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Author Topic: Feedback wanted on MC Linux wiki article  (Read 2376 times)

InflatableMouse

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Feedback wanted on MC Linux wiki article
« on: April 26, 2014, 12:38:25 pm »

I've been working on a wiki article for MediaCenter 19 for Linux.

Far from done but I'd like to start asking for feedback. Changes to the current text, things you want added or removed, let me know.

I also have these questions:
- Should we include information on setting up MC on distributions other than Debian?
- How detailed does setting up sound need to be?
- What are the most common problems that need inclusion in the troubleshooting section?

Thanks.

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Awesome Donkey

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Re: Feedback wanted on MC Linux wiki article
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2014, 01:50:03 pm »

> Should we include information on setting up MC on distributions other than Debian?
Yes.

> How detailed does setting up sound need to be?
Depends, ties into your third question.

> What are the most common problems that need inclusion in the troubleshooting section?
Getting sound to work can be a PITA. Covering alsacap usage would be a must, I'm thinking.
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bob

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Re: Feedback wanted on MC Linux wiki article
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2014, 04:32:36 pm »

I like what I see so far.
It's a lot better than scanning though the forum for basic information.
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Sesam

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Re: Feedback wanted on MC Linux wiki article
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2014, 05:30:02 pm »

I switched from Windows as my main OS to Linux (Ubuntu) recently. And let me tell you I have not had such much trouble figuring out how to use a computer since I was a kid trying to play games on a C64 :).

From a Linux beginners perspective, I think the information in the Wiki so far is great. Linux is quite daunting for people that have been used to Windows for years, so I have a few points from my first experiences with Linux version of MC.

- I definitely think a guide for other distributions than Debian would be appreciated. Especially Ubuntu and Mint, as those distributions are most likely to attract new Linux users (such as me). I realize that Debian is the distro of choice for developers/powerusers for reliability reasons, but it's not the platform most consumers will be using (that will need the most help).

- A guide on how to uninstall the software in Linux is needed, as I found it rather tricky to figure out in Ubuntu the first time.

- The wiki assumes users know how to run things as root, probably would be safer to assume everyone are complete beginners and mention how to do it.

- Audio in Linux appears to be rather tricky, quite a lot of information out there so maybe it isn't necessary to cover every detail. But maybe a few most common problems could be a good idea, for example I have an Asus Sonar Essence STX soundcard (a rather popular card) and had problems with really low volume, took some investigating to figure out how to change the headphone impedance in Linux.

Keep up the good work :)
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InflatableMouse

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Re: Feedback wanted on MC Linux wiki article
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2014, 02:49:38 pm »

I switched from Windows as my main OS to Linux (Ubuntu) recently. And let me tell you I have not had such much trouble figuring out how to use a computer since I was a kid trying to play games on a C64 :).

From a Linux beginners perspective, I think the information in the Wiki so far is great. Linux is quite daunting for people that have been used to Windows for years, so I have a few points from my first experiences with Linux version of MC.

Thanks. I appreciate the feedback.

I understand where you're coming from. While I dipped into Linux on occasion in the past, I had never seriously used it. I had a Mac for a couple of years but that's it. Last year september I think it was, I decided it was time to ditch Windows on all my pc's and switch to Linux. Only HTPC is running Windows and I have Windows in a Virtual Machine running MC in Library server mode.

I think the biggest mistake people make when they switch from Windows to Linux is that they assume Linux is similar to Windows, they tend to approach their problems as if they are still running Windows. They look around in the GUI for ways to do things, solve issues, configure stuff. Distro makers are actually helping new users think this way by making things look like Windows, they bring control panels and system configuration panels to give you a (false) sense of familiarity when you're coming from windows, but not nearly half the stuff that can be configured can be done from these control panels, some things can't be configured properly (or not completely) and others are simply broken. My advise: forget about it, forget control panels, its nice for trivial things like setting a theme, a color or a font. On Linux, the GUI is a gimmick, nothing more. It's a layer on top of a completely functional operating system that has everything you need to configure and install. If you ask me, configuration should be done from a terminal. You should get used to this, its time to dust off your keyboard ;D. Get familiar with commands, use --help, use man pages. Its daunting at first but you'll get used to it in no time, trust me. Get used to reading log files, familiarize yourself with where they are, how to open them, how to interpret them. If you manage this, you'll have a much better time on Linux than you'll ever have without it.

- I definitely think a guide for other distributions than Debian would be appreciated. Especially Ubuntu and Mint, as those distributions are most likely to attract new Linux users (such as me). I realize that Debian is the distro of choice for developers/powerusers for reliability reasons, but it's not the platform most consumers will be using (that will need the most help).

About Debian being for powerusers or developers, I think that is something from the past, where Debian was installed in console mode, and only installed a basic system. The rest had to be manually installed from the terminal. These days are gone, Debian is  just as friendly and just as easy to use and install as Mint or Ubuntu. In fact, I personally much prefer Debian over Mint or Ubuntu.

Installing MediaCenter on Mint or Ubuntu is virtually identical to installing it on Debian. When I suggested guides for different distributions, I wasn't actually thinking Mint or Ubuntu but others like Suse, Fedora or Arch. So for the Debian-based distro's I was thinking to add notes to mark the differences.

But I realize I'm not writing a wiki article for myself but for you, so feel free to discuss this.



- A guide on how to uninstall the software in Linux is needed, as I found it rather tricky to figure out in Ubuntu the first time.

From a terminal type dpkg -r <package>. I will include this in the wiki.

- The wiki assumes users know how to run things as root, probably would be safer to assume everyone are complete beginners and mention how to do it.

