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Re: [redhat] Re: Administrator Accounts

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  • Scott Robbins
    ... Hrmm--I m going to argue that--those of you on newbies might remember when some of us told someone that despite what he thought, his question was
    Message 1 of 20 , Jun 2, 2002
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      On Sun, Jun 02, 2002 at 09:47:51PM -0400, Andres Rosado wrote:
      > At 09:27 AM 5/31/2002 -0400, you wrote:
      > > > >> Can you please give us one or two easy exampels for the sudoers file?
      > >The
      > > > >> man page is most confusing.
      > > > >>
      >
      > man sudoers is quite clear, even with an sudoers example.

      <rant>
      Hrmm--I'm going to argue that--those of you on newbies might remember
      when some of us told someone that despite what he thought, his
      question was obviously not clear. :) I think the same could be said
      for the man pages, especially as its syntax is rather different than
      the examples in /etc/sudoers.

      If the OP found them confusing, then saying they're clear doesn't hold
      in his case, and will only make him feel worried about asking. I
      agree--I think the man pages are, like many man pages, pretty poor. I
      looked at them, tried something, it didn't work--did a search on deja
      and in 1 minute had a clear example of what I wanted. (When I'm done
      ranting, I"ll give an example)

      Unix documentation is still, for better or worse, written for the
      elite. The *BSD man pages are somewhat better, perhaps because they
      stem from the same source as commercial Unix--I suspect that when
      people pay money, they demand clearer documentation.
      Should it be brought down to the level of the average AOL user? I
      don't know, but having to search for 4 hours to try to figure out
      something relatively simple makes one appreciate how MS's
      documentation has improved.
      </rant>
      Anyway, for instance, I wanted to set sudo to allow a person who will
      be house-sitting for us to shutdown the computer without a password
      and without having any other powers on the machine--don't want her to
      use Windows as I'm sure she's the type to blithely open any viruses
      sent to her.
      So, here's the relevant part of my /etc/sudoers--which I was not able
      to figure out from the man page or the examples in the file
      User_alias SHUTDOWNERS=sarah
      SHUTDOWNERS ALL=SHUTDOWN,NOPASSWD: ALL

      Once I had the pattern, the man page was easier to understand.

      However, sometimes I think the man pages are analogous to the
      Emperor's new clothes. Because the computer elite can understand
      them, other people, relatively computer literate and intelligent, who
      can't understand them are afraid to say, "THIS IS DOCUMENTATION????"

      Then, we who can't understand them think there's something wrong with
      us--maybe, something's wrong with them.


      I realize that this post could be taken as trolling--so, I'm stating
      now that I'm not going to get in any arguments about this-if someone
      wants to post that I should go back to using AOL on a Mac, that's
      fine. I'm not going to expand upon what I've said here (unless one of
      my friends figures that this means they can ~really~ take advantage)
      :)

      Scott
    • Daniel Grace
      ... [snip] ... The syntax being different in the man page and the real-world program is obviously wrong. That s one thing that I ve noticed as well. Many of
      Message 2 of 20 , Jun 2, 2002
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        --- Scott Robbins <scottro@...> wrote:
        [snip]
        > <rant>
        > Hrmm--I'm going to argue that--those of you on
        > newbies might remember
        > when some of us told someone that despite what he
        > thought, his
        > question was obviously not clear. :) I think the
        > same could be said
        > for the man pages, especially as its syntax is
        > rather different than
        > the examples in /etc/sudoers.

        The syntax being different in the man page and the
        real-world program is obviously wrong. That's one
        thing that I've noticed as well. Many of the programs
        that have moved over to the "superior" (I've yet to
        see a real reasong for this claim. Anyone want to
        enlighten me?) info system have the out of date man
        pages still, instead of saying nothing more than "see
        the info page" so that we won't assume that the man
        page is correct.

        > If the OP found them confusing, then saying they're
        > clear doesn't hold
        > in his case, and will only make him feel worried
        > about asking. I
        > agree--I think the man pages are, like many man
        > pages, pretty poor. I
        > looked at them, tried something, it didn't work--did
        > a search on deja
        > and in 1 minute had a clear example of what I
        > wanted. (When I'm done
        > ranting, I"ll give an example)
        >
        > Unix documentation is still, for better or worse,
        > written for the
        > elite. The *BSD man pages are somewhat better,
        > perhaps because they
        > stem from the same source as commercial Unix--I
        > suspect that when
        > people pay money, they demand clearer documentation.

        Perhaps a documentation system that has both a brief
        summary for the elite, so that a glance can refresh
        the memory, or tell them enough to get them started,
        and a complete in-depth document for those who don't
        know much about the program.

