Problem with *nix
I was perusing the book shelf of a co-worker early this week when I stumbled onto the book "Unix in a nutshell". I was rather excited and borrowed the book. It contains so much information about various commands that work with most *nix operating systems.
In the book, you can find such details as how to use find to find files containing a certain expression in their name; or how to find all files with permission 644 and change that to 777 in one single line.
SInce I interact with Linux (Debian, SuSe, Archlinux and ArchBang) and Solaris, I need to use many different commands to accomplish tasks. I read several secitons of the book, took notes and will attempt to learn something new.It is a great book and, in my opinion, written for the user that has a little experience and would like to learn more.
Yesterday, I was talking with a co-worker about the fact that young generations did not have experience growing up with hardware that needed built or fixed nor with computers where you had to know commands in order to drive your operating system. It seems that most geeks do not know how OS's work, they have not been exposed to it. That is ok, nothing wrong with that. it just is
I had a moment this morning and the book caught my eye. I need to return it. I then took a closer look at the name. "in a nutshell" huh? The book is so think it might break your toes if it were dropped on them. According to Amazon, which must always be trusted (sarcasm), it is over 900 pages. With the book in hand, I can confirm that claim is true. That is some nutshell!!
Then it struck me: "that is the problem with *nix". Those who have not grown up with their hands in an operating system or in a terminal (younger and older), will not want to dive into the book. They will probably not even want to mess with an OS that requires them to interact with the command line. Linux and Unix (etc) will not survive if an improved default user interface is not developed.
The more I think about this the more I realize that others have seen this too. That is why Ubuntu with its live DVD and GUI intaller have become popular expecially for newbies. you can easily download, burn a disc, boot to it, give it a shot without touchy your drives or messing up your system and then easily install with minimal user interaction.
This is great, I think however, that the next step is to do away with the circular disk. The next step is do download an image and be able to copy it straight to a USB disk from which a user can boot and try. The step beyond that is to update the bios so that from the bios you can connect and boot an entire OS from an ftp/http source, or even better stream the OS directly from the bios. Maybe not.
What is the next step in progression for getting an OS install? How can *nix attract more users and developers? How can the *nix experience be simplified?