[nos-bbs] Re: Tweaks to build simplifed setup JNOS

Barry Siegfried k2mf at nnj.k2mf.ampr.org
Thu Sep 14 16:16:50 EDT 2006

["VE3 BNF" <ve3bnf at gmail.com> wrote]:

> I tend to agree Barry, and thank you for your "help desk service" for
> me, what I would like to see is a better effort made in documenting the
> setup of Jnos and other flavours.  What I see now is the documentation
> seems to assume a prior knowledge and understanding of xnos and new
> users (like myself ) are lost in the setup... altho I am not 100%
> functional yet I have a much better understanding of the process and
> with more research will have a full understanding of what needs to be
> done.

The problem is there IS no single setup that applies to everyone.
Everyone has different operational and physical requirements as
well as functional goals and therefore must fine tune the program's
operation for the specific environment in which it is operating.

> I see alot of basic questions come through that, in my opinion,
> would be answered if the project documentation was "dumbed down"
> for new users, no offence to anyone intended, I am new to all this
> too.

No offence taken.  :)  However, user documentation is a real PROBLEM.
First of all, as the program changes over time so will (would) the
user documentation for it.  Keeping user documenation actually CAN
be equally or even more time consuming than writing code and program
release notes.

For those of us who are somewhat familiar with the program's internals,
writing user documentation is probably the most difficult thing to do
because we have to think like users and generally we don't.  Rather,
we think like programmers and we are just too darn busy programming
and making things work the way we want (or need) it to.

Realizing this, several years ago I asked somebody to step forward
from the user base of the NOS I use to offer to write some "real"
user documenation.  I then offered to edit it and correct the
mistakes.  At the time, somebody *did* step forward and actually
started the project.  I was delighted!  But after spending about a
month on only one section of the program, he realized how difficult
it would be to finish and how long it would take to document the
entire modern command set of NOS and he quit the project.  He just
didn't have the time necessary to do the job properly.

Needless to say, nobody else stepped forward to do this most
difficult of jobs.  So even today, I am still including a set of
command help which is very close to what the stock set of JNOS
command help is and it doesn't really reflect the individual
nuances and differences between the two programs.  That's life
and I've learned to live with it.

Some day, perhaps when I retire, I will have enough time to
write the complete user manual for the command set of the NOS
that I use.  Until then, I live with what I have.  Oh wait,
there were OTHER projects I wanted to do when I retire...

Oh well.  :(

> On 9/14/06, Barry Siegfried <k2mf at nnj.k2mf.ampr.org> wrote:
> > ["Maiko Langelaar (ve4klm)" <maiko at pcs.mb.ca> wrote]:
> >
> > > > I'm building an easy to install JNOS ...
> > > > First step was to move all the config files into one place
> > > > Comments in general on the move of files and renaming ?
> > >
> > > I have no plans on doing so for the official version (not anytime
> > > soon).
> > >
> > > To me, the issue is not so much directory and file structure.
> > >
> > > Perhaps a more important issue from the WINDOWS point of view, is
> > > that most users don't even know where configs are stored, transparent
> > > to the general user, so does it really matter what the files are called,
> > > or where they are stored ?  That *is* the windows way, isn't it ?
> >
> > And that *is* unfortunate.  Anyone whose sole experience in computing
> > is operating on a Windows platform is learning absolutely nothing
> > about computing and how it works.
> >
> > > An alternate method of simplifying JNOS setup is perhaps an installer
> > > program (so that the user never needs to see the directory and file
> > > structure). I made a prototype installer some time ago just to do that.
> > > It OBVIOUSLY requires more work (understatement), but that was the
> > > idea.  To keep general users AWAY from the configuration files.
> >
> > I take a slightly different point of view on this.  I feel that the
> > more we *insulate* people from how to configure their programs properly,
> > the more we are simply dumbing down the users of xNOS.  And the more
> > we dumb down the users of xNOS, then the more those of us who do have
> > some knowledge about how the program works with all of its config
> > options are required to provide assistance when these people get into
> > trouble.  The burden then falls to us.  Time and time again I have
> > seen thie happen and I know that Maiko and I both have gotten sucked
> > into situations where we are providing "help-desk" type services
> > for people who haven't a clue about where to start looking in order
> > to solve a problem or something that is mis-configured.  This can
> > get out of control VERY quickly.
> >
> > > I mean, look at the darn REWRITE file.  You don't know how badly I want
> > > to *get rid* of it, in the sense that it would be nice if the USER never
> > > had to deal with it.  Heck, I have trouble with it.  You need a PHD or
> > > worse.
> >
> > Yes.  We all have had trouble with rewrite at one time or another in
> > our NOS experience.  But how else can we learn?  It is also probably
> > not quite as bad as it is to configure sendmail on a linux machine.
> > Can we hardcode NOS to do some of the things that we always put into
> > rewrite?  Of course we can, but even if we do that there is still
> > *some* degree of personalization we have to do to make parts of NOS
> > do what we want them to do.  And in order to do that, we need to
> > know SOMETHING about where the config files live and how to edit
> > them.
> >
> > > On another note, the people that are going to use your installs need
> > > to know that the directory structure may not conform to the official
> > > structure, so that if they search for help topics, they may get
> > > frustrated.
> >
> > Yes, this *could* be a problem, but it hasn't been a show stopper
> > for me or anyone else that uses the NOS that I use.  Like Bill,
> > 15 years ago I was extremely frustrated that some config files
> > were dumped here and some were dumped there for apparently no
> > other reason than this is where the originators of them decided
> > to place them without any regard for how they functionally
> > integrated with the already existing other config files in NOS.
> >
> > I dunno, for me it has been a help to "organize" the directory
> > and file structure of NOS into something coherent that made
> > sense from both a functional standpoint and from a standpoint
> > of making it more organized where new config files could be
> > placed without having to guess where the best places for them
> > to live would be.

73, de Barry, K2MF >>
          <|>      Barry Siegfried
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