Quality of Forum Threads

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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby spacex » 2016-01-19 01:40

kedaha wrote:
steve_v wrote:The thing that's bugging me at the moment: Why are so many running Testing, when most of them appear to have no idea how to debug the inevitable problems?

Why? You can bet your bottom dollar that the lower the post count, the greater the chances are they're running testing. The route they've come by in a short time is likely to be from Windows -> Ubuntu -> Mint -> Debian Testing; it's likely that, with their little knowledge, most see testing as an "upgrade" from stable to newer and shinier software and are confident they can run it before they've learned to walk.


Yes, but the reason for this is that hardware is changed more frequently these days, and as newbies in general doesn't know about backports, they go directly to testing/unstable to get the hardware-support that they need. In the rich parts of the world, people are changing hardware every 2-3 years, some even more frequently. Debian Stable can not keep up with this pace.
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby thanatos_incarnate » 2016-01-19 08:28

spacex wrote:[A]nd as newbies in general doesn't know about backports, they go directly to testing/unstable to get the hardware-support that they need. In the rich parts of the world, people are changing hardware every 2-3 years, some even more frequently. Debian Stable can not keep up with this pace.

Debian Stable does not try to keep up with anything. The MO here is a stable system with somewhat conservative ideas about stability, reliability and security. Those do not go hand in hand with frequent hardware changes. Testing is rarely a good remedy for this issue. Unstable might be a bit better, as it gets bug fixes more quickly. Both have the disadvantage that they are geared primarily towards testing packages for a new Debian stable release and are not an equivalent to non-LTS Ubuntu or similar distros.
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby spacex » 2016-01-19 23:41

thanatos_incarnate wrote:
spacex wrote:[A]nd as newbies in general doesn't know about backports, they go directly to testing/unstable to get the hardware-support that they need. In the rich parts of the world, people are changing hardware every 2-3 years, some even more frequently. Debian Stable can not keep up with this pace.

Debian Stable does not try to keep up with anything. The MO here is a stable system with somewhat conservative ideas about stability, reliability and security. Those do not go hand in hand with frequent hardware changes. Testing is rarely a good remedy for this issue. Unstable might be a bit better, as it gets bug fixes more quickly. Both have the disadvantage that they are geared primarily towards testing packages for a new Debian stable release and are not an equivalent to non-LTS Ubuntu or similar distros.


I know that. But how is a newbie arriving at Debian.org supposed to know that? I also know that unstable is better than testing, but how is a newbie supposed to know that? I also know that the best solution is to run stable with backports, but again, how is a newbie arriving at Debian.org supposed to know that? There is no where anything about the fact that Debian chooses stability at the expence of compability with new hardware. There is no where stated that if you have a laptop newer than a couple of years, then it's most likely not supported in Stable by default, and that you should use the non-free repos and backports to get the support you need.

But then you will say that Debian doesn't hold peoples hand, they need to know the basics, because Debian isn't a starter distro. But tell me, where can a newbie pick up that information at the main page of Debian.org, or at least get a clue about such information anywhere else. Put yourself in those users shoes. They come from Windows, have never tried Linux, but end up at the front page of Debian.org. Is there anything to warn them about probably not being quite ready for Debian yet? On the contrary, it boldly states "The Universal OS", which can be interpreted in many ways. One of them being that Debian is something anyone should be able to use. Why wouldn't a Windows user think just that?
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby dilberts_left_nut » 2016-01-20 05:19

Maybe in the FAQ. https://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/debi ... tml#s3.1.1
Or the Installation Guide. https://www.debian.org/releases/stable/ ... 01.html.en
Or the forum.
Or IRC.
Or a websearch.
"...but newbies can't read..." 8)

It's not like it costs anything (apart from time) to just try it and see.
AdrianTM wrote:There's no hacker in my grandma...
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby mor » 2016-01-20 11:40

@spacex
Let me first say that I reject your idea of people running development branches for hardware compatibility (as a main reason why, as you presented it).
It just doesn't go along with my experience of reading and dealing with issues on forums.
People do use Testing/Unstable (I mean when they'd better off), for two main reasons:
  • the feeling of prestige and self-importance they get from the misguided perception of Testing being more advanced than Stable and Unstable even more, like if running it makes one Master of Debian.
  • the desire/curiosity (and not need) for up-to-date software
Sure there are also users who try Testing/Unstable to go along with their newer hardware, but I think they are a tiny minority. Moreover, most hardware compatibility depends on the kernel (which is always available from backports and let's not forget the liquorix option, however third party) and the video drivers/firmware which I also believe can be found in backports quite easily.

