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Linux Annoyances For Geeks 445

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-hates-it dept.
Taran Rampersad writes "Every now and then, someone comes up with a fun title. 'Linux Annoyances for Geeks' is a definitely fun - and accurate - title for this book. While some people have been fiddling with Linux since it first came out, the majority of Linux users haven't been. I started using Linux in the late 90s, and my work schedule didn't allow me to go to meetings, or track down people who knew things. And the first time you do an install on a machine, you may be disconnected from the very information that gets you connected. Been there, done that. So this book attracted me because despite being an advocate of Free Software and Open Source, there are times when I still type very naughty things on the command line. Read the rest of Taran's review.
Linux Annoyances For Geeks
author Michael Jang
pages 484
publisher O'Reilly
rating 8/10
reviewer Taran Rampersad
ISBN 0-596-00801-5
summary Answers to intermediate questions for Linux users.


Most of the time, I had fiddled with a previous install and gotten it the way I wanted it to work — when I had to do it again with a different install, I'd forgotten how I did it in the first place. There have been times, honestly, where I didn't even know. Fortunately, life has become better. There are books now. Some even come with Linux distributions, and there's plenty of documentation online that you can print out in advance when you go install things on your only connection to the Internet.

But there aren't that many books that really deal with the things that are annoyances, because the annoyances usually come from the late phone calls or the unanswered emails on a list. That's what this book is supposed to be for.

In reading this book, I caught myself nodding a lot. Not to sleep, mind you, but the, "I've seen that before" nod. The descriptions of the desktop environments, GNOME and KDE, started me nodding. Here's an idea of what the book covers:

Configuring a Desktop Environment: There's a great section on KDE and GNOME in here that starts the book off with a bang. Custom login menus, configuring standard backgrounds, desktop icons, oversized desktops and undersized monitors, Naughty mouse syndrome, Naughty users mess up the desktops, the infamous 'broken CD/DVD' problem, No GUI Syndrome, user downloads causing problems and ... sound. This chapter isn't one that I really had personal use for, but when people start asking questions — this is where they start. Great reference material here for desktop-finicky users.

Configuring User Workstations: Backing up data with rsynch and cron explained (where was this in 1999?), 'lost' files, 'lost' data... this chapter is one of my favorites, because people keep asking me about stuff like this. And dealing with Windows folks who complain that there's no ZIP — well, I wish I heard more of that.

Optimizing Internet Applications: I think that optimizing Internet applications is probably one of the largest problems out there, but I haven't really heard anyone ask about any of this. It's very strange. I think the world would be a better place if people read this chapter — from getting Firefox to work properly, sorting email into folders (yes, you can do that...), this covers a lot of ground in a very short space. My personal favorite was converting data from Outlook, which I have never done. Hidden in there are some tips on dealing with Microsoft Exchange Servers.

Setting Up Local Applications: This chapter focuses a lot on getting that irate I-am-new-to-Linux-and-I-want-my-toys person happy. It's filled with converting goodness, PDF inoculations and points you at the cure. And for those users who want movie players, there's something in here for them as well.

Installation Annoyances: This is probably the part of the book that will see the most use. There's a quote in here that I love: "Any A+ certified technician can list the hardware components on a computer. A Linux geek can cite the compatible components, such as the chipsets associated with a specific wireless card. He can use this information to compile the most efficient kernel for his system." So true. This chapter points you at the right resources and walks you through planning an installation. Which is priceless, even as a reminder for geeks.

Basic Start Configuration: Long boot times, bootloader issues, the ever-present dual-booting problems, the 'boot reboot repeat' problem, and my personal favorites, "I lost the password for Root!" and "My Server is So Secure that I can't log in as root". This chapter is pure gold.

Kernel Itches and Other Configuration Annoyances: Kernel upgrades, recompiles, kernel panic, 'file not found' boot error, NFS and Samba directory walkthroughs, and the infamous 'regular users can't mount the CD/DVD. Let's not forget dealing with Microsoft formatted partitions.

