[linux-audio-user] general linux usage (was: LADCCA (was: Some music made with Linux))

Chris Pickett chris.pickett at mail.mcgill.ca
Fri Feb 20 18:50:54 EST 2004

Mark Knecht wrote:
> Matthew Allen wrote:
>>     Ok yeah I guess my semantics were wrong :)! Is there a way to
>> make other programs play nice?
> I don't think you can...
> I do not believe that user types like me can make any Linux application 
> do anything that it's not designed to do. It's no different than a 
> Windows app to me. This is one of the interesting thing about being a 
> user in the Linux world. In some ways it's worse than the Windows world.
> In Linux, since you know it's open source, the opportunity to change the 
> code is so tantalizingly close that it becomes far more frustrating when 
> things don't work the way you want or need them too. You keep feeling 
> you can reach out and make it better, but the truth is that users 
> cannot. Only programers can.

Users can do a lot of testing, and also tell programmers what they need 
a program to do, which is valuable input.  The problem is finding 
projects that are actively maintained with developers willing to listen 
to you -- but it's not as hard as it sounds.  If you have problems, send 
messages to mailing lists and generally people will try to help you out, 
if it's something they'd normally be responsible for.  They will be 
especially responsive if you make detailed requests for help that they 
can easily address -- saying, "I can't get X to work with Y, but I 
haven't tried anything else or looked at the documentation yet" 
generally isn't descriptive enough.

> It's my opinion that some people who program probably don't appreciate 
> how hard all of this is for people who don't program. Ever heard some 
> Linux guy say 'Use the code Luke'. Did you ever wonder what that sounds 
> like to someone who can barely use vi. I'm a second class citizen in 
> both worlds - in Windows because I have no power, and in Linux because I 
> have no ability. It's tough to be both dumb and poor... ;-)

There is a lot you can learn about Linux without actually needing to 
"program" anything.  Admittedly the "point-and-clickiness" of Linux is 
lacking compared to Windows, and if you really want control I think you 
need to learn how the shell works.  IMHO.  It's very common that you 
will need to take small, individually functional programs, and combine 
them to produce something original.  If you learn how to use the shell 
and its redirection and piping, you will really start to see what I 
mean.  Check out:


for example (the English isn't that great but it's still a useful guide).

There's also the whole "RTFM" thing.  A lot of what you want to do is 
probably well-documented already, and people don't want to repeat 
themselves.  It can be very instructive to type "man <command>" or "info 
<command>" if you are feeling lost ("info bash", "info textutils", "info 
sh-utils", "info fileutils", and (if your system is up to date) "info 
coreutils" are particularly useful if you want to learn the shell).  You 
just need the patience to sit down and devour manuals and tutorials, 
when pointed to them.  If you need general advice, or can't find it 
documented anywhere, ask on mailing lists about how to do what you want, 
but make it clear that you are willing to learn and to read.

Anyway, you're still right: using Linux is a lot more involved than 
using Windows, and projects can be poorly maintained -- "./configure ; 
make; make install" doesn't always work perfectly, for one.  But usually 
in those cases there is going to be another program or set of programs 
that does what you want.  Unless we're talking about specific hardware 
support, in which case you generally are SOL if no current solution exists.


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