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Linux Snobs, The Real Barriers to Entry 1347

McSnarf writes "It's not Windows. It's not distro wars. Sometimes it's just the arrogant attitude that keeps people from switching from Windows. 'As I spoke to newbies, one Windows user who wanted to learn about Linux shared the encouraging and constructive note (not) he received from one of the project members. The responding note read: "Hi jackass, RTFM and stop wasting our time trying to help you children learn.""
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Linux Snobs, The Real Barriers to Entry

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  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:2, Informative)

    by heelrod ( 124784 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:31AM (#15156353) Homepage
    It's good job security!

    No nOObs is good BOOBs
  • by Tim_F ( 12524 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:35AM (#15156387)
    This is an interesting comment. It speaks a little bit of truth, but does more harm than good. It is important for people to learn how to figure things out for themselves. What TMM suggests here will lead to people that are unable and unwilling to experiment with software. Half of what I have learned regarding software has been trial and error.

    In the Linux world the software UI can be vastly different across all applications. There is no standard interface, and so the user gains much by experimenting with all portions of the software. Even then there are some similarities, such as command line switches. Teaching a user to read the documentation (hopefully it has been well written) will do them a better service then giving them the answer. If the documentation is poorly written (I have seen poorly written documentation in both Windows and Linux) it may be necessary for the user to ask for assistance. In that case (and only in that case) please try to be hospitable.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:3, Informative)

    by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:58AM (#15156598) Homepage
    Not for Exim.

    It is a posterchild for how software (free or commercial) MUST be developed. A spec is written first and the software is written to comply to it. The spec doubles up as documentation and is available online with a reasonable glossary and index.

    As far as mailman on Debian is concerned a person who has RTFM-ed should have encountered the cut-n-paste example in the /usr/share/doc/mailman which is sufficient to get an install running. If for whatever reason this one has been skipped the same blurb is available in the Mailman FAQ.

    If you google for "Exim Mailman" you will hit it nearly immediately.
  • Re:RTFM! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Theatetus ( 521747 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:08AM (#15156699) Journal
    For example, say I want to learn how to do something using the command line. Googling a phrase that describes what I want to do rarely yields optimal results. Since I don't know what the command is, I can't type "man thing I want to do".

    Read man's man page some time. the -k option is like the apropos command (another thing you should look into), it searches for the word you supply in the title and description of all the manual pages. So man -k format shows you all the pages that have the word "format" in their title or short description. If that still doesn't show you what you need, man -K "some arbitrary string" does a full-text search of the entire manual for "some arbitrary string".

    I'm not ragging you for this or anything, I'm just amazed at how few people actually read man's man page.

  • by danceswithtrees ( 968154 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:16AM (#15156764)
    Au contraire, there is a barrier and it has to do with laptop support. More and more people are using laptops as their primary machine as in your case and linux support for laptops is lacking at best. In my case, I tried installing a couple of distros on my HP laptop nc8230- Ubuntu 5.10, debian 3. Most peripherals were either detected correctly or drivers installed without too much trouble. The video driver had to be downloaded from ATI and took hours of trial and error to get working although never at the native resolution. I noticed that the laptop was getting hotter and hotter and eventually found that the fans were not coming on appropriately despite the processor COOKING ITSELF TO DEATH. Well fortunately, not quite to death. Googling revealed that this is a known problem and there are no work arounds. ACPI support in linux is truly lacking. It seems like dynamic processesor speed control is also acheived with an patch to the kernel. I dual boot linux on a desktop but that episode scared me a bit about trying linux on my laptop again until I know that those serious deficiencies have been corrected. With Windows XP, I use notebook hardware control to undervolt my processor and reboot once every couple of weeks and am quite happy with it. Before anyone responds with a link to http://www.linux-laptop.net/ [linux-laptop.net] didn't work. If your particular laptop is fully supported, fine. But in my case, the problems are either acknowledged problems or not addressed. Don't say that people should find out about linux compatibility prior to purchase because first of all, my company decided on the model and very few people make purchases that way.
  • Re:Nope (Score:1, Informative)

    by Immercenary_2000 ( 863998 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:17AM (#15156773)
    Check out the ubuntu forums (www.ubuntuforums.org) the people there are generally very nice, and have always tried to answer my questions as a newb.
  • by Theatetus ( 521747 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:18AM (#15156788) Journal
    First you need to know NAME of utility you want to use for given task and 2ndly you need to know that there is such utility called man and you can use that to get information of things.

