March 31, 2008
(Update: This piece originally ran on April Fools' day; although the content of the post is not an April Fools' joke, the retro styling definitely was. View a screenshot of how this post looked on April 1, 2008)
I occasionally follow Jamie Zawinski's blog. Jamie's an interesting guy. In the process of researching an earlier post, I discovered that he played a significant role in unearthing the classic Worse is Better paper:
About a year later  we hired a young kid from Pittsburgh named Jamie Zawinski. He was not much more than 20 years old and came highly recommended by Scott Fahlman. We called him "The Kid." He was a lot of fun to have around: not a bad hacker and definitely in a demographic we didn't have much of at Lucid. He wanted to find out about the people at the company, particularly me since I had been the one to take a risk on him, including moving him to the West Coast. His way of finding out was to look through my computer directories - none of them were protected. He found the EuroPAL paper, and found the part about worse is better. He connected these ideas to those of Richard Stallman, whom I knew fairly well since I had been a spokesman for the League for Programming Freedom for a number of years. JWZ excerpted the worse-is-better sections and sent them to his friends at CMU, who sent them to their friends at Bell Labs, who sent them to their friends everywhere.
Or, perhaps you've read the classic Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years? That was written by Peter Norvig, who is now the director of research at Google. It refers to Mr. Zawinski thusly:
One of the best programmers I ever hired had only a High School degree; he's produced a lot of great software, has his own news group, and made enough in stock options to buy his own nightclub.
I think you'll agree that it's fair to call Jamie Zawinski a world class software engineer. Jamie's blog documents, in great detail, how he runs his DNA Lounge club in San Francisco. It's a great read, full of fascinating, often geeky backstage details. The DNA Lounge is powered by open source software, including various flavors of Linux. Sometimes this can be painful. In 2006, Jamie ran into serious problems with the Linux sound architecture:
You may have noticed that the audio archives have only had one channel for the last few weeks. You would probably assume that's a simple matter of replacing a cable; turns out, not. As far as we can tell, the audio going into the computer is stereo, and somewhere in there, it drops (most of) the right channel. So, bad connector, right? No, we've tried four different sound cards, and checked the mixer settings. At this point it seems like the last time we (accidentally) upgraded ALSA, it introduced some software bug that is making one channel go away. I can't even fathom how such a bug could exist, but that's Linux for you.
We seem to have solved the "missing right channel" problem. It was, in fact, a software problem. We were running Fedora 4, and when we installed the latest patches on March 31, that's when the right channel vanished. We tried downgrading to the version of the kernel and ALSA as of three months ago, and that didn't fix it. But, Jonathan took all the sound cards home and tried them in his machine, and they all worked fine there. He was running Fedora 5. So we upgraded to that, and the problem went away.
That's right: upgrading to the latest FC4: breaks the world. Giving up on FC4 and going to FC5: un-breaks it. Nicely done, guys.
For years I've had it drummed into my head that you always have to keep your systems patched, if you aren't running the latest security fixes, the script kiddies will eat you alive, running a six month old OS is like leaving your front door wide open, blah blah blah. Well you know what? F**k that noise. I'm done upgrading anything ever. The next time I get this s**t into a state that seems even remotely stable, I'm never touching it again. If we get hacked, oh well. I have backups. It has got to be less work to recover from than constantly dealing with this kind of nonsense.
The DNA lounge provides streaming audio and video webcasts of whatever is going on any time the club is open. So problems like this are especially troubling -- Jamie's business depends on this stuff working.
I was particularly disturbed to find this recent entry:
I spent a solid four days trying to upgrade the kiosks from Red Hat 9 + LTSP 4.3 (vintage 2003) to... something newer. In this case, Ubuntu 10.7 + LTSP 5, since it seems like that's what the cool kids are running these days. Why would I do such a thing? Well, one reason is that the Firefox 3 beta would neither install nor compile on RH9 (missing libraries), and another was that the kiosks are a little crashy (they reboot themselves pretty regularly for no adequately explored reason), and also, it's "just kinda old", which some people will tell you might mean, maybe, kinda, less secure. So I figured I'd give it a shot.
Well, since this is not my first rodeo, when I say "upgrade" what I really mean is "do a fresh install on a spare drive."
So, after four days of this nonsense, I gave up, and just put the old drive back in. "Nonsense" in this case is defined as: the upgrade made the machines be even crashier than before (they can barely stay up for an hour) and it's a far worse kind of crashy: it's the kind of crashy where you have to press the shiny red button to make them come back to life, instead of them being able to do that themselves.
So, f**k it. They'll be running a 2003 version of Linux forever, because I frankly have better things to do with my time.
I can't fault Jamie's approach. A clean install of an operating system on a new hard drive -- for kiosks running controlled hardware, no less -- that's as good as it gets.
Apparently, Linux is so complex that even a world class software engineer can't always get it to work.
I find it highly disturbing that a software engineer of Jamie's caliber would give up on upgrading software. Jamie lives and breathes Linux. It is his platform of choice. If he throws in the towel on Linux upgrades, then what possible hope do us mere mortals have?
Posted by Jeff Atwood
This seems to have completely devolved into the usual windows vs linux arguments.
I had to stop myself from contributing more. :)
Its a shame everyone defends everything so rigorously instead of realising and analysing the problems. Everyone who has said things to the effect of "it would be easier with Windows" or "Linux is stable" is just winging it imo. Have you actually done it yet? Do you have data to back it up? Is it anything more than a passionate love for /your/ OS of choice?
There... I contributed anyway. :P
Jeff... turn on the lights!
Is this some odd object-lesson on how to turn a navigable, legible site into a hard-to-read eye-straining text-collision? If so, I appreciate the education offered... now can you switch the scheme back so that I can enjoy your posts again?
Here's the real deal: none of the OS options are good! They all suck. It's just some people have a tolerance for certain types of suckiness over others.
