Sunday, March 30, 2008

A day in the life in Linuxville

I want to tell you there is only one Linux but you know those guys in the north have an accent that is a little different from the guys in the south. Plus the food they eat is a little spicier down south and those east coast boys like a sporting life. The west coast gang likes the beaches. And to top it all off there is a lot of action behind the scenes in Linuxville. But we shouldn't let the back room folks have all the fun. So, I'm going to explain Linux real simple. There are three main Linux trees, the Red Hat or .rpm trunk, the Debian or .deb trunk and the Slackware or .tar gz trunk. Then there are three main desktops, KDE and Gnome and XFCE. Of course there's other trunks and window managers, but these are the main ones. According to popular talk, Debian or .deb is the most popular and so is KDE. Some can always argue but that's the way it seems. I myself like Debian (Ubuntu) plus XFCE. These trunks and desktops have become the bases of many distributions. If I were to recommend a distro I would offer Xubuntu because it runs well on older and slower hardware and flies like crazy on new hardware. Then the Debian (Ubuntu) repositories have a little fuller selection of applications than the other systems. Mind you they all have the most popular applications. The support team of one distro might say we have fries too but we also have special sauce. This might be in the form of better system configuration and management tools or fancy graphics drivers. You might want to examine a distro closer before you settle down to one. You should make sure you have access to the applications you want and have the look and feel you want and the support you are comfortable with. The trick to any desktop is to fit it to the way you work while you learn what you can do with it. It is OK to dual-boot or virtual machine if you still want MS windows. I am doing this and while a hassle, it is great if the need is there.
Linuxville is a busy place, always renovations and revisions going on, things are always getting better. Years ago you had to manually mount your disk drives, now auto mount is standard stuff. Linux is getting user friendlier everyday. It is very good if they can do this without sacrificing user choice. I was a MS Win98 fanatic as a lot of people were. Why? Because Win98 themes were very popular and I enjoyed getting away from the out-of-the-box looks. And darn it, I didn't have a business machine, so I had the liberty, the freedom to change it. Win98 people went wild. XP in comparison is rather stiff, every time I added a tweak, a new security patch would break it. Now with Vista there is a canned glitzy look. I really don't know what you can do with it and I never liked what MS anticipated my likes might be. Cars did the same thing, the 5 spoke mag wheels are standard now, they were once a pricey option. The after-market got radical and came out with spinners. The Linux desktop after market is vibrant. Take a look at , and and for a hint of user activity. Themes, icons, backgrounds (wallpapers) and system sounds are plentiful. And if you have suggestions for improvements, you can talk with developers.
I hate to be a separatist, but in Linuxville you have to draw the lines between the server folk and the desktop user folk and then again between the business user and the home user. The extent of the knowledge and user experience is different for each group. Linux can be adjusted to suit your work habits and have the look and feel to suit your tastes. The hardest thing is to become an expert at Linux because there are so many areas to concentrate on. This is why community is important. If you decide to make yourself at home here in Linuxville, look around.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Art and Science and Linuxville

