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!


eru wrote on 2009-02-04 09:32:
> 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 password. 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).
SinnerBOFH wrote on 2009-02-04 14:43:
Mandriv'er from NC says: You got mail! :) Salut, SinnerBOFH