We've all had similar problems. I've been struggling to come up with a stable install of Vista for over a year. My new laptop crashes repeatedly if i use certain software due to (get this) a bug with *cursor rendering* in the NVidia drivers. Given the right (wrong) hardware and the right (wrong) OS release, you're gonna have issues no matter how good you are with this stuff. Unless you actually do sit down and write it all from scratch... and then you have two problems.
I have to wonder about the hardware he's installing the Linux on. Sounds to me like something's strange about the kiosks. As far as the audio goes, I got nothing.
Giving up on a technical problem isn't always due solely to technical difficulties...
Sometimes you have better things to do with your time.
Shog9: Major problems exist in the Vista drivers from nVidia -- in fact, I believe there's a lawsuit out there now.
This Jamie guy seems like a world class prick. Bugzilla comments...
Comment #4 From Jamie Zawinski on 2006-03-31 23:26 EST
I hope it was the last change in FC4.
Yeah, I hoped so too, but it wasn't; you fucked it up again in alsa-lib-1.0.10-3.FC4 / alsa-
alsactl: set_control:886: warning: numid mismatch (15/18) for control #15
alsactl: set_control:888: warning: iface mismatch (2/2) for control #15
alsactl: set_control:890: warning: device mismatch (0/0) for control #15
alsactl: set_control:892: warning: subdevice mismatch (0/0) for control #15
alsactl: set_control:894: warning: name mismatch (AC97 Playback Volume/AC97 Playback Volume) for
alsactl: set_control:896: warning: index mismatch (0/0) for control #15
alsactl: set_control:894: warning: name mismatch (AC97 Capture Volume/Front Capture Volume) for
alsactl: set_control:896: warning: index mismatch (0/0) for control #16
alsactl: set_control:898: failed to obtain info for control #16 (Operation not permitted)
So out of curiosity -- do you think my complaint and recommendation are silly, or do you just not
*care* about the inconvenience this causes for people who are actually trying to get work done? This
costs me like half a day of fucking around every time I upgrade this machine.
It's really, really getting tiresome.
Comment #5 From Martin Stransky on 2006-04-14 05:30 EST
These changes come from kernel, not from alsa-lib nor alsa-utils so don't update
your (fucking :-)) kernel...
Come on! I run Linux as my desktop PC. I love it and I would NEVER go back to windows, even if I got paid. Sure, the learning curve is really something, but once you get there, everything else is just myths. And I have my system up to date.
Linux is the OS that best fits my needs. I use windows and I program for windows at work, but I would never go back to it for my personal use. I hear Vista users cursing against their OS everyday. I have ZERO of the problems they talk about on my home PC.
And, by the way, I know some guys who are not precisely "WORLD CLASS SOFTWARE ENGINEERS" who ARE actually able to keep their Linux machines, working perfectly and up to date in a total painless way. It's still not as easy as windows, but it's not that hard either. Besides, face it, it doesn't have MANY of the problems windows has.
Anyway, all this argument makes little sense... Everyone has to pick the OS that best fits their needs and that's all.
And, Jeff, you DO seem to like MS a bit too much sometimes... :)
Wait, wait, this is not a Linux argument. This guy is running Linux, not MS software. Jamie is one of the good guys.
There is a business lesson in this post. Don't upgrade. It is a pointless waste of time to stay on the cutting edge. Do an update when you start a new project. Once it works, leave it alone!
I worked with a good boss who was an asshole about this. Our tool of choice was the MS x86 C compiler the company bought in 1992. It worked, we know where the bugs were and how to find and work around them. An upgrade cost money. In the end, if all goes well, you are right back where you started with a working system. Far better to spend time adding to the product than chasing the bleeding edge.
Another lesson from the same company. We spent gobs of $$ chasing a contract with Wallmart. Why? If they install our system in all the stores we will be rich. The lesson is that they do not upgrade. No real company will pull out and replace working equipment. The best case is they will install your stuff in new stores.
Anytime someone says "they will replace the old with our new stuff" they are full of it. Also, people who do real work do NOT want the automatic update feature. It is the automatic break feature.
jwz is my hero. All you haters just don't understand.
Egoboo to the guy who figured out the colour scheme was an homage to jwz's home page.
lol at "some guy and his 'lounge'"
Jeff: why can I never select text on your page? So. Annoying.
To the poster who pointed out it was really about choice. Thanks. You’ve changed my perspective.
What color scheme are you talking about??? I see the same as usual. Except in some images like the captcha.
A clean install of an operating system on a new hard drive -- for kiosks running controlled hardware, no less -- that's as good as it gets.
It escapes me how new hard drives help. In my experience, hard disk technology has always been one of the most stable, trouble-free parts of any computing system. And if they're going bad, you can tell. And if you are tired of their contents, you format them. Works pretty much the same in all operating systems. Jamie didn't say anything about having trouble with his hard drives.
I do wonder what you mean by "controlled hardware". Presumably, these kiosks are on Jamie's premises and indeed fully under control. Perhaps you meant "commodity"? That would stray a bit from the facts - kiosk systems are generally specialized, and contain components not commonly seen in, say, your average desktop system. They are engineered with compromises to reduce their size and power consumption, and fewer of them are produced. You would, in fact, *expect* more difficulty with such hardware.
You said a lot about Linux in this post. How about a corresponding article, such as:
* J. Random User installs Ubuntu on its target hardware - a modern desktop, laptop, or server system.
* Jane Doe attempts to install Windows Vista on a 1992 Kiosk system with an 800GHz CPU from VIA technologies, 512 MB RAM, and 20 GB of hard disk space.
It does pain me to hear of the unfortunates spent on the “leading age” operating SYSTEMS of our age (Gate, Jobs, et al) Open you mind to the possibilities of true interactivity based on custom designed operating system F.L.O.W.
Based on the one true math of the hexagon, F.L.O.W. runs on bare metal using only those opcodes compatible with natural geometry. Designed from the ground up to enable improvement of the human nature environment surrounding us all (SOCIETY OF INFORMATION.)
Reviewed in SIGCHI and New York Times, etc
At least Windows Update never gave me any headaches. Well, except for that crappy Genuine Advantage, but you know, that is supose to give you headches.
ohh, firefox was caching the css...
