February 16, 2019

Guide Gets Readers Away From Windows Gotchas - page 2


  • September 8, 2005
  • By Ibrahim Haddad

Can you elaborate on what you mean by "tell an interesting story" which you mentioned as one of the features of PvdL's Guide to Linux?

Absolutely. Linux has been around for more than 14 years now, and in that time has gathered its fair share of folklore and legends. I find computer industry anecdotes compelling, and I couldn't resist including a number of them in the book. Stories like the hack to Microsoft's XBox that convert it into a Linux workstation!

Another example is the imaginative lawyer who "imagined" that it would be a good idea to register "Linux" as his own trademark in 1995. That led to the Linux Mark Institute being founded to prevent future travesties with the name around the world. So far they have won trademark actions in five different countries. I love reading about stuff like this, so I put a dozen or so Linux anecdotes in the book. And don't forget the story of Tux, the Linux mascot complete with fold-out build-your-own Tux, on page 244.

How did you research the material for the "troubleshooting" sections?

I have a lot of experience in troubleshooting hardware/software problems, so it was easy to put this to use. The first step is to reproduce the problem on one of my own systems. Once you can reliably reproduce the problem, you are almost halfway to solving it. Then its simply a matter of making intelligent deductions and testing them.

For example, if outgoing mail doesn't work for someone, but they can receive email okay, that's almost always because their ISP uses IMAP or POP to get mail, but a different protocol to receive it. Then it's a matter of checking the SMTP settings, which is quick and easy to do in Linux, if I tell readers where to look.

Over time, you build up a process of gathering the data, evaluating it, getting closer to understanding the issue, gathering more data and so on. I share the fruits of that process with readers, so they can get productive more quickly. Most Linux books don't provide any help on what to do when something doesn't work for you.

I notice that you don't have a chapter on video-editing in Linux. How did you select the topics that you would cover?

I had a very clear picture of the target audience. These are people I would classify as MOB users--people who are happy with Mail, Office applications, and a Browser. I also provide plenty of "how to" information for those who want to process their digital photos on Linux or maintain their music collections or do instant messaging or build their own website.

The only platform that has really good support for video-editing today is the Mac, where it is built in to every desktop that Apple sells. If you want to do video editing on a Windows PC, heaven help you if you didn't buy that as a vendor-installed option. This will change over time, but video editing is still a bleeding edge technology on Linux and Windows. For that reason, I omitted it from the Guide, allowing me to focus on mainstream applications.

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