On 5/16/07, Paul W. Frields <stickster@gmail.com> wrote:
On Wed, 2007-05-16 at 11:48 -0500, Dan Smith wrote:
> I like Jonathan's idea.  Pointing to the unofficial Fedora FAQ would
> be one good start. When setting up a new machine most people are going
> to want MP3 support, plugin support for the browser and many of the
> other topics covered by the unofficial FAQ.  How to automount windoze
> shares, SMB configurations and how to mount NTFS partitions will be
> very important to people using mixed environments and dual boots.

Ha! Guess I wrote my earlier thread reply too soon.  Cf. "contributory
infringement."  We point to FedoraForum.org already, and I'm sure plenty
of people there are willing to help corrupt systems with non-FOSS
wherever needed.

FedoraForum.org has some helpful people there. Some of the FAQs are helpful but the primary focus of a "wizard" would be people new to Linux. People who'll have no idea what they are doing. Those of us that know Linux tend to already know or Google quickly.  One problem with the organization of much of the information is the navigation of the information. A second problem is the lack of updates. Thus the inspiration to update the NFS through firewalls FAQ which is very obsolete as an example of how much ancient information is what people will see.
I have no love of Microsoft. I do not run windoze. I have often considered porting all my mp3s to OGG. The reality is that mp3 is the current standard. Oggs are better and there are no patent issues with them but most windoze and Mac users have never even heard of an Ogg. Pngs tend to be much larger than jpgs or I feel pngs would have overtaken jpg as the standard for images. I look at things from a practical viewpoint. We cannot stand on a mountain and expect people too look way up there and say that must be a cool place to be. We have to go down there and show them how to get up that mountain. We are not going to do that by being elitist about anything. I suspect I am like most here in that when I started with Linux I still used windoze for some stuff for a few years until I converted completely to Linux. True Linux has evolved quite a bit since then but we have to deal with reality. A very common situation I've seen is the Techie in the family running Linux machines and maybe having a windoze dual boot for gaming. The non-techie in the house says "don't touch my computer" and runs windoze because that is what they know. So SMB is quite necessary, though I was in one lab where we ran SMB instead of NFS because it was faster and easier despite being a pure Nix shop.  So I don't see the shouts of not supporting anything that isn't FOSS. That's just unrealistic at this point. Five or ten years from now might be a different story.

The network tool might seem easy but I've been answering questions from people as young as 12 years old who have no idea what any of this means who are trying out Linux. I'm seeing large numbers of people, some even with obvious edges of technophobia giving Linux a try. I hate seeing any give up and return to windoze. On blogs and such you often see people who tried Linux and failed and you can feel the bitterness dripping in their posts. Especially when the topic of Linux for desktops comes up.  My heart drops every time I see one of those. The biggest problem is ourselves really. Linux is more than mature enough to take the desktop world by storm. It is a far superior OS to any other out there in every aspect except for the number of games availible. Linux is easier to run, more secure, less expensive, could require less technical knowledge (unfortunately Linux has not taken advantage of this aspect yet) and can just plain do more on less hardware than any other OS. It is a magnatude more powerful than windoze. Our worst enemy is ourselves. The old school nix elitism. It's been done this way for x many years it should always be done this way kind of thing.  That don't cut it with many people and it drives them away.

That is why this idea about a wizard can be such a powerful tool for helping people adapt to Linux. It collects information in a single easy to use place for desktop Linux users, especially those new to Linux but even for vets it can be an easy list of links needed to configure a desktop on a fresh install rather than doing it peicemeal as you run into various file formats and such.

