[lug] The changing Linux Community was Re: cp and rm

D. Stimits stimits at idcomm.com
Fri Aug 3 11:55:24 MDT 2001

"J. Wayde Allen" wrote:
> On Thu, 2 Aug 2001, D. Stimits wrote:
> > they are still contributing by commenting on what they think sucks.
> Yes, the key here is to provide a real comment.  Just saying something
> like "Linux is crap" doesn't help much.

I totally agree. But it comes back to the saying "quality is free". It
may cost something to drag out of this person why they think "Linux is
crap"; maybe the cost is too high at the moment to find out. Maybe their
perception causing this has a fault, and you can't actually change Linux
to change their perception. But somewhere in the process their is an
influence on why this perception is alive. Being able to break that
chain somewhere down the road means you'll have even fewer of those
perceptions, and probably even allies. Wasn't it something from "The Art
of War" that mentions turning an enemy into a friend is like defeating
two enemies?

So...it invites flame wars, but it is useful to get an honest response
from "Linux is crap" style of comments, if you can ask them why and how
they came to that conclusion. Their basic assumptions might be totally
crap, but the process is important...this doesn't mean you can do
anything about it directly, but it does help in engineering either the
software or the means of gaining the perception itself.

> A recent discussion I had goes something like this:
>     Person:  I just tried installing KRUD and it didn't work.
>     Me:  Oh really, thats odd I've usually had good luck.  What happened?
>     Person:  I put the disks in the drive and it just hung.
>     Me:  How far did it get?
>     Person:  Oh it basically never started the installation.  By the way
>              I also tried FIPS and didn't like some of what it
>              said.  Decided it was a poorly written program that wouldn't
>              work for me, so stopped it so it wouldn't screw up my disk.
>     Me:   OK ... I can't say I've heard of people having problems with
>           FIPS, but in any case there are other options - I usually use
>           fdisk for instance.
>     Person:  Yes, well that would mean I'd have to rebuild my entire
>              drive.  This is a brand new laptop with MSWindows
>              pre-installed and I really don't want to mess with that.
>              I decided that I wouldn't re-partition my drive.  I'll
>              just install KRUD in my MSWindows partitions.  After all
>              Linux can do that right?
>     Me:  Yes, I think so, although I've not tried that, and it isn't the
>          most common thing to do, and laptops can sometimes be a bit
>          tricky anyway.  Sometimes there is some odd hardware in there.
>     Person:  OK, well as I said I tried installing the disks you gave me
>              and the install program just quit working.  I decided that
>              maybe I didn't have the latest version of package X, so
>              downloaded that.  Still didn't work, got the same errors.
>              Figured that if I got a newer set of CD's from you that this
>              installation bug might be fixed.
>     Me:  Well ... maybe, but if you downloaded the latest version of
>          install program X that probably isn't the problem.  Sounds to me
>          like you'll probably need to tweak things a bit.  After all,
>          you've chosen to do a non-standard install.
>     Person:  WELL!  I'm just trying to do an install like most anyone
>              just wanting to try Linux would want to do.
>     Me:  Maybe you should just try booting the CD if all you want to do is
>          see what it looks like?
>     Person:  Can't do that, the CD in this box isn't working.  I have to
>              do a floppy based install.
>     Me:  OK ...
>     Person:  I have to tell you, if Linux is planning on replacing
>              MSWindows they've got a lot of work to do.  This stuff just
>              plain doesn't work.
>     Me:  Hmmm ... I've installed a lot of Linux and never really had such
>          difficulty.  You probably should remember that you are doing a
>          a somewhat special installation too.

This points out stress and weak links. First being fear. Second being
use of some other product as an instruction sheet to all other products;
if the second isn't the case, then replace it with a dislike of
packaging being insufficient for the learning curve effort. The person
might be totally unrealistic, and nothing can be done, but it opens up a
need for research in those areas, some of which has nothing to do with
Linux itself.

> You get the idea.  I don't really think that this was a particularly
> helpful exchange.  Sure there are some things in here that one can
> glean.  The continued search for an easier installation method is
> one, and maybe better support for FAT32 files systems is another.  Also
> there is certainly the need to continue learning about, and adapting to,
> changing hardware.  Especially in the laptop world.  On the other hand,
> this discussion was with a professional programmer.  Also the implication
> that MSWindows is "good software" since it can only be installed one way
> is interesting.  In retrospect I found it really amazing that this person
> would never expect MSWindows to install itself in any way but what the
> company intended, and especially not on a non-native file system.  That
> Linux was "bad" because it had the flexibility to do this sort of thing,
> but didn't just read his mind and do it is completely amazing to me.
> OK, I'll get back off the soap box.  I guess I've been doing this long
> enough I'm kind of tired and jaded.

There is the cost of improving areas, and the benefit as well. Everyone
does it. But being able to step back from it, and being aware and taking
a moment to think about it means that when you do see an idea that could
help, you'll know it is important. If you simply stay jaded, and
consider the "less civilized" responses something that you don't want to
bother with anymore, nothing will change. I still believe Linux is a
place where change is possible even for the uneducated, though it will
take a long time to get there. I'm in the jaded boat for Win, I just get
so tired of it fighting me every step of the way while programming
there; the powers that be will never believe any attitude but their own,
so I give up on Win, the weak links there are set in stone.

D. Stimits, stimits at idcomm.com

> - Wayde
>   (wallen at lug.boulder.co.us)
> _______________________________________________
> Web Page:  http://lug.boulder.co.us
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