        > Should it be brought down to the level of the
        > average AOL user? I
        > don't know, but having to search for 4 hours to try
        > to figure out
        > something relatively simple makes one appreciate how
        > MS's
        > documentation has improved.
        > </rant>
        [snip]

        One of the main reasons that I don't understand the
        move to the info system is that I don't think that the
        problem is with the man system itself, but rather some
        of the people that write the man pages. I can see no
        limitations in the man system that forces people to
        write inadequate documentation. In fact, I have seen
        some good man pages. The fact is, though, that most
        programs are documented poorly. I'm not sure if a new
        system would do anything to make people write better
        documenation.

        >
        > Scott

        ~Daniel

        =====
        /bb|[^b]{2}/

        __________________________________________________
        Do You Yahoo!?
        Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup
        http://fifaworldcup.yahoo.com
      • Scott Robbins
        ... I can answer this one without being a troll (though perhaps we ought to change the subject line) since it s agreeing with some of my points. Interestingly
        Message 3 of 20 , Jun 2, 2002
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          On Sun, Jun 02, 2002 at 09:13:23PM -0700, Daniel Grace wrote:
          > --- Scott Robbins <scottro@...> wrote:
          > [snip]
          > > <rant>
          > > Hrmm--I'm going to argue that--those of you on
          > > newbies might remember
          > > when some of us told someone that despite what he
          > > thought, his
          > > question was obviously not clear. :) I think the
          > > same could be said
          > > for the man pages, especially as its syntax is
          > > rather different than
          > > the examples in /etc/sudoers.
          >
          > that have moved over to the "superior" (I've yet to
          > see a real reasong for this claim. Anyone want to
          > enlighten me?) info system have the out of date man
          > pages still, instead of saying nothing more than "see
          > the info page" so that we won't assume that the man
          > page is correct.

          I can answer this one without being a troll (though perhaps we ought
          to change the subject line) since it's agreeing with some of my
          points.
          Interestingly enough, some of the FreeBSD elite consider the info
          pages to be a step backwards--although, again, I have to add the *BSD
          man pages are often far better. Sometimes, rather than check a man
          page on my system, I start with OpenBSD's man pages, which are, to me,
          at least, the clearest.
          >
          > >
          > > Unix documentation is still, for better or worse,
          > > written for the
          > > elite. The *BSD man pages are somewhat better,
          > > perhaps because they
          > > stem from the same source as commercial Unix--I
          > > suspect that when
          > > people pay money, they demand clearer documentation.
          >
          > Perhaps a documentation system that has both a brief
          > summary for the elite, so that a glance can refresh
          > the memory, or tell them enough to get them started,
          > and a complete in-depth document for those who don't
          > know much about the program.

          Well, an example--the ln man page is one that I find a bit confusing.
          (Michael and I were discussing this once, how we both tended to forget
          is it ln source, destination, or vice versa?) The info page, however,
          at the end, has some nice clear examples, making it simple.

          The bzip2 page is one of my favorite examples of somewhat obscure
          documentation--I would guess that the majority of people simply want
          to decompress a bz2 file. The man page does, somewhere in there, tell
          you how, I think, but it's somewhat obscure--they do refer you to the
          bunzip2 mini-howto. That gives you all sorts of esoteric uses of
          bunzip2--however, the chapter on using it to untar and decompress a
          file is a one line sentence, to the effect of RTFM.
          >
          > > Should it be brought down to the level of the
          > > average AOL user? I
          > > don't know, but having to search for 4 hours to try
          > > to figure out
          > > something relatively simple makes one appreciate how
          > > MS's
          > > documentation has improved.
          > > </rant>
          > [snip]
          >
          > One of the main reasons that I don't understand the
          > move to the info system is that I don't think that the
          > problem is with the man system itself, but rather some
          > of the people that write the man pages. I can see no
          > limitations in the man system that forces people to
          > write inadequate documentation. In fact, I have seen
          > some good man pages. The fact is, though, that most
          > programs are documented poorly. I'm not sure if a new
          > system would do anything to make people write better
          > documenation.
          >
          I agree. Man pages, were, I once read, originally written
          to simply remind people who already knew how to use a particular
          command. There are many excellent man pages. The info pages are
          often pretty similar--there are differences of course, such as the ln
          page I mentioned previously, but there are often times when I look at
          info to merely find a duplicate of the man page. :)

          Scott
        • Daniel Grace
          ... [big snip] ... I do the same thing with ln. A major beef I have is that you can make a symlink to a nonexistant file without even a slight hint of a
          Message 4 of 20 , Jun 3, 2002
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            --- Scott Robbins <scottro@...> wrote:

            [big snip]

            > Well, an example--the ln man page is one that I find
            > a bit confusing.
            > (Michael and I were discussing this once, how we
            > both tended to forget
            > is it ln source, destination, or vice versa?) The
            > info page, however,
            > at the end, has some nice clear examples, making it
            > simple.

