[conspire] Fonts on Linux

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Oct 11 10:58:24 PDT 2004

Let me take another shot at this, because I suspect I wasn't in an
entirely good mood when I replied, last time:

Ross Bernheim <rossbernheim at speakeasy.net> wrote:

> Ubuntu and Knoppix come with what you will need pre-selected so that
> you have a starting point that for desktop users is much closer to
> where they will most likely want to end up.

You are assuming I share a number of assumptions with you that I do not,
in fact, share.

The big one is that running someone's huge, overly complex, buggy GNOME
or KDE hairball is what where "desktop users" should want to end up.
(Aside:  Practically all discussions involving "desktop users"
degenerate into meaningless drivel, for a number of reasons including
arbitrary imposition by one of the speakers of requirements by fiat that
software allegedly "must do".  Most such discussions are an utter waste
of time, tend to devolve into noisy, non-technical advocacy, and are a
prime reason why the comp.os.*.advocacy newsgroups were created as
ghettos into which they could be banished.)

They should not want that for a large number of reasons including it
tending to decrease their competence with computers rather than increase
it:  They tend to come to me for help when their screwed up systems, and 
look shocked and dismayed when (as always) I immediately attempt to
simplify the diagnostic situation and resort to simpler, lower-level
tools, instead of waving a high-level magic wand.

Anyhow, I have no problem with people asserting, as you do, that overly
complex systems are "where they will want to end up":  They probably
will.  I even don't mind people asserting that they _should_ want to end
up there:  I merely respond that they're _in error_, if they happen to
ask my view.  ;->

As another aside:  What slightly peeved me about your post was that it
smacked of ritualised, abstract, desktop-user rhetoric.  I have no time
or patience for ritual debate, and will figuratively point to the
comp.os.*.advocacy newsgroups, for people who enjoy that sort of thing.

> As to getting your arm twisted towards Gnome or KDE....

You are assuming I share your assumption that GNOME (note rendition;
it's an acronym) and KDE are things in themselves.  To repeat:  I do
not.  In fact, a large part of my _entire point_ in the preceding
discussion is that each is a collection of very distinct codebases, that
one might -- variously -- either want to have and use, or not.

Further, different distributions and releases of distributions often
include _very different collections_ as "KDE" or as "GNOME":  The
bundles may include wildly different collections of applets, completely
different window managers, etc.

Since there isn't even agreement on what these collections -are-, and
since I'm much more interested in what they contain that is actually of
interest, I immediately ignore assertions about "GNOME" and "KDE", and
attempt instead to talk about something real.

Most of the rest of your post was non-sequitur to the antecedent
discussion:  Again, ritualised.  For example, you went on at some length
citing reasons why "these distros" would want to "include" the two
desktop systems.  Excuse me, but did anyone assert otherwise?

> The standard Debian distro has all the building blocks, but you have
> to put things together.

Actually, you are factually mistaken, on that:  Debian packagers'
renditions of those two collections are available as standard
metapackages ("tasks"), in tasksel.

Your assertions about "the Debian installer" were, as noted, completely
oblivious to the fact, which I could swear I've mentioned innumerable
times, that there are dozens of Debian installers, very diverse in

The Official Debian 3.0 "woody" default installer -- which you
erroneously considered to be "the Debian installer" has hardware
detection with all of the advantages _and_ faults of the same hardware
autodetection software built into the Knoppix installer, if you 

1.  Choose the bf24 boot flavour (2.4 installation kernel) on the second 
screen, and 

2.  Install the following hardware-recognition packages:

discover: hardware identification system (thank you, Progeny Systems, Inc.)
mdetect: mouse device autodetection tool
read-edid: hardware information-gathering tool for VESA PnP monitors
sndconfig: sound configuration (thank you, Red Hat Software, Inc.)
hotplug: USB/PCI device hotplugging support, and network autoconfig
nictools-nopci: Diagnostic tools for many non-PCI ethernet cards
nictools-pci: Diagnostic tools for many PCI ethernet cards
mii-diag: A little tool to manipulate network cards

As I can swear I've mentioned previously on this mailing list /
newsgroup, those optional packages, and their potential drawbacks, are 
described in detail in my knowledgebase:

"Hardware Detection" on http://linuxmafia.com/kb/Debian/ 

The "faults" (drawbacks) of those packages are, in short, that some
hardware reacts badly to being autoprobed, which is why Knoppix -- like
all other distributions with aggressive hardware autoprobing -- seizes
up and completely fails to boot on some hardware.  By contrast,
_because_ in the Official Debian 3.0 "woody" default installer, those
hardware recognition packages are optional, that installer's greater 
flexibility will usually be successful on units where Knoppix fails.

Cheers,                 "Heedless of grammar, they all cried 'It's him!'"
Rick Moen                       -- R.H. Barham, _Misadventure at Margate_
rick at linuxmafia.com

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