System Maintenance: Corrupted Partitions, emergency backups when the hard drive is knocking, small /home directories, slow hard drives, Update Repositories (not to be confused with User Suppositories), Dependency Hell solutions with yum and apt... platinum chapter for the troubleshooters out there.

Servicing Servers: Service Options, enabling downloading of files and , email issues when it is down, 'lost-printer syndrome', the BIND and growing network issue and the 'Windows Computers aren't on the network' issue. All rolled up here in Chapter 9.

User Management: Just about everything you would need to know about administering users, from special groups to keeping former employees from accessing the server, to securing the user (without duct tape).

Administration Tips: A lot of good things here for administrators; my personal favorite being configuring the Linux Gateway. Lots of great stuff in here.

For the life of me, I don't know why Chapter 5, Installation Annoyances, isn't Chapter 1. That seems to be where I've spent the most time helping other people out. The good news is that because it is where it is, the book stays open by itself here. Still, I think that might scare someone walking in while you're troubleshooting an installation. They might wonder what the 173 pages before installation problems was about. In fact, that could be funny... That's about the only thing that I could say I think is a bit off about the book, but perhaps that's by design. It's not a bug, it's a feature!

One of the things I liked most about this book was the fact that the chapters aren't named for the solutions; they are named by the problems. So when you're having a problem, you can find the solution.

Overall, this book meets the criteria for being next to my monitor, for quick reference in helping people out (including the worst one, me!). I haven't had the opportunity to use it's contents yet for Ubuntu, but since the book's solutions include Debian, they should work fine. As the author says in the preface, "The solutions are designed for three of the more prominent Linux distributions: Fedora Core, SUSE, and Debian." It would be interesting to see how it does with the Mandriva distribution.

In the Linux world, there are those that read and there are those that bleed. Those that bleed write what others read. This book was written in blood. It allows the leaders, the bleeders and the readers a means of finding their way around some of the annoyances that crop up. It does so in a well written manner which is well thought out, and amusing when you'll need to be amused.

( Original review on KnowProSE.com.)


You can purchase Linux Annoyances For Geeks from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Linux Annoyances For Geeks

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  • by jargoone (166102) * on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:09PM (#15534774)
    Users
  • Copy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Crowhead (577505) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:13PM (#15534792)
    & paste.
    • Re:Copy (Score:5, Funny)

      by Intron (870560) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:16PM (#15534824)
      Nothing wrong with copy & paste. My system has three different ways to do it. ... all incompatible
  • by asv108 (141455) <alex&phataudio,org> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:14PM (#15534799) Homepage Journal
    This book seems more like a "Desktop Linux Configuration Guide" than annoyances book. My original understanding of the annoyances series was that the books were for making OS's like OSX and Windows more habitable for say people with a UNIX background.
  • #1 solution (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaSenator (915940) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:14PM (#15534804)
    "RTFM n00b" Possibly one of the single biggest reasons that more people don't make an effective full switch to Linux.
    • Re:#1 solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:22PM (#15534870) Homepage
      Remember that if someone is going to RTFM, someone else needs to WTFM first....

      and hopefully, do a good job, to boot...

      • Well yeah, I hope they can get it to boot. How else are they going to write a good manual?
      • Re:#1 solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @05:03PM (#15535164) Homepage Journal
        Remember that if someone is going to RTFM, someone else needs to WTFM first....


        Yeah isn't that true. Don't you just love searching for documentation or at minimum a FAQ or HowTo for an application, then posting to the list for the location of the documentation only to get no useful reply, then follow up asking for specifics on how to do (n) with the tool, then you get blasted and told to RTFM. Then, post back that if there WERE a FM to R, that you'd have RTFMed already and wouldn't be posting a question for some wiseass to post a snarky RTFM reply. At that, you'll be told to WTFM, which is senseless because you don't know how to DO (n) because there is no FM to R, so telling you to WTFM is fruitless, or they point you at a wiki which is nothing but a skeleton consisting of Feature (N) : To be written later.

