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Unix / Linux Desensitisation


'Back in the day', in the late '80s to early '90s, I worked on a number of technical systems (simulation, production planning and similar)  that worked on PCs and workstations, using OS/2, Windows, a variety of Unixes and VMS. Of these operating systems I liked the Unix variants the least, for the reasons that people usually dislike Unix. When I read 'The Unix Haters Handbook' I experienced the thrill of recognition because I had become aware of many of the flaws in the book, and had mentally filed them under 'flaws'.
Since then I have not really had much to do with Unix or Linux. However, I now feel that it would be good to have another go with Unix or a go with Linux because of the flakiness and insecurity of Windows and my distaste for some of Microsoft's business practices. Unfortunately, I cannot bring myself to do very much with Unix / Linux - I have installed a number of distributions and even had moderate success setting up software on them. I have the same feelings of revulsion that I had ten years ago, a feeling that my time would be better spent hitting my head repeatedly against the wall, that the software is complex and awkward without actually being powerful or elegant. I have the same feeling when I browse Unix / Linux books in bookshops, the feeling that someone is explaining to me at length one of their strange and incomprehensible dreams.

So my question to the team is, can you suggest a way that I can overcome my aversion to Unix / Linux, or am I doomed to roam the Windows registry forever?

(Do not suggest OS/X - in addition to an at least partly rational hatred of Unix, I also have what I admit is a probably less rational and considerably more virulent hatred of Macs).

Harvey Pengwyn
Monday, February 09, 2004

Shock Therapie:
http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/
allow yourself vi only
never mess with X11

Namtar
Monday, February 09, 2004

The dream like feeling you speak about is most likely a sign of you not having a mental framework to hook the information into. All you get then are a bunch of little factoids that are easily forgotten.
Drawing a visual map of stuff can help there. Anyone know of a decent visual diagram of a linux system?

Otherwise, I suggest getting very familliar with the layout of the filesystem and the configuration files. Then alot of stuff will fall into place.

Eric DeBois
Monday, February 09, 2004

I'd have to agree with Namtar.  The only way to do anything in Linux is through the command line.  Somehow all of the Desktop Environment's feel like failed Xerox PARC experiments from the mid 1980's to early 1990's.  Largely the core of the operating system hasn't changed much since the 1970's.  People will argue with me on that point, but I feel that largely it's still the same core command line driven OS that was originally developed by Thompson.  That's both it's greatest asset and it's greatest liability.  If you want to use it, then use it as it was originally designed. 

Elephant
Monday, February 09, 2004

I just stumbled upon a debian install walkthrough, It might just suit your needs.

http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=2016&page=4

By following the procedure in this walkthrough you end up with a very clean debian system as well as an understanding of the basics and how to install new software and such.

Eric DeBois
Monday, February 09, 2004

I wouldn't force the entire operating system on anyone. NT or Linux now days both take years to master (from a programmatic and administrator point of view.)

I think the best thing to do is to find non-computer replacements for the 75% of the tools you need everyday, and only use computers if you really really need to. Become a practical user, instead of a power user, because clearly you have just as strong dislike of the traits that makes computers of the 21st century so likable to others.

Instead of outlook, a pocket pc/palm pilot and outlook express.

Is instead of a Linux file server, run a Linux-embedded or BSD-embedded appliances (the one where you swap in bigger hard drives as you need and has a web interface).
If you are lucky they'll do email and dns too.

Hate email administration? Hate dns? Hate web? You can outsource it. The prices are reasonable.

If you shrink enough, eventually you'll be back under the happy little rock you came from.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, February 09, 2004

>instead of a Linux file server, run a Linux-embedded or >BSD-embedded appliances (the one where you swap in >bigger hard drives as you need and has a web interface).
>If you are lucky they'll do email and dns too.

this is very similar to what I was thinking of as my fall-back position, getting the software that runs on pocket Linux machines and running it on desktop ones, or maybe using an ARM based mini-itx board as a desktop machine.