> Even more important to windoze users first trying out LInux is going
> to be equivalents. Send them to VI and they'll run screaming into the
> night back to windoze. So Kedit/Gedit = notepad  Openoffice = Word
> GIMP= photoshop kinds of tutorials would be a big help. So too would
> how file permissions and such work. How to set up cups is pretty
> essential. Scanners, digital cameras and such as well.  Another
> crucial aspect is pointing folks toward K3b. It will make CD burning
> easy for even the most novice windoze user. Nothing comes close in the
> Linux world to K3b. Though this implies auto installing at least the
> KDE libs, technically you want to just install KDE. Folks that have
> space issues that would preclude KDE's installation are not going to
> use such a wizard anyway. That is one thing I wish Fedora would
> correct, the default install will put only Gnome on. That leaves half
> of the important apps uninstalled.  A default Fedora install is not a
> very friendly install to a new Linux user. Vets can easily remove
> things they don't want, so I feel the install should default more
> toward the kitchen sink rather than the lean install that is currently
> used.

This is a huge scattershot of topics, but I think most of these are
covered in the sketchpad/checklists of topics for our guides.  Perhaps
you would like to actually contribute some content for these guides on
the wiki?  It is open for community contribution; please refer to
http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/DocsProject/Join for information.  If
wishes were horses... :-)

I've actually joined and submitted a rough. Unfortunately I'm a bit of a  heretic. I started in DOS, moved to windoze and didn't discover Linux until the mid 90s. Didn't move full time to Linux until the late 90s. I find many old school nix concepts as awkward or just obsolete. For example putting everything in the home dir is insane if you ask me. It is a security problem, it makes for a zillion false alarms when you grep for something and it potentially leads to problems such as a download filling up the partition the home dir is on and the subsequent complaints by Linux when it cannot write to the home dir. So I advocate the seperation of the home dir and data dir. One dir should be for NOTHING but configuration information. The other for user data such as downloads, spreadsheets and such.  I do have a rough for NFS. Been out of town most of the last 2 months so I havn't been able to finish it. It is really more of an update on older works showing how to configure NFS to work through firewalls. I still have a glitch to fix and it'll be ready. Would love to have somebody look it over. They could probably see what I'm forgetting at a glance. Had it working, then power went out and had to reboot. When I did one of the daemons went back to random port assignments. Haven't been in town long enough lately to figure out which one.

I am quite happy to put my fingers to work on such projects. The whole reason I joined the documentation project was to give back to the OSS community. I do bring a very different perspective though. I try to see through the eyes of people new to Linux. I'm also going by the kinds of questions I'm seeing on various Linux lists and forums or that I get through IMs and emails.

> The feedback I get from lots of first time Linux users is that they
> get lost. They have no idea what to do with their brand spanking new
> Linux installation. Some things like how to configure networking has
> to be local on the HD. Without it they cannot reach the FAQs on the
> net.

Again, we are open to contributions in the docs.  I would consider this
a possibility for including in the on-DVD "README" file, if nothing else
than telling people where to find the easy network configuration tool
already present in the default installation.

Ah but our target audience isn't going to read a read me. I personally like the idea of using the default browser and opening a local page with the basics and links to other references. Simple HTML will be more than sufficient for the task. Some of it needs to be local such as network configuration. Those who know how to configure a network will for example just skip right past that. Me I find it easier to just edit the various files in a text editor. It's what I've been doing for years and I have more control over the system that way. People new to Linux will want to use the GUI however. Step by step network configuration for dummies would be a big help with some new users. The firewall configuration tool is simple and very good. Most users need only the default settings. 

The goal is to create a roadmap to a fully functional system in as short a time as possible presented in such a way that somebody with no technical knowledge can follow this map with little or no frustration and have a fully functional Linux system. Advanced users and functionality of course require the more traditional and more complex documentation.

> Other things like pointers to the better Linux games while not
> important for business users would help generate more interest in
> Linux. A tutorial on window managers with snap shots of what the major
> ones look like, how to install them and such would also be a big help.
> What is especially important is how to configure repositories. They
> will be unable to use the Unofficial FAQ to get anything through Yum
> without first adding a repository. I know Redhat does not add this
> repository to avoid getting sued over copywrites and such but don't
> see where there'd be any harm in using a certain repository as an
> example of how to add a repository :)

See above.  Plus the software management guide, which could also use
your help.  Please feel free to contribute elbow grease as desired.

Point me to whatever areas need work and I'd be glad to help out.