            I do the same thing with ln. A major beef I have is
            that you can make a symlink to a nonexistant file
            without even a slight hint of a warning. Perhaps there
            is an option to make it more apt to give you warnings?
            As-is, I have gotten into the habit of ls'ing the file
            that should be there and seeing if it's red and
            flashing.

            [another large snip]

            > Scott

            ~Daniel

            =====
            /bb|[^b]{2}/

            __________________________________________________
            Do You Yahoo!?
            Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup
            http://fifaworldcup.yahoo.com
          • Michael K
            Thank you for let me know that there are others that don t quite understand all the man pages. My self is far from a newbie on computers. I have more than 15
            Message 5 of 20 , Jun 3, 2002
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              Thank you for let me know that there are others that don't quite understand
              all the man pages.
              My self is far from a newbie on computers. I have more than 15 years of
              computer knowledge.
              Starting from MS-DOS. Now days I have, by experience, taking the MCSE and
              some
              skilldrill Certs. (Red Hat Linux and Linux DNS). Little more than one year
              Linux experience.
              Some Linux app can be hard to get working (For example: Bind, Sendmail and
              Squid).
              But when they does I'm so happy with my Linux hacking.
              I don't like the X Window System (but I do not hate it). I feel that the
              best way to
              learn Linux is by hacking the config files directly on the command line.
              Anyway some man pages can be hard to read, this is why I like the Howtos.
              It's nice
              that I'm not the only one thinking that :-). Red Hats official documents are
              also
              excellent to read but I feel that they only tell you just enough to get you
              started. In the
              other hand they have a "further reading" section that recommends
              some books and other resources to keep you happy.

              /Klintan


              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "Scott Robbins" <scottro@...>
              To: <redhat@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Monday, June 03, 2002 5:24 AM
              Subject: Re: [redhat] Re: Administrator Accounts


              > <rant>
              > Hrmm--I'm going to argue that--those of you on newbies might remember
              > when some of us told someone that despite what he thought, his
              > question was obviously not clear. :) I think the same could be said
              > for the man pages, especially as its syntax is rather different than
              > the examples in /etc/sudoers.
              >
              > If the OP found them confusing, then saying they're clear doesn't hold
              > in his case, and will only make him feel worried about asking. I
              > agree--I think the man pages are, like many man pages, pretty poor. I
              > looked at them, tried something, it didn't work--did a search on deja
              > and in 1 minute had a clear example of what I wanted. (When I'm done
              > ranting, I"ll give an example)
              >
              > Unix documentation is still, for better or worse, written for the
              > elite. The *BSD man pages are somewhat better, perhaps because they
              > stem from the same source as commercial Unix--I suspect that when
              > people pay money, they demand clearer documentation.
              > Should it be brought down to the level of the average AOL user? I
              > don't know, but having to search for 4 hours to try to figure out
              > something relatively simple makes one appreciate how MS's
              > documentation has improved.
              > </rant>
              > Anyway, for instance, I wanted to set sudo to allow a person who will
              > be house-sitting for us to shutdown the computer without a password
              > and without having any other powers on the machine--don't want her to
              > use Windows as I'm sure she's the type to blithely open any viruses
              > sent to her.
              > So, here's the relevant part of my /etc/sudoers--which I was not able
              > to figure out from the man page or the examples in the file
              > User_alias SHUTDOWNERS=sarah
              > SHUTDOWNERS ALL=SHUTDOWN,NOPASSWD: ALL
              >
              > Once I had the pattern, the man page was easier to understand.
              >
              > However, sometimes I think the man pages are analogous to the
              > Emperor's new clothes. Because the computer elite can understand
              > them, other people, relatively computer literate and intelligent, who
              > can't understand them are afraid to say, "THIS IS DOCUMENTATION????"
              >
              > Then, we who can't understand them think there's something wrong with
              > us--maybe, something's wrong with them.
              >
              >
              > I realize that this post could be taken as trolling--so, I'm stating
              > now that I'm not going to get in any arguments about this-if someone
              > wants to post that I should go back to using AOL on a Mac, that's
              > fine. I'm not going to expand upon what I've said here (unless one of
              > my friends figures that this means they can ~really~ take advantage)
              > :)
              >
              > Scott
            • Andres Rosado
              ... It isn t, nor was, nor will, be to start trolling in the lists. I ask your forgiveness for any misunderstandings I caused. ... Andres Rosado Email:
              Message 6 of 20 , Jun 3, 2002
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                At 10:24 PM 6/2/2002 -0500, you wrote:
                >I realize that this post could be taken as trolling--so, I'm stating
                >now that I'm not going to get in any arguments about this-if someone
                >wants to post that I should go back to using AOL on a Mac, that's
                >fine. I'm not going to expand upon what I've said here (unless one of
                >my friends figures that this means they can ~really~ take advantage)

