APLawrence.com -  Resources for Unix and Linux Systems, Bloggers and the self-employed

Linux fails to meet the needs of real users

© April 2009 Anthony Lawrence

At a recent Linuxquestions.org post "Old Newbie" says:

I am trying Linux again because I like the idea my main interest is CNC which I have finally got going but I find deleting items very difficult is there an easy way?

I can certainly commiserate with that. Unfortunately, the ridiculous suggestions that surely will follow won't be helpful at all. Some cruel person will say that "rm filename" will delete files, and it certainly will, but having to tap all that out on a keyboard is completely unreasonable. Suppose you wanted to remove several files? Are you supposed to sit there all day typing "rm this", "rm that" and so on? Ridiculous..

Some who no doubt intended to be helpful provided this:

Do you mean deleting in general---or something related to the CNC?

Rt-click --> delete
Rt-click --> move to trash
Drag to the trash

Now that's just being silly. That's even harder than the silly "rm filename" method. First you have to find the mouse, determine which of its buttons is "Left" and which is "Right" - is there no end to the impediments Linux imposes upon us?

No, something easier is needed. You should be able to just look at a file and have it go away. I don't mean just glance at it, of course, I mean glare at it with obvious dislike and malicious intent. The operating system should notice that (tell me why else we have built in cameras!) and remove the thing that offends us.

For that matter, why isn't Linux smart enough to know what we don't like before it bothers to show it to us? Sure, maybe a little training is necessary - isn't that what Bayesian filtering does? Can't SpamAssassin be tweaked and repackaged into a Ninja Death Squad Daemon that would know when I no longer have tender feelings toward particular files and dispatch them quickly and mercilessly so I never have to look at their icons again? Of course it could - if Linux programmers weren't so damn lazy!

Would it be cheeky of me to suggest that a very simple "Mother Knows Best" daemon could have prevented these unwanted files from being created in the first place? I'm thinking of something along the lines of Window's delightful "Clippy", but with a firmer hand. I'm quite confident that I could clobber up something like that very quickly if I didn't have better things to keep me busy.

Why is it that the Linux people never think ahead????

This is just one more sad example of how Linux fails to meet the needs of real users.

Got something to add? Send me email.

(OLDER)    <- More Stuff -> (NEWER)    (NEWEST)   

Printer Friendly Version

-> Linux fails to meet the needs of real users:


Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

El Capitan: A Take Control Crash Course

Photos for Mac: A Take Control Crash Course

Take Control of iCloud, Fifth Edition

iOS 8: A Take Control Crash Course

Take Control of Apple Mail, Third Edition

More Articles by © Anthony Lawrence

Mon Apr 6 16:22:46 2009: 6017   TonyLawrence

Just as a proof of concept, I wrote a "Death Squad" daemon for this website. I'm not at liberty to divulge the code (patent work is happening right now) but you can see for yourself that a number of objectionable icons and unnecessary words and sentences have been removed because my daemon knew that YOU didn't want to see them.

It leaves in the ads because it knows that you secretly love them..

Mon Apr 6 17:12:00 2009: 6019   TonyLawrence

Kind of related to finding the mouse:

Last night I picked up the TV remote control and stared at it dumbly for a few seconds. Something was wrong, but I didn't know what. I soon realized what it was - my intention was to make a phone call.

I mentioned this to my wife. "Oh, yeah, I've done that more than once.."

And they wonder why we don't go out much. We're afraid to!

Mon Apr 6 18:39:25 2009: 6020   BrettLegree

I think my car must run Linux then, because it doesn't drive itself!

And then, if Linux was so good, it would do my work for me too :)

Mon Apr 6 18:42:22 2009: 6021   TonyLawrence

Well, your Mac actually could do your work for you.

It just chooses not to.


Mon Apr 6 19:08:53 2009: 6022   BrettLegree

So that explains it...

(I liked that, by the way!)

Mon Apr 6 20:30:03 2009: 6024   CorkyAgain

Linux has not fixed the global financial crisis, no matter how much or how often I glare at the news stories. Epic fail!

