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Blasphemy

I hate Linux.

There. I said it. Linux is rubbish; the emperor has no clothes.

Okay, it's got some things going for it. As a server operating system, it's very useful. It's so much more secure than Windows that comparing the two is like comparing Fort Knox to a child's piggy bank. For high-volume Internet server applications, it can't be beat for the price.

But as a general desktop operating system? It's bunk. Want to know why? Because there's a dirty little secret about open source software...it's made by amateurs!!!

And until those amateurs get their shit straight when it comes to installers, it will never beat Windows regardless of how many problems Windows has and how many security holes Windows suffers from.

So last night I tried installing Fedora Core 4 on one of Shelly's computers. Fedora core 4 uses a graphical installer called anaconda, which is the worst pile of crap ever to disgrace a computr screen. Want to know why? It's the user interface, stupid!

I've had problems with various Linux installers before--they're all pretty and friendly and turnkey until the slightest unexpected thing happens, and then you find out that they're poorly debugged and as fragile as a soap bubble, and when they crash, man, it ain't pretty. See, writing installers isn't all sexy and doesn't give you street cred the way writing kernel software does, so nobody really wants to do it. It's the castor oil of programming; people have this vaguue notion that installers are good, somehow, but nobody wants to get near them. And you get things like anaconda, which crash into exception traces and stack backtraces when they don't like a particular brand of network card, or which don't have even basic error checking and recovery.

Take the problems I had last night (please!). It took four tries to get the damn thing to install, even from media that had been verified and was known to be good.

The first problem was my fault, kinda. See, FC4 fits on four CDs. You run the installer, and when it's done with a CD it pops out and asks for the next CD. You put the next CD in, click OK, and off it goes, and so on.

Well, when the installer asked for the third CD, I popped it in, and then (stupidly) clicked the OK button right away, before the CD finished spinnig up. Now, any other program I've ever used for any other operating system waits for the CD to finish spinning up, then does its thing. Not anaconda, oh my, no. Instead, if the operator foolishly hits the OK button before the CD finishes spinning up, he instantly gets an error message 'The CD can not be read. Sorry, this error is fatal. Click here to reboot." No "click here to try again"--no, that'd be too robust, and we don't want Linux to be robust, do we?

The next three attempts to install met with similar fates. Even though I carefully waited until each CD finished spinning up before I hit OK, at three random times during the install, I got a message "A file could not be read or written. This may indicate a problem with the media, with the hard drive, or with your hardware. Sorry, this error is fatal. Click here to reboot."

Yeah, it may indicate a problem with the media, or with the hard drive, or it may indicate that the goddamn installer is crap, with poor error checking and no error recovery.

Now, the Linux users of the world pride themselves on the overall robustness of their operating-system-cum-religion, yet write crap installers that fall down if the wind blows from the wrong direction.

I once had a problem with a Windows CD. The CD-ROM was defective from the factory; it had a scratch on it that caused some of the sectors to be unreadable. Want to know what happened when the installer hit that spot? Listen up, Linux boys, there's a lesson in here for you. Ignore this lesson at your peril:

It displayed an error message saying "The CD could not be read. Click here to try again, or click here to cancel the install."

"Click here to try again." My goodness. What will those satanic Redmond monsters think of next? Retrying an operation that failed is just...it's just...well, diabolical!

I finally got it to install, by holding my breath and making the proper incantations, but lordy, I have yet to be impressed.

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( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
jenniferm
Sep. 8th, 2005 06:40 pm (UTC)
"Click here to try again." My goodness. What will those satanic Redmond monsters think of next? Retrying an operation that failed is just...it's just...well, diabolical!

Well, to be fair, service pack 2 for Windows XP suffers from the same problem as anaconda. If it fails, it pops up a box saying that it failed, with only an OK button. Then it rolls back the changes as best it can, but may leave your machine half-upgraded. You have to wait, wait, wait, then restart, then look in svcpack.log to find the failure's cause, which is almost always a problem with permissions on a registry key, or, more rarely a file permission or version problem. The error dialog won't tell you, of course. Then you fix it, try again, and hope that it won't fail a second time on another key or file. If it would just pause, and let you fix these problems and continue before forcing a rollback, I would get less violently angry whenever I see this.

