Get over it.

Story: Linus Torvalds on Linux DistributionsTotal Replies: 52
Author Content
azerthoth

Jul 27, 2008
12:44 PM EDT
Caitlyn seems to think that Linus' opinion somehow vindicates her position. The logic of which escapes me at the moment. The bigger question, why after all the fluff has fallen out of the air, does she stir the exact same pot again with the same spurious logic used in the same article.
bigg

Jul 27, 2008
1:05 PM EDT
I started the thread in question ages ago, so let me restate my opinion.

I had avoided Slackware because of all the claimed difficulties of that distro. Then after using and understanding it, I came to realize that it was exactly what I was looking for. It was the easiest of Linux distros for my needs.

Let me repeat that: I use Slackware _because_ it is easy to use.

I'm a non-technical computer user who gave up on Windows because it was too difficult. Nobody - I mean nobody - would mistake me for a "technical" user.

My needs: * A system that works with as little maintenance as possible. * A system with a few apps, some specialized, that are always updated as soon as new versions are released.

Nothing comes close to Slackware. For the first time in many years, I'm using my system rather than thinking about it. I do a little compiling, but that's a very small price to pay for what I get. It couldn't be easier than using SlackBuilds.

Does it matter that there are not GUI tools for everything? Not at all. See my list for the two things that I need in an OS. Ease of use is relative to your needs. I realize that Slackware is not appealing to most users. However, it is wrong to say it is not easy to use.

That's what I was saying then, and it's what I'm saying now. It's nice to _use_ my computer rather than tinker with it.
herzeleid

Jul 27, 2008
1:17 PM EDT
Everybody is wired differently and I'm fine with that. I've used a lot of linux distros. Slackware was one of the first ones I used, and I liked it. But I'm always looking for the optimal distro, in terms of return on time investment, so I've tried quite a few of them.

I recently switched to ubuntu after a 4 year stint with suse, not only because I think canonical has the best chances for garnering mainstream mind share, but because the distro is nicely done, and works well for me.

So yeah, I'm an ubuntu user. It's not that I'm a noob, it's just that I have better things to do with my time than twiddling with makefiles and waiting for programs to compile. been there, done that, and it's a great learning experience, but now I just want to get on with the work at hand.
caitlyn

Jul 27, 2008
1:32 PM EDT
"Get over it"? I see someone wants to censor what I write. When you become an editor for O'Reilly you can do that.

I do happen to believe that Linus Torvalds opinion carries weight. I believe that what he says is newsworthy. Therefore I report on it even when it's somewhat controversial.

My point was not to reopen the Slackware debate since absolutely nobody is going to budge in their respective positions. I'm sorry, bigg, but outside of the Slackware community your idea of easy to use is definitely a minority position. It's not "wrong" to express a position you happen to disagree with. I have precisely the opposite opinion of Slackware than you do -- it makes me tinker and do extra work.

What was my point? To make clear that ease of use (common definition, not Slackware definition) is important to MANY experienced users, Linus Torvalds included. Like I said, I do believe his opinion carries extra weight in the broader Linux community even if some here don't agree.
rijelkentaurus

Jul 27, 2008
1:56 PM EDT
Linus' opinion carries great weight on technical matters pertaining to the kernel itself, but his opinions and thoughts in the "broader" Linux community are generally taken with a pound of salt. He has shown himself to be a childish brat on more than one occasion (*COUGH* masturbating monkeys *COUGH*). I don't think anyone gives a rat's backside what distribution he uses or why he uses it, no more than they care which desktop he chooses to use.

And if you don't want to reopen the Slackware debate, don't reopen the Slackware debate. Writing opinion pieces where you reopen the debate doesn't help.
bigg

Jul 27, 2008
1:59 PM EDT
> it's just that I have better things to do with my time than twiddling with makefiles

That's what makes Slackware great, to compile package foo, you download the SlackBuild and type

./foo.SlackBuild

You're not always going to have the latest binaries with Ubuntu. So I'd either be stuck twiddling with makefiles or using outdated packages, which is not always an option, with Ubuntu. (Not that this is the reason I don't use Ubuntu.)

> outside of the Slackware community your idea of easy to use is definitely a minority position

I don't disagree. It's primarily because most users don't need the latest releases of apps the way I do.

The point I was trying to make, and that you don't accept, is that ease of use is not a standard term like "compile" or "turn on the computer".
caitlyn

Jul 27, 2008
2:00 PM EDT
One advantage of this piece is that, at least as far as the O'Reilly comments so far, it's taken the debate out of the Slackware community and put it in the context of the wider Linux community. The net result is that so far 3 of the 4 opinions posted echo what herzeleid posted here. I think, when all is said and done, it will be more than 75% that agree with Linus' position and my own in the context of the broader community.