    And ironically, if you know even more about the man utility, like the -k and -K switches, as well as the apropos utility, you no longer need to know the name of the utility you want to use, just some keywords to search for.

    Incidentally, since we can assume most n00bs will have a "friendly" desktop environment like Gnome or KDE, the system manual is just as intuitive to find as it is on Windows: Start -> Help, and it's much better (have you *used* Windows' "help" feature? If you think man pages are bad...)

    *shrug*... poor OS documentation was one of the three things that drove me off windows 7 years ago (the others were bad hardware support and lack of good programming tools). So, it always surprises me a little to hear people talk about man, info, apropos, whatis, etc. being bad. But I maybe Joel on Software was right that people are incapable of reading when they sit at a computer.

  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:4, Informative)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:27AM (#15156861) Homepage Journal
    "As far as mailman on Debian is concerned a person who has..."

    I've not personally tried Debian, but, I have heard the community there isn't exactly 'newbie friendly'.

    I've tried RH back in the day, and Slackware was my first Linux try, back in the early 90's. I've found so far, the most friendly to newbs distro, is probably Gentoo. The forums [gentoo.org] are a great place to look for info, and also easy to get even easy questions answered. The community seems pretty tolerant of questions that 'have been asked before'.

    I've never had much a problem finding help with any distro I've tried in the past tho...but, then again, I learned early on, to start a USENET post with something like "OK, I've tried, this, this, this and this...and am still stuck, does anyone have any links or suggestions?" Just to show that I've tried on my own and am now stuck. That usually got a good response. I also used to be more active in USENET groups....if people see you posting to help others, they'd more likely be willing to help you.

  • by Latent Heat ( 558884 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:42AM (#15156997)
    I believe that the issue isn't Linux for FOSS as such but a lot of the culture and history behind UNIX. UNIX of course was as commercial a product as anything else, but Torvald, Stallman, and the rest of the FOSS community decided on patterning their offering after UNIX and hence inherited a lot of the cultural legacy.

    UNIX was in a way a revolt against the snobbery of the mainframe culture. UNIX was named in contrast with MULTICS -- MULTICS was this massive time-sharing mainframe OS coming out of MIT which was supposed to have all kinds of whizbang security and protection features. UNIX was to be the single-user (at least initially) "personal" counterpart to the time-sharing Borg hive of MULTICS. UNIX ran on a PDP 11 minicomputer while MULTICS required a ponderous Burroughs mainframe.

    The MS-DOS PC along with the Windows follow-on was a revolt against UNIX. UNIX had become the OS of choice for VAXen and had become the ossified mainframe OS of its day against which the PC was the revolt.

    I don't think you will have people who are complete noobs having any issues with a *nix -- people are perfectly happy with OS-X. The people you will have trouble with are the people who cut their teeth on DOS and later Windows, who have memories of what they went through in the VAX days, and any hint of inadvertent condensension from Linux gurus is enough to give them flashbacks of their old tormenters.

  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:2, Informative)

    by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:56AM (#15157165) Homepage Journal

    Q. Does (new piece of hardware) work with Linux?
    A. No. Go write some drivers.


    Q. Does (new piece of hardware) work with Mac OS X?
    A. No, but Mac OS X is kind of like UNIX, so go download the Linux drivers and get them to work.
  • Re:Linux sNOBs (Score:3, Informative)

    by tacocat ( 527354 ) <tallison1.twmi@rr@com> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:48AM (#15157672)

    There are many like this, no doubt. But a lot of it depends on the size of the project and the types of users who typically use it.

    In general, mail servers mailing list are the most abrasive group of asswipes I have ever experienced. Cyrus-imap is occupied by a bunch of personalities that are just begging to be blown up. I've never see a better example of your comment to WTFM and then RTFM and meanwhile STFU. It was simply because of the utter lack of support that I bailed on the project entirely. I think it sucks.

    Meanwhile Postfix is slightly better. Whiney posts about "Stupid postfix doesn't work, this thing sucks." will only result in snubs. But you have to learn how to make posts to mailing lists. Once you do it correctly then you will receive (typically) lots of good answers to the questions.

    Perl, Ruby, PostgreSQL, Debian-users have all been very useful lists for me. I have never been snubbed even with the most retarded questions out there. They are new, they are modest, and they are all trying together to make it a better place to be.

