Dorward's Ramblings

Messages The User Doesn't Understand

Published on

Wil Wheaton likes watching make output scroll by even though he doesn't understand it. This is a theme I've seen a few times, and I know I like seeing Linux kernel/init messages then an anonymous blob doing a KITT impression.

OK, so I understand most of the messages, but even back when I was a DOS newbie I liked knowing that something real was happening, and if something went wrong - well I could see anything obviously different about the boot process. I could (shock) look in the manual to see what the messages mean. Nowadays I could use Google and probably find a solution in minutes.

Once I tried a Linux distro that used bootsplash (or something like it) to hide all the messages. I got really concerned when a boot took much longer then usual. It later turned out that it was running fsck. On my normal system I would have been able to see that it was running fsck and just been frustraited at the wait, rather then worried.

I don't know where I'm going with this, but its good for thought. Simple isn't always user friendly. Or maybe its lack of progress that's the problem. If you can see a bar moving towards 100% then that's good. If the bar hits the end and then starts again, then what?

See also: the newbie friendly command line.