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Joel on installing Debian

Joel mentioned that Debian is close to impossible to install. I understand this is an exaggeration to make a point but please note that Debian is very much a community software and there are several ways of installing it.

The one Joel probably tried is the one you get from downloading the "official" CD images. This is sadly enough an antique version and you probably don't want to use that, unless your aim is to write yet another rant about how hard to use free software is.

Probably the easiest way, and what I personally believe is the future of OS installers, is to use a live CD. The method isn't very polished. Expect some rough edges still, but it will be much easier than the old method. The one for Debian is called Knoppix and you will find all the installation instructions you need here (taken from a simple Google search):

http://bofh.be/clusterknoppix/knx-install.htm

(the ISO files are at http://www.knoppix.org/ .)

There is also the next generation of the Debian installer as it works on the official CDs available. It is only in beta status but I have used it many times and have had no trouble with it. There are some minor glithes, such as in the LILO step which imho is still too hard, but at least it will detect your hardware for you. Find images here (this URL will probably move as the software matures):

http://freedesktop.org/~daniel/d-i/

There is also a third new installation method of Debian. It is the Red Hat installation program for Debian. This is the least ready of the three projects and I would not recommend an end user to try this yet. Find more info here:

http://platform.progeny.com/anaconda/

Remember that it doesn't matter which method you use to install the software. When it is installed it will look the same no matter how you install it. Please note that I am not a member of the Debian project, I only use it from time to time.

Jonas B.
Monday, December 22, 2003

Yes, I used the official ISOs.

I just followed the instructions on the Debian home page. They didn't mention anything about Knoppix.

I'm glad there's an easier way to do it, but it's too bad you need to know the secret to find the easier way. This is kind of typical of Unix, I'm afraid to say: if you already know what to do, it's not so hard, so the veterans don't realize what a hard to use world they've constructed. They see screens that say, "please choose a root password" and they don't even see the word "root" as being something an amateur might not know already. To them it looks like a completely usable screen.

Joel Spolsky
Monday, December 22, 2003

I real amateur might wonder what a password is for.  What do you do in that situation?  At some point you have to make some assumptions about your user.

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Monday, December 22, 2003

I've had trouble installing Debian as well.

I tried to do an install using an existing Linux box, which sounds like a great idea: you download all the sources, do a chroot to the sources directory and make it look like what you want to see when you boot up.

I never could get it to work; debootstrap always reported an error. I asked for help on one of the IRC channels, and got total silence.

I gave up, and tried some other things which did work (*)

All in all, not a very positive experience... and this after I'd heard so many good things about the distribution.

* If you're curious, I was trying to get Linux to run from a Compact Flash card instead of a hard disk (after recovering from one too many disk crashes), and I was having lots of trouble with the bootloaders. I finally used a program called syslinux which works flawlessly.

Portabella
Monday, December 22, 2003

I've posted this before, but here we go again:

Try one of the debian-based distrubtions instead of just debian.  They are easier to install, come with a nice setup, and are otherwise pure debian.

I recommend Libranet which you can download from http://www.libranet.com/

Also, I believe that Lycoris desktop/lx is also debian based. http://www.lycoris.com/products/desktoplx/ -- you can download it from linuxiso.org

Of course, you can also install Lindows (also debian-based)...

Almost Anonymous
Monday, December 22, 2003

Actually ... thinking about this some more...

As a seasoned Unix admin, I'd like to know when I am setting the root password.  I don't want that be hidden.  If the installer said Administrative password, I might not be sure if that is a user account or indeed the root account. 

Also is calling it the Administrative password really that much better?  Many users don't want to be Administrators. 

In my opinion, there is no such thing as the one size fits all UI or the the one size fits all installer. 

Joel, have you considered rolling your own distro and selling a dedicated fog bugz server?  Then you could have any installer you want for your target audience.  Just ship an ISO for x86 systems.  No making 5 different install types. 

I've thought about doing this myself...

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Monday, December 22, 2003

I've never even thought about the root problem both times I've installed Mandrake.

It may be because I know what root means, but I think Joel is wrong about it being a barrier for entry. Your grandma won't know what root means but she will know that it is her job to provide a password, and she'll do that without any more ado. I suspect that the jargon that Joel refers to is still there because it hasn't been too much of a problem.