@Jheriko on April 1, 2008 08:38 AM
Yes. I run it in production environments and Linux is far more stable than anything else we run. We regularly see year long or more uptimes unless we have kernel updates that we have to apply. I also use it every day for my personal and professional desktop. The only problem I have is with Firefox sometimes locking up when I open 30+ tabs.
No biggie... IE can't handle any more either. I have used the latest build of Firefox 3 beta and it does not have this problem.
Again, JWZ does a lot of customizations that don't come out of the box. Those aren't going to transfer easily from one distro to the next as they were a pain to bring into being in the first place. Read his own material on the subject (and that's because his use case, a public night club, is a rarified environment for almost any Linux distro I would argue).
JWZ is also the guy that left Mozilla because he thought it was taking too long and was totally against a rewrite of the software. Mozilla's decision to go with a rewrite turned out to be the correct one.
So, he's great, but he's not God.
I suppose this is an april fools theme
Has anyone mentioned already that this "color scheme" is a homage to JWZ's home page?
When are we switching back to our old theme?
Or should I unsubscribe?
While Windows may be the least stable in general use, it seems to have the best patching. I haven't had a Windows patch go bad since NT SP4. Linux patches, frequently (especially kernel patches)... Even Solaris which is quite heavily tested regularly has patches that break stuff on my systems.
I still try to keep things up to date, but the more mission critical the box, the less likely it is to be completely current...
What? Linux distributions don't do adequate regression testing? No way. :-)
Sure, because I've never had any issues with a Windows upgrade, and I've certainly never seen it crash..
Seriously, I thought your recent posts have ranged from good to awesome and then we get this. A couple really obvious and pragmatic things come to mind that make you seem very naive here.
First of all, Ubuntu is a distro made for newbies, and hearing someone using ubuntu claim that there is a mysterious bug that ruins linux for them and has no solution is a common occurrance and the rest of us know that its just a newbie and not true. You sound like a clueless tv station doing a "news at 11! find out how hackers could destroy the world!" or "news at 11! how computer slang is hurting your kids education!."
Second, sofware engineering guru != system administration guru, based on that and the first, this guy sounds like some of my very smart CS professors who don't know to unmount a flash drive before removing it and generally act totally dumb around computers.
Third, In the windows world you can get an OS bug and thats it, theres no fixing it, your simply hosed and theres nothing you can do at all. In the linux world, if something worked before then stoped on an upgrade, that is never the case. There is always a relatively painless path to figure out what is causing the bug and then there is always a reasonable solution. People who claim otherwise are linux newbs. Heres a little path for when you find a linux bug for something that worked before. 1. google it. 2. ask in irc. 3. Search the distro/package bug tracker. 4. go to distro/package forum. 5. Post on that forum/bug tracker, and email the software maintainer about your post. 6. You WILL have found the bug and there are two possible results which are: 1. There is a proper fix. 2 there is a fix by downgrading to a stable version and there is a bug report (or you make one, but its probably already there) and the bug WILL be fixed, or you can fix it yourself since its open source.
Jeff, now that you have all this time on your hands, why not start learning some linux stuff? Ubuntu fails at abstracting the core of the system that depends on the command line and is gnu/linux, so don't start there. I would suggest starting with cygwin and get to know the basics in any linux reference and some core command line tools, then use a free vitual machine for an actual linux distro.
Also, The color scheme f@#kin rocks! For those who don't like it, get stylish or force colors in firefox.
Hrm... for everyone who has ever said to me, "Scott, Linux just isn't stable", I've yet to have a single one of them take me up on my always standing offer; "If Linux isn't stable, break a Slackware install." Slackware was my first distro and I fell in love with it - then I tried other distros and finally got what most people were talking about. I've got a Sabayon Desktop that I routinely hose... but it's also bleeding edge; you can't expect to download source that hit the repos five minutes ago and throw it in to your bleeding edge GCC with bleeding edge libraries that are the foundation of the software you're compiling.
If you go the binary distro route, well, it's hit or miss. Mainstream hardware, no wifi, and very few hardware/firmware bugs, and you'll probably be fine - just don't drop a buggy north bridge into the equation (I'm looking at YOU NVidia!) or you'll find out why engineers taking short cuts and not following protocol works 99.9999% of the time, and what happens the other .0001% when your sata controller tries to slice off a few microseconds by not waiting for a reply on the bus before trying to queue more write requests.
Try Slackware; it's stable, the oldest maintained distro, and relies on the KISS principle... I always hear it referred to as vanilla *nix. The maintainer doesn't mess with anything (not even the wallpapers on your desktop!). I've heard of people who have upgraded from version to version for several years. If you've got two minutes, check out Slackware: the classic distro that's as timely as ever: http://lxer.com/module/newswire/view/93393/index.html
If you've got two more minutes, read the comments about it.
The saving grace that I still totally respect you is that you didn't totally conclude anything wrong about linux, you just bring up the idea and say what it tends to lead you to thinking.
About Norvig and JWZ, the first version  of Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years , said: "One of the best programmers I ever hired had only a High School degree; he's produced a lot of great software and through stock options is no doubt much richer than I'll ever be."
This was before Google happened to Norvig. :)
Right, it's the passive aggressive approach to software punditry.
Re: Linux is free if your time is worthless...
I prefer to think of it as "I'd rather spend time than money". People do tend to forget all the time spent learning Windows - learning Linux is the same sort of thing (ditto for Macs). That learning curve didn't go away just because you've already scaled it.
I used Linux fairly exclusively without any problems in University (the two weeks getting the hang of it was far "cheaper" than buying C compilers for Windows). Switched back to Windows mainly because the new computer came pre-installed and my wife didn't feel inclined to let me take her GUI away.
With XP ending it's days, I'm thinking I'll need to migrate back to Linux. Still want my games, though. Solution: installed andLinux, and I'll slowly migrate all my software from Windows to Linux as I have time to learn the comparible tool.
