So you want to be a Unix or Linux geek? That's great news, because
frankly we need new blood. In the old days, while we were riding
high and Windows was a puny little joke, we'd sneer at supplicants
like you and respond to any question with "RTFM!". We'd then
snicker and wink at each other knowingly.
Well, no more. In fact, we have our hats in our hands now and
humbly apologize for our past arrogance and lack of compassion. We
are changed people, reborn if you will, and ready to welcome
you with open arms.
My hope here is to help you find your way in Unix or Linux. You
may have learned in the past that Unix is "hard". You may have
seen little jokes like "Unix is friendly - it's just picky about its
friends", which was our snide way of telling you that you might
not be smart enough to use Unix or Linux. Well, no more of
that. From now on, Unix and Linux intend to be the Dale Carnegie
of operating systems, welcoming and embracing all.
So, shake the hand of the New Unix: amenable, friendly, courteous,
humble, helpful, obsequious, clairvoyant and more. Let me
introduce you to your new best pal.
The Unix Way - forget it
There are other articles on this site, written before our
awakening and transformation, that advise you to learn the Unix Way.
Such cheekiness! Instead, grasshopper, Unix had better learn
your ways, and that should be your attitude at all times.
If ever something feels strange, confused, or just not Microsoft-like,
you should complain. Immediately. Loudly. Everything is a file? How ridiculous:
is a horse a file? How about a pitcher of beer dumped over the
nearest Unix geek's head - is THAT a file? Don't put up with such
There is no "Unix way". There is the Microsoft way, or the highway,
and we know that now. From time to time, you may have to remind us
of how things should be properly done. Some of us haven't had
the exposure to Saint William that you have and aren't aware
of how he has changed protocols and so on to improve them. Just
because something was invented in the Unix world doesn't mean it
isn't better after Microsoft coders work on it. In fact, it
always is better, and the only thing that prevents us from
seeing that instantly is a foolish adherence to established practice.
Remind us that a new sheriff is in town and it is Unix and Linux
that need to mend their ways. We may complain that Bill doesn't
always make his changes open, which makes it harder for us to comply,
but that's just sniveling from losers.
The Command Line
Windows has a command line too, and we all know it can be useful
at times, but these Unix geeks spend way too much time there. Pipelines
and redirection are all fine within limits, but let's not over do it.
If you find yourself at the command line more than once a year or so,
you've been sucked into old time Unix thinking and need to shake that
As to this silly business where some commands don't output anything
unless they fail, well, you just shouldn't be using those commands.
Surely there is a way to do what you want in the GUI, and if not,
someone needs to fix that immediately. Drop a note in any Linux
newsgroup advising them of the oversight and you should have your GUI
application in a day or two. Sometimes you have to prod a little;
Linux programmers tend to be slackers. If necessary, remind them of their
Your desktop should look very much like your Microsoft desktop. If
it does not, someone accidentally installed the wrong desktop and
they will need to fix that for you. Some Unix or Linux folk who
have not yet Seen The Light may try to tell you that's your problem,
but obviously it is not. Be insistent: you have rights. Contact
whoever gave you the install CD and get them to send you an update.
You should, of course, run as the "root" user. That's the
Unix equivalent of "Administrator" and is shorter and easier to spell.
Unix prefers that you have a password; if you choose to accept
that arbitrary and unnecessary request, I suggest that you use
"r00t", "toor" or something equally clever but easy to remember.
Unix and Linux have administrative tools. If you have a good distribution,
the tools will be in Control Panel. If not, well, again there has been an
error and someone (not you) needs to fix it. If the tools are
not in Control Panel, but you can find them easily, you may choose
to live with the annoyance. That is your choice, but if any tiny
thing is not what you are accustomed to, you really shouldn't have
to put up with it. Be assertive. Unix and Linux need you, you
don't need them.
Patches and Updates
Like Windows, Unix and Linux systems do come out with patches and
updates. Unfortunately, it's not as often as Microsoft and this
upsets people. Sometimes I have gone weeks and even months without
seeing updates for my Mac OS X system. Microsoft wisely releases
patches weekly, sometimes even more often. We know this is an area
we need to work on. Expect improvements - no, DEMAND improvements.
The slackers will never put down their Cokes and get to work if
people like you don't speak up.
Viruses and Worms
This is an area where we really need work. There aren't nearly
enough good Unix or Linux malware programs in circulation. Apparently
the problem is that it's harder to create such things. Well, duh:
stop making it so hard!
You may find that odd. Isn't lack of viri etc. a good thing? Well,
you could look at it that way, but remember, we are trying to
duplicate the Windows experience here to make you more comfortable.
We think a familiar environment is a comfy environment, and malware
is obviously a necessary part of that.
Above all, we want your experience to be enjoyable. Unfortunately,
that conflicts with our main mission of twisting Unix to conform
to the expectations of a Windows user. This apparently unresolvable
problem has been the subject of much discussion in the Unix and Linux
newsgroups. As one correspondent said, "How can we make them happy
if we have to make them miserable?"
There has to be a solution. Some have suggested that you, the
former Windows user, should make some effort, even if only a
token gesture, toward learning traditional Unix. That's heresy
to those of us on the New Path. We believe that you just need
to stand firm and expect a miracle. If Unix can't mold itself
to your expectations AND make you happy, then we just aren't trying
hard enough, are we? Rest assured that we will not give up easily.
We will not stop until Unix and Linux are everything a Windows
user expects and less. The challenge is in front of us, we will
See We lost the war
for a video presentation of this.
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© 2012-05-31 Anthony Lawrence