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Re:Deploring *nix Philosophy

On Sat, 05 Jun 2004 07:33:42 +0530, Parameshwara Bhat <pbhat ongc net> wrote:

Hello Mr. Erik & Mr.Robin,

I thank you both for taking the pains to respond in such details. I am trying to clarify my position ( to myself first and the list ) help make issues clear.Dear List,please excuse me for the lenght.I can't help.

I felt you both were mistaken in understanding me. Maybe that stems from our different understanding of 'Desktop Installation'. I understand by 'Desktop Installation' - installation on a single home PC shared by different family members but not networked or similar.Though all resources are shared, timespan is different and for one only at a time. I expect a good OS to be able to figure out what settings are required in this condition - either through the choice of installation type or even by the absence of a network card and network settings. I setup user accounts for different family members and root account is managed by the more knowledgeable member of the family or in combination.

Now I have soundcard, modem to dial-up,Cd-Rom / Cd RW and floppy which all of us use.I appreciate the ability in Linux to setup the usage patterns differently for each according to needs. Question is, how does the installation itself sets them up? Every member should have sound, should be able to connect to Internet and read and play CDs ( not everybody write, if you prefer )

Your points are valid (except perhaps for the internet connection), the simple, oft used things should be simple to do. However, most of this fedora already does - I find it odd that you are having the problems you do.

I missed most of your earlier notes so I might be a little off
target, but my default user and any new users I add are all given
permission to unmount and mount the cdrom. No problems here. Using automount -
you dont always want to mount a cdrom as a filesystem, so it keeps things
simple and leaves it there as an option I suspect. Automount is much more
useful for things like network shares where you want to slip in and out
unobtrusively without leaving it mounted for extended periods of time
(automount will automatically unmount something if you haven't used it for
<x> period of time).

Neither is sound I think a problem for 99% of users in general
(I've never had an issue with it).

Been a while since I've tried to set up a dial-in modem connection. I'm
not sure how kppp does things, but the service I ran does need you
to start the daemon as root (internet interface being a security thing this
is the responsible option), but once it was started (which could be done
at bootup so you dont need to manually need root to do it all the time),
you could set it so users could open and close the ppp interface at will.

I did, I think have the same fustration trying to use kppp initially. You
might find redhat-config-network (or neat, a sym link to the same thing)
a much easier option. Users can then use neat-control to turn the interface
on and off without needing root password. I initially used this to set
up my cable modem internet interface and then users can turn the interface
on or off with neat-control. Most of the redhat-config- gui's are fairly
sensibly designed for a new user to set up basic devices fairly easily.

Most of these things are fairly simple things to get a handle on by
playing around with and remembering not to stonewall yourself by
refusing to allow yourself to think differently. You also
have to remember redhat's gui's have only recently been attempting to
accommodate the user market, so 10 years experience really only comes
down to two or so years of establishing an interface - so dont be
too critical on them. And also remember they are often just the
packager - most of the programs need be written by volunteers in
the open source community. Documentation within the system could be much
better - but the linux desktop is changing so fast its very difficult
for documentation to keep up. To make up for this you might want to
initially invest in a fedora bible of sorts. I haven't used one of these
for a while, but I found them useful to get started with, although
I did notice the redhat 9 one was fairly shallow and all about
pointing and clicking things rather than explaining concepts a
great deal. If you get to the stage where you want to do anything
fairly complicated though, you'll need to look elsewhere for info.

And then there's the philosophy of the user - should the fedora root user
(administrator) be tolerated to be as computer illiterate as most of the
windows computer world is (is it a bad thing for us to expect that
a fedora root user become a little more computer educated?) Does this
bring the complexity or power of the OS down to the level of a windows
machine along with all its problems? I have no idea :) Though I'm not
sure that bringing Linux down to the level of windows home setup just to appeal to
the masses is such a wonderful situation. I already find myself losing control
in gnome and kde thanks to configuration designs that are there to make the system
'easier' to use (this is not necessarily detrimental though! Alot of
users I think appreciate the controls the desktops take over). Thankfully
there is enough variety in linux to provide alternative desktops
which suit my style.

Just an odd note, I seem to see alot of people jump in and try Fedora because
they're unhappy with windows, but then get frustrated when they find
things dont work as they did in windows. Rather ironic.


Consider fstab as a fresh Fedora installation gave me.Even if you have floppies and CDs automounted, as user I couldn't unmount ( permission denied or device busy , even after one has closed all file manager and application windows ) and hence eject it.You are stuck. You have to either sudo or go to root account to wriggle out.Now either I share root password with each user to enable them to change CDs and floppies when they need it, which compromises system health or go to fstab and change the entry there, which I did after much digging into the OS and after a few days. OS has no clues or helping scripts,or GUIs to help me.( Till I know about mount / unmount and fstab file ) I can't go to help - in the windows way - search on CD or floppies and get all the information the system has to offer. Mind, I am new to Linux. Now,my question is, if this is the way this needs to be done - security compromised or not compromised - why the installation script itself doesn't do it understanding that from the installation type chosen and options exercised ? Why should I be required to do a research on the subject, distracted from my main work ? There is Autofs built in Fedora which can be used to sense and mount and unmount automatically any removable media without your knowledge, inobtrusively. Fedora doesn't set it up either - not using one of Autofs's abilities.( I do not know why it doesn't want supermount )

Ditto about modem and dial up. A user cannot run kppp or wvdial out of the box. You must sudo or be root itself . On this I was helped by the list. But even to go to the list or HOW-TOs, I either had to work as root - again compromising security or go to Windows and do it. Now,if Linux is really so security centric, isn't it wrong for it to force me to be root to use the main resources of my computer or does it expect me not to use them , to keep them as decorations ? Or the other option - going to Windows ? Should any self - respecting OS expect you to use any other OS so that you can set it up ? Ultimately you have to change the original scheme of security as given by installation to be able to use them, why shouldn't the OS or installation be designed to enable all these fundamental resources of a PC ( without which PC is useless ) to it's normal users and offer them full security, data integrity and all ? That way - not being root where you shouldn't be, or fiddling with security scheme given - are you going to enhance security or lower it ?

Presently I have a problem with using my sound as normal user - again some permission issue.( Which I only realised today after asking on the list a question about initialising the sound card ) But the above examples explain enough my expectation and position.

Now RH itself is a decade old and in it's 10th version . I believe it wants to be in PC space - the one I explained which makes up the biggest chunk of PC consumers where the original Unix paradigm is irrelevant.But wanting to be in this space, but not understanding the changed paradigm itself, what does that speak about RH ? But RH is not alone in this.I have tried Mandrake, Knoppix ( debian ),ElxLinux. All of them do ditto.Whose cause are they serving - Linux's or the Redmond Giant's ?

Let's come to Erik's example . Should a driver of a car be a Mechanical or Automobile engineer and be a master of Engine , Transmission system, Sophisticated Instrumentation and all other things that go with them ? If I am an Economics professional and want to drive my car to workplace, do you expect me to study the internal mechanisms of the car or have a technician seated beside so that I can drive my car ? Over and above, if this car can recognise me and does not let my wife and son anywhere near - how do you think about it ? Cars are what they are because their manufacturers were not foolish enough to expect that of their users and ditto for Windows.( Yes, for all its failures )

I believe I have been fair ( and forthright ). I have no hesitation in correcting myself if I am not.

Parameshwara Bhat

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