This isn’t going to make some people happy *rant*

So, in order to play World of Warcraft, I needed to install Windows XP on one of my partitions. I even paid for a copy, making it nice and legal.

Now you have to understand, this is the first copy of Windows I’ve had on my machine since about Y2K. I probably have an entry back towards the begining of this blog where I talk about being Windows free. Die hard Linux/BSD/Unix person, that’s me.

Over the course fo the weekend, I’ve been using XP with Firefox, PuTTY, and most recently Trillian.

You know what? I think I like it. You install it – and in my case, update drivers for all the add-on devices – and it just works. I actually enjoy a lot of the user experience in XP. They’ve reduced the number of reboots drastically since Win2K, and the UI isn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be when it was new.

And shit just works! Download firefox, install, and boom, it works. Same with Thunderbird. And Trillian. And the TV Tuner card software. Wait, wait, I don’t need to resolve dependancies? I don’t need to go in search of some half-finished compile-it-yourself and hope it works code?


I see why OSX is eating both Linux and Windows marketshare – right now, OSX is the only true alternative! You buy it, and shit just works!

If they has OSX for ia32/x86/x86_64, I’d be on it like white on rice.

I can see where Linux has a long way to go. And I can see where we’ve been, and how much we’ve improved. But there’s a lot of work to be done. So I’m asking the community :

Stop writing bullshit. We have enough terminal emulators. Enough dynamic web platforms, web browsers based on the mozilla engine, and alternate desktops. Heaven forbid, not everything needs transparency, or a theme engine, or plug-ins. Or, for that matter, yet another widget set.

Write some useful software that just works.

We have OpenOffice and Firefox.
Make them better.

We have Evolution and Thunderbird.
Give them an integrated calendar that works, and can interact with each other easily.

Make a calendar server that doesn’t suck, and isn’t based on a web platform.

Make device drivers easier to use and less of a PITA to add on and install.

While we’re at it, stabilize the toolkits and APIs. I can understand needing to recompile for $toolkit v2 vs. $toolkit v1, but having to rewrite the app is bullshit.

Linux and OSS has the security, and the overall stability – let’s fix the User and “third party” Developer Experience.

Don’t dumb it down, but make it work, and work well. We’re about halfway there. Question is, can we make it the rest of the way?

About Kevin Sonney

Kevin Sonney - who, contrary to popular opinion was NOT raised by wolves - grew up in central North Carolina. He fell into the technology field by accident in 1991, when he gave up the wild and crazy lifestyle of an on-air AM radio DJ to become a mundane technical support monkey. The technology industry has never really recovered from this. Kevin has worked for such names as IBM, Red Hat, webslingerZ, and Lulu Technologies (we won't mention the ones that didn't survive the experience). He currently works as a Linux Administrator for Apptio. In his spare time he rescues stray animals and plays video games with his two sons. His wife, we're sad to say, helps him get past the really hard bits. Kevin is still not very mundane, he just got better at hiding it.
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15 Responses to This isn’t going to make some people happy *rant*

  1. jay says:

    Perhaps you are working in the wrong group at the Hat?

    Seriously, you hit the nail on the head. I am running Mac now because I was not satisfied with where Linux was on the desktop front. I left XP to go to Mac.

    You should be in product. :)

  2. z_kungfu says:

    BINGO! Yes jay absolutely hit it on the head. You have vision as to where you need to go and are correct. Also as he said Apple has hit it on the head with OSX. You’ll be at the dark side soon enough…

  3. clubjuggler says:

    Yep, I hear you. Although to see the other side of XP, I’ve been running it at work for a couple of months now and after it’s been going for a while, it seems to get less stable. When I started out I didn’t have to reboot but once a week or so. Now I have to reboot every few days, but YMMV.

    Make a calendar server that doesn’t suck, and isn’t based on a web platform.

    I definitely agree about all the calendars that you have to use the web to interact with, but I think a good calendar server will probably involve WebDAV in some way. I really like being able to publish my iBook iCal calendar to my Apache server using WebDAV and then download it for whatever client I’m using elsewhere. That’s not everything you need for a good calendar server, but it goes a long way.

    BTW, you know you can get a decent iBook for under $1000. Joseph Tate on the TriLUG SC was showing us his iBook at the last SC meeting and he got a 1.2GHz G4 with combo drive and decent hard drive for $850. Something to think about…

  4. alchemist says:

    “Less stable over time” sounds like a memory leak – and with your symptoms, maybe a worm, adware, or virus.

    I already had my first adware removal cycle. That’s been the only issue so far. Same with Renee.

    Systems don’t shift like that without some other issue going on – hardware, or malicious software. If it’s good for a week, then you need a reboot, it should be good for another week. If it’s shifted to every few days, check hardware, or for new software.

    Even when I was running NT4/2K, it ran for literally weeks without a reboot unless I changed a setting or patched it. I don’t see how XP is going to be much different at this point.

