Well, any "experienced Apache developer" I've ever met would find all this stuff less than trivial - I mean these are the guys that actually write the webserver software, and none of this stuff will phase them in the slightest
That said, I think I understand the point of your post. You make good observations here and I think you might be "right on the money" for some kinds of "beginners".
As a counterpoint, though, I think it is important to note that there are other "beginners" out there that greatly benefit from the power and flexibility of the DH environment. If one is particularly interested in learning their way around a webserving environment at a deeper level than punching links in cpanel, Dreamhost cannot be beat.
The Dreamhost provided ability to work from the shell, and the freedom to modify and tweak so many aspects of how your site(s) will work, is very rare on shared hosts. It provides a unique environment in which to learn; for some "beginners", that is important (it was/is for me!)
For these types of users, while the wiki continues to grow and become more and more useful each week, the web itself, as seen from google, provides the best documentation. Most anything anyone has tried to do on Dreamhost, given the number of sites it hosts, has been tried before and has been written about somewhere. For the curious beginner, tracking down this information, and related information as needed, is all part of the learning process. This forum, which has many true experts as regular participants, is also a fantastic resource if used correctly. Of course, it helps to learn how to Ask Questions The Smart Way in the forum, but even questions that are not "well formed" and that use the "wrong" language usually get a helpful response.
As you pointed out, knowing the "language" and "terminology" of the net (and there is a lot to learn) is a big part of the problem, but one will never learn any of that from within a cpanel type of environment, or from a "hosted web application" like blogger, etc. These are great for those who just want to "git 'er done" and don't want to be troubled with the technology, but there are others that really want to understand this stuff and expand their capabilities.
You have personally experienced part of that process, as you described being one of the "first on the block to go non-linear editing". Surely you felt that the learning curve involved in doing that was worth the effort . I think many beginners approach the process of web development the same way, and thrill to the discovery of new power available in an environment like Dreamhost.
Your points are wll taken, and I am only trying to present another side to the discussion. If a beginner's goal is the quickest, simplest path to getting a web page up, I agree that Dreamhost may not be the best recommendation. If that beginner wants to do more than that, or understand what is happening, or grow his "page" into a full-blown site as he learns, I think Dreamhost is highly recommended!
The combination of power, storage space, bandwidth, flexibility, shell access, and price is phenomenal at Dreamhost.
As with all this stuff, YMMV is the operative caveat. Rarely is a thing a "perfect fit" for everyone and "one size fits all" doesn't (fit all!)!