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  linux install...the saga continues  (Read 4817 times)
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Offline blahblahblahh

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« Posted 2004-07-24 00:08:28 »

(FYI for newcomers, I had to re-install some linux servers a while back, and took it as an opportunity to tree different distros latest versions to see what happened. Redhat "Fedora" failed miserably, Mandrake is too proprietary for me to risk it, and I ended up with Debian after a great deal of pain).

(Hope this is of use for some people; I'm bored senseless @ 3 am having now spent about 5 hours trying to fix some moron's mistake, so I thought I might as well write this whilst waiting for a CD to install...)

I just installed my laptop from scratch with Debian - in under 30 minutes!

I was seriously impressed. OK, so there are problems (more later), but hey - not only did it *actually work* but it even instructed you on everything as you did it (so you knew what was happening) AND you could keep going back and re-making old decisions!

(and, for anyone who doesn't know apt [the plain/crap debian package-management tool], when you install packages, each one gives you an information screen about that package AFTER you installed, asking you any specific config it needs to do, or including warnings etc)

Only, the **** who wrote the debian installer is a complete ****ing ****: I then had to spend 4 hours discovering what a jerk this person/(people?) is. In their infinite moon-gazing wisdom they decided that - unlike all other linux distros - mere mortals who install debian are only *ALLOWED* a kernel with a tiny subset of the possible kernel modules. Doesn't matter that all the others were on the CD. This person prevented debian users from installing ANY USB DEVICES when you install debian (have a system that requires USB? Ha! No chance! You'll have to find non-USB hardware and then spend an hour or so compiling a new kernel with *sane* defaults) and other such madness. So if you need any of (rather a lot of things) in order to run your computer you have to start again from scratch once it's installed and compile your own kernel.

User friendly? No frickin way!

Why do I care? Well, apart from the fact that my mouse is USB (sob) my network card is too - and is included in the linux kernel source! (it's a pretty mainstream device!). But I can't use it - so no LAN access, no possibilty of installing extra modules, no chance to fix all the other broken bits of the install, or to download FAQ's etc (lucky I had a second spare computer here, really).

Anyway, on to the "there are problems" bit. Debian seems to be summarisable thus:

- it's like a masterpiece that the painter died halfway through: a lot of it is excellent, the rest looks like no-one's got around to looking at it yet
- there's no documentation, but everything you try to do has extensive context-sensitive help (and I mean EVERYTHING: not just when you are choosing what to install, as with other distros, but whenever you do anything to your system - it's like using Windows Wizards. Lovely. Except there's no "back" and you can't view the information afterwards. Which is especially sad since you get exposed to dozens of pages of text you need to write down by hand in order to refer to later Sad)
- they hacked a lot of standard packages and broke them. E.g. they broke Bugzilla. This is because they removed things they felt were unecessary but "forgot" to finish the job and remove the REFERENCES to those things (and forgot to tell anyone what they'd done!) so that the app breaks when it gets to the relevant point
- X-windows doesn't work out-of-the-box on an nVidia GF2Go. Never a good sign!

Now some examples of the "masterpiece" aspect (the nasty installer was an example of the hackery + not quie finishing the job you started):

- you can install a new kernel (get this, ladies and gentlemen) by TYPING TWO LINES OF TEXT! Literally! From scratch!
   - ...except the instructions, in 3 different sources INCLUDING THE DAMN F.A.Q.! start with the text:
  "cd to the kernel directory. If you don't, this won't work".
     for the record, this is the only time I've ever encountered kernel-compilation instructions that DIDN'T BOTHER TO TELL YOU WHERE THE KERNEL DIRECTORY IS. (FYI for linux newbies: you have to do this bit by hand, which is not mentioned in all of the three places, and so it could be "anywhere you chose to put it").
  - but, when you do, it automatically:
     - does the "Linus made a strategic error when deciding how you compile kernels" multi-stage make stuff all automatically
     - creates the image automatically (although IIRC it has the wrong initrd setting by default, which is bad)
     - installs the image into the boot dir
     - runs LILO
- aptitude is probably the best package-mgmt system I've ever seen on linux (I've seen better stuff on commercial UNIX IIRC).
    - it's like SuSe's (which is much much easier to use than anything from RedHat) except:
       - it isn't full of bugs and keeps crashing/screwing up
       - it's much better at automatically resolving things, and showing you what's going on
    - it's almost easy enough to use that a normal PC user could cope with it first time. The only problem is the insistence on using cryptic *case-sensitive* commands all over the keyboard for doing everything. You have to press ? for help about once every 10 seconds for the first 5 minutes Sad because there's so much to memorize
    - BUT...it's not even mentioned in the official FAQ
    - ...and it's not used by default
    - ...and they don't exactly go out of their way to tell you it exists
    - ...and it won't let you re-view the installation notes for anything you installed (as mentioned earlier, so you have to write it down, or take a photo of the screen, or something!)

