A problem with Linux

April 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I have for many years been a fan of Linux. I have adminned it, coded for it and used it. I remember GNOME and KDE were in their infancy. I remember using fvwm. Alas, it is GNOME and KDE that have brought me to where I am now.

My desire to use Linux is gone. Linux has gone down a very disappointing path, and I’m not convinced it will recover from this. Years ago, Linux was an underdog system. Hardware companies didn’t want to release documentation for their hardware to an open source project. The goal became popularity. To topple microsoft and rule the world with superior software. In the process of chasing that dream, people became confused. They thought the way to do it was to mimic microsoft. The problem with that, of course, is that microsoft makes hideous mistakes. They make terrible software.

The most pernicious and terrible of microsoft ideas have been hidden beneath the GUI. These include things like the MFC, COM and the registry. GNOME and KDE have both decided to include the latter two ideas. The registry was never a good idea, I would have thought any admin with sense could tell them how horrible it was. Text configuration files are simple, and when mangled can be easily corrected by hand. The inclusion of object request brokers has bloated the whole thing horribly. GNOME now involves no fewer than 50 packages, and takes ages to compile. It’s a monstrosity.

A similar issue has occurred with Firefox. For years people complained of memory leaks. One could watch the memory used by it grow, until it became too big and had to be restarted. For years the developers denied the existence of any memory leaks. Finally, they listened and began digging. When they had finished, they had found more than 300 memory leaks. Was the bug real? Hell yeah. Everybody knew it was there, but the developers denied it.

I believe it has roots in a problem that has plagued open source these past ten years. The desire to add features over fixing bugs. Finding and fixing bugs is hard work, and it seems that the novelty of adding a new feature is vastly to be preferred. Once a program is feature-complete few outfits stop. Today, modern Linux distributions are a complete mess because of this. Even getting it to do simple things sometimes requires a lot of effort. If you’ve tried to get wifi going via the command line, you know the pain of which I speak.

Here’s a puzzler for you. If you need a GUI to bring up wifi, but you need wifi to fix the broken GUI, what do you do? You have to mess around with a cable. My last machine to have Linux on it was a laptop. There were two things I could not make work. The wifi, and the sound. No matter what I tried, no matter how much searching I did, it was to no avail. It was then that I discovered the once lauded support of the Linux community has fallen apart. I was there when PCWorld awarded the Linux community a technical support award. And it was earned. You could make the machine do amazing things, and no matter the problem there was an answer to be had. Nobody answers questions any more. I have posted in forums looking for a resolution to the problem, and every time it has been ignored. Eventually I gave up, and begrudgingly installed XP on the machine.

I use a Mac now. To be certain, it’s not perfect. But it’s a hell of a lot better than Linux or Windows. It isn’t a pain in the ass. It’s stable. It does what I tell it to. It’s really too bad, I had high hopes for Linux. I also had a lot of fun with it. It just isn’t what it used to be.

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  1. I know nothing of linux or windows etc, but I admire you’re logical argument, and I agree that anything that tries to emulate Microsoft is asking for problems.


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