Perhaps Joel could tell us how Red Hat gets round this problem. It certainly would be better if you didn't need to use the term root, but if Red Hat lets you leave the root password blank, then I'm sorry but I reckon Mandrake's way is superior.

Stephen Jones
Monday, December 22, 2003

I can't remember precisely; I think that Red Hat had some help on the side which explained what root was.

Joel Spolsky
Monday, December 22, 2003

>I real amateur might wonder what a password is for.
>What do you do in that situation?
>At some point you have to make some assumptions about
>your user.

Are you really serious? Any decent person would know what a password is for. How about
"root"? Do you think non-unix users would know what a "root" user is?

Gamut
Monday, December 22, 2003

You could argue that the explanation would simply confuse, and wouldn't be suitable during an install. A short explanation saying "Root is what you might need later on if you want to install more programs; just put in the password for now" would probably be OK. A little button marked "more info" would probably be the best of both worlds.

I would think that everybody faced with a dialog box asking you to provide a root password would simply fill in a password.

Stephen Jones
Monday, December 22, 2003

I've used Linux in one form or another for at least a decade, pre-dating 1.0 and "distributions" (Slackware being the first) by a healthy margin. I'm not a Linux expert, but I'm about 3 miles from the Newbie Camp(tm).

I couldn't install Debian to save my life. The one time I tried I was thoroughly confused. I've even installed Gentoo easily and successfully! That doesn't speak very kindly to Debian.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, December 22, 2003

A couple of years ago, I installed Debian without much trouble.  And I'm a near-complete Linux newbie.  Maybe I just got lucky or something, but I didn't think it was too terribly difficult.

John Rose
Monday, December 22, 2003

>I real amateur might wonder what a password is for.
>What do you do in that situation?
>At some point you have to make some assumptions about
>your user.

Yes I'm serious.  When I startup my DVD player it doesn't ask for a password.  I'm sure it would confuse my grandma. "What was my password again, sonny? grandma@internet.com" 

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I am dumbfounded why there aren't any Linux installations that just copy a complete filesystem image to your disk. Why have all these complex steps to install things, when you could just untar an image of the system and be done with it?!

I use this method on new systems here. When I buy a new machine I don't run an installer, I just clone the disk from the last machine. Works great.

(I do have to remember to change the hostname and generate unique SSH host keys, but those steps, and any additional custom setup, are trivially automated)

Dan Maas
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

---"I am dumbfounded why there aren't any Linux installations that just copy a complete filesystem image to your disk."----

For the same reason that there aren't any Windows installations that do that either (unless you buy the OS preinstalled on a machine and you can get Linux preinstalled as well).

What you are doing is installing Windows on one machine and then making an image. Anybody installing Linux on to multiple identical machines will do exactly the same thing. But for a couple of machines it's not worth it. Remember that a Linux distro installs everything, whereas with Windows you need to install each program separately.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Installing (well, trying to) Debian today reminds me of my first Linux attempts 6-7 years ago with early verisons of SuSe (frustration and abject failiure to get anything working except bash). Maybe the next full release will be better.

If you want complete control over the installation process and high performance, I would suggest Gentoo. Caveats - have a fast PC since you will be compiling all your software and don't massively optimize gcc, glib etc.

Dominic Fitzpatrick
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Dan - Knoppix comes very close to your ideal. First, it's actually  usable directly from CD, no need to install or anything. But when the time comes that you need to install new software, which, sadly, can't be done to a CD, you boot it again, saying the magic combination "knoppix hdx-install" at the boot prompt (to which you answer by pressing the "enter" key if you want to run from CD), and though you will need to answer a few questions, it basically just copies the CD to the hard disk.

Really, anyone thinking that Linux is hard to get working, download a recent version of Knoppix (which I've played with), Mepis, Texstar (which I haven't played with, but heard great things about) or MandrakeMove (which I heard is reasonably ok). You're in for a surprise.

On my 'vintage' Athlon-800, Knoppix goes from boot prompt to loaded desktop at 45 seconds. That includes hardware detection, configuration, loading of window manager, etc. No knowledge required, just pop the CD into the drive, boot from CD, and count to 45.

Ori Berger
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

> Why have all these complex steps to install things, when you could just untar an image of the system and be done with it?!