Linux is not the focused product of one company, that much we know. Linux is the work of many people brought together on one platform. I remember my teenage days pouring over a catalog called Whitneys. It was an after-market car parts book. This was way before the pimp your ride movement, we called it hot rodding. You could build kit cars or transform your standard jalopy by customizing. Even back then we had the old school, new school thing going. Linux is an awful lot like that. You can have a standard like Gnome or KDE or any of the assorted desktops and you can tweak an pimp your settings to an outrageous range of styles and actions. I know there are many who say this is the reason Linux is not popular, too much tweakability, choice and not one desktop that everybody knows. You are familiar with the toy Bionical, we had Erector sets in my day, comes with snap together parts. If a kid opens the bubble pak to play with the pre-assembled form and never takes it apart to build something else, what fun is that, what kind of kid is that. I am finding that PC users are like that also. They want one form and feel more secure if it doesn't change. If you are this kind of Linux user, don't change it, but don't complain if it is unsatisfactory to your taste. I get ticked sometimes at screenshot comparisons of Linux (mostly Ubuntu) to MS Vista and Mac Leopard. Right out of the box looks are so misleading. Vista and Leopard have "polish and sophistication" you don't have to hunt for. You don't have to do a thing to get those looks, but with Linux you get a basic (not ugly) desktop. The Gnome group seems to stick close to the basic functional look (fresh and simple), KDE is reaching for "polish and sophistication". Personally, I like Xfce, it fits my way of how things should look. Most users settle on a desktop as a favorite and don't change after that. So having the ability and liberty to change is designed into Linux. There are the one size fits all favorites, MS and Mac, then the custom fit Linux. You really have to ask if mass marketing appeal is what you want. Look at Macs, they are kind of specialized to a particular niche market. Yet they are considered in the same vein as MS which is really a mass marketing effort. Linux can accommodate many types of users, because it can be customized to your needs. Linux really is a different platform. Now Linux, MS and Macs all have server OS's and applications. They all have desktop OS's and applications. Nobody is worried about Macs taking over the whole desktop kingdom, why do they think this about Linux? For certain Linux has a niche crowd too. I wonder if because Linux is not a company or a single organization or that it is free and open source it is being held as not being able to fairly compete with MS and Apple which are. This is so much like the car world. Sometimes innovation is forced upon the major car makers by the backyard hot rodders, the racetrackers, foreign cars and the oil crisis. People who are asking if Linux is ready for the desktop always discount the fact that there are folks who can deal with it just fine with no complaints, no hassles. They say over and over the average person (mom) can't use it and it will never take over MS's domination. So far I have not heard anyone ask Linus Torvalds why he didn't just use MS Windows instead of writing a free Unix style operating system from scratch. Then a guy by the name of Mark Shuttleworth, who is obviously familiar with making money like Jobs and Gates, decides to develop and support Linux and keep it free and open source. So, being free is suspect, the media is nay saying and critical and PC users are skeptical or uneducated when it comes to Linux. In a secret cove, deep in the heart of Linuxville, there is a ring of Tux clothed server monks surrounded by thousands of chanting users from every walk of life or is it like that old spy TV show "The Prisoner", the island is everywhere, you can't escape and you're not a number? Is it like "The Matrix", we live in a virtual world and one day wake up? Or like "Star Wars" or "Tron", that too is your choice.
Well I do have a prediction and a dream that one day somebody will put a virtual machine program in the boot rom (a flash drive). All OS's will be an iso file and personal settings and supplemental programs saved to disk. Data and OS's will never be put on the same disk and file formats will be open and usable between OS's. Your PDA will contain your personal settings and when in proximity to a computer transfers the settings, becomes your mouse, ethernet link and storage device. OS lapel pins will be worn like merit badges but it wouldn't matter because businesses and homes are well versed in open source software. Tux becomes a popular mascot at basketball games, learns a flying slam dunk. The total outcome is that Linux will continue to develop and grow as a OS, in spite of the inertia against it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

There's a disturbance in the force!

Linuxville is a virtual city that crosses many borders via the internet but when ever physical bodies come together as a users group there is a confirmation to the joy of Linux. In the northeast Ohio sector of the world we've had a few such user groups. Apparently these groups have been fading away and I don't know the reason. The Cleveland Linux Users Group has dropped their web site, The Oberlin College Linux group is student focused and so is the Case Western Reserve Univ Linux group, basically a mailing list. The Northeast Ohio Linux Users Group's web site is functioning whacky. These are the ones just outside of convenient travel distance for me. I kind of prefer the interactive internet involvement, but must admit face to face is still good. My wonderful city, Lorain Ohio, has a Computer Users Group. It seems to be made up of older folks who are MS Windows users. I hear there is some interest in Linux among them. It seems that younger folk don't care to meet together the same way as older folks do. There are a number of VFW and ethnic type organizations that seem to suffer from the same kind of thing. The local college I went to doesn't support, teach, mention Linux in the normal course work. Most people I know from school, church or work are unaware that there is a Linux. I don't understand the dynamic but older folks gather to try to figure out the new stuff while the younger perhaps think they know it already, no need to meet to trade notes. It may be that older folks think community and the younger emphasize individuality. Maybe we will have to re-think the structure and appearance of Linux user groups so that interested people can be virtual and/or physical with greater ease. But I do have one criticism about Linux users groups. It is that knowledgeable Linux enthusiasts who have gathered thus far have been mostly server oriented users. Most of these folk do a lot of talk about servers, system administration and the like. These things are of little interest to folks wanting to use Linux on the desktop. I experienced this at a NASA work site. A few of us gathered to discuss Linux. Most wanted to setup web servers at home or do coding. There were some video and photo buffs. I was interested in the available desktop applications. If you want to setup, run and maintain a server, you have to know Linux pretty well, but after a server is done, you don't interact with it so much. It will run for days, weeks, years without intervention, that's the beauty of Linux. If you are a desktop user, you don't need to know that much Linux to use it. You can concentrate on the applications before you. So, I am purposing a shift and a split in emphasis. While the one Linux can do server and desktop stuff, we shouldn't press the skills required of one group on the other. It is the same with cars. You don't need to be a mechanic to drive, just a few necessary skills (change tire, add oil, etc). I think if we can remember this, Linux and Linux users will be much easier to deal with. Who am I, just a humble Linuxville rep who knows a naked emperor when he sees it and has the guff to say so. I hope your entrance and stay in Linuxville is a pleasant and rewarding one.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Buried treasure in Linuxville

