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Impression of Linux from Mandrake 7.1...

Discussion in 'Linux and Unix' started by carlos123, Jan 21, 2003.

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  1. carlos123

    carlos123 Thread Starter

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    Hi everyone,

    After two years I finally got my Mandrake distribution to work!! Last time I tried it I spent a whole week installing it about 30 times with no success. I kept getting a "stage1 stage2 Geom Error".

    Since my Windows 98 registry got corrupted and since I now had the golden opportunity to try again I did. And this time by installing to my C: drive instead of to my D: drive it worked!

    First impressions.....

    It was a real let down folks! The fonts are lousy. The minimize and maximize icons in the upper right corner of windows are tiny. Text in various windows runs past the right edge of the screen. Some of the screen managers are downright terrible looking. Trying to set up an Internet connection is like trying to learn about analytical geometry and the molecular structure of a DNS strand in a thermonuclear layer all at the same time. So many options and strange networking terms it's mind boggling.

    Program names are completely archaic and like Greek. I mean what is kpp, tsh, tcshr, and sasdfsdaf??? Know what I mean?

    I have to say that my first install of Linux took the wind out of my impression that Linux is making great strides in user friendliness. Unreal!

    I am just now downloading Red Hat 8.0 and am hoping that it is much better.

    Any comments or thoughts on the above would be appreciated. Has anyone else had the same impression of Linux on a first try and if so were they overcome by trying other distributions?

    Just curious.

    Thanks.

    Carlos

    PS. Oh I neglected to mention that I installed Mandrake 7.1.
     
  2. codejockey

    codejockey

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    Carlos --

    I'm not surprised by your comments. Linux is essentially Unix -- and Unix is a harsh mistress. You are correct that many commands do not have intuitive names (grep?! -- what does that mean?!) and the examples you give certainly underscore the point. (for a real eye-opener, however, consider the "awk" command, that was named using the surname initials of its creators!).

    Unix/Linux requires study and perseverance. Unix has a well-deserved reputation as a "user-hostile" operating system. Linux has helped to put a prettier face on it, but as you discovered, the veneer is very thin. There are no wizards to hold your hand during software installations or operating system upgrades (although Mandrake is certainly one of the best in this regard). The O/S believes you when you type a command and hit "enter" -- there's no "are you sure" prompts or automatic backups in case you make a mistake. Unix/Linux is confusing, frustrating, and quirky -- in short, everything that Windoze is -- and more.

    The "more" makes it all worthwhile. Unlike Windoze, Unix/Linux comes complete with multiple scripting and programming languages (perl, shell (several types), awk, C, C++, python to name a few), multiple user interfaces (aka "shells"), multiple GUI environments (Gnome, KDE, mgr), sound support for ancient hardware that Windoze has long since forgotten (try using a MediaMagic sound card with Windoze 98!), and best of all: a real, honest-to-goodness multi-user, multi-tasking, multi-threaded operating system with (literally) hundreds of utilities to help you interact with the O/S and make it do what you want or provide the information you need.

    Unix/Linux repays careful study hundreds of times over -- but it's not easy or intuitive. You are driving a fast car here, and you have to be prepared to learn how to shift (manually!) and to keep your foot on the gas with verve, elan and confidence. Another way of looking at it: when you buy Windoze, you buy a car, and it runs better or worse. When you buy Unix/Linux, you buy a car and the manuals and tools you need to customize it to the way you drive. The good news is that you get a lot for your money. The bad news is that you have a lot of homework to do.

    I doubt you will find major differences among distributions when you look past the veneer. Some distributions (such as Mandrake, RedHat and SuSe) have very good installation procedures, which can certainly help new users of Linux overcome the immediate difficulties of installation and configuration. But once you have (successfully) installed Linux, you must begin using it -- and in order to become a knowledgeable user (of any distribution) you will need to move outside of the comfortable box of the GUI interface, and learn at least a little of what is really going on.

    I hope I haven't scared you off. Unix/Linux is a great O/S, with capabilities far beyond any included with Windoze (any version). Of course, it has its weaknesses as well -- but on balance, it's light-years ahead of anything coming out of Redmond.

    Hang in there, and don't be discouraged too soon. None of us were born knowing this stuff.

    Just my (long-winded) $0.02.
     
