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O'Reilly Network: Why Should This Linux Installation Be Different From All the Others?

Apr 20, 2000, 14:58 (15 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Andy Oram)

"I recently booted up a new Linux box, and even though this one came preloaded from the factory, I soon discovered that it had as many problems as all the installations I've done from disk. Every time I perform a Linux installation, I feel I'm on a journey to the Promised Land. The problem is that I'm afraid it will take me 40 years."

"When I discover that my new kernel (which I had to compile because the old one didn't recognize my network card) now no longer recognizes my mouse, or that Emacs crashes when I read a file just a few hundred bytes long, I feel the resentment and ingratitude of the Israelites in the desert, who complained to Moses, "It is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.""

"Yes, moving from the "service of Pharaoh" (Windows) to the "service of the Lord" (open source) is no easy journey. Open source may be a land of milk and honey, but also of fearsome giants. My first installation from CD was the worst: because the helpful, screen-based installation program misconfigured lilo.conf, I got caught in an infinite loop where I repeatedly defined a boot partition and was thrown back to the same screen once again to define a boot partition. But even more recently, I found a system with an outdated library, and when I tried to reload the library discovered that package installation wasn't working, and when I resolutely decided to build from source, found that the recommended size for my /tmp directory was too small. And thus my 10 plagues was multiplied to 40, or 50, or even 200. Anger, fury, trouble, and evil have I experienced aplenty."

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