> If you shrink enough, eventually you'll be back under the
> happy little rock you came from.

Lead me back to the rock!

Harvey Pengwyn
Monday, February 09, 2004

Check out The UNIX Philosophy by Mike Gancarz. If it just doesn't ring your bell, look somewhere else.

What is your Mac problem based on? Is it the culture, the Pre OSX stuff or the high cost of a Mac? You say you want unix, but don't want the frustration of unix, but don't want the cleanest implementation of unix...

Also, if you can get over the install, go with FreeBSD. It is much more stable (feature change, not uptime) than linux, is easier to install software (ports) and things are organized in a much more orderly way (/usr/local).

m
Monday, February 09, 2004

My irrational hatred of Macs springs from spending 2 1/2 years working for a company of business / technology consultants that was exclusively Mac based. There was no doubt that at some point in the past, before I joined, they had enjoyed a genuine technological advantage by using Macs i.e. they could turn up on a customer site with a few macs and a laser printer and be networked together and churning out fancy reports and IDEF diagrams quicker than you could say 'downsize'.
However, by the time I joined in about '95 (this was the job after the job where I came to hate Unix), PCs had got a lot better and Macs were going through a phase of stagnation and I got extremely sick of 2 1/2 years of people telling me how wonderful Macs were!

Harvey Pengwyn
Monday, February 09, 2004

Harvey,

I don't think that you're going to be happy with any system that you use.  UNIX and Linux are a huge shock to the newcomer.  I hated UNIX with a deep and abiding passion when I was first introduced to it (It was also bad old AT&T UNIX on overloaded equipment, which could have been part of the problem).  But I learned it, and when I went back to my old beloved DOS I was shocked at how less useful it was.  From that day forward I've been a huge UNIX fan, not necessarily for elegance but because it fit my needs and desires a lot better.

So your choices are to accept the shock and learn to use UNIX, or stick with what you know.  Nothing will give complete satisfaction. When they finally find it, I'm sure it will be outlawed and declared immoral.

Clay Dowling
Monday, February 09, 2004

Please download and run Knoppix from www.knoppix.net - you can run it directly from the CD and get used to it w/out ever touching your hard drive.

When you decide you like it, the hd-install is pretty straightforward (takes about 20 minutes).  It installs and configures virtually every compatible piece of hardware automatically, so you don't have to muck around with anything to get it running.

On top of that, when you want to install software, it's as easy as typing:

apt-get install whatever-software-you-want

Or, you can install a graphical manager for downloading & installing software.  You have to get away from the idea that you must visit the software maintainers site, download an installer, and run it.  That's not how it works (generally) in linux.  Of course there are exceptions, but for the vast majority of software, you should use apt.  It ensures that it will work on your system and you can get rid of it easily with one command.

saberworks
Monday, February 09, 2004

"a feeling that my time would be better spent hitting my head repeatedly
against the wall"

Wow, that's the same feeling I get when using Windows XP.

scruffie
Monday, February 09, 2004

The best way I know to learn any system, whether it's an O/S or a language or a technology, is simply to stop using anything else until you can do everything you need on the new system. Set up a Linux partition on your machine, and stop using Windows altogether until you don't really care whether you ever use Windows again.

It's only a tough road for the first few days, and then you can start reintroducing Windows to your work process to see what fits you best.

Caliban Tiresias Darklock
Monday, February 09, 2004

I think some posters here don't get it. Mr. Harvey Pengwyn does not need any easy install of Linux. He has stated he has installed several distros, and he spent a couple of years working with it around 1990.

He would not even have been using a graphical user interface, and he was experienced enough to work out many of the points made in the Unix haters handbook himself.

I'm afraid the only way he will get over his aversion to Unices is if he finds a Linux geek who happens also to double as a porno film star; it's amazing what the hots can do to religious beliefs.

