[rescue] *****SPAM***** Re: "I prefer a GUI"

Charles Shannon Hendrix shannon at widomaker.com
Tue Jun 14 20:07:56 CDT 2005

Mike Meredith wrote:
> On Tue, 14 Jun 2005 09:35:06 -0500, Wes Will wrote:
>>But don't count on good documentation, there is none.  Insufficient
>>background, no step-by-step instructions for the assistance of the
> This is a shame, because Unix used to be known for good documentation.
> Not the right kind of documentation for a new user perhaps, but at least
> you had a good chance of finding complete reference documentation for
> all the important commands by just doing 'man somecommand'. Now you
> can't even be sure that'll work.

Open source in general has a real problem with not just documentation, 
but configuration.

A lot of the software out there has configuration setups that are down 
right byzantine.  Much of it violates the principles of discovery and 
least surprise.

Just look at SSH, and the insane headaches it can cause at times.  The 
configuration is *stupid*, and the debugging messages are nearly useless 
for some of the more common problems.

IMHO, and keep in mind I love it, UNIX has never been really good in 
this regard.  A lot of UNIX over the years has required quite a bit
of magic incantation.

Systems like TOPS actually had useful newbie help, at least when you 
consider the times in which they were created.

In 2005, the industry has very little excuse for the way things are.

Also, to be fair, once you get beyond the basics, Windows is a horrible 
nightmare of undiscoverable and indecipherable configuration and structure.

That candy-coated shell is very thin.

> Make notes. Try to make them a few steps before you say "Uh oh! I'm
> going to need notes on this later". Keeping a large A4 notepad next to
> my keyboard was the one of the wisest things I've done recently ... the
> brain cells have taking to learning things and then wandering off on
> holiday.

I like "UNIX Power Tools" as a good book of discovery about real 
problems.  A lot of the older O'Reilly stuff is pretty good.  I have 
been less happy with their newer stuff.

There are tons of UNIX books on using and programming.  I'd give you a 
list but most of my stuff is for programming.  I learned UNIX the hard 
way, and I have no idea how to describe the process enough to help 
others.  It just sort of happened with me.  I'm wierd enough that it 
somehow made sense.

> Printing. For some reason Unix printing has pretty much always been a
> disaster area :(

Printing is a disaster everywhere really, its just that some systems are 
successful in hiding it from the user.

I think NeXT, NeWS, and new Macs have the only really nice system, and 
its not perfect either.

Also, printers have too many competing standards for printer control, 
and there really is no need for that any more.

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