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 Post subject: A plea for a Linux that makes sense...
PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 7:18 pm 
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So, some back story. (And when i mean "some" i mean "about 10,000 words worth"--feel free to skim a bit)

A while back--around last Christmast time, in fact--i had some computer issues. My video card cooked itself, my network card suddenly and inexplicably went dead, and my Windows install exploded violently and took out all my partitians and made the whole machine unbootable by randomly scrambling the disk. All within the space of a single week. (And no, these were not related--it was entirely coincidental :bang: )

Fortunately, xfs_repair is like a tiny god that looks over its domain--which is the xfs filesystem. I ran that and all my (xfs) filesystems came back, minus a couple gigabytes of not inconsequential data that were too broken for even this program to repair. I still can't get Windows to re-install on this damned machine and i have since given up bothering. It is like a tiny cactus i have no intent of swallowing.

But i was busy, and didn't have time to totally fix my Slackware install so i just left it; until last week, when i began the process of rebuilding a fully-functional slackware.

This is when the hurting started.

Once upon a time i was new to Linux and decided on Slackware, as opposed to Mandrake/Red Hat/Debian/etc (i'm particularly including Debian in this one) because it just worked. Now, that probably seems an odd way to describe Slackware--a distribution with a reputation for being incredibly hard-assed and unwilling to do anything for you, but that's sort of the whole point. It did exactly what you told it to--no more, no less.

Now, certainly, there were times when it would have been nice if the thing had done more than it was told to--if it automatically handled dependencies like Debian (now possible, to an extent, thanks to the porting of various configuration tools) or if it automatically detected and configured hardware like Red Hat. On the whole, however, i found it was the only distro that i could actually use without going schizophrenic trying to keep track of it all.

But now, i fear, the experience is something else entirely.

So, back on track, last week i installed the 10.2 version of Slackware, because it's shiny. Mostly, it worked quite nicely. I had to do a bit of tweaking to make it work precisely right, and i of course had to install a bunch of other stuff (ie, enlightenment) because i can't tolerate some of the defaults, but everything worked.

Then i decided to install the 2.6 Linux kernel. Specifically, i downloaded 2.6.16.20.x.y.z.9999.wtf.why.are.there.so.many.numbers, or something reasonably close to that in any event. It's true that Slackware comes with its own kernel, but it's 2.6.13--a scary and bad version that is known to eat babies and stab pretty boys.

So anyway, i did the usual kernel install routine--which i have been doing for years--and much to my surprise, it didn't work. Instead, the thing threw a kernel panic on boot for no apparent reason. So i scoured the internet--on a different machine, since even compiling the source code broke the internet capabilities of the default slackware kernel due to module bullshit--and tried to find out why it was broken. Apart from people who didn't know what they were talking about insisting i had accidentally forgotten to include XFS support in my kernel, which would have made the thing unbootable since it couldn't access the partition it was on--which i most certainly did not do--nobody even really had a clue what was happening. And we're not talking a few people--no, this was several forums and IRC channels dedicated to Linux.

It turns out, as i had discovered in the past but had since forgotten, that if you use the kernel's gconfig (as oposed to the xconfig or some other config) it simply will not work. It will turn out a broken kernel, every single time. At least, that's what happens for me. Using an essentially identical configuration, the kernel worked just fine.

Or rather, i should say it "worked just fine" until i actually got it booted up.

After boot, my internet stopped working and my video card stopped working and my sound card stopped working. They simply no longer work. Oh, i can see them and stuff with lspci and all the usual stuff people on forums and IRC suggest you check. They certainly appear to be working fine. But upon careful inspection, it should be obvious that they are not working at all. (You know, "careful inspection" like trying ot access a web page or listen to music or start X.)

Nothing i have tried--no invocation of saint or devil--has managed to restore these things to working order. (Admittedly, i haven't been focusing on the video aspect because, as i remember, it takes a bit of cleverness to make it work to begin with.) In fact, when i went back to booting the old 2.4 kernel it turns out these things had stopped working in 2.4 as well. I have managed to get internet access again--but not audio, and not video acceleration either.