> Going a step farther and automating that process is actually a good
> idea. While Redhat couldn't support it because of various potential
> litigation it could point users to the scripts that would auto
> configure the system to play DVDs, MP3s, add a repository, grab the
> latest Firefox browser instead of the 1.5 branch that officially comes
> with Fedora but is nearly obsolete now. Plugins could then be auto
> installed. Even for Linux vets that would be a huge time saver.
> Creating a functional machine takes a good hour or two of downloading
> and installations. I usually wind up forgetting at least a couple
> plugins then when I need them I wind up having to restart my browser
> or putting it off. Novice users often get lost in the process. Get
> frustrated and it gives Linux a bad name. Fedora is also falling
> behind some distros in facilitating multi-media which is key to many
> home users.

Feel free to write that script, publish it, and support it on your own
website.  The Fedora Project and its contributors (including me, a
non-Red Hat person) are passionately devoted to free and open source
software, and we want our solutions to be supportable in the sense that
the community has the power to take them apart and build on them at will
without legal repercussions.

I understand your point of view but have to disagree with you.  I like you would love nothing more than to see Microsoft wiped off the face of the earth. To see all software fall under OSS. I find the current patent laws to be an obstruction to the advancement of technology. They were never written to cover free efforts. The concept of people working for free for the good of the community as a whole just never occured to the authors of the patent laws. As I said above we have to be realistic. If we want the world to eventually be that way we have to out and lead people to the water. Show them how to swim. They might come near the river but there is quite a bit of fear in the air and many people have had bad experiences with Linux because they could not find the best apps and wound up doing stupid things like attempting to burn a CD with something other than K3b. With K3b they have an interface and style that they are used too. One that's easy and reliable but there was nothing pointing them to how to do it. Ex-VB developers who might have never heard of Gambas and saw only C based languages and said "forget that!" or people terrified of command lines who could not find Yum GUI tools. Or who got trapped in dependancy hell on an RPM they downloaded.  When I see a post/blog/comment by somebody or listen to somebody who tried Linux and didn't like it I try to find out why and most of the time it is purely because they were using old school and klunky apps when nice apps existed that they were completely unaware of.

By the same token we cannot tell people just because you have 50 gigs of MP3s but because some idiot corporation wanted to suddenly squeeze extra money out of people that they have to convert all those mp3s to OGGs. They are going to turn around and head right back to windoze. Hell I've been using Linux for years but only about a quarter of my collection is in the Ogg format. I rip to MP3 because that's what I trade with other people, many of them widnoze users. I despise Windoze media formats but I often have to open such files. Pretending they don't exist only makes us look backwards. Give them time and they'll discover the other formats. Eventually when a critical mass of people are using Linux then we can advance the Ogg format as a standard to supplant MP3s. We are not going to convert people by limiting what they can do with their machines. Linux means the opposite, it is freedom, even if it means supporting sometimes backwards standards like Microsoft formats.

Another lie that many people have bought from Microsoft is that being technically illiterate is ok. To me knowing nothing about computers is like not knowing how to change a tire. Sure you can get by like that but why? Learning a bit about computers I feel is essential. Unfortunately we have a whole generation of people who bought into that lie that we have to contend with. We can preach until we are blue in the face, but we are not going to convert many that way. Somebody who's seen a lake for the first time is going to have a much higher opinion of it when they willingly jump in rather than if they are thrown in. So lets let users adapt at a pace that suites them.

> There is a learning curve no matter what we do but it can be made a
> whole lot less steep with Jonathan's idea and the script I am
> proposing.

Again, I would urge you to step up and get involved beyond simply
listing areas where you feel there are weaknesses.  If you have time, we
have a number of documents in draft form that are waiting for energetic
folks to improve.  Thanks for your time and consideration, and we look
forward to hearing back from you.

Point me to them and I'd be glad to help as I am able. I'd also be quite happy to help. 

Paul W. Frields, RHCE                           http://paul.frields.org/
  gpg fingerprint: 3DA6 A0AC 6D58 FEC4 0233  5906 ACDB C937 BD11 3717
      Fedora Project:  http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/PaulWFrields
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