    I may eat those words in a month. *grin*

  5. alchemist says:

    I won’t go into what I think of PM. Suffice to say, I’ll stay in sales where I can interact with customers, support, and engineering – and make fat of money for a while.

    I run Linux at work, and I’m happy with it. But now I know how much better it could be. Maybe I need to try a Mac – seriously try a Mac, and not just doodle with it at the Apple Store….

  6. maxdwolf says:

    My only problem w. XP so far has been connectivity issues and the lack of support.

  7. akiko says:

    What causes memory leaks in non-windows environments? I’ve found that if I leave Evolution running for a while, my system gets really slow. Same with Firefox (though I think I still have 0.9 or so.)

    I would *so* like it if shit just worked. Like my %^@%^*@ USB device. Stupid laptop.

  8. alchemist says:

    Mostly, memory leaks are caused by bugs. When dealing with apps, you *ALWAYS* need to make sure any objects you use either get reused or destroyed apropriately. Newer Firefox and Evolution builds are a lot better than the older ones – Firefox 1.0 runs for days with no problems on my boxes.

    I agree. I have no idea why your USB is acting the way it’s acting. Maybe on my week off I can come up and take a look at it.

  9. zombiepops says:

    okay so here’s my take. inclusive of the whole XP/Linux/OSX issue.
    now i’ll admit i’m a huge BSD bigot^Wfan. but alot of the problem you seem to be having seem to be more specificly Linux or Redhat problems. so quicly i’ll recomend you take some time at some point and install {Free,Net,Open}BSD and play aroudn with that. Leave your awfull patch revision mess/get a real package manager. okay advokitty over.

    note about the following complaints: yes, most of these complaints wont be noticable by most people. thats fine for you, but I spend a heck of a lot of time working with computers. It supposed to be a tool to help me do work (usually programing, system adiministration or school work). If I have to fight with the computer it is not helping but hindering. (okay so you know this but this is more for the other people who dont).

    okay so i can’t stand xp. i dread having to boot into xp the few times i have to at work. Too much is shipped turned on by default. too bad a track record with security for me to feel comfortable with it shipping with every service under the sun turned on. I hate the new start menu, and i’m driven nut by the fact that at school every update or new machine i log into resets back to the hideus playschool color scheme. Too many new features are compensating for bad design flaws we’ve had to live with for years, and have accepted. (see MSI packages). oh yeah, and how about a package manager that doesn’t leave cruft all over the hard drive, and that actualy works. Second to that, quit changing where all the control panels are located. hell it now seems like service packs move them around.

    okay this will piss off some of the Die Hard Max OSX fans. first off this isn’t so much OSX but the comunity of OSX users. okay guys, just cuse stupid linux weenies do it wrong doesn’t mean you should too. /usr/local (and possibly /opt) exist for a reason. unless Apple ships/supports it, it goes in /usr/local. got it? Eye Candy is good. It sells lots of desktops i’m sure. But guys come on, I quit using enlightenment years ago cuse all it could do is look pretty, let me get on with my work here. and finaly, if you’re going to claim to be unix atleast act like it. don’t hide all your config data in some hidden database and generate flat text config files when the data base is updated. this is begging for trouble.

    Both OSX and XP
    virtual/multiple desktops. please, don’t make me download some crappy 3rd party shareware that will only work 80% of the time, to get this. Its really useful. I hate working without it. and add a useable scripting support, with an API that does everything i need, not 75%. And preferably in a language that doesn’t suck ass (*COUGH*VB*COUGH*) registry/active directory/netinfo, any system that data goes into, but won’t come out of in any standards vaguly complaint maner is bad. very very bad. it makes for great vendor locking, and i just can’t agree with that. and you know what they say about standards, there are so many to pick from, yet they still feel the need to invent thier own.

    as to your comment on writing bullshit, i have this to say.
    obviously we don’t have enough of these this or people wouldn’t still be writing them. Python does some things better then Perl. Perl does some things better then Python. same with KDE and Gnome (except for XFCE, they do everything better *GRIN*). so you say we have enough terminal emulators do we? well find me one that supports unicode(i’ll even accept utf8 and not require the full utf32), anti-aliasing, tabs, and doesn’t require either qt and everything-else-in-KDE, or gnome-package-of-the-week, bonobo-pointless-ass-scratchers, gnome-pty-helper, gnome-pty-nohelper, cobra-what-is-it-we-do-this-week and mono-because-it-serves-no-purpose. Please. I’m serious here.

    and you realize this is the price you pay for not being stuck with only one option. remember if microsoft had its way, you wouldn’t be able to write apps in anything but VBscript. The price for having options is way to many options.

    now excuse me. i need to go make world and calm down.

  10. alchemist says:

    The first thing I’m going to say is – yes, these are all valid points. And as a technician, and engineer, and a developer, you should care about these and making them better.

    Now change your perspective for a moment :

    Does your mom care?
    Does the office admin at your work care?
    Does the legal staff care?
    Does accounting care?

    About any of that?

