Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

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Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby chowanec on Sun Dec 23, 2007 12:25 pm

Hey all,

Not sure if everyone new to linux falls into this trap, but I swear I have to catch myself from checking everything in Synaptic because it sounds cool to install... which brings me to two important points:

1. Just because it sounds cool, doesn't mean you need it. Trust me. I've installed and reinstalled Mint time after time over the past 6 days because I made the distro unstable, couldn't uninstall things I'd installed, etc.
2. Is there a better install/uninstall manager? The closest analogy I can find is that it would be like XP showing you all the DLLs in Add/Remove programs. There is just SO much listed in the package manager that it can be pretty confusing for a noob like me.

Thanks. :) I love Mint. No going back to Windows for me.

-Chow
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby cmost on Sun Dec 23, 2007 1:46 pm

I don't mean to sound critical but if you think XP's Add/Remove programs applet is better than Synaptic, then you're nuts! Sorry! Synaptic is a powerful package manager. To use a cliche: with such power comes great responsibility. Like you, I love to tinker with new software but my philosophy has always been to use a spare machine or a virtual machine (via VMware, QEMU, or VirtualBox) to do all my experimenting / testing. That way, if something goes wrong, it's easy to either revert back to the previous state (if using a VM) or simply wipe and reinstall (if on a spare machine.) I only install the necessary software that I need on my primary workstation so as to optimize stability. I would advise you adopt a similar strategy in the future so as to avoid hosing your primary system on a daily basis. Good luck.
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby chowanec on Sun Dec 23, 2007 3:31 pm

cmost wrote:I don't mean to sound critical but if you think XP's Add/Remove programs applet is better than Synaptic, then you're nuts! Sorry! Synaptic is a powerful package manager. To use a cliche: with such power comes great responsibility. Like you, I love to tinker with new software but my philosophy has always been to use a spare machine or a virtual machine (via VMware, QEMU, or VirtualBox) to do all my experimenting / testing. That way, if something goes wrong, it's easy to either revert back to the previous state (if using a VM) or simply wipe and reinstall (if on a spare machine.) I only install the necessary software that I need on my primary workstation so as to optimize stability. I would advise you adopt a similar strategy in the future so as to avoid hosing your primary system on a daily basis. Good luck.


So, not to be critical of you being critical, but what you describe as the "method" to prevent the issue is what sounds nuts to me -- to have a separate install or machine to handle tinkering. I'm a great example of the cross-over user that wants to learn linux more and more. But to be honest, diving into it is overwhelming. Just relearning the CLI (from my Dos days) was challenging in its own right. For Linux to REALLY take off, I think the community needs to be concerned with the barrier to entry. Mint is MUCH friendlier than other distros, yet at the same time, has 20% too much default complexity for people like me.

I was never suggesting that XP's Add/Remove was more powerful, but it IS more user friendly. Power isn't what I'm looking for -- but when you open synaptic, you're overwhelmed with options -- that's all I was trying to point out.

Thanks.

-Chow
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby cmost on Sun Dec 23, 2007 3:47 pm

Having a separate machine on which to experiment and tinker sounds nuts to you? Okay... I'm glad you're not a pharmacist. It sounds to me like your method of learning about Linux is to browse through synaptic and install anything that looks of interest. That's fine...if you want to screw up your machine (which is what you've done repeatedly.) Installing software blindly, without knowing what it does or how stable it might be is a recipe for disaster. As you've found. Just because there are thousands upon thousands of packages available in the repositories doesn't mean to imply that they can all be installed simultaneously and still yield a stable system. The only reason you've never done something this with Windows is because it would be too costly. Synaptic is akin to the software aisle at Best Buy. The only difference is that it would cost you several thousand dollars to try out all the software available at Best Buy. And, trying to install all that software in Windows would screw it up too. A better way is to ask yourself what do you want your computer to do, (not what can my computer do) and then go about installing a suite of software applications that will provide those functions. For example, word processing can be handled by OpenOffice Writer, Abiword or one of several other word processors. Some have features the others don't. Some are more powerful or more flexible. Some tout ease of use. You get the picture. Rather than install them all, do some research first. Google is great. Or, install them on a test machine or virtual machine to try them out. That's not a crazy notion; many developers keep multiple machines around for testing. The goal is to not destroy your main workstation while you figure out what works and what doesn't. Here are some resources to get you started.

1. Comprehensive list of Linux equivalents (find the equivalent Linux applications for the ones you use in Windows.)
http://www.linuxrsp.ru/win-lin-soft/table-eng.html

2. Setup a copy of Windows within Linux with VMware Server
For Daryna Users:
http://www.ubuntugeek.com/how-to-instal ... ibbon.html
For Celena Users:
http://www.howtoforge.com/ubuntu_feisty ... rver_howto
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby Acid7711 on Sun Dec 23, 2007 6:55 pm

Dive into the power of the command line. Break free from the "Everything must be in GUI form" philosophy that every Windows/Mac user has been so accustomed too. There's so much that the GUI simply can't incorporate, between the two (using each for it's respectful purpose) is really the best way to go. Solely depending on a GUI alone can (and quite possibly will at some point throughout the years) leave you stuck out there screaming for help not knowing what to do when you're dumped at a command prompt.