Regarding the comments about the OpenBSD developers, well... he had a point even if he made it in the crudest and most outrageous way possible.
azerthoth

Jul 27, 2008
2:05 PM EDT
Caitlyn since it's obvious that you feel you still have to defend your opinions to many people who don't agree with you, it was you not anyone here who stirred the forgotten pot.

I said get over it, because you 'were' the only one who even gave it thought anymore. Defending a dead topic long after the fireworks were over and kicking the anthill, "get over it" is about the politest thing someone could say. The other comment that comes to mind uses words like grow up, with some profanity tossed in between the grow and the up.

Linus' opinion on license are pertinent, his taste in distro's or pizza toppings, irrelevant.
garymax

Jul 27, 2008
3:37 PM EDT
Obviously, Caitlyn doesn't understand the concept of "Pandora's box" since she seems to keep opening it up. :-)
herzeleid

Jul 27, 2008
3:39 PM EDT
@bigg - I was thinking more along the lines of gentoo when I mention labor intensive distros.

Slackware actually has some admin tools, and a package management system of sorts - BTW hows that slapt-get thing going?.

At any rate, slack certainly has its charm, but not everybody is right for teh slack.
garymax

Jul 27, 2008
3:40 PM EDT
Caitlyn said "...The net result is that so far 3 of the 4 opinions posted echo what herzeleid posted here."

Maybe that's because a lot of us haven't bothered to go over to the site and post our views. I wouldn't take 4 comments as a statistical sample to prove your position.
garymax

Jul 27, 2008
4:01 PM EDT
Caitlyn said "...One advantage of this piece is that, at least as far as the O'Reilly comments so far, it's taken the debate out of the Slackware community and put it in the context of the wider Linux community."

The debate was never "in" the Slackware community that I was aware of.

And exactly how does "Get over it" equate to censorship? It doesn't.

It wasn't censorship. It was simply a strongly-worded suggestion in the form of an imperative. If you are going to write articles then you need to respect those who disagree with your position. You seem to be having a hard time with dissenters.

Lastly, why this campaign on "ease-of-use"? I agree that Slackware and other distros aren't for everybody but I do not believe that they are that difficult to use either.

I am having a little difficulty understanding why, when there are so many other issues confronting Linux and the wider community, you seem bent on "ease-of-use" cases.
garymax

Jul 27, 2008
4:17 PM EDT
herzeleid said "So yeah, I'm an ubuntu user. It's not that I'm a noob, it's just that I have better things to do with my time than twiddling with makefiles and waiting for programs to compile."

I understand the sentiment but your comment infers that all Slackware users are constantly tweaking a makefile or compiling.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It's been months since I compiled an application. I have a rock-solid system that does what I want, stays out of my way, and works consistently in the way that I need it to.

How is this hard? How is this time consuming?
herzeleid

Jul 27, 2008
4:25 PM EDT
@garymax - I understand your POV, and I'm no singling out slackware as a labor intensive distro, far from it, I was thinking more of the hard core types who gravitate to gentoo or LFS - but I find the package management on debian derived systems to be the best of any of the distros I've used.

Let's use as an example the task of getting maia mailguard (a spam/virus email quarantine/management system) installed and running. I'd estimate that it would take anywhere from a couple hours to a day on slackware, depending on the skill level of the admin.

On e.g. ubuntu hardy heron it was a no-brainer, as it was pretty much reduced to a running couple of scripts containing a bunch apt-get commands.

garymax

Jul 27, 2008
4:31 PM EDT
herzeleid

No doubt there are some tasks that take longer on Slackware. For those who use it the payoff is the tighter system integration and lower overhead under the hood.

I use Slackware because it is more stable than Ubuntu to me and affords me the ability to get the latest bits if and when I want them--without waiting for the distributor's next release to get an application upgrade.

It all comes down to personal preference. And I have no problems with that. What I do have a problem with are those who would set out to define "ease of use" according to their own terms and criticize other's distro of choice in the process.
techiem2

Jul 27, 2008
4:42 PM EDT
Quoting:It all comes down to personal preference.


Exactly. I personally find gentoo to be very easy to use. I like portage and how it works and find it quite instinctive (to me anyhow). I also like having to learn more when I'm setting up some service or other, so the time investment doesn't bother me. "Normal" package managers tend to annoy me because of not knowing the full dependency tree, or what options program x was compiled with.

But I realize that to many those package managers are exactly what they need and want, and that for some of them trying to use portage would be like trying to walk to the moon. :)
garymax

Jul 27, 2008
4:49 PM EDT
techiem2

Leaving the dependency checking to a system's package manager has its advantages but there are drawbacks as well.

