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Re^6: Emacs, Elisp and PerlMonks (redhat--)

by Aristotle (Chancellor)
on Mar 23, 2003 at 22:52 UTC ( #245326=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Emacs, Elisp and PerlMonks
in thread Emacs, Elisp and PerlMonks

If you want to spend 6 hours debugging a problem when one eventually crops up, because you have neither any idea how the underlying configuration works nor which layer of the config tools built on top of that to look at.

Besides, what do you mean by "installing"? The initial system install? That's something you do once, and given Gentoo or Debian, probably never again (as you can seamlessly up/downgrade at will). If you mean software in general, thpfffft. emerge program-name is all it usually takes on Gentoo - and a bit of waiting possibly. On Debian it's apt-get install program-name and you're done.

Slackware is much less comfortable, but when I'm setting up a server I know what I want, and what I certainly do not want is pretty GUI tools (or an entire X server and all of its stability problems for that matter) on the box. I certainly don't have fancy graphics cards, fancy "multimedia devices" or anything of that sort to justify a clickety cute installer with lots of doodads.

Have you had a look at Knoppix, perchance? It's a full fledged Debian live filesystem that boots off of CD and detects your hardware automatically, and with great success according to most everyone I heard talking about it. Comes with a KDE3 desktop (if you want such a thing), OpenOffice, Mozilla and lots of other stuff (they squeezed over 1GB uncompressed onto the ISO). And you can install it on HD and have an actual Debian install ready. Doesn't get easier than that, even with RedHat.

Not to mention these distros are not full of bloated scripts that bog down the machine and spiked with repair-myself-automatically mechanisms that just get in your way.

Makeshifts last the longest.

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Re: Re^6: Emacs, Elisp and PerlMonks (redhat--)
by arturo (Vicar) on Mar 25, 2003 at 18:10 UTC
    If you want to spend 6 hours debugging a problem when one eventually crops up, because you have neither any idea how the underlying configuration works nor which layer of the config tools built on top of that to look at.

    I'm having trouble seeing how this militates for any distribution over any other1. Basically, what your complaint comes down to is that it pays to know how configuration files work. Apparently you think RH discourages learning how to use them, while more barebones distributions such as Debian and Gentoo encourage ... well, ok, demand, but I won't put that word in your mouth ... that kind of learning. You know what? If you use RH, you can do it all by editing text files if you want to. You don't have to use any of the custom tools they provide, whether X or curses based. If you want to run a server for a serious purpose, you're remiss if you don't do this anyway. You're also likely remiss if you don't compile all the interesting bits from source.

    Anonymonk was right in the first place when he pointed out that the mere fact that something takes longer to install doesn't make it better. The mere fact that it takes more knowledge to install doesn't make it better either. If you're arguing that distributions that don't impose extra Darwinian overhead2 ought not to be used or are for that reason worse than distributions which do, then I don't see the point so clearly. Easier gets it more accepted; more knowledgeable admins makes it more secure. Both have a role to play. And the already knowledgable can use both effectively.

    1 I'm also failing to see why it should take any longer to figure out why something isn't working under RH than under, say Gentoo, provided one is familiar with the system in question. Even if it's true that it takes RH users longer to debug problems, that is more likely to result from a difference in general skill level than from any inherent defect in the system they're using.

    2 if this characterization strikes you as rhetorically slanted, read it the other way: some distributions remove Darwinian overhead while others do not.

    If not P, what? Q maybe?
    "Sidney Morgenbesser"

      If you use RH, you can do it all by editing text files if you want to. You don't have to use any of the custom tools they provide, whether X or curses based. If you want to run a server for a serious purpose, you're remiss if you don't do this anyway.

      Exactly.

      But unbloating a system with lots of useless bits tends to be dirtier and more effortsome than the other way around.

      I can't say how true this is for the configuration tools of RedHat, but I can attest that the SuSE stuff (that distro is much more widespread in Germany) are a pain to get rid of, work around or live with. And there's still startup scripts and default configurations left to be winnowed down.

      So why not start with a distribution that does a the minimum I have to, without getting in my way?

      the mere fact that something takes longer to install doesn't make it better. The mere fact that it takes more knowledge to install doesn't make it better either.

      Depending on whether you count the winnowing down into the installation effort, then RedHat doesn't necessarily take any less time for a knowledgeable admin to set up than a Debian box. Actually in those circumstances I'd put my money on the Debian guy getting his system going faster.

      Where did I say it has to be difficult? Have you tried the Knoppix distro I referred to? You boot off of CD and boom, instant Linux KDE3 desktop. With all your hardware detected. Even Windows can't dream of getting close to this. And we're talking about an honest-to-god Debian system that's merely prepackaged.

