Well, what do you know–I found a post I wrote last year. I completely forgot I wrote it. Actually I
I wrote a longer more formal version of the same article later.
Here is the text
The oft-repeated complaint about bad Linux documentation doesn’t seem to
apply anymore (although it was still true as long as a year ago). The
How-to’s might be at a high level, but at least they provide lots of
configuration information. The problem is that there is no hierarchy of
information, that the user has to sort through beginning and advanced
information to find what he/she wants.
But that overlooks an important fact about open source documentation. The
people who create such web pages generally are good about providing “help
forums,” (if only because they don’t want to be bombarded with questions).
Also, if you look at commercial technical support, you’ll see that
documentation lags significantly behind most open-source applications.
Open-source applications have an important reason to keep their forums as
open and inclusive as possible–to distribute the work. On the other hand, I
can’t tell you about the difficulty I’ve had getting adequate documentations
from major video card manufacturers or software manufacturers. Their
documentation web site is way behind the knowledge of their telephone
technical support. Also, commercial sites tend to be organized not according
to need but according to business interests (separating the marketing
information about a product from drivers and faq).
Another reason for the documentation complaint” is that new users don’t know
where to begin looking for information. How-to’s are not the place to begin
for modem configuration, but there are numerous sites out there that provide
good user-centered documentation. (Also, I mention my url (no longer valid)
linux documentation nicely.
The main problem with linux documentation is not amount but its distributed
nature. I wrote an article about the advantages of distributed knowledge as
opposed to centralized knowledge
http://www.themestream.com/gspd_browse/browse/view_article.gsp?c_id=365889 (now defunct—
oh, where did I put that article?).
I have been gathering drivers for my hardware and am pleasantly surprised how
easy it is to find special interest groups making drivers for video cards,
videos, printers, digital cameras and other things.
As to the charge that configuration options should be simplified, I tend to
think that the amount of options are sufficient, but that there should be
better default options. Also, there has to be a modem detection and
configuration program that is absolutely dummy-proof. There are more people
who basically give up on linux because they can’t get the modem installed.
A final problem has to do with updates. It’s easy for an application to break
or not to work because libraries aren’t updated. There needs to be a way to
automatically update these things. On the other hand, what vendor would have
an interest in building an automatic update tool for a free operating system?
The thing I like most about Windows (and I don’t like many many things about
it) is that it seems to know when to be updated.
The complete discussion “What Linux Must do to Survive” is pretty interesting.
As a totally unrelated matter, I found this link on UNIX ADMIN HORROR STORIES! Probably the most amazing thing is that even though the article is over 8 years old, the UNIX described here is not too different from its latest Linux flavor.