Using a system's package manager to resolve dependencies and deliver pre-built packages means ceding some level of control over to the developers of that distribution. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing but, in some ways, it can be a disadvantage.

The trick is to use what you're comfortable with and leave others to their own choices.
cbart387

Jul 27, 2008
4:52 PM EDT
I've found that distros like Debian and Arch, that have a rolling release are the easiest to manage (especially Arch which is less strict than Debian with regards to GNU/FSF's definition of free). You may have a longer setup but the lack of needing to reinstall trumps the initial easy-of-use in other distros, at least for me. And both their package managers are superb in managing dependencies. Both (arch in particular) are much faster in performance then some of the GUI-centered distros (Mandriva, Fedora from experience).

That said... no one is wrong in their opinion. That's what is great about Linux. You have the freedom to choose what suits you best. Just because Linus favors a particular distro doesn't mean you have to have to have the same favorite distro. However, at least to me, it's interesting what Linus likes. He was the one that started the whole Linux thing you know?
azerthoth

Jul 27, 2008
5:01 PM EDT
Interesting, yes. Relevant to the opinions expressed by the author of the article, about as much as to the price of tea in china. Needlessly kicking an antheap that we already beat to death by stating that one persons opinion reinforces the position that she took and states as fact.

This whole thing was dead and gone, but oh no, she wasnt done defending her position or trying to force her point home.
garymax

Jul 27, 2008
5:30 PM EDT
azerthoth

I think this is a pet issue with Caitlyn.

jdixon

Jul 27, 2008
5:33 PM EDT
> Maybe that's because a lot of us haven't bothered to go over to the site and post our views.

Yeah, but why bother? The people who appreciate Slackware for it's virtues will always be outnumber by those who deride it for it's perceived faults, whether valid or not. At least Caitlyn has valid reasons for not wanting to use Slackware herself.

> The debate was never "in" the Slackware community that I was aware of.

Agreed. I can imagine the reception the review would have gotten on alt.os.linux.slackware. :) LXer is a comparatively mild mannered bunch in comparison.

garymax

Jul 27, 2008
5:44 PM EDT
jdixon said, "At least Caitlyn has valid reasons for not wanting to use Slackware herself."

That isn't the point. As valid as her reasons may be for not using Slackware, she appears to be fixated on ease of use issues.

jdixon

Jul 27, 2008
6:10 PM EDT
> Nothing personal against Caitlyn but she needs to learn how to communicate with those who hold differing views.

Well, it depends on what she wants to communicate. If she wants to make a point of how far about the views are, then I'd say she doing a pretty good job. If she wants to understand the differing view and find common ground, not so much so.

I doubt Caitlyn is trying to project her opinions as facts. I suspect she's merely trying to voice them in the most effective manner as she sees it. However, I think it's fairly obvious she has little use for those who disagree with her opinion, regardless of their grounds for doing so (that's a judgment, of course, and others are free to disagree).

Fair enough, unless they can teach me something, neither do I. Most of the people here have things to teach me, which is one reason I hang out here.
garymax

Jul 27, 2008
6:23 PM EDT
jdixon said "...I think it's fairly obvious she has little use for those who disagree with her opinion, regardless of their grounds for doing so..."

That's my point.

It's not that she doesn't have a right to her opinion; in fact, she has every right to cite Torvald's in an attempt to buttress her review and make a point. But when she holds in low regard other people's views--especially, those who would challenge her assumptions--she does not favor meaningful discourse. Nor does she try to find, as you stated, "common ground".

My perceptions are based upon lengthy exchanges that I and several others in this forum had with Caitlyn when she opened Pandora's box the last time.
caitlyn

Jul 27, 2008
7:11 PM EDT
There is one difference between this thread and last time. Last time nobody went into personal attacks or attempted to judge my motives. The previous thread was a debate over the virtual merits of Slackware. This time it's anything but.

Interestingly enough, my article was about what Linux Torvalds called "overly technical" distributions and Debian was the first one mentioned. Slackware was merely one of three. It was an article about the importance of ease of use. Slackware wasn't the central point except in the minds of those who feel a need to defend Slackware.

This time I don't see a thread with anything worth debating. Feel free to keep flaming me though...
bigg

Jul 27, 2008
7:59 PM EDT
@caitlyn: I agree that today LXer has been a bit of a bar brawl more than a technical discussion.

You were revisiting the topic of the difficulties of distributions based on the arguments of an obviously knowledgeable developer. Nothing wrong with that.