One day a few years back I was lurking around a store called "Half Priced Books" looking for Linux material. They were having a sale which meant books were even cheaper. I stumbled upon "Linux Journal" for the year 1999. I am not much of a magazine collector but I know treasure when I see it. I've bought a few more mags the years that followed, today it is all internet. There was though one mag called "Linux User and Developer" from the UK which had Fedora Core 2 in it. Anyway back to the Linux Journal of 1999, the whole Linux world was different. 95% of the articles and emphasis was on servers and server applications, peppered with workstation stuff. The desktop was not a big topic. Most users seemed to be destined for system admins or engineering workstation and coding work. I don't think anybody had a notion that Linux could be a popular desktop OS. The times have changed and now many of the Linux vets are having to figure how to deal with users who just use the GUI. These mouse jockeys and app mavens really don't want or need to know the depths of Linux. They just point and click just as they did in MS Windows or Mac OS. But looking back is so cool. You can see that even though coders and developers world wide put Linux together, Linux is well thought out and proven by the developers and the users.

Well, what's going to happen to Linuxville in the future is an on going thing. I think we will have to separate the server from the workstation at least in the way we teach Linux to new folks. This is because most desktop users will not be interested in server functions and applications. The desktop deserves it's own focus. I really see a need for users to write more how-to's for all those applications. And to put in one book the popular desktops and window managers. Hey, people still like books you know!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Linuxville has politics too!

There are always parallels in life, religion and politics and Linuxville has its share too. In America I can't understand the way some presidential choices are handled (the media, people's minds). The same has been true with Linux. We won't dip into the details of haggling for a president but the metaphor in the PC arena is nearly the same. Is Linux ready for the desktop? This is a very loaded question and a hot topic in debate. It depends on who you ask and what you are referring to. If you are looking at the whole Linux OS as a system that can run a server, corporate and web services and administration tasks and coding skills, yes Linux is quite complex and not for the average user. Then if Linux is a PC desktop OS, you get a different picture. Among Linux users, who is describing Linux experiences? Programmers and system admin folks view Linux differently than desktop users. Lets not forget technicians who fix and repair PC's what ever the platform (mostly MS PC's). The question as to if Linux is ready for the desktop is often subtitled by other questions and realizations like; why change? I don't know enough about it to support it. Microsoft is on every PC, I don't know why we need another OS, Linux can't possibly take over, so I'm not really interested. Well, there are a zillion of them, the point is that since Linux as a desktop is not common, we don't consider it a real part of "the computing experience". We all sort of say that MS owns the town and their logos are on everything and Linux is just some graffiti by a renegade tag artist (probably Tux). Of course some of us know this is not true, but folks are so used to what they are used to. Even the PC tech crowd is avoiding Linux because they lack knowledge and experience of it. For instance on MS Win systems, something goes wrong and you do the three finger salute (ctrl-alt-del), but in Linux you do a different one (ctrl-alt-backspace). Imagine getting hundreds of calls just for that. But so many don't know what to expect when you click the mouse or push the button in Linux. So with all those vocal Microsoft trained folks speaking on Linux, it is overwhelmingly against it. Linux was only a small mention at the college I attended. I learned all about PC tech stuff including the server. It was said that Linux existed, but nothing else. If I hadn't pressed the issue, the school wouldn't have talked about Linux at all. By the way, they didn't say much about Macs either. I showed a fellow student and a teacher a printed color screenshot of my desktop. They were amazed that it was like MS Windows then turned away when it wasn't better, flashier, or what ever than MS Windows. So, I am laying down some ground rules so that folks who come to visit Linuxville can give a fair assessment to their friends, write on their blogs and such.

1. If you come, stay a while. Hit and run analysis is not a reliable source. If you use a new thing over time the tastes and habits of the old thing gets tempered. Knowing more than one system also looks good on your resume and you are not backed into a corner when upgrade time comes.