There are some distros that do work exactly that way (eg, Pebble), and that's what I do to clone the Compact Flash distribution that I use.

It's easy, but at the same time very limiting. Also, a simple untar typically will not create a bootable aystem, you have to run a script to do that.

Portabella
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Every Linux user MUST know the concept of the root user. I see no sense in trying to hide this well established principle of anything Unix from new users who come from DOS/Windows. The probability of someone who has no idea about "root" installing Linux on his PC to know someone who does have Unix knowledge and whom he can ask is very high. Equally high as communication problems to arise when this person's local Linux guru keeps talking and asking about "root" and the Linux newcomer has never heard that term. And when the newcomer keeps mentioning something like an "administrative password" which the personal Linux guru won't be able to make any sense of.

Florian
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

"Every Linux user MUST know the concept of the root user. I see no sense in trying to hide this well established principle of anything Unix from new users who come from DOS/Windows"

Agreed. The question is - why not teach it? IMHO the problem with the Linux community isn't the level of technical knowledge required - it's that nobody ever seems to want to bother teaching it.

Try this in any Linux forum:
1) Ask "What does 'root' mean?"
2) If you get reasonable, meaningful answers, then say
"So it's like 'Administrator' on a Windows machine?"

I'll bet you that at step 2 all help will cease and the forum will devolve into name-calling, talk about monopolies, and complaints about Windows vulnerabilities.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Sorry, Florian and Philo, but you're both wrong. The average win XP Home user probably does not know what Administrator means, and unless he wants to install software won't ever need to.

If you're just using Linux for Word Processing, picture imaging and surfing the web you might never need to install any programs and will never come across root.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

> The average win XP Home user probably does not know what Administrator means

Administrator is a common, well-understood English word with an unambiguous mapping to the computer domain ("adminster the computer"), while root is not.

If the UserLinux folks are serious, they'll call the root password the "Administrator password".

I'd still like a Power Users install. In my aforementioned Compact Flash saga, many of the common distros simply would not install to a 256 MB CF card because it didn't have enough space to run a desktop. Mandrake apparently had a minimal installation option but deleted it in the interest of user friendliness :(

Portabella
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

> the forum will devolve into name-calling, talk about monopolies, and complaints about Windows vulnerabilities.

As opposed to *this* forum, with its name-calling, talk about OSS, and complaints about Linux... anything, really.

Portabella
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Where's the namecalling in this thread? It reads to me like a reasoned discussion of the vagaries and drawbacks of a non-Linux user installing Linux.

In all sincerity, I cannot *imagine* a thread like this about installing Windows on a Linux board/channel/froup.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Well Joel, welcome to my world. Bwahahahaha!

Seriously, Stephen is right. No Linux distribution is quite ready for Joe Sixpack yet. There is a basic assumption that one has a passing knowledge of unix terminology from the beginning. It is a system by programmers for programmers. Again, you have to read the E.S. Raymond book, "The Art of Unix Programming" to understand where they are coming from. 

I would agree that a simple line or two of text explaining what a root user is would dispell some confusion. But there should be a default install that requires NO THOUGHT at all for the mom and pop home users. Unix developers would rather die a slow and agonizing death than do that.

old_timer
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

> In all sincerity, I cannot *imagine* a thread like this about installing Windows on a Linux board/channel/froup

How many of those do you actually *read*, Philo?

I've picked up some great ideas for Windows this-n-that on Slashdot, and it excels, for obvious reasons, at Windows-Linux integration discussions.

Portabella
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

> Unix developers would rather die a slow and agonizing death than do that.

This sounds like wishful thinking from the Windows world.

Oh, I'm not doubting that there are Unix guys who feel that way, but there's a steady progression of usability, and all the finger-pointing at the old die-hards won't change it.

Portabella
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I agree with Stephen Jones; the average Windows user does not really know what the Administrator account is for.  This entire discussion is about a problem that doesn't exist anyways.  The average user doesn't install operating systems.

Anonymous
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I don't think he was referring to increased usability but rather Unix developers leaving the root account unprotected in order to make an installation easier for grandma.

I would even agree that an average XP home user wouldn't know what an Administrator account means and what to do with it. Which makes me wonder how MS deals with this. Because simply not setting a password for root can't be the solution.