For the specific example, it is a little odd for someone to expect that their custom-written application would automatically work, and for a business-critical app, the fact that he didn't test it first is a little scary. Good thing he's in the nightclub business and not the space program... ;)
"And I have to agree that a hearing a sentence such as "I can't even fathom how such a bug could exist, but that's Linux for you" from a supposed Linux advocate is a bit... strange."
jwz isn't a linux advocate. In fact he's been a linux basher for quite some time now. He's full on apple fanboy these days.
I think that the bit of misplaced logic in your leap from (very smart person cannot administer Linux) to (Linux is hard for people to use) is that it fails to acknowledge the difference between administering a business system and using/administering a personal system. Most of us "mere mortals" are not administering business systems, and, at least given my personal experience, I do not think that the problems from personal use of Linux are much worse than with other systems.
Furthermore, I think that administering business systems is not a task for mere mortals with any OS. Every time a new version of Windows or a major patch comes out, you hear stories of businesses unwilling to upgrade because they know or are afraid that the new software will be incompatible with their critical business applications.
You seem to talk a lot about looking through the fence at open source. What's the deal with that? Just install Linux and try it out a little already. Who cares what somebody else thought about it, I want to know what you think about it.
What have *YOUR* experiences with Linux (and open source in general) been? I don't think I've ever heard you mention your experiences, only other people's.
I'm really getting tired hearing you talk about how everybody is moving to open source while you're still satisfied with Microsoft.
Good God, man, have you been hacked?
Liked your old page scheme much, much better.
Jeff, at first I thought, MAN THE LINUX KIDS WILL EAT HIM ALIVE!!! Then I realized that this is just another april fools joke post.
GREAT APRIL FOOLS JOKE! Nice job Jeff!
Please please please go back to your previous color scheme!
Your blog is a great place, the articles are good, the comments are good, there are many links in your article that take the readers to your other posts...so, even if i start with a single article, I end up spending a lot of time on your blog reading comments and other posts.
This new color scheme is actually a hindrance to all this. I feel like avoiding your blog, because the colors are so...i can't find right word!
I do not actually want the old color scheme. I want something that is easy on eyes. If you do not do that, I might stop coming here.
I know it is not your loss.But it will be my loss, and so I am requesting.
Though it's a April fools post -- and, by the way, I love the reference to JWZ's website in this CSS revamp --, there's some truth in it. When I upgraded the Intel wireless driver on my laptop, it just broke, and I had to rollback to the older one (XP's restore points worked, at least once). And from what I hear about people getting into trouble with Vista's SP1, history may be repeating...
Apparently after 100 posts, only Jay R. Wren seems to have realized that THE POST ITSELF and NOT JUST THE GREEN SCREEN SCHEME are both an April Fool's joke.
Shame on everyone who didn't figure out the joke truly believed Jeff was seriously knocking Linux usage.
The comments pretty much nailed it right to the wall; anyone who tries to do any serious enterprise (or any other kind) of work with Fedora deserves no sympathy; I dumped RedHat very early in the dev process a project I head for reasons that were right out there for everyone to see, and I'm familiar with Jamie and think he should know better. Debian or BSD is waiting for him if decides to use it, and he should have been smart enough to pick one of them, probably Debian, long ago. That the drivers included in most kernels and distros work as well as they do given the problems Micro$oft gives to vendors who support Linux is something of a miracle; as someone mentions, most of it has been written blind.
It's odd that people will seize on a distributions problems, especially one like Fedora that comes with a screaming-out-loud guarantee that you WILL have stability problems, and then in the next sentence start saying Linux This and Linux That. I'll bet you had a bad experience with a blond at some point in your life... did you swear off blonds? Ever had a car accident? Did you never ever drive that type of car again because of it? Give up food forever after a tummy ache? Linux is still young, getting better every year and scares MS more than ever.
The fact that you have to "unmount a flash drive before removing it" in Linux is exactly why people are "looking through the fence".
Last I tried Linux you had to unmount the CD drive before the tray would come out. Absurd. Here's an idea, how about unmounting it for me when I push the eject button.
Jeff, you are just trolling.
Hi Jeff, nice new theme... I can't stop giggling reading this post and comments...
No, I'm not some caliber software engineer like Jamie... but I like coding and I also don't have much time to fix some unnecessary bugs on my OS as it keeps automagically updating. Anyway, I've used RedHat, Mandrake, Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu. Now, I stick with Ubuntu on my dual boot Laptop. Yes, I do have Microsoft Windows XP on my other partition but since I have no more VBA nor VB task anymore, it seems that I haven't booted to winxp for about 5 months now.
You won't believe this. Linux is getting better. And please, there is no Ubuntu 10.7 yet... kekekeke... this Jamie guy really make me laugh... Maybe, Fedora 5 sucks but there is Fedora 8 now and they are also getting way far better than before... come on Jeff, try the upcoming Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) scheduled to be officially launched on 24th April 2008. You can download it for free at http://www.ubuntu.com
For me, I won't bias on which OS is better... all OS are made to fulfill our computing task. I use Mac for my graphic design work, I use Windows for some VB programming and I use Ubuntu Linux for my daily computing (surfing, email, chat, writing, scripting, coding and so on)... please, try linux yourself and see...
"I will say though, Linux audio is _horrible_. And that's coming from someone who uses it as his platform of choice. It does seem to be getting better."
I recently switched to Linux, and my sound quality has actually improved: sound card seems to have much better signal to noise ratio now :) Same deal with open source firmware for my MP3 player
I kindly disagree, sir!
Wherever did you get the idea that Linux is his "platform of choice"? I've never heard him say anything nice about it.
Irix seemed to be his platform of choice, before SGI self-destructed, and then he played with Linux for a little while (enumerating the countless ways it sucks compared to Irix), and then gave up and bought a Mac.