        Thankfully most OSS development teams are not so snotty and will at least point you at a mailing list archive, FAQ, or an abstract on the application. Take Quanta for example: the folks developing Quanta are downright friendly.

        But then again it's just like the Windows free software "community" - there are very nice and helpful folks developing some tools, and there are some developing very useful tools but who seemingly go out of their way to be assholes to users. It's not a Linux phenomenon, it's a human nature thing. The few jerks make everyone as a whole look bad.

        Sometimes an RTFM or GIYF (Google Is Your Friend) is the appropriate answer, e.g., if you ask "how do I play DVDs on SuSE/Ubuntu/etc." you should get "read the fucking stickies" or "GIYF" as a reply, because the question gets asked DAILY and you shouldn't be a lazy sod.

        On the other hand, if you're running into a crash (say, trying to play a Real Media file in Xine) the answer should not automatically be "try the latest CVS" or "RTFM." First of all, the user may be a n00b and totally unfamiliar with what CVS even is, the documentation is inadequate, and you haven't really helped the user, but brushed them off Microsoft Windows Support-style. You have also not helped to identify what the problem is so that it can be captured and documented in a FAQ for the next umpteen-dozen users who run into the same exact bug. Nothing against the xine folks here The folks I ran into THIS kind of issue with was actually one of the asterisk-related projects where a feature just plain did not work so I asked if anyone else could reproduce so that I could know if it was something I misconfigured or if it's broken code since log files turned up nothing and I had no proper debug environment set up (plus I haven't dug into the asterisk projects and could not afford the time to learn the project, I just want to be an asterisk user, not a developer or QA member).

        Depending on what you're doing, using open source solutions may be just too much work, or the people involved may be too much of a PITA to make the savings worthwhile. On the other hand, for most routine desktop and server applications, Linux and other OSS projects can be a choice which is superior to commercial alternatives.
      • Somebody is going to need to WTFM for all the acronyms being tossed around!
      • And put it where the n00b can find it.

        And include a really good index.
    • Re:#1 solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Khaed (544779) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:38PM (#15535001)
      I don't know why this is being moderated down. It's a fact.

      I use Linux exclusively. Slackware, to be specific.

      I read as much as I can stand to while trying to configure something. I read readme files, install guides, man pages -- anything I can get. Then I Google if it still won't work. I'll spend six or so hours trying to tinker until something works. Only after I've just had enough will I go to a forum. I've done that one time in the last six months.

      The last thing I want is for some assmonger to reply with a basic "RTFM" type response. It's unfair, it's assumptive, and it makes them look like a prick. Don't assume I haven't read the manual -- just fucking help me. Don't be a twat. The real bitch of this is that "RTFM" is considered a perfectly reasonable response, but if I tell them off for it, it's now a flame.

      Someone once joked that the best way to get help on a Linux forum is to flame and say "You can't do (x) in Linux!" where (x) is what you want to do. You'll then get a dozen different ways to do (x) from the forum regulars. But if you ask how to do (x), even politely, you just get snark.

      This is a problem for Linux. It's not the worst, in my opinion, but it's in the top five. (Having to download hundreds of megabytes of dependencies to get a lot of programs working is the worst.)
      • The real bitch of this is that "RTFM" is considered a perfectly reasonable response, but if I tell them off for it, it's now a flame.

        Not entirely. It's permissible to say "RTFM" if the answer is obviously contained within said FM. A lot of the lusers that say "RTFM" haven't bothered to RTFM themselves and are just trying to look like they know their ass from a hole in the wall by beating up on a newbie, but there are many people who get sick and tired of answering the same question over and over again w

        • To some extent I know where your coming from... but I often just don't have the time or inclination (or in the case of the source code, the knowledge) to do a lot of those things when the solution is really simple... I've asked questions before as the first way I tried to get help because pretty much any user could answer it in 10 seconds but it would have taken me 2 hours to find it (this instance was actually on my first full day with linux). I did get a reply which is nice... infact I've only once got
          • To some extent I know where your coming from... but I often just don't have the time or inclination (or in the case of the source code, the knowledge) to do a lot of those things when the solution is really simple

            Yet somehow you expect others to have the time to:
            - write said software
            - write the documentation
            - repeatedly answer the same question

            Does not compute.