Mon Apr 6 20:36:21 2009: 6025   TonyLawrence

Linux has not fixed the global financial crisis

Though I'm sure getting rid of Microsoft really would help..

Tue Apr 7 13:21:05 2009: 6030   JohnMc

Of course some MS fanboy will come along and say all these issues disappear if you would just join the Registry like every one else. So here goes ----

Buy Vista!


Tue Apr 7 13:28:01 2009: 6031   TonyLawrence

I see that you accidentally typed "/sarc" at the end of your comment. As I don't run this website on a Microsoft OS, I have no way to edit that. I have this stupid thing called "vi" but it doesn't work. There's another thing "emacs" that's even worse.

Anyway, everyone should understand that he's dead right: Vista solves everything. Really I don't understand why Microsoft is in such a rush with this Windows 7 stuff.. it's not like we need anything better than Vista!

Such a shame that "/sarc" got in there..

Tue Apr 7 16:10:30 2009: 6036   RamboTribble

In most Linux desktops, Ctrl+Lft Click will select individual files and Shift+Lft Click will select a contiguous group of files from a file listing in a GUI file manager. Whatever action is desired can then be applied to the selected files.

You are judging Linux on the basis of free advice offered in the forums. That's like judging Microsoft or Apple products on the basis of their press releases.

Tue Apr 7 16:15:32 2009: 6037   TonyLawrence

Sheesh - now we're supposed to click the Ctrl key? When will the madness end? Ctrl-Alt-Meta-Coke Bottle?

You see, this is exactly why Linux has no hope.. I have it on good authority (Ballmer and I are BFF's) that with Vista 7 all you need to do is wave your mouse at a file to make it disappear!

Now THAT's user friendly!

Tue Apr 7 16:24:09 2009: 6038   RamboTribble

Are ye daft, man? This is user friendly: (link)

Tue Apr 7 16:28:42 2009: 6039   TonyLawrence

I am a little daft :-)

Seriously (for a minute anyway), that kind of stuff is coming. The earliest applications will just track your eyes and give focus where you are, um, focusing. Staring at something long enough might make it open, but I doubt we'll trust emotional reading for deletions in this century.

I bet the original post had to do with his CNC app, but alls fair game here.. and what the heck does the app have to do with Linux anyway??

Tue Apr 7 17:28:21 2009: 6041   RamboTribble

User friendly is in the eye of the user. I've used microcomputers in business since 1977. I find Linux the most user-friendly operating system out there because it makes logical sense from the ground up and is easy to modify to one's own preferences. But then, I drive a manual transmission, too.

The hypothetical "average user" wants an automatic transmission; just put it in "D" and be on your way. But when they get to the mountains dragging a heavy trailer, they want that transmission to offer "1" and "2" in addition to "D". In other words, context defines "user friendly". And not just the context of the activity, but the context of the user's learning.

Since 2003 I've been training users on Linux. When I show users the Ctrl+Rt Click method of choosing files, most are jubilant at the revelation. "That's way easier!" is a typical comment. The phantom of Linux unfriendliness is just that; an illusion foisted upon an uninformed public. The assumption is no one wants to learn anything new. The reality is if it helps to facilitate the acquisition of the goal, learning is embraced.

Tue Apr 7 17:45:19 2009: 6042   TonyLawrence

Yes, unfortunately "don't make me learn anything" is all too common..

Tue Apr 7 17:51:35 2009: 6043   RamboTribble

I should clarify that in my last post, I meant Ctrl+Lft Click.

The, "I don't wanna learn nothin'", is surprisingly pandemic. In a recent post on Slashdot an educator mentioned facing a problem getting his fellow instructors to embrace Linux because it required some learning. Imagine, educators who don't want to learn. Yeah, that'll work.

Tue Apr 7 18:53:45 2009: 6044   BrettLegree

Educators who don't want to learn seems to be all too common.

I know a primary school teacher (Grades 1-4) who cannot spell "salmon". Fortunately, she does not teach my children...

