Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Newbies, update your linux systems often.

I sort of had a falling-out with my local Linux User's Group. My main sin was to post a message where I stated that newbies should not ever update their system. On the face of it, this is stupid advice. Newbies, please update your systems often.

What prompted my outburst was that I was using a buggy distro and the update just plain locked up on it, leaving me no option but a hard power reboot. Upon re-powering back up, the distro was "broken" to the point where I had to re-install completely. I have ruined the installation at least three times on this box with updates. I am sure it is a combination of:
  • my lack of skill and intelligence. Either I was doing something wrong or unable to recover from a minor error.
  • a decrepit 4 year old box which locks up frequently--worse with some distros-- maybe it's got a bad fan and it is over-heating. It is in fact probably unwise to continue investing time in this one buggy box given the number of hobby hours I've wasted with problems associated with it locking up.
  • my unwise experimentation with 2nd and 3rd tier distros put out by a club of ten geeks rather than enterprise-ready, professionally polished distros ( if the products of Novell, Canonical, or Red Hat were to fit this description). In one case, a distro's team was occasionally rearranging its repositories and posting messages in English (but burying them on a German-language web page) saying "don't update this week." Guess what, I updated. There may also be distros which are meant to run well as a live CD but are not intended as a front-up option for a HDD installation. Guess what, I HDD installed and had problems.
Maybe a smarter person on a non-defective box using SLED wouldn't have had these problems. If there were any grain of truth in my outburst, however, it would be to point to the schizophrenia in the linux community of simultaneously saying:
  • "We're all been ready for enterprise for years. It's only FUD & corporate graft that keeps folks in Microsoft."
  • "Buyer beware. It's not a bug if you're the only one experiencing the problem."

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