Thoughts from a new user

Thoughts from a new user

Post by Leon Rowel » Fri, 08 Jan 1999 04:00:00



To All:

Although I'm not sure where to post this message I would like to pass
along some thoughts from a new user of Linux. I retired last January
at the age of 55 so I thought during the winter of  '98-'99 I would
like to try the Linux Operating System. I purchased the Linux RedHat
5.2 distributed by Macmillan Digital Publishing of Indianapolis, IN and
sold at Best Buy Stores, approx. one month ago.(I think I would
purchase the original RedHat if I Had it to do over) Installation went
pretty well installing from my CD-ROM (HP 8100i CDRW) without needing
a boot disk in drive "a", although one was included with the OS. Not
all CDRoms support booting from a CD so some people would need the boot
disk. The Installation classes were "workstation", "server", and
"custom" the workstation looked to be the simplest but installs a lot of
packages that I would never use, like development programs, languages,
programmer tools, and de*s. Not to mention many networking
programs and tools that probably aren't needed for Internet only
networking applications. It also requires 600MB of disk space to
install. The server class is for function as a Linux based server and
it removes ALL existing partitions on the hard drive when it installs.
The custom class provides flexibility but is more complex because YOU
have to tell it how you want the disk(s) partitioned and what packages
you want installed. The problem with that is "what packages do I need
to connect to my ISP and use the Internet without installing a lot of
extra network stuff?" I would have liked to had another class titled
"Standalone Desktop", or something of that nature, to choose from that
would install a few applications and the programs and files needed to
connect to the Internet. Then as a person became familiar with Linux
they could add or replace applications and try different packages at
their leisure. I realize the UNIX and Linux OS's are geared more toward
commercial and educational climates but it seems like most of the sales
of Linux lately have been to people with home computers. (from the looks
of  Posts on the newsgroups anyway). I chose the custom install since I
was going to use a dual boot system and I didn't have enough room for
the "workstation " class install and I decided not to install any
networking packages since I still didn't know which ones I needed.
Once the installation was complete  it was time to configure the mouse,
the Xwindows server,  printer, and install LILO. No problems with the
mouse and printer and installing LILO (although I still have to use a
Boot Disk  to boot Linux). But  like many other people the Xserver
was a nightmare for me. Part of it being my fault. PEOPLE,--- don't
even think about starting an install without knowing ALL the
information about the hardware that's in your machine, and it's
configuration , including the type (IDE, SCSI) and size of your hard
drive, how it is partitioned, what it is connected to, if it is master  
or slave, and if you are accessing it in LBA mode. The amount of RAM
installed, SCSI adapter (make and model #), network card (make and
model #), mouse (serial, PS/2, or Bus) protocol (Microsoft, Logitech,
Mouseman, ect.) number of buttons, and for serial, the port it is
connected to. For CD's the interface type (IDE, SCSI, or proprietary)
for proprietary make and model #, modem (COM port, IRQ, DMA), sound card
 (COM port(s) IRQ(s), DMA(s)) it autodetected mine (soundblaster). Most
importantly for Xserver, monitor (Manuf., model name, Horizontal and
Vertical sync range, refresh rate, and modes its capable of). and video
card info (make, model #, chipset, video memory installed on card, if
clockchip is present. And info for any other hardware in or hooked to
your computer.
Now I'm no computer guru but I'm not computer illiterate either but it  
took me two days to get my Xserver configured and I'm still not happy
with it. I have to pan around the screen to see it all. It took me three
days to figure out how to make a backup boot disk (when it asks you if  
you want to make a boot disk for godsake say YES!). I still haven't
figured out how to make a copy of a floppy disk but I haven't put a lot
of time into that yet either.

If you have the disk space the workstation class install would probably
be the easiest.  If you have been used to Windows 3.1, or Windows 95/98
and like me are not at all familiar with the UNIX/Linux operating system
I would suggest spending the money for the box version from your
favorite computer store. Don't expect much from the installation manual
on how to use Linux or the included packages because that's all it is,
an installation manual. You will find all other information in the  
HOWTO's, FAQ's, mini-HOWTO's, and man -pages, (all included on the CD)
and also in the news groups, RedHat web pages and many other online
sources. Plan on spending a lot of time reading as well as searching for
information. Do not plan on starting an install at 8am and having
everything set up and working perfectly by 5pm 'cause it ain't gonna
happen. (if you do you better go out and buy a lottery ticket
IMMEDIATELY!)

Don't get me wrong I can see a lot of potential in this OS and I'm sure
in time it will put a big dent in Billy's CASH COW. How long it will
take depends on how ease of installation and operation improve over the
years. The people who have been instrumental in bringing the operating  
system to the point it is now deserve a bow, and as you all know the
more people who use it and improve it the quicker it becomes more user
friendly and glitzy (is that good?) I can't believe how much more I now
know about my computer, how commands work, and how to find information
both on my computer and on the Internet since I started using Linux.

Whatever you do don't give up on it even if you have to put it on a
second hard drive or separate computer, and explore it in your spare  
time, you will be better for it. Even with the problems Im having a
ball!

Leon Rowell

 
 
 

Thoughts from a new user

Post by Rick Moe » Tue, 12 Jan 1999 04:00:00


: I chose the custom install since I was going to use a dual boot system
: and I didn't have enough room for the "workstation " class install....

You know, 4.3 GB ATA ("IDE") hard drives now cost barely over US $100.

: ...and I decided not to install any networking packages since I still
: didn't know which ones I needed.

With Red Hat, it's much smarter (easier) to do a "kitchen sink" installation,
and later remove what you decide you don't need, at your leisure.

: I still have to use a Boot Disk to boot Linux).

Shouldn't have to.  You might want to configure lilo.conf to do
the job for you, now that you have the system going.

: But  like many other people the Xserver was a nightmare for me. Part
: of it being my fault. PEOPLE,--- don't even think about starting an
: install without knowing ALL the information about the hardware that's
: in your machine....

I feel for you.  You will note that people consistently fail to look
at their video cards, find the largest chip, and write down the
inscription (which include the identity of the chipset).  This is the
one key detail that _even_ people asking for X assistance on this
newsgroup consistently flub.

My article ftp://linuxmafia.com/pub/hardware/chart.txt may be of help
to some, in understanding one's system before installing OSes.  It
predates the widespread adoption of Plug'n'Pray, but may still be
of use.

: Don't get me wrong I can see a lot of potential in this OS and I'm sure
: in time it will put a big dent in Billy's CASH COW. How long it will
: take depends on how ease of installation and operation improve over the
: years.

What's the standard of comparison, though?  Most complaints about ease
of installation come from people who _have never installed_ operating
systems on Intel-type PCs before.  They've only used OEM-preloaded OSes,
and therefore fail to realise that installing _any_ PC operating system
from scratch requires understanding your hardware.

Which brings me to the obvious additional point that, if you have never
installed PC OSes before and don't want to take the time to understand
your hardware, you should consider buying a computer with Linux
preloaded.  Some (but hardly all) of the companies that offer this
are listed on my page of San Francisco Bay Area vendors, at
http://linuxmafia.com/bale/other.html

Alternatively, you can buy Linux preloaded on a hard drive, from
Cosmos Engineering, http://www.cosmoseng.com/

--
Cheers,                   The cynics among us might say:   "We laugh,
Rick Moen                 monkeyboys -- Linux IS the mainstream UNIX now!
rick (at) linuxmafia.com  MuaHaHaHa!" but that would be rude. -- Jim Dennis