Xorg error messages are poor.

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Xorg error messages are poor.

Andy-49
If the X server is unable to start, you get a horrid looking error message which offers to show a log file incomprehensible to 99% of the population (see my picture: http://i1.tinypic.com/sfulab.jpg ).

Instead perhaps we could show a friendly error message, and offer to try and guess a safe configuration (or perhaps just run dpkg-reconfigure)?

Unfortunately commands like dpkg-reconfigure or editing a file named /etc/X11/xorg.conf aren't obvious to non-geeks, especially if the GUI is broken so you can't search for help (and worse still typing help on the command line brings up 'help' for bash rather than the general system!)

Regards, and congrats on a fine distro.

Andy (hope I posted this to the right list!)

one more thing - an error suggesting that 'no screens could be found' seems extremely odd to a non-techie user - I mean that message is itself displayed on the screen, isn't it?! ;)


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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Rocco Stanzione
On Tuesday 28 March 2006 14:16, Andy wrote:

> If the X server is unable to start, you get a horrid looking error message
> which offers to show a log file incomprehensible to 99% of the population
> (see my picture: http://i1.tinypic.com/sfulab.jpg ).
>
> Instead perhaps we could show a friendly error message, and offer to try
> and guess a safe configuration (or perhaps just run dpkg-reconfigure)?
>
> Unfortunately commands like dpkg-reconfigure or editing a file named
> /etc/X11/xorg.conf aren't obvious to non-geeks, especially if the GUI is
> broken so you can't search for help (and worse still typing help on the
> command line brings up 'help' for bash rather than the general system!)
>
> Regards, and congrats on a fine distro.
>
> Andy (hope I posted this to the right list!)
>
> one more thing - an error suggesting that 'no screens could be found' seems
> extremely odd to a non-techie user - I mean that message is itself
> displayed on the screen, isn't it?! ;)

I don't know that we should be mucking with Xorg code to friendly up the error
messages, but I agree that a failure of X must be incredibly frustrating to
someone who doesn't know what to do about it, and the error messages it
provides aren't especially helpful to anyone who hasn't seen them often
enough to know what they really mean.  Is it feasible to create a wrapper
around X that can capture this output and present to the user some more
useful information?  For example, it could grep /var/log/Xorg.$DISPLAY.log
for (EE) lines, check dmesg for video-related messages, perhaps lint-check
xorg.conf, etc. or even fall back (as previously discussed) to a vesa config
for troubleshooting in a friendlier environment.

Rocco Stanzione

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Nicholas Battaglia

At the very least I feel there should be an option to allow dpkg-reconfigure to run on its own.

P.S. - I also have always felt that /etc/default/rcS should have:

FSCKFIX=yes

So that it that any errors found will be fixed automatically.

Getting strange errors when booting up, whether they are from Xorg or whatever, are generally a frightening experience for any user, but must be absolutely horrifying for someone new...

Just my 2 cents.

On 3/28/06, Rocco Stanzione <[hidden email]> wrote:
On Tuesday 28 March 2006 14:16, Andy wrote:

> If the X server is unable to start, you get a horrid looking error message
> which offers to show a log file incomprehensible to 99% of the population
> (see my picture: http://i1.tinypic.com/sfulab.jpg ).
>
> Instead perhaps we could show a friendly error message, and offer to try
> and guess a safe configuration (or perhaps just run dpkg-reconfigure)?
>
> Unfortunately commands like dpkg-reconfigure or editing a file named
> /etc/X11/xorg.conf aren't obvious to non-geeks, especially if the GUI is
> broken so you can't search for help (and worse still typing help on the
> command line brings up 'help' for bash rather than the general system!)
>
> Regards, and congrats on a fine distro.
>
> Andy (hope I posted this to the right list!)
>
> one more thing - an error suggesting that 'no screens could be found' seems
> extremely odd to a non-techie user - I mean that message is itself
> displayed on the screen, isn't it?! ;)

I don't know that we should be mucking with Xorg code to friendly up the error
messages, but I agree that a failure of X must be incredibly frustrating to
someone who doesn't know what to do about it, and the error messages it
provides aren't especially helpful to anyone who hasn't seen them often
enough to know what they really mean.  Is it feasible to create a wrapper
around X that can capture this output and present to the user some more
useful information?  For example, it could grep /var/log/Xorg.$DISPLAY.log
for (EE) lines, check dmesg for video-related messages, perhaps lint-check
xorg.conf, etc. or even fall back (as previously discussed) to a vesa config
for troubleshooting in a friendlier environment.

Rocco Stanzione

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Scott Bronson
In reply to this post by Rocco Stanzione
On Tuesday 28 March 2006 14:16, Andy wrote:
> If the X server is unable to start, you get a horrid looking error message
> which offers to show a log file incomprehensible to 99% of the population
> (see my picture: http://i1.tinypic.com/sfulab.jpg ).

agreed.