And I find it weird how you conclude that "Linux is so complex that even a world class software engineer can't always get it to work", but nothing else was ever actually tried. Did he have more luck with Windows, or Mac OS, or Irix? Why are you calling attention to a constant? Isn't the more accurate conclusion that "*Computers* are so complex even a world class software engineer can't get it to work"? Unless you have an alternative operating system that would have worked well on his PC for his uses, you can't exactly say Linux is bad -- it's the best we've got, sad as that may be.
P.S., I'm going to have a party next month to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the latest major release of Irix, the Unix OS that was so awesome even Linux could kill it.
Wow one small april fools joke and you unleashed the style police here!
Linux is free if your time is worthless
Windows is only the price you paid for it if your time is worthless.
There's one Windows computer here that will randomly bluescreen if a certain Windows update is allowed on it. It has taken me days to figure this out. It takes hours to do a full reinstall of a Windows system. Every time I installed Linux it's been much quicker. Even my laptop is fully up and running - including wireless access, graphics acceleration and synaptics trackpad options - in less than an hour on Ubuntu but Windows requires downloading drivers (which aren't always easy to find or even correct on the manufacturer's website) and many reboots.
It does take time to do anything whether you are using Linux, Windows, Mac, or whatever.
Nice post Jeff,
I have also given up trying linux on my home PC as well as on my development server. Configuring Java development server with services like SVN, Artifactory, Tomcat, etc. proved out to be a real pain. We have been trying to set it up with my collegue for a week, but then just put XP on that box and everything works fine now (and much faster).
PS: Fool's day is over now, please be kind to your reader's eyes and use some more sensible theme... (preferably black text on white background)
I don't know if the post or only the theme is the april's fool, but what disturbs me is that this kind of "anecdotical evidence" aka trolling is that common, even with the "better" it crowd that consider themselves engineers or scientists.
Programmers, that, if it comes to OSes don' seem to know that theres a difference between the OS and the software running on it.
Administrators, who usualy complain about the ignorance of the users, saying things which boil down to "i installed YOUR os, didnt work, must be the OSs fault, even if i never dealt with it i'm pretty sure".
Bloggers, who take their own, special case experiences and generalize it to "apperently $OS sucks".
And I hate to turn into such a troll myself, when i feel urged to reply.
Please fix this theme. I love reading this blog but will stop reading it in these awfull colors.
Let That Be a Lesson To You, Son: Never Upgrade !
With all the complaining about "it's too hard to read", there's an article about gamma curves just waiting to be written. I can read this just fine on *this* monitor, but I'm sure my other computer would make it painful.
For the FF2 users out there who value their eyes: View - Page Style - No Style.
Linux is a component, not an operating system, which why generalizations like this never lead to much good.
As has already been pointed out, the Fedora system is specifically intended to keep pushing the cutting edge of Open Source server and desktop software; it isn't intended to provide you with a stable or easy to upgrade platform for free, nor to host old software. Some other distributions are specifically engineered for ease of maintenance, and do support online upgrades very effectively. The trade-offs are that they sometimes bundle older software, and the distribution developers have to do more work to ensure smooth transitions.
All distros are not equal.
I hate Red Hat too.
Try out Ubuntu.
I feel like avoiding your blog, because the colors are so...i can't find right word!
I think the word you are looking for is.. "bad"! Don't worry, it was a one-day only April Fool's joke.
a link to his "lounge" with a picture of one guy appearing to bugger another
LOL. DNA Lounge is a great club, but it depends what event/band is scheduled. I'm extremely partial to the Bootie (mashup) shows myself:
Really outstanding stuff. If you're ever in the SF Bay area, I recommend checking it out. It's a true geek club, and I mean that in the best possible way.
Addendum. Linux has never been jwz's "platform of choice". This is a guy who was quoted at length in the Unix-Haters Handbook.
"But I'd rather run Unix than Windows or MacOS any day, because Unix sucks less. That doesn't mean it doesn't suck."
Surely OS X or Windows *could* have worked on the kiosk machines? I have always had success installing Windows on controlled hardware -- unless there's faulty hardware. Still, I find it hard to believe that all the kiosks would have faulty hardware.
"Here's one thing I've learned from experience: if your system can't finish a clean install of Windows, it's not stable. Period. It's tempting to blame Microsoft, but the only possible culprit if you have problems at this stage is the hardware (or possibly a scratched DVD). Trust me on this one. "
Jeff, before i contribute to the war so far, i'd advise you do something about the captcha on your blog. or i might just be tempted to write a script to spam it ;) your blog is well-known, as is the captcha on it. maybe your should randomize the word? that's done, on to the war!
the OS/database/app/browser/* wars are bull, because humans are rarely impersonal about anything. "Mac OS 'just works'"? i have a friend that has had issues with his Mac. *serious* issues. the same can be said for Linux, Windows or anything in this world. while i don't always agree with my boss, i feel that his approach - which is wait until the guy can't open the door, then give him a key that works - is the best thing anyone can do. Linux works for you? great! advocate it, but quit being insufferable and saying everyone else is an idiot. you're using Mac OS? great! tell people what you got good in it, and *maybe* they'll fall in too. Windows works for you? nice! tell people it works, and *show them what you did with it*. people can argue with your methods, but your results are the one thing people can't argue with - especially if they're consistent.
it's a sad thing that a large number of FOSS users are really elitist and act like they're the only right people on earth (as the saying goes, those of you who think you know everything are annoying to those of us who actually do). right now, i have Wings 3D and Softimage XSI Mod Tool installed on my machine and i keep wondering why XSI seems so 'non-intuitive'. nobody's telling me to do my modeling in Wings - but i'm doing it. yet not all my experience with FOSS has been that good. Ubuntu 5 didn't work on my laptop (AMD Turion 64 processor), yet so many people praise it.
gentlemen, the war isn't worth it. let's devote our time to making the world a better place where we can. and it doesn't really matter what software we use doing it - once we get it done.
And again the anecdotal evidence fallacy:
ThatGuyInTheBack wrote on April 2
[my sister] gets a Windows computer, preconfigured.
She spends about zero time on setup and never will.
She *uses* it.
