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Solving Problems
written January 28, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #15
 

There is a wide spectrum of conceptual models when it comes to Linux. Some people seem to have a hard time conceiving of a community or the developmental model that allows a fully functional operating system to be available for free. And not just 1, but hundreds of distros. So this reality gets processed differently by different people, who then try to fit this strange reality into the world they perceive. Because we answer the phone and respond to inquiries, we sometimes get contacted for technical support on aspects that have literally absolutely nothing to do with the service LinuxCollections.com provides. We recently received a letter via US post from an individual trying to get their HP OfficeJet scanner working, and that prompted this blog entry…

I'm using Linux, and what can I do to solve a problem that I don't have the knowledge or expertise to even know where to start? Whom do I ask?

The first approach should be to evaluate and try to clearly identify the problem at hand. Is it definitely a software issue or definitely a hardware issue? If software, it is time to Read The Fine Manual (sometimes seen as RTFM). (Aside: If you ask someone for help that the manual addresses, exasperation can set in, and this will sometimes become Read The F^@#!@& Manual - if the answer truly is there, note that you are wasting someone else's precious time asking for something you didn't take your time to find...). If it is hardware, the first attempt should always be the manufacturer. Often this will be fruitless, but it still must be tried, as it may lead to an online forum, or another resource that can get you to a solution. Additionally, there may be updated drivers that address the specific problem you are experiencing (drivers are the glue that tie the physical hardware to the software world, and often there must be a direct match between the actual hardware and the actual software - never assume "any old" driver will work correctly (and don't blindly assume that the correct drivers are always flawless)).

At this point, if unable to figure anything out, or still completely baffled, it is time to understand there is no commercial entity that has any responsibility for your particular issue. With a dose of humility, understand it may be your inexperience or lack of a proper contextual model that is the barrier to finding the solution. File away any frustration and anger, open your mind to new possibilities, and start the quest to find the knowledge you need.

With that in mind, the next step is to reach out to the Linux community. We list several resources on our Quick Reference page, and a good place for a newbie (new person using Linux) is LinuxQuestions.org. You will want to do internet searches on different search engines and try rewording your searches to see if you can find solutions other people have posted in different forums. You may want to search based on a well formed question, specific error wording, what works and what doesn't, etc. You can also look for distro forums, hardware forums, user forums, or any active community that is relevant and has a relevant section for asking your question/posting your problem.

Some other items to consider are typical troubleshooting items. Try to duplicate the problem on a different system. If it is working on one system but not another, identify what is different (configuration, settings, connections, etc.). Refer to system logs (typically in /var/log). Learn some GNU/Linux command line tools for hardware - e.g. lsmod, lspci, lsusb, lsblk, dmesg. If network based, learn command line tools for networks - e.g. ping, ifconfig, nslookup, dig.

Finally, accept that not everything is guaranteed to work in Linux. If possible, find hardware and software that does work in Linux. The true open source approach would be to accept the challenge, and do the engineering to solve the problem, and then report and offer the solution back to the Linux community. Since this can fall outside of the realm of possibility for some, it is understandable that this particular solution is not realistic. So if some program or hardware only has Windows drivers, you may need to use VirtualBox or a commercial solution like VMWare to run a virtual machine and use that "Windows" solution to run the specific program or access the piece of hardware.

The key thing to keep in mind is that any Linux based operating system has been developed with millions of man hours over decades. If new to this environment, you should be respectful of all the work that has gone into the software, and be thankful for everything that does work correctly. Be prepared to share your results/experiences with others to help the whole community. If you have difficulties with hardware, put pressure on the hardware manufacturer to better support Linux.

US Postage rates go up
written January 28, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #14
 
As of January 26, US postage rates have creeped up a bit for various options available for shipping here on LinuxCollections.com. We have updated these rates and they are now in use when selecting shipping options for your order. Because we have customers that buy a single disc and some that buy in bulk, trying to wrap in "free shipping" with media pricing would not be a good deal for the varied type of customers served by LinuxCollections.com. To that end, we decided a long time ago that providing a wide range of shipping options is the best approach for our customers, as it can accurately reflect real costs and ensure that some customers aren't subsidizing others, as well as providing options such as next day delivery when this type of shipping speed is needed. You get exactly what you want, delivered the way you want, at the best price.

Need a different operating system
written January 25, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #13
 

I have DELL desktop, i3, WIN7 Pro. I do not want to pay MS the extortion they are demanding to upgrade to 10.

There are many options - for guidance, you can run 64-bit material, so you can look at distribution platforms tagged AMD64 or x86-64.

I use MS Office 7, for word and excel.
Photoscape for photo editing.
Chrome and Firefox for browsers.

You are in good shape with the browsers. You can explore Libre Office for alternatives to office apps, or look into Wine (which allows Windows executables to run in native Linux). We have a wide ranging set of options at our Quick Reference pages, including OSAlt for Linux alternatives to popular Windows programs. These are all linked right at the top of the page.

I've been doing a lot of reading this past week re Linux. There is an OCEAN of information out there.

