LinuxCNC is Poorly Documented

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04 Jul 2018 00:20 #113353 by InMyDarkestHour

Though I am still green, I likely will write some documentation, though elsewhere I am trying to design a new user interface for LinuxCNC, but to be blunt, why should I write something if I am not going to be able to find it after submitting it?


Someone may book mark it for future reference and find it useful.

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04 Jul 2018 00:48 #113357 by InMyDarkestHour

curtisa wrote:

ozzyrob wrote: What needs changing to get people started milling & turning ? One has to consider that there is a million ways one can put a cnc mill\router\lathe\plasma cutter together.


I'm thinking about those of us who got started with one of the thousands of pre-assembled ready-to-go CNC3020, 3040, 6040 6090 etc units available on eBay or Aliexpress or Banggood for a pittance.

Ok, how about:
  • For the total beginner - updated list/offerings of officially supported ISO installs, can LCNC be offered as an Appimage like Freecad ?
  • For the more adventurous beginner - a couple of formally-written tutorials on how to install from source on Mint 18 or Stretch or Ubuntu 16.04 or...ie, take what is currently on the Forum and if it is validated as being 100% correct, formally publish it
  • For all users - neaten up some of the formal documentation, particularly the basic stuff; if the Wiki is such a mess then perhaps push it away from the frontpage of the website with a view to eventually nuking it; put some more examples/showcases/user galleries up on the front page (big yourselves up!); dare I say it, give the website a bit of a spit and polish - TBH it's pretty vanilla-looking


Due to the reliance on the kernel the Appimage solution may not be a workable solution. Puppy Linux uses a layered filesystem to bring in big packages (something I was working on getting ready to show the community when unbeknown to myself Barry was working on at the same time), eg a development environment, which I also considered, but there is still the kernel thing.

I started a thread on setting up Stretch for building glade and Linuxcnc from source which generated no attention. I attempted to be as verbose as I could. Maybe it is not the sort of thing users actually want. Or the way in which I presented didn't click.
forum.linuxcnc.org/9-installing-linuxcnc...build-glade-linuxcnc

Would Debian with MATE desktop be a make for a more familiar transition from Windows to Linux.......installing extra sofware packages is the same for Mint & Debian and they both use the same utilities for installing packages. Window decoration could even be set for the same look as NT-4.0 \ Win95..........I'm sure there's a few WinXP type themes around.

There is even the option, maybe not a popular one, of locking support down to the official iso. If you want to use LCNC on another distro you are on your own. Not something I would be in favour of. I like the freedom of OSS & Linux.

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04 Jul 2018 01:21 #113363 by curtisa

tommylight wrote: Close ............but no cigar!!!
More actual useful stuff, less discussion, please.
Most of what is here is not helping the cause you keep discussing. Write a few nice lines about Linuxcnc, some tips, helpful whatever, edit the wiki, do some nice graphic for it, launch a nuke...... hmmmm... never mind.


I assume this was directed at me?

I actually wouldn't know where to start in submitting documentation change requests, nor do I possess the technical know-how about LCNC itself to present myself as an authority on a particular area. But as someone who uses the docs where possible to learn I can sympathise with BrendaEM's initial point. I suppose I could offer some help in 'humanising' some of the documentation?

I have friends who work as graphic designers, but I doubt I could ask them for a favour to spruce the website up, nor do I have the abilities/tools to do so myself. But maybe someone else here does?

I think it was Andypugh that suggested the wiki was a mess; I'm just re-iterating what he said (and perhaps reading between the lines of what he noted).

I'm making these suggestions in the hope that someone higher up will at least acknowledge that some concerns and ideas have been noted. I'm not expecting them to be acted upon (as nice as it may be). As a learner and end-user, I can only offer an opinion about what I see, but I don't think that should preclude me offering it if the topic comes up as it has done here.

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04 Jul 2018 01:40 #113365 by curtisa

ozzyrob wrote: Due to the reliance on the kernel the Appimage solution may not be a workable solution. Puppy Linux uses a layered filesystem to bring in big packages (something I was working on getting ready to show the community when unbeknown to myself Barry was working on at the same time), eg a development environment, which I also considered, but there is still the kernel thing.


OK, good to know. Ignoring the requirement for a specific Kernel, is there a reason why a pre-built DEB of the most current stable version can't be delivered on the website?