2. Don't compare Linux too closely with MS. Realize it is engineered to be different than MS. While MS emulation is possible, being different and free are features worth enjoying.

3. If you are unsure about anything, ask for help. Why figure it out yourself if others have agonized over the same problems and found solutions.

4. If hardware compatibility is an issue, don't just proclaim Linux is crap. There maybe clear reasons or exclusions, like newness, propriety drivers, obsolete equipment, etc. Compatibility lists do exist and even I had to buy new hardware to install Linux (DSL box instead of a winmodem).

5. Installation is an option. If you must install, learn the install steps, get help, be patient. Even MS Windows is a hassle to install (most don't have to do it). Recite point 3 over and over.

6. Don't trash your MS install for Linux if you are not committed. It is OK to virtual machine Linux or live-CD Linux. And if you install Linux you can do the same with MS Windows (except MS Windows has no live-CD). Dual-booting, which I am doing now, is bothersome, messy to set up and a hassle to switch between OS's.

7. Linux applications are fine. It is not intended for Linux apps to be spitting images of MS apps. The important thing is the file formats. If you must run MS apps, use virtual machine or Wine or Crossover office, the same is true for games.

Linuxville is a varied place. Some come for vacation, some escape from legal entanglements, some want to explore, play, some do serious work and some just think penguins are cute. Most who come want to reside here even just to say they've been here. Yes, Linuxville is quite the place, if you give it a chance, it will grow on you (you might wake up in a TUX suit!).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Linuxville, how to dress like a native.

One of the biggest complaints MS Windows users have about using Linux or any other thing is that they have so much invested in MS software. Many have quite a large library of applications and games accumulated over the years. The thought of trashing it all looms above them like a potential stock market crash. I am here to tell you not to fret and fuss. You can vacation in Linuxville and when you come back, your place has not been ransacked. I am talking about a live-CD Linux and a jump drive. Then if you decide to stay, there are ways to run your MS stuff, so if you must, you can. You know all this, you just don't believe it. So, go a head and set up your computer to boot from the CD drive first, pop in the live-CD and see. Live-CD's are good for a few things. First is the tryout. You can use the real software as a demo to see what's there. Practice, you can become familiar with what Linux looks like and feels like. Then as a rescue OS, just in case your MS Windows crashes and you need to get at files on your hard drive. Finally the install, because once you use to using it you might want a permanent residence. Even if you are a die-hard MS person it is handy to visit once in a while just to learn some OS flexibility, to expand your skill set. Very useful in today's job market. Can look good on your resume. Hey after all, you've been to Linuxville.

Found another great book, "Test Driving Linux, from windows to linux in 60 seconds" by David Brickner. It's for users, not administrators.

Dressing like a native is easy these days as a number of programs that are standard fare in Linuxville also have MS Windows versions. We are talking open source software. Open Office, Firefox, Gimp, Abiword and others that can be freely downloaded off the net. If you are using them already we can speak the language mon! I wish there was a printed book that illustrates and explains all the various Linux applications but, the web will have to suffice. Check out, it exposes you to a lot of unfamiliar names that do things similar to what familiar MS Window programs do. I hope you look them over and then if they are included on your live-CD you can appreciate them.
I want to warn you, they can be habit forming. You might see penguins in your sleep.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Linuxville is green, an alternative OS

What makes Linuxville the place to be these days. What makes Linux different? First off, it's like comparing American cars to foreign cars, the same but different. Once you settle into the habit of using it, those differences are minor, simply a matter of taste. Linux works all the same equipment and options but under the hood, it is engineered different. But to you on the desktop it is so close to what your use to.
It feels close to home, then it grows on you, then it becomes a regular destination. Any advantage, you ask? Linux is the alternative OS, it can be used rather than Mac or MS. Linux is greener than Mac or MS. What I mean is that it will run on older, less endowed hardware. You will upgrade and recycle less often and your hardware becomes obsolete over a longer period of time. Linux is greener because the same community that uses it, develops and supports it, thats sustainability. Linux is not bloated, but trim and efficient. Linuxville only needs your passport, not your birth papers, social security card, driver's ID and a bill with your postal address on it. Politically Linuxville is open source. Both the source code and the development tools are free and accessible to you, you can own the stuff you acquire, not just buy user rights. With Mac you get some stuff, but I'm not familiar because I could never afford it. With my HP desktop I got XP, a trial MS Office package, internet ISP offers, MS Works (Office Jr.), MS Internet Explorer, and a couple of multimedia apps. I had to remove a lot of unwanted and unnecessary stuff and install free open source software to get some real work done. I hated the way new program icons peppered my desktop after installing. But I used icons because it is more awkward to use the start button to get to the main menu and or the file manager. Not having the file manager easy to get to means more folder icons on the desktop causing even more confusion. The new Vista still hides the file manager. You probably could adjust these things to work smoother but out of the box, it gets old pretty fast. On my state of the art Linuxville desktop a left click opens a application selection menu anywhere on the desktop and there are a few handy desktop icons and a toolbar to access my file manager in plain sight. No hunting and fishing. I didn't have to remove any useless or unwanted software and when I do add software there is no need for desktop icons because the menus are so accessible. My work flow is more efficient and I enjoy my neat and clean desktop. So, things in Linuxville are well thought out but not psycho-analyzed to death then locked down. If you want to you can change it to suit yourself. What, you want travel photos! Every version of Linux has screenshots on their web pages, you just have to search a little. If your adventurous, boot up a live-CD and see for yourself.
If you want to explore the perfect book I recommend "Point & Click Linux" by Robin 'Roblimo' Miller.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Linuxville embassy blurb

