[ubuntu-uk] What do non-techies like the most about Ubuntu?

Alan Pope alan at popey.com
Wed May 16 07:03:20 BST 2007

Hi Matthew,

On Wed, May 16, 2007 at 06:08:55AM +0100, Matthew Macdonald-Wallace wrote:
> I work on a helpdesk as a day job supporting windows 2K/XP and an  
> AS/400.  Most of our users know how to use a computer to get their job  
> done and that's it.  Any errors at all (from "my computer won't switch  
> on" to "the internet's gone down!!!!") are reported to us and we  
> basically tell them (after three, 1...2...3) "Have you tried switching  
> it off and back on again?" which, as it's windows, usually fixes the  
> problem.

Arrrgh! No it doesn't!

For many issues it makes the problem (and hence the user) go away. It's a 
quick bodge to make the user stop calling. It is the typical helpdesk 
response in pretty much every company I have been in for the last 15 years.  

Nobody bothers to analyse a problem to figure out what the underlying issue 
is anymore. If it takes more than 30-60 mins to "resolve" a problem most 
companies just re-image (format and reinstall from a known good image) the 
hard disk and forget it.

I have been at companies where (on numerous occasions) the helpdesk have 
offered exactly three options:-

1) Leave the problem as it is and live with it
2) Reboot
3) Re-image the PC

(note none of these is a "fix", all three are workarounds)

I have then investigated the problem for anything up to 10 to 20 minutes 
(most often using a combination of google and the microsoft support website) 
to discover a real fix - be it a hotfix, registery hack or whatever. Of 
course if the helpdesk did that they would then have a nice knowledge base 
of information to call upon to fix problems in the future.

Part of the reason for this may be that many companies employ low-skill 1st 
line support operatives who have little actual technical or problem 
diagnosis skills. They follow a roadmap which ultimately ends at the same 
place "reboot or rebuild" when all other avenues are not applicable. Maybe 
this is a good reason why Microsoft claim a low TCO of windows over Linux, 
because when it does go wrong all you need is an index finger to push the 
power button, not a few brain cells, some logic and reasoning.

I am not having a go at you or helpdesk people in general. I totally 
understand that with a large number of users and a small helpdesk there is 
little time to diagnose every problem. It can also be difficult to 
diagnose problems on Windows machines - no easy ssh access, most activity 
isn't logged etc. It is the attitide that rebooting "fixed" something that 
gets my goat.

Bah! :)



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