I just wish you, as one of the more influential members of the Linux community, would not give the false impression that we choose to use Slackware because it makes our lives difficult. It is simply not the case that the only reason to use Slackware is that you want to understand the inner workings of your OS, and thus no ordinary 'user' would be interested. I have yet to find another distro that offers this combination of easy access to cutting edge apps and an extremely low maintenance burden. Please realize that you are sort of flaming Slackware users when you refuse to accept that for some users it is a good choice.
garymax

Jul 27, 2008
8:20 PM EDT
caitlyn,

Last time, we did not just debate the "virtual merits" of Slackware as you say; there was a lot of assumptions made on your part along with an argumentative technique that assigned positions to your detractors that weren't true ("So you're effectively arguing..." remember?). The strawman argument as I recall. I know--I was on the receiving end of several of your replies.

Based on your exchanges with others in this forum, you seem to have little regard for those who disagree with your views. Just an observation. I hope that I'm wrong.

I can't speak for others, but I am not out to have "fried caitlyn"; I am offering constructive observations that maybe you can't see from your vantage point.
jdixon

Jul 28, 2008
3:36 AM EDT
> Last time nobody went into personal attacks...

I'd be hard pressed to call any of the above attacks.

> ...or attempted to judge my motives.

And the problem with this is? Judging the motives of a writer is a necessary step in determining whether their article is of any interest to you. There's nothing wrong with sharing those judgments with others, as long as they're clearly labelled as such.

My judgment, based on the former thread and this one, is that you are only interested in your position and information which affects it, either pro or con. If someone applies a completely different standard or viewpoint, you have no interest in their opinion.

As noted, this is opinion, and may be completely wrong, but it seems relevant to the discussion.
rijelkentaurus

Jul 28, 2008
4:33 AM EDT
Quoting: Feel free to keep flaming me though...


Flaming? Who is flaming you? Just because people don't agree with you, and just because they say that, and just because you get called on trying to reignite a worn out discussion...that's not flaming. Not at all. Get over yourself, already.
caitlyn

Jul 28, 2008
7:45 AM EDT
I just wish you, as one of the more influential members of the Linux community, would not give the false impression that we choose to use Slackware because it makes our lives difficult.

Funny, I just reread my article and I don't see where I'm doing that. bigg, you hit the nail on the head when you said that I believe there is an accepted definition for ease of use. In fact there are university courses on usability and many books written on the subject. That is the main difference in our opinions as I see it.

If all of you would take a moment to look at the article and the comments on O'Reilly News you'll see that the discussion isn't about Slackware. It's more generic than that and most of the comments from people comparing distributions that Linus Torvalds describes as easy (mostly Ubuntu in the comments) and those which I refer to as probably what he means by "overly technical" seem to be mainly Gentoo and Arch users. The article isn't about Slackware per se and it never was. The charge that I was trying to reignite the Slackware debate is nonsense.

Let's put it another way: I have written about Linus Torvalds' opinions before (i.e.: his dislke of GNOME) and this article would have been written even if I never had reviewed Slackware 12.1. I know some of you won't believe that but it happens to be true.

Anyone who believes I have no interest in lively debate or discussion or that I ignore or am disinterested in contrary opinions can't possibly have read my O'Reilly pieces and the comments over the past two to three years.

As far as my writing style or debating techniques are concerned, well... they happen to be my style. Some people clearly like what I write and some don't. That's perfectly fine.

I think, if anything, this thread shows a bit of oversensitivity on the part of a few in the Slackware community. A couple of other people seem to be trying to bait me or get me upset. This just isn't something I'm going to get worked up over. There is a huge difference between trying to clarify where I'm coming from (what I'm doing now) and getting into an argument. The article is about a much broader subject than Slackware and I'm not at all interested in arguing about Slackware at this time. Sorry if that disappoints some people.
jdixon

Jul 28, 2008
8:30 AM EDT
> ...you hit the nail on the head when you said that I believe there is an accepted definition for ease of use. In fact there are university courses on usability and many books written on the subject.

If the definition were that simple, there wouldn't need to be university courses on the subject, now would there?

What I find easy to use others won't. What others won't, I might. While there are some basic principles involved, the range in personal preferences is so great that trying to apply them to any particular individual is a recipe for disaster.

... and I'm not at all interested in arguing about Slackware at this time.

Yet you're the one who brought up the subject in this column. I believe the common phrase is "beating a dead horse".
garymax

Jul 28, 2008
8:34 AM EDT
caitlyn,

I think you're missing the common link between your articles: ease of use.

You beat the same horse senseless in both articles. You seem to be trying to separate the two by saying one debated the merits of Slackware while the other deals with a more general ease of use angle for the wider community.

What you seem not to realize is the common thread running through both of your articles. And due to the commonality in both of your articles, some here felt you were re-igniting a debate that had died down.

And, like it or not, you mentioned Slackware in both articles so there is, at least, a tangential relationship between the two.

You may not have done this intentionally but you need to see the link between the articles and how this comes across to others.