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline jbanes

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« Reply #1 - Posted 2004-07-24 03:42:17 »

Blah, just do yourself and everyone else a favor and install FreeBSD. You can run all your Linux programs faster, configure your system how YOU want it, and it will even be nice and stable. No odd bugs like Optical Mice cutting out, or disk drives getting corrupted. No hardware going undetected that should have been detected. No confusing HOWTOs on how to configure some feature implemented by a four(teen) year old. Just plain old Unix. That is, the simplest Unix short of OS X.

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Offline Herkules

Senior Member




Friendly fire isn't friendly!


« Reply #2 - Posted 2004-07-24 06:27:45 »

Quote
...configure your system how YOU want it...


3Blah's article and this statement make clear why this Unix stuff will never make it to the desktop.

Persons like me, representing the common, mass market user, don't want to configure our systems. We want them - or better we NEED them to be already configured!!

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Offline darkprophet

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« Reply #3 - Posted 2004-07-24 08:31:36 »

When I use a n00b to freebsd, i spent the best part of 6 months in the "already configured" standard installation. And I must say, even when I didn't use the optimisations, it still ran faster than linux and windows combined.

AAANNND, it wont swap out eclipse when you minimise it  Wink

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Offline princec

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« Reply #4 - Posted 2004-07-24 08:32:28 »

Aye to that! Bring back BeOS!

Cas Smiley

Offline darkprophet

Senior Member




Go Go Gadget Arms


« Reply #5 - Posted 2004-07-24 08:45:07 »

sure bring it back. then after an hour, youd get bored, because there are no applications to run on it  Grin

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Offline princec

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« Reply #6 - Posted 2004-07-24 09:17:29 »

Surely not so hard to get a JVM and GL drivers on it eh? In fact it already had a JVM and GL drivers... just both were incomplete when it bought the farm.

Cas Smiley

Offline Matzon

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« Reply #7 - Posted 2004-07-24 09:45:59 »

There are some dudes working on Java for BeOS - they demoed some AWT stuff some months ago - it is a 1.4+ port, sanctioned by Sun AFAIK. It will run on BeOS and HaikuOS. When it goes public, I'll look into getting lwjgl to compile on it (there is a BeOS OAL port too). Unfortunately I don't have the OpenGL HW distribution, nor a supported card so it will be SW :/
FWIW, there are tons of BeOS applications - and even though there weren't there are all those you *need* - it's not like I download 10+ apps a day just to run them... - give me IRC, IM's a browser and a Console, all of which BeOS has Wink, and I'm good to go Smiley

Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #8 - Posted 2004-07-24 11:08:45 »

Quote
Blah, just do yourself and everyone else a favor and install FreeBSD.


Please forgive me if I'm wrong, but weren't you one of those strongly suggesting I move to debian last time I was doing this? Roll Eyes

I might have to try BSD now (c.f. next post) Sad. Although, interestingly, I did actually evaluate Open and FreeBSD before going with Debian this time - can't remember what I found, but I found enough signs of a mongolian clusterf**k that I thought "Sod it; I at least *know* Debian isn't plagued by that ****". Little did I know Debian had a dirty little secret... Sad Angry


AFAICS I'm doing everyone a favour by spending significant time with each OS, trying really hard to get it to work - it means I'm able to give everyone else a deep and meaningful view of what they're each like, and so give a much better taste than all the moron-reviews on linux websites that go "Well I installed with all the defaults and it restarted and I could run mozilla. -endofreview]" which explains partly why some things like redhat are so crap for real people - they optimized for moron-reviews Sad.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #9 - Posted 2004-07-24 11:20:09 »

My conclusion: Debian sucks. Not as bad as Mandrake, nowhere near as much as RedHat, but ... worse than both, it's good at NOT INSTALLING AT ALL on very common machines (modern Dell laptop). This is sad, because otherwise it wouldn't suck at all and be a wonderful OS that's only 3-5 years from nirvana.

Further to my previous pain, I'm now going to have to give up because of Mr. Moron Debian Developer who decided that USB network cards are "the Devil" and should be forcibly kept off any installed Debian.

Think I'm over-reacting? Get this: Not only does it refuse to let you put it in your install kernel (previous post - so you cannot use your system until you've learnt how to make custom kernels - and you can't even run 1/6 of the install process because it requires a net connection!), but...

  They hacked (****ed up would be more accurate term) the 2.4.18 kernel so that it WILL NOT LET YOU install any USB network cards. "make menuconfig" "make config" etc DENY access to the USB net card options.

Prior experience with Debian would suggest there is a secret file somewhere called something like "wibblemyfish.txt" that if you delete, all USB network cards are instantly enabled in every Debian kernel without recompiling. This is typical of them: they obviate the need for some part of the standard linux system, but turn it off by defualt, don't tell you how to turn it on, and don't even tell you they did it. Then probably laugh at you when the original authors refuse to help bcause you're using a hacked copy of their source.

Seriously, this sucks butt.

I tried manually editing the make config for the kernel and manually inserting the line for my USB net card, and recompiled. Doesn't seem to have worked. Then again, perhaps there's some fundamental piece of network setup that the install system decided not to install because it failed to find a network card (because you wouldn't let me enable it at install time, you ****ers!).