So i decided it was maybe Slackware not getting all of the stuff that it needs--that Slackware has some particular demand the default kernel does not fulfill. So, after noticing Slackware had a 2.6 option, i tried that. Installed a new copy of the OS and picked the 2.6 kernel this time.

Much to my dismay, this worked even less than the previous efforts. See, the Slackware 2.6 does not come with the kernel modules or the source or configurations or (in fact) any part of the kernel other than a bzImage. Instead, it comes with the 2.4 versions--which are decidedly incompatible!

Well, after kicking this around a bit i decided to retreat back to 2.4-land. Maybe, i figured, i would have more success getting other things going.

Oh, how wrong i was :911:

I tried to get x.org 7.1 working--Slack 10.2 comes with 6.8.2, which is functional but not as neat. However, x.org is now distributed in one billion files, which you must download and install all separately as far as i'm aware. Why is this? I looked around the x.org site (and ones focusing on x.org), but to no avail. There was some talk about a switch to "autotool"--but no talk about how to actually use this damned software, which is actually a step back from before--they used to actually link a howto, in case you needed some hand-holding. I suppose someone might come in here and point to one thing that makes it all make sense--but the x.org web page sure as fuck doesn't, and why not? Are links too expensive for them? Did they have a pixel shortage this year?

But anyway, i gave up quickly on that because--as mentioned--x.org 6.8.2 is perfectly reasonable.

Onto enlightenment. I installed e16, which went fine. That's not my complaint here. My complaint is that i installed e16, rather than e17. This is--basically--the exact same version of the software i used when i first started using Linux. It is, i believe, over a decade old. What is wrong with this picture? At one point, the enlightenment crew had at least a half-assed justification: e17 was going to be such a gigantic step forward it simply required a lot of time and care to be put into developing it.

That might have been true five or six years ago. It is not true today.

Did you know they're already starting development of e18? I'm sure it'll be a fantastic program--in 2299, the year it will actually be released!

Then there's gtk. Now, i like gtk. I really do. Except for theming it.

The default theme is garbage--it's win-3.1 era stuff. So i went and got some themes. However, all of the good themes require things called "theme engines". So i went and downloaded those. Things were going well up to this point... but then i tried to install the theme engines.

I do not believe, and will not believe, that anyone has actually successfully installed a gtk theme engine. Ever. Not a single person. It is an utterly incomprehensible process, and not helped by the fact that there's basically no help to be had if you have trouble installing these things. (Not that this is surprising, since--as i continue to maintain--nobody has ever actually done it.) You go and install it--and if it compiles--it just doesn't work. Why? Who knows! The entire thing is arbitrary. There is no sense to why any of it happens. Neither, of course, is any of this documented in a sensible manner. In fact, as near as i can tell, it's not documented at all.

Sure, i could read the source code and figure it out that way--but the source to the configuration script alone is over 22,000 lines long.

No joke.

Don't believe me? Try this on for size:

$ wc configure
22709 82770 731744 configure

Why? What could possibly justify this? It's not as though we're dealing with such an amazingly complex thing that it simply requires that much code. You can write entire kernels in fewer lines than that--and that's just to configure the damned thing! And this is just for themes!

Twenty-two thousand, seven hundred nine lines of configuration file for a theme.

2.2*10^4

So what happens when i go point this out to someone?

"Oh, you need to use the gnome configuration utility to install theme engines."

Say what?

I thought gtk was supposed to be--i don't know--sensible and/or cross platform?

This isn't that, this is howling-at-the-moon insanity! It is easier to write a program in gtk than it is to install a new gtk theme.

I have to download Gnome--a gigantic program i don't really care about--because i have to use gconf--a configuration program notorious for not working--so that i can install a theme engine so that i can install a theme? For real?

There is apparently no other way to do it--but why? Why does installing a theme require me to download a more-or-less unrelated piece of software that is fucking gigantic and otherwise useless? Whose bright idea was this? This isn't smart, it's the fucking Microsoft model! "No, you can't read that .doc document, you have to buy a $500, 700 mb program to read it even though it's basically plain text in a fancy dress."

I could go on--believe me, i could go on and on about dozens more examples exactly like this--but i promised to keep it under a few thousand words and i want to get to the point.

