HOWTO's and other docs (was Re: [ale] simple question, impossibl

Dan Newcombe newcombe at
Thu Aug 8 09:45:38 EDT 1996

> > have a good way of finding answers to simple questions like this one
> > without resorting to requesting help and wasting all your time?  I'd
> The HOWTOS are usually a good source of down and dirty get it done now info.
> But there is no replacement for exposure.

I don't wanna get off on a rant here...

The one thing I have found lacking in the howtos and other Linux (or 
Unix in general docs) is what could go wrong.  Most of the docs say
	1) Run blah blah blah to set this up
	2) do this
	3) do that
but completely ignore the fact that blah blah blah may spit back an 
error message - Error: Can't foo bar.    Then NOWHERE will you find 
what that error means, causing a lot of fustration.

And then even sadder is when someone posts this to a newsgroup, they 
get two responses:
	1) RTFM (even though, as we've seen above, that's useless)
	2) Look at src/blah/lib/foo.c, lines 2000-3000
which, if the person has trouble getting the command to run, I'm sure 
the source code will really help them.
(Another thing - HP's man pages have examples in them, which also would 

However, it seems that Unix is destined to stay this way - the 
experienced users feel everyone should learn it the way they did - 
poking around in the dark, and new users will get disgusted, flamed, or 
scared away.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Dan Newcombe - Clayton State College - User Services - 770-961-3421 
newcombe at
-  Fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd - smiling.
                                    Pink Floyd, Fearless

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