There is even the option, maybe not a popular one, of locking support down to the official iso. If you want to use LCNC on another distro you are on your own. Not something I would be in favour of. I like the freedom of OSS & Linux.



New users might view it this way anyway - it looks hard to compile from scratch, so maybe I'll stick to the ISO. I can't see a reason not to include tutes on how to install on any number of systems though, as long as the directions are as infallible as possible.

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04 Jul 2018 03:03 #113368 by InMyDarkestHour
No need to deliver the debs on the website.
Debian has it's own system to deliver updates. That is taken care of via the use of synaptic or the command line or the update manager.

Generally speaking apart from support for the actual LCNC system the forum shouldn't have to deal with issues with the administration or upkeep (but it does)......Better resources are available via Debian channels.

For all things Debian, this is a good start:
www.debian.org/doc/

Those new to Linux or with little experience installing packages from source would be better off using the official iso for installation. Why spend hours debugging installation issues when that time would be better spent learning about LCNC ?

How many new users would be aware of other distros....Ubuntu and it's derivatives appear to be a "first port of call".
I have installed LCNC on Slackware (that scares newbies), Salix OS, a derivative of Slackware, and have gone through the whole Linux From Scratch & Beyond Linux From scratch exercise to create a working LCNC install (LFS & BLFS aim is with starting with a host system and then compiling every piece required to build your own custom system that is completely independent from the host system, the host system can be deleted once LFS is a stage where it can be booted ). I did this more for academic purposes.
I have written about installing LCNC on Salix OS but apart from one other forum user it generated no interest.
My conclusion is that Ubuntu & Mint seem to be the alternative systems most people want to use or are using and installation on these platforms have been well covered. The only reason the threads generate additional posts is because some users have an issue and rather than read through the whole thread they just post a question that has been answered previously and would have found if they only chose to look.

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04 Jul 2018 03:54 #113376 by curtisa

ozzyrob wrote: Those new to Linux or with little experience installing packages from source would be better off using the official iso for installation. Why spend hours debugging installation issues when that time would be better spent learning about LCNC ?


Because new users aren't being pointed to other distros for the ISO. They're being pointed to the end-of-life Wheezy one.

For the most part we seem to be saying the same thing, but we seem to be going around and around in circles on this point. As I see it the problem of new users asking questions about how to install LCNC on another distro is just symptomatic of a larger issue.

Meh - I think I'm done on this. My offer to help untangle the wording on some of the docs still stands, but I still think there's more overarching work to be done.

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04 Jul 2018 04:30 #113378 by InMyDarkestHour
End-of-life does not equate to "no longer working"

The reason they are being pointed to it is because it works and if you need an RTAI kernel it seems to be the only one available, I maybe wrong on this. Which will be the case if you are using the parallel port.

The official LCNC is not meant to be an everyday OS, it's for controlling a cnc machine. As long as it works for the 2.7 series and you don't use it for everyday use, browsing, facebook and other time wasting things it will be ok.

For supporting other distros it would require a team of packagers and testers for each and every distro that was decided to support. Maybe up to 10 per, I don't know.

The official iso is what could called a turn key solution......Install this and barring any major hardware issues it will work. Which I see as an advantage to newcomers, the fact that you can run it as live, no need to install, to get a basic feel is great.

Actually installing it on a third party full desktop distro may not be the best thing in terms of latency.

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04 Jul 2018 05:11 #113380 by tommylight

ozzyrob wrote: Can we have a link (with menu & context) to the launch a nuke hal component ?

Vigorously working on a functional implementation of it, using ketchup and mustard as ingredients! :)

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04 Jul 2018 05:19 #113381 by tommylight

curtisa wrote:

tommylight wrote: Close ............but no cigar!!!
More actual useful stuff, less discussion, please.
Most of what is here is not helping the cause you keep discussing. Write a few nice lines about Linuxcnc, some tips, helpful whatever, edit the wiki, do some nice graphic for it, launch a nuke...... hmmmm... never mind.


I assume this was directed at me?


Assumption is the mother of all f.....
No it was not directed at you, it was a last hooray to actually get something done to rectify the problem.

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04 Jul 2018 07:20 #113394 by curtisa
My apologies. Carry on, good sir.

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