  3. lynch

    lynch

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    Well said,CJ!:)
    I started my Linux experience with Mandrake 7.0(or so I thought). bought the boxed set for $25 at Walmarts.Took it home and opened it up and found a little note inside saying:
    "Congratulations.We have upgraded the product in this package to our latest version- Mandrake 7.1!"
    Anyway,I think you'll see a difference with RH8.All the things you state that you didnt like about it are fixable if you want to take the time and effort.:)
    BTW,grep=Get Regular ExPression;yes,it is not intuitive and alot of the acronyms in Linux are recursive(GNU=GNU, Not Unix:confused: )
    For people who want to try Linux on an older box with a Pentium or k6 CPU,I would recommend MDK 7.1 every time.
    Hope you find RH8 to your liking:)
    lynch
     
  4. carlos123

    carlos123 Thread Starter

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    Thanks very much for both of your encouragements! Refreshing to see the absence of unbridled Windows bashing that I usually see when the subject of Windows and Linux comes up.

    Just so you know I am committed to learning and using Linux. Mainly because I have had too much experience with Windows to do otherwise. It constantly crashes on me (I have extensive experience with Windows 95 and 98), becomes very unstable over time as I install and uninstall programs - requiring a reinstallation - a MAJOR time consumer, uses the registry and common DLL's in such a way that everything kinda depends on everything else - such that if one thing gets corrupted or messed up - the whole thing at times becomes very unstable, etc...

    I am sure you all know about Windows.....:):).

    Anyway I just downloaded the Red Hat distribution last night and have been carefully studying their site and documentation and I must say that I am extremely impressed so far. The latest versions of Mandrake might be just as polished as Red Hat ... I don't know ... but Red Hat is one impressive piece of work!

    The docomentation is one of the very best I have ever see in any software product I have EVER used! It has just the right mix of detail to it - not too much so as to overwhelm a newbie at Linux - while having enough to satisfy my curiosity about a particular aspect of Red Hat.

    Even the Trademark use explanations at Red Hat are written in clearly understandable and non-legaleese :).

    I am sitting back amazed at how polished the Red Hat documentation is. If the product is anything like the documentation I think I will be as likely impressed with that too.

    We will see ... I can't wait to install it ... though I have another 2-3 hours to go before I can .... I need to burn the CD's first.

    Even if the Red Hat GUI front end to Linux is polished and smooth I realize that becoming proficient on Linux is going to be a steep curve. Despite the fact that I have a lot of computer and programming experience under Windows.

    But I am prepared ... at least psychologically ... for that curve.

    I MUST get away from Windows. There new operatiing system versions (XP mainly) are becoming very constrictive in their licences. Not to mention that I am entirely at the mercy of Microsoft when I use their closed source products. I have seen several OS's from Microsoft go the way of the dinosaur in terms of becoming extinct at least in Microsoft's view. Yet this extinction has been a forced one.

    My current OS is Windows 95 believe it or not. It is still a perfectly usable OS for me. I have only found ONE single product of the multitude that I was using under Windows 98 - before the registry got hopelessly corrupted - that does not work under Windows 95.
    Yet Microsoft has long since stopped any kind of support for Windows 95. A while back I was having some problems with the use of NIC cards on Windows 95 and was FORCED to upgrade to Windows 98 to work around them. Not good!

    Thankfully that problem went away.

    But still I MUST get away from the closed nature of Microsoft operating systems that come with built in obsolecence (? spelling).

    Many software products under Linux may be just as quirky and buggy as Microsoft has been for me but at least the generally open source nature of them gives me some hope that either me or others can do something about the problems. Such that over time Linux software will only get better and better and ultimately become very usable and very capable. Even more than what it is now.

    It sure can use improvements in the GUI interface though :)

    Who knows? Perhaps I will create my own version of Linux with a fantastic GUI for newbies and call it ... let's see ... Great User Linux? :) Kinda nice that I can even contemplate doing that.....

    Thanks again for your all's input!

    Carlos
     
  5. codejockey

    codejockey

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    At the risk of showing my true age (within rounding error, of course ;-)), the origin of "grep" is actually a matter of debate in the OPH ("Old Programmers Home") hallways. Some claim that it is an acronym for "generalized regular expression parser" -- and there's some basis for that claim, since that's exactly what grep is (a parser based on regular expressions). Others insist that the letters "g", "r", "e" and "p" -- in exactly that order -- arose in the days when Real Men spoke binary and used line editors, because those were the only ones available. The keystrokes of g/re/p (where re = regular expression) would, in fact, find all occurrences of the regular expression in the file being edited and print them to the screen.

    Lynch has contributed yet another possible acronym to the debate (thanks, Lynch! ) and this is definitely a "Good Thing", since it keeps us doddering digital types off the streets and occupied (:cool:).

    Bottom line: however it started, it still isn't intuitive (:cool:).
     
  6. lynch

    lynch

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    YW;) .Though I must admit that I am almost positive I read the explanation for the grep name somwhere:)But I will gladly accept credit for reviving interest in the debate.:D
    I avoid OS bashing altogether-it's just an OS,right?But I have never liked the way some software manufacturers do business-MS included.
    lynch
     
  7. codejockey

    codejockey

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