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Thread: A message to Canonical

  1. #1
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    A message to Canonical

    I should probably have posted this as an addition to the Windows/Ubuntu thread, but I wanted to make sure the right people had a chance to read it. Untill my retirement I was an I.T. project manager for many years, having worked through programming and systems. For several years I was even MD of a small software company. Lots of people are going to react to this post by saying that I just do not understand the technical issues Actually, I will heartily agree with them, but it is still true that I do understand better than 99.9% of the ordinary computer users out there, and if Canonical want to get to them they have to get to me first.

    In the Windows/Ubuntu debate there are many dedicated, positive, Ubuntu suporters, who tell us that Ubuntu is as good or better than Windows in many ways. I would love to agree with them, but after trying for several years now I still can't. True, Ubuntu is getting nearer to being usable as a working environment, but as yet it hasn't got there, and not all of this is due to 3rd party software being sub standard as is often suggested. I'm working on a Ubuntu machine right now, but quite frankly this is because I would dearly love both Microsoft and Apple to be taught not to be so overbearing and greedy. The fact is that whenever I try to do real work in Ubuntu I run up against something that is either downright impossible or requires a work around. At these times I am almost invariably busy, so I move to the next desk and complete the task in Windows.

    Ubuntu does have something that Windows doesn't even come close to offering, and that is this forum and the support network that goes with it. Thanks for that, but even here there are problems. Very few of the fervent Ubuntu support group, who are so dedicated and helpfull, are able to understand that the huge majority of ordinary computer users are neither able, nor interested in being able, to work at the command line, terminal or dot prompt, whatever you want to call it. We are GUI users. If help cannot come at that level then most of us (not me actually, but that's just because I dislike Microsoft so much) will just shuffle over to the next desk.

    Let me provide one example on a problem which just should never have existed.

    I am lucky enough to own several computers, running Windows Ubuntu and Android. All my files are held on a NAS, which is fine when I'm using the file manager in Ubuntu, but if I want to access the NAS through a piece of 3rd party software it may not be possible. Initially it was not possible ever, but I got help from this forum and managed to work in the terminal to mount the NAS at startup. Now some, but not all, 3rd party software can see my files. Unfortunately one of the programmes which can't is Softmaker, which I am trialing as an alternative to Libre Office (which I find unsuitable for the job). One solution to this would be to change the file associations so I could select the file in the file manager and have the application I want open automatically, but how is this done. I would expect it to be available as a GUI in settings, but if it is I can't find it. No doubt there is a solution in the terminal.

    So I go back to Windows.

    This brings up a couple of issues.

    Firstly, when the majority of networks around the world are powered by Unix/Linux, why does Ubuntu ship with a network setup issue which requires terminal activity to resolve. It can't be because it has to be this way, because if it was then the file manager would have the same problem. So the network is mounted in an obscure place; so what!

    Secondly, why does Ubuntu ship with any setup issues which require terminal activity. I would certainly not want to take the terminal away from those who love it, but for the rest of us ordinary users, who Canonical are going to have to reach if they want Ubuntu to really take off. there have to be serious GUI alternatives.

    I think I read in a press release somewhere that Canonical have targeted that 25% of computers sold in 2014 will run Ubuntu. If I have got that right then I doubt that even they think that is realistic. But Ubuntu is better than Windows in so many ways; it's faster for one, and so much less needy in terms of resources that it may finally be possible to have a tablet which is a real computer. In the long term it will be so much more stable too (if it is not already so), and security is so much better, both actually and theoretically. And, possibly most important of all, there is the support group; the others have nothing like this. I reiterate, though, that if Canonical want to reach all those potential customers than they first have to make it so I can sit down and work and not continually have to find a way round something.

  2. #2
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    Re: A message to Cananical

    OK, down at the first hurdle. I meant 'A Message to Canonical'

  3. #3
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    Re: A message to Cananical

    Windows has a terminal too; I use it every day at work. Mac OS does too.

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    Re: A message to Cananical

    Not a support question. Thread moved to Ubuntu, Linux and OS Chat.

    @Phil Binner, this is a forum of mostly ordinary users. This is not the place to address concerns to Canonical.

    EDIT: I've fixed the typo in the title.

    Please do not PM me about your forum account unless you have been asked to. The correct place to contact an admin about your account is here.

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    Re: A message to Cananical

    Thread moved to Recurring Discussions.
    Forum Social IRC Channel
    Xubuntu IRC Support
    Xubuntu Support

    Please do not PM me about Registration issues without having been asked to. I will tell you to post here

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    Re: A message to Canonical

    The OP should ask himself whether he prefers to use nano to edit a .conf file (usually found in a predictable location and full of comments and examples) or browse registry where anything can be anywhere and there are no comments whatsoever. This could be extrapolated to other things. For example, netsh is much more obscure and confusing than any Linux network configuration tool (OK, probably iptables without any frontend is equally complicated).

    Most of the time Windows users don't need CLI but when they suddenly do - and for more than just ping - they are about to learn the true meaning of pain. And yes, this is coming from a Windows user and a Windows system administrator. I know batch and I hate it. I know vbscript and I hate it. I know powershell and... well, it's not that bad. On the other hand I know bash and I like it. I know python and I absolutely love it.