======================================
If you skimmed down from the top, you should stop here!
======================================

What's going on, here? It's not me--i've had a lot of experience with this stuff and it should not be rocket science, in any event. Hell, i get rocket science. This is Cthulhuian gibberish. The King In Yellow could not inspire as much madness as this. You want to know why more people don't use Linux? It's because it has apparently been designed by an Elder God of horror.

It wasn't always this way, but at some point it stopped being not-this-way and became this way.

The problem is that this software all sucks. I will go farther: the problem is that it sucks and nobody is willing to admit it.

Even ESR admits Linux software has become so incredibly ridiculous that he, too, can't get it to work all the time and he does this stuff a whole fucking lot.

If there were anywhere else to go--some other operating system that made sense--i would gnaw my own leg off to get out of this disgrace.

Sure, i'm downloading some new distributions to test out but i don't expect it'll work any better. It'll only take fewer commands for it to not work--just "apt-get it-isn't-going-to-fucking-work-and-you-know-it" instead of "./configure;make;make install".

There's no excuse for this mess. It doesn't take that much effort to not make a fucking maze of twisty pasages, all alike. We can do better.

But, right now, it looks like things are going in the other direction.

(Incidentally, for those who wonder why this is in the debate club, i want someone to come in here and say "No, you're all wrong--it makes perfect sense because of [totally logical reasons x, y, z, etc]!" Of course, that isn't going to happen because i am right! But i've never stopped that from letting people who are wrong argue with me before. There're also implied questions, like what would be better? How would a "fixed" system look? Why hasn't anyone done this before? Etc. I know some of these answers, but not all.

Also, i'm doing this so i don't wander into some Linux conference and take a chainsaw to everyone responsible for this garbage.)

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 8:06 pm 
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Short answer: "I'm working on it!"

Slightly longer answer to all your Slackware Gnome oriented problems: Gnome Slack.Build. Actually, GSB is not the product you'll want to use. The GSB people write GSB and then use it to create Freerock Gnome. Sort of the cook eating his own food. I run Slackware 10.2, Freerock Gnome 2.12.1, linux 2.6.6, and it ... mostly all works. For some reason, USB activity will make XMMS spontaneously stop playing my MP3s. Sound under Gnome itself, as in all the beeps and boops of environment events, will stop for a time. I've downloaded the 2.6.16.9 kernel, but I haven't compiled it yet and will have to patch it up to the current 2.6.16.20 when I finally do. Just this morning, I had to finally get my scanner working. A little googling and I had the firmware file, installed it, modified the right sane configuration file and whataya know? It works! It only works when I run the scanner software under sudo, but it works.

When Pat dropped Gnome from the official Slackware distribution for dirth of ability to keep up and excess of complexity, your Slackware/Gnome options became Dropline, Freerock, and one other I can't recall. Freerock is by far the one most in the original slackware mould. Install it, and I'm confident most all of your video/GUI problems will go away.

As to the content of ./configure... It's machine generated. It's meant to only be machine read. Read not the content of ./configure, for that way lies madness. Humans read the write config.in and config.ac, assuming they know the m4 macros to use, which get chewed on by the autotools to generate a Bourne shell script as inoffensive and universally runnable as possible, which means it's written in sh code that's impossible to read because it uses the lowest common denominator of sh code constructs, and a fucking butt-load of them.

Little explanation of the short answer, I'm trying to engineer my own package management system based around actually user-readable bourne-again shell idioms and a smidgeon of AI, highly modularized, and using all of the best-practice techniques as inspiration, not gospel.

I'm a geek girl and love to talk shop. I actually read and understood every world your wrote.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 8:51 pm 
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<font color=red><b>STALKER/FAG ALERT.
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Ha! And people say Windows is unreliable. :roll:


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 9:05 pm 
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nick012000 wrote:
Ha! And people say Windows is unreliable. :roll:

I knew that was coming.

Windows still will not even install, for some reason.

So it doesn't even hit the baseline that slack 10.2 install, no tweaking, does.

Real useful, that...