As others have noted, you seem to be beating the ease of use horse silly. It's like a fixation...
bigg

Jul 28, 2008
8:58 AM EDT
> some here felt you were re-igniting a debate that had died down. > You may not have done this intentionally

Let me quote from the article, "I drew the ire of some Slackware users for stating that, in my opinion, Slackware isn't user friendly due to it's lack of graphical administration tools, lack of a package manager with dependency checking, and lack of a decent repository of additional software packages. Some even took issue with my using a conventional definition of user friendly, specifically that a distribution be intuitive and relatively easy for even a non-technical user to install, configure, and maintain."

That's clearly a shot at what I had written before.

> university courses on usability and many books written on the subject

To paraphrase the old saying about art, "I don't know much about usability, but I know what's easy to use." I don't need a university course to tell me that Slackware gives me exactly what I want with less work than any other distro. If usability were easy to define for all users, there would be only one OS.
garymax

Jul 28, 2008
9:39 AM EDT
Quoting:As far as my writing style or debating techniques are concerned, well... they happen to be my style. Some people clearly like what I write and some don't. That's perfectly fine.


Caitlyn,

There's a big difference between your writing style and your debating style. One may like your writing and abhor your debating style.

From what I have seen, when you "debate" you do so in a manner that sets up strawman arguments to make your points look good instead of letting your points--and those of your detractors--stand on their own merits.

Just an observation.

One doesn't prove the merits of their position by shouting louder than others. One wins--or at least proves--their points with cogent replies and appeals to factual content.
hkwint

Jul 28, 2008
1:20 PM EDT
To help, here's the misunderstanding I sense, explained by Mr. Tuomov - someone who dislikes Linux, Slackware, Ubuntu, Gnome, automake, glibc - almost the whole Linux chain and ecosystem actually. Anyway, he says something that's useful for this thread:

"Usability simply does not equal low learning curve, and hiding system details from the user, as the Official Truth seems to be these day"

http://modeemi.fi/~tuomov/b/archives/2006/09/29/T23_35_30/

Mr. Tuomov by the way has intersting things to say about the whole Linux ecosystem though someone might not like his ranting style.

Back ontopic: Mr. Tuomov makes a distinction between usability and approachability. So what Bigg, maybe garymax and at least myself are blaming Caitlyn for is that she uses 'ease of use' and 'usabilty' without actually explaining what she means; without giving her definition. In 'our' views, she means 'approachability' but instead writes 'ease of use' or 'usability'. That's causing all this debate; a simple miscommunication and differences in ones definition of usability. Without a clear definition, discussing usability is a waste of time if you ask me (and the thread above shows), so I'm out.
bigg

Jul 28, 2008
6:50 PM EDT
> Without a clear definition, discussing usability is a waste of time if you ask me (and the thread above shows), so I'm out.

I tend to agree with you, but given that she's one of the more influential Linux bloggers, I feel I have no choice but to add comments to her stories to make sure the "technical" distros get a fair hearing. I think it's an injustice to users who, like myself, do not try distros because all of the reviewers present things from the perspective of a Windows user.
caitlyn

Jul 28, 2008
8:04 PM EDT
@bigg: Now you are doing me an injustice. I am not a Windows user and I haven't been (at least not as my primary OS) for about 15 years now. I last supported Windows professionally in 2003, and then only because the company I was working for was in financial trouble and downsizing and the last Windows admin was fired. I was the last admin standing.

The whole point of my current article was that this issue isn't just about newcomers or Windows users. Ease of use matters to many experienced Linux users.

I'll take the comment about how influential I'm supposed to be as a compliment. I have my doubts but I appreciate the thought.

@hkwint: In the current article I have explained what ease of use means, or at least I adopted Linus Torvalds' definition: easy to install, easy to keep up to date. I added, in my own words, intuitive. That does mean someone not familiar with the distro can look at it and figure it out.

@garymax: Ease of use is a common thread among these two articles. It goes way beyond that. It is a common thread in every review of a Linux distribution or desktop environment or window manager that I write. It is an important subject when discussing Linux on the desktop in general and in discussing greater acceptance of Linux. It is a continuing theme in many of my articles. I believe it is a vital issue towards greater acceptance of Linux and it is a subject I will continue to write about frequently.

The only difference between these articles and others I have written is one specifically was a review of Slackware and one followed that review closely so I chose to reference it and the discussion which followed.

If you believe writing about ease of use on the Linux desktop is "beating a dead horse" I respectfully disagree. I also disagree sharply with your characterization of my style of debate and your contention that I don't consider what others say in disagreement.

---

One again I will say look at the comments on that article. I think there are 13 including a few responses from me. None of them are about Slackware specifically. This article wasn't and isn't about Slackware. It's much broader than that.

