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Re: Why is debian "more of a learning curve" than Redhat???

On Sun, 25 Jan 1998, David E. Scott wrote:

> Tyson,
> 	I guess I'm just expressing frustration at not being able to master the
> installation process. 
> 	Agreed, Debian dselect does a tremendous lot of work during the install
> process, and it's very infrequent that dependency or other warnings are
> issued during a Win95 product install. In the hands of a Debian expert,
> my future son-in-law, the process is pretty impressive and quick, even
> if it's rather mysterious when I try to duplicate the process on my own.

Ok, let's summarize the differences between the install programs. The
Win95 installs have a simple design, are brain-dead and can present you
with nice 'Next' buttons. The Debian installer can perform complex tasks
but has a user interface that is hard to learn.

> 	For those of us coming to linux, Debian or otherwise, from the business
> environment where when we ask the system (Mac or Win 95) to do an
> install for a package, we can be pretty confident that, in fact, the
> install will happen and we can be pretty confident that when the install
> is finished, the particular package will work as advertised. 

Well, Debian is not much different. It's just that first-time users get
overwhelmed (sp?) by the huge list of packages dselect shows them. That's
something you'll have to get used to until deity is released.

> 	Mainly I'm on the initial learning curve, where one needs a "whereis"
> command to find out where particular file or set of files is located in
> the file structure, where one needs a "list" command to quickly display
> the contents of a given file, both in ascii and hex. Those two commands
> were invaluable to me when I was learning my way around DOS.

Let me provide some info to help you with this.

The "whereis" command is called "locate". It reads a database that is
updated daily if you leave the computer turned on and/or if you have
installed the anacron package. Its argument can be any substring of any
filename you want to look for. "locate /bin" will find all files in /bin,
"locate bin/a" will find all programs starting with "a", etc. You can also
use special characters like * and ? . Read the manual page for more info.

The "list" command is called "less" or "view". "view" is actually a
read-only mode of the editor "vi". If you install the vi clone called
"elvis", you'll have some interesting options.

To configure "less" to be more useful, you can set some environment
variables. If you like them, place the commands to set them in
/etc/profile and they will be set every time you log in. These are the

export LESSOPEN='|/usr/bin/lesspipe %s'
	This makes "less" pipe everything you view through this script.
This gives you readable information for verious non-text files, like .tgz,
.gz, .tar, .zip, .arj and .deb files.

export PAGER='exec less -si'
	This instructs many programs, among which "man", to use "less" to
display the text instead of "more". The "-si" tells less to ignore case
when it searches through the text and to squeeze multiple consecutive
blank lines into one blank line.

If you have installed "elvis", the "view" command can give you hex output,
using the ":display" command. When viewing a file, type ":display hex" to
get the hex view. ":display normal" gives you text again. ":dis" is an
abbreviation for ":display", ":no" is an abbreviation for ":display

BTW, I can send you a reference sheet containing a summary for the most
used vi commands, if you like. It's about 8 kB of text. You should get a
UNIX book from the local library to actually learn vi, but this will help
you a lot if you can't figure out how to exit vi.

> 	Eventho RedHat has fewer components, if that's the case, at least its
> CD produced a running system with much less effort on my part as a first
> time user. Getting over that hurdle and finding the right tools to
> navigate around the new system seems to me to be critical to the
> understanding of how things work. 	

Yes, that is, in my opinion, the most important point where Debian is
still behind other OSes -- _beginner_ friendlyness. Debian may be user
friendly (there is no typical user, so "user friendly" has actually no
meaning at all for any program), it is not beginner friendly.

> 	Hope that explains my position a little better. Thanks,
> Dave 

Yes, your position is actually typical for beginning Debian users. But,
keep on reading documentation (as you should always do, but especially
with Linux -- any Linux flavour) and one day you'll be an expert. :-)

> Tyson Dowd wrote:
> > Perhaps you could explain why you think the Mac/Win UI is better?
> > Is it just prettier, or is there some way in which it is a "better"
> > interface for doing the job?

I think it's not only prettier, but also better to understand for those
who have never seen it before. Messages like 'click "next" to continue'
make sense to everybody, the help screens in dselect are more difficult to


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