Don't be afraid to break free, learn, and get your hands dirty. You don't have to bury yourself in it, but don't be afraid to use it either. Commands are far more powerful than a GUI can ever hope be. There comes a point where things become far too cluttered and unorganized if this attempt is made. Getting stuck suckling to the GUI's chest and never breaking free is going to never lend you the abilities or confidence to get past a GUI based distribution. Don't get me wrong, I love this distro and enjoy using it for the sole fact that everything is done for you, but sometimes I get bored and swap back to something just to give myself a little more of a challenge and stay sharp on everything. It's nothing different than a crutch, etc. Get too dependent on it, and you'll never walk solo. Take it one step at a time. Just my thoughts on it.
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby cmost on Sun Dec 23, 2007 7:03 pm

Acid7711 wrote:Solely depending on a GUI alone can (and quite possibly will at some point throughout the years) leave you stuck out there screaming for help not knowing what to do when you're dumped at a command prompt.


Acid7711 wrote:Commands are far more powerful than a GUI can ever hope be. There comes a point where things become far too cluttered and unorganized if this attempt is made. Getting stuck suckling to the GUI's chest and never breaking free is going to never lend you the abilities or confidence to get past a GUI based distribution.


Well said! Personally, I've been scared to use the "C" word (Command Line) in these forums! ;-) Would hate to scare off the kiddies.
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby MagnusB on Sun Dec 23, 2007 7:52 pm

Actually, the one thing that weakens Windows is the double (triple, quadruple .... ) installation of DLL's, Synaptic prevents that, and keeps unnecessary double installation of libraries on your computer. If you find it confusing, just ignore the *lib, lib*, -dev etc packages, and focus on the software. Now the reason for the libraries being there, is that if you compile software yourself, you can just install the library instead of compiling that instead.
I don't find XP add/remove software very user friendly, it is known to not list software (like all M$ updates, "necessary components" for Windows like IE etc), and gives you damn little control over the software you have installed. If user friendly is giving less options and force users to use software, well, then I prefer it complicated...
Also, Ubuntu have the Add/remove software thingy per default, but it is just a GUI of apt-get that doesn't show you what is going on, it just does it..
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby deadguy on Mon Dec 24, 2007 1:00 am

Acid7711 wrote:Don't be afraid to break free, learn, and get your hands dirty. You don't have to bury yourself in it, but don't be afraid to use it either. Commands are far more powerful than a GUI can ever hope be.


ah.... these are words of wisdom.

chowanec,
your bound to break something if you just install everything that looks nice and don't know anything about what your installing.
some research is the key!!!
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby umarzuki on Tue Dec 25, 2007 12:26 am

guess that made me and chowanec the same kind of guy, hehe..but i learned my lesson.
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby Totally Infected on Tue Dec 25, 2007 5:39 am

Whoa, maybe those responses could be toned down a little next time... I'm sensing a little condescension.

Anyway, completely understood... I remember looking to install a media player on a new distro meant going to synaptic and installing them all because they're all recommended by someone, so you end up with a dozen thinking you'll figure it out through experimentation... okay, I still do that. And that same thing happens with everything. Next thing you know, you're computer's feeling bloated and wants to spew.

And sure, XP's add/remove panel is simple and user friendly in the sense that your choices are limited and things are pretty obvious... regardless of what is or isn't going on behind the scenes after clicking away. ignorance is bliss.

And sure, Linux could take a look at the command line's place in OS X... a power tool for power users, but something rarely (if ever) needed by the those among us who don't want to spend a second extra in front of a computer. In all fairness, I'd say there's been immense improvements in this regard over the last 2 years or so, and I expect it will continue to move in that direction.

So, thanks for the warning, it's fairly true for new users and good to have out there. As for what you can do, stay out of synaptic as much as possible... haha
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby deadguy on Tue Dec 25, 2007 2:38 pm

you could try gnome-app-install.

it's a lot more like windoze add/remove programmes!(ugh)

just open synaptic and search gnome-app-install.
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Re: Resist the Temptation (if you're new like me!)

Postby chowanec on Wed Dec 26, 2007 6:00 pm

Wow... I didn't expect this kind of response, to say the least... Happy Holidays, everyone. :P

Ok -- I think maybe my points/issues/etc are cluttered by my own point of view on things clashing with what the Linux community deals with on a daily basis -- interacting with new folks to the platform/OS and having to filter responses as the distros get more and more popular.

I realize that my original response up top was a bit hyperbolic -- I'm not literally running through each window in Synaptic and installing EVERYTHING. I'd agree that's going a bit far.