    No, the general end user does not. What they care about is that it works when they need it to, it isn’t overly complex for them to add/remove their own stuff, and just works. If we want to see a real, valid choice, we have to address these concerns as well. Otherwise we’ll always be fighting the “I can do online banking because $bank only supports IE/MS”

    And in some instances, yes, having the right tool for the job means having more than one tool. Perl, Python, C…it’s like having a carpenter’s hammer, a drywall hammer, and a rubber mallot – each is a hammer, and can be used like one, but need to be applied correctly. OTOH, having 5 terminals that don’t do UTF8 but have more eye-candy than enlightenment is overkill.

    I admit, there is a price that goes with freedom – not just eternal vigilance, but the threats of eternal stagnation or eternal chaos. Finding the ballance is the difficult bit – and allows for the greatest choice. We’re chaotic right now – and that can be good, because if we pull back too far, we’ll stagnate. But we do need to reign it in a little, and focus on more than just what’s important to you or me.

    And for the record, xterm supports unicode. We did the bloody work. Can’t help it if upstream doesn’t accept the patches. For everything else, guess what? You need a gui toolkit to make that happen – a framework and all the shit that goes with it. But if you really need it, fluxbox has tabbing in the WM, and is almost as light as the XFCE wm. Hell, 3/4 of my users could care less about tabbing – they don’t use terminals anyway.

  11. akiko says:

    I need to update my stuff again. Haven’t had a spare second to pick my nose, so anything frivolous falls aside.

    When’s your free week? I’m going to be running around for a few weeks here.

  12. alchemist says:

    I have forced vacation from Xmas all the way to New Years. No work the week of Dec 27-31.

  13. zombiepops says:

    two things to point out. most corparate enviornments where i’ve worked have gone to lengths in atempts to prevent me from doing things with my computer, specificly add/remove software. so the easy of adding and removing software is somewhat moot from the buisness end of things.

    and second, you realise we’re having this conversation in the wrong direction? I as a freesoftware developer write software i find useful. hopefully it may be of some use to you. I don’t sell software, so i dont have to make it do what you think it should. you on the other hand do (or specificly work for some entity that does).

    I’m really glad someone had the need for a kick ass office suite/window manager/terminal app/what ever else and is willing to share it with me. if there are feature i feel it needs, well unless they feel it needs those features too, i’ve got to either write a office suite/window manager/terminal app/what ever else myself that does what i need.

    sounds like what you might be advocating is taking the mythicly wonderful linux bizzare and turning it into a dreaded cathedral. don’t make me call rms and esr and sick them on you…

  14. alchemist says:

    Eazsy add-remove: Bullshit. The admins who control thigns also have to go through the same hoops as a home user to install/uninstall, and if it’s too big a PITA, they’ll go with the one that’ll cost them less overhead and time. RHN sells bigtime to help solve those problems, but there’s stillt he pakaging overhead. Tell an admin that they need to recompile/relink/make install on 45 boxen to get everyone updated and you’ll get shot.

    *NIX has a great story when it comes to security and admin control for desktops. Why then is Windows the gold standard? Because MS spent a lot of effort making sure that an Admin could do what they need and want to do easier. Add to that that it’s significantly more time consuming to do those same things on *NIX right now…hell, everyone wants the lower cost, but the ROI is still higher *nix vs. windows.

    And yes, we probably are. There seem to be three kinds of programmers in the community – the ones who write stuff for themselves and share, the ones who write stuff for everyone, and the dick wavers (see my l33t web program!). Of the ones who write stuff for everyone, there’s still a lot of dick waving – I can write a new one better vs. I can make the existing one better. If you need a feature in an office suite, why rewrite the suite/term app/etc? It’s open source! Hell, forks happen, and can be *GOOD* (see vs. XFree86)

    I don’t want it to be a cathedral, I just wish some of these guys would show some common fucking sense instead of re-inventing the wheel every time they need a wheel. I’ll admit that choice is good, but there are points where too much choice results in discord, and not nice, orderly chaos.

    Oh, and FWIW, I met RMS about a year ago, and I think I can take him. I didn’t get a chance to meet ESR when he was in the area, which is unfortunate, because after meeting RMS, I respect ESR a whole lot more. Word is they’re both assholes, but aren’t we all?

  15. zombiepops says:

    thats funny. when ever i’ve had to do large installs/upgrades under unix, i’ve never had to build and relink 45 times. build/relink once, create tarball of updated files, copy tarball to machine needing updating, untar. hell i even wrote a perl script at one point that would watch a make install, look for all the cp, mv, and install commands and build the tar ball for me. you know just b/c people want to do things the hard way…

    as for MS being the gold standard, often those decisions come from outside the admin’s control. and having profesionaly been an admin for both unix (several flavors), and windows (3.51 through 2k) i can tell you, windows only seems like its easier. a whole hell of a lot of it is very backwards and very broken.

    as to orderly chaos… no, i already made my advokitty comment…

    well yeah we are all assholes, else this conversation would probably be a lot more productive…

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