> Instead perhaps we could show a friendly error message, and offer to try
> and guess a safe configuration (or perhaps just run dpkg-reconfigure)?

I expect that must people running stable will see this dialog when they
move a hard drive to a new machine or swap video cards.  In this case it
makes perfect sense to offer the option to reconfigure the X subsystem.
(The proper fix, of course, is to make it so X is as resilient as the
Linux kernel to hardware changes but that is still years off).

Most of the time it's happened to me, however, a dpkg-reconfigure
wouldn't have helped.  Last time I think I saw it due to a GDM theme
bug.  So reconfiguring shouldn't be the only choice.


> and worse still typing help on the
> command line brings up 'help' for bash rather than the general system!)

Interesting observation.  I never thought about it but, yes, that's some
of the most user-hostile help I've ever seen.  I vote for filing this as
a bug.

    - Scott


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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Nicholas Battaglia
Yes, I think this should be filed as a bug as well.

On 3/30/06, Scott Bronson <[hidden email]> wrote:
On Tuesday 28 March 2006 14:16, Andy wrote:
> If the X server is unable to start, you get a horrid looking error message
> which offers to show a log file incomprehensible to 99% of the population
> (see my picture: http://i1.tinypic.com/sfulab.jpg ).

agreed.

> Instead perhaps we could show a friendly error message, and offer to try
> and guess a safe configuration (or perhaps just run dpkg-reconfigure)?

I expect that must people running stable will see this dialog when they
move a hard drive to a new machine or swap video cards.  In this case it
makes perfect sense to offer the option to reconfigure the X subsystem.
(The proper fix, of course, is to make it so X is as resilient as the
Linux kernel to hardware changes but that is still years off).

Most of the time it's happened to me, however, a dpkg-reconfigure
wouldn't have helped.  Last time I think I saw it due to a GDM theme
bug.  So reconfiguring shouldn't be the only choice.


> and worse still typing help on the
> command line brings up 'help' for bash rather than the general system!)

Interesting observation.  I never thought about it but, yes, that's some
of the most user-hostile help I've ever seen.  I vote for filing this as
a bug.

    - Scott


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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Rocco Stanzione
In reply to this post by Scott Bronson
On Thursday 30 March 2006 08:37, Scott Bronson wrote:
> > Instead perhaps we could show a friendly error message, and offer to try
> > and guess a safe configuration (or perhaps just run dpkg-reconfigure)?
>
> I expect that must people running stable will see this dialog when they
> move a hard drive to a new machine or swap video cards.  In this case it
> makes perfect sense to offer the option to reconfigure the X subsystem.
> (The proper fix, of course, is to make it so X is as resilient as the
> Linux kernel to hardware changes but that is still years off).
 <snip>

If we wait for Xorg, yeah, it's probably years off if it'll come at all.  But
it doesn't have to be that way.  Look at knoppix!  I haven't looked into how
they do it, but I'm imagining an X wrapper that detects the video card(s) and
runs from a dynamically built xorg.conf based on that and certain user
configuration options.  If, say, it's an nvidia card, it first tries
the 'nvidia' driver if it's available.  If it fails it falls back to nv and
finally to vesa if necessary, or to a fallback xorg.conf devoid of
user-defined options, or to an previously established known-good xorg.conf.  
If all that fails the user is presented with a human-readable summary of what
failed and recommended next steps.

Rocco Stanzione

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Christian Neumair
Am Donnerstag, den 30.03.2006, 09:38 -0600 schrieb Rocco Stanzione:
> If we wait for Xorg, yeah, it's probably years off if it'll come at
> all.

(referring to hotplugging)

Please don't start adding a pseudo-work around which is in fact
functionality at the wrong level. The X.Org team is really working hard
to satisfy requests for desktop technology, but they have limited
resources. You could help them best by contacting the team and asking
how you can help out, after investigating the mailing list archives and
available papers on the issue, instead of pushing hardware detection
wrappers downstream.

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Rocco Stanzione
On Thursday 30 March 2006 10:19, Christian Neumair wrote:

> Am Donnerstag, den 30.03.2006, 09:38 -0600 schrieb Rocco Stanzione:
> > If we wait for Xorg, yeah, it's probably years off if it'll come at
> > all.
>
> (referring to hotplugging)
>
> Please don't start adding a pseudo-work around which is in fact
> functionality at the wrong level. The X.Org team is really working hard
> to satisfy requests for desktop technology, but they have limited
> resources. You could help them best by contacting the team and asking
> how you can help out, after investigating the mailing list archives and
> available papers on the issue, instead of pushing hardware detection
> wrappers downstream.

