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Learn UNIX and Linux

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IraHave had a lot on my mind lately

and been dealing with it emotionally I guess by going into full-on geek mode and learning, learning, learning. Which is good, but makes me a little uncommunicative. Anyway.

Got an ASUS Eee 1000HE netbook, which is lovely, and installed Ubuntu on it to dual-boot with the XP – got to understand why Windows has such a dominant market share. Ubuntu, supposedly the most user-friendly of the Linux distros, still has some way to go to being… user-friendly. I mean I’m no expert, but I know my way around a computer, and was still too often left feeling lost – can’t imagine what the average non-technically-minded user would feel (at least without a knowledgeable relative/friend/tech support to set everything up just right for them.)

Ubuntu does have a good support forum, but when I google to find the answers, they all seem to require the command line – which just isn’t friendly to beginners. Especially with the linux/unix program and command names being often, it seems to me, particularly unhelpful – was it that bad in DOS? I don’t remember – they had to work with the 8.3 limit too. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by mostly using graphical user interfaces all these years? But y’know, it is 2009 – IMHO, only the more technical tasks on a computer should require the command line.

Not that I’m against the command line – I’m going to learn it, I’m learning it, and I enjoy the sense of control and mastery when I know what’s going on behind the scenes. But having to read the documentation and remember how to use the arguments for even the simplest program just cannot be more convenient than using the most basic GUI for most people. Most people would never have the patience, time, interest or inclination to learn the command line. The Read The Fucking Manual attitude just isn’t compatible with the stated goal of increased adoption.

All that said, I am excited about the potential of open-source software, and being in control of the details and having the ability to directly change what I like and don’t like, and to add to, alter or create whatever I want. And I’m excited about the possibility of contributing towards free software community projects. I love that about Linux, and about the free software and open-source movements. I just wish they have more consideration for the less technically-minded user, who would have little interest in getting over the steep learning curve. And I wish they had better documentation. I hope one day I can, instead of complaining about these things, work on improving them. I have many ideas. :) 4 years ago


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