Monday, 24 November 2008

Linux --- not ready for civilians

I'm an old hand Unix user --- I've been using it since 6th edition. So I am "amused" by the claims of the Linux hands that "even a caveman" can install Linux. Not.

My linux experience started out with Redhat. Initially, since my motherboard was so new, there wasn't a driver for the NVIDIA chip. I did get this to work by hacking this and that and trusting (but not verifying) the kernel modules. This worked well for a long time, at least until I decided to upgrade. Mistake. It couldn't do the upgrade well and I ended up stranded in the middle.

Finally, after the sabbatical, I returned to my homebuilt machine. I installed a new DVD writer and backed up the files. Then I tried to install Ubuntu (after all, it's good enough for Google [gubuntu]). Botch. It got hung trying to access the floppy! Thanks to google, I was able to locate the thread that discussed how to get around that --- fiddling with the grub options. Now, who are they kidding? Who is going to get this right except someone who's willing to hack it up? Then it's time for the Xorg.conf section of hell. Each time I got it wrong, there was no recourse but to reboot.

Now, there's a new distribution. OK, one thing I really like about Ubuntu is the aptitude upgrade manager. Just fantastic. So, I go ahead. Looked good until it asked me about installing the NVIDIA kernel modules --- I thought, well, why not? Well, we're back in Xorg.conf hell again, that's why not. Fortunately, I was able to get it work by looking at my past configuration (I was able to do the install of Ubuntu without blowing my files away by installing the new system on my formerly shared file system).

So, now it's running well. And it's fun to use. But tell me --- is Linux really ready for novices to install it? I don't think so.

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