Fwd: Re: [Wine]re:re:HELP

David Jones gnome at hawaii.rr.com
Sat Oct 9 22:17:05 CDT 2004

Joshua Crawford wrote:
> * David Jones <gnome at hawaii.rr.com> [2004-10-08 20:52 -1000]:
>>Hmm, as someone who made a living as a technical writer who mainly wrote 
>>user documentation ... I too find the standard Linux documentation (what 
>>is commonly available online and/or comes with Linux) I've read not very 
>>accessible for newbies. It makes many assumptions about the readers' 
>>background knowledge.
> What do you think of the DOS-Win-to-Linux-HOWTO? I've recommended it to a
> few people before, and they don't seem to have had too much trouble with the
> conversion.

I haven't looked at it. I used UNIX before I met DOS or Windows, 
switched to WinDOS 3.1 when the specialized hardware I was using died, 
then switched to OS/2 and am just relatively recently moving my 
production work to Linux (I've had Linux systems around for several 
years, just not done much with them). Using a distro called MePIS right 
now (on one machine), Knoppix on another machine, and we have LibraNet 
Linux on my wife's laptop. MePIS is the first distro where I didn't have 
to consult documentation (and experiment a lot) to get Linux to 
recognize my USB hard drive and memory card reader.

> At any rate, I think that "lack of documentation" is a bit of a null
> argument these days, when most newbies know about WWW search engines.

I didn't say "lack of documentation." There's lots of documentation 
findable via search engines, but figuring it out AND figuring out how it 
applies to your Linux distribution and situation is the challenge that 
very little of it addresses, or at least that's how it seems to me. 
There seems to be a shortage of *simple* step-by-step instructions 
around, perhaps because many Linux doc writers take the approach that 
you have to put everything into it - cover every possible "expert" 
option you could possibly need - so that it's no longer a simple set of 
instructions, it's a tangle of conditional steps that a lot of people 
have difficulty handling.

>>The best Linux book I've ever read (from a non-technical person's 
>>viewpoint) is The CorelLinux Official Guide. While other Linux distros 
>>have eclipsed CorelLinux in many ways, their user documentation hasn't.
> Is CorelLinux still around? I haven't heard of it in years.

Corel sold it to a company called Xandros. Xandros has continued to 
develop it, and from what I've read, made it a very good distro for 
newbies, focussed on desktop use. <http://www.xandros.com/> I haven't 
looked at their documentation (you have to buy a copy of it to get that) 
so I don't know if they've continued the tradition.

>>Note: I haven't looked at the Orreilly book mentioned below, because 
>>books are out of date before they even arrive on the shelf!
> What does it matter if a book is out of date, if the information is still
> useful? When I was first learning UNIX in 1996 (SunOS 4 at school and
> Slackware 3 at home), the book I found most helpful was a 1983 McGraw-Hill
> publication called _Introducing the UNIX System_ I'd picked up cheap from a
> second-hand book store.

Because if you don't know what you're doing, you don't know if the 
information is still any good. You check the book, you check your 
distro, and maybe it doesn't work quite that way. Or it doesn't work 
that way at all, because of a major version change, or just a 
peculiarity of the distro you're using.

And some books are simply not aimed at a desktop user. Here's an 
example. Our home network uses Windows' SMB networking. We have no file 
server or domain controller. When I started adding Linux boxes to the 
network, I decided I needed to learn Samba, so I bought "Teach Yourself 
Samba in 24 Hours". Fine book - if you're a system administrator on a 
network where a Linux system is the file server and domain controller. 
It has precious little to say about setting up a Linux box to function 
as just another peer on the network.

gnome at hawaii.rr.com

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