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An anti-Linux rant  §

From someone that has used Linux since 1993 and wrote six books about it, and that has been using (and, a long time ago, writing) free software since the mid-’80s…

I’m a Unix guy. I’m NOT necessarily a Linux guy. I value the transparency, modularity, power, predictability, stability, and general programmability and informational model of Unix systems.

The thing that kept me using Linux all these years was that it was the most driver-rich and performance-oriented of the free Unixes. But I am sitting here posting this on an iPhone because my laptop hit 34 boots and thus I’m in the middle of a 750 gig fsck.

No Unix machine should ever have to be rebooted 34 times in it’s lifetime, for God’s sake. And yet here I am, frustrated as hell after spending 2 hours trying to diagnose a problem that I ultimately trace to SELinux rule changes that came down through recent updates. These has the great effect of disabling all Nautilus (desktop and file manager) extensions, including Dropbox (which I use continuously) and my second monitor (which I also use continuously) without so much as a warning or an error message. When I finally traced it back to SELinux and used the SELinux tool from the administration menu to disable SELinux as a quick test, the system stopped booting with a blank screen.

By hitting ‘A’ at the GRUB bootloader, then backspacing over the “rhgb quiet nomodeset” options, I was able to see that the kernel was hanging at SELinux initialization now (with the damned thing supposedly disabled). So I powered down and repeated the process, supplying “SELinux=0” to GRUB.

I feel sorry for any non-Linux people who install Fedora, try to use the included administration tools to disable SELinux for some reason, and end up with a non-booting system that offers no clue as to why it’s refusing to boot.

Two hours. For a rule change that disabled desktop extension scripts and external monitor detection. Whose wrote these rules? Who was responsible for testing them? Clearly nobody I want to deal with as (these days) a user of this operating system.

Two hours.

I do not have two hours to waste on this, nor do I (for any RTFM weenies that ever happen to stray across this page) have the time to spend becoming an expert on all of the umpteen new and vaguely non-Unixy subsystems that have infected production Linux like a series of viruses in the last half decade.

Solution: I have disabled SELinux permanently by passing a kernel arg, I’ve disabled updates from the Fedora repos (because evey other week or so they break something critical, and this from “updates” and not “updates-testing”) and I will be looking for alternatives to Linux rather than going to Fedora 13. Mainstream Linux has grown too big for it’s britches and stability and the general Unix way are no longer a priority, if they are even important at all.

I’m tired of distro maintainers that break the current “stable” release with every other batch of updates, but that seem unable for years on end to patch things like a simple Radeon screen corruption fix that I re-enter and recompile by hand every time I go to a new version or they send an update for the driver down the pipe. It’s exactly ass-backward: they’re supposed to patch the broken stuff (screen corruption) and ensure stability and compatibility with regard to the working stuff (i.e. no new subsystems or major policy changes in a non-beta/non-testing release and installation).

I love the technology of Linux and the idea of open source, but I really can’t stand technology people any longer, with their pedantry and careless disregard for users. Clearly I have unbecome one of them.

OS X is a prime candidate as the replacement.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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