                It isn't, nor was, nor will, be to start trolling in the lists. I ask your
                forgiveness for any misunderstandings I caused.


                -----------------------------------
                Andres Rosado
                Email: andresr@...
                ICQ: 66750646
                Homepage: http://andres980.tripod.com/

                That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something
                you've understood all your life, but in a new way.
                --Doris Lessing
              • Scott
                On 20:17 2002/06/03 -0400, Andres Rosado wrote ... Heh--Andres, I meant that ~I~ might be the troll, saying that man pages sometimes are not well-written. YOU
                Message 7 of 20 , Jun 3, 2002
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                  On 20:17 2002/06/03 -0400, Andres Rosado wrote
                  >At 10:24 PM 6/2/2002 -0500, you wrote:
                  > >I realize that this post could be taken as trolling--so, I'm stating
                  > >now that I'm not going to get in any arguments about this-if someone
                  > >wants to post that I should go back to using AOL on a Mac, that's
                  > >fine. I'm not going to expand upon what I've said here (unless one of
                  > >my friends figures that this means they can ~really~ take advantage)
                  >
                  >It isn't, nor was, nor will, be to start trolling in the lists. I ask your
                  >forgiveness for any misunderstandings I caused.


                  Heh--Andres, I meant that ~I~ might be the troll, saying that man pages
                  sometimes are not well-written. YOU don't have to apologize at all, if
                  anyone should, it should be me. As I consider you one of my buddies on the
                  list, I didn't bother making a point of saying that I wasn't ranting at
                  you. :)

                  Your post simply suggested that he check the man pages--there's nothing
                  trollish about that--MY post on the other hand, could have been considered
                  a post that
                  might start a bunch of flaming back and forth--not between you and I, but
                  by someone who might read what I post and say, well, if you weren't
                  ignorant, you'd
                  get the man pages. :) And that, judging from your posts on various lists
                  and our
                  private emails, is not the way you would respond to it--so honest, I didn't
                  mean you
                  and I apologize if I gave the impression to ANYONE on this list that I felt you
                  were trolling--I was talking about MY post having trollish tendencies.

                  Scott
                • Andres Rosado
                  ... Just because there is a new way of doing things, people won t start doing them correctly. Two of the biggest problems with most documentation is the fact
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jun 4, 2002
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                    At 09:13 PM 6/2/2002 -0700, you wrote:
                    >One of the main reasons that I don't understand the
                    >move to the info system is that I don't think that the
                    >problem is with the man system itself, but rather some
                    >of the people that write the man pages. I can see no
                    >limitations in the man system that forces people to
                    >write inadequate documentation. In fact, I have seen
                    >some good man pages. The fact is, though, that most
                    >programs are documented poorly. I'm not sure if a new
                    >system would do anything to make people write better
                    >documenation.

                    Just because there is a new way of doing things, people won't start doing
                    them correctly. Two of the biggest problems with most documentation is the
                    fact that it's both untested and written by people who don't understand the
                    theory of technical writing. From experience, it's a long and traumatic
                    process.


                    -----------------------------------
                    Andres Rosado
                    Email: andresr@...
                    ICQ: 66750646
                    Homepage: http://andres980.tripod.com/

                    You should emulate your heros, but don't carry it too far.
                    Especially if they are dead.
                  • Scott
                    On 19:59 2002/06/04 -0400, Andres Rosado wrote ... One does like the idea of testing documentation, just as one would some software. Could you see the author
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jun 4, 2002
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                      On 19:59 2002/06/04 -0400, Andres Rosado wrote


                      >Just because there is a new way of doing things, people won't start doing
                      >them correctly. Two of the biggest problems with most documentation is the
                      >fact that it's both untested and written by people who don't understand the
                      >theory of technical writing. From experience, it's a long and traumatic
                      >process.


