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My road to bashing

Posted 01-20-2009 at 03:08 PM by AGer

At least one person have read the "Linux nowhere" series in my blog and got interested in the context of that bashing. So, I decided to explain it here. Personally, I like case studies, so let it be another one.

My first distro was ALT Linux, which was very close to Mandrake at the time when I had Pentium Pro 150 at home. I looked at Linux mainly due to media hype and found out that the "super stable Linux" does not exist. If some buggy program hangs X, what fun is it to know that a lot of stuff is still running? The concepts were interesting, though. At that time the ideas of a repository and rolling release were somewhat unsettled and I am proud I participated in the discussion that resulted in Sisyphus - the rolling release repository for ALT Linux.

BeOS was my next toy and I put Linux aside, but had to return to it to get my first Linux adoption story. At that time we were developing a web app using Oracle Application Server (on Windows, but due to run on some *nix) that was visible to the customer over Internet.

- What about Linux, Oracle runs on it.
- Solaris is the real thing and it is better (that is, costs much more to the client; "amidst cheap things one cannot steal big") from the business perspective.

A couple of months later the next Internet bill reveals that dirty hackers have used our server to pass 3+ gigs of something between, most likely, California, Berlin, and Oslo. At THAT time it was a big bill...

- If it were Linux ...
- I am unhappy enough without the details. Take whatever you need, do whatever you want.

At the end of that day a die-hard admin from another company pays us a visit.

- Wow, a new box!
- Linux, so that we are not hacked again.
- Linux? Who needs this crap? Why not BSD?
- Because there IS a Linux CD in my desk.
- You users are all the same.

At that time I also used Linux to remotely administer our OAS apps on AIX and Solaris.

I upgraded my home Pentium 150 to Celeron 500 and discovered that with Windows it is just a bit less speedy than I need for video. I tried Linux, and since I wanted raw power, it was Gentoo. With Gentoo, my Celeron 500 was more than OK for video and stayed for 5 (five) years.

Finally I decided that I like Gentoo but not all that compilation and switched to Slackware 12.0. Shortly after that I found that MS added enough Java Script to MSDN to make it really slow on Celeron 500 and upgraded to Athlon64 3500+.

At that point I could go back to Gentoo or get rid of Linux completely, but I stayed on Slackware. Curiosity and media hype were the main reasons, like "what are that Ruby guys doing?", but I also used Linux for video (a habit? a placebo effect?) and liked KStars (good and simple) and KDE World Clock.

Probably due to the restless karma of Linux DVDs, I had to use Slackware to host a bunch of PHP based web sites. That lasted while the owner played with the idea to host them on his own server and naturally I used Slackware at home for development and remote administration. Finally all that moved to another hosting but I learned that it is easier to manage 100 Linux servers than 1 Windows server that has 1 Windows user.

Gradually I started to think that Linux is the savior from MS evils (and after Vista I am paranoid about MS) while Windows is the ultimate source of IT money since all the idiots gathered there.

Maybe the full list of my Slackware troubles can explain that attitude:

1. Hard to figure out how exactly current and releases work together (explained better and better with every release, not sure anyone can get confused with 12.2).

2. rc.inet1 must be modified in order to handle more then 6 IP addresses (fixed in 12.2 or earlier)

3. The experimental network driver necessary for MY new card not compiled into the huge kernel! I have to recompile it! (not experimental since 12.1).

4. Scim installation description that was in the 12.1 changes and hints has been removed in 12.2 and was missing when I looked for it, so I had to read the same stuff in scim scripts!. Emailed to Slackware.

5. "Install, upgrade, and configure" is not written in big letters. I installed 12.2, configured (had to read what is put into initrd!), and then saw that I have an upgrade to mkinitrd. Maybe it is my fault, but without this one the list is suspiciously short.

All changed when a guy, who is not an idiot by any standard, had to install a Cell machine emulator. It was a Linux app with many dependencies. We started with Ubuntu since he knew how user friendly it is, than Slackware since it was easier to show how to do things, and finally used exactly that old Fedora for which he had all the RPMs. In the process he told me what he thinks about Linux and what "normal users" (he is really close to them) would think.

It changed my attitude, not to Linux, not to the progress it had made, but to what is still left to do. Never mind that personally I have Kiten added to the list of the actually used apps and feel how I am drifting slowly to Linux as the main OS with Windows in a VM, I judge the Linux progress on the desktop differently. And low.
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