All I know is that even after a successful recompile I still can't get the system to accept the existence of the network card Sad. Sob. They've also ****ed up the kernel in other ways - e.g. my recompile crashes the computer after something like 120 seconds after booting, so I only have a minute or two to try fixing the networking before I have to remove the battery and cut the mains power (complete hardware hang Sad).

Now, I don't know WHAT or WHY they've done this, but I've been using 2.4.18 kernels for years and I KNOW this shouldn't be happening. Maybe they have a good reason, but IMHO any distro that deliberately hacks and then breaks a kernel is a distro to avoid at all costs.

Goodbye, Debian! I'll miss aptitude; really - so much so that if I can find anyway to get you to work I will, just to get that decent package-manager.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
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Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #10 - Posted 2004-07-24 11:37:29 »

Behold! I was completely wrong! (sort of). I made a single incorrect assumption...

I thought it was running the 2.4.18 kernel.

It *said* it was running that kernel
It only comes with the *source* for that kernel
It's a well-known fact that this version of debian *uses* that kernel
But...

The installer uses a 2.0.x kernel, apparently (!! Very buggy and old!), which doesn't even recognise the existence of USB (wasn't added to linux until much later!) and hence wouldn't install.

Apparently, if you're an old hand at debian, you know NEVER to follow the installation instrcutions (which tell you to hit enter) but to force it to use the modern, less buggy, should-work-for-almost-everyone-if-not-everyone, kernel.

IMHO it was a very sad day that they decided to put the up-to-date working debugged kernel NOT as the default, and to instead default to (and advise the user to go with) the so-old-it-has-no-chance-of-supporting-half-your-hardware kernel.

EDIT: I'm sure they have a reason. It's just that I suspect it's something like "but there's a bloke in Poughkeepsie who has an 8086 from 1989 that is no longer supported even by linux, and we just HAD to favour him over everyone else, cos we think it's cool that debian still supports out-of-the-box hardware that even other linux distros started using as doorstops 5 years ago" Grin. I think you know what I mean...

So, I'm re-installing *again* (8 hours so far, and counting)...

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #11 - Posted 2004-07-24 12:02:03 »

No. Impossible. Debian installer writer made a broken 2.4.x kernel. The "dies after 2 minutes" problem applies to the installer's kernel (if you tell it to use 2.4) - although this is NOT a problem with normal 2.4.18 kernels, and it didn't happen with the (allegedly) 2.4.18 kernel installed by the 2.2.x installer.

Nothing I can do. Short of re-writing the debian installer. Am I annoyed? Yes. 8+ hours down the drain because of an apparently-broken hacked kernel. Gits.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline jbanes

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« Reply #12 - Posted 2004-07-24 12:34:26 »

Quote


Please forgive me if I'm wrong, but weren't you one of those strongly suggesting I move to debian last time I was doing this? Roll Eyes


Nope, that wasn't me. If I was suggesting a Linux distro, I would have recommended SuSE. Believe it or not, it is actually the best of the Linux distros. If that doesn't work for you, you need a new OS.

Debian hasn't been updated in several YEARS. I don't know the reasons, but apparently development is severely lagging. I think the problem may have something to do with lack of stability in recent kernels.

BTW, my last recommendation was in this order:

1. Mac
2. FreeBSD
3. At least use ReiserFS

Quote
I might have to try BSD now (c.f. next post) Sad. Although, interestingly, I did actually evaluate Open and FreeBSD before going with Debian this time - can't remember what I found, but I found enough signs of a mongolian clusterf**k that I thought "Sod it; I at least *know* Debian isn't plagued by that ****". Little did I know Debian had a dirty little secret... Sad Angry


Now you've got me curious. If you remember, let us know what you found. Maybe it's just that something works a bit different?

You have two major choices for FreeBSD. The 4.x series is the absolute best in stability, but lacks decent multiprocessor support. The 5.x series is slightly less stable, but is designed for better performance and to run easily with 2 or more processors.

Quote
AFAICS I'm doing everyone a favour by spending significant time with each OS, trying really hard to get it to work - it means I'm able to give everyone else a deep and meaningful view of what they're each like, and so give a much better taste than all the moron-reviews on linux websites that go "Well I installed with all the defaults and it restarted and I could run mozilla. -endofreview]" which explains partly why some things like redhat are so crap for real people - they optimized for moron-reviews Sad.


It's actually amazing how many of those "articles" I've heard. Linuxworld even publishes some of them! I once saw an article that said "Lycoris looked cool, but when I installed it the screen went green. [End of Article]"

BTW, you might find these reviews to be a bit more helpful.

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Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #13 - Posted 2004-07-24 13:19:08 »

Quote


Now you've got me curious. If you remember, let us know what you found. Maybe it's just that something works a bit different?


Just spent a few hours checking out FreeBSD in detail.

Brief conclusions:

 1. Documentation is one of the best of any linux(esque) I've seen - the website's "FreeBSD Handbook" is great

 2. Looks like the mechanism for installing apps and upgrading the kernel is the best *technological* solution

 3. BUT (and this is a great big two-volvos-parked-next-to-each-other sized butt) ... it looks like 99% of everything is via manual typing at a bash prompt, and that is totally unacceptable. All the docs and FAQ's and guides I could find always just went through endless amounts of make paramters you had to type in. This is 20th century - no-one should ever use Make these days. For anything. Using it to maintain an entire system is disturbing.

