Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (2912 mails)

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Re: [SLE] Sometimes Linux makes me crazy.
  • From: Randall R Schulz <rschulz@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2005 18:27:31 -0800
  • Message-id: <200502261827.31307.rschulz@xxxxxxxxx>
Dylan, Stephen,

On Saturday 26 February 2005 17:55, Dylan wrote:
> On Sunday 27 Feb 2005 01:12 am, Stephen Furlong wrote:
> <SNIP>
> > Also in my opinion Linux is designed for tinkerer's/computer geek's
> > as it is nowhere near ready for mainstream distribution, nor will
> > it be for a long time in my opinion.
> I can't agree with that at all.

I concur with you (in your contradiction to Stephen's claim). I install
Linux and pretty much live with the configuration it provides. I
install the provided security patches. What customization I do, and I
do a lot, is all on top of the stock system, not a modification to it.

> I converted a friend about 2 years
> ago, and we went from 3 or four long phonecalls a week to diagnose
> and solve problems to occasional online chats to point him to the
> relevant tools or files.

Interesting. My business partner still runs Windows (a desktop running
Windows 2000 and a laptop running XP) and I spend considerable time
helping him diagnose and correct problems. Even though I happily left
Windows behind about a year ago, I still find myself talking him
through diagnostic and corrective action sequences. What a waste!

> He's now converting his mother because he's
> fed up with all the "my computer isn't working" phonecalls. With
> general consumer hardware, and a user who wants general domestic
> functionality, there is no problem - so long as they get the initial
> help and support. Surely that is exactly what these forums are for.
> > People just aren't keyed up enough
> > in whole on computers to be able to understand linux.

This is really not to the point. If it's true, and it probably is, it's
equally true of Windows (and, possibly, MacOS, though probably less
so). People sometimes compare contemporary computer technology to the
automotive technology of much of the first half of the 20th century.
Then, you could not just buy a car and use it to get around as you do
now. You had to be prepared to deal with unpredictable and ongoing
problems. I'd like to expect that we (I speak as a computer scientist
and a software engineer) will be able to put information technology on
a much more reliable basis, but so far, it's just not that way. The
truth is that we don't have the theoretical underpinnings to make it
possible. I do believe (in the "I have faith" sense) that we will do
so, but so far, there's no clear indication of how that will come to
pass. But as a software professional, I accept the challenge implicit
in this faith.

> I'd say that a generation (or two) aren't "keyed up" because for them
> computers are 'new technology' - my grandmother can't program her VCR
> even though she's had one for almost 20 years. We are in a social
> transition wrt computers - none of us grew up with them in the way
> children do now so how can we know what the situation will be in 20
> years?

My parents, now in their 70s, don't "do" computers. Nor do they own a
cell phone. Their car has OnStar, but that's a perfect example of a
one-button technology. When you need it, you press the button.
Otherwise, it's as if it wasn't there.

> > Its one thing
> > to have windows pop up a message saying "the system has recovered
> > from a serious eror - sending report", and a completely different
> > level of "brown stuff" for linux to say "kernel panic".

Those are barely distinguishable. To take the automotive analog, there's
a big difference between taking your car in for it's next scheduled
maintenance and having the mechanic tell you that's you've been
experiencing a 10% decrease in fuel economy--now rectified--and some
cryptic message flashing in front you you saying "Something went wrong!
Your computer may or may not be on the verge of total malfunction. We
can't say for sure, but your data may be compromised and even if it's
not, it well may be any second now. Have a nice day! Please call the
800 number in the manual you've never unsealed and hope that the person
who answers has suitable English skills to comfort you as you face the
prospect of starting over as if you just bought this computer."

This crap just won't fly. If people weren't so intimidated by computers,
they'd be picketing outside Microsoft, Dell. I'd hope they'd be
throwing rocks...

> Yeh, but Windows does that as a matter of course. Linux issues a
> kernel panic once in a blue moon.

This is just a quantitative difference. Yeah, Linux is better--a direct
consequence of its being an open-source project. It benefits immensely
from the scrutiny of a sizeable cohort of competent programmers, all of
whom have only its improvement as their motivation. But as we can
readily see from the mix of unhappy messages posted here, it ain't
perfect! It's not even adequate.

> > To an
> > average-joe-bloggs user the linux message means jack diddly squat.
> Ah, but it does provide info to allow the cause to be identified and
> rectified in most cases, Windows actually tells you diddly squat so
> you have no hope of working out what is wrong or how to fix it
> (unless you have complex knowledge and can trace through symptoms
> over long periods of time!)

Realistically, people simply must not be prevailed upon to understand
the malfunctions of their information technology appliances. Such
devices must either work or fail cleanly. All the gibberish spewed
during failures is stupid and pointless to an end user. It should never
be seen.

> Dylan
> > Maybe in another twenty years time, when the youth of today has
> > grown up and are the mainstream users will they turn to linux,
> > having an understanding of computers that most adults today are
> > scared of.

This is completely wrong thinking. Success must reside in the intrinsic
quality of the artifact, not peoples adeptness at accommodating its
shortcomings and idiosyncracies.

> > Lets just hope its ready for them to use :)

Hope schmope! People like me who believe in improving software science
and technology are the only hope! (Yeah, I know. We're doomed.)

Randall Schulz

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