            But then, people who actually make clear in their posts (or irc messages) what they did try to solve their problem, not only would it help to prevent
            • well I'd only ask on a forum, not the people who wrote the software... besides, if someone doesn't want to answer the question then they can just ignore it... I neither force people to read it or reply to it. Besides, I now like easy questions, they are a good way of me helping people with no effort... I've even spent over an hour searching round to try and help a person who couldn't figure out what was going; it's a bit of give and take or karma or something...
          • Re:#1 solution (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @06:07PM (#15535620)
            what often annoys me is when people don't come back and say if it worked and say thanks

            Ugh, that's another pet peeve. Don't just come back and say "Hey, I figured it out, thanks anyway" or something like that. Recap what you did to get it working!! Chances are someone else is having that same exact problem or will in the future and it's best to sum it up so Google can archive it. ;-)

      • It's good to know I'm not the only one going through the same crap (both noob bashing and dependency hell).

        That and I'm having trouble with Linux on VMWare (but not Windows), but I'm just getting started there.
      • by BobNET (119675) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @07:45PM (#15536336)
        You have to know how to ask your questions.

        Instead of saying "I need help getting the drivers working for my wireless network card", which will certainly get you an RTFM, you have to phrase it like this:

        "lunix sux because you can't use wifi! i have a [insert name of network card here] that worked right away in windos xp! i didnt even need drivers! how come windows is so much better than [insert distribution and version here]? oh right its cause you all suck"

        I guarantee that within an hour you'll have a dozen replies from people with exactly the same hardware and distribution as you telling you the steps needed to get it working, how easy it was compared to some dissimilar task in Windows, and how much you suck for not knowing this.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 15, 2006 @03:15AM (#15538206)
          Instead of saying "I need help getting the drivers working for my wireless network card", which will certainly get you an RTFM, you have to phrase it like this:

          "lunix sux because you can't use wifi! i have a [insert name of network card here] that worked right away in windos xp! i didnt even need drivers! how come windows is so much better than [insert distribution and version here]? oh right its cause you all suck"
          That's one approach. But I think you'll be better off if you phrase it like this:

          "How do I make my wifi work on Linux? I have a [insert name of network card here], but my boyfriend says it just won't work on Linux! He's so difficult sometimes. It's like he won't even try to help me! If he's wrong about this, I swear I'm going to leave him for good! Kisses, Jessica"

    • Re:#1 solution (Score:2, Insightful)

      by yanndug (832046)
      With OS X and even Windows these days, you don't need to RAFM at all. That's where the problem is. "n00b"'s are not the problem. Linux programmers are.
      • Re:#1 solution (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DaSenator (915940)
        Not exactly the fault of the Linux programmers themselves, but the fact that as a whole, people these days are raised with a familiarity with either OSX or MS Windows; both of which, (I'll probably incur a flamebait for this one) are relatively similar in their approach to their GUI. While they look different, they essentially operate on similar wavelengths.

        This isn't a problem until any Unix/Linux/BSD/Solaris/etc. environment comes in.

        Being a minority in installed OS's, and requiring a higher degree of co
  • Awesome! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:15PM (#15534816)
    Sounds like something to enhance/replace my personal "cheat sheet" of stuff I do to make a bare Slackware install sing for me. And my birthday's next week...one more thing for the list
  • by ArmyOfFun (652320) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:20PM (#15534854)
    there are times when I still type very naughty things on the command line.
    Like what? "touch me"? "finger her"? "man kill"?
  • Werd (Score:5, Funny)

    by rmadmin (532701) <{gro.edocemoh} {ta} {kelamr}> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:25PM (#15534886) Homepage
    there are times when I still type very naughty things on the command line.

    root@kungfu:~# history | wc -l
    500
    root@kungfu:~# history | grep fuck | wc -l
    148
    root@kungfu:~#

    Hmmmm..
    • Hmm...