 4. Also, you are still dependent upon the generosity of others - e.g. nVidia's Geforce drivers are close to a year out of date, and since their linux drivers were only just getting up to scratch in the last few months I doubt the BSD ones are good. As with Debian, it's the age-old "if you're using a headless server, or a middle-of-the-road Dell desktop, you'll be fine. Everyone else should expect (possibly insurmountable) problems". But BSD has a bigger problem with this than Debian - with Debian, you can guarantee to get other linux stuff working somehow (though it might screw up your system) but BSD cannot run ALL linux software.

Perhaps, one day, Debian and BSD could merge? Smiley

Anyway, FreeBSD looks a damn good choice for servers.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline Herkules

Senior Member




Friendly fire isn't friendly!


« Reply #14 - Posted 2004-07-24 14:58:25 »

But .... what about the Java Desktop System? Or even ... Solaris??

HARDCODE    --     DRTS/FlyingGuns/JPilot/JXInput  --    skype me: joerg.plewe
Offline jbanes

JGO Coder


Projects: 1


"Java Games? Incredible! Mr. Incredible, that is!"


« Reply #15 - Posted 2004-07-24 15:25:43 »

Quote

 2. Looks like the mechanism for installing apps and upgrading the kernel is the best *technological* solution

 3. BUT (and this is a great big two-volvos-parked-next-to-each-other sized butt) ... it looks like 99% of everything is via manual typing at a bash prompt, and that is totally unacceptable. All the docs and FAQ's and guides I could find always just went through endless amounts of make paramters you had to type in. This is 20th century - no-one should ever use Make these days. For anything. Using it to maintain an entire system is disturbing.


Make?! Who uses 'make'? I usually grab the precompiled package off the CD or FTP server. Just run '/stand/sysinstall' and use the post installation tools to add whatever packages you want.

As for the command-line, it works better than Linux. So why complain? Especially since you can get so much more done over SSH than Windows would ever let you do.

Quote
4. Also, you are still dependent upon the generosity of others - e.g. nVidia's Geforce drivers are close to a year out of date, and since their linux drivers were only just getting up to scratch in the last few months I doubt the BSD ones are good.


Blah, you're starting to reach. I've *used* the NVidia drivers for FreeBSD. They're every bit as fast (if not a bit faster) than the Linux drivers. The Linux drivers keep getting updated because the Linux kernel keeps changing (and breaking). FreeBSD doesn't have that problem. Kernel interfaces rarely change, and if they do they only change between major revisions. Thus a FreeBSD module is far more portable across versions than a Linux module. As far as Linux is concerned, you have to recompile a module specifically for your *exact* version and configuration of the kernel!

Quote
As with Debian, it's the age-old "if you're using a headless server, or a middle-of-the-road Dell desktop, you'll be fine. Everyone else should expect (possibly insurmountable) problems". But BSD has a bigger problem with this than Debian - with Debian, you can guarantee to get other linux stuff working somehow (though it might screw up your system) but BSD cannot run ALL linux software.


Why can't BSD run ALL Linux software? It's all worked fine for me. Just make sure you install the Linux GL compatibility stuff so that you can use Linux OpenGL software.

Honestly Blah, you've spent days installing RedHat, Mandrake, Debian, and other horrors of OSes. Why not give FreeBSD a fair shake?

Quote
Perhaps, one day, Debian and BSD could merge? Smiley


You mean like this monstrosity? Trust me, FreeBSD's userland is already plenty clean and useful. And since they can already run Linux programs, I don't see what the point would be.

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Offline swpalmer

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Where's the Kaboom?


« Reply #16 - Posted 2004-07-24 15:43:46 »

Seriously Blah^3  haven't you learned the lesson yet.  "Don't bother with Linux.  It is shit."

That much should be obvious to you by now.

Having used Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, even briefly BeOS... I have to say that without question Linux is likely to have the most problems.  I don't mean to bash it for all those people that like it.. but quite frankly they probably just lucked out.  Mind you I can find bad things to say about the other OS's as well (mainly Windows of course).

So you are already starting out choosing to run the OS (regardless of distribution it seems) that is likely to have the most problems... and then you post here because by-golly it really does have problems.   This isn't news.  Stop bashing your head against the wall.


Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #17 - Posted 2004-07-24 15:57:35 »

Quote


Make?! Who uses 'make'? I usually grab the precompiled package off the CD or FTP server. Just run '/stand/sysinstall' and use the post installation tools to add whatever packages you want.


Unfortunately, it's still required by a lot of GNU software, including linux kernel builds Sad. All the BSD references I could find (mini tutorials, advocacy, etc) only talked about doing software installation via make - if you could point me to a page talking about a more modern tool I'd be grateful. Obviously, I'm not going to spend 12+ hours installing xBSD just to run one command you cited just to find out what it does! Smiley

Quote

As for the command-line, it works better than Linux. So why complain?