I didn't know and am pleasantly surprised to hear that there are any plans to
do anything like this on the xorg end.  I certainly don't mean to make
unnecessary work for us or to cast unjust aspersions on the awesome work
being done by the xorg folks.

Rocco Stanzione  

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Jan Claeys-3
In reply to this post by Scott Bronson
Op do, 30-03-2006 te 09:37 -0500, schreef Scott Bronson:
> > and worse still typing help on the
> > command line brings up 'help' for bash rather than the general system!)
>
> Interesting observation.  I never thought about it but, yes, that's some
> of the most user-hostile help I've ever seen.  I vote for filing this as
> a bug.

A fix for that might be as easy as adding:

        alias help=yelp

..., or something like that, somewhere to /etc/skel/* ?

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Xavier Dectot-3
Le Thu, 30 Mar 2006 21:33:26 +0200,
Jan Claeys <[hidden email]> a écrit :

> Op do, 30-03-2006 te 09:37 -0500, schreef Scott Bronson:
> > > and worse still typing help on the
> > > command line brings up 'help' for bash rather than the general
> > > system!)
> >
> > Interesting observation.  I never thought about it but, yes, that's
> > some of the most user-hostile help I've ever seen.  I vote for
> > filing this as a bug.
>
> A fix for that might be as easy as adding:
>
>         alias help=yelp

Most certainly not. You might need to use help while stranded out of X,
due to a misconfigured xorg.conf, and then using a graphical interface
for help would end up as kind of awkward, wouldn't it ?

alias help=info would be better, but might get the newbie lost.

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Stephen Shirley-3
On 30/03/06, Xavier Dectot <[hidden email]> wrote:
Le Thu, 30 Mar 2006 21:33:26 +0200,
Jan Claeys <[hidden email]> a écrit :

> Op do, 30-03-2006 te 09:37 -0500, schreef Scott Bronson:
> A fix for that might be as easy as adding:
>
>         alias help=yelp

Most certainly not. You might need to use help while stranded out of X,
due to a misconfigured xorg.conf, and then using a graphical interface
for help would end up as kind of awkward, wouldn't it ?

Not to mention it would break expected behaviour. I don't know about other people, but i certianly use 'help' quite frequently. It beats trawling through the vast bash man page looking for the info i need.

alias help=info would be better, but might get the newbie lost.

Well, if you really want to help the newbie, maybe 'pinfo' instead of 'info' -) But still, that breaks expected behaviour regardless.

Steve

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Scott Bronson
On Thu, 2006-03-30 at 23:46 +0100, Stephen Shirley wrote:
> On 30/03/06, Xavier Dectot <[hidden email]> wrote:
>         Le Thu, 30 Mar 2006 21:33:26 +0200,
>         Jan Claeys <[hidden email]> a écrit :
>         > Op do, 30-03-2006 te 09:37 -0500, schreef Scott Bronson:
>         > A fix for that might be as easy as adding:
>         >         alias help=yelp
> Not to mention it would break expected behaviour.

It might break your expected behavior but it would fix the expected
behavior for a lot of other people.  Everything is a compromise.

You could just throw "unalias help" into your .bashrc and have the old
help back.  This seems like the best compromise to me: the people that
want the old help back certainly know enough to easily apply the fix.
And those that don't know what they're doing at all will at least get a
help that is helpful to them.

    - Scott





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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Sandis Neilands
Hello!

On 3/31/06, Scott Bronson <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Thu, 2006-03-30 at 23:46 +0100, Stephen Shirley wrote:
> > On 30/03/06, Xavier Dectot <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >         Le Thu, 30 Mar 2006 21:33:26 +0200,
> >         Jan Claeys <[hidden email]> a écrit :
> >         > Op do, 30-03-2006 te 09:37 -0500, schreef Scott Bronson:
> >         > A fix for that might be as easy as adding:
> >         >         alias help=yelp
> > Not to mention it would break expected behaviour.
>
> It might break your expected behavior but it would fix the expected
> behavior for a lot of other people.  Everything is a compromise.
Is the terminal the place where newbies look for help now?

> You could just throw "unalias help" into your .bashrc and have the old
> help back.  This seems like the best compromise to me: the people that
> want the old help back certainly know enough to easily apply the fix.
> And those that don't know what they're doing at all will at least get a
> help that is helpful to them.

We should also disable rm, because somebody might delete something
important, disable sudo, because somebody could screw the system, etc.
 The point is why should others strugle because of some <insert
something here that doesn't breach code of conduct>? Who is more
important - people who use the system for actual work or people who
don't know what they are doing?

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Nathan Haines
Sandis Neilands wrote:
> Who is more
> important - people who use the system for actual work or people who
> don't know what they are doing?

The discussion was about people who were attempting to learn how to do
things, and discussion about how this could be made easier must surely
be helpful.  (Probably more helpful on sounder, though.)

