Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Archive for the month “October, 2008”

Planete Beranger observes Linux distro hating week

Even for Planete Beranger, which never shies away from a strong opinion on the weaknesses of Linux distributions, the one week Linux distro hating week is quite a lot. However, the list of items that need fixing does give a lot to think about:

large enough repositories to satisfy both desktop and server users;

both GNOME and KDE3 should be offered as main options, alongside with whatever else is the main focus of the distro (smaller DEs/WMs or KDE4);

security updates and major bug updates that don’t break the system, that are provided in a timely manner and in the proper place (e.g. not it Debian’s “volatile” for tzdata; not in “testing” for VL; not ignoring FF 3.0.3 even by RHEL);

not to include functional regressions from a release to the next one (in the kernel or in the major applications);

not to force the users to upgrade because a release is supported for too short;

not to lack major applications in such a manner that the user should either build from source, or get them from several third-party repositories, thus compromising the intended advantages of using a certain distro with a certain quality and consistency of the repos and of the updates;

not to freeze each and every application to a fixed version for the whole supported lifetime of a release, ignoring the fact that building newer versions of the applications is possible when they don’t require newer versions of the system libraries;

not to ignore bug reports for years, especially when the fix would be easy, or especially when it’s about an enterprise distro, whose modest number of packages is small precisely because it’s supposed to be much better maintained than a community-maintained distro;

not to break the package manager every now and then, and not to change the default package manager from a release to the next one;

to provide the full sources in free download, not partial sources, nor just build scripts that would attempt to download the sources from upstream;

to be usable in X with only 256 MB of RAM — failing to do so is a clear sign of bloatedness, regardless of the fact that very few users have such low-end systems;

to have a GUI version of the package manager, and this version to be usable in terms of speed on low-end systems too;

and of course: not to require hours of post-install configuration and customization by the end-user!

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Linux Distro Hating Week, Oct. 6-12

Observed by Planete Beranger, as a protest against the low quality of the distributions built around the Linux kernel

Linux turned 17 under shameful circumstances. Notwithstanding the decrease in quality suffered by the Linux kernel since the beginning of the 2.6 series, good quality distributions can still be build around it. Unfortunately, all of the mainstream GNU/Linux distributions fail to provide with acceptable quality, usability, trustworthiness and proper support, being it paid or not. Specifically, there is no GNU/Linux distribution in the known universe not to fail to at least one of the following requirements:
For the current week, Planete Beranger will ignore whatever is related to any known Linux distro.
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The three worst Linux distributions?

Well, it seems there are some more writers out there that (a) love Linux and (b) debunk distributions that fall way short of their own goals. On the Internetling blog Gregor lists the three worst distributions he knows.

gOS is on three:

I checked out the last version of gOS, and again it s a meaningless pile of installed packages already available for every other major Linux distro out there.

Zebuntu/ZevenOS is on two:

I reviewed this distro a while ago and I though it’s cool that someone is aiming to create a distro in the spirit of BeOS. Looks like the developers didn’t hear the last part. It said ‘philosophy’ not ‘theme’.

And Linux XP is topping the list:

I’m still wondering whether this distro is violating the GPL. For Pete’s sake they have a 30-day TRIAL. Linux XP is a Fedora re-spin with a Vista skin, Wine and some other front-ends. It is being sold, you can also obtain a serial number.

Well, the fact is that the GPL allows reselling commercially and there are commercial distributions that won’t allow updates if you don’t pay. Anyway, I like the list and I like what Gregor is doing.

Kevin Mitnick doesn't travel light

Uber hacker Kevin Mitnick recently found himself detained after a trip to Colombia. The CNet article describes how Kevin felt. Personally, my jaw hit the floor when the article listed what was in his luggage: two laptops, a UMPC, three or four harddrives (I wonder where the confusion comes from), three iPhones and four Nokia cell phones. That is criminal in itself.
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Kevin Mitnick detained, released after Colombia trip

In his luggage, they found a MacBook Pro, a Dell XPS M1210 laptop, an Asus 900 mini-laptop, three or four hard drives, numerous USB storage devices, some Bluetooth dongles, three iPhones, and four Nokia cell phones (with different SIM cards for different countries).
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