    Now for the important piece.

    How to write an email to a mailing list without sounding like a fucktard.

    Clearly and succinctly state your objectives you wish to accomplish, "I'm trying to set up a relay mail server in my DMZ to forward delivered email to my LAN." Don't start with "I wanna set up a mail server." There's a lot of ways to do it and if you go with the default setting you'll have "a mail server." But probably not what you wanted. Show that you have applied some thought to your objectives.

    Specifically identify what section of the configuration or manual you are having trouble with and if possible, identify what you tried to to, why, and what didn't work the way you wanted it to. But you have to prove that you RTFM while sober and with some actual config attempts with trials and results. RTFM on the bus doesn't count.

    Post your configuration where you can.

    Post your logs where you can. Be succinct.

    Google it. Often times you will find the same problem somewhere else. If your's is close but still problemmatic, then identify the diffs to help identify the problems.

    You have to make sure that you are able to present a context that makes sense. To simply state, "my address_verify_default_transport doesn't work." won't get you much traction. Why doesn't it work, what are you hoping to do, what have you tried? What were the results.

    Most of the time that I do this, I end up finding the damn problem myself and don't need to post anything.

    Never expect someone to just hand you a solution to your problem. This isn't the world of Microsoft where you just reboot, patch, reboot, pray. This is the real world where you can set up real stuff and fix real problems. Not much voodoo here.

    Many of the posts that I see get snubbed are posts that are presented by people who either take the attitude that it's your fault their computer doesn't work, or that they are expecting you to hand them the solution to an extremely complex problem. Setting up multiple domains on a mail server with deliniations between local delivery, local relays, remote relays, SMTP_AUTH, and virtual domain rewrites isn't going to be accomplished in an hour. By the way, the first post, where it's the mailing lists fault will usually get a response of violent bile spewing bugged eyed flames.

    In short, don't be arrogant. Present your case with evidence that you really tried. And you will be surprised the results. But not always... Even this kind of an approach with Cyrus-imap brought reproach from the residents of the mailing list. But I've had great success with the others.

    Oh yeah. One other really important thing. And this is HUGE. If you can answer the guys who are behind you on the curve then those ahead of you will often times recognize that you are not just a leach but contributing. That will get you a lot of karma points in getting more polite results. I try spend an hour answering someones questions on at least a mailing list.

  • Re:Mods, please.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by caffeination ( 947825 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:29PM (#15158071)
    Don't be a dick. this anti Linux post [slashdot.org] is full of fake English errors and blatant contradictions. It was carefully created to drag the most replies possible, and worked beautifully. And if you still don't think this is trollish behaviour, check this [slashdot.org], or this [slashdot.org], or this [slashdot.org], or this [slashdot.org], or this [slashdot.org]?

    The I-HATE-LINUX-ZEALOTS things is valid, but not when it blinds you to the fucking glaringly obvious, or when you twist it to support a statement that lots of troll and flamebait mods might mean that he's not a troll.

  • by NetRAVEN5000 ( 905777 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @12:31PM (#15158085) Homepage
    I've been using Linux for about 7 years now, and I've NEVER come across a "Linux snob" except for maybe a couple times.

    If you don't mind me asking, where did you go for support? It sounds to me like you went to /. Well, /. is NOT a support site, it's a tech blog. A tech blog full of people who like to troll and flame people. They're not here to help you, they're here to read tech articles and ridicule other users. Yes, some of us will help you if we can, but most /. users. . . probably not. I'd say coming here for support is almost asking to be ridiculed.

    You should go to a Linux help site if you want help with Linux. If you want (good, helpful, useful) Linux support you should go to http://www.linuxquestions.org/ [linuxquestions.org]. That's where I've been going all these years.

