Monday, November 30, 2009

The Linux "Community"

So what is the source of the conflict I'm having with Linux?

In short, I'm getting something for free and bitch that it doesn't work as well as I think it should.

Is that fair? No, it's not.

I can well imagine someone who toils for free year after year to manage, create and improve Linux, just to have some jackass come along and bitch that it doesn't have a GUI to make it easier. "Hey, either contribute or go away. This is a community, not a give-away."

As some might put it, Linux is free as in speech, not as in beer.

Just keep that in mind the next time you decide you're gonna throw together a Linux system. Its an amazing thing, Linux. Despite all the Cum-By-Ya of Ubuntu -- its logo symbolizing people holding hands in a circle after all -- you will have to become not just a system administrator, but a member of The Community. You might not be contributing your time to write code, but more than likely you will be contributing your time to figuring out how to get it running again after each upgrade. Think of your contribution as being part of the Test Community... a lot like Microsoft products.

The wonder of Linux is that it is modern magic. Once you know the correct incantation, it is amazingly simple to do mind-bogglingly complex tasks. Learning the correct incantation, however, is gonna take you some time... and sometimes learning to drive a car without a steering wheel.

In that respect, Linux may always remain a "hobby" system. Sure, it can be used in "production" environments, but it will always require a dedicated Sys Admin to keep it running. This in a society where computers are moving from being specialized tools to being appliances.

Overheard in the Heart of Recycling Land

Even here in the heart of Recycling Country, it can be hard to save the world without sounding priggish. I overheard the following conversation at a recent holiday get-together:

Guest: Where can I find the paper towels?
Host: Oh, we're not that kind of family. Here, use this wet cloth.
Guest: So it's ok to put my son's booger in it?
Guest: Oh, here, have a tissue.

Far away in the arctic, another polar bear cracks through the melting ice and drowns.

Linux in a Nutshell

So I once again upgrade my Linux server and watch everything inexplicably stop working. I take out my fury and frustration on an old friend and co-worker:

"Why the frickety f*ck does Linux just randomly stop working any time you do an upgrade and require another 36 hours of forum-surfing before finding some hack way to get it working again?

Every time they change something, they frequently don't bother to create a GUI interface to replace the one the old version had. Hell, I'm a computer programmer with all the time in the world and I can't sum up enough Give A Sh*t to go sorting through the codespace every time somebody decides to change something and not document it. Why the f*ck do we have to rely on random people on the internet to explain to us how to fix things (that used to work) that were broken or changed by other random people on the internet in order to keep a server working?

Its like getting your car back from the mechanic and he's replaced your shifter, steering wheel and pedals with a bunch of cords with knobs tied to the ends. "What the fuck is this?", you'd ask, only for the mechanic to sneer, "Real drivers would figure out how to pull the cords correctly in order to drive."

Every time its the same cycle. Get things working, upgrade, something changes, spend 3 days surfing the web trying to find a way to get it working again, all the while with some jackass posting "read all the documentation and edit the config files. Real men don't use GUIs".

Reason given? "They slow things down."

Seriously. Apparently chewing up hours and hours of research getting the system to work again doesn't count as "slowing things down."

I love it how all these "He Men Don't Use GUI" trolls manage to post these messages to the internet using their CLI (Command Line Interface). Are they not using a browser? Do their computers not have a mouse connected? Of course not. Whoo hoo! They spent the time and effort to get Lynx running on their TRS-80s. Good for them. Meanwhile, the real world wants to get a job done and move on.

Its the technological equivalent of having to dig through a box of 50 remote controls to find which one works every time you power-cycle your TV. What would these nerds do in that situation? They'd go balistic and hurl their X-box through the screen. Oh, wait, they don't use X-boxes, do they? X-boxes aren't controlled by 8 toggle switches and a "load" button. F*ck."

To all of this, my old friend simply says,

"Linux exists solely for the self-aggrandizement of its contributors."
-- A. Petit

Strangely, that quote answers every question I've even had regarding why Linux works the way it does.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fuck Linux

I've been running a Linux server for 10 years and I'm tired of this shit.

Upgraded the server to Ubuntu 9.10 the other day. (I gave the new release a few months to shake out... long enough... I thought.)

Well, they've decided to change the way Ubuntu starts and stops services. Fine. I'm ok with that. As long as it works, I don't care.

Well, what do you know! While everyone was out there replacing the old sysv whatever method of starting and stopping services with "upstart" (whatever in the hell that is) no one ever thought that maybe a GUI interface might be needed. So I do what one does every time Linux stops working: I consult the documentation. You probably know it as "the internet". So what do we get?

1. Fifteen thousand posts to the 'tubes' of "Hey! I can't find the old GUI that allows me to change services. How do I get it to work again?"

2. They changed it to "Upstart".

3. Cool. How do I start the "Upstart GUI"?

4. There isn't one.

5. Ok, ummm.... (posting to Ubuntu bug lists) "Can we get a GUI for upstart"?

6. 50 thousand responses of "Why don't you learn to use the command line interface?" "Any *real* Linux user doesn't need a GUI to get things done. It only slows things down."

How many go-rounds of this do we need before we just start shooting these people in the face? Let's all repeat this together: "Not everyone wants to spend their life in front of a screen trying to figure out how to turn off a fucking Linux service or some other minor horseshit to get their system working." Make an easy GUI or spend the rest of your days wondering why Apple is taking over the world. And from one geek to another: go talk to a girl for once.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Buy American" Bad for America

I love these "truisms".

Similar ones are "Try to regulate Wall St. and it'll go somewhere else", "We pay huge bonuses to keep our (finance) executives from leaving our company", "The guys that got us into this mess (Wall St.) are the only ones who understand it and therefore can't be punished", "Jobs Americans don't want to do", etc.

This whole "Americans are too expensive" meme has got to be conquered before this economy can be rebuilt. Yes, I said "rebuilt" not "recover".

When we sit here and debate how impossible it is to spend American tax dollars *in America* we are *exposing the very problem*, not running into an unassailable problem whose only solution is to concede and send our tax money to other countries. Sending our incomes to China hasn't helped the economy... how will sending our tax dollars there turn out any differently?