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Linux is only free... - Elf M. Sternberg
Linux is only free...
Jamie Zawinski, whose best known in the Linux community for doing more work and getting less money developing the original Mozilla than Andreeson ever did, but who's popularity is mostly cemented on his continuing development of the best screensaver package ever, has a quote that never rang more true for me than today: "Linux is only free if your time is worthless."

This is a truism of any endeavor, of course: the point has to be that going from a hunk of metal and a box of bits, how long does it take to get to a functional operating platform on which one can perform "useful work?" Installing an OS is no longer an exercise in challenging my abilities; it's simply a necessary step towards getting things done, like word processing and so on. That's one of the reasons why I chose RedHat. Screw the "user nuisance" factor associated with dealing with the company; the box of bits they distribute (still, "for free" on-line, after all) is one of the better. It "just worked" after I installed it.

Oh, sure, I'm letting the box churn through some optimizations (upgraded Gthumb and openSSH, and am now upgrading X to 4.3.0 with a hot compiler) while I do other things. I upgraded the kernel to 2.4.24 and installed both the laptop-mode patch and the Con Kolivas patchset, so now I have ext3 with good disk behavior, O(1) scheduling, low latency, and a preemptible kernel. It makes a BIG difference, although if you're doing something CPU intensive at the same time as a download, the download can slow down significantly (the CPU activity pre-empts the I/O now). Unfortunately, Con's patches conflict with the 2.4 Software Suspend patch, and after trying to hack both in by hand, I decided I could live without Software Suspend because APM "just works" with this build, anyway. I don't have to be here while those work, though; building X takes a long time.

Current Mood: satisfied satisfied
Current Music: Paul Oakenfold, The Harder They Come

5 comments or Leave a comment
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: January 28th, 2004 03:38 am (UTC) (Link)
In case you weren't aware - jwz
dominic_m_ From: dominic_m_ Date: January 28th, 2004 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

darn darn darn

it sounds like your not having to much fun at the moment. well i made it back from my unwanted roadtrip to pennsylvainya "relativly" intact.my PDA on the other hand.....did not.it was in my hotel room in a different spot from where i placed it originllly.and it was also hidden/covered in a whole bunch of paerwork i brought with me and left in my room when i decided to take a break from work and grab some java and grub from a nearby cafe. when i returned it had 3 large almost vertical cracks in the glass.thats not the worst of it.besdes the fact that im now stuck without all of my important data i need and my endevour was a bust i punched a wall much too hard in my anger and i think i broke something.just below my pinkie knuckle its really swollen and icky painfull. right now its more along the lines of a dull thud but movement of my pinkie is semi limited and any weight/pressure/resistance on my pinkie results in very very large doses of unwanted anguish.im hoping beyond hope that its just a very deep tissue bruis but if it doesent feel better in another few days im going to have to see a doctor. I soo wish america had free health care.if i wanted to i cud just go to an ER and fix it n run but thats just not right.on a side note if it is broken its the first real broken bone ive had. heres hoping that first doesent happen....d'oh. (mean old hard wall)
aprivatefox From: aprivatefox Date: January 28th, 2004 07:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for that JWZ quote - I hadn't seen it before, and it's a very pithy way of summing exactly why I don't use Linux anymore.

Somewhere around the point when computing stopped being a hobby of mine and started being my job, I needed things to Just Work, Dammit. I eventually found it in my heart (and, more tryingly, in my wallet) to go Mac. Haven't played with the free release of the OSX kernel (Darwin) for x86, but perhaps it's well-behaved and packaged? (Certainly the commercial release is, but I won't deny that that route is pricey.

elfs From: elfs Date: January 30th, 2004 06:13 am (UTC) (Link)


Well, JWZ's quote is true of any operating system. The heartbreak and annoyance factor Omaha has gone through with her ibook would have driven me to distraction, especially with the "what do you mean I can't fix it?" part. I understand that other people want someone else to fix, and they don't want it to break.

I have to say that the only problems I've had are when I've made a mistake trying to muck with the inner workings of the OS myself. RedHat and Mandrake "just worked" and took me from nothing to a working OS in the time it took to read three CDs.
aprivatefox From: aprivatefox Date: January 30th, 2004 08:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Certainly, the comment is true of any OS (or any other system that works imperfectly and is known to need maintenance) - for me, the best frustration level turned out to be my powerbook (which is even now being serviced by an Apple Tech somewhere, where it has been for well over two weeks, to my great annoyance).

For me, the big hurdle with Linux has been the attitude I've encountered in trying to get support that, as a programmer, I should have started by trying to recompile things or read through source code to figure out why things broke. That way lies frustration for me. In fairness, though, I have a Debian box that a friend set up in a very out-of-the-box sort of way, that sits, and runs, and functions quite nicely as a low-usage fileserver. We have a nice agreement where I don't muck with it, and it extends me the same courtesy.

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