    P.S. I don't really understand the part about only certain software not being able to see files. Need some rather unconventional config (say, using FTP instead of SMB) for that.

    P.P.S. Oh, and SoftMaker isn't free. It's not that cheap either. And if I wanted to pay for an office suite, I'd simply buy MS Office.
    Last edited by prodigy_; July 15th, 2013 at 05:47 PM.

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    Re: A message to Canonical

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Binner View Post
    Untill my retirement I was an I.T. project manager for many years, having worked through programming and systems. For several years I was even MD of a small software company.

    Now some, but not all, 3rd party software can see my files. Unfortunately one of the programmes which can't is Softmaker, which I am trialing as an alternative to Libre Office (which I find unsuitable for the job). One solution to this would be to change the file associations so I could select the file in the file manager and have the application I want open automatically, but how is this done. I would expect it to be available as a GUI in settings, but if it is I can't find it. No doubt there is a solution in the terminal.

    So I go back to Windows.
    I don't see this as that much different than windows, sometimes you need to use the context menu at least once to add an app/program for a filetype or to set as the new default. Have you not right clicked on any of the files you want TextMaker or whatever to either open in or to set as default.?
    (I'm assuming in all your years that you've used context menus before in windows or elsewhere

    By & large that company did an ok job with their ubuntu/debian packages, at least as far as the various .desktops, so they show up just fine in context menu(s).
    For instance - if I wanted to open a text file in TextMaker from nautilus I'd just r. click > open with or open with other application & choose TextMaker (After doing once it would be in first list

    To set as default it would be > right click on a file > properties > open with or show other applications if not directly seen > choose TextMaker, click on 'set as default'. Pretty simple stuff.
    (a couple of screens included, scr. -from r. click open with, scr.'s 2 & 3 from r. click properties > open with, before & after settinfg as default for text/plain
    Other file managers may have other methods avail. but nothing really obscure.

    As far as cli vs. gui solutions, many times there are both but in a forum it's often much easier to suggest a cli solution then go thru a longer winded gui solution & hope the person understands & or reads thru completely

  8. #8
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    Re: A message to Canonical

    Thanks to Coffeecat for the title fix, and thanks to Gotnexusbluz for the support. I don't think I actually expected any. I should declare here that I am no spring chicken myself, and yes, I did own a caftan in 1968.

    I don't want you guys to think I hate Ubuntu. What I want, desperately, is for it to take it's place among the others, and I would actually like that place to be at the top. It is certainly better than Windows in lots of ways, not least that it was designed from the bottom up rather than cobbled together from lots of bits gleaned (and I use that word carefully) from elsewhere. It's just that when I tell my friends I use Ubuntu they look at me as if I'm a Martian, and that's just the ones who have actually tried it. The terminal is great for lots of people, but if it isn't at least as possible to work without it as it is to work without the DOS prompt in Windows it just isn't going to catch on. And if it doesn't catch on then drivers aren't going to get written, and software development is going to get next to no investment.

    But it needs the edges filed down, and it needs to work out of the box for people like me and people with less technical knowledge than me, or it can only ever appeal to a select few.

    One great thing that has happened to Ubuntu over the last few years is that there is now software available to buy. I know this is also controversial, but I believe it will be the way forward. Why shouldn't developers make a profit if they can, just like everybody else. It can only help to bring up standards.

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    Re: A message to Canonical

    Thank you for taking the time to put forth an interesting and informative article. You make some very good points and should be viewed and responded to in the constructive vein they were given.
    While I have used Ubuntu exclusively for several years and will continue to do so, your arguments sound true on a number of levels. In particular, your sentiments about forum echoes my own observations and feelings.
    A great place with many dedicated volunteers working to help others and support use of the OS. However, I also question much of the advice when directed at new users that insists on using the command line when a fix with a GUI is available. I can understand wanting others to get familiar and comfortable with using the CLI, but also am concerned that some new users may be driven away by feeling Ubuntu is to "complex".
    Hopefully, your words will allow many to ponder how they interact with new forum users and pause before giving advice to think about how to make it comfortable and easy for a new user, instead of beating their own chest to show how much they know. Thanks again for writing this.

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    Re: A message to Canonical

    Quote Originally Posted by gotnexusbluz View Post
    What does any of this have to do with Ubuntu's shortcomings? There's no argument that Linux provides better command-line support (for which Ubuntu can be credited only for not destroying).
    I don't use Ubuntu so my comment was about the overall Linux vs. Windows situation in this area.

    As for people who don't want to use command line - indeed they exist. Mostly such people want Linux to be a drop-in replacement for Windows which it isn't. Command line is the best solution to many problems and tasks in *NIX because in *NIX you're dealing with files and those files are normally streams of bytes. Disregarding the foundations is possible but it's a recipe for disappointment (or even disaster) in the long run. Believe it or not, GUI tends to make trivial things harder in Linux and results you get from using GUI tolls are often less predictable.

    A hammer is not a substitute for a screwdriver. When you learn some widely used commands you do yourself a favor because you add valuable tools to your toolset. And people who simply hate CLI without any rational ground should probably stick to Windows.
    Last edited by prodigy_; July 15th, 2013 at 06:33 PM.

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