I could say, that this is exactly why windows never worked for my family. They get a nice, preconfigured computer, and in a weeks time it's broken.
Myriards of IE-toolbars, spyware, etc, they even the nicely preconfigured Programs dont work anymore.
They are now using Macs mostly, which i like because a) it seems to work for them, and b) i can now truthfully deny any knowledge of how to fix their problems.
But i would never, ever say that this prooves anything, like i don't accept the "user stories" of Homeopathy or the followers of other pseudo sciences.
She doesn't care about it or its inner workings at all. When
it breaks, she goes to Best Buy or the guys down the street who
can fix windows and they fix it.
which would work for really any OS, i bet even BeOS or Dos.
I have never read so much rubbish in all my life.
a) problems caused by hardware are usually traced to :
arse hole manufacturers either replacing hardware with win-drivers at the buyers expense or refusing to release any info to the oss community driver authors as they are licking the proverbial $ ring piece.
b) installing Red Hat with :
its secret patches and --config cripple precompiled binaries...
c) Forgetting to mention a :
That just about sums up a most n00b install.
I don't understand what the point of this post is. Is it to bash linux? You seem to have jumped to a conclusion about this... Just cause some guy has a problem with trying to update a bunch of machines at a club where he's probably running a pretty customized and complicated network of stuff doesn't mean that it's impossible for anyone to upgrade linux. Windows and OSX can be just as bitchy as Linux. This real point is: computers are bitches, and you're gonna have to frig around with them if you want them to work properly, regardless of operating system. I've had problems with all of the operating systems.
But anyways, it's just provoking the stupid argument of Linux vs. Windows. In the end, you know what? It's your choice, so use whichever platform you want, and I'll use whichever platform I want, and we can all be happy.
I think it's a miracle that things like Ubuntu (which I love b.t.w) even work at all. It's composed of so many independently controlled software components that you'd expect some sort of problems with any new release.
Which brings me to the point. I assume Jamie meant Ubuntu 7.10 and not 10.7 which was released October 2007. Personally for something as important as my own business I might try and use an Ubuntu 'long-term support' version which is going to be a lot more stable and actually has a scheduled end-of-life date after that of 7.10. But perhaps there were other reasons that he could not do that.
He may be a world class programmer but his linux distribution choices are rather odd.
If he wants a stable distro that's not outdated like say, debian stable, there are lots of much better choices around than fedora or ubuntu.
He never heard about gentoo maybe ? don't tell me that a world class programmer spending 4 days trying to install the worst distro around can't spend 3 tweaking use flags.
People forget why Windows won. It was not good marketing. It
certainly wasn't the best technology. It was device drivers, and
There's a much simpler answer. Windows "won" because it was riding on top of an open system (the commodity PC).
These days the roles are reversed and they are competing *against* an open system (Linux). Perhaps they can do it, but its not a situation I'd want to be in.
Linux is a server-oriented operating system, it's is best for POSIX-based network, storage, and embedded systems.
It was never designed for Desktop users in mind - there are NO standards to develop anything there - sound, graphics, etc. are all developed by 'communities' and are not really backed by commercial companies. Yes there are standards, but too many standards. Also software releases are not to enterprise standards either.
It is not "plug and play" - if you deploy any software with Linux, you MUST control the entire stack - kernel, glibc, libraries, drivers, etc. and verify your application works. You CANNOT simply upgrade one component without testing the ramifications to the entire system, simply because NO one person can verify a component will work because there is NO SINGLE STANDARD Linux Distribution.
This is WHY YOU MUST use Redhat Advanced Server or Suse Enterprise and only used software qualified to work with those releases. This is what Big Companies do to reduce risk.
Trust me, I've developed lots of backend-stuff for Linux, but I wouldn't use Linux on the user-side unless I controlled all software releases.
"Here's one thing I've learned from experience: if your system can't finish a clean install of Windows, it's not stable. Period. It's tempting to blame Microsoft, but the only possible culprit if you have problems at this stage is the hardware (or possibly a scratched DVD). Trust me on this one. "
But sometimes you have to do a custom windows cd (which is not a clean install), like when you have raid HDs or some other specific scenario, speaking of that, you can also put most of windows updates in a custom installation CD so you do not need to install then every single time you format your hard drive. Good for making virtual machines too.
The program I use is nLite (vLite for Vista), it is kind hard to use at first but it is worth the effort.
wikipedia entry on nLite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NLite
nLite website: http://www.vlite.net/
use ubuntu: it just works :D
i have actually had less problems with ubuntu hardware than windows.
Wow, that's an amazing amount of FUD! On the other hand, can't say that I read Coding Horror for its Linux advocacy. Haven't heard of Jamie Zawinski before, but it sounds like he is almost as good at jumping to the wrong conclusions based on, what I can conclude as, limited experience with a Linux distro, as some of the commenters here.
A bit more balance in your articles would be appreciated Jeff.
Mark said (stupid "no html" means no italics. ***WHY, Jeff?***):
"I think it is also somewhat disturbing that a software developer of Jamie's caliber refuses to bust open the source code and at least take a look. Refusing to leverage one of the strongest points of OSS seems kinda...odd."
Doesn't seem odd to me. Without tons of existing knowledge about the sound architecture or kernel sound drivers, the amount of effort required to do anything meaningful can't possibly be compensated for in comparison to "just don't upgrade" or "go back to what worked".
His time ain't worthless, I imagine.
Been installing linux since 1994 (slackware) now. Always gone back to windows again. And I really like Linux, and I really dislike microsoft.
Ever since comp.sys.amiga.advocacy I've been a Microsoft enemy. It didn't take much to jump on the linux train. I've come around though, only took me 20 years. Microsoft rules.
Ubuntu was kinda ok after some configuration. Then I tried to upgrade it, and it broke.
Every time I've tried to install linux, there has been something not working. It can be wireless, the graphics card, recognizing hard drives... It was fun to fix these things at first, but it got old.
I want a rock solid OS with speed, but it seems there are none. There is no incentive to make one. XP seems to be the closest thing.