I agree that most of the GUIs for Linux still do suck. I ran Linux as my only OS at home for several years, using lightweight window managers like Blackbox. I installed it on my work laptop for testing a few months ago, and lasted about a month before I couldn't take the GNOME interface anymore and went back to Windows. It's a poor imitation of the Windows GUI, which I don't understand. Screw that model, why not come up with something better? I switched back to Macs, and now I have all the power of Unix with a GUI that irritates me less than anything else.

Almost all software sucks, really.
progress
Sep. 8th, 2005 06:41 pm (UTC)
try ubuntu linux.
and theopencd.org for some nifty apps.
trainerc
Sep. 8th, 2005 06:46 pm (UTC)
Two words
Text install. Come on, if you're going to use Linux, you know you're going to have to tinker and fiddle. And yes, ALL the gui installers suck, depending on your hardware. (:
justbeast
Sep. 8th, 2005 08:53 pm (UTC)
My first thought is -- AMEN brother, you tell em! Gods, how I hate that shit with the installers (both for the OS and the individual packages).

The second thought? Muahahahaa, this is why Debian is superior. Of course, it's got it's own problems, sigh. Just not as many. :)
tacit
Sep. 10th, 2005 07:23 pm (UTC)
I tired Debian; it won't recognize the graphics hardware in this machine and won't write a valid X configuration file. :(
justbeast
Sep. 10th, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC)
Aah, that does suck; what good is the crafty engineering and packages when you're down to configuring your hardware by hand. :/
physicsduck
Sep. 8th, 2005 09:10 pm (UTC)
Woah, hang on there, you're a fucking idiot, and here's why.

There's Linux, and then, there's Fedora (which is the most fucked up piece-of-shit assmunching AOLer motherfucker of Linux out there).

Fedora is to Linux what AOL is to the internet, it's a sure sign of someone who's out of their realm and doesn't know what the fuck.

You want simple, reliable, perfect installations of software?

You want software that's NOT written by morons, and is tested with seperate versions for stable and testing releases?

You want a GUI that WORKS and works WELL?

You want to replace your Win system with Linux?

www.gentoo.org

I use it (and I'm not a Linux guru by ANY means) on all but one of my computers.

If you can READ THE FUCKING MANUAL you'll be one very happy, satisfied, Linux Geek.

But for the love of Christ, get rid of Fedora.

tacit
Sep. 10th, 2005 04:14 pm (UTC)
Well, gave Gentoo a shot. It's not the most painful install I've ever done; it ranks somewhere between installing RT-11 on a PDP-11/03 and installing IBM's operating system on a System/36 minicomputer.

Fired up the installer CD, everything went smoothly, downloaded and uncompressed the tarballs, built a kernel using genkernel, edited the configuration files, installed and configured grub to probe for hardware at boot as is necessary with a genkernel-built kernel, no problems, rebooted the system, and...

[Error: DHCP: eth0 does not exist]
[Error: cannot find eth0]

Goddamnit. Network worked fine from the CD.

Went through the process again. Same end result; final system believes I have no Ethernet. Feh.

This is why Linux is no threat to Windows on the desktop, even though Windows is a crap operating system. Until Linux has a reliable, turnkey graphic installer that works and doesn't fall down, it never will be a threat to Windows on the desktop, regardless of how well each one runs when it's installed or how secure either one is.

Typing this now on Firefox in FC4, which may not work as well as Gentoo but at least recognizes all my hardware.
chipotle
Sep. 8th, 2005 09:38 pm (UTC)
As a server operating system, I'd suggest trying FreeBSD over Linux, really. This isn't to say that the FreeBSD installer will warm your heart with gladness -- it's a text-only installer that's a little quirky and feels like it may have originally been written by Charles Babbage.* But, the operating system itself is an operating system rather than a kernel and a collection of utilities. It's developed as one unit, and at least for my part, I could definitely tell the difference.

