Sunday, January 25, 2009

Being Dumb.

I was helping a good friend of mine with his fresh Linux install and my brain went all Microsoft on me.

What do I mean? Well, it's simple. Living in a Microsoft world, you have to either be a complete genius, or ignore error codes. I remember working at a bookstore and the error codes we got were pure gibberish. We would be cashing out a customer and get a message that was something like:

Cobalt Error # FF3E2.
Please Contact the company who wrote this program to resolve this issue.

Well, since we bought the program through a third party, we had no direct contact with them. The Third party just told us to reboot the server.

Currently, I'll get an error while at work, and I can look at the details, but they're still meaningless. I also start getting the, "Do you want to report this error to Microsoft?" I hate that message. It's like saying, "Do you want to tattle on this open source project that Windows barfed on?" I always hit don't send.

Fast forward to the future where everyone is running Linux because Windows 7 is worse than Vista (my supposition alone, no valid opinion here). Vague error messages are a thing of the past. All of the sudden you can understand, or at least learn to understand, what an error message means. Creepy stack errors have associated with them different sources that can be tracked down and corrected.

Let me say this. If you are new to Linux, do not fear the error message! Read it! Most of the time you will be able to decipher something to put into a search engine. You can visit your distro's forums and ask about your problem there. Forget your Microsoft programming and use the error messages to problem solve. Take back the joy of using your computer!

Now, if you've gotten a couple of common error messages, you might have a difficult time resolving them because they're too basic to show up in a lot of searches. I don't know why some of these basic things don't show up, but I had a hard time finding them.

If you are told that apt-get didn't finish running, or there are errors in your database, type into your terminal (as root or sudo)

apt-get install -f

If you are trying to compile something from source, and you are told that you do not have the correct libraries, do not install those libraries from source. Instead check the repositories for the -dev package. So, you might get the error, GTK 2.0-+ not found, this simply means that you should install the "GTK_2.0-dev" package. Being armed with this knowledge alone should enable you to solve a lot of errors.

Finally, the error I'm calling myself an idiot for. When running synaptic in Debian, do not, ever, type,

sudo killall synaptic


It's stupid.

You will break something. Instead make sure you click that little arrow that allows you to view details about the output. More than likely, if you're seeing a stall in synaptic, something is asking you for input in that little window that is currently hidden.

Above all, do not ignore a Linux Error message unless a dev tell you, "You're going to see this error message, we know about it, don't worry, it's not important."

Enjoy Linux!

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