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When I want to do anything new in Linux, I start by putting it into Google and adding the word HOWTO. And near the top of the results there is ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
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    Why are HOWTOs always so out of date?


    When I want to do anything new in Linux, I start by putting it into Google and adding the word HOWTO. And near the top of the results there is usually a HOWTO from www.tldp.org. But when I look at it, it's often way out of date.

    For example: yesterday I decided to try and get sound working again on my machine. It hasn't for years because I always had more urgent things to do. So I googled "sound howto" and got a HOWTO that turned out to be totally useless because it was written for a 2.4 kernel and referred to devices that I just didn't have - /dev/audio, /dev/dsp and /dev/sndstat. Fortunately I also found some more up-to-date guidance and I can now play .wav files at least.

    It makes me wonder: who is responsible for these HOWTOs on an ongoing basis? Do they ever get updated. If not, perhaps they ought to be removed, because an out-of-date guide is often more confusing than none at all.
    "I'm just a little old lady; don't try to dazzle me with jargon!"

  2. #2
    oz
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    I'm thinking that the majority of them don't ever get updated unless the author comes along and handles the task. Readers wouldn't have the website permissions needed to update them, but at least with wikipedia entries, any member can usually make updates. Most of the HowTo articles found in our own Tutorials / HowTos / References Forum are out of date as well.
    oz

  3. #3
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    I understand your frustration, many times I have experienced the same issues.

    I believe a lot of howtos just fall to the way side as their maintainers move on in life, after all they are usually doing this work in their free time.
    Also their dated nature is partly the result of the medium. Most of them are HTML based web pages with no way to edit besides having access to the server's copy. I try to update wikis and other editable documentation with updated information when I can, and I think given that option on most of these howtos a lot of other people would as well.

    But I don't think old howtos should be removed entirely, they should be identified as old and ideally what versions they work for. You never know when you might just need access to information about a system based on a 2.4 kernel.

  4. #4
    drl
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    Hi hazel.

    I have found out-of-date articles to be the case as well. Comments:
    Quote Originally Posted by hazel View Post
    ... when I look at it, it's often way out of date ... because I always had more urgent things to do ...
    1) (Without malice): Tu quoque - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    2) Good tutorials, courses, and HOWTOs are difficult to do well, and require significant amounts of time to create and to maintain.

    3) One of the best sources I've found is HowtoForge - Linux Howtos and Tutorials

    Best wishes ... cheers, drl
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  5. #5
    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drl View Post
    Fair enough! But what I don't get around to doing on my own system affects only me. Unusable guides affect everyone that tries to use them. I don't think it should be the author's responsibility to keep them up to date; he's done his bit for the community by writing the thing in the first place. But any organisation that hosts guides should have a couple of people to keep an eye on their currency. Otherwise they'll get a bad rep with users.

    btw I had a look in the kernel docs, and the devices I don't have turn out to belong to OSS, not ALSA.
    "I'm just a little old lady; don't try to dazzle me with jargon!"

  6. #6
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazel View Post
    When I want to do anything new in Linux, I start by putting it into Google and adding the word HOWTO. And near the top of the results there is usually a HOWTO from The Linux Documentation Project. But when I look at it, it's often way out of date.
    Quote Originally Posted by hazel View Post
    I don't think it should be the author's responsibility to keep them up to date; he's done his bit for the community by writing the thing in the first place. But any organisation that hosts guides should have a couple of people to keep an eye on their currency. Otherwise they'll get a bad rep with users.
    it looks like there is an option to convert a howto to a wiki which does not necessarily have to be done by the original author ...
    ... the howto information has date information and it looks as though they are trying to sort things into current etc - I guess they are short of resource ...

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