Monday, April 23, 2007

Feisty Skepticism

From Beryl: The Cool Linux UI Reviewed, which I stumbled upon through this slashdotarticle:
"This release, in my opinion, was the most over-hyped and bug-filled to date. You will have to really hit Technorati to see more of what I’m talking about, but Feisty is as buggy as the beta I tested a short time ago. After completely tossing into the wilds of the ubber-buggy "network-manager," anything running with Edgy supported RT2500 driver shows up, but it will not connect without a special script. Those of you who are on Feisty and need help with your RT2500 cards are welcome to e-mail me for the bash script."
I do not suffer alone. Last month I was discussing the bugginess of Feisty (7.04) ubuntu linux with some geeks. I don't think they entirely appreciated that I could be making rational assessments of the OS release.

Here's my analogy of how the linux world is like the automotive industry. There's two kinds of people (okay, there's gotta be at least a third or else my analogy falls on its face). The first is like an adult, high-school dropout, who doesn't understand the combustion physics of an internal combustion engine. But he has driven most of the cars in a used car lot and can tell a jalopy when he sits in it. This first kind of person is like me, a non-programmer who's able to find enough things in most distros to pull out one's hair over.

The second kind of person is like the 14-year old son of a Detroit auto executive, who has been allowed to drive all the 2008 models of one manufacturer's line and attended many of his parent's dinner parties with the engineers who designed that line. The kid has a lot of knee-jerk loyalty to the industry and knows his way around one line of cars but is actually quite naieve when it comes to the full list of problems out there in manufacturingdom. When hearing complaints about car manufacturers, they respond to the question as if they were teaching a ten-year old how to drive. This is the kind of feeling that I get from a lot of linux folks you meet. Like the guy who is a professional linux developer but cannot pronounce 'xubuntu'.

The point of this whole exercise is my realization that some times some folks who wear their linux enthusiasm on their sleeves are unable to help you with your problems. You will as a linux user discover bugs due to inevitable human error; you will discover asinine and thoughtless policy decisions that mess up an otherwise perfectly good distro. My advice to the linux newbie is:
i) Learn to write good bug reports;
ii) don't take garbage and never give up your search for the ultimate distro in competency and user-friendliness-- the distro that is for both the power-user and your grandfather. DVD's and cell phones can meet this criteria; why cannot distros?

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