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Re: newbies needing help for graphic login

On Fri, 6 Jan 2006 20:46:18 +0000
Clive Menzies <clive@clivemenzies.co.uk> wrote:

> On (06/01/06 12:18), Andy Streich wrote:
> > I really appreciate this topic and am delighted to see experienced Debian 
> > users responding positively to the "help, help" emails.  Andrew's question is 
> > the critical one:  is Debian for newbies or not?  From my own experience over 
> > the last couple of years I'd say it is not -- unless the newbie has strong 
> > technical skills and lots and lots of time to read manuals and this email 
> > list and getting the system up-and-running quickly is not critical.  Without 
> > a prior Unix/Linux background or the dedicated help of a local expert, you 
> > have to approach Debian at the very least as a time consuming, very technical 
> > hobby.
> I disagree about strong technical skills but you need some time and
> motivation to learn.   The 'new' sarge installer it is a lot easier
> than installing woody.

Clive & Andy,

I agree with Andy, that it is at least time consuming, and for a total linux newbie, would be daunting if not impossible. I agree that Debian CAN be newb-friendly, but I don't think it necessarily needs to be. I think the derivative distros cover that pretty well. I look at them as gateway-distros, once you're hooked... 

I started a couple years ago with knoppix, played around a bit, liked it, installed it (after a nightmare of partitioning, but that's below) and after a while, I learned about Debian. Realising that knoppix was based on debian I did some more poking around and eventually made the leap. 

> > I think many in the community would say, "But that's as it should be.  If you 
> > don't have the dedication to figure things out, go to another distro, stick 
> > with Windows, or buy a Mac."  To me that's short sighted.  If Debian is to 
> > remain vital, it needs to keep attracting new users.


> It clearly does attract new users, often those who've tried a derivative
> distro but want something more.  That said, it would be nigh on
> impossible to satisfy all potential users; however, between the range of
> derivative distros and debian itself, most needs are covered.

Also agreed. I think that there is just a big learning curve to jump into debian and the derivative distros are good at that. Maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe pure-debian should sort-of sit at the top of the heap for those that are willing to make the leap? I don't know, just thinking a-keyboard.

> > 
> > In addition to the other suggestions on how to improve the newbie experience, 
> > I would add creating yet another mailing list specifically for people trying 
> > to establish a stable installation.  Like other diehards on this list I can 
> > filter 150 emails/day.  That's not true for all and a newbie especially.
> I've never filtered the list mail (incl. boot, powerpc and user) because
> I learn so much from reading about other people's problems and
> solutions.  As a newbie, most of it went over my head but over time,
> much of it began to make sense.

This is definitely true. I've been on and off this list for a little while and now that I'm back on, after a good solid year of daily pure-debian, I'm glad to be here as its finally making sense. Never looked at -boot, but will. Interesting though, you know, I don't think I ever heard-of/saw -boot before this thread and if it is what I think it is, it would have helped me a lot a while back. There should be a way to steer newbies to -boot as the place to be to get you system up and running... well... hold on, are the rest of us gonna lurk there helping people thrash their way through installation woes? maybe not. 

I clearly have nothing definitive to say ;)

To the original point though: I think the average new user is expecting a gui, and it would probably be good to install right into one (with the obvious "advanced install" choice for the rest of us) provided its done it a manner that is rock-solid reliable. You don't want to lose them cause they can't get a working screen/mouse.... 

.02 again


oh yeah -- partitioning. This has got to be the most difficult thing out there for a new user. I know that the tools are getting better all the time, but I can tell you I spent more hours trying to repartition, while preserving data, my winXP disk than any other single task. Its hard to do, the available information that I've found has been less than clear and its scary. You're data could get munched and re-installing win is NOT any fun either... (would that we all had to install our OSes from the ground up -- there'd be a lot more linux users out there).

okay, done.
> Regards
> Clive
> -- 
> www.clivemenzies.co.uk ...
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