Think more about what I'm saying, dude! In linux, you have GUI's to do this stuff...

What does this wonderful CLI do, play musical tones every time you type a key? Grin AFAICS it's a CLI, i.e. it's an outdated and grossly unusable (in HCI terms) interface suited only for basic and simple work - and there's not much difference between one and another, once you've got basics like history and tab auto-complete working.

Quote

Blah, you're starting to reach. I've *used* the NVidia drivers for FreeBSD. They're every bit as fast (if not a bit faster) than the Linux drivers. The Linux drivers keep getting updated because the Linux kernel keeps changing (and breaking).


No, you're missing the point. The nv linux drivers keep changing because THE OLD ONES DON'T FRICKING WORK! Yes, that's right, nVidia has historically provided very buggy crappy drivers which have slowly (recently) been coming up to an "acceptable" standard.

Quote

Why can't BSD run ALL Linux software? It's all worked fine for me. Just make sure you install the Linux GL compatibility stuff so that you can use Linux OpenGL software.


I've not even run BSD yet I've already encountered numerous references by BSD users to the incidence of this not working - including in nVidia's own BSD driver release notes!

We seem to be moving back to the problem of *nix users slagging me off because *nix has always worked fine for them, despite the fact that it manifestly does NOT work for many other people. I'm fed up of the whole "works for me, therefore everyone else is wrong" attitude so please lets not go there.

Quote

Honestly Blah, you've spent days installing RedHat, Mandrake, Debian, and other horrors of OSes. Why not give FreeBSD a fair shake?


Because I don't have days to spare! I cannot think of non-vulgar words describe to you how much of problem this debian install has been for me, quite how much damage it has done. Suffice it to say that I'm in severe danger of violating as many as 3 contractually obligated deadlines because of this ****.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #18 - Posted 2004-07-24 16:08:18 »

Quote
Seriously Blah^3  haven't you learned the lesson yet.  "Don't bother with Linux.  It is shit."


You've probably forgotten by now, but I'm here mainly for a single specific reason: Microsoft has not yet released a version of Windows that works (...with a USB network card). As long as I need to print (!) or use any MS apps (!) windows is no good to me.

I also have development tools that don't run on windows. I have the source, but I don't have the time to re-learn C++ and windows programming and enough of the MS unix services layer to compile/port them over to windows so that I can do any work!

And I can't seem to get any Sun JVM to install itself on this windows 2k machine WITH webstart, which cancels the advantages I ought to have from using java tools for 90% of my work Sad.

Finally, there has always been a practical reason for me to use linux where feasible: I often encounter linux systems in my day-job (and even in my free time - e.g. setting up and running websites) and need to be skilled and experienced in getting them to work.

Quote

So you are already starting out choosing to run the OS (regardless of distribution it seems)


My never-ending quest to find a linux distro that is better than a hole in the head Grin. Seriously, bar this problem with a miscompiled kernel, debian has done pretty well so far. Although it does have a serious problem in that you often encounter software that is not distributed as DEB files. So far, I've managed to find conversion scripts written by 3rd parties every time I needed - but the apps that come with debian for doing this automatically (Alien I think one is called) don't tend to work Sad.

Quote

This isn't news.  Stop bashing your head against the wall.


I have to do the process anyway. Given the number of people undecided about linux, or thinking of trying it, my experiences ought to be of some help in understanding what you're getting in for (especiallly helpful given the radical differences in usability between distros, that their proponents try to brush under the carpet).

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #19 - Posted 2004-07-24 16:11:22 »

Quote


Nope, that wasn't me. If I was suggesting a Linux distro, I would have recommended SuSE. Believe it or not, it is actually the best of the Linux distros.


I used to think a lot of SuSe, until it destroyed one too many systems - e.g. bugs in suseconfig that rendered the system unusable and easier to reformat than fix Sad. I've been long watching successive versions to see if they sufficiently fixed the problems, but every time I do I check the online support / docs and find stuff like the suse site still doesn't work properly (which is - or at least used to be - the only source of help, troubleshooting, etc) and given up.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline swpalmer

JGO Coder




Where's the Kaboom?


« Reply #20 - Posted 2004-07-24 18:00:48 »

Quote
You've probably forgotten by now, but I'm here mainly for a single specific reason: Microsoft has not yet released a version of Windows that works (...with a USB network card).

I did forget (if I ever knew)... but that's odd, since I know of people that use USB network 'cards' on Windows.  I'm sure you posted the problems somewhere.. but I can't be bothered to look now.

In any case I didn't recommend Windows as the alternative Smiley

Quote
Finally, there has always been a practical reason for me to use linux where feasible: I often encounter linux systems in my day-job (and even in my free time - e.g. setting up and running websites) and need to be skilled and experienced in getting them to work.

Perhaps given your success so far, this is an indication that you should find a day-job which requires a different skill set Smiley
I don't mean to poke fun at you... I feel bad for anyone whose job requires them to get Linux to work.