Linuxville is not that difficult to navigate, but it does depend upon your approach. I highly recommend the live-CD Linux because you can visit and leave at your discretion. You could employ a jump drive or a shared directory on your MS system to save your memoirs. If you plan to stay, you have a couple of options from dual-booting on two hard drives, two or more partitions on one drive to going the virtual machine route. So, putting down roots (installation) can be tricky or as straight forward as a fresh install making Linux your only OS (welcome to the neighborhood). The most comfortable approach is pre-installation, then you can just turn on, boot up, log in and enjoy.

Then, what kind of user are you? Your bio makes a difference. How Linux fits your needs is the key to happiness. Server and workstation admins and coders will probably want to know all about the text input options like, the terminal emulators and text editors. They need to have at the internals, configure, compose and compile programs and other system admin stuff. If you are a point and click artist, like me, you want the ins and outs of the GUI made plain. At some time in your Linux life you should venture to know a few command line things but it is not a prerequisite. If it is your own computer you are required to know about user accounts, permissions and basic file management. What car owner would survive without knowing how to add oil or change a tire. The car manual is the car user's guide to all the user accessible features. You've read what I think about most Linux user guides, but they are none the less very helpful. Also the distro of your choice has web pages, user forums and tutorials, and also fanboy/girl blogs are rampant. This is in lieu of "the missing manual". And if all else fails, "goggle it" or "yahoo it" (sounds funny), the info is on the net by other users (Linuxville citizens). Did I forget Linux user's groups and computer clubs?

If you are a tourist or road warrior (using the live-CD) you don't have all the rights and privileges of a resident. Depending on your hardware, live-CD's run slower and you don't have the (MS Windows compatibility) extras. So if the fonts in the word processor or web browser look funny or you can't play a video or you're unhappy with the live-CD selection, you must realize this is a foretaste of better things to come.
Some live-CD's come with tools to add stuff you want and then make a new live-CD, but that is yet to be explored by yours truly.

But the big question that is asked by all visitors to Linuxville is, can I do my normal computer stuff with Linux? The answer is yes, maybe and yes, probably. You have to look into the applications available to see if they meet your needs. This includes running MS Windows in a virtual machine or using a software called Wine (allows MS software to run in Linux).

Then, if my MS stuff works fine, why try Linux? You are free to try or not. And if the opportunity to try or adopt presents itself, the benefits are yours to own. In my situation economics, choice, history, philosophy, involvement and many other considerations made Linux very attractive. But, trying it, I liked it. The cost of ownership and the legal commitment of Linux is very low for an individual user (per seat). Maintenance is lower, security is very good, and stability is excellent. But the best part of Linux is that I did not have to buy newer, bigger, faster equipment in order to run the latest OS so that I could do the same things I've always done on my computer, upgrading was and is still an option. I get good performance and bang for my buck.

Regrets, you ask, are there any regrets for switching? Sometimes you are the only Linuxville citizen in a crowd, you do the same things as others but, the slight difference can be annoying or gratifying. Having a bumper sticker is fine but wearing a TUX costume is a bit extreme. I often feel a quiet desperation because others are missing out or are duped and in the back of my head is a notion to educate them. Practically, I have not missed a beat in my computer use and as I find out more about Linux, I find Linux can accommodate that expansion. And I have discovered the holy grail of the do-it-yourself world (if your that kind of person), bragging rights.

