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Trio3b

Command Line Thoughts

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Letter to the Linux Community,

The following is a critique and NOT a criticism of Linux or those who crunch thru lines of code for altruistic goals. This is really a request of those experienced in Linux to help those of us who are "textually" challenged. I intend to pursue Linux as far as I am able, but I hope that from a beginner's perspective, I can make some constructive observations about the Linux community.

Microsoft is not off the hook here either. I have a disagreement with; (1) MS licensing practices and interpretation about free markets, (2) the fact that Microsoft "knows what we need better than we do", changing each new OS release so that it is "better" and (3) the fact that MS has had 20 years to develop a consumer friendly product and as far as I'm concerned, it is unbelievable to me that the installation techniques, file systems, utilities, and applications in each new "improved" version of Windows, came and went and came again in a jumble of incongruous forms that made these "improvements" either incompatible with the hardware, the previous OS version, or both. I don't know of one incident where taking invoicing templates out of MS Works was satisfying to any customer. I have NEVER heard anyone say......" I sure am glad that FAT 32 file systems aren't compatible with NTFS!" When was the last time you heard any customer thank MS for putting all the security holes into the OS under the guise of some remote registry utility for customer satisfaction, then scrambling to close those holes before a NEW virus got in? How about MS backup, the "wonder tool", that was supposed to make your life more productive? I must have spent months migrating important data from one OS to another "new improved" OS only to find out that the backup utilities or file systems were incompatible. That is time spent that MS can never replace. Anyway.........back to Linux.......

Remember the IBM 360 mainframe and Singer punchcard machines of the late '70s, or the Tandy TRS-80 of the early '80s? Those were amazing computers in their time. I spent a fair amount of time around these machines and some very smart people who used them, and I now marvel at the dedication and determination of myself and others who invested hours and sometimes days in the pursuit of having something....anything... being spit out on the terminal or the tape. As I recall those days fondly, I must come to the objective conclusion that most of the effort and energy expended to get these early "PC's" to spit out an answer surely was satisfying, but rarely justified the exorbitant amount of time spent in the computer lab.

What's the point? I have spent enough time on forums to hear Linux users make the pronouncement that if only you would dive into the inner workings of your PC, then you will treasure the satisfaction of whipping your PC into submission. Another good one liner handed out to Windows users who complain about the amount of time required to get some things done using the CLI is that sarcastic admonition... "well I guess SOME of us don't want to expand our skill set!" Let's grow up here!...That is true if your PC is mostly an end unto itself, and you have inordinate amounts of time to spend on PC's and the software leaning curve. If that's the case, I applaud you and your dedication. If, however, your PC is a means to an end, a tool to accomplish other goals, to actually get some nasty capitalistic work done, like invoicing clients.... FOR MONEY (egad!), then I wonder about the survival of the desktop Linux OS. Like it or not we live in an "I want it now culture", and before we condemn our impatient nature, consider this.... Would you think so highly of driving that new car you just paid $23,000 for if it wouldn't run until you had understood and assembled the planetary gear cage assembly in order for the transmission to work? Maybe you would feel better about flying out to visit your family for Thanksgiving if Southwest Airlines asked you to set the dump valve relief setting in the compressor of the jet engines before takeoff. The point is that the marketplace would never stand for a product like that, yet somehow we have been schnookered into believing that unless we understand the complete Hayes standardized modem command set or what a loopback interface is, then we can't truly be "one" with our PC.

The fact is that unless the computer itself is the end source of your fascination, then you DON'T need to know all of the inner workings of the PC to be productive. And in many cases, too much knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge (the learning curve) can actually be a hindrance to productivity. The effort spent on getting something to work MUST be factored in to get an accurate picture of whether or not a procedure is efficient. Being new to Linux, I have been generously offered lines and lines of commands to help me with problems. This information has many times taken hours to locate, to distill, to comprehend, and to type into a terminal.....over ...and over....and over again. Sorry to say, but up until this time, all of those issues have eventually been resolved with a couple of mouse clicks in the KDE desktop. Sadly, not one of these problems was fixed using the command line within a reasonable amount of time. It's not because the command line doesn't belong in the OS. It's just that the command line is given such a huge place of prominence that I think sometimes the lowly icon and mouse is overlooked as a productive alternative to the issue at hand. The Laws of Diminishing Returns dictate that at some point, the energy and time spent to accomplish certain tasks may become WAY out of proportion to the benefit derived, and in my experience, the command line interface sometimes falls prey to this very situation. It is very easy to allow our intellectual vanity to blind us to the fact that we may have just configured something in a 3 hour command line orgy when a mouse click or two would have sufficed. Yes, you solved it with CLI, but were you PRODUCTIVE in relation to the time spent ? There is nothing wrong with effort, but it has to produce some measureable results within a reasonable amount of time.