Linux distributions tend to believe they're desktop operating systems; FreeBSD isn't under that illusion. It doesn't hide the fact that you're probably going to be editing a configuration file to change things... instead, it makes the configuration file logical and easy to change. The Linux Way [tm] is all to often to write a GUI configuration editor which breaks, leaving you editing the configuration file by hand anyway. And there's still no Linux distribution other than Gentoo which matches BSD's package management.**

And, hey, OS X's Unix underpinnings are closest to FreeBSD's. Mentally moving between the two is easy.

*To be fair to FreBSD's installer, the last time I tried installing Linux, in several variations, the pretty GUI installers they had all broke.

**Gentoo solves the Linux installer program by not having an installer at all. You have a bootstrap CD with enough tools to let you manually format your hard drive partition, download system source, and compile everything from scratch. It's simultaneously one of the best Linux distributions out there and a symptom of everything that drives me batshit about Linux. :) (Personally, were I insistent on using Linux, I'd go with Ubuntu.)
tacit
Sep. 9th, 2005 04:51 pm (UTC)
As a server operating system, I'd suggest trying FreeBSD over Linux, really.

That won't actually solve the problem. This system is going to be used as a test machine for code I'm writing; my compiler produces binaries for Windows on x86, Mac PEF for OS 9, Mac PEF or Mach-O for OS X, or x86 binaries for Linux/Gnome or Linux/KDE. So I'm stuck with using Linux rather than *BSD.
wolfger
Sep. 8th, 2005 11:06 pm (UTC)
Well, now, there's a huge difference between "Linux sucks" and "Linux graphical installers suck". I might actually agree with the latter. But I don't worry about that because:
A) Gentoo doesn't have a graphical installer. It is assumed that users can read instructions and follow them, and the instructions are very well written. If you're not careful, you might even learn something.
B) Now that Gentoo is installed, I will never, ever, EVER have to install it again, unless my hard drive fails. Just try *that* trick with any Microsoft or Apple product! I painlessly keep my system up to date by using a command line package management system that beats anything, anywhere.
tacit
Sep. 10th, 2005 04:15 pm (UTC)
Sounds good, but apparently a built Gentoo install can't detect my network card (integrated Intel 10/100 Ethernet on a Dell) even though the Gentoo boot CD can. Go figure.
blackbraid
Sep. 9th, 2005 01:32 am (UTC)
Never will understand why OSS evangelists have to be so fucking MEAN about it, but I guess it was in response to a fairly lame broad-based statement.

I still run windows as my primary OS environment. (I just want HTML-Kit and Photoshop, is that too much to ask?? Plus, I do some of my web dev in .NET if clients want it.)

However, I put Ubuntu on extra boxes, and it's pretty damn slick. I've never had a problem with the GUI installer, and Ubuntu gets better and better. It's Debian based but with a lot of effort put towards making it kick ass, especially the GUI install process. It has pretty darn good package management and upcoming versions are gonna have the newly released Gnome 2.12 which looks even slicker.

Anyway, I feel your pain, but really...Fedora Core is just a crippled Red Hat, which is just not the best Desktop linux distro out there. Or even the fifth best!
physicsduck
Sep. 9th, 2005 03:26 am (UTC)
Sorry about being mean (I'm mean anyways, but OS Holy Wars bring out the beast in me).

And the above comments about Gentoo are right on. The manuals and support are incredible, it's NOT linux for amatours, it's hardcore, but it's DOABLE by anyone with a brain, and if you're not smart enough to install Gentoo, you're not smart enough to use a computer at the poweruser level. Gentoo is not for the hobbiest or newbie computer user.

But once you're used to it, mmmmmmmmmmmmmm it's tasty.

You wanna install *anything*? No problem, there's a catalog of hundreds of thousands of programs, just pick what you like. And when you install it you can be BLOODY CERTAIN it'll work.