Sure - there is a thriving community of people that use Linux, but because there is no company marketing and polishing this for the mass market, there is a lot of specific information and personal opinion, which can make it confusing to people new to Linux. There are some companies that take a commercial approach (e.g. Canonical/Ubuntu), and there are also others taking similar approaches with paid for distros.

So, my question to you is; What Collection do you recommend for my needs? Do you also have instruction videos?

If you read through our FAQ, the recommended collection for someone new to Linux is our Most Popular Collection 64-bit - for a wider selection, you can also check out the Live DVD Collection. What has become quite popular since we released it (but focused solely on the Debian distribution) is our Debian USB Complete Collection. We do have videos (How To Videos) that show off different collections and what different Window Managers look like (KDE, GNOME, Cinnamon, etc.). You can also check out our Quick Reference page for Linux tutorial and other educational information.

Support Stories - Disc Data
written January 15, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #12
 

We've had 2 support events (and 1 personal experience) that we want to document to possibly help resolve customers that feel there is a problem with the disc(s) they've received. Always remember, the physical world (and computers) are not perfection in motion. We are doing pretty dang good, but understand that when it comes to quality, we triple verify downloads/discs, and use professional duplication equipment. In reality, I don't think in the 10+ years we've been doing this, there has been a real issue where the disc had the wrong data, or was unreadable. Not to say we are perfect, but we've had more issues with delivery services than anything related to the service we perform.

Issue #1 - don't believe everything you see. A customer was checking discs from an All Disc Debian purchase, and had several that did not generate the correct ISO MD5 sum (something like this). They insisted the discs were bad. and although we did ask them to try a different system, they were confident they were right. So they shipped all the discs back. We verified them on several systems and had to ship them back, suggesting that possibly their drive was failing. This was a great waste of time and money for everyone involved. It is always a good idea to check/verify discs in a different system, because it is possible that you have a rapidly spinning drive using a high-precision laser that may be wearing out... If the speed is wrong, or there is a wobble (bearings wearing out), you may get errant data from the drive. Moral of the story: Errant data could be a bad disc, but it also could be a bad drive.

Issue #2 - understand what you are looking at. Recently a customer was doing something similar with a Debian All Disc purchase, but copying the DVDs to a drive and doing directory listings to check things. When every disc past disc 2 had the same "files and folders", he figured the discs were not duplicated correctly. It took way too long to get to the point and explain that the packages are all in a pool folder, and the discs are built in an automated way, so if you don't actually compare the sub-folders, you won't see any differences. Luckily everything got resolved without shipping anything, but precious time was wasted. Moral of the story: What you believe and see may not be a correct representation of reality.

Issue #3 - software and hardware quirks. This is something I've seen over the years, and basically it is a disc change event that gets handled incorrectly. So you may swap discs, but the system doesn't think anything happened, so happily reports its cached data, which makes it seem like the new disc is the old disc. Usually you can do an eject or work with the disc to get things synced up again, but if there is a hardware issue, sometimes you have to shut down the system and restart, so there is no cached data anywhere to verify that it truly is a different disc. Moral of the story: Always keep a spare optical drive on your shelf.

The Facebook Link Conundrum
written January 10, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #11
 

At some point, Facebook's algorithms decided that a link to LinuxCollections.com violated "Community Standards" so people trying to jump from Facebook to our site will probably have to enter the domain LinuxCollections.com into their browser. We've reached out to them to try and resolve this, but actually reaching a human (or a human that can accomplish anything) hasn't been a productive use of our time. We continue to advertise on their site because it does help reach people who have no idea what Linux is, don't know all the options available, and it seems to generate new customers.

Still, this is NOT the future that anyone should accept - if you run into this, complain (as the squeaky wheel metaphor hopefully applies). This is a classic case of computer algorithms and unintended consequences. So what do you think is the problem? You can refer to their community standards, but we just squint, shake our heads, and move on. Always realize that even a large organization with lots of employees aren't necessarily effective.

Welcome to the LinuxCollections.com Blog!
written January 6, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #10
 

Welcome to the new decade and welcome to the new LinuxCollections.com Blog! When any endeavour starts you never quite know what the future holds, but after more than 10 years of providing Linux distros on CD and DVD (and now USB), the steady growth of LinuxCollections has accelerated, and there are interesting events and information that have led to starting this blog as a way to document and report these items to our customers and interested parties.

If there are any items you'd like covered here, please feel free to reach out and let us know about them. If new to Linux and LinuxCollections.com, be sure to refer to our FAQ and our Quick Reference pages for items that we won't be covering here (but may be what you are looking for). While still waiting for the Year of Linux on the Desktop, we may all be experiencing the Linux decade…

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Blog Information

Solving Problems
January 28, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

US Postage rates go up
January 28, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

Need a different operating system
January 25, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

Support Stories - Disc Data
January 15, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

The Facebook Link Conundrum
January 10, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

Welcome to the LinuxCollections.com Blog!
January 6, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

 
 

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