      scott@tornado:/u/rel/scott/work$ history | wc -l
      47625

      I keep a LOT of history... Never know when some old command might come in handy again.
    • Re:Werd (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ruiner13 (527499)
      Why are you running as root? Is "users running as root" in the list of annoyances?
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:25PM (#15534889) Homepage Journal
    For the past decade, my Linux books have been calling me a "Complete Idiot" and a "Dummy" for reading them. Finally, one that only thinks I'm a "Geek!"
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:26PM (#15534896)
    Where is "Case Sensitivity" on this list? I mean, have you really ever used CASE to distinguish two different files? (Worse, have you ever had to try to describe cased files over the phone?)
    • by griffjon (14945) <{GriffJon} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @05:03PM (#15535156) Homepage Journal
      I use case to version. The current working file is all lower case, the current muck-around with is in all upper case, and versions are in mixed case, with the location of upper case letters indicating recent-ness,

      e.g.

      test.pl - known good working copy
      TEST.PL - testing copy, under current development
      Test.pl - testing copy 1 rev back
      tEst.pl - testing copy 2 revs back

      This becomes a bit less useful for multiple revs on the current branch, but then I just add silly letters at the end, e.g.

      test.pl.ofcourseimjokingyoufuckwiT

      • We keep that kind of thing in our company's list of "programming practices punishable by death." right below magic numbers.
      • test.pl.ofcourseimjokingyoufuckwiT

        That's just stupid. You got the perfect opportunity to encode the revision in binary and you decide to increase the length linearly?
        • Well, the upper/lower case of the file (lower case letters are 0, upper are 1) also match an internal checksum that a shell script grepping over out entire filesystem checks against various magic numbers using a crontab that's set to run every third minute (the HD makes weird noises otherwise!)

          For some reason, the IT staff keeps trying to get shotgun purchases approved as business expenses.
    • not for files, but for job security, i distinguish variables purely by case: aaaaaa, aaaaaA, aaaaAa, aaaAaa, etc etc
    • by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @05:11PM (#15535212) Homepage Journal
      Yes and yes.

      FYI, Windows can actually be configured to support case sensitivity, at the expense of some backward compatibility. Installing Services for Unix can enable this functionality automagically when you install it (it's one of the options) or you can enable it manually through a registry hack or three.
    • When I describe case verbally, I speak caps very loudly, so alternating caps for instance might be, "CUE double-u EE ar TEE why." I developed this by myself as an easy way to remember passwords, because I have an excellent memory for sounds / tones. Many years down the road, I got my current job and found that my boss does the exact same thing. Try it, it works great!
    • There are many features in file names that I normally avoid, such as whitespace or special characters. But it is MY option to use them if I run into a situation where they would be useful. And that's the point: the decision should be mine, not forced by the filesystem designer.

      The filesystem is too low a level to make sensible policies about case. It belongs at the application level, where ignoring case may make sense in certain contexts, but not others. The filesystem can't know the context, the applic
  • by Sheetrock (152993) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:29PM (#15534918) Homepage Journal

    The secret is to spend less time complaining and more time reading.

    Of course a different operating system will act differently than the one you're used to. That's kind of the point. Treat it as something unique rather than as an inferior version of your current platform and you'll get farther.

  • by Quirk (36086) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:31PM (#15534939) Homepage Journal
    I read the title as 'Linux Avoidance for Geeks'. I was reaching for my flame retardent suit when the flashing red error light went on.
  • Documentation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bigredradio (631970) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:35PM (#15534981) Homepage Journal
    /* [ Go back later and write comments on documentation - 02/22/01 ] */
  • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:43PM (#15535027) Journal
    Well folks, i've been meaning to write this down anyway; here seem's like the perfect place.

    Now, I am a 100% Win fan. I love it; things just work. But, I have made the switch to Linux (Fedora Core 5) at home, seeing as it does 99% of what I want. After a couple of months of constant, un-interupted use, my biggest issues with Linux are broadly thus:

    1. No fecking media support! I get XMMS inform me on first attempt at playing an MP3 that it won't because of licensing conflict. Wtf? Codecs for avi's and DVDs were a simular story; all had to be downloaded via yum (bloody excellent tool!). Seriously; not good, but fixed in the end.

