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Documentation suggestions

From: David Morrison
Subject: Documentation suggestions
Date: Sun, 29 Dec 2019 22:37:41 +1100

I did use unix a fair bit 40 years ago, but now I hardly ever have to use the command line. This means that when I do, I have to go through and work out what I need to do. Memory is not as good as it once was. :-(

So when I had to reinstall my disk recovery machine, I struggled. I suspect many ddrescue users are equally unfamiliar.

The major part of the problem was that the files were compressed using lzip. I accept that lzip is a good algorithm, and well done for implementing it, but it is by no means universally available yet.

I saw references to it in the ddrescue web site, but missed the link to where I could get it because the site is very plain and links that are small words do not stand out very much. And, to be honest, I was not really looking carefully at the top section because it did not relate to me wanting to download and install ddrescue. Because I missed it, I went off to Google and eventually found it myself.

Suggestion 1: Make the link more obvious. Perhaps include the full URL under the Download heading, something like:

You will need lzip from http://www.nongnu.org/zip/lzip.html

So I eventually got lzip installed and tried to decompress ddrescue. I knew enough unix to look at the man page which had all the options listed, but extracting the files for someone not used to lzip (or gzip for that matter) was not obvious. As I later found out I needed to do

lzip -cd ddrescue-1.24.tar.lz | tar -xf -

Suggestion 2: Include examples of some common operations on the lzip man page and/or on the lzip web site to get people started.

As far as I can see the instructions for unpacking the ddrescue lzip file appear only in the INSTALL file inside the lzip file, so I need to unzip the file to be able to read the instructions on how to unzip it..... The instructions do not appear to be on the ddrescue web site.

Suggestion 3: Include the unzip instructions on the ddrescue web site, perhaps under the Download heading.

Because I am not regularly dong this, it has taken me about four hours from the time I downloaded ddrescue to get to the point where ddrescue is installed and ready to use. Really, I would have preferred to be doing something more productive.

Suggestion 4: Consider including a gzip version of the ddrescue files on the web site to be downloaded so as to avoid people having to fiddle with lzip if they do not have the skills. The files themselves are only tiny, less than a megabyte, so having an extra copy should not be too much of a burden on the available disk space.

Sorry if I come across as being a bit critical here. I just feel that the documentation is based on people being familiar with all this, when I suspect most ddrescue users are not because it is not something we use every day. Mostly, I suspect, it is people with a disk problem looking for a solution.

I have used ddrescue enough times to be able to use it effectively, but would have preferred a simple install so I could get on with using it.



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