Anyway, I decided that customizing and repairing my OS wasn't really my thing. So I'm back to XP again. XP works out of the box, it is stable and doesn't break if I decide to upgrade it.
Microsoft has won me over, I'm one of them now.
One frequently faces the choice of whether to update software or not. The gains are some extra features. The out-of-pocket cost may be zero (as with the free iPhone download) or it may be substantial.
But in all cases there can be a substantial opportunity cost of one’s time, a cost that is often much larger than one expects (since in many cases things will not work right away).
"Software Engineering might be science; but that's not what I do. I'm a hacker, not an engineer."
What was purpose of this post?
To drive home that Linux is so damn bad. Don't dare use it.
I tried Gentoo (64bit, back when they were the only 64bit game in town) - got it working in 3 days flat - kept it for a couple of years, didn't have working sound support, didn't care much.
Finally got tired of not being able to watch video and hear the sound, Gentoo was in hospice by this time so I tried Debian - much easier, have all kinds of features now, but the NVIDIA drivers break with every kernel upgrade. I know there's a way around this, thousands of geeks do it 6 times a year with the kernel updates - but it's less than 100% obvious to me - what is 100% obvious is just not updating the kernel - I'm sure this will cause me to break something else with an upgrade that depends on a newer kernel someday... but in the meantime I remain blissfully months behind the latest kernel updates and I don't have to learn that extra little bit of geekdom.
There truly are more important things in life.
"Apparently, Linux is so complex that even a world class software engineer can't always get it to work."
Hopefully, it is only an apparence and this sentence is a trully proof of incompetence.
I mean, I'm lazy, and I'm the type of guy that never want to re-install a system. Back in the late 90's, when every one was re-installing win9k evrey 6monthes to keep a clean stable system, I re-installed only when foreced by to much BSOD.
And you know what ? Now i'm using Ubuntu. Far, far, simplier than Windows. I agree only about the audio system, refactored for upcomming Ubuntu 8.04, we'll see if it is implier.
I recommand Ubuntu for simplicity. Or Mac OS X. But Yeah, the guy who say "I have no time to waste updating linux" must have a very important thing to avoid spending 20minutes...
Heh. Always amazing how many people come out of the woodwork to defend or decry a particular OS, even if the post is on the 1st of April.
To all those who are busy saying 'hey it takes no time at all' I suggest you go and work in a proper IT job or a proper software engineering job where you have to do something more complicated than the equivalent of running a command prompt or Notepad or the same daily tasks. Variety is the spice of life, except to computers.
Everything, be it Windows, Linux, Mac, Solaris, whatever, has bugs, has things that are hard to get right, things that break the next time you upgrade. If you haven't found something difficult to do yet on your evangelised OS of choice, you've not done enough. You can either view it as they're all crap, or they all have uses and pick the right tool for the right job, stick with it, and ignore the fools who say their way is better.
Heck, if we're going to talk about simplicity/ease of use to do with PCs, we sit every day at our chosen pile of electronics and bash on a keyboard mouse. Anyone who considers that simple, easy to use, healthy and other such nouns, hasn't done it for long enough to know what RSI stands for. Of course, simple is in the eye of the beholder.
Happy April's Troll Day !
What's important to note is that JWZ is a software engineer, retired. And apparently not a great sysadmin if he's deploying this on kiosks on the club floor. If your design includes scripts to detect massive failures and reboot the entire system, I'd find the entire engineering effort a little suspect.
a href="http://jwz.livejournal.com/846523.html"If you read his post/a, it's clear he's really designed much of the system himself. He's running Netscape binaries of ANCIENT comportment, because it's cool to be ironically out of date like that. We're talking a.out binaries that may not even have kernel support anymore. The nail on the coffin here though is LTSP. That's right, his 1GHz systems for browsing the web are apparently too slow to run ancient Netscape builds, in his esteem. Well, that makes it about a billion times harder to debug, and apparently it's Ubuntu's fault he went with that strategy? Also, if he already discovered that EduBuntu is the LTSP rollout of Ubuntu yet, I imagine he would have mentioned it by name.
This might be a colossal failure, but mostly one of overambition and undernourishment. And his blog is finding out the hard way that you'll probably have to pay someone to care about such a random configuration if you can't be bothered to care about it yourself.
Well, upgrading is always should be thought off. Debian is the right way for someone who wants they system stable and secure. Of course that not as geeky as running just-out-of-hands-of-developers version which suppose to be bleeding edge in terms of technologies, but that meant to be run by developers who could fix all the issues IN THE CODE and issues are supposed to be there, remember, open source uses you as a tester since they do not have other options.
But if you forget about upgrades than Linux is better choice than Windows since you have more control over the system. Something doesn't work - there is either an alternative that does the job or a good diagnostic messages you could put in the Google and get the answer. Windows rarely offers you the same, as an example I couldn't setup IIS on my notebooks OEM Windows XP Pro. It just doesn't work. No diagnostic, no logs, nothing. Reinstalling didn't help, neither did upgrading. I have to use Apache with mod_aspdotnet to run ASP sites which are essential for my work. Under Linux I could switch to other distribution that fix my problem but here I just stuck. That's Windows for you :)
i have been Linux user since Redhat6, all that i can say is Linux has improved by hugely now, thanks to opensource. Linux user has to know a bit more abt his h/w: the common complaint "my device does not work in XYZ distribution so Linux is bad!" is not helpful. Sound projects like ALSA are good right now. It is not Linux's fault that you could not figure out the latest distribution for your h/w. I personally liked PCLINUXOS 2007 for its simplicity and stability, followed by Fedora and Ubuntu
Hardy forces Firefox 3 on you. Upgrading on day one also has the problem of taking 13 hours because everyone else is doing it.
Well, Jeff. The results are in. According to the Linux users who have responded, you are a stupid, dishonest, trolling, mendacious, self-serving, inept, incompetent, corrupt MS fanboy. And so is Jamie Zawinski.
