Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dropped the ball on Slackware

Yep, indeed.

This a real, if unfortunate, Work Story. We are not talking Leisure activity here: I got a quota issue with our mailservers at huge amount of spam, first, and a host that changes your mb-per-mailbox allowance on our website all the time. Currently, down from "unlimited" to 38 megs. bitches.

As I tend to be over-paranoid with stability & safety of work, and I had to re-work all the backup strategy & auto-forwards of mails, I choose to leave my current workstation untouched, and switch to a new install, erasing the current TestBed openSUSE 10.2 with E17 of which you can enjoy the screenshots below. A pity, but openSUSE failed the tryout to become my next workstation distribution, upgrades & general Package Managing System too slow, buggy. And, there is all that fuss about Novell signing a tie-your-hands yourself, buy-the-rope-to-be-hanged-with-yourself with M$, hence being flamed by the OpenSource Community. Not that I have that much of an opinion to that matter, but OK, it stinks & 10.2 wasn't that convincing. A shame for my dependable 9.3 (that actually started to get old & buggy as well).

So, with remote work at hand, emails forwarding, new mailboxes to create, new accounts-rules & filtering to handle, and a workstation that wasn't getting younger, it was time for a fresh install of some dependable, trustable workhorse to become the new core of my mostly-sitting-at-a-desk job. Guess what, I wanted Slackware, one of the oldest distros out there, with a rock-solid reputation & a core of fanatics. With the release of Slackware 11 equipped with an option to handle modern 2.6 kernels, it looked that the time was right. And, given it's developper orientation, I may even Compile myself someday...

This is about work, but I needed to do it all after hours, so I warned the family I'll be handcuffed to my PC for the whole weekend, and started on the Saturday. Plan was one day to install & configure the new OS, and Day Two to get done the online job and its related retrieval-download jobs.

Failed, it's already Sunday afternoon now, and I only sterted installing... openSUSE 10.2!

Target was tu run Slackware 11 with Enlightenment DR16.

Yep. Sackware, after 1 full day of tampering, left me with no sound, no mouse, no internet, and an US keyboard instead of AZERTY one. But, I did not dropped the ball THAT fast, some edit of config files allowed me to retrieve the correct keyboard, browsing the forums showed me that a lot of knowledgeable people won't post a helping link to assist newbies (typical reply is "google around mate" if not 'RTFM you jerk!". I didn't even post myself, didn't had the time to wait for an answer. Bad vibes from the Linuxquestions/slackware forums, I can tell.

Mouse decidedly did not wanted to move, info on forums where laconic if not insulting, I knew I'll have to address the sound issue sooner or later anyway. I actually dropped the ball when I changed the runlevel to 5 so to speed up the X login, and noticed a bug that locked the ctrl+alt+F1 pseudo-terminal access: can't get out & back to X, can't restart X, have to log onto tty6 to reboot once more, hoping some edits of configs worked this time... Oh, and I forget the Sarting Step: I wanted to rely on GRUB as boot manager, so did not installed LILO, expecting to be able to copy backed-up GRUB files to the right location & edit them. A PITA, when you finish Slack Install, it must reboot, the created-by-slack floppy failed, grub was NOT in place so I had to go again with the install DVD, get out of it, mount manually every partition needed, copy the thing, back off & start again... Pfuh.

End of Day One left me with a command-line boot up sequence, with no X login. No Mouse, no Network, no sound. Dropped by sunday noon.

Now, what else to use ? A fresh SuSE93? c'mon, 93 is really outdated... this EliveCD that runs on Debian & implements DR16 & 17 ? Okay, cool but a bit not on the Most Trusted Distro list, this stuff is confidential, I needed a base system that can switch to E DR16 at will, not that skeleton of a system for all purposes. Sadly, feeling like dropping the ever-broken unuseable Jaguar Type E for a Toyota build-for-the-masses reliable Camry, I shoose to slip an UBUNTU disk in the tray. I run UBUNTU on this laptop, it's great. Just feels like leisure, not work, but the community is great. Let's go down the Build-for-the-masses road then, swallow your technical pride, face it, you are not good enough for slackware (spotted on the forums: "Slackware is for real men"!).

You know what? UBUNTU installer, which is the simplest-fastest to use, wanted to re-format my SuSE93 Swap partition, no way I can get it NOT to touch it & use the former Slackware Swap Partition instead. That's the issue with dumb-user setup systems, easy and fast but they do what they want. One of the main moto in the linux community is the ability to control things, but the way UBUNTU is targeted makes it a winner for most systems, and can lack THIS tiny bit of flexibility you need sometimes. And I don't like their No Root user strategy, it's not safer (you can destry anything with "sudo") and I do like to get Rooted like once a month.

[Funky stuff: on the 6.06 laptop, the non-root policy is broken, YAY! dunno what mistake I did (it was around the time I implemented enlightenment DR16), but I can su to root now, cool]

So, back to openSUSE 10.2 then, the one that WAS on the system before, and its wonderfull installer that's slow, but in full control... I know I will struggle with the updating system, I know I hate the XEN, YaST & other SuSE helping hands, but I know I'll have a mouse, sound & internet. DVD's & mp3's will be for later, of course, time is running & there is no "automatix" script available like in UBUNTU. The real Copy & unpack of the 4Gb of stuff I selected to install is about 80 minutes to get done, that's reasonnable. I will skip the Online Update during Setup though, last time it was 350megs heavy... Yikes.

That's all for today folks, the laptop is gonna do real Mail Admin tasks from now, while I setup the Desktop on suse102 to retrieve & keep safe all our mailboxes: only 20 of them!

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