  • by belg4mit ( 152620 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @01:02PM (#15158340) Homepage
    Indeed, see also ESR's How To Ask Questions The Smart Way [catb.org]
  • Re:RTFM (Score:3, Informative)

    by arose ( 644256 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @02:27PM (#15159117)
    And why isn't this RTFM directly installed on the system itself?
    It is. From the menu System/Help, then choose the link "Desktop" then "User Guide", from the sidebar "Nautilus file manager", point 6.12 is "Writing CDs". You may complain that it's hard to find, but you can't complain that it's not there.
  • by Maltheus ( 248271 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @02:56PM (#15159379)
    I feel the same way about the Gentoo forums. I got back into Linux because of them. I had been away for many year cause I didn't want to deal with the snobs while troubleshooting. I didn't have to wade through an endless stream of people asking the same question, only to get the same response: "google it, god fucking damnit already". If I had a dime for every google hit that told me to google it, I'd own google lickity split.
  • by jroysdon ( 201893 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @03:18PM (#15159559) Homepage
    Just today I was on #fedora on irc.freenode.net to get assistance / make sure I was doing things "the right way" to install Java support in RedHat Fedora Core 5. Mind you, Fedora Core is for "developers" or those who want more cutting edge and don't want to pay for RH Enterprise Linux, so it is going to have a bit of a learning curve which you always have to keep up with as things change.

    I'd already done some homework in researching at a popular Fedora FAQ website [fedorafaq.org]. However, as with many things with Linux, things were out of date, or talking about the wrong version (in this case, that FAQ is still for Fedora Core 4, not FC5).

    I checked in at #fedora and asked, "Is the method to install Java at http://www.fedorafaq.org/#java [fedorafaq.org] still the best way?" A few folks said yes, another guy (ignacio, who is the classic example of a linux snob with a, "Live free or die" attitude) said, "Not best, use gij" to which someone else fought the battle for me and asked, "Is there plugin support with gij?" and ignacio had to reply, "No." Well, pointless, as the only reason I need Java is for plugin support with my online bank.

    So, what I did wrong was that I should have know to ask, "Is this the best way to install Sun's Java?" You already have to almost know the answer to ask the question with some folks. While I can understand trying to do a bit of research and be prepared, it's not that simple. Googling sometimes gives you the answers, but again, there is always that out of date / old version problem that gets in the way. You could spend hours following the "old" method with old versions that don't apply and won't work anymore.

    Anyway, I ended up just taking the original FC4 Java install notes and modifying them and put them on my own site for others to hopefully find via my webpage when searching for Fedora Core 5 and Sun's Java: http://jason.roysdon.net/?p=819 [roysdon.net]

  • by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @06:55PM (#15161136) Homepage
    I don't think so, I may have left out the part about the maniac walking into the post office and yelling at the other people in the queue

    "You gotta help me man, my letters are broke I need help !"

    And the bit where someone tells him to read the poster on the wall and he says

    "Yeah I read it but I don't get it, you need to tell me what to do"

    And a young person inexperienced in the rules about making eye contact with foaming at mouth nutcases says

    "Well look, just wait in this queue to buy your stamp and they will post it for you."
    "What do you mean queue ? I don't think I need to wait in any queues, I don't know anyhing about any queues buddy"
    "No, this is a queue and you need to wait in it"
    "I think you're wrong, my letters don't work like that"
    "They do, now just wait in this queue"
    "Move aside buddy, I'm coming into this queue. Move will you !"
    "No, you have to wait at the end of the queue."
    "Which end ? I think it's OK me waiting here"
    "No, it's not. Go to the end of the queue. No ! Not that end !"
    "Why not man, I'll get there quicker at this end"
    "You just can't do that, wait at the other end"
    "Then what, what do I do when I get to the other end of this here queue ? I don't see why I can't just go to the other end right away."
    "Then you go to the counter and give the lady your letter"
    "What counter ? What's a counter, why do I have to go the counter. It doesn't say anything about counters on that poster I read"
    "The counter is the big, well, counter at the end of this queue. Can't you see that ?"
    "There's no need to be like that buddy, I'm just asking for a little help here is all"
    "So when you get to the counter give the lady your letter and she will sell you a stamp and post it for you."
    "Whoah, just slow a down a bit here, I tried that queue thing and I still don't see any counter so don't go getting ahead of yourself going on about ladies and stamps"
    "You need to wait in the queue until you get the counter"
    "I've done that, where's the counter ?"
    "You didn't tell me that earlier, why didn't just tell me that at the start ?"
    "Look I'm sorry but just wait here and read the poster yourself, it explains it all. I have to go now."
    "How am I supposed to get anyhelp around here ? Geez, a little help is all I want. You are such an asshole for not helping me pal and now I'm going to just ditch this stupid letter crap of yours and go an moan about you on slashdot. Last time I ever use your stupid letters. I hope you're happy."

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe