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detroit/zero
September 26th, 2008, 12:18 AM
Hi, folks.

This is more of a rant than anything else. I don't see a more appropriate place than here to put it, so here goes:
<rant>
I know the spirit of ubuntu (and open source in general) is kindness and generosity and camaraderie and all that, but there's something I've noticed as of late, and I'm sure others have as well.

These forums are clogged. Heavily. Clogged with random chit-chat and multiple postings of the same question over and over. The Desktop Effects and Customization (http://ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=330) forums is my favorite - I come and check it a few times a day to see if I can pick up a new trick or find a cool wallpaper or some new icons or something. But wading through the BS to get to it is getting more and more tedious.

Here's some specific examples from the top active posts in the Desktop Effects forum:
Problem with window decorator (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=927683)
compiz - no window border (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=930049)
Theme Question (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=930143)
how do i cube? (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=930104)

The first two posts cited are practically the same question. Quite literally dozens upon dozens of other instances of the exact same question can be found with a quick search. The last one is tied to the first two in that by reading and following the instructions in any one of (god knows how many) install (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=809695) compiz (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=820802&highlight=compiz) tutorials (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=871165), all three of these posts would be solved before they ever happened. The third post is sort of the oddball, but still could be solved by just searching for "themes" and clicking on a few links until you end up at gnome-look.org or somewhere else.

My point is this: I was once a noob, you were once a noob.. we were all noobs at one point in time. I'm not here trying to judge anyone, or call anyone stupid or anything like that. I know I asked what some would probably consider to be stupid questions (http://http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=488219) when I first landed in these forums almost two years ago. (Note: I first signed up in ubuntu forums in Feb 2007. It wasn't until June 2007 that I made my first post, because I was getting my questions answered by searching and reading.)

How did we get from being noobs to whatever it is we are now? We read posts. We googled. We followed instructions in tutorials. We read man pages. We tinkered. We broke. We reinstalled. We conquered.

I realize that the sudden influx of noobs in great numbers represents a big leap for ubuntu as a viable OS. I realize that the whole "RTFM" attitude goes against the philosophy of not only ubuntu, but Linux and open source in general. But come on - how do i cube? The Great Desktop Effects FAQ of 2008 (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=809695) is less than 500 pixels underneath the "New Thread" button. People are actually answering that question with something other than a link to the above tutorials.

Noobs should be coddled to a certain extent, sure. It's makes that first transition from Windows to Linux easier, and I know we all love the free "tech support" we get and give. But there has to be a line drawn somewhere; no kid rides with training wheels forever.

And before anybody says I'm being mean-spirited or whatever, I invite you to go have a look at the forums for Backtrack Linux (http://forums.remote-exploit.org/) - that's mean spirited. I don't think we should go that far, but we should by all means encourage the spirit of exploration and experimentation rather than repetitiously answering the same posts over and over and over and over again.

</rant>

schauerlich
September 26th, 2008, 12:39 AM
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing, end them.



Many users, especially those in ABT do not want to spend a lot of time reading man pages, searching the web and reading stickies. A running gag on these forums is that if you want to make sure nobody sees something, put it in a sticky. The simple fact is that if we were less forgiving of newbies, Ubuntu would become another Gentoo. What makes using Ubuntu such a better experience and what makes it popular isn't so much that any of the software is significantly easier to use or more stable than other distros, it's that the community surrounding the software is very kind, forgiving and willing to help others learn. To change the scope of this forum would be to change the spirit of Ubuntu.

kevdog
September 29th, 2008, 12:31 AM
I tend to agree with the original poster. Simply replying to man threads suggesting search the forums seems to be a good solution. These forums are outstanding, however the actual new info presented in these forums are slim, and they it is quickly watered down and lost among the repetitive noise.

aysiu
September 29th, 2008, 02:09 AM
The first thread you linked to was created, as the OP says, because she or he could not think of the right keyword search to describe the problem.

That's a problem a lot of new users encounter.

And there's nothing wrong with multiple threads on the same problem, as long as they are created by different users. There's nothing that annoys me more than when someone creates a thread (say, on Flash not working) and then someone else hijacks the thread and says "I was experiencing this problem too. The solutions in here helped me and now it's working." It doesn't matter if the solutions helped you if you didn't start the thread. It matters of the solutions helped the OP.

A lot of people experience the same problem, but the same solution doesn't always work for everyone or not everyone grasps how to implement the solution as readily.

This is how I avoid coddling people: if a problem I know how to solve comes up frequently enough, I create a Psychocats tutorial for it and link to it and say something along the lines of
Follow these instructions [link here]

If you run into problems following those, let us know

forger
September 29th, 2008, 02:18 AM
Welcome to forum here (http://www.ubuntuforums.org) :)

I agree with the 2nd post, if we start linking *everything*, we'll end up posting something like:
Do "this" and then go "here", if you broke anything read a whole manual "right here", read a bit "here" and if anything else fails read how to reinstall Windows "here". :p

If it's one thing I love about this forum is the human-to-human direct answers/replies :)

aysiu
September 29th, 2008, 02:29 AM
I'll use human-to-human interaction if it involves troubleshooting a problem. If I'm just going to end up retyping a tutorial, I don't see why it doesn't make sense to link to the actual tutorial.

In other words, if someone says "How do I install software in Ubuntu?" a link to my tutorial (with screenshots) on how to do it is far more succinct and useful than me retyping that tutorial among several posts here.

If, however, someone says "I can't install software with Add/Remove" then that's a problem a tutorial doesn't cover, so I will try to find out what the particulars of the situation are and help out that user.

schauerlich
September 29th, 2008, 02:33 AM
In other words, if someone says "How do I install software in Ubuntu?" a link to my tutorial (with screenshots) on how to do it is far more succinct and useful than me retyping that tutorial among several posts here.

If, however, someone says "I can't install software with Add/Remove" then that's a problem a tutorial doesn't cover, so I will try to find out what the particulars of the situation are and help out that user.

Exactly. If someone has a question that is covered directly by an FAQ or tutorial then there is no problem linking to them. However, if someone has a problem with their wireless card and you link them to the man page on ndiswrapper and say "go get 'em," that's not really in the spirit of Ubuntu.

frankleeee
September 29th, 2008, 02:42 AM
As addressed in another thread, a Google or other search engine inquiry with UF included in the search usually works more efficiently than a search using the UF search engine.

Oldsoldier2003
September 29th, 2008, 01:40 PM
My 2 cents on the matter is that if you decide to link the sticky or suggest googling, then do it in an instructional manner. In other words:
1. Try googling "foo"
2. Try looking at this thread<link> for answers

instead of FTFM or "google it"

My point being that you can point people in the right direction without being rude and it might just kickstart their thought processes.

chucky chuckaluck
September 29th, 2008, 04:51 PM
when i first started using linux, a lot of the answers to my problems assumed a knowledge of all its peripheral aspects. these answers assumed i knew everything else but the problem i was asking about, when really, i knew nothing about any of it. it's hard from that perspective to know how to even search for an answer, let alone ask a question that makes sense. it's like being lost in paris when you don't speak any french. additionally, sometimes man pages seem like they were written for someone who already knows how to use the software. so, i say +1 to coddle.

cyberdork33
September 29th, 2008, 05:01 PM
additionally, sometimes man pages seem like they were written for someone who already knows how to use the software. so, i say +1 to coddle.
On the other hand, sometime man pages are the best source of information on some items. For instance, when someone asks about how to "make their touchpad operate like xxxx", I will state that they need to edit options in their xorg.conf in the appropriate section and there is a detailed listing of the options and how to use them in 'man synaptics'.

chucky chuckaluck
September 29th, 2008, 05:27 PM
On the other hand, sometime man pages are the best source of information on some items. For instance, when someone asks about how to "make their touchpad operate like xxxx", I will state that they need to edit options in their xorg.conf in the appropriate section and there is a detailed listing of the options and how to use them in 'man synaptics'.

of course, many man pages are just what one needs. but, it's not always the case and what may seem plain and straightforward to some, might be a complete mystery to someone else. moreover, not all of us are pulling a full train. do we want to leave the less bright behind, or give them a help up? some people might just be scared and too overwhelmed to make sense of what they normally would be able to grasp. a lot of my early problems came from not knowing if i were looking at a simple, enclosed issue, or the tip of a giant iceberg.

aysiu
September 29th, 2008, 05:54 PM
I've been using Linux for almost 3 1/2 years, and this page makes no sense to me:
Name

synaptics - Synaptics touchpad driver for XOrg/XFree86.
Introduction

This is a driver for the Synaptics TouchPad for XOrg/XFree86 4.x. A Synaptics touchpad by default operates in compatibility mode by emulating a standard mouse. However, by using a dedicated driver, more advanced features of the touchpad becomes available, such as:

* Movement with adjustable, non-linear acceleration and speed.
* Button events through short touching of the touchpad.
* Double-Button events through double short touching of the touchpad.
* Dragging through short touching and holding down the finger on the touchpad.
* Middle and right button events on the upper and lower corner of the touchpad.
* Vertical scrolling (button four and five events) through moving the finger on the right side of the touchpad.
* The up/down button sends button four/five events.
* Horizontal scrolling (button six and seven events) through moving the finger on the lower side of the touchpad.
* The multi-buttons send button four/five events, and six/seven events for horizontal scrolling.
* Adjustable finger detection.
* Multifinger taps: two finger for middle button and three finger for right button events. (Needs hardware support. Not all models implement this feature.)
* Run-time configuration using shared memory. This means you can change parameter settings without restarting the X server.

Note that depending on the touchpad firmware, some of these features might be available even without using the synaptics driver. Note also that some functions are not available on all touchpad models, because they need support from the touchpad hardware/firmware. (Multifinger taps for example.)
Description

The driver behavior can be configured with parameters. These parameters are options in the InputDevice section in the XOrg/XFree86 config file. See the INSTALL file for a working example. If you have the SHMConfig parameter enabled, these parameters can also be changed at runtime with the synclient(1) program. The following parameters are available:

Device (String)
Synaptics device.
Protocol (String)
auto-dev automatic, default
psaux raw
event linux 2.6 kernel events
psm FreeBSD psm driver
SHMConfig (Bool)
Switch on/off shared memory for configuration.
LeftEdge (Integer)
X coordinate for left edge.
RightEdge (Integer)
X coordinate for right edge.
TopEdge (Integer)
Y coordinate for top edge.
BottomEdge (Integer)
Y coordinate for bottom edge.
FingerLow (Integer)
When finger pressure drops below this value, the driver counts it as a release.
FingerHigh (Integer)
When finger pressure goes above this value, the driver counts it as a touch.
MaxTapTime (Integer)
Maximum time (in milliseconds) for detecting a tap.
MaxTapMove (Integer)
Maximum movement of the finger for detecting a tap.
MaxDoubleTapTime (Integer)
Maximum time (in milliseconds) for detecting a double tap.
ClickTime (Integer)
The duration of the mouse click generated by tapping.
FastTaps (Bool)
Makes the driver react faster to a single tap, but also makes double clicks caused by double tapping slower.
VertScrollDelta (Integer)
Move distance of the finger for a scroll event.
HorizScrollDelta (Integer)
Move distance of the finger for a scroll event.
EdgeMotionMinZ (Integer)
Finger pressure at which minimum edge motion speed is set.
EdgeMotionMaxZ (Integer)
Finger pressure at which maximum edge motion speed is set.
EdgeMotionMinSpeed (Integer)
Slowest setting for edge motion speed.
EdgeMotionMaxSpeed (Integer)
Fastest setting for edge motion speed.
EdgeMotionUseAlways (Bool)
If on, edge motion is also used for normal movements. If off, egde motion is used only when dragging.
Repeater (String)
Repeater device.
MinSpeed (Float)
Minimum speed factor.
MaxSpeed (Float)
Maximum speed factor.
AccelFactor (Float)
Acceleration factor.
UpDownScrolling (Bool)
If on, the up/down buttons generate button 4/5 events. If off, the up button generates a double click and the down button generates a button 2 event.
LeftRightScrolling (Bool)
If on, the left/right buttons generate button 6/7 events. If off, the left/right buttons both generate button 2 events.
UpDownRepeat (Bool)
If on, and the up/down buttons are used for scrolling (UpDownScrolling), these buttons will send auto-repeating 4/5 events, with the delay between repeats determined by ScrollButtonRepeat.
LeftRightRepeat (Bool)
If on, and the left/right buttons are used for scrolling (LeftRightScrolling), these buttons will send auto-repeating 6/7 events, with the delay between repeats determined by ScrollButtonRepeat.
ScrollButtonRepeat (Integer)
The number of milliseconds between repeats of button events 4-7 from the up/down/left/right scroll buttons.
EmulateMidButtonTime (Integer)
Maximum time (in milliseconds) for middle button emulation.
TouchpadOff (Integer)
Switch off the touchpad. Valid values are:
0 Touchpad is enabled
1 Touchpad is switched off
2 Only tapping and scrolling is switched off
GuestMouseOff (Bool)
Switch on/off guest mouse (often a stick).
LockedDrags (Bool)
If off, a tap and drag gesture ends when you release the finger. If on, the gesture is active until you tap a second time.
RTCornerButton (Integer)
Which mouse button is reported on a right top corner tap. Set to 0 to disable.
RBCornerButton (Integer)
Which mouse button is reported on a right bottom corner tap. Set to 0 to disable.
LTCornerButton (Integer)
Which mouse button is reported on a left top corner tap. Set to 0 to disable.
LBCornerButton (Integer)
Which mouse button is reported on a left bottom corner tap. Set to 0 to disable.
TapButton1 (Integer)
Which mouse button is reported on a non-corner one-finger tap. Set to 0 to disable.
TapButton2 (Integer)
Which mouse button is reported on a non-corner two-finger tap. Set to 0 to disable.
TapButton3 (Integer)
Which mouse button is reported on a non-corner three-finger tap. Set to 0 to disable.
CircularScrolling (Bool)
If on, circular scrolling is used.
CircScrollDelta (Float)
Move angle (radians) of finger to generate a scroll event.
CircScrollTrigger (Integer)
Trigger region on the touchpad to start circular scrolling
0 All Edges
1 Top Edge
2 Top Right Corner
3 Right Edge
4 Bottom Right Corner
5 Bottom Edge
6 Bottom Left Corner
7 Left Edge
8 Top Left Corner
CircularPad (Bool)
Instead of being a rectangle, the edge is the ellipse enclosed by the Left/Right/Top/BottomEdge parameters. For circular touchpads.
PalmDetect (Bool)
If palm detection should be enabled. Note that this also requires hardware/firmware support from the touchpad.
PalmMinWidth (Integer)
Minimum finger width at which touch is considered a palm.
PalmMinZ (Integer)
Minimum finger pressure at which touch is considered a palm.
CoastingSpeed (Float)
Coasting threshold scrolling speed. 0 disables coasting.

The LeftEdge, RightEdge, TopEdge and BottomEdge parameters are used to define the edge and corner areas of the touchpad. The parameters split the touchpad area in 9 pieces, like this:
LeftEdge RightEdge
Physical top edge
1
4
7
Physical left edge

Coordinates to the left of LeftEdge are part of the left edge (areas 1, 4 and 7), coordinates to the left of LeftEdge and above TopEdge (area 1) are part of the upper left corner, etc. A good way to find appropriate edge parameters is to enable the SHMConfig option and run "synclient -m 1" to see the x/y coordinates corresponding to different positions on the touchpad.

A tap event happens when the finger is touched and released in a time interval shorter than MaxTapTime, and the touch and release coordinates are less than MaxTapMove units apart. A "touch" event happens when the Z value goes above FingerHigh, and an "untouch" event happens when the Z value goes below FingerLow.

The MaxDoubleTapTime parameter has the same function as the MaxTapTime parameter, but for the second, third, etc tap in a tap sequence. If you can't perform double clicks fast enough (for example, xmms depends on fast double clicks), try reducing this parameter. If you can't get word selection to work in xterm (ie button down, button up, button down, move mouse), try increasing this parameter.

The ClickTime parameter controls the delay between the button down and button up X events generated in response to a tap event. A too long value can cause undesirable autorepeat in scroll bars and a too small value means that visual feedback from the gui application you are interacting with is harder to see.

The MinSpeed, MaxSpeed and AccelFactor parameters control the pointer motion speed. The speed value defines the scaling between touchpad coordinates and screen coordinates. When moving the finger very slowly, the MinSpeed value is used, when moving very fast the MaxSpeed value is used. When moving the finger at moderate speed, you get a pointer motion speed somewhere between MinSpeed and MaxSpeed. If you don't want any acceleration, set MinSpeed and MaxSpeed to the same value.

The MinSpeed, MaxSpeed and AccelFactor parameters don't have any effect on scrolling speed. Scrolling speed is determined solely from the VertScrollDelta and HorizScrollDelta parameters. To disable vertical or horizontal scrolling, set VertScrollDelta or HorizScrollDelta to zero.

When hitting an egde, movement can be automatically continued. If EdgeMotionUseAlways is false, edge motion is only used when dragging. With EdgeMotionUseAlways set to true, it is also used for normal cursor movements.

Edge motion speed is calculated by taking into account the amount of pressure applied to the touchpad. The sensitivity can be adjusted using the EdgeMotion parameters. If the pressure is below EdgeMotionMinZ, EdgeMotionMinSpeed is used, and if the pressure is greater than EdgeMotionMaxZ, EdgeMotionMaxSpeed is used. For a pressure value between EdgeMotionMinZ and EdgeMotionMaxZ, the speed is increased linearly.

Since most synaptics touchpad models don't have a button that corresponds to the middle button on a mouse, the driver can emulate middle mouse button events. If you press both the left and right mouse buttons at almost the same time (no more than EmulateMidButtonTime milliseconds apart) the driver generates a middle mouse button event.

Circular scrolling acts like a scrolling wheel on the trackpad. Scrolling is engaged when a drag starts in the given CircScrollTrigger region, which can be all edges, a particular side, or a particular corner. Once scrolling is engaged, moving your finger in clockwise circles around the trackpad will generate scroll down events and counter clockwise scroll up events. Lifting your finger will disengage circular scrolling. Use tight circles near the center of the pad for fast scrolling and large circles for better control. When used together with vertical scrolling, hitting the upper or lower right corner will seamlessly switch over from vertical to circular scrolling.

Coasting is enabled by setting the CoastingSpeed parameter to a non-zero value. When coasting is enabled, horizontal/vertical scrolling can continue after the finger is released from the lower/right edge of the touchpad. The driver computes the scrolling speed corresponding to the finger speed immediately before the finger leaves the touchpad. If this scrolling speed is larger than the CoastingSpeed parameter (measured in scroll events per second), the scrolling will continue with the same speed in the same direction until the finger touches the touchpad again.
Authors

Peter Osterlund <petero2@telia.com> and many others.
See Also

synclient(1), syndaemon(1)

cyberdork33
September 29th, 2008, 06:28 PM
of course, many man pages are just what one needs. but, it's not always the case and what may seem plain and straightforward to some, might be a complete mystery to someone else. moreover, not all of us are pulling a full train. do we want to leave the less bright behind, or give them a help up?Of course, I am not saying respond with just 'man xxxxxx', but we should not avoid them either. Everyone has to refer to a man page at some point. They are reference.


I've been using Linux for almost 3 1/2 years, and this page makes no sense to me
It list the several option parameters that can be placed in your xorg.conf, and the values you can use with each of them. Normally, I would post something such as this thread:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=493758

and mention that all the options that you can fiddle with are described in 'man synaptics'.