Incidentally, the main reason why I will never install Linux on any of my computers is... Linux users! What a loathsome and smarmy bunch.
The solution for this is simple and it's already in wide use by plenty of professional musicians and others who have to deal with audio:
Get a Mac.
Is there anyway to get back to your original OS before you upgraded? I have a computer (emachines brand)that came with Vista and it sucked. It came with a disk called Windows Anytime Upgrade and I didn't know it had a grace period! Now it's expired and now I can't use my computer until I buy ANOTHER disk for it....quite expensive too. I really don't want to buy it but I fear that I have no choice. I'm soooo stupid!! Help?
I don't know, if he was such a world class software engineer, I would have expected him to fix the bug in the sound system instead of whining that it was broken (which was of course something that shouldn't have happened). It is open source for a reason, you know? Especially when your business depends on it, it is probably worth the effort.
Of course, if you find another solution that works for you and is "cheaper" then use it. But if you decidedly choose free (as in free beer) open source software without buying any service for it and don't want to invest something in it, you probably made the wrong choice.
I can't repeat this enough: OSS lives from individuals contributing to it. If you expect everything to always work as you think it should, then OSS isn't for you. It doesn't get better from talking about how bad it is or that it *still* is so complex or not like this or not like that.
(Of course, I could sometimes rant endlessly about why this or that doesn't work, but it still is up to me to do something about it)
I cannot help but wonder: Linux geeks stopped bashing Windows on their blogs a long time ago and started doing more constructive stuff. When will Windows geeks stop bashing everything else and return to producing interesting stuff? Since, you know, Windows-bashing and Linux-bashing has been boring for quite a while now...
Linux audio is the reason I gave up Linux as a /desktop/ OS in 2000. And again in 2002. And once more in 2006.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me three times and I'll put up with half a dozen Putty windows on my Windows desktop for development...
"I don't know, if he was such a world class software engineer, I would have expected him to fix the bug in the sound system instead of whining that it was broken..."
See, this is why, when I hear the word "Linux", I generally think of the words "insufferable prick". What a ridiculous negative attitude: "If it doesn't work right, it's your fault for not fixing it yourself!"
Let me ask you a question: What precisely is Jamie's incentive to waste potentially several hours or several days digging through code he already knows is shoddy, in order to fix some annoying bug that wasn't there yesterday? What is his compensation for this incredibly tedious work? The guy has a business to run, for god's sake, one which I'm sure pays a lot better than, um, nothing.
Oh, right, it's that warm fuzzy feeling you get from conquering obstacles and making the world a better place for the other 38 users with the same problem. Ha ha. As Jamie says, f**k it.
The story here isn't Linux - and it's suspect to say the least the anti-Linux spin you put on it considering some of your sponsors.
The story is more about if you're writing tons of very, very custom custom code on obscure hardware you should expect some problems at upgrade! This goes for any platform. To some degree the fact that the guy is "A World Class Engineer" makes me think he can also tend to be a bit too clever and do things the rest of us "mere mortals" would never do. Thus he has problems we would never have and have never had (in my case running many production servers - many of which haven't been rebooted for months, greater than nine months in some cases).
We had the same problems with the move to Win95, XP, Vista (which had huge driver problems and those are at least written by the company), and IE7 "broke the web". Like I said, the story here isn't about Linux, but how you should expect problems with your extremely custom work when you upgrade. It makes me sad that the angle on this that was given, and the angle many seem to enjoy taking up is "Ha! I've been telling everyone Linux sucks!" Right. Someone had an expected problem and now an entire OS is confirmed to suck. What.
Additionally Fedora is a horrible choice for anything requiring stability. Great general use OS, but it should be regarded as beta honestly. CentOS, Debian, or any other distribution aimed at production.
I need this tattoo'd on my hand. Upgrading for the sake of upgrading is dangerous and I've been burned by that myself several times:
I recently upgraded my Debian production box from sarge to etch and along the way, it upgraded MySQL (from 4 to 5). At first blush, everything looked great. But then it wasn't until typical/normal traffic arrived later that it was apparent that "lazy joins" weren't supported in MySQL 5 and several things were broken as a result. The mod_auth modules I used had also changed and my authenticated sections of our sites were broken as a result.
I also recently upgraded my MythTV box from 0.20 to 0.21 and it made things worse, too.
I've seen it said elsewhere - software doesn't "rot" over time.
This has been the opposite of my experience over the past 7 or so years of dabbling with various Linux flavors. My first few attempts were disasterous, but more recent installs with Knoppix, openSUSE and Ubuntu have been surprisingly good. Hardware and drivers were automatically detected, and everything just worked. In the Windows world - particularly with Vista - I often have to hunt or wait for drivers from hardware manufacturers, and if they're bad I'm just stuck.
I'll agree that audio on Linux is a weak point.
I've been using Linux for quite a few years and have never had the above problems unless I was using some obscure hardware that no one had ever heard of. Especially on Ubuntu, which has the best hardware support I've seen yet.
ps.the orange is green
this post seriously disappoints me.
I am an 18 year old college student, working on my GE to eventually get a degree in computer science. I have had 1 formal class in computers, and that was programming java.
I run linux all day, inside and out.
Home desktop? Linux.
Work desktop? Linux.
every server I install at work? you betcha, thats linux.
"I have better things to do" is rather humorous. Just because you failed doesn't mean its not a simple fix. My home computer has been acting up, so I installed an Alpha of ubuntu on it. it failed miserably. rather than patch it, i went and installed the next beta when it came out 2 days later. works better than ANY system i have EVER seen.
With the release of Vista, I am AMAZED that anyone still have faith in microsoft.
I'll tell you what. Give me 30 minutes to install and customize ubuntu on ANY system (that time doesn't include install time, as that could take a bit longer depending on your hardware) and I DEFY you to find a way that vista is faster, more user friends, more stable, or more secure.
Us "mere mortals" just don't have a God complex, and realize that computers can take time to get set up perfectly. and if you're smart and want to save time, theres WONDERFUL resources, you can find them on this new thing, called "the internet".