I just looked at the new Start-up guide for 11.4, and I would like to
voice my concerns about these changes.
On a personal note: I switched to Linux some two years ago from Windows
to openSUSE 11.1. I read all of the then Start-Up guide, and I learned a
lot with it, especially due to its rich sections on installation, setup
and its primer on the bash shell.
Without these, there is no way that the installation process and the
administration of the system would have been clear enough for me to have
the system to work. And I believe that a primer in bash shell is of an
absolute necessity for anyone who is going to act as the system
administrator. There is no "graphical" sudo nor su for many tasks that
you might encounter.
Of course, if you are writing a guide to the attention of the guy who is
just a "limited user" on the system, then there is no need to go into
that gore about administrative stuff. But for the newcomer to Linux who
does not have an available guru to do everything for him, that new guide
is rather useless.
Now the core of the new guide is: KDE, Gnome and LibreOffice primers.
Ok. Let me ask you a question. When Windows 95 came out, did you need a
book to use this interface? I did not, and I am not in computer science.
I think it is good to provide such documentation, but this is really
reference stuff! The reason why I liked the previous Start-Up guide is
that it would be a concise introduction to Linux and openSUSE, without
very obvious stuff like "how to use a desktop interface". This is not
anymore the case.
Besides, why put KDE and Gnome quickstart within the same guide? Why
would someone learn both?? Also, I really don't see how an introduction
to openSUSE is related to LibreOffice. This is already available on
Windows, then not so much relevant to the "transition guy", and, more
importantly, it is definitely not operating system stuff. What one
expects to find in the manual of an operating system is certainly not a
primer on office software... Could be good for an 'Applications' manual.
But there was one such guide! So what was wrong with this?
I am well aware that setup and shell basics are there in the reference
guide. But, if you think like a newcomer, you have NO IDEA at all of
what it is that you should go learn first, because these subjects all
sound like equally intriguing black magic. I can expect this: "All the
Reference Guide? It's 650 pages, you're crazy?! Too complex for me. I
give up! Gonna stay on Windows. Not a geek." So we are sorely missing a
first-stop shopping guide to openSUSE for the penguin student.
By the way, I notice that you kept the troubleshooting part in it. But
this is heavy shell usage. How can you ask someone to do terminal stuff
without ever introducing that? This is inconsistent.
For the power user who is new to Linux and is interested to learn the
basics of this OS, I believe that it is important to keep available a
guide like that which used to be "Start-up" guide. Without a decent
Getting started guide, if I were new to Linux right now, I would likely
look for another distribution.
Note on design:
Concerning the pdf documents, I notice that the last few versions of the
manuals are all in sans-serif font. I urge you to consider getting the
text body in a serif font (see 11.1 manuals). Sans-serif font is
inappropriate for the body text, for it is less comfortable on the eye.
On the other hand, serif font is appropriate for titles. The vast
majority of print documents are in a serif font, and the pdf document
should fit the purpose of printing, unlike the html version.
Philippe Baril Lecavalier
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