I'm getting the feeling that some people in the Linux community do not want the "point and click" mob to bring the GUI to the Linux playground. I believe that there are some in the Linux community who insist upon keeping the GUI away from those of us heathen who "just cannot comprehend" the majesty of the command line. This is unfortunate because eventually the desktop Linux OS, which I believe has immense potential on many fronts, will become an exclusionary OS and NOT an inclusive one. (Maybe that's their secret goal).

If the Linux community wants to share and saturate the planet with desktop Linux, then the CL brigade would do well to put aside their pride and realize that this OS will never gain widespread appeal if they believe that common tasks like file manipulation or modem installations should be accomplished with hours and hours of research and CL tweaking of obscure, archaic and hard -to-remember command line heiroglyphics. Connecting a PC to the internet truly is a complex procedure, but so is running a hi-bypass jet engine, and the folks at General Electric don't ask us to understand THAT..... in order to fly in a commercial jetliner. Sorry to say, but given the choice between spending hours getting a modem to work or spending five minutes invoicing a client ... I must choose the latter. Sorry about the capitalist overtones, but hey ........ can you imagine a doctor's office or your local bank full of $10 an hour employees trying to command line their way through your medical or financial records? And what about the Dept. of Motor Vehicles? Ain't gonna happen. No way, no how. Not ever. Not even downhill.......both ways.

For goodness sake, if you're going to promote Linux as a more powerful, efficient, user- friendly companion to the PC, then please don't raise the command line to such an exhalted level that we point 'n click peons have no alternatives! Why do you think DOS and other similar interfaces withered away and evolved into pretty little pictures and handy clicky thingees in the first place? C'mon, let us dim-witted click-happy noodle brains join in the fun and let's make Linux not only powerful, but easier too!

Hope this helps you Linux gurus and mentors out there.

Viva la Linux

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well at last i have some one who thinks like me.

the last time i posted to this forum.

and said my peice about linux being to complex for the ordinary user .

some linux guru posted back and said with an attitude like that you wont get any help.here

but here you have said what ive been trying to say for months or even years.

in linux products i have mandrake 9.1 mandrake10.

lycoris .and ubuntu.

and guess what i cant use any of them because i cant cinfigure the modem.

through the command prompt .and with out being on line whats the use of an OS.

i tried to communicate with the linux community on this board .

but after a while they ignored me .

i presume, because i was asking the same Q.

how do i configure my modem through the cmd.

i came to the conclusion they didnt want me in this forum .

so when you get ignored i just faded away.

i was able to configure all the other hard ware.but that dam modem.

so im glad you have arrived here and said the same things ive said for months

i have the history of linux developement sitting right here in front of me .

and by the way when i inquired about .they posted to me free.

the original intention was to keep it .

for compt experts and not the masses.

the originators wanted it so they could develope it with out hinderence from the general public

and commercial interests

but today it hasent improved .except for experts.

when this board recruited linux gurus .

they had to recruit specialised people .

with windows any one can help to solve a problem.

i mean any one from the general public .

im far fom being a compt expert .

but i can get on this board and help with compt problems

but with linux only the exclusive few can do that.

most boards dont have a linux forum.

i belong to 3 message boards

and this is the only one with a linux help board.

so the sooner they topple those from their eifle tower.

the sooner the os will become user friendly.

glad to see your post.

marty

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Remember the IBM 360 mainframe and  Singer punchcard machines of the late '70s, or the Tandy TRS-80 of the early '80s? Those were amazing computers in their time.

