Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Killing Distros by the Dozen

Where is the fun here, ladies & gents ? I am a true apostle of Open Source Software; since I cannot code I do contribute to Documentation writing, I test innocuous stuff & report back to the maintainers. As a start, what was thrilling was the corpus of stuff to learn, the seemingly endless possibilities of tailor-made your system with sometimes chill-in-the-spine Root potentially destructive operations.

Now when you look at it straight in the face, openSUSE, UBUNTU, Fedora & al. would probably install flawlessly on your computer; They will not ask you one thousand questions during install (UBUNTU has become a really Slip-the-Disk & Forget operation as of now) so gone ois this part of the tweaking. That leaves you with the robustness of a secure, forgiving system that is open to (much more obscure) tweaks afterwards, if you gain the knowledge, if you raise the question, if you can afford the time spent. 'Cause otherwise, today's distro compared to 3 years ago feels much like the switch from W95 to XP, where you stood in control, and responsible if you brake something within 95/98/Me & became some kind of minor disturbance to the operating system that would re-paste the Not-To-Delete-Files for you after you knowingly deleted them because you don't need them: To hack XP you needed special tools, bruteforce-like. Ubuntu, but not only U, feels a lot like that today, whit the differenvce that SUPPOSEDLY everything is there under the hood, but you are somewhat discouraged from opening the bonnet. Think AppArmor, SELinux and such: we are not talking Secure Tools here, but Dumb-Proofed software because it is now intended for the masses. All the better says the advocate in me, while the LEGO fanatic thinks: Where's the fun ? The DIY ? In only two years of experience, things have become so tasteless, distros fight only on Shininess of Spalsh Screens & number of recognized WiFi cards...

Killing the First One: Ubuntu

As ranted earlier, U install didn't offer me the flexibility I wanted in the Hard Disk Mount/Format during said install. On the whole, I think Gnome is tasteless and the brownish theme just sucks (albeit I praise them for departing from the usual ubiquitous blueish that seems unavoidable since W3.1). It's a shame truly, since U has a core of fanatics that makes it the best forum around, and by far, I swear out of experience. I still hang there when I look for an answer, although I run an RPM based distro. Their aim was to seduce the mass; unsurprisingly that's the moment when an older population, nearer to the debut of the distro will step away, waving "Safe Trip" at the enthusiastic crowds coming aboard while we are leaving.

Some of us seems build like that; anything revered by more than 0.1% of the population just becomes less exiting.

So exit the tasteless Golf Rabbit of them all, the mighty U despite its community that so fierce you'd be sure someone, somewhere, would have attempted, documented and achieved anything you could dream of doing on your system. Exit the best software manager around (Synaptic) and its 17.000-some
available softwares...

Killing some more, but faster: Gentoo, Slackware, Debian

Gentoo never made it to X; thanks globally to the same usual issue regarding my 8800 Nvidia and the 1440x900 screen - although, it just NEVER made it, even in any safe mode. I am getting tired of the "No Screen Defined" warning, especially when you have one defined. They (Who "They3 ? 'Haven't got a clue; me maybe given the FOSS context) should re-work some of these messages. Debian played it even dumber, not recognizing one out of three perfectly identical HDD's; beside, it's the only one, if I remember well, that didn't hook itself to my Linksys router...

But all this is old news, kind of: in both cases, I re-downloaded (I am doing it again, right now) fresh install discs, wiped clean 2 partitions & srtarted all over since then; with same, lame result.

And then, on my somewhat trusty Fedora running Enlightenment with mostly KDE apps, I worked. Yeah, this happens; And I took some holidays even: The island of Bali seriously lack computers, at least where I went - namely volcanoes and coral reefs; I didn't really notice their absence to be honest.

And I came back, full of energy: I want Slackware to do what I want, not what Volkerding's decided! And I want Gentoo too! And it's been 3 full months since I haven't hacked a single config file, and the pile of .txt helpfiles printed at the time has gained serious dust on the corner of my desk...

Aiming at removing engage as Login Manager to switch back to the native KDE slackware provided, I realized I had forgot it all. Time, job, a bit of marine & mountain exhilaration has erased it clean, and I don't feel like going over it all over again; I'll stick to the mainstream, they are boring, sometimes dangerous (Fedora and it's Bleeding-Edge obsession!) resource-hungry (compiz! Glad I run E! Bandwidth!) but the other ones, the ones I praise for working the way I want just are too much for me.

Please nevertheless write down somewhere that even Slackware in it's r12 flavor started doing strange things with the .rc and init files, and coming from r11 I found a lot of classic stuff to be missing from their traditional place in r12. Fedora is even worse on this aspect though, with all the startup scripts being hidden somewhere and the full .rc architecture completely empty; same applies for the Kernel Sources that require a separate download & need you to build a mirror tree in your user account to be able to compile you own kernel... Shite.

Allright ladies and gents, it's getting late here & I don't feel I aw writting anything woth of awything anyway, so G'day to you in the Happy FOSS World.

Fedora survived, but for how long ?

Indeed folks; Now given the pace at which I update this thing, well yes I've been involved in real-world issues & spend a tad less time fooling around with this computer. To be fair, I spend an awful lot of time doing Lego Technic with the kids though.

Fedora survived, and yet on the moto (already advertised) of "Download More, Get Less". Scrambling the forums, I found this dependency issue to have been spotted already; the LiveCD is faulty, not me.

Guess what ? I downloaded the full DVD, over a 64kbps link, over the course of 5 nights... After that at least I got an install, fought the usual fight with xorg.conf for which it seems that anything not 1024x768 in VESA mode is utterly exotic & far too much bleeding edge for not crashing upon, and ended up with (several xorg.cong backups) no I mean, a usable distro that as soon as the update daemon kicked in gently proposed me with a mere 680mb of updates. Hmmpf. This took three more days for sure; I noticed that everything was VERY up-to-date, very, incredibly so...

And that's the summary of today's Fedora: @ release 7 I am already outdated, but anyway you can be sure that they will feed you around 100megs of updates a week. Don't kid me folks, if kernel 2.6.23 is out one week and an update is posted with a new kernel the following week, that's not only due to the massive core of acute developers out there dedicating their every single minute of lifetime into coding new, better, on the edge stuff: there's a FULL FUCKING LOT OF BUGSOLVING over there. Have a look for yourself, my fellow *nix-ers: everytime a major stuff get a major release (, firefox, the kernel,...) there'll be full versions to re-download several times in the following three or more weeks; my bet is that on one side they are not ready but nevertheless there is a pressure into increasing the release figures, which leads to the other hand: they don't test enough, check enough & find horrendous bugs as soon as the stuff is out in the open for real.

Let's take a short break from today's rants:

For a change, here comes one more of my 'shots. Admire the dire simplicity of Enlightenment DR16 (Yes, again, yes) running an idea I found on ubuntu-unleashed which proposed an overcomplicated way of getting your terminal becoming your background; well it took me three clicks with the mouse here to realize the same & I must recon this blogger to have pushed forward a very graphic, neat idea that puts the black terminal of death, boring and dull, right into your colorful, spinning (for compiz) or sliding (with E DR16) desktop. That's (fake) integration, but at its best & most fun.