      Good does not have to be hard. Don't be misled by the conviction I seem to voice my opinions with. I am well aware there are flaws in everything, and I don't echo common consensus without informing myself. Which is actually why I sound so convinced. It doesn't mean I'm deaf; if you can argue a dent into my reasoning, rest assured I'm not going to ignore it.

      I generally find that too many efforts in the Linux world try to emulate Windows in one way or other, which I find a huge mistake. Already too many people think of Linux as a "better Windows" (or worse, depending on who you ask, obviously).

      But it's not, and shouldn't be shoehorned into that form. We can invent something better than Windows, something easier to use, and something technically superior. (Heck, here at PerlMonks, hubris even is our business.)

      I say it without a hint of elitism, because it is true: Windows sucks. And though inevitably to a much lesser degree since they're built on a solid foundation, so do RedHat, SuSE and friends. I submit that they're thought of as easy, but they're not. They hide things from you, but they don't make anything any easier - in fact, can make things a whole lot harder.

      That doesn't mean I'm saying Debian, Gentoo, Slackware or anything else is the be all end all. They all have their strengths, but I have gripes with all of them to some degree - package managers, especially, are a chapter unto themselves, and I don't think anyone has gotten one right yet. Gentoo made a very useable and valiant attempt to improve on the BSD ports system, but IMO failed in the bottom line.

      I could go on all day telling you why this is so or that is that. The point I am making is that I am not blind to the issues with any of the distributions, or operating systems in general. To paraphrase what mutt's author says about mutt himself, all of them suck, some just suck less. (And one has to note that few things suck, period, most everything sucks more or sucks less for specific purposes.) Or to put it with a positive tone, "have room for improvement".

      Apple's MacOS X and Aqua have shown that Unix needn't equate to difficult and that there's much, much room left in the desktop metaphor. Knoppix shows there's a lot to be done with Linux to reduce user headaches. Do you remember BeOS? It's a shame it died - it broke new ground in several areas. The future is bright, but we need to move forwards, no get stuck rehashing moldy ideas with variations.

      Makeshifts last the longest.

        I can't say how true this is for the configuration tools of RedHat, but I can attest that the SuSE stuff

        Comparing SuSE to RedHat is not at all fair. Just because they're both commercially-backed Linux distros doesn't mean they're the same thing. SuSE also has a history of doing very consumer-hostile things, like not releasing their ISOs, and being overall troublesome. I see no reason why anyone would use their product. RedHat's config utilities also kick SuSE's out of the ring.

        Here's the root cause of this entire thread - many people want to be elitists. They'll be the ones switching to FreeBSD when they deem linux is too mainstream. I'm sure I don't have to point out why this is plain silly, but I will anyways. The wider the adoption of a platform, the more apps and support there is for it. Better drivers, better games, better everything. One key to attaining this is increasing accessibility to the maximum level, ie make it easy to use. Now ease of use does not create bloat and inflexibility, the ideal system allows the novice to make simple decisions (ie do you want a desktop or server) to install their system, while allowing advanced users to select every single package individually. Red Hat's installer does this (though there are a couple areas they could improve it). This does not make the distro bloated, it makes it exactly like other, less evolved distros but with the options that allow novices to use it.

        Windows sucks.

        Microsoft Windows has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this debate. It's a proprietary system owned by an anti-competitive, user-hostile company that only survives because it's users are too dependent on the system (insert matrix music here). This is a completely different situation than two open source operating systems containing the same kernel and virtually identical packages.

Re: Re^6: Emacs, Elisp and PerlMonks (redhat--)
by Anonymous Monk on Mar 25, 2003 at 14:57 UTC
    I certainly don't have fancy graphics cards, fancy "multimedia devices" or anything of that sort to justify a clickety cute installer with lots of doodads.

    Then you can install in text mode, it's still easier.

    I really don't think the distro makes much of a different though, I end up tweaking them to the point where it's even hard to call it "redhat" or "debian" anymore. Same kernel, same compiler, same GUI, same apps. The only difference is installer, package management, and little extras (like the redhat config tools). Barely even worth discussing IMHO.

Re: Re^6: Emacs, Elisp and PerlMonks (redhat--)
by mr. jaggers (Sexton) on Mar 25, 2003 at 06:56 UTC
    There is also something to be said for binaries that are compiled (and optimized) specifically for the platform (architecture, really) that they're going to be run on (which is a big complaint of *BSD ports users against Red Hat type stock packages).

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