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Newbies and magic: we gotta understand them

I refer you to this great article on "Newbies and magic".

GNU/Linux newbies (pretty much newbies to any other Free Software systems) almost always come from Windows, an operating system that they've been trained with and in a way trained by. They have been trained to rely on "magic" as this article points out and magic is something abstract, obscure, but magical. They never really saw the cause of a problem or furthermore any action that their OS does. They just saw it being done and they saw it being broken.

A Free Operating System naturally reveals the ins and outs, the cause of why everything works the way it does. It removes the obscurity for those willing to look into it. Newbies however need to learn to appreciate that or at least know that there is a way they can take action now, truly solve problems when they encounter them, instead of relying on "magic", restarts and reboots.

And of course, the other point which should also apply to here is that those with experience in GNU/Linux, those who have already been trained to think in a different way (basically think for themselves) have to understand that people coming from Windows are not "dumb" just because they have been trained to act dumb when it comes to handling an operating system. Instead of disrespect and, you know the old "RTFMs", they should be taught a new and better way that GNU/Linux and similar Free Operating Systems offer. It's basically letting them know that they have the power, they *have* the smarts, they just need the courage.

Any problem with GNU/Linux can be solved!



I agree completely. I saw a

I agree completely. Smiling I saw a quote one time that said "Today's newbies are tomorrows experts", which is absolutely true. Everyone was a newbie at one time, even you libervisco! Sticking out tongue

Indeed, that's a great

Indeed, that's a great quote. And I'm even still a newbie in some areas which is probably true for anyone else as well. Noone is an expert at absolutely everything and sooner or later they'd need help, so it's better to act nice and try to help other people so that we can get help when we need it ourselves.

I was already a geek, so I


I was already a geek, so I guess my entrance into Linux from Windows was already in the cards and any initial frustrations I had were easily overcome, especially with all the hard efforts that went into RH8, my first real Linux that I actually started to like, then followed with RH9, Fedora, and then finally Ubuntu, which is probably going to be my home for life!

However, I was, unfortunately, a disillusioned Microsoft-biggot for quite some time. Therefore, I had high expectations when I had a set of circumstances happen to me that made me crossover.

The crossover was because:

* Microsoft development was getting way, way harder than it needed to be.

* Linux development was getting easier.

* The same could be said for the OSes in the same manner.

* MS would not admit to their bugs and would rather force you to pay for an upgrade, which would often fry 20% of your old apps, in order to get around this. But then you upgraded and found even more bugs in different places. The Linux crews, however, were not like this. When you upgraded, at least when you were on Fedora or Ubuntu, you usually still had stability and your apps still worked. When you report a bug, if they don't already have it, they let you post it. Eventually in 2 to 6 months, I've actually gotten some answers back, so I know the system works. With MS bug reporting, it's a blackhole.

* MS devs from Microsoft Consulting, which I had to interact with on contract gigs, were highly unprepared, disillusioned, irrational, arrogant, two-faced and fraternal, and were/are a complete waste of money, time, and space. The Linux guys were laid back, cool, fairly wealthy, and rational.

* MS was becoming more and more insecure and Linux has always been extremely tough on security.

* MS likes the big-brother approach where anything with 'xp' in the product name seems to mean "Xray PC", meaning scan your PC and report back anything they want. I don't like that. If the major USA telcos can be forced secretly by the NSA to monitor public phonelines, than who all knows what MS is lying about when they claim that XP's and Office XP's authentication check doesn't send back any extra info.

However, this alone was not enough to push me over the edge. It was the day that 6 things came to a head:

* My employer got acquired and they said all programming was going to switch from Windows to Linux.

* My Win PC at home got infected with yet another virus even though I tried to do everything humanly possible to prevent stuff like that.

* RH8 was stable and Windows-like in my opinion.

* I had this built-up frustration with Windows and Microsoft.

* I found RH8 had 'rdesktop' to connect to Windows Terminal Services and 'vnc' as another alternate route. This would provide a safety valve so that I could still get work done when I was confused about something on Linux at first.

* A highschool kid down the street chatted with me about computers and then handed me a copy of RH8 Linux. I was hooked!

So, I switched over to Linux in sink-or-swim mode and it has been delightful.


Anyway, moving to Linux, and trying to see things from the new user perspective, I do wish some things were different. I hear that changes are coming in the future, but here's my gripe list for now:

* Most distros have common apps that lock up you. I had this experience a lot on RH8, and it got better on RH9. However, Ubuntu has not had this at all for me except with Screem, which I dumped for Bluefish.

* Fonts are still difficult. There needs to be a unified font standard and stick with it. Sure, the old variety of standards can be there, but a distro, for instance, should stand behind one standard that is the most sensible and get everyone to move who wants to use their distro to put their fonts in this particular control panel.

* Not enough control panels. Many distros don't ship with enough useful control panels for even some of the most basic things like stopping/starting services or disabling them on reboot.

* Needs main menu editing. If a distro won't let you edit the Main Menu, in my opinion, they should be summarily executed. And if the Main Menu editor is provided but it still locks up, then that's no good either.

* Needs 2-3 standards on a unified GUI-based installer. I hear that this is coming from the LSB crowd. I can't wait. I would reason to bet that it will either go the Firefox route and make it GCC/X-based, or make it in Python and PyGTK.

* Needs a suitable Flash replacement. If Flash is such a bad thing because it's proprietary, then Linux needs to have a pretty darn good replacement -- so good that even both Linux and web developers move to it and abandon Flash, wholesale.

* Java isn't open source yet. When it is, then I will support it on Linux. Until then, I dislike it very much.

* Needs a suitable WMV, Real Media, ASX, MPEG, and MP3 replacement. If these formats are proprietary, then the Linux advocates need to find a way to get the FLOSS equivalents of these -- theora and ogg vorbis -- to have forked versions with standard names and to be set in such a way to become wildly popular to both Windows and Linux web developers that they abandon whatever else they had. I think innovations in compression are the needed trick. If you can make a fork off of Theora that can make an MPEG-like video in something like 10% less size but just as good of quality, then I'm sure it would take off.

* On low-end systems, GNOME desktop, taskbar, and Nautilus are just too heavy. GNOME apps are still necessary, but the rest should be swapped out with something that almost looks the same but has a few less features, runs much faster, and consumes less resources. That's why I like the Thunar project and XFCE.

* OpenOffice loads too slow.

* GIMP badly needs an MDI interface instead of an SDI one, or at least the option to turn this on in the preferences.

* A few apps give you preferences, but they forget these settings each time you load them.

* Cut and paste between various apps still doesn't work seamlessly.

That was a great post, in

That was a great post, in both sense of the word. Smiling

I am glad that you found GNU/Linux to be a better home for you. Most of us here did.

I think that many of the GNU/Linux cons you listed actually depend on a distro you're using. I think that Ubuntu is definitely moving in the right direction in regard to most of those points.

As for Java and Flash, there are replacements in development for both so it is possible that we will have something that you describe in the future that can eventually develop into an alternative that possibly superseeds abilities of official flash and Java. I suppose we'll just have to wait a bit more.

Standardization is also a good thing. That wouldn't mean that developers wouldn't have freedom to develop things their own way, but at least those major, most popular and "mass-market" oriented ones should think about standardization. Big names like Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva and SuSE come to mind. Those are ones most people use.

Anyway, thanks for posting and we hope to see you as a member here. Eye


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