Why questions don't get answered, or "No, I've already RTFM, tell me the answer!"

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Thu Dec 29 18:03:26 UTC 2005

On Thu, 2005-12-29 at 11:27, Charles Howse wrote:
> > 
> > You really have to understand what the shell does to every
> > command line before starting a program before reading other
> > man pages. The concepts of i/o redirection, wildcard filename
> > expansion, and environment variable setting are not repeated
> > in the man pages for every program even though they may be
> > useful or even necessary.  Man pages are meant to be a reference,
> > not a tutorial.  A tutorial should be a separate volume since
> > you normally only need it once and never want to see it again
> > while you may need the reference for obscure options later.
> > Unfortunately, a tutorial doesn't exist for some programs
> > you might want to use.
> Agreed, but apply what you just said to someone who decides to trash Windows
> and start using Fedora for the first time.

How would it work the other way around?  Suppose you were
having your first experience by installing windows and about
3,000 programs all at once.  It doesn't usually happen that
way because you buy the box with windows pre-installed
and can't afford that many add-on programs at once.

> There's lots of documentation on installing, so if they get it installed, I
> would think that they would have a tremendous amount of studying to do to
> become fairly competent.  Troubleshooting can be a nightmare.
> I don't want to take the thread off towards open-source vs. 'closed-source',
> but I think you will agree that there is a steep learning curve going from
> Windows to Linux.  Probably not so steep if Linux is your first OS. 

Windows and Linux are equally complex. If you are going to
do something that doesn't 'just work' it is going to take
some time.  Visit the 'xxx for dummies' section about
windows and it's various apps in any bookstore to see
what it takes to get started.  Sometimes an equivalent
exists for Linux, sometimes it doesn't.  Since you see
those books everywhere they must sell, but the value seems
questionable.  You don't see people carrying them around
for reference.

> I guess I'm saying that there just has to be better help...onboard and
> online.

There is, but keep in mind the size of the content using the
windows equivalents section of a large bookstore as a reference.
Quite a bit of that does exist for the Linux versions, but
you seem to be asking someone to have it all memorized and
be able to quote massive sections on demand.  It's one thing
to say "I typed this command and got this error:... - has
that happened to anyone else?" and something else to ask
how to start something that needs a whole tutorial book
to answer.

Of course when you ask the question, you may not know the
complexity of the answer...

  Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at gmail.com

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