LaRoza
September 29th, 2008, 06:36 PM
I've been using Linux for almost 3 1/2 years, and this page makes no sense to me:

It isn't that complicated (use less and grep for better reading), but it is for a driver, something most users don't every deal with (except for installing).

aysiu
September 29th, 2008, 06:42 PM
It isn't that complicated (use less and grep for better reading), but it is for a driver, something most users don't every deal with (except for installing).
It's not a matter of less and grep. It's a matter of the way the information is presented. It makes no sense to me the way it's written. Too many man pages spend a lot of time on listing all the options without giving practical examples of how to use them.

chucky chuckaluck
September 29th, 2008, 06:50 PM
Of course, I am not saying respond with just 'man xxxxxx', but we should not avoid them either. Everyone has to refer to a man page at some point. They are reference.

just to be clear, i wasn't recommending avoiding them. i'm just saying that they can be somewhat daunting to people who have no frame of reference and that those people may need to be led by the hand. some of the info experienced users take for granted, are a mystery to newbs. the word 'repository', for example, has an instant meaning to me now, but when i first heard it, in reference to software, i was completely stunned. i recall having a pretty 'chance the gardener' like discussion with someone about them, with me repeating over and over again "but, what is a repository?"

LaRoza
September 29th, 2008, 06:51 PM
It's not a matter of less and grep. It's a matter of the way the information is presented. It makes no sense to me the way it's written. Too many man pages spend a lot of time on listing all the options without giving practical examples of how to use them.

No, that is what a man page does ;)

The whole syntax and specification is for such a design. Yes, it is not a tutorial, but that is not what they are meant to be, which brings us back to when they are useful.

Here is a man page I wrote (they use a hellish syntax, this is for sysres)



sysres(1) sysres(1)

NAME
sysres - Sysres is a system restore program for Debian GNU/Linux based systems.

SYNOPSIS
sysres [--cli|--gtk|--qt] [-h|--help] [--list] [--list-custom <location>] [--restore <number>] [--restore-custom <location> <number>] [--create <name>] [--create-custom <location> <name>]

DESCRIPTION
sysres is a system restore program for Debian GNU/Linux based systems (especially Ubuntu). It can create named restore points and be customized to include user defined settings. It backs up grub
settings, repository settings, video settings, and fstab by default. Restore Points are created in ~/.sysres by default, but can be created anywhere. Custom settings are easily made also.

sysres has GTK, QT, CLI and command line argument interfaces for flexibility.

OPTIONS
--cli Run sysres with the command line interface.

--gtk Run sysres with the GTK interface.

--qt Run sysres with the QT interface.

-h, --help
Displays the help text.

list Lists restore points.

list-custom <location>
List restore points in SYSRES/ in <location>.
restore <number>

Restore restore point number given in --list.
restore-custom <location> <number>

Restore restore point <number> from --list-custom in <location>/SYSRES.

Create restore point <name>. If no name given, name is "default".

Create restore point <name> in <location>/SYSRES/. If no name is given, name is "default".

aysiu
September 29th, 2008, 06:56 PM
No, that is what a man page does ;)

The whole syntax and specification is for such a design. Yes, it is not a tutorial, but that is not what they are meant to be, which brings us back to when they are useful. Well, they're not useful to me. I'm the sort who needs a tutorial.

LaRoza
September 29th, 2008, 06:58 PM
Well, they're not useful to me. I'm the sort who needs a tutorial.

I agree. They are not the most clear things to learn from.

aysiu
September 29th, 2008, 07:02 PM
I agree. They are not the most clear things to learn from.
Well, here's the thing, though. If I have already seen a good step-by-step tutorial for a particular command, a man page can be useful to me afterwards to find out additional options.

LaRoza
September 29th, 2008, 07:09 PM
Well, here's the thing, though. If I have already seen a good step-by-step tutorial for a particular command, a man page can be useful to me afterwards to find out additional options.

Or if it follows a convention you already know. I am used to the man pages of the GNU core utilities, gcc and the like, and a few others. So for questions I have about applications (the kind I would have questions about) a man page is very useful.

The only time I recommend man pages a lot is for programming or shell questions.

cyberdork33
September 29th, 2008, 09:38 PM
I agree. They are not the most clear things to learn from.
and a programming reference would not be a good place to learn to program... it is suppliment

pp.
September 29th, 2008, 09:40 PM
and a programming reference would not be a good place to learn to program... it is supplement

YMMV. I prefer programming references for learning. I most cases tutorials are misleading, and stuff is rather hard to find for later reference.