Stephen Jones
Monday, February 09, 2004

That is an interesting comment coming from someone in Saudi.

pdq
Monday, February 09, 2004

The Unix Haters Handbook is rather dated. It was written more than 10 years ago and much of what it complains about has been fixed or improved. Not most of it unfortunately (one can still rm -r /) but quite a lot.

For the most up to date thinking on why Unix was handed down directly from a diety, read Eric S Raymond's "The Art of Unix Programming". It's tough to wade through his constant prostelytizing, but there's a tremendous lot of good information therein.

old_timer
Monday, February 09, 2004

> "a feeling that my time would be better spent hitting my head repeatedly
against the wall"

> Wow, that's the same feeling I get when using Windows XP

Oh, I get it with XP too, this is one of the reasons I was thinking of trying Unix / Linux again, though as I said the main reasons are the insecurity and the business practices.

Harvey Pengwyn
Monday, February 09, 2004

> The Unix Haters Handbook is rather dated. It was written more than 10 years ago and much of what it complains about has been fixed or improved. Not most of it unfortunately (one can still rm -r /) but quite a lot.

This is an interesting point. I have, a number of times, looked for sites that say 'well, the Unix Haters Handbook made some good points but x, y, and z have improved', but not really found anything.

Certainly, I use a number of the Gnu tools on Windows and my impression is that they are considerably more reliable than the Unix ones were 10 or so years ago.

Harvey Pengwyn
Monday, February 09, 2004

Truly, computers are pain and suffering. Or at least a lot of tedium. UNIX and XP are both a pain in the nuts. The difference is that XP is like having your nuts pounded every couple of hours with a cricket bat, and UNIX is like having a clamp on your nuts that compresses and releases every 5 minutes. 


Monday, February 09, 2004

> Truly, computers are pain and suffering. Or at least a lot of tedium. UNIX and XP are both a pain in the nuts. The difference is that XP is like having your nuts pounded every couple of hours with a cricket bat, and UNIX is like having a clamp on your nuts that compresses and releases every 5 minutes. 

Is that every couple of hours, or at random with a mean TBNPWCB of two hours? If the former then this sounds preferable, if the latter I will go for the clamp.

Harvey Pengwyn
Monday, February 09, 2004

I have several suggestions.

As noted above, FreeBSD is a highly-structured Unix, which makes it easier to learn. Since all FreeBSD systems have the exact same filesystem layout it's much easier to match documentation to your own system. It also features a wonderful program installation system.

Next, if you plan to use Unix as a server, avoid using a GUI. This may seem primitive but Unix has always been designed to do things from the command-line. The GUIs are usually layered on top of the text-mode utilities and can hide what's really going on -- especially if you are just learning.

Finally, learn one thing at a time. Decide "today I'm going to learn how to run a DNS server" and do it. It will be verrry slow and frustrating at first, but it gets easier as you go. And the next time you need to set up DNS (for example), it will be a breeze.

Nate Silva
Monday, February 09, 2004

I am using Lindows on one of my PC's and i must say its:

- easy
- stable
- fast

I really enjoy computing again...

ps. the click and run installer is great for newbies installing
more then 10000 software apps for free with one click

Dev
Monday, February 09, 2004

the pain in the nuts analogy is close to being right. the situation is more like this:

with XP your nuts seem like they are doing ok but once in a while WHAM! they get nailed super hard with the cricket bat. You can't breath or stand up and want to puke. It takes days to recover.

With unix your nuts are in the clamp 24/7. However it is a clamp that is leveraged just enough to feel uncomfortable all the time. Sort of a dull, aching nut clamp pain. Some dudes however, start to get into having a clamp on their nuts all the time, and can't imagine life without it.


Monday, February 09, 2004

...and with osx its as though a lovely woman is holding your balls in a soft hand, and every now and again she gives them a gentle, loving squeeze and stroke...

ya right
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

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