Given that you want a Linux distro that works well with Java and networking.. I might suggest what has been mentioned above - The Java Desktop System from Sun.  I only briefly looked at version 1 with a demo disk from Sun, so I can only write one of those one-line reviews you mention above.. "It worked for me when I booted from the demo CD and looked like it might be worth exploring further."

Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


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« Reply #21 - Posted 2004-07-24 18:13:56 »

Quote

Perhaps given your success so far, this is an indication that you should find a day-job which requires a different skill set Smiley


I don't *have* to do it, it just saves time if I can.

For stuff like running JGF, then yes I do *have* to since there's no budget to pay for someone else to do it Smiley.

Quote

The Java Desktop System from Sun.


Until it gets widely adopted by ISP's, customers, build farms, etc or I have the budget to co-lo my personal servers I'm still going to have to use other ones Sad.

Ditto solaris - although I'm still waiting for my free solaris CD set Smiley

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #22 - Posted 2004-07-24 18:20:24 »

Quote

Perhaps given your success so far, this is an indication that you should find a day-job which requires a different skill set Smiley


Actually, a coffee now in hand, come to think of it this is part of why I post here: I'm not a professional sysadmin, so my experiences are much more relevant to other non-sysadmins who nevertheless want to (or need to) admin linux systems - e.g. if you get yourself a dedicated or virtual server to run your java gameserver on Smiley.

I'm giving people a flavour of what happens when a linux power-user (just sufficiently ahead of linux newbies that I can probably deduce the causes of problems I encounter if not always fix them) tries to use these things - and who is prepared and capable of doing about the same amount of stuff that a normal user can. e.g. I'm not capable of porting some C++ and manually fixing a bug in the source code. But I am capable of following instructions and doing some limited amount of common-sense error correction on broken / out of date instructions Smiley.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline swpalmer

JGO Coder




Where's the Kaboom?


« Reply #23 - Posted 2004-07-24 18:49:59 »

Yeah... I get where you are at.   But it seems to get you worked up based on the number of asterisks in your posts Smiley

Me, I try Linux once and a while.. I have SuSe installed on my Windows box and occasionally boot into it just for kicks.   But I can't use it on a daily basis - it's too much work to make things work if you know what I mean.

I do read you rants hoping that some day there will be a Linux that "just works" and you will have found it for me Smiley

Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #24 - Posted 2004-07-24 23:32:49 »

Quote
No. Impossible. Debian installer writer made a broken 2.4.x kernel. The "dies after 2 minutes" problem applies to the installer's kernel (if you tell it to use 2.4)


Update: seems the 2-minute crash MIGHT be due to debian probing PCMCIA - although there are no cards and it sholdn't be probing minutes after boot! AND I'd not told it to enable PCMCIA. So maybe not...but otherwise, that fits the pattern. Apparently Dell laptops crash when a certain range is probed, and Debian-stable (despite being named "stable") was a little too aggressive in probing, whereas the supposedly less stable "testing" version of debian is more intelligent and doesn't dare so much.

Update 2: Debian "testing" has quite a few installer bugs which I've been accidentally discovering and making workarounds for. The biggest is that it is even more arrogant about network cards - the installer STOPS if you don't give it a network card: installation without a network card is not allowed!

However...there is a small chance I might have found a workaround to all these debian problems. This whole thread could turn out to be worthwhile, if I'm able to turn around in an hour or so and give you all a pearl of Debian wisdom Smiley. But don't get your hopes too high Wink - I've thought I had a workaround 5 or 6 times and each time had my hopes shattered Sad.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline jbanes

JGO Coder


Projects: 1


"Java Games? Incredible! Mr. Incredible, that is!"


« Reply #25 - Posted 2004-07-24 23:48:19 »

Quote
All the BSD references I could find (mini tutorials, advocacy, etc) only talked about doing software installation via make - if you could point me to a page talking about a more modern tool I'd be grateful. Obviously, I'm not going to spend 12+ hours installing xBSD just to run one command you cited just to find out what it does! Smiley


Well, the Handbook has both packages (binary files) and ports (source files) in the same section. I'll grant you that not quite all the information is in the handbook (for example 'pkg_add -r' does an auto-FTP fetch), but most of the missing info is in the MAN pages.

The post-install sysinstall stuff is described here. You're probably most interested in section 2.9.14 Install Packages. This presents you with a curses-like GUI interface for selecting binary packages. They can come from a public FTP site, CDROM, or your own internal network.

Quote
Think more about what I'm saying, dude! In linux, you have GUI's to do this stuff...


And how many of those GUI's are broken? How many leave you with a non-functioning system? How many take longer than just typing a single command at the CLI prompt? How many are REALLY worth the effort at the end of the day?

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What does this wonderful CLI do, play musical tones every time you type a key? Grin AFAICS it's a CLI, i.e. it's an outdated and grossly unusable (in HCI terms) interface suited only for basic and simple work - and there's not much difference between one and another, once you've got basics like history and tab auto-complete working.


Just because something is old, doesn't mean that it should be thrown away. The CLI is still so useful, that I often open terminal windows on my Mac. My Mac has a GUI for EVERYTHING. Yet it sometimes takes less time and effort to just type something.

I don't know where you got the idea that CLIs are highly unusable. There are still companies who's users use Unix or Mainframe CLIs and absolutely refuse to give it up because it's so efficient. As for whether it's less intuitive, that's debatable. Back when I first started using computers, people found CLIs to be highly intuitive. It wasn't until an entire generation grew up with nothing *but* GUIs that people started saying that GUIs are better for everything. It's all about what you're used to.

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No, you're missing the point. The nv linux drivers keep changing because THE OLD ONES DON'T FRICKING WORK! Yes, that's right, nVidia has historically provided very buggy crappy drivers which have slowly (recently) been coming up to an "acceptable" standard.


Do you know if anything is broken in the FreeBSD drivers? If so, can you point it out and say that it's a show stopper? While I've been busy for the last several months, I'm pretty sure that NVidia drivers got most of their bugs worked out a year or two ago.

Quote
I've not even run BSD yet I've already encountered numerous references by BSD users to the incidence of this not working - including in nVidia's own BSD driver release notes!


Huh You're not referring to this text, are you?

"Known Issues: the Linux OpenGL library, when run in linux compatibility mode on FreeBSD, may have difficulties determining if the application is multithreaded.  As the resulting warning suggestions, it may help to set the environment variable __GL_SINGLE_THREADED (eg: `setenv __GL_SINGLE_THREADED 1`).  Please see the FAQ entry "Why can the Linux compatibility libraries not correctly determine if they are used in a multithreaded application?" for details and a better solution."

That's not a list of applications that don't work. It's just a known issue that is rare and easily worked around.

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We seem to be moving back to the problem of *nix users slagging me off because *nix has always worked fine for them, despite the fact that it manifestly does NOT work for many other people. I'm fed up of the whole "works for me, therefore everyone else is wrong" attitude so please lets not go there.


I'm not really trying to project that. I've used just about every OS in existence at this point, and I know what works and what doesn't. To date, FreeBSD has been the best choice on the x86 for users who don't want to use Windows. This has been reinforced countless times by other users who have switched. You asked for the best solution, I gave it.

BTW, if you really want to go the Debian route, you might look at Knoppix. You can take two routes with it:

1. Carry the CD and a USB key to every machine you use. This is actually a decent option and works quite well. The only issue is that you can never change the configuration.

2. Take the Knoppix CD to the machine you wish to use, and install Knoppix on the disk. This will provide you with a no hassle, complete and updated Debian installation. Installation instructions are on the Knoppix website.

If you really like option 1, but wish you could customize it, you can always go the Morphix route.

Quote
Because I don't have days to spare! I cannot think of non-vulgar words describe to you how much of problem this debian install has been for me, quite how much damage it has done. Suffice it to say that I'm in severe danger of violating as many as 3 contractually obligated deadlines because of this ****.


Well, I can't help you there. Tight deadlines are usually not the best time to be trying out new OSes.  :-/

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Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


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« Reply #26 - Posted 2004-07-25 01:00:39 »

Quote

The post-install sysinstall stuff is described here. You're probably most interested in section 2.9.14 Install Packages. This presents you with a curses-like GUI interface for selecting binary packages. They can come from a public FTP site, CDROM, or your own internal network.


That would be OK, except it looks like it could easily be just as bad as RH's linuxconf: only partially effective, and frequently having to delegate to "manually edit the conf file".

IMHO, Debian is on the right track here, with customization and configuration GUI built-in to the packages themselves. Just like the underlying principle behind OOP: the packages know best how to configure themselves!

Debian's approach just isn't mature enough - they haven't taken it anywhere near to it's logical perfect extremes. And it's hard to re-access the GUIs post-install, until you become a debian expert Sad.


Quote

And how many of those GUI's are broken? How many leave you with a non-functioning system?


That is a fair question. However, most CLI's have the same number of problems IME - mainly consisting of unhandled errors and implicit unhandled assumptions/assertions in the (usually script-driven) CLI.

Quote

How many take longer than just typing a single command at the CLI prompt?


Usability is not only about time taken to click/type/press. Even if it were, then GUI's would *STILL* be best, since it's been proven that it's generally faster to initiate actions with a mouse than with keyboard given appropriately(sensible)-sized GUI buttons (if you had a resizable keyboard that could add/remove physical keys at speed-of-electricity then they'd be as good as each other).

Your argument sounds vaguely reminiscent of when C++ programmers talking about java say that complex pointer-arithmetic is an inherently faster programming paradigm - both in "time taken to code" and in "time taken to execute". They are correct, of course - for a sufficiently narrow definition of each of those. In practice, time taken to code needs to include maintenance, debugging, and reading other people's code; time taken to execute needs to include what happens when you unleash a runtime optimizing compiler (which can do better without pointers).

i.e. I believe you have a valid point, but also believe that on balance generally it's subsumed by the practicalities that mean a CLI is generally a poor intereface EXCEPT as I said when it's a sufficiently simple system it's interfacing too. e.g. if all you ahve is yes/no questions, there's no inherent advantage to a CLI (except that the code can execute faster) over a mouse GUI (the latter is faster for the user, but almost insignificantly so).