                      One does like the idea of testing documentation, just as one would some
                      software.
                      Could you see the author of a man page being told, "Ok, now we're going to
                      show this page to an AOL Mac user--and not one from school who's forced to
                      use it by his parents--and see if he understands it. :)
                      I use AOL mac user because that's what my wife was--no offense to any here
                      who fit the category.
                      Seriously, it's an interesting concept--let's test the documentation. You
                      wrote this for the beginner--ok, let's show it to the user who just went
                      over to one of the newbie friendly distros from MS.

                      You wrote a more advanced one. Ok, let's show it to someone who knows their
                      way around Linux, but isn't a programmer.

                      Now, I look at it. (Not that I REALLY know my way around Linux, but...)

                      I say, hrrm, what's this mean--I don't have a clue what your'e talking
                      about. The documenter can look at me in disgust, and fix it so that I
                      understand it.

                      It's a good idea, user testing. As I frequently say, when sending someone
                      to our unofficial faq, let me know if you don't understand it, because then
                      I have to consider it a bug in the documentation.

                      Scott
                    • Andres Rosado
                      ... No prob. :) ... Andres Rosado Email: andresr@despammed.com ICQ: 66750646 Homepage: http://andres980.tripod.com/ Don t take life so serious, son, it ain t
                      Message 10 of 20 , Jun 7, 2002
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                        At 09:31 PM 6/3/2002 -0400, you wrote:
                        >Your post simply suggested that he check the man pages--there's nothing
                        >trollish about that--MY post on the other hand, could have been considered
                        >a post that
                        >might start a bunch of flaming back and forth--not between you and I, but
                        >by someone who might read what I post and say, well, if you weren't
                        >ignorant, you'd
                        >get the man pages. :) And that, judging from your posts on various lists
                        >and our
                        >private emails, is not the way you would respond to it--so honest, I didn't
                        >mean you
                        >and I apologize if I gave the impression to ANYONE on this list that I
                        >felt you
                        >were trolling--I was talking about MY post having trollish tendencies.

                        No prob. :)


                        -----------------------------------
                        Andres Rosado
                        Email: andresr@...
                        ICQ: 66750646
                        Homepage: http://andres980.tripod.com/

                        Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.
                        -- Walt Kelly
                      • Andres Rosado
                        ... No. The tests are usually done with people who will have a certain characteristic. In case of info and man pages, these are for people starting in Linux
                        Message 11 of 20 , Jun 7, 2002
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                          At 09:10 PM 6/4/2002 -0400, you wrote:
                          > >Just because there is a new way of doing things, people won't start doing
                          > >them correctly. Two of the biggest problems with most documentation is the
                          > >fact that it's both untested and written by people who don't understand the
                          > >theory of technical writing. From experience, it's a long and traumatic
                          > >process.
                          >
                          >One does like the idea of testing documentation, just as one would some
                          >software.
                          >Could you see the author of a man page being told, "Ok, now we're going to
                          >show this page to an AOL Mac user--and not one from school who's forced to
                          >use it by his parents--and see if he understands it. :)

                          No. The tests are usually done with people who will have a certain
                          characteristic. In case of info and man pages, these are for people
                          starting in Linux and for seasoned Linux users, respectively. The problem
                          is that most people writing these pages don't have access to the users.
                          Except if they are working in a university.

                          >I use AOL mac user because that's what my wife was--no offense to any here
                          >who fit the category.

                          Believe me, some are very knowledgeable users.

                          >Seriously, it's an interesting concept--let's test the documentation. You
                          >wrote this for the beginner--ok, let's show it to the user who just went
                          >over to one of the newbie friendly distros from MS.
                          >
                          >You wrote a more advanced one. Ok, let's show it to someone who knows their
                          >way around Linux, but isn't a programmer.

                          This is the whole idea.

                          >Now, I look at it. (Not that I REALLY know my way around Linux, but...)
                          >
                          >I say, hrrm, what's this mean--I don't have a clue what your'e talking
                          >about. The documenter can look at me in disgust, and fix it so that I
                          >understand it.

                          It can happen. I wrote once a manual for some computers that have a
                          specific interface. When I tested the first time, the user was more lost
                          than if he didn't had the manual. In the second try, the user understood
                          better the manual.

                          >It's a good idea, user testing. As I frequently say, when sending someone
                          >to our unofficial faq, let me know if you don't understand it, because then
                          >I have to consider it a bug in the documentation.

                          -----------------------------------
                          Andres Rosado
                          Email: andresr@...
                          ICQ: 66750646
                          Homepage: http://andres980.tripod.com/

                          Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.
                          -- Walt Kelly
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