To those who say talking about ease of use isn't generally understood I actually think it is even if some (most) in this thread challenge that or have a different understanding.

I think I've said all I can usefully say on this subject. I, despite statements to the contrary, have no interest in repetition.
garymax

Jul 28, 2008
10:49 PM EDT
Caitlyn said, "...I also disagree sharply with your characterization of my style of debate and your contention that I don't consider what others say in disagreement."

Take what I have written as constructive criticism or throw it out--the choice is yours. No matter what you decide to do, remember this: people do not judge you based on your intentions; they judge you by what you say--or write.

And sometimes, we come across in ways that we do not realize.

Selah...
jdixon

Jul 29, 2008
6:27 AM EDT
> If you believe writing about ease of use on the Linux desktop is "beating a dead horse" I respectfully disagree.

Ease of use isn't the dead horse. Ease of use of Slackware is.

I don't expect you to keep writing about ease of use. I don't expect you to stop using your definition of it. I do expect that you should realize that ease of use varies widely from one person to another depending on their past experience, attitude, and available support.

This is why I consider your review of Slackware to be substantially correct. Most new users will not have the background or support to find Slackware easy to use, while you yourself find that Slackware consumes too much of your time in comparison to other distributions.

However, neither of these makes Slackware "hard to use" as a general case.

> To those who say talking about ease of use isn't generally understood I actually think it is...

And that essentially sums up our disagreement.
hkwint

Jul 29, 2008
7:49 AM EDT
Quoting:In the current article I have explained what ease of use means, or at least I adopted Linus Torvalds' definition: easy to install, easy to keep up to date. I added, in my own words, intuitive.


OK, then the fault was mine. I'm glad it's cleared up now - at least for me.
garymax

Jul 29, 2008
11:27 AM EDT
jdixon,

I think it is possible to overemphasize "ease of use." If I knew that an author was going to be judging all of their Linux experiences by ease of use or use that as a criteria for evaluating distributions from here on out, I wouldn't read their material. It would be using an arbitrary standard with which to judge.

In order for there to be meaningful discourse, we first have to agree on what constitutes ease of use. And who would set the standard?

Physics is simple to the college professor who teaches it but not to the 6th grader. It's relative. And I think Caitlyn hasn't defined ease of use to such an extent that we can all agree with her definition. Then, Caitlyn writes for or against a distro using her ideas of what ease of use entails and speaks out against Slackware (or another perceived "hard to use" distribution) because it lacks what she thinks would make it easy for newcomers or people in general.

Then she quotes Linus Torvalds as an authority to buttress her article--which is permissible. But Linus' needs aren't my needs. He wants a no muss, no fuss distro so he can get to working on kernel level issues as quickly as possible. But that doesn't mean that Torvalds' needs set the standard for the community. Linus uses Fedora which I would never use. Big deal.

It all boils down to what the individual's needs are. And I do not think that you can say that there is an objective set of criteria that determines ease of use. Easy is a relative term.

I find Slackware easier to use than Ubuntu. But that doesn't mean it's for everyone.
jdixon

Jul 29, 2008
11:49 AM EDT
> And I think Caitlyn hasn't defined ease of use to such an extent that we can all agree with her definition.

I think it's safe to say her definition wouldn't apply to me. But then I'm not your average user, for which Caitlyn is (in theory) attempting to define the term. Unfortunately, this "average user" is an extremely nebulous, hard to define, and somewhat mythical creature, which makes defining such an "ease of use" almost impossible. At best you can come up with some generalizations, none of which may apply to any individual user.

> And I do not think that you can say that there is an objective set of criteria that determines ease of use. Easy is a relative term.

Exactly.
caitlyn

Jul 29, 2008
1:09 PM EDT
Garymax says I'm "against Slackware". I'm not. I was very clear in pointing out it's strong points: reliability, stability, and a nearly bug free distro. (At the time I wrote the review I said I hadn't found a bug but that no longer is true.) All of my reviews point out what I consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of a distro. I have never said that Slackware is horrible or that nobody should use it. Quite the contrary: I said that I keep coming back to it.

What I read in comments like this is an us vs. them attitude. It's kind of like President Bush saying you're either for us or against us. I'm sorry but the world isn't black and white.

I've spent 28+ years supporting users of all sorts in my career. I do believe that gives me some credibility in claiming I have a good idea of what a majority of users are looking for. Of course we're all individuals and we all have different needs. That goes without saying. What I write may not apply to you. That's fine and I accept that. Equally what applies to you may not apply to me. What applies to you or to me may not be a majority view. Based on my not so inconsiderable experience it isn't.