LaRoza
September 29th, 2008, 09:55 PM
ymmv. I prefer programming references for learning. I most cases tutorials are misleading, and stuff is rather hard to find for later reference.

+1

cyberdork33
September 30th, 2008, 03:46 AM
maybe for learning a new language, but learning to program entirely?

pp.
September 30th, 2008, 06:47 AM
maybe for learning a new language, but learning to program entirely?

Since a language reference manual ideally does not say anything about programming and programming is not about a particular language, we can safely say that a learning to program from a language reference manual was not a good idea.

That would be a bit like saying that in order to orient yourself in Bologna you ordered a plate of Spaghetti Bolognese.

airtonix
September 30th, 2008, 02:14 PM
Too many man pages spend a lot of time on listing all the options without giving practical examples of how to use them.

We need more man pages like nmap has.

LaRoza
September 30th, 2008, 02:31 PM
We need more man pages like nmap has.

Then write them?

Oldsoldier2003
September 30th, 2008, 05:16 PM
We need more man pages like nmap has.


Then write them?

Absolutely! There are several ways to contribute to the Ubuntu Community that do not require you to be a programmer. Helping with the Official Ubuntu Docs (xml DocBook based), man pages, and community wiki are all great ways to help out. You don't have to be an expert you just have to want to help and be able to comprehend the style guides and have basic typing skills. Heck- that means most of the forum community is qualified.

Oldsoldier2003
September 30th, 2008, 05:19 PM
As an aside, if you work on the upstream packages, fixing the docs to make them more user friendly may be met with some resistance, but if you can make them more user friendly while making the upstream authors happy it means less work for the document teams of any distribution that shops that particular package. Its usually better to fix stuff upstream rather than *buntu-ize it :)

detroit/zero
October 1st, 2008, 10:58 AM
Hi, everyone.

It's good to see my little rant sparked some spirited conversation, but I'm afraid that it's sort of gone off the direction I intended.

I didn't intend this to be a discussion about the readability/understandability of man pages. Frankly, I'm also in the camp that thinks the majority of man pages suck. Even as a slightly-seasoned user, with nearly two years of Linux (using almost exclusively ubuntu) under my belt, I don't always come away from a man page any smarter than I was before I got to it. While not at all "afraid" of the command line like I was when my Win/Lin transition first took place, I'm far from being any kind of Bash expert. I find myself using The Google more often than man pages in order to better understand the workings of a particular command.

I think several of the repliers are correct in that "RTFM" is not at all a helpful or even useful response to a beginners' questions, and suggesting such was never my intent.

What this was meant to be, though, is a discussion about how much help is too much. I hate to pick on any one person, but this thread is an example of not only the problem, but leads me to a possible solution: how do i cube? (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=930104)

To the OP's credit, I did a forum search for the keyword "cube", and my findings were less than helpful. (http://ubuntuforums.org/search.php?searchid=48861166) [Edit:Don't bother clicking that link; the search didn't come through in the link. Instead, do your own search for the keyword "cube".] Notice that there isn't one post about compiz until the 15th and 16th listed threads. Still, though, assuming the OP doesn't have rampant ADHD, he should have been able to thumb through a few posts and eventually end up at a install compiz tutorial. It's painfully obvious that he didn't even bother trying. He wanted a fast answer, and thanks to a few helpful people (bless their little hearts) he got it.

I suppose, rather than adding a second rant about how the search function for the forums gives less-than-stellar results, I have a possible solution, or at least something that might whittle down the amount of posts like this (and the others I originally cited, plus many more).

Why not include, sitting right on the desktop after every fresh ubuntu install, a FAQ sheet that compiles (or at least links to) some of the tutorials and helpful guides that are posted on the forums with small explanations telling what they are. After all, if they're good enough to be sticky posts here, they're good enough to be linked to from an ubuntu desktop help guide or FAQ sheet or whatever.

I realize that the forums aren't really linked to canonical, and that something like that would have to go through them, but it's an idea worth floating past them. Sure, it'd take work to put it together, but it'll save labor in the long run.

