[CentOS] Thanks, good bye, and an observation from a newbie.

Craig White craigwhite at azapple.com
Mon Oct 17 16:07:54 UTC 2005

On Mon, 2005-10-17 at 10:43 -0400, Lamar Owen wrote:
> On Sunday 16 October 2005 11:47, Dave Gutteridge wrote:
> > 	It seems to me there is a division between a developer's focus on how
> > things work, and a newbie's focus on results.
> Nobody yet in the thread has touched the real issue.  The real issue has been 
> ridiculed, however; 'Luser couldn't get MP3's to play.  Poor Luser...'  So, 
> what is the real issue?  Users just want it to work.  They don't necessarily 
> share developer's knack for arcana like GTK version numbers and version skew 
> prevention.  They DON'T EVEN WANT TO KNOW in some cases.
> Why do people use CentOS?  To get work done, perhaps?  If a newbie is a 
> hobbyist of sorts, and wants to try out 'that linux thing' and all they've 
> known is Windows, then the idea that "one 'brand' of Linux won't run programs 
> that another 'brand' of Linux will" is totally alien, and the whole library 
> dependency issue is completely foreign, and the newbie justifiably believes 
> they shouldn't have to worry about such things.  The newbie just asked 
> around, and got some recommendations: 'Yeah, man, Gentoo is so cool.'  or 
> 'Man, you've got to try Ubuntu.'  Or they read a Linux Journal Readers Choice 
> survey, and find CentOS at number two on the list, and want to try it out.  
> They DO NOT KNOW, NOR DO THEY CARE, that it is an 'Enterprise' linux.  They 
> just care that a lot of other people liked it, and it's popular.
> Sure, CentOS is a so-called 'Enterprise' Linux.  But what exactly does that 
> mean?  Well, it certainly doesn't mean stability (and let me make it clear 
> that I know it's primarily an upstream North  Carolina company's problems).  
> It certainly doesn't mean things don't change.  It doesn't get you a system 
> that is less likely to break during a minor update.  Nope, none of that.  Nor 
> does it get you a primarily 'server' operating system.  The 'Enterprise' 
> linux distributions are great general-purpose operating systems.
> Sure, I understand why Player C won't work with Player A and Player B will.  I 
> even understand why the makers of Player C might be using the versions of 
> packages they are using.  (hey, anybody remember the mplayer vendetta against 
> gcc 2.96?)
> Fact is, Linux in its current state, thanks to the wonderful supportive 
> mailing lists (for all distributions, not just this one) is not suited for 
> newbies.  Newbies be warned: you will be ridiculed for just wanting the 
> system to work.  (yes, a sizable dose of sarcasm to be found there...)
> Suggestion to list members (including myself): if a newbie asks a rank newbie 
> question, and you don't have the patience to answer it from a newbie's 
> perspective, then either hit delete or just shut up.  RTFM is not an 
> acceptable answer, unless you answer the question, then provide a polite 
> pointer to the place in the manual (that they might not even know how to 
> find) that answers that question.
> As an example, I wrote up several caveats for the RPM distribution of the 
> PostgreSQL RPMs, placed, helpfully I thought, 
> in /usr/share/doc/postgresql-x.y.z-r/README.rpm-dist  (named that way, 
> instead of README.rpm, so that RealAudio or RPM itself wasn't started when 
> people browsed to it with their file manager of choice, or with their web 
> browser).
> Guess what?  Out of fifty newbies who asked questions that were answered in 
> the README, only one had the foggiest idea that the file even existed.  And 
> that person was simply too lazy to read it.  Of those people, about forty, 
> when their question was answered and a pointer to the file was given, were 
> very happy the file existed; two even wrote me a note that they wished they 
> had known it existed, because then they wouldn't have bothered me.
> But the most aggravating answers from the 'knowledgable' users were either 
> 'throw out the RPM, you really want to learn how to build from source' or 
> full of misinformation (on behavior that was FULLY documented).  When I would 
> correct that sort of misinformation (my favorite was the people who needed 
> TCP/IP connections to the postmaster; the old way was to add a -i to the 
> postmaster invocation, and the new way involved editing a configuration file: 
> the number of people who advocated EDITING THE INITSCRIPT and adding -i was 
> startling, showing their ignorance to the fact that the initscript can get 
> blown away in an RPM update at whim, but that the config file wasn't ever 
> overwritten), the misinformers would become very offended that I had changed 
> the Way We Do Things (I didn't; upstream did) and that I had the gall to 
> correct their Obviously Better Information (yeah, I just maintain the 
> packages, what do I know?).  The next was the whole logging issue (the 
> postgresql initscript redirects stdout to /dev/null for a reason) that, 
> again, was documented.  The next was 'I upgraded the RPM with rpm -U and now 
> my database won't start!  Why?'  which, unfortunately, had to be answered 
> with 'complain upstream; they don't support that kind of upgrade.'  That got 
> me a lot of grief, for something I didn't do.
> No, Linux isn't for newbies, and ninety percent of the time it's not the 
> distribution's fault.
I suppose you needed to vent and vent you did. Being one that is guilty
of not reading installation notes myself, I'm not too likely to jump on
other people's cases for doing the same - especially when it's easy
enough to answer the question if they ask.

As for the OP - he had no problem playing mp3 files, he managed to do
that in several programs but none of the programs did exactly what he
wanted and he wanted to keep trying different user interfaces to playing
local files - which became a problem once he exhausted the low hanging
fruit of xmms and amarok - see his post because he knew that there were
other programs out there that weren't prepackaged for the Enterprise

The guy bounced because he originally started with Fedora Core 4 which
was very new and not very finished when it originally released and on
the Fedora list he claimed to want something more finished, more stable
which is why he was pointed to CentOS. He wants more stable yet more
adaptable - whether Ubuntu does that for him, only he will be able to

Now - when you turn to what is apparently your biggest peeve - differing
advice from different people - that's what you get from open source
support lists - I mean, we can't all wait for Alexander Dalloz to give
us the likely best and most correct answer. Part of the art of using
Linux is learning to solve your problems, where to get the information
and how to use the information that you get - which sometimes includes
bad advice. IIRC, he was told to use sixth field of an fstab entry on
his vfat formatted partition with a '2' which clobbered it - ya takes
your chances and bad advice as well as useless advice is always possible
from this or any other list.

I don't think we need to endless wring our hands on this subject.


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