Linux distro wars/communities

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curtvaughan
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Linux distro wars/communities

Post by curtvaughan » Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:34 pm

I was an OP for the topic of Debian forums basic dis'ing of Ubuntu/Mint users a month or so ago. For some, the OS is a religion; for some, the OS is a means to an end; for some, the OS is a complete mystery to be ignored if at all possible. Anyway, I have found Mint and Slackware forums to be the most middling of the various ends. That is a good thing. I lurked on an Ubuntu forum for "regular" users and noted a real difference in the questions posed to the Ubuntu community, as opposed to newbies to Slackware or Mint. Newbies to Ubuntu really want their hands held at every point of change from their presumably Windows backgrounds. I worked for many years as 1st/2nd/3rd teir consulting, as well as a server admin/grunt, and was amazed at how many people expected hand-holding for every little issue. I was new to computing in the early 70s, and often needed some help from my superiors in the field, but I NEVER asked for help until I had exhausted every do-it-yourself means of finding my answers. Things are different now. If you are bored, either as a newbie, a "guru", or just a middling computer user like me, it would be interesting to know your thoughts on this. Cheerio!
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Post by Matt267 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:44 pm

Welcome

altair4
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Re: Linux distro wars/communities

Post by altair4 » Mon Mar 02, 2015 8:28 am

You and I are antiques I'm afraid. Linux - at least Linux on the desktop - has always been for the lunatic fringe. The further back you go with Linux the more accustomed you are to having to fix / correct / tweak things to make everything work.

What's happened in the last decade or so is the emergence of internet / communications devices and of course Apple. The user starts the device and it works. How it works the end user doesn't know nor do they care. If it doesn't do something they want it to do there's an app for that.

Somebody here got a usb stick formatted in ntfs and complained that OSX didn't allow a write to the device. I told them that OSX allows a write to ntfs natively it just doesn't do it by default. I provided instructions on how to make that happen and it entailed opening up a terminal and using nano to edit a file. I was expecting questions about nano but instead the question I got was how to launch a terminal.

Considering how all of the hundreds of parts of desktop linux come together from completely different development groups I don't know if it will ever reach that state. Forum assistance often entails more basic instructions because the modern user isn't used to doing these sorts of things and in Linux there may not be an app for that.
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cinnamoncoffee
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Re: Linux distro wars/communities

Post by cinnamoncoffee » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:17 am

I think that nowadays Linux is used by different kind of people. Back than, only geeks and people who really understood computers used it. Today, many "ordinary" people are looking for OS alternatives, because you can read about malware, phishing and spying in the mainstream media, so more people are interested in this and search for solutions such as Linux.
They are people who have absolutely no technical education and are not used to solving technical questions. They may be clerks, teachers, mothers of small children...
So I think that users dont get lazy. On the contrary, more people are interested in Linux and they are beggining to think about security. They just come from absolutely different walks of life and they need help, because Linux is something absolutely new to them.
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DrHu
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Re: Linux distro wars/communities

Post by DrHu » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:43 am

I tend to think it is the influence of marketers of every stripe
--who constantly offer "this is the easy fix, get it now " routine
  • They have turned everyone into a dummy
    --and because we are so affected, even the "For Dummies" books are too much trouble, so we avoid all technical processes that require work or some dialog to effect a fix or a process to isolate my particular problem with some machine or process
Heck, I even find ABM/ATM machines can be confusing: one I use splits the interface between a touchscreen + keypad to a few buttons to setup an initial session
  • Language ==>English
  • Account==>
    Checking
    Savings
    --then a switch to the keypad to enter PIN number/password
And just as confusing if trying to reset a PIN# (given a temp PIN) and then the same process to enter PIN, Change PIN: the dialogue switching between buttons and touch-pad (for PIN)

Probably that is an attempt to simplify interface design for non-native speakers; hence the first choice LANGUAGE button select


Everyone has by now gotten used to the "user friendly" interface which is often enough like kindergarten
--push enough buttons and either help or a message or a voice shows up or there is a 1 + 2 +3 process to get a result
  • Whether or not the result provided answers your question or not is entirely another matter
    --for that to happen, some dialog with a human is likely necessary, and it is frustrating on both ends (the tech and the user), neither one really understands the other and both get annoyed
I also think companies do not give users any or very little training for new versions of applications
--such as a switch between the newest windows office suite and what you had been using for the last few years
  • This loads up the help desk with unnecessary discussions/help for simple tasks, which some user training would could have resolved
    --and of course takes away from more complicated and real problems
I don't personally expect every or even any user to search every possible do-it-yourself idea before seeking help, but I expect some rational selections: not the "I can't edit this form" -->because they haven't selected the enable editing in MS office, as an example (training issue or user density (sometimes..)
Last edited by DrHu on Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Linux distro wars/communities

Post by Habitual » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:48 am

curtvaughan wrote: I NEVER asked for help until I had exhausted every do-it-yourself means of finding my answers.
You are a breath of fresh air.
"Users" haven't changed in decades and I don't expect any change in that opinion coming anytime soon.
It took 10 years + to NOT have to say "the backspace key - 'The one above the enter key'" anymore.

People expect their computers and "smart" devices to do the thinking for them.

I've been it IT for 21 years and I will never run out of work.

curtvaughan
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Re: Linux distro wars/communities

Post by curtvaughan » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:49 pm

Some great replies and insights above! Thank you, much :D . Along these lines, I have a 50-ish friend who is out of work and recently applied through a head hunter for work as a phone tech-consultant. He received the typical "you are overqualified for this position", and was also told that the interviewer was perplexed at his continued mispronunciation of one of the OS's with which he was familiar. Well, he was familiar with Unix, Linux, OSX, and Windows. He swore he could pronounce all of those in his conversation correctly. I finally hit a "eureka" moment - in his multiple mentions of various "Unix" flavors the interviewer thought he was mispronouncing "Linux". No kidding - the interviewer for an entry level tech job had never even heard of Unix, had heard of Linux, but obviously had no clue that it was somehow related to the Mother Ship UNIX. OMG!! :mrgreen: He was apparently in his mid- to late-twenties, had taken some sort of quickie interviewer training course where he had to learn a bunch of tech buzzwords. Oops, they left out UNIX. The modern world is strange.
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curtvaughan
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Re: Linux distro wars/communities

Post by curtvaughan » Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:20 pm

cinnamoncoffee wrote:I think that nowadays Linux is used by different kind of people. Back than, only geeks and people who really understood computers used it. Today, many "ordinary" people are looking for OS alternatives, because you can read about malware, phishing and spying in the mainstream media, so more people are interested in this and search for solutions such as Linux.
They are people who have absolutely no technical education and are not used to solving technical questions. They may be clerks, teachers, mothers of small children...
So I think that users dont get lazy. On the contrary, more people are interested in Linux and they are beggining to think about security. They just come from absolutely different walks of life and they need help, because Linux is something absolutely new to them.
I am very much aware of the trend you mention. The real problem, and one that others have mentioned above, is that proprietary software vendors have conditioned these "ordinary" people to seek help for every little issue that comes up in using a computer. The computer has become a wonderful tool over the last 40 years for these ordinary people. The "geeks" to whom you refer from back in the day (when people as old as or older than I (62) we're getting started), were introduced to computers toward the end of the "Big Iron" era of mainframes. Mini-computers, workstations, and finally desktops came to fruition when we were in our twenties and thirties. Even computer science was a new field in the 60s and 70s - computers were used mainly by engineers and scientists to solve complex problems, and you generally became knowledgeable about computers as a corollary to "getting your real work/research" done. A very technological wonder, in the last 40 years, has been brought to the desktop, the laptop, and the little computer/commnications device you hold in your hand. Because of the neglect of commercial OS vendors to educate the end user of this technology, flaws in those systems have caused these clerks/soccermoms/grandparents (hey, I am one!) to flock to GNU/Linux as a relatively secure alternative. There is a gap, though, between the typical Unix/Linux user over the last 40 years - who has sort of learned to be an amateur "mechanic" or "hobbyist" on their computers and software, and these new users. It is causing a bit of a rift in the Linux community. Some people want a car to work and run without even learning to change a flat - others like to tinker on their automobiles. Sorry, this has become too wordy, even for me. Either folks coming into Linux need to learn a little bit about the OS they are using, or the Linux community will need to come up with a "tier one" support level to help these folks.

Carry on ...
Last edited by curtvaughan on Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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curtvaughan
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Re: Linux distro wars/communities

Post by curtvaughan » Mon Mar 02, 2015 8:35 pm

Habitual wrote:
curtvaughan wrote: I NEVER asked for help until I had exhausted every do-it-yourself means of finding my answers.
You are a breath of fresh air.
"Users" haven't changed in decades and I don't expect any change in that opinion coming anytime soon.
It took 10 years + to NOT have to say "the backspace key - 'The one above the enter key'" anymore.

People expect their computers and "smart" devices to do the thinking for them.

I've been it IT for 21 years and I will never run out of work.
Artificial Intelligence is sort of becoming mainstream, especially with the smartphone technology. Heck, I used an Android smartphone back in 2011 to help me navigate around Manhatten when I was there for a few days as part of a concert tour with a college choir. Thing worked quite well - had to tell it I was on foot, but got me all through Central Park, the Village, the Battery, directed me to John Lennon's Memorial, and the Museum District, and finally got my skinny a*( back to my hotel off Times Square. I got home a week or so later and found that by having the GPS turned on, every photo I took was stored with an accompanying map with time and date annotation by Google. That was FOUR years ago. So yeah, "end users" these days have amazing technology in their hands, can talk to Siri or whatever, but balk at delving into how their gizmos work - waste of time until they quit working. Then they must trust Google, Apple, Microsoft, et al, to hold their hands into the next Wonderland.
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Re: Linux distro wars/communities

Post by Habitual » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:34 pm

curtvaughan wrote:Then they must trust Google, Apple, Microsoft, et al, to hold their hands into the next Wonderland.
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Re: Linux distro wars/communities

Post by all41 » Mon Mar 02, 2015 10:03 pm

Cheer up--it could be worse.
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Re: Linux distro wars/communities

Post by fraxinus_63 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:44 am

My own belief is that we should do all we can to help new users even if we find some of their questions (and their lack of instinct to search) a bit frustrating at times. Those of us (including myself) who have spent many years immersed in Linux can lose sight very easily of how unfamiliar many of the concepts (e.g. package management, hardware support and the kernel) can be to people who haven't come across them before.

I have been using Linux for 11 years now, starting with SUSE 9.1. Despite very many years prior to this as a Windows user I was baffled and stressed out by my early experiences. As well as learning how to use Google (or whatever ...) to search for solutions, I had to learn the methods and etiquette for using forums for the first time. Being blown out or patronised by certain forums' mods and senior members because I didn't know how to ask "smart questions" was both discouraging and insulting. But I stuck with it.

The fact that Linux is gaining the interest of people who have no background at all in technical problem solving is actually a very good thing. If they immerse themselves, learn the basic self-help skills and have a positive experience, these folks will learn quickly and pass on the good news to others. We should encourage and welcome them however we can, even if we are occasionally irritated. This forum has the right idea by having a beginners'/newbies board where no-one should feel embarrassed about any question!

I think I am actually repeating one of the points that @cinnamoncoffee has just made.

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