I think Scott's idea has merit and that he gave a good point about using
an alias, even if I don't necessarily believe it is the best solution.
Using an easily undone alias to redirect new users to potentially more
useful information is much different than disabling specific commands.
One would suppose a user must first learn about rm and sudo before they
know to type those commands in.

Nathan


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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Nicholas Battaglia
Nathan Haines wrote:
The discussion was about people who were attempting to learn how to do things, and discussion about how this could be made easier must surely be helpful.  (Probably more helpful on sounder, though.)

I think we are getting off-topic here, the original discussion was about the unhelpful error messages in Xorg.

This alias discussion was spawned as a result of that. We should get back to the original discussion...

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Scott Bronson
In reply to this post by Sandis Neilands
On Fri, 2006-03-31 at 11:22 +0300, Sandis Neilands wrote:
> > It might break your expected behavior but it would fix the expected
> > behavior for a lot of other people.  Everything is a compromise.
> Is the terminal the place where newbies look for help now?

We're discussing X breaking, remember?


> > You could just throw "unalias help" into your .bashrc and have the old
> > help back.
> We should also disable rm, because somebody might delete something
> important, disable sudo, because somebody could screw the system, etc.
>  The point is why should others strugle because of some <insert
> something here that doesn't breach code of conduct>? Who is more
> important - people who use the system for actual work or people who
> don't know what they are doing?

Do you find adding unalias help to your .bashrc a "struggle"?  If so,
then I'm truly very sorry.  Put a newbie in front of a command line.  Is
he likely to type "rm"?  No.  Is he likely to type "help"?  Yes.

You seem to think this is an either-or question.  I believe that Ubuntu
can cater to experts and newbies alike.

    - Scott



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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Matthew Garrett
On Fri, Mar 31, 2006 at 10:44:44AM -0500, Scott Bronson wrote:
> On Fri, 2006-03-31 at 11:22 +0300, Sandis Neilands wrote:
> > > It might break your expected behavior but it would fix the expected
> > > behavior for a lot of other people.  Everything is a compromise.
> > Is the terminal the place where newbies look for help now?
>
> We're discussing X breaking, remember?

If X is broken, then running yelp isn't expected behaviour under any
circumstances.

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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Scott Bronson
On Fri, 2006-03-31 at 17:03 +0100, Matthew Garrett wrote:

> On Fri, Mar 31, 2006 at 10:44:44AM -0500, Scott Bronson wrote:
> > On Fri, 2006-03-31 at 11:22 +0300, Sandis Neilands wrote:
> > > > It might break your expected behavior but it would fix the expected
> > > > behavior for a lot of other people.  Everything is a compromise.
> > > Is the terminal the place where newbies look for help now?
> >
> > We're discussing X breaking, remember?
>
> If X is broken, then running yelp isn't expected behaviour under any
> circumstances.

Who's running Yelp?

I was suggesting aliasing "help" to print a helpful message telling the
clueless user what he could do.  Just off the top of my head:

$ help
If you'd like to start the windowing system, type:
    /etc/init.d/gdm restart
If the windowing system doesn't appear to work, you can try
re-configuring it:
    dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg
If you want to find out more on how to use the command line:
    man man

Is there any manpage that gives an introduction to the command line?

    - Scott




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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Nicholas Battaglia
Please let us forget Yelp for now and get back on topic.

Read the original message again before you respond.


On 3/31/06, Scott Bronson <[hidden email]> wrote:
On Fri, 2006-03-31 at 17:03 +0100, Matthew Garrett wrote:

> On Fri, Mar 31, 2006 at 10:44:44AM -0500, Scott Bronson wrote:
> > On Fri, 2006-03-31 at 11:22 +0300, Sandis Neilands wrote:
> > > > It might break your expected behavior but it would fix the expected
> > > > behavior for a lot of other people.  Everything is a compromise.
> > > Is the terminal the place where newbies look for help now?
> >
> > We're discussing X breaking, remember?
>
> If X is broken, then running yelp isn't expected behaviour under any
> circumstances.

Who's running Yelp?

I was suggesting aliasing "help" to print a helpful message telling the
clueless user what he could do.  Just off the top of my head:

$ help
If you'd like to start the windowing system, type:
    /etc/init.d/gdm restart
If the windowing system doesn't appear to work, you can try
re-configuring it:
    dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg
If you want to find out more on how to use the command line:
    man man

Is there any manpage that gives an introduction to the command line?

    - Scott




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Re: Xorg error messages are poor.

Peter Garrett
In reply to this post by Scott Bronson
On Fri, 31 Mar 2006 12:33:02 -0500
Scott Bronson <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Is there any manpage that gives an introduction to the command line?
>
>     - Scott

man intro

Seriously :) And it's quite friendly too ...

Peter

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