But even if it was absolutely and always impossible to make new hardware work in Stable, there is the fundamental issue of Testing/Unstable not working under the same paradigm of Stable. If a user would be perfectly fine in Stable with his new hardware, moving to development branches for whatever reason would mean parting ways with that use paradigm, which is purposely that of having an unchanging and low maintenance system, while Testing/Unstable are the exact opposite.
A user that can't get his new hardware working in Stable (with backports or maybe even some MX stuff) should not be advised to move to Testing or Unstable, he/she should just be advised to change distro.

You have a point in asking "where do they learn?".
Well, they can learn in the same way they learn to venture in development territory, which is not something people do lightheartedly on their own.
They do it because they listen to those who advertise development branches as "stable enough" or "like Stable, but with new stuff" or "yeah, in Testing/Unstable you get the new hardware recognized, but don't worry, they are more stable than Ubuntu".
Do sentences like these ring a bell?

We only need to stop spreading those misguided notions and inform people of the fact that Stable, and Stable only, is Debian's idea of an operating system, the Universal Operating System, while Testing/Unstable are, despite their incidental dependability, completely different, and opposite and only supposed to be used as the testing ground for the official Stable release (yes, even if you and I use them as a daily systems!).

Bye :)
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby spacex » 2016-01-20 12:45

dilberts_left_nut wrote:Maybe in the FAQ. https://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/debi ... tml#s3.1.1
Or the Installation Guide. https://www.debian.org/releases/stable/ ... 01.html.en
Or the forum.
Or IRC.
Or a websearch.
"...but newbies can't read..." 8)

It's not like it costs anything (apart from time) to just try it and see.


But newbies coming from Windows are spoiled. They don't read anything, especially not if they have to seek out the information themselves. Do you really expect that very many should read the installation guide? Get real... Wishful thinking doesn't get us anywhere :D
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby spacex » 2016-01-20 13:14

mor wrote:@spacex

Sure there are also users who try Testing/Unstable to go along with their newer hardware, but I think they are a tiny minority. Moreover, most hardware compatibility depends on the kernel (which is always available from backports and let's not forget the liquorix option, however third party) and the video drivers/firmware which I also believe can be found in backports quite easily.


Sure. The problem is that a newbie doesn't know what backports are, besides being a word. It might just as well be lalalalala... What happens is that in the search for fixes to their issues, they read somewhere that they should upgrade to testing/unstable, or better yet, get a link to a unstable live image with a already configured Desktop, and there you go...

We only need to stop spreading those misguided notions and inform people of the fact that Stable, and Stable only, is Debian's idea of an operating system, the Universal Operating System, while Testing/Unstable are, despite their incidental dependability, completely different, and opposite and only supposed to be used as the testing ground for the official Stable release (yes, even if you and I use them as a daily systems!).


I can't see how we should be able to stop those notions. People get their information from everywhere, not only the official Debian Forums. In essence I do agree with everything you are saying, I just think it's a lost battle.
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby thanatos_incarnate » 2016-01-21 07:49

spacex wrote:I just think it's a lost battle.

I don't think it is. Sure, it's a never ending battle you can't win, but I do think it has an effect if you constantly remind people of our expectations. That's when usually some of the behaviour goes down a bit.
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby mor » 2016-01-21 17:19

spacex wrote:Sure. The problem is that a newbie doesn't know what backports are

Yes, but they shouldn't be as comfortable venturing in development territory either.
If they do, as you duly noted, it is because way too many, even among those who should know better, miserably fail in explaining the nature of Debian branches and carelessly inspire, or outright tell, clueless user to go Testing/Unstable.

spacex wrote:I can't see how we should be able to stop those notions. People get their information from everywhere, not only the official Debian Forums. In essence I do agree with everything you are saying, I just think it's a lost battle.

True, and documentation, even on the official channels, is absolutely bad.
Is it a lost battle?
If it is, then even this discussion has no point. What are we arguing about? Why don't we just go home? ;)

See, my position is that of a user who believes that we should discuss and understand this matter better ourselves, and that in doing so we can be able to create an environment here where some good information, at least on this subject, can be found, that can also be spread by all those who hang elsewhere.

The problem with what has been done so far (I mean everywhere, not just here), in terms of "spreading information", is that it has been mostly done just to counter those who recklessly advertise and advise for the use of development branches, but with a somewhat dogmatic approach, warning people against the use of Testing/Unstable but without really understanding how and why, and explaining what's what.

Let's not tell people that if they use Testing or Unstable the sky will fall on their head, let's explain to them what Debian is (aka what Stable is), how it works, how it differs from Testing/Unstable.
Instead of telling them that they need to get some experience before they can run Testing and then, after some more, Unstable, let's explain to them that if Stable doesn't fit their needs, in all likelihood Debian is just the wrong distribution, and that development branches are simply the misguided expectation that Debian could be something that Debian is not.