Florian
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I think the ultimate answer is that grandma-type end users will not do their own administration. We basically can't do that in the current scheme of things, but I think that's how it's going to turn out.

Portabella
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

"How many of those do you actually *read*, Philo?"

A LOT. Not as much now as when I was running a Linux firewall, tho. Back then (all of 18 months ago) was when I got my real taste of the "much vaunted Linux user community", which is why I finally got frustrated and tossed Linux. The problem is that there's a circular logic attitude - if you don't know the basics, you can't learn the basics. "RTFM" doesn't help when the man page assumes the knowledge you're trying to gain.

I still subscribe to slashdot's daily summary, and read stories now and then. I generally only get about 5-10 articles down before the anti-Redmond vitriol gets too thick to stomach.

"I've picked up some great ideas for Windows this-n-that on Slashdot, and it excels, for obvious reasons, at Windows-Linux integration discussions."

Uh-huh. I have to ask - how much of that is from the point of view of "well, if you simply *must* deal with Windows..." [grin]

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

> how much of that is from the point of view of "well, if you simply *must* deal with Windows..

Who cares? The discussions have useful info, and at the end of the day that's what counts.

The Linux community is also well-known for HOWTOs, and I've gotten a lot of mileage out of them. A good HOWTO tells you what to do, and (in a separate section) why it works, and the background info to understand what you're doing *if you want to*.

I wish the Windows world had them.

Portabella
Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Oh, but the Windows World (tm) does have them.
And it's quite easy to get to.
On Windows 95 through XP, all you have to do is go "Start -> Help" then enter a topic you need information about.

Granted, Win95/98 didn't have the How-Tos, but ME, 2000,and XP do. And a good portion (I'd say 95%+) give you step-by-step instructions on how to do things. And you also get good information about the hows and whys of things in
Windows, as well.

But, for some odd reason, I see many, many people complain that Microsoft documents nothing, and how *agonizing* it is to search Microsoft.com (I've never had troubles with that) for information. And all they have to do is open Windows Help. Granted, it's not as technically descriptive as man pages are, but it gives you the information you need.

JBaugher
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Joel caught my eye with this one because I just installed Debian in vmware myself a few days ago. This is without ever having installed Debian before, although I have previous linux/unix experience. I really didn't have any problems at all speeding through the install process. I was surprised when I read his article because I took it to mean Joel as an experienced computer user was having problems installing Debian. I got that impression from the sentence : "Debian is very close to impossible, even for geeks".

But reading the comments what I'm getting is that he's saying that if he were a amateur (i.e not a tech person ) it might be hard to install. I don't think there's any argument about that. Grandma doesn't know what root is. Got it. However, Joel should and so should you. The Debian install is not particularly hard if you have a small basis of knowledge in unix or linux.

It's the original supposition that bothers me ( that it is a hard install even for geeks ) not the revised ( that it is a hard install for grandma ).

DCP
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

You've misread the article. It was Mandrake he was saying might be a hard install for Grandma. He had genuine difficulties installing Debian, his exact words being.
---"Debian is very close to impossible, even for geeks."

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

And how does Windows Server 2003 eliminate the need for the user to know what a Domain is?  Would you like to format using FAT32 or NTFS?  OMG!  So hard even a geek couldn't install it!!!!!!

Debian has never claimed to be a Joe Sixpack distribution.  It is dedicated to being the best Linux it can be for those functions where Linux excels now.

Debian stable is nowhere near cutting edge.  It's all about being a secure, easily maintained, flexible system.

I think Joel's comments on Debian are a little bit of hyperbole.

So maybe Debian shouldn't be your first distro, but I sure stopped distro-shopping once I got the hang of it.

Richard P
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Normally I tend to avoid responding in forums belonging to a blog. But alas, this particular subject is dear to my heart as avid debian user and advocate.