When I don't yield to or accept your view suddenly I'm inflexible. If you don't agree with my argument it's a "strawman". Sorry, no. All it means is that I see things differently.

I write for the diversity of readers that come to O'Reilly News. O'Reilly isn't a Linux website. We cover Windows, Mac, commercial UNIX, the BSDs, you name it. While our readers tend to be technically sophisticated, at least more so than the general population, they are not necessarily knowledgeable about Linux. Many are but many are not.

From what I've seen Slackware fills a niche. I'd even say it fills it well. That's why it still has a devoted following. I've never disputed that. To claim that just because people who are used to and like Slackware find it easy to use doesn't make it so for the general population or even for much of my readership. I do not believe that most people find the command line easy or even desirable. Professional systems administrators, myself included, certainly do. However, when the command line becomes the only option for routine tasks I am going to, in writing for more than just myself and more than just professional system administrators, point out the fact that the GUI, which is much more comfortable for many people, is missing. It's an undeniable fact. Now you, as a Slackware user who is comfortable of the command line may find that to be irrelevant. I don't. Most people don't.

I can count the number of popular Linux distributions which don't have automated dependency checking on one hand and have fingers left over. All the other do have it. Why is that? Slackware users argue that dependency checking is problematic and that it can get in the way. If most Linux users and developers felt that way why hasn't dependency checking gone by the wayside? If it makes life more difficult instead of easier why is it incorporated into nearly every Linux distribution? Perhaps even more to the point, why is someone who takes the view that it is important an anathema to you?

None of these issues were covered in the current article. Linus Torvalds' only example of what makes a distro "overly technical" is that it encourages you to compile your own software. In the case of Slackware that's only one issue of four that I raised. However, I did not bring those issues up again in this article, did I?

You don't like my criteria for reviewing a distribution? That's fine. You don't want to read what I write? Gee... was anybody forcing you to read my stuff? I don't think so. You want to tell the world you think I'm an idiot? If that's your opinion you are certainly within your rights to do so.

The top stories on O'Reilly News are chosen by the editors. It's not a popularity contest like it was on the O'Reillynet blogs. There is a reason my story has been at the top of the page for two days. My editor wrote me to congratulate me on an excellent story that picked out the most important parts of the interview. He liked the story a lot. I do have to please him if I want to write for him. I don't have to please the Slackware community. Believe it or not, though, I wasn't trying to please anybody. I was writing about an interview that Linus Torvalds gave that included a viewpoint which I strongly share. I wrote it because I felt it was valuable. That is and will remain my criteria. I will never please everyone nor should I try to.

I will repeat myself one last time on one key point that is being ignored: This article wasn't about Slackware. It isn't about Slackware. It would have been written even if I never had reviewed Slackware. It's about Linus Torvalds' views on what makes a good distribution. He places a very high value on ease of installation and maintenance. He also thinks having choices, including what he terms "overly technical" choices, is important. That's what this story was about. If some of you who defend Slackware somehow feel threatened by that viewpoint, which is definitely what I've come away with from this thread, well... To quote the person who started this thread: "Get over it."

OK, now I really am done here.
jdixon

Jul 29, 2008
1:42 PM EDT
> I'm sorry but the world isn't black and white.

That's a hot button for me, which I'm sorry you pushed. No, the world isn't black and white, but it's a lot more black and white than most people who use that saying are willing to admit.

> I don't. Most people don't.

Most people don't use Linux, and you claim they're happy with Windows. Using that same argument, why cover Linux at all?

> Why is that?

Because Patrick (and by extension, those who use his distribution) doesn't like it.

> ...why is someone who takes the view that it is important an anathema to you?

Anathema? You overrate yourself. I (and I believe the others commenting) merely disagree with you about what makes a distribution "easy to use", and therefore the relative worth of Slackware.

The folks here were commenting about and discussing your column, not you. You're the one who made it personal by claiming "I see someone wants to censor what I write" and similar comments (see anathema above).

You're the one who's trying to make this into a personal attack, Caitlyn, not us. We're merely voicing an alternative viewpoint. Unless we cross the lines of LXer's rules, that's as much our right as posting your columns is yours.
bigg

Jul 29, 2008
1:54 PM EDT
> I can count the number of popular Linux distributions which don't have automated dependency checking on one hand and have fingers left over. All the other do have it.

I keep saying I'm not going back to this thread, but that's like saying I'm going to stop eating the potato chips when there's still half a bag left.

Gslapt works quite well for me. I add slacky.eu to my sources and I've got most of what I need. The rest comes from SlackBuilds.org.

And, to repeat a point I made before, Slackware is designed so that dependency resolution is not an issue like it is with other distros. With Debian you _need_ dependency resolution.

