My friends will kill me

February 24, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Posted in Hacking, History, Patterns | 11 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Its been more than a year (since 2007) that I am using a a Linux distro running on text-based system configuration. The idea was difficult to adopt in the beginning but it looked intelligent to me. So friends here is my Linux box running on Arch . There is no way you can edit any network or printer configurations from the Administration menu of GNOME in Arch. If you want to configure then go edit the text file. My friends who are still using Ubuntu struggle with the unknown and unreasonable problems everyday but they stick to Ubuntu, its Administration menu, the GUI based system to configure the system settings and they are still there. Even after several years of usage they get mentally handicapped when some problem arises. They ask stupid questions to each other. Here is some conversation:

Ubuntu User 1: My system is not booting properly in Ubuntu. What should I do ?

me : whats the problem ?

Ubuntu User 1: I don’t know, Ubuntu is showing some error.

me : What kind of error. Is root file system geting mounted.

Ubuntu User 1: I don’t know.

me : Let me check

Ubuntu User 1: Don’t worry, I will reinstall Ubuntu.

Later I found out, fsck was showing some error on mounting /home partition and was throwing the user into maintenance shell to do fsck but he kept on pressing the Reset button instead.

Ubuntu User 1: I have Ubuntu but I need to play 3D games. Ubuntu does not play them as good as Windows XP.

Ubuntu User 2: Install Sabayon, you can play good games on it.

me : What playing games has to do with either Ubuntu or Sabayon (or even Debian) ?

Ubuntu User 2: Debian does not have any games.

me : Debian has largest collection of packages among all the distros. You only need to install a game using apt-get. Even if the package is not there, then you can download and install it.

Ubuntu User 2: With Debian I have to configure GNOME manually to run, eve after install it. I don’t want to configure GUIs.

me : Debian comes auto-configured. You just install something, e.g. X, and it configures it automatically.

Ubuntu User 2: No, Debian does not play games.

I really don’t understand this, if there is Open Source game, and the package is not available for Debian then you can compile it form source. But my friend does not say that he can’t compile, he says “Debian does not run games”. See the difference ?

Ubuntu User 1: I will not use Fedora, my sound system does not work in Fedora. It works in Ubuntu. So I will use Ubuntu.

me : your statement does not make any sense. Both Ubuntu and Fedora are Linux distros, you can check the sound module of your card and load it in Fedora.

Ubuntu User 1: you don’t want listen to me. I said, there is no sound coming in Fedora.

me : you need to run the lspci to check for what hardware you have and the see lsmod on Ubuntu to know the name of the kernel module being used for sound. Also check for Linux kernel version.

Ubuntu User 1: I will ask some one else who can solve my problem, you just don’t understand it.

Ubuntu User 2: Why go so deep into Linux. He can just reinstall Ubuntu if he gets problems.

… and they got angry. No.. I am serious, they are angry now.

I can show you thousands and millions of Linux users like this, who don’t want to know how to solve problems . First I thought, they don’t like the black screen of command line (I too don’t like it) or even the white background of X-terminal (which I do like), then I thought no one likes to type some words, you just need a mouse click and even these days companies are creating mouses with which we can type characters using clicks. Then I came to know the problem is more fundamental than Linux issues. The problem is of pain, finding the cause of some problem is a painful process (whether Linux or real life), even when you want to build a new house or put the wash-basin at some place in your house , it takes some amount of understanding and familiarity with how the houses are constructed and used by people. Putting time into understanding the house when you are gonna live in there for rest of your life takes energy and pain (mental exhaustion ?). All of my friends are not running away from Linux, they are running away from pain Linux gives. No one wants pain, everyone wants joy. Yeah… me too. I want happiness and peace of mind.. the joy of life. Then why do I believe in struggling with understanding and editing text-files in Linux for days and nights when a 45 minutes Ubuntu reinstall will solve the problem. Why do I get into pain ?

