Steven Vollom stevenvollom at
Fri Aug 14 22:23:58 BST 2009

On Thursday 13 August 2009 05:29:00 pm John L Vifian wrote:
> On Wednesday 12 August 2009 9:40:40 pm Steven Vollom wrote:
> ...
> > I just read the Description.  I have only used the command line entry (l)
> > when instructed specifically to do so by someone helping me, and have
> > done so only to provide the info they require to help me.  It still
> > confuses me.
> It confuses you because you don't take the time to learn what the various
> commands you are using do and how they work.
> In this case less is a program that lets you view a text file one screenful
> at a time, and to page forwards and backwards through it, and a whole lot
> more. In this case less is more than you need.
> >  In the 'Description' portion of "info less", I then get confused when it
> > refers to 'vi'.  Never heard of that command.  It also begins the pattern
> > that causes me difficulty to learn.  I am now leaving the focus of my
> > task with a new term to have to understand to continue.
> OK I should have looked at the info page first on which the useful 
> reference is to the "more" command.  vi is relevant because both vi and
> less use the same command structure, so that if you know vi (or vim) less
> will be easier to use.  However you don't need to know vi to use less.
> I agree the amount of info here is hard to digest.
> There are several important things.  The first is that running less is
> harmless.  If you make a mistake in what you type or the people advising
> you do it won't hurt anything on your computer.  If you were running
> something that changed something on your machine then you probably ought to
> be more careful.  For instance if you are adding a repository via the
> command line you really ought to make a backup  of the current
> sources.list, so when you make an error you can recover what you previously
> had.
> The second is that at its simplest using less consists of the command 'less
> <filename>'  There are a whole bunch of options you can add.  In you case
> running 'less -N /etc/apt/sources.list' might have proven useful since it
> shows line numbers.
> Regardless when you ran it you got the message "... No such file or
> directory", You know what less does, it shows you the contents of a file,
> if it is telling you that there is No such file or directory it is because
> the file doesn't exist where you are telling it to look for it, so you
> either misspelled the file name or you are telling less to look in the
> wrong place.  As it turned out you made both mistakes.
> When you start konsole or another shell, the commands are run from your
> home directory.  (Note the shell window on Dolphin runs from the current
> dolphin directory).  The default prompt shows what directory you are in. 
> The prompt: steven at Yeshua:~$ shows that you are in your home directory,
> which is probably /home/steven  (and not /home/Yeshua as I had previously
> stated).  Thus to show the file sources.list which is in the /etc/apt
> directory you either need to tell less the full path and file name of the
> file or run less from the directory containing the file.  So the right
> command was either:
> steven at Yeshua:~$ less /etc/apt/sources.list
> or
> steven at Yeshua:~$ cd /etc/apt
> steven at Yeshua:/etc/apt$  less sources.list
> Note these show the prompt which isn't part of the command.
> > I realize this is pretty common for you who are experienced, however,
> > before you have experience, it is difficult enough to read an explanation
> > of your main focus.  When given a reference that refers to a new
> > application (vi) and doesn't even explain the 'vi??' (it refers to 'vim a
> > different application)you were directed to review, it starts a pattern of
> > search that puts someone like me in total confusion.
> Actually the info file tells you that vi is a text editor, so now you know
> what vi is.  Vim is an i*M*proved version of vi. Neither are GUI based and
> are a bit difficult to learn.  AFAIK the vi in Kubuntu is actually vim but
> that really doesn't affect you much because you aren't using them, and
> hopefully won't have to.
> You might want to try a non-gui editor so that  sometime when your system
> is really messed up and you can only boot into a terminal you can edit the
> appropriate file and fix your machine.  You might try pico which is a bit
> easier to learn.
> ... big snip ...
> > Please reply, John.  It would be so helpful to me.  Believe it or not,
> > there are certain aspects of the art field where I am considered the
> > Guru. It doesn't pad my ego, it just goes to show that right-brain
> > thinkers sometimes have intellectual gifts as well.  I suspect it would
> > take a long time for me to explain this area to a computer Guru, because
> > not even all the right-brain thinkers understand this area of my gift. 
> > But they all acknowledge that it is a special gift.  And for me it is
> > just easy - the way I normally think, and not special at all.
> >
> > Not intended to elevate your opinion of me, just trying to get you to
> > understand that I might not be a total zero for intelligence, just more
> > like a person learning a new language.
> Look, I'm dyslexic and understand not being able to think, or perform in
> certain ways.  I'm certainly no computer guru, or at least there are really
> big areas in which I don't know (and don't care to know) much about
> computers. I really don't mind helping you -- I usually learn something in
> the process. What is frustrating is that that you seem incurious as to what
> it is you are doing.  When someone gives you a command line snippet to run,
> you should be trying to understand what  and how the command line snippet
> works and what it does.  You should know when the command line will make
> changes to your system, and to what part of your system.  You should know
> what part of your system to backup before running the command line.  If you
> don't know ask.
> John Vifian
Dear John,

I have gotten so much moral crushing negative response for trying to do as you 
just suggested.

I am writing from an old computer right now, because after the last update, 
kmail wouldn't communicate with the ISP in my Jaunty box.  I installed Karmic 
in this old box.  Unfortunately I mentioned it in an email responding to a 
problem I was attempting to solve.  I got over 100 responses to my problem all 
relating to why I should not have installed Karmic and not responding to the 
post.  Everyone is so opinionated about what I should or should not do, that 
when this kind of problem happens, I can forget about getting the help I need.

Quite frankly, I consider my Karmic box experimental with potential problems, 
but it has saved me twice now and I have only had it installed about a week.

There are a couple of people from the list who have discouraged me from using 
my own ideas.  And, I have found that if I take the advice and practice it 
enough it becomes learned memory.  But if you remember from the email you are 
responding to, I have a lot of trouble using google  and man pages.

It is spirit breaking, because I know that if I could just use the left brain 
hemisphere, I would be just fine, but the way it is, my searches lead to mental 
overload and confusion.  I hardly ever read a man page or google something 
where I am not redirected so early in the answer of a problem, then redirected 
from the redirection, on and on that I end up overloaded.  

Computer people seem to just wade naturally through the data without problems, 
but they are always talking about stuff I know little to nothing about, and I 
never know if the transfer is necessary to understand before I return to the 
problem I was looking for answers to, so I keep going until I reach overload.  
And by overload I mean,  reading something intently, but unable to make any of 
what you read understandable; you end up bleary-eyed and frustrated, and can't 

For some reason, today I have been getting the most helpful responses.  
Answers that I can receive and understand.  It is glorious.  Thanks for the 
great reply, my friend.


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