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Re: OT : RE: water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

On Wed, Apr 11, 2001 at 03:27:04PM +0200, Joris Lambrecht wrote:
| I personally think that this has to do with Debian more then with Linux
| itself. Other linuxdistro's like RedHat, Mandrake, Corel are focusing on the
| usability. Debian is more like a sysadmin tool. Maybe it simply lacks an
| introduction wich is easy to find. Most of the documentation is readable
| enough for the determined.

I think that an introduction that is easy for inexperienced people to
start with would be a good thing.  It should include references to
more detailed/advanced documentation and also mention the common
pitfalls or things to look out for.  Explaining in simplistic terms
the basic organziation of the system seems to be the part that is most

As we have all seen, the Windows help system is useless if you have
half a clue what you are doing, or you are trying to setup something
new.  I have found the documentation (howtos, this list) to be very
helpful in explaining (almost) everything and showing how to get info
from the system to diagnose the problem.  OTOH, I am a softare
engineering student so I am on the more geeky end of the spectrum as
opposed to the newbie side.

I have been using Linux for ~2 years now.  I used RedHat, then
switched to Debian only about half a year ago.  I started with DOS,
then moved throught the various windows beginning 9 years ago.  I have
hardly read any documentation about windows, the majority of from
Linux sources.

Trying to solve something not working in windows is difficult since
there is no documentation (like my network at home ...).  Just trying
random-guesses at a solution is easy since there is a
pointy-clicky-try-this-and-hope-for-the-best interface.  I find
diagnosing and solving problems much easier in Linux, and the
documentation explains things well.  Linuxconf (on RH) makes it easier
for an inexperienced user to get a working system,  but I've enjoyed
learning how the system really works since I installed Debian.

I am in favor of creating a document that introduces the concept and
organization of a Debian system with pointers to common situations and
more advanced documentation.  I think sprinkling it with funny stories
of our own blunders will help show newbies what can go wrong, how to
solve it, and that they aren't the only ones to mess up.

ATTN all newbies : feel free to post any questions to the list.  I
actually enjoy helping (when I can), but don't be a whiner when the
system can't read your mind -- instead post all information you think
is relevant and be polite.  :-)


PS -  (story of my introduction to computing : )

To begin with I am 20 years old, a 3rd year Software Engineering major
at RIT (5-year program, includes co-op).  I started learing how to use
my dad's computer when I was in 7th grade (early 90's) -- a Packard
Bell 286 with DOS 3.3.  I learned the basic filesystem movement
commands, but little more.  Then he upgraded to Win 3.1 with a Gateway
2000 486.  In 95 when Win95 was released he upgraded to that.  I
learned each in succession.  My senior year of high school I had a
co-op job with a large local corporation.  My desktop machine was a
Win95 system.  The other co-op in the group had NT4.0.  They also had
Sun Solaris systems.  

<most interesting part begins>
It turned out that my family knew the family of one of the Unix admins
there.  He showed me how to login (via telnet) to the solaris system
and some basic commands :
    ls == dir
    cp == copy
    mv == ren
    rm == del
    cd == cd

He also showed me vi.  I knew only the following commands :  
    h j k l i x dd :w :q

That admin gave me a short document on Unix commands and a "cheat
sheet" on vi.  I didn't really read them closely until much later.

My opinion was that Unix was ancient and Windows far exceeded it.
Shows how much I knew ;-).

I got a computer when I started college and it had Win98 preinstalled.
The CS lab at school has Sun Solaris systems.  I had no trouble
using them since I already knew the basic commands.  What I didn't
know was how to do anything particularly interesting.  I started to
learn how to configure stuff on my account that year.  I also heard
about linux, and decided to get a second hard drive and install it at
the beginning of my second year.  RH 5.2 Unleashed.  The XFree it included
didn't work with my video card (only 640x480x8, ugh!) and I didn't
know much about admining it.  When RH6.1 was released I upgraded and
got a nicely working system (GNOME and all).  I learned more about
using the system and I began to use windows less and less.  This year
when RH7.0 was released I upgraded.  I learned of my mistake
afterwards, and started to check out Debian.  I installed Debian as a
triple-boot system, but windows was rarely booted.

I now have a co-op job where I must use Win2k as my desktop (it was
WinNT until it decided not to boot one morning).  I would much prefer
to use Debian, but I fake it as much as possible with cygwin.

As mentioned above, I find Linux to be a far superior system to
Windows and really like using it.  I now have 2 computers (a new
homemade Duron 750 system and an old GW2k 486 system) both of which
have Potato installed -- single boot!

I wrote this story in hopes that someone would enjoy reading it and
get a good laugh at my initial perception of Unix (Solaris) and vi.  I
now consider (g)vim to be the most superior editor and use it for my
daily work (I have tried emacs, and emacs fans are welcome to it

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