To answer that question I have to go back to my earlier days, the day before I even installed Linux, the day my friend Dinesh mentioned the word Linux to me. Its all about happiness. So let me answer the question I have aksed: Why did I install Linux, because I trusted my friend, I knew he is intelligent than me, Its matter of friendship, the trust and respect you give to your friend based on his ability to create angels and daemons on hardware. Moreover I accepted my incompetence in front of him. Dinesh knew it will be painful for me (a typical Windows User) to install Linux but he never helped me, he never said that he will want to help me. Dinesh believes in letting people learn themselves rather than spoon-feeding them, a typical Hacker behavior.

Now when I struggle with the problems for days, then I am learning, I am looking for the happiness, the long-term happiness, rather the short-term happiness caused by re-installation. My friends have based their Linux learning on short-term happiness. That is the whole point, their definition of happiness and my definition of happiness are different. Their source of happiness is what you get in 30 minutess (watch a movie in 30 minutes), my source of happiness is solving problems (The GNU Project). If you are still reading, good and if you are still reading and understood it too, well, congratulations, you can be the one you want to become.

Copyright © 2006, 2007, 2008,2009 Arnuld Uttre, #331/type-2/sector-1, Naya Nangal, Distt. – Ropar, Punjab (INDIA) – 140126

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice, and the copyright notice, are preserved.



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  1. When I used to use Fedora, my solution to a really bad problem was to just reinstall the OS. I’ve noticed a lot of people do the same thing, and I think its because they’re still operating in a “Windows” mentality.

    But now I run Arch Linux, and when theres a problem, I actually read the error messages and try to fix it!

  2. Well, it’s not just Ubuntu or other linux users. I guess it’s PEOPLE.
    When ever there is a problem most people will prefer to go the shortest way to solve it. It rationally right because not everyone can afford the time needed for learning.
    Sometimes, unfortunately, repeating the shortest solution many times takes longer than actually reading and learning how to solve the problem…
    Human nature is really not the best. Using manuals, books and gathering all that knowledge seems to many people so unnecessary. Just think of how many things we need to know every day. I actually use Debian, but configure a lot myself. And I think the Arch culture is really healthy, and can teach everyone something. It is only a matter of time.

  3. Arch linux rules! I’ve been running Arch since Dec 07. In the meantime I have tried out openSuse, Debian, Kubuntu and none of them give me the deep, good natured sweetness of Arch. And btw, long time ago I heard about tiling window managers on your blog and it has been XMonad for me ever since. It is a real boon for laptop users (along with emacs and vimperator) Most days I do not even take my mouse out of the laptop bag. Ofcourse my colleagues can no longer use my machine, but that’s part of the charm.

    Have you tried out chakra linux? While I only occasionaly use KDE, the project sounds quite interesting.

  4. Learning the inner workings of your system, whatever that might be (Ubuntu, Arch, your car, constructions, plumbing, … ) is always helpful. But can we learn everything?? If we reach the point of being to PhD level at everything, than we may even risk our sanity:)
    I am comfortable at using the terminal in Ubuntu and prefer it sometimes (like apt-get instead of synaptic, or nano for editing conf files. Please don’t tell me that vi does a better job at changing a single alias in /etc/hosts!!), but for most things I use the GUI.

    What Ubuntu haters do not seem to understand yet, is that bashing Ubuntu does not help their distribution. If you push an Ubuntu user back to Windows, than the Linux community just lost a member. Encourage people to use Linux, even if this means using a “dumb”, as you would call it, distro like Ubuntu, Mandriva,OpenSUSE or gOS. When they get comfortable with it after a while, they will probably seek out other distros on their own, because of curiosity if they really want to learn those inner workings. Or we can stay in 2% market share for ever…

    • > But can we learn everything?? If we reach the point of being to PhD
      > level at everything, than we may even risk our sanity:)

      Who talked about Ph D level ? Did I say I even know anything about Linux kernel. Does a man who knows where the spark-plug of his bike is and then he opens it in the middle of the road because his bike is not running, then is he a mechanic ? of course not, its the general thing every man who owns a bike hould know.