Quote

There are still companies who's users use Unix or Mainframe CLIs and absolutely refuse to give it up because it's so efficient.


Java's commercial succes is largely driven by the vast number of corporate legacy systems that are godawful and expensive to maintain but it's even more vastly expensive to replace. Just because you've always done something and still do doesn't mean it's best - it may just be that the barrier to exit is too high. I'm not saying you're wrong, just pointing out that there are other highly possible explanations underlying their decision...

Quote

As for whether it's less intuitive, that's debatable.


GUI's generally have some major advantages, (NB: depending upon how you define "GUI" of course!), along the lines of being able to present vastly more information simultaneously than a typical CLI does.

Of course, a bad CLI and a bad GUI are just as bad as each other Sad. Modern 3D modellers are an example of how confusing a GUI can be, and old text adventures an example of how confusing a CLI can be - I played games where I never managed to pick anything up!

Quote

It wasn't until an entire generation grew up with nothing *but* GUIs that people started saying that GUIs are better for everything. It's all about what you're used to.


Well, obviously not, since I spent 6 years using CLI's before I even saw a GUI Cheesy.

Quote

Do you know if anything is broken in the FreeBSD drivers?


Given the rest of this thread, that has to be a rhetorical question Smiley. I know the (lack of) quality of nvidia-authored drivers - so good that linux support lists (used to) get very evangelical about "don't use the nvidia driver, use the open source one instead - it's so much better!".

Quote

I've used just about every OS in existence at this point, and I know what works and what doesn't. To date, FreeBSD has been the best choice on the x86 for users who don't want to use Windows. This has been reinforced countless times by other users who have switched.


Thanks for the opinion. It's very useful to know how much other people have been through before settling on a particular OS (variety).

Quote

BTW, if you really want to go the Debian route, you might look at Knoppix.


Thanks for the pointer. Probably weill skip it though since I've had great success with tiny distros before, come to rely on them, and then they disappeared Sad.

Quote

Well, I can't help you there. Tight deadlines are usually not the best time to be trying out new OSes.  :-/


Yeah. But...you have to get really really mad at your OS before you can gather sufficient courage to do it Smiley. And the realization that you're going to miss a deadline anyway because OO + X + mandrake deleted/corrupted/lost your hard work is a great motivator to starting. Smiley

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline Jens

Senior Member




Java for games!


« Reply #27 - Posted 2004-07-25 05:32:39 »

I didn't read everything, but regarding Debian you can call "modconf" to enable kernel modules, especially USB drivers. If you installed an older 2.2.20 kernel you should use "apt-get install kernel-image-2.4.18-bf2.4" to install a newer kernel before.


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Offline blahblahblahh

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« Reply #28 - Posted 2004-07-25 11:58:04 »

This message is the demonstration that I managed to get a copy of debian to install!

FYI I had to install in verbose mode *, workaround some other install bugs that I just randomly managed to fix, and then had to jump to the installer shell (alt-f2) and "modprobe pegasus" (the driver for my network card) at the appropriate time on the 2.4.x kernel for testing (not stable) and then re-run the detect-network-card menu option.

* NB: actually, it might be that it only worked when not in verbose mode. I remember thinking "I've used verbose all the time - perhaps there is a bug in verbose mode?" but was so tired by that point I don't recall if I was using it or not.

Although there are many many problems to resolve, this is not RedHat. It is not Mandrake (or any other RH-based distro). It is not Suse. So...I have a 98% confidence I shall be able to fairly easily resolve all problems - apart from those which can only be solved by upgrading to latest drivers Sad. e.g. debian tantalizingly has a package for nVidia drivers which has the version number of the drivers released only a few weeks ago - however, when you attempt to install it, some of the components are missing and aptitude ends up instead installing an earlier version. This could be an incomplete-apt-mirror problem, but I now have a lot of "so complete I can't tell the difference" mirrors so probably not.

Main problems are things like:
- I'm now running KDE, which takes 10 times as long to start as my old WM (icewm)
- no mozilla Sad
- etc

Since this is debian (not redhat) it's actually safe to uninstall such things, and easy, and won't break your entire system Smiley.

Anyway, I'm now off to sufficiently fix my system that I have mozilla + email, then write down all the bugs I found when trying to install debian, and send em a mail with my experiences (in case it's of any help).

If I have the time + energy, I'll put up a webpage detailing what broke, how to fix it, and why I kept trying debian even when it kicked me in the teeth.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline blahblahblahh

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Medals: 1


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« Reply #29 - Posted 2004-07-25 12:26:57 »

Quote

Why can't BSD run ALL Linux software? It's all worked fine for me.


I'm not actually looking for this data, but keep running into it by accident. E.g. I just noticed that I wouldn't have a mouse if I installed FreeBSD - my graphics tablet (the most common, most popular, best supported Wacom Intuos series) driver won't work because, according to the authors, there is some problem with getting FreeBSD to run linux-compiled stuff that uses USB within XFree86. Shrug. This is why I mentioned some time ago that whenever I see OS-level emulation I get worried; I've been down this path before and know the game Wink.

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