Wanna update your whole system, packages and dependencies? no problem, it takes ONE SINGLE SHORT COMMAND! :) Not 8 lines of CLI code, one simple short command.

Gentoo rocks, because Portage rocks.

I live to emerge :)

Gentoo also shines in the Stage-1 installation. You can pare it down to *exactly* what you have in hardware. Because of this you get a super tight kernel and ALL of the code on your machine is compiled specifically to operate on your machine.

The speed differences over using precompiled generic code are astounding.

Now, I don't live on the CLI like many of the Linux world, I like a GUI. And for that, nothing beats the KDE.

If you do a stage-1 Gentoo with KDE and use it for one month, you'll never go back to Windows again. It's like night and Day. Gentoo changed my life and my relationship with computers in a profound manner.

Then again, I'm a guy who does this for a living, so, you know...lol

gushi
Sep. 9th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC)
Warning, long.
Okay, I could get into major evangelism here. Apologies in advance.

open source software being made by amateurs?

I'll tell you what I tell others.

"BSD was written by universities that helped shape the internet in its infancy. Linux was written by weekend hackers."

I run a FreeBSD webserver. Several of them now, actually. It's serious good juju. "The Power to Serve". Yadda yadda.

However (I don't think you were reading my LJ at the time), when my fully patched win2k3 desktop machine got wormed, and *nothing* would remove it, I said "screw you Microsoft" and threw in a clean hard drive and installed FreeBSD.

After a nightmare of a time configuring X, where it consistently believed my monitor was not 1280 by 1024 (and it's a flatscreen monitor, you can count pixels here, gone are the days of scan rates and refresh times), and the display being unreadable and head-hurting, I said "screw this" and booted Knoppix.

This is my advice for you. Do the same. Download a Knoppix ISO. Burn it. Boot it. If you like it, then maybe install it (although it's really not a requirement, you can happily run from the CD forever).

I've augmented my knoppix system (which is really Debian -- as is the "Linspire/Freespire" system) with a small application called "Crossover". This not only lets me run several MS apps, including Office and Internet Explorer, but also lets me use native MS browser plugins like Flash and Quicktime from within the linux version of firefox. It's commercial software, but very reasonable.

It took minor annoyance playing a DVD to get it to work (I had to install a few extra libraries from a 3rd party site, but it was far easier than doing so under win2k3, which STILL won't play the things without me shelling out $15 to someone.

I've had other minor problems, mainly that of a game I play that HAS a linux version not running because my video card doesn't have hardware acceleration. This is stupid programming in my opinion, but for this I boot back into windows.

xmms uses my winamp skins, my taskbars and shortcuts in either OS are identical (there's no autosync there, I just got anal). In short, it lets me not really care about what OS I'm using anymore, and actually Get Things Done.

If Shelly is a graphics type, and you don't want to run windows, get a mac. Or wait for more people to crack the DRM in OSX. As amazing as some people say the Gimp is, there's still no Linux photoshop, illustrator, flash, or the like, and I honestly dont know how well linux plays with tablets.

I chose linux for the same reason I use nano (or pico) over vi. I use these things to Get Things Done. If I'm editing a text file, I'm in the editor because I WANT TO EDIT A TEXT FILE. Not spend my time fighting the editor.

BSD got tossed out on its ass and deemed a miserable failure as a desktop OS because (and again, I've been using it for seven years now -- and I still hate Fedora (aka Linux XP) with a burning white passion) I didn't want to tweak ten X config files to get something simple done like PUT THE RIGHT NUMBER OF PIXELS ON THE SCREEN. Do you think Windows would be nearly as popular if they replaced it with the control panel and told users "Just use Regedit?"
tacit
Sep. 10th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Warning, long.
Haven't tried Knoppix. I did try Debian itself, which can't detect the graphics hardware on this machine (a Dell Inspiron 300 with Intel graphics chip).