IBM 3x0s are amazing computers now. Hundreds of users running simultaneous interactive sessons on individual virtual machines on a hardware hardly more potent than a modern graphing calculator.

What's the point? I have spent enough time on forums to hear Linux users make the pronouncement that  if only you would dive into the inner workings of your PC, then you  will treasure the satisfaction of whipping your PC into submission. Another good one liner handed out to Windows users who complain about the amount of time required to get some things done using the CLI is that sarcastic admonition... "well I guess SOME of us don't want to expand our skill set!"

Zealots and evangelists should be ignored. The former are beyond reason and the latter will say anything to win converts.

Sorry to say, but up until this time, all of those issues have eventually been resolved with a couple of mouse clicks in the KDE desktop.

Indeed. That is I think a side-effect of variety. You frequently find people suggesting suboptimal solutions to problems because they simply aren't aware of all the alternatives. KDE is used by a minority of Linux users so it doesn't surprise me that most of the advice you got overlooked KDE features.

In fact, that's why I mostly retired from the Linux forum. I have no experience with any of the mainstream distributions of Linux, nor any desire to gain that experience. More often than not that meant I was reduced to guessing at solutions to people's problems because I had no idea what was available in their environment. Eventually I decided that that wasn't doing anyone any good and gave it up.

It is very easy to allow  our intellectual vanity to blind us to the fact that we may have just  configured something in a  3 hour command line orgy when a mouse click or two would have sufficed. Yes, you solved it with CLI, but were you PRODUCTIVE in relation to the time spent ? There is nothing wrong with effort, but it has to produce some measureable results within a reasonable amount of time.

All true. However I have very seldom found a problem that was more easily solved with graphical tools, and those exceptions were almost invariable inherently graphical (e.g., image editing).

I'm getting the feeling that some people in the Linux community do not want the "point and click" mob to bring the GUI to the Linux playground. I believe that there are some in the  Linux community who insist upon keeping the GUI away from those of us heathen who "just cannot comprehend" the majesty of the command line.

You're correct. There are many people in the community who resist attempts to make the system more inviting to Joe Luser and many more who simple don't care. The same is true of many user communities.

If the Linux community wants to share and saturate the planet with desktop Linux, then the CL brigade would do well to put aside their pride and realize that this OS will never gain widespread appeal if they believe that common tasks like file manipulation or modem installations should be accomplished with hours and hours of research and CL tweaking of obscure, archaic and hard -to-remember command line heiroglyphics.

The problem is that that characterization of the CLI is just as misleading as the characterization of the GUI as refuge for lusers who can't handle a toaster let alone a PC. There's nothing particularly obscure, archaic, or difficult about the Unix CLI environment. It is by many accounts one of the most usable computing environments in history. You can hardly expect the community to realize something that they strongly believe, with good reason, to be untrue.

Now, if you mean that they have to realize that it's unrealistic to expect people coming from Windows or Mac backgrounds to be comfortable with the CLI, then you're correct. But everyone knows that.

For goodness sake, if you're going to promote Linux as a more powerful, efficient, user- friendly companion to the PC, then please don't raise  the command line  to such an exhalted level that we point 'n click peons have no alternatives!

It's SOP to repond to this complaint by pointing out that the peons are better off learning the CLI than trying to avoid it. The CLI is the primary interace. End of story. Maybe that will change in the future but the fact is that for now Linux users have to be prepared to deal with it.

Why do you think DOS and other similar interfaces withered away and evolved into pretty little pictures and handy clicky thingees in the first place?

Interesting question. The answer is likely very complicated.

It is important to remember that graphical interfaces have been available in the Unix world longer than in the PC world (ca. 1981 for Blit) and have generally been superior to those in the PC world but utterly failed to displace the CLI. That might lead one to wonder whether the near-total triumph of Windows over DOS was at least in part a result of the inadequacy of DOS as a command-line environment.

It's also interesting the trend is now toward more emphasis on CLIs. OS X is the obvious example and in many ways the most powerful given Apple's historical reluctance to supply end-user with CLIs. The work Microsoft is putting into the Longhorn command-line environment is also notewothy.

C'mon, let us dim-witted click-happy noodle brains join in the fun  and let's make Linux not only powerful, but easier too!

