Sunday, 12 August 2012

Review: Makeuseof presents: Ubuntu An Absolute Beginners Guide

Ubuntu An Absolute Beginners Guide by Courtney Loo, edited by Justin Pot

Ubuntu is a free/libre, open-source computer operating system with 20 million users worldwide. But it’s also so much more than that: it is an ethos, a collaborative project and, first and foremost, Ubuntu is a community of people.
If you’re reading this guide, you’re probably interested in moving away from proprietary operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS X; perhaps you’ve already installed Ubuntu on your computer but are not sure where to start.

Honestly, these manuals are starting to drive me crazy. How can so many people get this so wrong? Take a tip from marketing. Grab the viewer from the get go; show, tell, sell. Pictures. Colour. Give them the highlights.

They don't want a history lesson. They don't need Sociology-101. They need answers. What is it, why do I need it, why is it so much better than what I'm using now?

Courtney Loo's manual is only 32 pages long. Less than half that is the material that should be in An Absolute Beginners Guide.

It begins with the classic mistake; What is it, the Ubuntu Philosophy, How can it be free. Jokingly referring to Linux, the dreaded L-word, it tries to demystify and explain Linux. I'm still waiting...

Chapter 3, Ubuntu Releases, is an entirely unnecessary history lesson in a horrible looking page. Version numbers, code names, releases. BORED! CUT!!!

Page 10, Installing. Finally! Different ways of installing is quite a useful run-down; download, USB stick, Dual-boot, co-existing with Windows and Mac, or through Wubi. Next!

Chapter 5 is Support and Comunity. Hang on, I haven't seen any of it yet! You haven't shown me? Why do I care about Free documentation and Launchpad Answers?

Chapter 6, page 16, getting started with Unity. Except it doesn't. "Before Unity There Was GNOME: A Little Bit Of History"  NOOO!!! I don't ****ing CARE!!! I don't give a **** about Gnome and it's Fisher-Price foot-print logo. GET ON WITH IT!!!

Page 17 finally shows me and describes Ubuntu Unity. The next few pages are dense (more whitespace here, please) and finally give me some decent information about Ubuntu, Unity, the Dash, navigating and pinning. Section 7 is entitled Ubuntu Applications (How Do I...?);  update My Computer, Install Software and Applications, download, surf, manage photos, listen to music.

Now here's a thing. The first item in Further Reading is an article on Ubuntu Restricted Extras: The First Thing You Should Intstall on Ubuntu. The Listening to music section doesn't mention this. If you've got .MP3 music files, this is the first thing you want to know. But it doesn't. This is in the footnootes, because at page 30, the guide stops. So I'm an absolute beginner and you've done little more than tease.

Having written software manuals, I know how difficult it is. I also know there are plenty of examples how to and how not to produce something like this. The Makeuseof guide appears to have been written to a house style under a restrictive brief (and a proprietary licence!). While I like the writing style, there is quite a number of things wrong with this guide. RC

Ubuntu: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide is available from Make Use

DOWNLOAD Ubuntu: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide

Download password: makeuseof.

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