      > Please don’t tell me that vi does a better job
      > at changing a single alias in /etc/hosts!!),
      > but for most things I use the GUI.

      where did I say that one should use one tool over the other (except OSs) . 2nd, I also use GUI nearly 99% of the time. I don’t use ttys, I simply use X-Terminal and thats a GUI. I said, GUI based system configuration, not GUI apps. You totally miss the point.

      > When they get comfortable with it after a while, they
      > will probably seek out other distros on their own, because
      > of curiosity if they really want to learn those inner workings.
      > Or we can stay in 2% market share for ever…

      They will never. Even after 10 years of Ubuntu user, they will not have any curiosity for the Linux. 2nd, regardign 2% share , I don’t think most Linux users ever loved the concept of Free Software. For them Linux is just a system like Winodw but it is not affected with viruses, so its better. If you tell them about Free Sofwtare then they don’t want to know and I don’t recommend wasting your precious time and energy on such users.

  5. People arer used to GUIs. If you want to help them, you can’t just say “use command line tools” – you have to slowly teach them about how command line tools are more powerfull and that by using them they will be able to help themselves.

    If they say “Ubuntu doesn’t play audio” it means that they have a vague concept of “Computer and stuff”. Abruptly telling them “Ubuntu has nothing to do with sound” will not teach them anything. At the same time trying to explain what ALSA is to them will only confuse them. What you have to do is to show them the commands they need to figure out what the problem is.

  6. In a famous Greek movie, the leading actor (plays a very poor man who barely has enough money to feed himself. In the following scene (after he finally manages to get a good job) he is trying to order a dessert which he loves eating and starts describing it, while drooling in the notion that he will eat it once again. The waiter tells him that this is dessert “x”. And he answers “I don’t want to learn it, I want to eat it!!”
    Does this example make things more clear? Most users don’t care how their PC works, they just want to send an email, surf the web or see a movie. Everything else sounds Greek to them.

    If the only thing they want is something like virus-free windows, then they are not target group for Arch Linux. They are the target group for Ubuntu or another “user friendly” distro, as I call it or “for idiot beings” as you would call it.
    Ubuntu is around for 5 years, maybe some of them will get curious in another 5, who knows…They did try Ubuntu after 10+ years of using windows after all, didn’t they??
    So do we want users that don’t care about “free as in speech software” or not? Only power users should use Linux? I think that Linux should be used by everyone, I find it way easier than windows in many ways. It is just different.

    Point taken about GUI based configuration/GUI apps. My misunderstanding there.

    • @ L4Linux
      > I think that Linux should be used by
      > everyone, I find it way easier than
      > windows in many ways. It is just different.

      It is the *most* accurate expression I have heared over the years. And you are the first man I have ever met who understands this.

  7. you don’t get it. i read the conversations with your friends and did not finish the entire post. so basically just because your friends don’t care about apt-get or lspci doesn’t mean they’re stupid or don’t get it. instead of playing geek, just tell them: “alright, i’ll fix it for you”

    they do NOT bother investigating and do not expect them to do so. they have other priorities and are interested in other things that you don’t care. period. this entire windows vs linux and stupid vs intelligent crap is annoying.

  8. I agree with you 100%. I run Debian, and still hand configure files that are made to be automatically generated nowadays, and have to put up with newbies who expect me to read them a manual like a bedtime story. I have a couple friends who are still upset with me because I didn’t do it for them, and if they give up, it is their problem. Like my neighbor; he tried to install ATI drivers on x86_64 for his fancy card, and the driver installer double-freed. To this day he has refused to file a bug report, and still refers to it as “Linux not working”. The people we have to live with.

    Don’t worry; that “fab” guy is a fool.

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