Our best foot forward

Patrick optomatic at rogers.com
Thu Nov 15 03:30:06 UTC 2007

Hi Onno and list

I am beginning to  feel like I am becoming a pain in the butt. I don't 
mean to be, I just want to help. I don't seem to be able to explain 
myself very well.

I see what you are saying about mark by task and the dpkg-reconfigure 
command but this brings up two more "trains of thought".

First I am an intermediate user and I did not know of either of these 
facts. I can now manually edit configuration files without much effort 
but I did not know of either of these features when I was not able to. 
These features are not obvious to the new user and it is the new user 
that needs them.

The mark by task feature is nice but it is still package centric. It 
does not provide configuration assistance beyond what the packers included.

I have read through more then one rant on the internet about Totem.  I 
believe one of the ranters said something like
"whose job is it to explain this" referring to the modest set of codecs 
that come with it by default.

I have written several emails today on this topic. I am sorry if I have 
wasted  peoples valuable time with this thread. I guess I have not been 
able to express myself well.

Let me try one more time.

I think these topics are "package centric"
1)Question=I want to install a cd burning utility
Answer=Synaptic multi-media section or type in cd burning utility in 
Synaptic search bar.

2)Question=I want to install a LAMP server
Answer=Select mark by task in Synaptic and choose LAMP

I think these are "configuration centric"
3)Question=I want to configure my NFS server
Answer= manually edit configuration file or use dpkg-reconfigure -plow 
to launch configuration script.

4)Question=Why can't Totem play WMV files?
Answer= for legal reasons we can't install the codecs by default. You 
will need to install them manually elsewhere.

Synaptic can answer all the "package centric" questions but I don't see 
an easy solution for the new user for the configuration centric" 
questions. Having the dpkg-reconfigure option built into Synaptic would 
help a lot but it would not solve question #4.  A utility to provide 
answers and helper scripts for configuration issues  ad FAQs might be 
helpful. Somewhere facts such as Totem does not come with such and such 
codecs need to be expressed. There should be someplace simple for all of 
this to happen. It should not happen in the man pages and it would be 
nice if people did not have to search on the net for this information. I 
don't really know what to call it but perhaps a Q & A / interactive 
tutorial utility could provide quick guidance to new users. It could 
help them through these topics quickly and we could put our best foot 

Good night everyone, I'm going to bed-Patrick

Onno Benschop wrote:
> All of what you write exists:
>     * A package that is not installed but run from the bash prompt is
>       captured with a comment like "The program 'foobar' is currently
>       not installed. You can install it by typing: sudo apt-get install
>       foobar"
>       This functionality should be installed by default (not sure from
>       which version of Ubuntu), but if you don't have that
>       functionality, then the command-not-found package will activate
>       it: sudo apt-get install command-not-found
>     * You can view tasks in Synaptic by choosing Edit -> Mark Packages
>       by Task...
>     * To reconfigure a package: sudo dpkg-reconfigure foobar, perhaps it
>       would be useful to add this functionality to Synaptic.
> Your 'compiling packages' example, while understandable, is in my
> opinion misplaced. You would not consider this option in Windows or OSX
> for the vast majority of end-users and even system administrators. That
> you're using documentation for Linux and applying it to Ubuntu is akin
> to using documentation for PalmOS and applying it to Symbian.
> I'm not saying that you cannot compile stuff in Ubuntu, that is
> obviously possible, but it's also possible on most other operating
> systems. Many users coming from non-Debian based Linux environments come
> with the 'baggage' of needing to compile things. That's not the
> Debian-way, nor is it the Ubuntu-way for many reasons - too wide to go
> into here right now.
> So, again it comes back to documentation and education.
> Personally I think this kind of conversation is healthy and useful
> within Ubuntu. I cannot speak for others in this community, but your
> comments are constructive and thoughtful and in my opinion you should
> not be ashamed of your contributions. Ultimately the pilot of a 747
> needed to fly solo for the first time. Said another way, to be
> experienced requires experience.

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list