In order to do this though, we need to understand the matter better ourselves. Too many experienced Debian users, here and elsewhere, do not possess a deep understanding of the nature of Debian's branches and the difference between Stable and developmental versions, and while they are wise in acting conservatively and not playing with fire and warning others of the potential dangers, I feel they do so with the same kind of naïveté showed by those who instead tread carefree into development territory for the most misguided reasons.

Bye
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby dasein » 2016-01-21 17:36

I've said this elsewhere, but am too lazy to look it up, so I'll just repeat it briefly.

The whole notion of Testing/Unstable as a "learning experience" for newbies is, IMO, a crock. By definition, what newbies need to learn is how Linux "should" work. And for that goal there is simply no better platform than Debian Stable. If newbies attempt to "learn" on the development releases, much/most of what they learn is "development releases are subject to random breakage," which is neither helpful nor particularly useful. It burdens them with an unnecessary second-order learning task, one that directly interferes with the task of, well, learning Linux.

"Learn on Stable" is the best advice any newbie can receive.
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby spacex » 2016-01-22 02:14

dasein wrote:I've said this elsewhere, but am too lazy to look it up, so I'll just repeat it briefly.

The whole notion of Testing/Unstable as a "learning experience" for newbies is, IMO, a crock. By definition, what newbies need to learn is how Linux "should" work. And for that goal there is simply no better platform than Debian Stable. If newbies attempt to "learn" on the development releases, much/most of what they learn is "development releases are subject to random breakage," which is neither helpful nor particularly useful. It burdens them with an unnecessary second-order learning task, one that directly interferes with the task of, well, learning Linux.

"Learn on Stable" is the best advice any newbie can receive.


For the average user and newbie, yes, you are correct. Probably also correct for most users and most newbies. But you are forgetting the fact that most people are attracted to whatever is perceived as a little dangerous. That's just how a great percentage of us humans are. The ones that play it safe in Linux, are probably also the same that plays it safe elsewhere in life. A minority.
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby thanatos_incarnate » 2016-01-22 07:35

dasein wrote:[W]hat newbies need to learn is how Linux "should" work. And for that goal there is simply no better platform than Debian Stable. If newbies attempt to "learn" on the development releases, much/most of what they learn is "development releases are subject to random breakage," which is neither helpful nor particularly useful.

Exactly. On certain websites I'd very often read things like "KDE is terribly unusable" or "Mate is a piece of dodo because it crashes all the time." Guess what those people are using: Arch or non-LTS *buntu. These are also the sort of not-quite-noobies, who think they're advanced users because they installed Windows for grandma a couple of times, that go out and spread the word how "Linux isn't ready yet".
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby spacex » 2016-01-22 13:15

thanatos_incarnate wrote:
dasein wrote:[W]hat newbies need to learn is how Linux "should" work. And for that goal there is simply no better platform than Debian Stable. If newbies attempt to "learn" on the development releases, much/most of what they learn is "development releases are subject to random breakage," which is neither helpful nor particularly useful.

Exactly. On certain websites I'd very often read things like "KDE is terribly unusable" or "Mate is a piece of dodo because it crashes all the time." Guess what those people are using: Arch or non-LTS *buntu. These are also the sort of not-quite-noobies, who think they're advanced users because they installed Windows for grandma a couple of times, that go out and spread the word how "Linux isn't ready yet".


Yes, but that's just how it is. Status is important no matter what environment and which camp you belong to. A computer isn't just a tool for tasks, just as a car isn't just a mean of transportation. It's much much more than just that. We send a signal of who we are, or at least, who we wanna be, by what we are using and how we act.
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby arochester » 2016-01-22 13:32

A computer isn't just a tool for tasks, just as a car isn't just a mean of transportation. It's much much more than just that.


But for some people it is.

I am reminded of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." The central figure is not adversed to using a piece of a tin can to make a shim for his motorcycle. Another figure, when his motorcycle breaks down, will just take send it to a garage. The first could be referred to as a motorcycle geek and the second as a non-geek.

Some people are interested in computers/computing. Computer geeks for want of a better expression. It may be appropriate to provide then with"tools". Others just want to use their computer for tasks. Non-geeks. They don't want "tools", they don't want to read about things that may not be relevant - they just want answers.

Should we say to people that Debian/Linux is for geeks only and simple users should just go away?
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Re: Quality of Forum Threads

Postby thanatos_incarnate » 2016-01-22 16:30

arochester wrote:Should we say to people that Debian/Linux is for geeks only and simple users should just go away?

The answer lies in your analogy:
arochester wrote:Another figure, when his motorcycle breaks down, will just take send it to a garage.

I wouldn't say Debian isn't for beginners. But it's not for beginners who intend to use their computer as an appliance (at least not unless they have someone supervising the experience).
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