to pass her by
But she left them all behind - "
- Stan Rogers, "Bluenose"

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