This could have gone in chit-chat. This isn’t really a strong opinion, it’s just a suggestion based on my own experience with helping new users to become accustomed with Open Source in general, and Opensuse in particular.
I’ve seen plenty of threads here where a new user will say, “I’m having a problem with [insert device name here].” Those of us who’ve been using Linux for years are comfortable working in a terminal, and without even thinking, we’ll say, “open a terminal and type in ‘gnarlie-widdie -t -? /K > doodat < mamma’ or something like that. Post the results here.”
(The joke was intentional. That’s what the command line looks like to a new user, especially someone who’s switching from Windows or Mac to Suse.)
(We’ll ignore the fact that a new user might not even be aware that he/she can highlight text in that terminal, select “copy” from the menu and then past it that way. I’ll bet you a cookie that many of them laboriously hand-copy the output … or despair trying, which explains the threads that die after such a post from someone who’s just trying to be helpful!)
Several points come to mind.
- Yast is a truly incredible tool. Having to use CentOS at work has made me really appreciate it. Cent’s a GREAT distro, rock-solid and stable, but it’s just not as easy to configure. Just to name one, Yast’s firewall configurator is one of the best “stock” firewall tools in the business. To my pleasant surprise, you can even do masquerading and other advanced config with it. You should only have to edit the iptables for really esoteric, advanced stuff.
Remember, too, that Yast can be run from a command line. This is ideal for a user whose X has blown up and who’s stuck in text mode. But on that subject …
Many times, when we suggest that cryptic-looking command line to a new user, there’s actually a much easier (for a new user) way to do it in Yast (GUI or text mode). For example, I might catch myself saying, "open a terminal and type “service [name] status” or “/etc/init.d/service-name restart.” I’m trying now to make a conscious effort to say instead, “go into Yast → System → Services (Runlevel) …” That’s a lot more intuitive for a new user. Heck, now that I’ve used it for while, I like it better myself. And instead of saying, “enter cat [somestring] > some_sysconfig_file,” why not point them to Yast’s excellent Sysconfig editor?
There are plenty of (at least pseudo-)graphical tools now for solving even the most complex problems with hard drives. The GNU Parted CD is a great example. I’ve seen threads here where someone has lost their Grub configuration, and the back and forth might go on for days, post after post, with tons of command-line gibberish for the poor Newbie to try to follow (without making a mistake that could cause even more damage).
In many cases, if we’d recommend that GParted bootable CD, and walk them through its menu (it’s really not hard to use, just confusing at first – but CERTAINLY not as confusing as Grub’s cryptic command-line syntax!), I think they’d have their problem resolved much more quickly.
I realize that there will always be some problems that just cannot be solved with graphical tools. But my opinion is that, if there is a Yast or other config tool that will solve a new user’s problem, we should recommend that FIRST, before sending them straight to the command line.
Just my opinion, and worth exactly what you paid for it.