Now, I'm not talking about linking to solutions to every possible problem a new user might run into, but some of the more obvious things like compiz-fusion installs, emerald, awn or cairo dock or whatever, theme installation and where to find themes, and other superficial things a new Windows convert might be interested in. Not only that, but things like a Bash command line introduction, a "compile your first kernel" tutorial (which, btw, I still need to print and follow after two years of linux experience), maybe pages discussing the structure of the linux/unix filesystem structure and where to find various files - things of that nature.

And, yes, I do realize that all of these things can be readily found online using Google or whatever, but remember the point of this whole discussion: this is going to be aimed at people who seem to not be able to do that or just won't know what to look for anyways.

I'll even volunteer to work on it myself if others think it's a good idea. Maybe even if it doesn't come standard as a desktop item in a fresh install, it could be a permanent post somewhere in the forums that every new user gets pointed to when they sign up, or something.

Thoughts? Ideas? Votes? Is it worth doing?

EDIT: I see at the beginning of the Absolute Beginner Talk forum, there's a sticky titled "New to Ubuntu? Start here... (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=801404)"which looks like it aims to accomplish what I was just talking about. It's the fourth post in a series of stickies, and it's two pages of unorganized links for this, that and the other. (Not to take anything away from the people who contributed..)

Maybe it just needs to be moved to the top of the list and highlighted for people to see? Maybe reorganize it? I don't know, guys, I'm just thinking out loud here.

chucky chuckaluck
October 1st, 2008, 03:04 PM
What this was meant to be, though, is a discussion about how much help is too much.

the amount of help one gives is up to the helper and no one else. are you suggesting it should be otherwise?

aysiu
October 1st, 2008, 03:07 PM
And, yes, I do realize that all of these things can be readily found online using Google or whatever, but remember the point of this whole discussion: this is going to be aimed at people who seem to not be able to do that or just won't know what to look for anyways. And, believe it or not, these are the same people who won't read the help docs, FAQs, or stickies either.

If people want to be spoonfed, they're usually quite determined to be.

starcannon
October 1st, 2008, 03:13 PM
Hi, folks.

This is more of a rant than anything else. I don't see a more appropriate place than here to put it, so here goes....


After answering the same questions over and over again, all I can do is relate anecdotes:


You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink

translation: You can lead a noob to knowledge but you can't make him read.


If Mohammad won't come to the mountain, then bring the Mountain to Mohammad.

translation: If a noob won't read an old stale post, copy paste into his nice shiny new one.



hehe yeah and I hear ya.

lukjad007
October 1st, 2008, 03:37 PM
There's nothing that annoys me more than when someone creates a thread (say, on Flash not working) and then someone else hijacks the thread and says "I was experiencing this problem too. The solutions in here helped me and now it's working." It doesn't matter if the solutions helped you if you didn't start the thread. It matters of the solutions helped the OP.

A lot of people experience the same problem, but the same solution doesn't always work for everyone or not everyone grasps how to implement the solution as readily.
How is this "hijacking" a thread when you relate that you had a similar problem? I sometimes say that I have had a similar problem and then tell them what I did. I give them the same instructions but with a testimonial that it was tested and may work. If it works, great! If it doesn't I look for another solution.

twistedvision24
April 7th, 2009, 10:37 AM
It looks like this thread has seen it's time, but I just wanted to say. I'm a total noob. I've been using Linux for about 3 months. I've run into a ton of problems and tried a few different distros. I have yet to ask a question on any forum. Google is your friend. I understand that especially when you're fresh out the gate coming to Linux that searching for an answer can be difficult when you're not exactly sure how to phrase it. I also understand where the OP is coming from here though. Just because you guys have the knowledge to answer/point someone in the right direction, should you have to do it 10 times a day for similar questions? It just seems that a lot of the "noobs" that post the same question over and over aren't even trying to help themselves. I agree with the majority of you guys here, man pages are pretty tough to understand. But, I've gotta say, trying out different commands and with different switches makes you learn alot. If not helpful at that exact moment it might spark an idea for another problems that may arise in the future.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is, if you keep just handing out the information without making them try even just a little bit doesn't teach them how to fix things. It only teaches them to come here, ask, then sit and wait while someone else thinks up a solution.