    2. Why the hell do I have to install a new kernel? Why? I've never had to on Windows - why is Linux different? Is it so buggy? I installed with a factory version something ending 054. Now I have something ending 122 I believe. I did it ok, but that's not the point I'm making; were there really 68 cock-ups so great in the kernel build from release-time until that now they had to re-release 68 times? I'm guessing probablly not, but still.

    3. Point 2 also breaks my nvidia drivers. I don't want to re-compile new drivers everytime there's a new 'patch'. For the love of god, why?!

    4. X-Windows. What a mess. Why do I have to tell it my x & y refresh rates for my monitor? Windows just 'knows'. Many more things here I feel that X-Windows should just 'know' - the number of buttons on my USB mouse for-instance. If Windows can do it, there's no reason why Linux can't. Also, X-Windows 'feels' slower than Windows. I'm sure there's good reasons for this, but I don't care; Windows is snappier.

    5. Lack of decent file-browser. The best I've come across is Nautilus in a mode that resembles Windows Explorer. It'll do for now, but as far as I'm aware, offers no context-sensitive menus for applications (like the Winamp "Play in Winamp" right-click menu on folders.

    Actually, I think that's largely it. In all, Linux has, and is continuing to be great fun to play with. So many cool tools - yum being one of them. I'll stick to Linux @ home; it can only get better, but I'd be interested to know what people think of the above points - any suggestions maybe? I want this to work after all...

    -Sr. Samwel.
    • Switch to Ubuntu. No bullshit with the video drivers and with automatix getting all your codecs/media players is easy as pie. Faster too.
    • by _xeno_ (155264) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @05:25PM (#15535284) Homepage Journal
      2. Why the hell do I have to install a new kernel? Why? I've never had to on Windows - why is Linux different? Is it so buggy? I installed with a factory version something ending 054. Now I have something ending 122 I believe. I did it ok, but that's not the point I'm making; were there really 68 cock-ups so great in the kernel build from release-time until that now they had to re-release 68 times? I'm guessing probablly not, but still.

      Of course you have, why do you think some Windows updates require reboots? (Beyond those that require reboots because of file locking issues.) The reason the Linux kernel bumps revisions so frequently is mostly due to driver work, since most drivers are built into the kernel. Which I personally think is stupid, but, see the response to point 3 below.

      3. Point 2 also breaks my nvidia drivers. I don't want to re-compile new drivers everytime there's a new 'patch'. For the love of god, why?!

      Because Linux doesn't have a binary driver interface. Instead drivers are written for a specific kernel, and have to be recompiled every time to ensure everything matches up. Attempts at adding a binary driver interface have met huge resistance with the kernel developers, too, so expect to have to recompile third-party drivers for the forseeable future. Why? To force the source to be open, to ensure the flexibility of the kernel, or something like that. Whatever the reason, it's still annoying as a user.

      4. X-Windows. What a mess. Why do I have to tell it my x & y refresh rates for my monitor? Windows just 'knows'. Many more things here I feel that X-Windows should just 'know' - the number of buttons on my USB mouse for-instance. If Windows can do it, there's no reason why Linux can't. Also, X-Windows 'feels' slower than Windows. I'm sure there's good reasons for this, but I don't care; Windows is snappier.

      I'd love to know the answer to this one. I remember going through hell trying to get a USB mouse to work. Installation under Windows: Plug it in. Installation under Linux: edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf. It doesn't work. Google. Try other options. Still doesn't work. Give up and go back to Windows.

      I recently installed Debian Etch, and it still wanted to know the refresh rate for my monitor. Plug-and-play monitors have existed for how long, now? Why do I need to know this?!

      5. Lack of decent file-browser. The best I've come across is Nautilus in a mode that resembles Windows Explorer. It'll do for now, but as far as I'm aware, offers no context-sensitive menus for applications (like the Winamp "Play in Winamp" right-click menu on folders.