Linuxville, citizenship has its benefits.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Linuxville history and crossing the border

As your guide in Linuxville I feel you should know a little about me and my obsession with Linux. Not being totally taken in by the advertisements and the new car smells of ownership (actually a lease), I have been free to consider other options. The economics of life have played their part and also the opportunity to acquire a different solution while not having to change my habits. Of course I did a background check (history), a cost of ownership study, platform migration plan and an exit strategy. I have had a good Linux experience and after much consideration I will pursue permanent dual citizen status.

I confess, I am a Linux fanboy. I watched the movie "The Pirates of Silicon Valley" and if that was a accurate portrayal of Jobs and Gates, the kingdoms they've built and the product outcomes, then computing and users are doomed to a lifetime of abuse and servitude. If not, then excuse my misguided judgment. I also watched the movies, "The Code Linux", "Revolution OS" and "The Free Software Movement" and came away with a different impression. I have heard Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman talk on YouTube. I am totally amoured by Linux and open source software as a movement and as a product. So the "dynamic duo" has become "the three Musketeers" and according to personality, Mr. Torvalds is the stable one among them. He has produced an outcome not as glitzy as Jobs but more stable than Gates. The clincher was when another millionaire, Mark Shuttleworth, funds and develops Ubuntu Linux and gives it away.

I know how we value the apparent success and dependency upon the product outcomes of Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gates but it does not mean that there are not other solutions in the world. Linux grew up along side and with the internet, and while not a model of the American dream, it is still a successful outcome. The genius of Jobs and Gates has been trumped by the genius of Torvalds who just wanted a free operating system. It works on the server and to the dismay of many (including server admins and Linux power users) works on the desktop too. Linux is not really a new comer, its heritage is older than both Macs or MS, but you all know that. We have been under the marketing and use of Macs and MS for so long that we can't imagine another platform making inroads. We resist, compare and try to discount any idea that Linux is just as good and worst if some say it is better. That is all a human nature thing. Over time the smoke and mirrors marketing and the pony shows are over. The stuff going on in the background becomes reality because somebody just wanted a free operating system and set it in motion. Linux, so complex it takes years to know it all, yet so simple you could work it with six commands, point and click, drag and drop, cut and paste. Though having to learn myself and teach others about Linux, I am having fewer to no MS Windows problems or commitments in writing (end user agreements). Linux is green, portable if need be, low or high powered, it is adjustable, configurable, and flexible. Linux is free ( no coupons to clip, no money back guarantees) or if you must, pay for it. But in any respect the Linux genie is out of the bottle and its allure is being discovered, soon we will all have to check it out. Welcome to Linuxville.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Linuxville travelguide - rewrite needed.

It is a funny situation, no one knows or cares about Linux until they are actually faced with the chance to use it. Then if the curiosity bug bites you, you try to read up on it or search the internet. It is a total shame that most books and internet sites seem slanted toward users involved with servers and or programmers workstations. They tend to start out with the command line or terminal, and using text editors. So, here you are wanting to dive in and try Linux and you are hit with learning standard Bash commands, or learning Vim and Emacs. All you really want is to run programs with a click, read your email, write a letter, balance the checkbook, search the internet, view some video and play a CD. My advice to all you Linuxville Travelguide writers is: now that the target audience has shifted to include normal everyday computer users you must write less about text input and more on using the GUI on the desktop when explaining Linux to them. Now, exploiting the GUI on the desktop does not cheapen Linux or make it less than what it is. It does make it more approachable and imminently more useful to everyday computer users. In my everyday routine, I turn on, boot up, log in, check email, go to internet, all with a point and click. Once it is all set up it is no bother at all. The perception of Linux being hard is not just from what it takes to install it but from how some have chosen to explain it to new users. From our local public library I just got a thin book called "Linux for the rest of us" by Mark Rais. It is a very very good book being just over 100 pages long and hits all the high points of Linux, but the assumption still seems to be that "the rest of us" to whom Linux is for is would be system administrators and coders. I think it is rather ironic that system admins need to know so much about Linux but once a server is set up it only needs to be touched once in a while. Whereas the desktop Linux user really doesn't need to know that much in order to use Linux on the desktop everyday. The GUI makes Linux as simple to use as any operating system. I recommend another book called, "Point and Click Linux" by Robin "Roblimo" Miller. This book confirms what I am talking about. Having made my rant for the day, you can all say it with me, "Linux is not hard at all".