Red Hat update

So, I am here in Raleigh sitting in James Laska’s cubicle, writing this on one of the four systems lined up on the desk next to me. 🙂 I’ve been here a couple of days now for orientation, and meeting up with some of the rest of the Fedora QA team I’ll be working with here. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and from this little sample, RH definitely is living up to the expectations I had.

This afternoon I sat in on the desktop training session for the non-Linux users in the orientation group – it was run by a nice guy from the helpdesk team, and it was really interesting to see how he ran that, and how the people in the class took it. It went more smoothly than I honestly expected, which really backs up the idea that if used in a properly controlled environment, Linux isn’t any harder (or particularly easier) to use than anything else. As the guy who I was shoulder-surfing said, “in the end it’s basically just ‘point here and click this’ no matter what system it’s running”. It kind of crystallized for me the idea that in a corporate environment the operating system is a very minor issue to the end user in itself – what’s far more important is how the whole infrastructure works together and how it’s presented to the user.

Quick update: the day I got here my mail server VM fell over (it seems to do that, for no reason at all, on occasion, while the web server VM stays up unless I actually do something bad to it – odd), and the stuff I set up to leave a hole through my firewall to let me log in to my desktop via ssh just exactly so I could fix things in this eventuality seems not to be working. So I’m stuck without access to email on any of my existing addresses. I’ll pick it all up when I get home, nothing’s lost, but if it’s something really important – you can mail me at my spanking new Red Hat address, which is awilliam@ . As I can’t contact my mail server I’m just accessing that direct on my laptop at the moment, so it works. I’ll get a different alias later – RH default alias has an eight character limit, which is why it’s a bit odd. 🙂

If there’s any RH people in Raleigh reading this, do feel free to seek me out and say hi, I’ll be here till Friday, probably somewhere in the Fedora QA group. It’s nice to meet as many people as I can before I head back to the moosey wilds!

2 Responses

  1. eru
    eru February 4, 2009 at 1:32 am | | Reply

    > if used in a properly controlled environment, Linux isn’t any harder
    > (or particularly easier) to use than anything else.

    For the past year I have been the “tech support” of an elderly lady
    with no prior computer experience living in the Finnish woods. She
    wanted to get on the net for email and banking, so I supplied her with
    a 2nd hand Thinkpad with Mandriva on it (I discussed some issues with
    its video on Mandriva forums last spring, and got a response from
    you). “Living in the woods” is to be taken literally here. Net is by a
    GPRS dongle, and not even the best speed attainable by it (depends on
    where she puts the laptop in the house). Mostly this has gone well,
    even though I can visit her rarely and support is by phone. I’m not sure
    if this counts as a properly controlled environment. I guess it does: she
    does not install new programs, change the setup, or even know the root

    The problems encountered are the same we would have seen with Windows or
    Mac: Learning just the basic concepts of using mouse, buttons and
    menues has been surprisingly nontrivial problem. Or the concept of
    using separate programs. It helped a lot I could automate totally
    opening the net over the GPRS. And I can sleep easy knowing she wont be
    hit by Windows viruses and trojans. Phishing risk remains, but she
    has healthy suspicions, and I have told here to never give any
    personal details to web forms or email responses. The teaching
    experience has been very educational for me, too, a long-time computer
    user. Even easy-to-use GUI systems take a lot for granted!

    Another take-home message is that for many people, the home computer
    OS has very similar requirements to an enterprise OS: Stability. it
    should never crash, and updates should never cause problems, because
    time spent updating and sorting any problems in it is time taken away
    from the real purpose of the computer. A “RHEL for home computers”
    might be exactly what many people really need, although selling it to
    them would be impossible, because it is not “sexy”. Like selling
    porridge. I think the more stable Mandriva releases come close to
    this kind of home distribution.

    There is just one slight problem in the Linux setup: occasionally X11
    and KDM won’t start when the machine starts. I have taugh here how to
    get around this by logging-in in the text mode, and issuing a reboot
    command. This helps, and she can do it from memory, but it is not nice
    that it is needed. I suspect this must be a kind of race condition in the
    startup, because it does not happen always, so perhaps a “sleep”
    inserted somewhere in the startup scripts might cure it? Any other
    ideas? (The version is Mandriva 2008.0 One with some updates. The
    problem actually got more common after an update run in the autumn).

  2. SinnerBOFH
    SinnerBOFH February 4, 2009 at 6:43 am | | Reply

    Mandriv’er from NC says: You got mail!



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