A few points I've seen come up in the thread:
- "Pure" debian is hard to install, use Knoppix/Lindows/Gnoppix/Xandros/Libranet/etc instead.
Joel didn't see the mention of these distributions at all when he did the one proper thing: Read the installation manual on www.debian.org. There's a good reason for that, the Debian project is not in any way affiliated with said distributions. They're only Debian derived. Worse yet, these are pure desktop distributions, which might not even include all of Joel's requirements for running his server based software without going through a lot of headaches trying to install "Official" packages from the Debian repository on them.
- Why can't an installer simply copy all required files onto the harddisk instead of doing everything the hard way?
Well, that's basically what debootstrap does for you. It untars the base packages for you into a mountpoint, which will become the root filesystem after the next reboot. But after the initial setup of the system, this method doesn't work anymore (as Slackware users should be able to confirm), and you'll want to use a decent package manager and database for all software you install. Repeat: The reason is that it's much better manageable that way. However, that's usually not the problem. Most users don't seem to have an immediate problem getting the basic installation up and running (you know, the curses based "text" installer, which, IMHO is still one of the better in the market...it will guide you through the installation step by step, in the right order) but with the next step...tasksel, and worse: dselect. Both these tools are horribly inadequate with today's standards. Luckily it's being worked on, as mentioned above. Anyway, part of the impossibility for Joel to install debian is likely because of the use of VMware. I don't know offhand whether or not VMWare for windows uses IDE or SCSI disk emulation by default, but if it's SCSI Joel would have to load the proper driver module first, else there won't be any disks to install on. And that is something which is *not* something which is done easily with the default text installer of debian, unless you're a bit familiar with it. In fact, I don't  even think the right module is supplied with the default installer kernel, so you're stuck with using a floppy to load the module, which implies a second machine handy to actually be able to compile the module. If it was IDE emulation which was used, then I don't really see the problem, unless picking the right network card module was...(hint: pcnet32). Anyway, to make a long story short: Debian can be hard to install, but Joel's claim of it being impossible even to a geek...I can't go along with that one.
- The last "big" thing raised is the "Linux community" and its attitude. These points are usually raised by people who are not part of said community (which, btw, I don't think exists as such), and desperately expect help and support the same way as they got their Linux distribution in the firstplace: For free. Well, sometimes you can get lucky. There are a lot of places people can go to for their free support. Distribution's mailing lists and forums, forums like those found on www.linuxquestions.org, etc.  Sometimes even on IRC, if you manage to pick the right network and channel. But hey, since it's free support, your mileage may vary. As a reasonably experienced and seasoned linux user I can assure you that it's much more enjoyable to help someone out who is able to ask a coherent question about a challenging problem than to reiterate the answers as they are found in HOWTOs, FAQs and even online manual pages over and over again. So, if someone sees a RTFM from someone with some "seniority" in the support channel in question (i.e. moderators, operators and users which are treated with respect by the first two groups), it's probably something which you should have done a long time ago. Following posting guidelines, channel rules, reading FAQ URLs, sticky topics, and in general http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html usually helps a lot too. In short: We CANNOT and WILL NOT provide you your free support in sufficient quality if you're not willing to work with us! If that turns you away from using Linux, or whatever else you're looking support for, well, so be it. It may sound elitist, and maybe it is, but since it's free support you're looking for, I preserve the right to decide in which form and to who I provide it. Pay me my usual consultancy fee, and I'll be more than happy to provide support on *your* terms.

Okay, I think, that should about cover all I have to say. Joel, keep up the good work on your products and site, and kudos for not forgetting Debian in your supported configurations. Some URLs which might be of use to you:
http://www.debian.org/doc/maint-guide/
http://www.debian.org/doc/developers-reference/
Because if anything, at least Debian documents its packaging guidelines for its distribution.

F.O. Tempel
Friday, December 26, 2003

Joel,

Before you claim that these free UNIX products are too difficult to use, you'd better sit down and do some thinking about your product and how it's going to be used. If you don't you're in for some rude shocks when your product hits the streets, and you'll be dropping the UNIX product within the year.

First, you tried to install these distributions under emulation, not actually on the raw hardware. You're lucky you got anything to install at all. As a CEO your time is very valuable; you need to spend it as effectively as possible. Hard disks are cheap. Buy a few and install to those, instead of wasting your time with a virtual machine. Your end users certainly aren't going to be setting up their servers with a virtual machine. Their product is going to be running on the hardware 24/7.

Second, your product is being sold to developers. Think like a developer here, not Grandma. Developers are used to doing hard things. If they have a UNIX machine in their shop, they'd better know what the root account is. Think about your product in terms of the intended audience, not in terms of one that won't ever exist. This is important, because it will help you put your efforts into the right place, not the wrong place.