      I keep on thinking "some day, I should write a file browser for GNOME that doesn't suck" but I've yet to get around to it...

      • What? Try installing Ubuntu or something desktop-centric. Every mouse I've tried has worked on that without any mucking with the xorg.conf file. Do you just not get all 3 buttons? Are you expecting it to do something special with mice with more than 3 buttons?
    • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @05:50PM (#15535470)

      1. No fecking media support! I get XMMS inform me on first attempt at playing an MP3 that it won't because of licensing conflict. Wtf? Codecs for avi's and DVDs were a simular story; all had to be downloaded via yum (bloody excellent tool!). Seriously; not good, but fixed in the end.

      Alas, blame the law. The US allows software patents. Software patents means that codecs like mp3, mpeg2, ac3 etc etc are patented, and they can only be distributed if licence fees are paid by the distro. Since fedora is distributed free, they can't pay the licence fees, and they don't want to get sued if they distribute the distro in the US, so the only option is to host the codec packages outside the US where the patents don't apply, and you get them yourself. Note, Windows doesn't come with DVD playback out of the box for the same reason. If you want codecs and other patented software out of the box, you need to pay for a distro, and the US codec licence fees will be paid for out of your purchase price. No way round this, short of getting US patent law reformed.

      2. Why the hell do I have to install a new kernel? Why? I've never had to on Windows - why is Linux different? Is it so buggy? ... 68 cock-ups so great in the kernel build from release-time until that now they had to re-release 68 times?

      Two main reasons. First, a lot of the linux drivers are in the kernel, so new kernel versions include improved drivers and ones for new hardware. Second, the linux kernel is adding a lot of extra features and improvements, as well as bugfixes (not even a majority of bugs are security holes, don't forget). Third, windows does indeed get kernel updates [ciac.org], they just get included in Windows Update. Be glad linux is evolving so quickly :)

      3. Point 2 also breaks my nvidia drivers. I don't want to re-compile new drivers everytime there's a new 'patch'. For the love of god, why?!

      Nvidia don't want to release open-source drivers. They have a great big chunk of closed driver, with a 'shim' that links that binary code to a particular kernel. The kernel is updated, the shim needs to be redone for your particular kernel. Admittedly, the linux devs don't exactly make life easy for nvidia to do it this way. Chalk it up to the conflict between the open-source and closed-source world. Still, life isn't exactly rosy in the closed-source world either, I've lost count of the times I've needed to update drivers on windows to fix some bug or conflict, especially when it comes to video card drivers and PC games. Tell nvidia you'd like proper open-source drivers for the hardware you paid for...

      4. X-Windows. What a mess. Why do I have to tell it my x & y refresh rates for my monitor? Windows just 'knows'. Many more things here I feel that X-Windows should just 'know' - the number of buttons on my USB mouse for-instance. If Windows can do it, there's no reason why Linux can't. Also, X-Windows 'feels' slower than Windows. I'm sure there's good reasons for this, but I don't care; Windows is snappier.

      Agreed on the Xorg config problems. Largely a hold-over from a long period of political infighting, now resolved. Xorg is rapidly improving, and many features are coming in now that have been held up for years. The slowness is probably down to a slight problem with the config (possibly the openGL parts) - properly setup, I find Xorg quicker than windows. Still, it should be easier to 'automagically' configure it than it is - too many times I've had to fix an Xorg setup manually.

      5. Lack of decent file-browser. The best I've come across is Nautilus in a mode that resembles Windows Explorer. It'll do for now, but as far as I'm aware, offers no context-sensitive menus for applications (like the Winamp "Play in Winamp" right-click menu on fo

  • The predecessor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:46PM (#15535054) Homepage Journal
    The Unix Haters Handbook [amazon.com]

    It would be interesting to see how many Linux complaints and annoyances date back to Unix.

    Cheers,
    Dave

  • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:51PM (#15535083) Journal
    For the life of me, I don't know why Chapter 5, Installation Annoyances, isn't Chapter 1.

