arochester wrote:Distros like Ubuntu and Linux Mint are often said to be suitable for beginners. Debian is said to be for more experienced users. Why? Is the system intrinsically more difficult? (O.K. Testing and Unstable!) Is the documentation less accessible? Is the community support less?
To take another analogy, an article in physics isn't suitable for 16 year olds studying physics 101 in high school. Their physics text book is and it can explain the same concept in a more suitable manner. If a physicist had to read the same information as digested for high school children, he'd lose valuable time by reading a plethora of text he already knows.
It's the same with Debian: things are actually really simple, it's just that there's a somewhat more involved initial stage where one has to hunt for the documentation or learn to overcome procedures that in other distros are simplified. But that's OK, since people who don't want any involvement with complex setups or who want more handholding still get to use e.g. Ubuntu or a more FOSS equivalent like Trisquel.
arochester wrote:By telling people to look at this and read this are we effectively saying RTFM? "What we expect you have already Done” refers to “A Beginners Guide to Debian”.” A Beginners Guide to Debian is” dated 2010. It says , for example, "Stable is currently Lenny. Testing is currently Squeeze". Just what beginners want to know.
1. This is the only of the links that's deprecated. Thanks for pointing that out. I've checked the others and they are all updated to Jessie, which is enough as testing and unstable are not supposed to be covered by beginner's documentation anyway.
2. The Debian way is one of participation. As a software philosophy, it goes against expecting your OS to be a service (which it isn't because you're not paying anyone to do something for you). You take an active role in looking for documentation and reading it. This doesn't mean that Debian can't be used by individuals who aren't willing to learn more about the system, but then I'd rather suggest having a friend who'll at least set up e.g. a working desktop for said individual or a company that will provide the aforementioned service experience. Truth be told, this service mentality is provided by Ubuntu in a much more accessible fashion. Hence we are right to say things like: "What we expect you have already done." and I would even go as far as saying that I also expect any user here to take any documentation that is provided in an unofficial capacity with a grain of salt. Yes, it's part of the active participation process to take a look at the dates of the document, maybe write a PM to the poster and point that out or write your own updated guide and ask the mods to pin it.
This is again a kind of documentation that I would deem not suitable for the Debian way. Remember, it's an open source project whose members often advocate the KISS principle, so I'd expect the documentation to be lean. Human-readable text is enough. While some layout may make things more readable, an excessive waste of bandwidth with large images is not what Debian is about IMHO (which seems hypocritical reading my tl;dr-ish banter here, but it's true
arochester wrote:If someone makes their first post and asks a simple question giving them a simple answer might mean that they just sail away
If someone has made 145 posts and ask a simple question maybe they are never going to “get it”. (An 80 year old friend asks me over and over and over how to get his digital photos off his camera and into his computer. I tell him, but the answer will never be for him to “read the instructions”.
And that's OK. He has you as a "service", free or paid for. Debian doesn't provide service, it provides tools. It's the difference between buying a toolbox, where the vendor might be courteous enough to give you a free FAQ sheet on screwdrivers, but it's actually not his job, and paying a person to fix your sink.
Ubuntu, Mint and, in a more FOSS way, Trisquel all show that service mentality and zero cost can coexist, even as a (partially or fully) open source phenomenon. But Debian isn't about that.