I have to laugh when Fedora is cited by Linus as an easy distro. I set up Fedora 9 for someone right after it came out. The details are not important, but I used only the official repos. At first a couple of updates couldn't be installed due to dependency problems, then a few more, and after a couple weeks the system was toast. I tried Fedora 7 a year ago (when I experienced my first frustrations with Debian), it worked great, but then after a couple months of updates and infrequent use I had dependency problems. Fedora 8 lasted all of two days, as networking seldom worked.
Steven_Rosenber

Jul 29, 2008
4:13 PM EDT
For some reason, Slack 12.1 wouldn't boot on my VIA C3 Samuel box. Slack 12 and 11 did fine on it, but none of the 12.1 kernels will even boot. I really wanted to get GNOME Slackbuild on there and see how Slack ran that way. I just had trouble with the latest Lenny installer, too, so maybe the VIA is being left behind ...
jdixon

Jul 29, 2008
5:29 PM EDT
> For some reason, Slack 12.1 wouldn't boot on my VIA C3 Samuel box.

Well, the smp kernels are i686, but the single processor kernels are i486, so in theory they should work. You should probably let Patrick know, just so he's aware of the problem. I doubt too many folks use the C3 processor. I also doubt you want to take time to compile your own kernel or compare kernel config files to troubleshoot the problem.
garymax

Jul 29, 2008
6:36 PM EDT
Caitlyn,

I will not address your diatribe as you appear to be obstinate. And again, I have nothing against you personally. I do not know you. But your demeanor in this forum leads me to believe that you do not take criticism well and you don't seem to take kindly to dissenters. You routinely misrepresent the views of others and then attack them when the expressed view is different from your version. That is why I keep bringing up the strawman argument. I don't bring it up simply because I disagree with your viewpoints; I keep bringing it up because you have taken my and other's posts out of context several times now, and made us to say something we never said. And that is a strawman argument.

If you have behaved differently in other forums as you say you have, then why haven't you displayed that same generosity to us here?

Is it our fault?

gus3

Jul 29, 2008
8:12 PM EDT
@Steven:

I had trouble booting the default (SMP) Slackware 12.0 kernel on my previous system, an AMD Athlon. I had to specify the non-SMP on the SysLinux command line, just to boot the installation CD.

I'm not willing to blame Patrick for this one, because it was a home-brew system. Once I found a work-around, everything was hunky-dory.
garymax

Jul 29, 2008
8:22 PM EDT
jdixon,

Quoting:Anathema? You overrate yourself. I (and I believe the others commenting) merely disagree with you about what makes a distribution "easy to use", and therefore the relative worth of Slackware.

The folks here were commenting about and discussing your column, not you. You're the one who made it personal by claiming "I see someone wants to censor what I write" and similar comments (see anathema above).

You're the one who's trying to make this into a personal attack, Caitlyn, not us. We're merely voicing an alternative viewpoint. Unless we cross the lines of LXer's rules, that's as much our right as posting your columns is yours.


I think this sums up this whole thread quite nicely.
uslackr

Jul 30, 2008
7:09 PM EDT
Hmmm. I'm new here. I was drawn to this article because 1) I'm a Slackware user and 2) Caitlyn's name is very similar to my daughter's rare name. I just read the comments and from an outsider's perspective find her comments in this thread a bit defensive. The key was her initial comment which accused someone of wanting to censor her. That's a real conversation squelcher.

I re-read the three comments before her's and couldn't find anything close to suggesting she shouldn't be writing (or more importantly should be allowed to write (that's censorship, right?). I think that comment is an example of the strawman argument someone else suggested.

I find these conversations a lot more educational when from time to time you say something like "I see your point". It makes the other person feel good and forces you to practice some humility. Something I can always stand to do more often.

FWIW, I agree with Caitlyn's premise. Slackware is more difficult (for me, anyway), than, say, Ubuntu. But I know more about Linux than I ever would know using the bug "U". Maybe not everyone.

uSlackr
gus3

Jul 30, 2008
8:18 PM EDT
@uslackr:

You are correct, Slackware has a steeper-than-usual learning curve when you raise the hood/bonnet. But, following the basic installation instructions, anyone who wants can be productive immediately after installation, using KDE. Truthfully, the only configuration necessary after launching the GUI is printer setup (for paper office) or Internet (for paperless).

Granted, the default configuration is geared toward the lowest common denominator. Instructions are available for those who wish to "take it to the next level", but it isn't a requirement for productivity in Slackware.
jdixon

Jul 31, 2008
3:03 AM EDT
> Granted, the default configuration is geared toward the lowest common denominator.

And to be fair, the laptop Caitlyn uses for testing doesn't work with this default configuration (it doesn't support the VESA display, from memory). So she has to "take it to the next level" right from the start.

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