    I think the OP just nailed down the problem with 90% of Linux books, and one of the big problems with Linux adoption by the less-than-ubergeeks. Very few Linux book authors seem to know how to teach someone to use Linux. Either they spend three chapters on the basics of PCs and lose me, they dive straight into stuff that goes way over my head, or they just present the material in as counter-intuitive an order as possible for maximum frustration.

    I can't remember how many books I've picked up, started reading, and ended up shelving between chapters three and five. Reasons:

    1) They never actually got around to discussing Linux beyond the sales pitch about why I should use it.

    2) They skipped a lot of important basics that left me wondering just what they were talking about.

    3) They had me configure the desktop, type a few commands in the shell, install Linux, and THEN talked about the file system and various other basics that are relevant to everything you do in Linux.
  • by Gnavpot (708731) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @04:57PM (#15535127)
    My favourite annoyance is the default behaviour of 'cp'. Unless I add additional command line arguments, the file date will be changed into today's date. I don't want that. I cannot imagine why anyone would want that so much that it is the default behaviour.

    At least it has been changed in Konqueror now. Two years ago I trashed the dates of some 100s of vacation photos by using Konqueror on a Knoppix CD to copy them from the camera card and clear the card afterwards. Konqueror on my Ubuntu Dapper Drake doesn't seem to do this. Nautilus doesn't either.
  • Excellent (Score:5, Funny)

    by crossmr (957846) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @05:42PM (#15535393) Journal
    This is good because one thing I've found in my switch to Linux since last November. The community isn't all its cracked up to be. I'm not saying its bad, I'm just saying its less amazing than what you hear before the switch.

    When you run into a problem, if its simple hey no problem. People will line up to give you a quick response that will send you on your way. If its anything less than that you could spend days and weeks and longer finding an answer.

    You google late into the night hoping to find something and you do.. a 3 year old post on a mailing list for another distro possibly from a parrallel universe. The only problem is the solution is "Hey I fiddled around last night and fixed it, no more problems guys!"

    if you're really lucky there is an e-mail address, if you're blessed, the person still uses it. If you had a fresh horse-shoe inserted that morning he actually remembers the incident in question and how he solved it.

    I think I've still got half a dozen or more outstanding "annoyances" on mailing lists and message forums for things that no one can seemingly solve. Like why if I change my window theme in gnome the background for all my screensavers changes from black to the color of the window border.

  • by pobudz (981986) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @07:11PM (#15536115)
    So far I see complaints about: recompiling kernel/drivers and windows... and, then there was Arch.

    I introduce you to the 'hwd' package.

    Hmm my ethernet card isnt working.
    > hwd -ec
    (probes lshwd based on tables for usb pcmcia and pci and loads appropriate modules if not already loaded)

    Hmm I can't get xorg to work.
    > hwd -xa
    (probes monitor, writes xorg config)
    > startx ... hey its working now (not ONCE has this failed me on multiple monitors including laptop LCDs and otherwise.

    Anyone who updates their kernel EVERYTIME a new patch or release comes out is retarded. Typically I wait for a new 2.6. before I even touch it. But in the case of those who like it...

    > Pacman -Syu
    (syncs db, downloads files and seeks and downloads dependencies, checks for conflicts, installs packages)
    All done. One command, and.... done. Upgrades the entire system... gcc/kernel/nvidia (or ati),etc in one command. No rebooting just make sure if you run a kernel update to update lilo/grub conf and for precaution... stop all running services that you don't need for just running updates.

    No need to recompile anything... because that's just how life is with Arch.
  • Linux Annoyances (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NullProg (70833) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @08:45PM (#15536644) Homepage Journal
    For everyone who has problems with Linux, whether your using/installing SuSE, FC4, Ubuntu, Slackware, etc. Go to http://www.linuxquestions.org/ [linuxquestions.org]. You won't get RTFM responses. No I'm not affliated with the web site and have no vested interest.

    Slashdot, while being a great forum, is not the place to get Linux help,

    Enjoy,

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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