Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Raspberry Pi Journal #34

Noob-Guru: The Great Divide

Sometimes, reading all the posts on the web reveals the great division between noob and guru. One recent example was a question on how to have your own web address. The answer, of course, is to set up a DNS server. It was suggested that you hire some services out there. There are several questions: How about running your own DNS server? Who would provide DNS server services, but not hosting? Who would provide hosting, and also includes DNS server services? Et cetera.

One of the answer, however, directs me to this site:


which is an excellent Raspberry Pi resource. I printed off quite a few pages out of it. But no answer whatsoever regarding the original question. One of the page does mention on how to set up your own web server. However, there is no instruction on how to connect it to DNS server.

Well, obviously, you need to do such and such. Except, those steps aren't obvious to beginners. Thus, what is simple and natural to experts, are insurmountable obstacle to beginners.

Another example. Google Coder is an excellent piece of work. I went to github, which holds the source, and found no installation instructions whatsoever. I had to go to another site, and apparently, it's a relatively standard install. Except for one thing: You need to install Apple Bonjour Service. What? Why would I need that?

Turns out, I need it so Chrome/Internet Explorer/Mozilla whatever browser is compatible can parse


And that's it. That is the sole function of Bonjour. Talk about technological overkill. Don't you think maybe installing a whole new package just to parse URL is silly? Well, yes. That's why if you connect the server to a monitor, it will show the IP address and you can just plug the number into your web browser. Except the installation instruction does not mention that at all! I think maybe they need better instruction.

Oh, and the browser? It's on a different machine, obviously, because the last time I check, Internet Explorer doesn't run on Raspberry Pi, and support for Chromium is flaky at best.

I don't know about you, but those obvious points aren't obvious to me.

I had a run in recently. I pointed out that a USB drive option is useful for multiple users using the same Raspberry Pi. Somebody tongue-in-cheek suggested using multiple SD card instead. But the real good answer comes in the question as to why would you want to copy the whole root file system, when all you want to do is handling multiple users? Obviously copying /home/username would be much easier and safer than copying and mounting the whole partition. Except, it's not obvious to a noob, like me.

Another trouble that I had. When backing up my system using tar, the process stopped at 4Gig. Obviously, the file system cannot handle more. I did some searching with tar manual. It mentioned replacing tapes. So I tried that, and well, that didn't work too well since the program just replaced the same file name over and over. So I asked around, and the answer was to just replace the whole system with ext4. So I did. It works fine. A few weeks after that, I ran into the split command, which would have solved the problem neatly. Well, obviously I should have done that in the first place. Except, it's not obvious to me.

That is why, I keep saying, that having an enabler device is not enough. You have to have a good instruction along with it.

Imagine this:
You provide a hammer to people. Free hammer for everyone! Will that make everybody happy? Of course not. What would you do with a hammer? Pound nails would be the obvious answer. However, there are many more uses available. How about chiseling a statue? Installing rail road tracks? Breaking a rock? Making jewelries? Tenderizing meat? Husking wheat? And so on...

Without a good instruction, a hammer is just a block at the end of the stick. A Raspberry Pi is just a fancy toy. With good instructions, well, what was Michaelangelo's David but a block of marble?

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