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Re: Using Ubuntu when I'm used to Debian.

On Tue, Apr 04, 2006 at 05:20:08PM -0400, hendrik@topoi.pooq.com wrote:
> On Tue, Apr 04, 2006 at 03:00:33PM -0400, Hal Vaughan wrote:
> > On Tuesday 04 April 2006 13:51, Andrew Sackville-West wrote:
> > > On Mon, 3 Apr 2006 22:49:00 -0700
> > >
> > > Christopher Nelson <chris@cavein.org> wrote:
> > > > On Mon, Apr 03, 2006 at 11:49:10AM +0100, Adam Funk wrote:
> > > > > I'm getting a new computer at work with Ubuntu on it, but I'm
> > > > > used to using Debian (at home and at my previous job).  I
> > > > > understand that they have some similarities.
> > > > >
> > > > > I'd appreciate any suggestions about common pitfalls when making
> > > > > this transition, things that will catch me by surprise, etc.
> > > >
> > > > You have to install a mail server and mailx and mutt after the
> > > > install, it's not done for you.  There might be other things you
> > > > expect to be there, but aren't--those were the biggest things that
> > > > tripped me up when I tried Ubuntu.
> > >
> > > one of the symptoms of "user friendliness". Ubuntu, I assume, makes
> > > the assumption that they are pulling in windows users who want a
> > > windows type mail environment with MUA talking smtp and pop to
> > > smarthosts out on the 'net at large instead of a local mail
> > > distribution system. I'm sure there are other symptoms of a similar
> > > nature where they are moving away from the *nix heritage in the
> > > interest of user-friendliness. I wonder how that plays out in the
> > > long run?
> > 
> > I think in the long run there'll always be config files that are easy to 
> > edit, but we're just seeing more and more tools that make Linux easier 
> > and easier to use.  In the long run, it's a good thing.
> > 
> > I notice so many geeks with that kind of concern.  There's this idea in 
> > many circles that Linux is being ruined because this and that are added 
> > that make it more user friendly.  Every time someone suggests something 
> > that makes an install easier or an easier config method, there is 
> > always hostility in this group and elsewhere.  If the real issue were 
> > that people didn't like those programs, the solution would be simple: 
> > don't use them.  Just keep using a text editor to edit config files.
> > 
> > After all, even with Linspire, you can always edit the config files and 
> > skip the user-friendly gui editors.  I think the real reason so many 
> > geeks don't like these programs is that Linux has, for years, been a 
> > playground of the geeks.  At first you could say, "I don't use Windows, 
> > I use Linux," and people would ask what it was.  The words "operating 
> > system" were enough to immediately brand one as a geek who was a master 
> > with computers.  Lately, as Linux as gotten more recognized, one can 
> > still be recognized as a true geek by using it instead of Windows.  I 
> > think the resentment and frustration is not from the fact that there 
> > are other ways to edit config files now, but that the once hallowed 
> > geek space is being filled with non-geeks and true geeks no longer feel 
> > like they have a special playground all their own with terms that mark 
> > them as computer masters.  True, one can switch to BSD, but I think 
> > many realize it won't be hard to port any of the Linux programs to BSD 
> > and continue the invasion.
> The real problem with nice configuration programs is that they don't do 
> enough of the job.  They're fine when you want a relatively 
> straightforward configuration and once you've set it up, it just works.  
> They are a complete misery when things don't work as expected, which is, 
> in my opinion all too often.  Then they leave you clueless, because you 
> haven't learned how things fit together while using the editor on the 
> configuration files.  And worse, you oftern don't even know what they've 
> done to what configuration files, so you have a hard time even finding 
> out how to undo the damage.
> That said, I think the syntax of 
> configuration files is usually execrable.  And the semantics is never 
> well-defined.  Just try to figure out from, say, the lilo documentation 
> which options go into the boot stanzas, and which outside.  Or even try 
> to get a clear definition of just how it knows where the first stanza 
> starts and ends.  It ain't easy.
> The art of configuration is a black art, is not approached in any kind 
> of uniform fashion, is poorly documented.  When it works, having a nice 
> configurator is, well, nice, but when it doesn't (all too often) it's 
> worse than having none at all.
> No.  I object to most configuration "wizards", but not because I want to 
> hand-edit text files by hand, using emacs.  Or vi.  Or nano.  Or even 
> (does anyone remember?) teco.  I've been able to make very little sense 
> out of that w3web-based configuration system that was dropped recently 

Aha!  I remember.  Webmin.

> because it couldn't recruit a maintainer.  But CUPS seems to do its job 
> fairly well.  And X, well, it's horrible.  It really ought to have a 
> try-it-and-see mode for each of its components, so you don't have to 
> completely configure the whole thing before you get *any* feedback about 
> whether any of it was even slightly workable.  (some other distros are a 
> little bettor on this than Debian).
> And I really think a Debian install should automatically check the 
> entire configuration into a revision control system of some sort.  So 
> that when you screw things up you can get beck to the version that used 
> to work.  And that includes configuration-like things in /var and 
> elsewhere.
> -- hendrik
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