That does sort of beg the question. If you aren't satisfied with the Linux community, why use the system? It would be far easier to switch to OS X, SkyOS, RISCOS, Amiga, or one of the BeOS derivatives than to convince the Linux community to abandon thirty-odd years of Unix culture.

Alternatively, you could wait for community surrounding GNOME to complete their transition to end-user focused development.

Edited by jcl

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well to my notion if MS could have refined WIN 3.1 that would have satisfied me....I despise bloated opsys thewrefore I will probably never upgrade to WIN XP. I was interested in linux but with so many versions it was just too confusing...I have better things to do than learn another opsys. in my opinion the last good opsys was WINNT 4.0

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i am a long long long time Mac user, been a Unix and Linux user for a couple of years, and i have always played around with windows to help friends when things went bust for them. my opintion has always been that all three of these were very different in a lot of ways. one of the biggest ones is that they are made for different types of people and uses. Trying to find a mix of User Friendlyness, Control over your system, Relieability, Speed, Power, Security, ect. ect. ect. you get the idea. finding a good mix is not easy. to get more of one you have to sacrafice some of another.

don't listen to others that just want to sway you to thier side. find what your needs are and what your willing to sacrifice. i personally use a mac with a cutdown version of OS X. i needed ease of use and geared towards video production and image manipulation. it is superior in all the things that i need. but to be fair i sacrafice a lot for that. Macs are not widely used and have plenty of thier own problems, ect. ect. ect.

none of our options today are perfect. so instead of listening to everyone else who says that you should just go this way because we're better, choose for yourself. just don't listen to anyone who thinks that thier os is perfect.

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Trying to find a mix of User Friendlyness, Control over your system, Relieability, Speed, Power, Security, ect. ect. ect. you get the idea. finding a good mix is not easy. to get more of one you have to sacrafice some of another.

I agree. I look at it as a handoff: u either get an OS that is user-friendly and not so in-depth, or an OS that is incredibly powerful but not so user-friendly.

Linux's indepthness is what made it what it is. This is why companies, schools, and even home-users use it, because it is much easier to use when dealing with such complicated things. Imagine programming code, with assembly code and High Level Languages (HLL). sure, assembly is simple, but nothing of great magnitude can be achieved using such a simple tool. Therefore, HLLs are used, with it's intricacy, to achieve those more complicated feats.

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Nice to hear some level headed responses. I will continue with Linux. My only point to the community was to not fall into the same "We know what you need, so just hush and do it this way" mentality that MS has used for the last 20 yrs.

By the way.. to martymas;

Best to go with DSL thru a NIC card, but I don't have it here so am using dialup. You're right, it did take several weeks and I almost gave up, but someone in a forum walked me thru it.

try a Best Tech external serial modem (has to be controller/hdwr) modem or

google for an AMI-IA56 internal PCI hdwr modem with Intel 536ep chipset. There are other modems that are more highly recommended than these, but I chose to use the AMI-IA56 because I figured it would be one of the harder things to do on Linux, so.......go figure....

First, make sure your ISP will work with Linux. I wasted 2 weeks until I found out that AOL and subsidiaries have released a dialer for Linspire (old Lindows), but not for any other flavor of Linux as of yet. I had to change my ISP.

The Best Tech will configure in Kppp dialer without any drivers. The AMI-IA56 is on sale at newegg. The drivers CD sent with the modem were outdated for mandrake 10.0 (2.6.x kernel) but I downloaded the latest from the Intel site and voila!! I am posting this thru this exact modem and the new ISP. If you use the Intel 536ep modem, make sure the drivers are for your EXACT Linux kernel (2.4.x or 2.2.x, etc.)

Good Luck!

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My only point to the community was to not fall into the same "We know what you need, so just hush and do it this way" mentality that MS has used for the last 20 yrs.

The mentality is closer to "We know what we need, if you don't like it, change it" or more succinctly, "Shut up and show us the code". Most Linux developers work on projects they'll use, and not surprisingly most Linux developers have no use for the sort of convenience features that attract casual users.

So it's up the casual users to make the system easier for themselves by contributing. The GNOME and KDE Usability Projects could probably use the help.

Edited by jcl

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