I'm not sure about this. Here's my dilemma: I could include info about how to login with su or sudo, that's easy enough, but should I include a guide about how to install and configure sudo if that's not available? And if the next person doesn't understand what a terminal is (its called Konsole on KDE ;)), should I explain how to open a terminal and how to use it? And what if these steps are different on other distributions, should I explain this for every distro that can run MediaCenter? See? Where do I draw the line?

My initial idea was to assume basic knowledge and let questions come to the forum when/if help is needed. I thought it would be easier that way so I could keep the wiki article clean and to the point (its about installing MediaCenter, not learning Linux). I have no problem with newbie users and helping them, on the contrary, I'm just not sure what to include in a wiki article and what not.

- Audio in Linux appears to be rather tricky, quite a lot of information out there so maybe it isn't necessary to cover every detail. But maybe a few most common problems could be a good idea, for example I have an Asus Sonar Essence STX soundcard (a rather popular card) and had problems with really low volume, took some investigating to figure out how to change the headphone impedance in Linux.

Keep up the good work :)

I agree. MediaCenter on Linux is an audio application and audio can be problematic on Linux. Having good and accurate information on the wiki is very important. This will take a while though.

The problem is that I don't know how to troubleshoot audio problems on Linux very well. I know a few tricks here and there but that's about it. My info needs to come from actual problems here on the forums that provide a clear problem description and have a clear solution. Preferably (but not necessarily), are reproducible when reversed on my own system.

Again, feel free to discuss any of this!

Thanks.
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Sesam

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Re: Feedback wanted on MC Linux wiki article
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2014, 01:43:02 pm »

Yea I noticed there is no way I can avoid completely using the terminal even in Ubuntu :). But I'm also pleased to see how that so much can actually be configured in a GUI nowadays in Linux.

Also good to hear that Debians user friendliness has improved, I'm planning to try it out in the future. One of the main reasons I went with Ubuntu was the friendly community and lots of guides and troubleshooting information (that I will surely need). It's the small things like Debians website looked cluttered, and that the install media was on several discs that swayed me away (compared to Ubuntu, where they point to a simple guide on how to prepare a bootable USB stick with the install media).  

Installing MediaCenter on Mint or Ubuntu is virtually identical to installing it on Debian. When I suggested guides for different distributions, I wasn't actually thinking Mint or Ubuntu but others like Suse, Fedora or Arch. So for the Debian-based distro's I was thinking to add notes to mark the differences.

Oh I see,  when it comes to  less popular distro's, I think it would be sufficient with general installation notes and differences. Assuming people that use these distros already have basic Linux knowledge (or else they can just ask on the forums).

I see your point that it will be difficult to draw the line. I think it the best approach to  cover the most popular desktop distros in slightly more detail. So I guess that would be Mint, Ubuntu and Debian as I understand these are the current most commonly used on Desktops. Just assuming a standard installation and little prior knowledge of Linux. Fairly obvious things like how to open a terminal is not necessary to explain, but some things that are very different in Linux opposed to Mac/win might be good to cover in short (like sudo and uninstalling as mentioned).

As for the audio problems people can encounter, it would be difficult to predict causes/solutions. So I guess just waiting and seeing what people post about on forums should provide some guide material. There are bound to be people with exotic external DAC's and such, that will encounter prioblems :P (that was difficult enough in Windows to get to work sometimes).

For the record the specific Asus Xonar Essence STX low volume issue I had, was easily fixed by:
Terminal > alsamixer >headphones imp, changed to 300-600 ohms :).
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newbluesman

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Re: Feedback wanted on MC Linux wiki article
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2014, 08:25:56 am »

I think the biggest mistake people make when they switch from Windows to Linux is that they assume Linux is similar to Windows, they tend to approach their problems as if they are still running Windows.
I'm not as confident as you are that most people make this mistake.  I think most people know it's different but also know no other way to approach computer problems except the one they've been using.  So they hope they can find a Windows-like solution to their problems, but most are fully aware that Linux is a different animal (even if they don't want to admit or accept that fact).  It's the same phenomenon that makes people shout at someone who doesn't speak their language.

Many people I talk to or whose posts I read on the web seem to fear Linux for media because they believe it's both totally different and without formal or readily available support and advice. Many allow their fear of Linux to get the better of them, so they teeter on the brink of downloading and trying something for a long time.  And when they finally get up the guts to try it, and they encounter one or more of the inevitable imperfections that give computer audio (OK, computer anything) its personality, they run back to their Windows or Mac machines with their tails (mice?) between their legs.  I started programming 49 years ago on an IBM 1620 (Fortran II) and am a healthcare solution developer certified by Macromedia in ColdFusion app dev.  I roll my own hardware (my default player before going to MC was my trusty BeagleBone Black running MPD on Debian) - and when I'm trying to listen to music, I fear Linux.  Every time I click "play", I pray that something listenable will come out of my speakers and I get clammy watching the screen during the dead time between clicking and playing.

So rather than trying to guide users through multiple variants of Linux, you might find it both more effective and more efficient to simply include links to the best online tutorials and how-tos for each.  Learning basic Linux commands is essential for feeling like you're in some semblance of control of your own system (http://linuxcommand.org/ is a good example of a helpful tutorial on this).

I'd address the common distros (Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat and maybe openSUSE) where there are clear differences and issues, but focus on Debian.  I'd include enough detail on setting up sound to help those who panic when one or more of the options they expect to find don't appear in their preferences or control panels.

Thanks for your hard work!
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InflatableMouse

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Re: Feedback wanted on MC Linux wiki article
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2014, 04:50:56 am »

Thanks for feedback.

I'm recharging my wiki batteries, maybe I'll spend some time on it tomorrow.
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