I certainly didn't mean to start any sort of CLI vs. GUI or Windows vs. Linux argument. Don't get me wrong, I love Linux so far, and plan to stick with it. It's on 2 of 4 computers in the house right now... I plan on learning... I was just being honest in my assessment of how tempting Synaptic can be, and how dangerous any sort of wreckless abandon can be.

That said, it's HARD to know what is dependant on what within Synaptic. I prefer to run machines as clean as possible, but when I need, say, Brasero and it goes and installs a bunch of other libraries with it, if I uninstall one of those libraries, will I break Brasero? (And yes, I know you can burn from the CLI, if you really want to, but I'd prefer not to...)

Let me try to filter through all of this:
Okay... I'm glad you're not a pharmacist.

Me too. I think I would find that line of work a bit too stressful.

Synaptic is akin to the software aisle at Best Buy. The only difference is that it would cost you several thousand dollars to try out all the software available at Best Buy. And, trying to install all that software in Windows would screw it up too. A better way is to ask yourself what do you want your computer to do, (not what can my computer do) and then go about installing a suite of software applications that will provide those functions.

I appreciate the analogy of Synaptic vs. Best Buy -- now THAT makes sense to me and was a constructive way of illustrating the point. I hadn't stopped to think about it that way. And yes, I agree, that sort of wanton installing would clutter/pollute a Windows PC as well.

Rather than install them all, do some research first.

This is harder, I feel, than you might think. It's hard to find a centralized voice to trust when it comes to open source software. I tend to read many PC magazines, for instance, to get solid, in-depth reviews of software. I browsed the equivalents list you mentioned before this original post, in fact, but find the options there just as much of a crapshoot... sure, it gives me the things to search for within synaptic, but it's hard to look at these huge lists and know that what I am installing is either best of breed, or stable.

However, when I purchase software, there's an implied accountability to it working properly, or providing me justification to get proper support if necessary. I don't mean to suggest that the community at large isn't willing to help, to the contrary, they're almost ALWAYS willing to help. Browse these forums for other posts by me and check out my total lack of knowledge and the patience folks show to new users. I commend that about the community.

There are almost TOO many options within Linux to prevent anyone from being awash with indecision when they are new to the OS. Hell, finding the right distribution took me weeks. I think I installed most of the popular ones to settle on Mint.

Dive into the power of the command line. Break free from the "Everything must be in GUI form" philosophy that every Windows/Mac user has been so accustomed too.

I certainly love the options of the command line. I grew up with DOS and remember being a bit "I'm more punk than you" to new Windows users (this was prior to the PC explosion/internet boom) who couldn't optimize their memory manually, or had no idea how to change directories at the DOS prompt. Then again, what's the point of keeping that view? I was protecting some arcane knowledge I had... and that knowledge has no real value any longer.

Hell, I use ROBOCOPY in Vista's shell when I have to do mass copies within Vista... but that's because the GUI is actively SLOWER than the command line, at least on my PC, not because I love the CLI.

I think if Linux is really going to take off, and this was my original point, the community needs to be concerned with a user's first contact with the operating system. Sure, it could keep kept complex, arcane and foreign to folks, but what's the point? If you poll most normal computer users, they're going to tell you that they VASTLY prefer an interface rather than a bunch of commands at a CLI. If the linux community WANTS linux to stay niche based, then don't change a thing... that said, when users are migrating to Ubuntu, which is built on the philosophy that linux doesn't need to be complicated, then a message is being sent. I spent the holidays trying to convince my 60 year old father to ditch windows and move to linux, as it's vastly cheaper, and in my opinion (outside of gaming - which admittedly, I have no experience with yet), vastly superior as an OS thus far.

It's that 20% phenomenon I was trying to point out earlier... 20% of this OS is just too hard to comprehend/understand/etc, at first contact. I fully embrace the command line, but I don't prefer to use it if I don't have to -- simply because there is an operating grammar with PCs that, at this point (like it or not) is GUI based.

Would hate to scare off the kiddies.

*runs off into hiding*

guess that made me and chowanec the same kind of guy, hehe..but i learned my lesson.

Yay! I'm not alone!
Whoa, maybe those responses could be toned down a little next time... I'm sensing a little condescension.

Heh. I think I might have started the condescension though -- apologies to all. But that's for pointing it out. :) (No sarcasm there).
And sure, Linux could take a look at the command line's place in OS X... a power tool for power users, but something rarely (if ever) needed by the those among us who don't want to spend a second extra in front of a computer. In all fairness, I'd say there's been immense improvements in this regard over the last 2 years or so, and I expect it will continue to move in that direction.

So, thanks for the warning, it's fairly true for new users and good to have out there. As for what you can do, stay out of synaptic as much as possible...

Agreed, agreed, agreed. I would NEVER suggest gimping powerusers... XP did this by gutting the DOS shell, for no good reason, from what I can tell. Leave the CLI there, let anyone who wants to use it, use it.
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