This particular machine is eventually intended to serve two purposes: file serving (Samba and atalk) and a test system for Linux/x86 builds of the software I write. It's not our primary machine; I have a G4 Mac with OS X, a G4 iBook with OS X, and an x86 box running Xp that's a game computer, and Shelly's primary machine is a Viao running Win2K. We also have another box hanging from the ceiling running Win2K Server that's primarily a place for Shelly to keep her MP3s.
roadknight
Sep. 9th, 2005 03:31 pm (UTC)
I feel your pain, probably even moreso since I've actually had to work on the anaconda code for work. The advice to use the text-based installer is good and should be heeded.

As for GUIs, well, yes, it mostly sucks, and you will be horribly disappointed by most things unless of course your first exposure to GUIs was on a Sun 2 running NeWS like mine. Then, at least, it will be at least business as usual. But don't take advice from me in the GUI dept. I'm happy with FVWM. I use vi and like it. I've actually used a real VT100 before, not just under emulation.

Gentoo is great, if you're the kind of guy who hops up his Honda Civic with the bad-ass chrome-moly spoiler, custom racing slicks, ports the engine, installs the neon underlighting, 8-foot chrome exhaust piping and plasters every inch that isn't covered in chrome with racing stickers written in Japanese. (And don't forget the monster stereo system so you can be the guy who's car is practically shaking apart to the beat of the bass at the stoplight, 00ntz 00ntz 00ntz 00ntz....)
tacit
Sep. 10th, 2005 04:23 pm (UTC)
I've actually used a real VT100 before, not just under emulation.

Gotcha beat, there--I've *owned* VT-100s. Four of 'em. And a VT-52. Used 'em as terminals for the PDP-11 I had in the utility closet in my apartment in Sarasota. :)

You know, I remember reading somewhere on the Net a rant about Linux users--about how in the old days, people used VT-100 terminals to get work done, and nowadays people int he Linux world use 21" color monitors running a windowing operating system that lets them put up half a dozen virtual VT-100s at the same time, that ended with "Unix users are the Amish of the computer world."
roadknight
Sep. 10th, 2005 04:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, good. So, as a proud VT100 owner, you might able to tell me what the GOLD key is and what it was used for.

The Amish comment would be here:http://mooseyard.com/Jens/2004/04/jenss-tangled-job-history, about halfway down the scroll.

tacit
Sep. 10th, 2005 07:24 pm (UTC)
I think it's the equivalent of a META key for use with operating systems like ITS or MULTICS.
vladimyr
Sep. 9th, 2005 11:39 pm (UTC)
schism in the curch of #
Dude, you're so right about the whole linux thing.
Bunch of amatures. Completly.

That's why not many corporations use it. The initial cost may be lower, but you need to pay a whole lot more people more money to maintain it.
Besides, if you're going to end up paying solely on how much support you want, that's what Sun is doing with Solaris, plus, Solaris 10 is a god compared to linux.

Actually, the biggest problem with Windows, Linux, etc is the same;
PC's are very unstandardized.
It doesn't matter what you're running on it, you're going to get memory leeks, and hardware that relies way to much on software to do it's job.
And That is why non-x86 harware costs so much more, and is often worth it.

I got Sol 9 for free from sun's site, it installed like a dream.
It just didn't come with a fortran compiler, which I needed, but then again neither does linux.

tacit
Sep. 10th, 2005 04:24 pm (UTC)
Re: schism in the curch of #
I'm actually a registered Solaris developer from way, waaay back (the last time I compiled code on a Solaris box was 1994), and Sun still occasionally sends me newsletters in email and bundles of CDs in the mail. I have a set of Solaris 9 install CDs around here somewhere, haven't seen them in a while, much less used 'em for anything.
roadknight
Sep. 10th, 2005 04:50 pm (UTC)
Re: schism in the curch of #
Au contraire. G77 is a FORTRAN compiler and comes with all the distributions of Linux I've ever worked with. We won't get into the relative merits of G77 vs. Pathscale vs. Portland vs. Intel, but it's there nonetheless.

Take that you pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies!
vladimyr
Sep. 10th, 2005 05:16 pm (UTC)
Re: schism in the curch of #
I'm sorry, I meant to say that Linux doesn't come with any modern fortran compilers. All the code I deal with in Fortran uses the at least Fortran 90 standards, of which the GNU compiler doesn't support in any reliable way.
At work we have both the Intel and Portland Group compilers, Though I predominatly use PG, I get the impression that the Intel one is more robust.

So, yeah there is g77, but unless you're like 40-50 and haven't kept up with the current practices in your field, it's useless.

And Fortran still is the best choice for number crunching.
roadknight
Sep. 10th, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC)
Re: schism in the curch of #
Okay, I was just taking you at what you said. As for being 40 and out of touch, well, there are more of those out there than you think.
I had to do a customer visit this summer where the guy was a geophysicist and got really cranky because the stress fracture tree code he wrote in FORTRAN IV back in 1975 worked fine on the Sandia Cray back then and it should do the same thing under Linux now dammit, but it didn't(and of course this was our fault).

IME, it doesn't really matter if you use Intel or PGI as long as you're doing single-context, single-CPU programs. If you need MPI-aware code, to say, run over a cluster, you really want the PGI compiler then.
padangbond
Sep. 20th, 2005 05:41 am (UTC)
Why Windows NEEDS a pretty installer
Well, the reason that Windows needs a pretty installer (by the way, mandriva has the best isntaller of any os, bar none) is because you have to re-install it every couple of months. Why? Because even with the best anti-virus installed, you will still have to manually clean up every spam, trojan, and other crap that the OS is designed to accept right away. Plus, you have to pay $couple_of_hundred to get Photoshop to have halfway decent image-editor while I get GIMP for free (yes, you can download it for Windows, but I get it while installing), a $hundred to use M$ Office while I get OpenOffice.org, and use Winamp while I use XMMS. You have to deal with .doc, .wmv, .wma crap while I deal with .rtf, .pdf (that I can get automatically with OpenOffice.org), .mpg, .mp3, and .ogg.
I used to use XP, but after seeing KDE and enlightenment, I can only scratch my head when you say that Window$ look better than any GUI on Linux. Pity.

Kubuntu Linux, Kernel 2.6.12
tacit
Sep. 21st, 2005 03:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Why Windows NEEDS a pretty installer
It's not really a question of having a pretty installer because the software needs to be reinstalled so much; it's a question of having a reliable installer because Linux will never succeed on the desktop until an average user with average computer skills can get it installed. The best operating system in the world is useless if it cannot be installed.

Windows succeeds and Linux fails on the desktop because Microsoft understands two things that Linux users don't:

1. The software needs to be installed. By ordinary users. If an ordinary user can't get it on his computer, an ordinary user can't use it.

2. People's impressions and ideas about any tool--not just computer operating systems, and not just computers, but any tool--will be formed by their very first experience with it. If the initial experience with a new tool is that it is frustrating and incomprehensible, then people will not use it.

Regardless of how often Linux needs to be installed, it still needs to be installed once. If it can't be installed once, people aren't going to use it.

As for Photoshop and the GIMP: Many people who are not professional image editors or professional prepress people believe that Photoshop and the GIMP do basically the same thing. To a casual user, they do. The GIMP gives a casual user everything he could ever need; a casual user does not need Photoshop.

For a prepress user intimately acquainted with both programs, the GIMP does about 20% of what Photoshop does. But people who do not work with image editing in a high-end environment for a living rarely ever see more than 10% f Photoshop's capabilities anyway; they sincerely believe that Photoshop and the GIMP are equivalent because they sincerely do not see 90% of Photoshop's capabilities. The real comparison is not between Photoshop and the GIMP; the real comparison is between Photoshop Elements and the GIMP.

And that's fine. Photoshop can handle many things that the GIMP cannot--spot color, for example. But most people do not know what "spot color" is, what it means, or why one would use it, so clearly do not need it.
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