I remember that Slashdot article myself. What's funny is that when I switched my 7-year old's laptop from XP to Ubuntu, he didn't miss a beat.

I ask him if he likes his computer, and he says, "Yes Dad, I can get to the my web sites just fine!", and it took him no time at all to find the games.

Why can't adults do this... oh yeah, many are afraid to get outside the comfort zone!

Tue Apr 7 20:50:30 2009: 6045   drag


I remember the first time somebody told me "I don't want to learn anything new" when I was trying to explain something to them they were having difficulty with. I just could not understand what the person told me and just looked at him trying to figure out what he actually meant... I was dumbfounded. I can understand "I don't have enough time" or "I just don't really care because it's boring, sorry", but "I don't want to learn anything new" was very new concept to me.

Of course I then realized that he actually said what he honestly wanted. He did not want to learn anything new, at all. To him it was a waste of time. As time goes buy I realize more and more that people are doing things and saying things that just boil down to that single statement.

Takes all types.


As for deleting files by staring at them... I don't think anybody has made that yet. But you can delete your files with simulated bazookas and sniper rifles, which is pretty close;

Tue Apr 7 21:52:20 2009: 6046   RamboTribble

I'm not sure but what this phenomenon isn't just an adult variation of the spoiled child's demand, "I can't; you do it for me."

My usual reaction is just to say, "Fine, if you won't learn my time is wasted," and leave. Usually, that brings to light just who will suffer if learning is not undertaken. It's also fun to see the expression on the subject's face. Then again, I'm not known for my bedside manner.

Mon Apr 13 18:48:41 2009: 6165   TonyLawrence

Speaking of learning, I just came across this:


Check out the CS section..

Tue Nov 2 21:11:35 2010: 9090   anonymous


Don't compare driving a manual shift vehicle with using Linux.

At first glance, they seem to be good analogies for each other. But look closer.

Driving a stick shift boils down to knowing which gear to be in at whatever speed you're going. To accomplish this, all one needs is sufficient motor skill to press the clutch, shift to another gear and release the clutch while using the gas pedal with the right foot. A bit hard to do at first, but easily learned given time... like riding a bicycle.

Using Linux requires knowing which libs to get, what options to set, which scripts to grab and execute, learning cryptic lingo for obscure packages/tools/etc. You also need the patience of Ghandi, and you must also understand Einstein's theory of special relativity. Oh yes, you must also be able to bake a potato with the power of your mind.

Put another way, if using Linux were an equivalent analogy to driving shift, you'd be given a variable number of gears to shift into, which changes every few days depending on the barometric pressure and alignment of the stars. Some gears can only be shifted into if you have the right shift knob, which you must purchase, retrofit from an existing shift knob, cobble one together yourself, or beg a complete stranger to mail the parts and blueprints to you - while you're driving the vehicle. The clutch pedal will be smooth one day, and unforgivingly hard the next day, ranging from a push of 10lbs to 100lbs at the blink of an eye. And to switch gears, you must push the clutch in 1/3 of the way, then exactly 1/17th of the way further in for the next gear up - except at high speeds. The definition of high speeds can be found by flipping through the user's manual, which lacks an index. Every 4th page is stuck together with sticky tape, and the latter half of the manual - the user maintenance part - is written in Latin. Downshifting is accomplished the same way, except you must solve an equation on the first law of thermodynamics while juggling baby hedgehogs.

Tue Nov 2 21:24:27 2010: 9091   TonyLawrence


You did understand that I was being entirely sarcastic, right?

I think you did.. but just in case :-)


Printer Friendly Version

Have you tried Searching this site?

This is a Unix/Linux resource website. It contains technical articles about Unix, Linux and general computing related subjects, opinion, news, help files, how-to's, tutorials and more.

Contact us

Printer Friendly Version

Dead trees and polluting ink. I'll be happy to see them go. (Tony Lawrence)

Linux posts

Troubleshooting posts

This post tagged:



Unix/Linux Consultants

Skills Tests

Unix/Linux Book Reviews

My Unix/Linux Troubleshooting Book

This site runs on Linode