One of the things this means is that you shouldn't be spending a lot of time making installers.  Installing a PHP application should usually be as simple as copying the files to their destination, setting up a database, and modifying some config files.  At least the file copying should be manually; usually by extracting a tarball. Scripts to manage configuration files and database setup are fine, but they should be pretty universal. All free UNIX distributions come with scripting languages, and writing one in PHP is also simple.

I've just given you advice that a lot of people would be happy to charge you thousands of dollars for, under the guise of consulting. You've just gotten it for free. If I sound a little harsh, then my tone came through correctly. You're not living up to your reputation as a smart guy that people should listen to about the computer business. We all expect better.

Clay Dowling
Friday, December 26, 2003

Clay,

I have the feeling you should try VMWare. If you are curently doing QA for multiple setups by rebooting and reimaging different harddisks, you are really, and I mean really really, going to like it.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, December 26, 2003

I use the faster solution of keeping four systems available at all times. That covers the different machines that I need.

Clay Dowling
Friday, December 26, 2003

----" and desperately expect help and support the same way as they got their Linux distribution in the firstplace: For free."------

What they are expecting is the same level of civility and support they get from the Windows community when they have a problem there.

And they are unlikely to be simply told to refer to the Help File, let alone search the Knowledge Base or read the Resource Kit, even though all three of these are probably a lot more accessible than the Linux docomentation.

Stephen Jones
Friday, December 26, 2003

"And they are unlikely to be simply told to refer to the Help File, let alone search the Knowledge Base or read the Resource Kit, even though all three of these are probably a lot more accessible than the Linux docomentation."

Give the man a fish, and he'll eat for the day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat the rest of his life.

I disagree that the knowledge base and the resource kit are more accessible than random linux documentation. I know, I wade through it daily in search for answers so I can support the 800+ users on the Windows network I administer. (There, I've said it...I'm not a programmer, I'm a system engineer/administrator.) Searched through the Microsoft knowledge base recently? It's a steaming pile of dogpoo. And what exactly is wrong with referring people to the builtin help function? That's what it's there for...to provide help.

I can't help but think that what the "Windows community" does provide in the form of help and support pollutes the views of how Linux support should work. See above mantra. If someone is unwilling to learn, only looks for a free ride, and in general doesn't provide anything back in return aside from "You guys suck because you didn't want to help me", why should we as "Linux community" go through that ordeal in the firstplace? So maybe we like to pick which kind of users we want. Maybe we couldn't care less about Joe Sixpack, because basically he's a burden on the support mechanism which is geared towards people who are not afraid of some effort. Besides, there's always the easy Windows System waiting, loyally, for their defected users, who though the grass was greener on the other side of the fence, but found out the hard way that the fence is aligned with barbed wire. Elitest? You bet. Offtopic? Indeed. The truth? Who knows, I can only see things from my standpoint...and thusfar it's not a pretty sight.

F.O. Tempel
Friday, December 26, 2003

So you've proved that the Windows community is much nicer and welcoming than the Linux community. Perhaps Bill or Steve could put it in their next marketing campaign.

Windows: made by bastards for really nice guys

as opposed to
Linux: the altruists' present to the sociopath.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, December 27, 2003

Hmm, you're one having your heart set on proving something. Oh well, I guess I should have stayed in the woodworks instead of commenting on blogs. Oh well, my mistake. Luckily I learn from mine, as opposed to some.

F.O. Tempel
Saturday, December 27, 2003

What happened Mr. Tempel is that about four years back a friend  had a query in MS Office I couldn't answer and I wnet to an online forum andasked for help. I got it, and have asked maybe a dozen or so questions on different forums in the last four years. I have alse answered thousands of questions posed by other people.

Now if somebody had told me to RTFM, (and yes the answer to my very first question could have been found through Office help if I'd have really searched) then I would probably never have bothered using an online forum again.

The point is that most of the times I have seen people being told to RTFM, look in the help file, search the knowledge base or "stop being fricking lazy and google for it", it has not been at all clear what search terms they should have used, or they had already done so, or they just hadn't done any of these things before.

In fact I would say that RTFM is normally the kind of reaction you get from somebody who is not  prepared to even read the original question properly and sees onlne communites as ways of bolstering his ego.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, December 27, 2003

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