Regarding the whole Gnome thing... i know there are a couple Slack gnome versions (i'm not averse to compiling from source, myself--it's usually what i do, but for something as large as gnome i'd probably skip it). It's the fact that i have to (apparently) if i want to use gtk themes that irritates me. Perhaps if it fixes some other problems i'll look into it, although i'm still dedicated to enlightenment. The internet problem, also, is the serious one. The other two i'm fairly confident i could fix, given time. It's just very painful to figure this stuff out without a handy internet connection.

(Incidentally, Elektra (or more likely: something similar) might help solve some of these problems.)

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 9:39 pm 
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Just pull out the hard drive, plug it in another computer, backup anything important and reformat it.

Then stick the now empty hard drive back in the original computer and install Windows onto a clean slate.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 10:07 pm 
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nick012000 wrote:
Just pull out the hard drive, plug it in another computer, backup anything important and reformat it.

Then stick the now empty hard drive back in the original computer and install Windows onto a clean slate.

Are you somehow under the impression that all the problems mentioned above (and a whole set of additional ones) do not apply to Windows? Or do you just enjoy paying outrageous sums of money for purposely crippled software?

Just for fun, try installing the functional equivalent of the set of software that comes with any Linux distro on Windows -- without using Cygwin. You'll find you need to learn more than you ever wanted to know about the guts of the OS, its compiler, linker, and registry as well as the internal quirks of the software you're installing. Integration of a complex set of dependencies is never pretty.


/me slaps himself. I had a post with actual content. Really I did.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 10:20 pm 
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Incidentally, i purchased a shiny new 250gb hard drive about a month ago. Although i already knew the outcome, i gave installing Windows a shot on this drive just for the hell of it. It didn't work, though. :911:

(Of course, if i were to pull it out and then install Windows on it on a different computer, then swap the hard drive back into this one it wouldn't be any problem... except for how the Windows install wouldn't have any of the necessary drivers, etc, to actually run...)

(Edit: Incidentally, Thins isn't kidding. Keep in mind that a lot of that stuff is FOSS that got ported over to Windows.)

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Last edited by Winter on Sat Jun 10, 2006 10:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 10:26 pm 
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If its a lateral architecture move (IE same AMD gen to same AMD gen, just different mobo/CPU) then simply running a windows repair install (boot to the windows disk, when it starts looking for previous installs and finds yours, select it and hit R) it should work just fine.

I just upgraded my cpu and motherboard a few days ago and it worked for me.

I have not, though, been able to successfully migrate Intel to AMD or vice versa.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 10:29 pm 
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krylex wrote:
If its a lateral architecture move (IE same AMD gen to same AMD gen, just different mobo/CPU) then simply running a windows repair install (boot to the windows disk, when it starts looking for previous installs and finds yours, select it and hit R) it should work just fine.

Won't work, can't be arsed to try it anyway

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 10:53 pm 
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Winter wrote:
Regarding the whole Gnome thing... i know there are a couple Slack gnome versions (i'm not averse to compiling from source, myself--it's usually what i do, but for something as large as gnome i'd probably skip it). It's the fact that i have to (apparently) if i want to use gtk themes that irritates me.

Don't have to. GSB is the build-from-source framework, but Freerock Gnome is the precompiled Slackware binary packages. It's even easier than that. frg 2.12.1 comes in an iso9660 image. Mount it via the loopback device and run the install.sh script in its root directory. It does the rest, occassionally asking you which of two similar packages, Totem with gstreamer extensions, Totem without gstreamer extensions, etc.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:10 pm 
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Winter wrote:
Kernel problems

Ummm ... that's really weird ...

Honestly, I take the coward's way out of kernel configs. I used ext2 exclusively until a few years ago when it stopped being able to cope with HDD sizes. I check Linux compatibility obsessively before I buy hardware and I don't muck with the performance settings more than is strictly necessary to get the IDE driver into the correct mode (ARGH IDE-33 SMASH).


Quote:
X problems

My theory is that there is some kind of Gypsy Curse on X that causes it and anything that it touches (i.e Gnome/GTK) to bloat like a beached whale in the sun.


Quote:
Gnome problems

Well, the way I've coped with this in the past is not to install Gnome. I install just enough GTK+ to get Gimp running and that seems to work for most other GTK applications that aren't horrible Gnome crap. Admittedly, this limits your choices for desktops. I've usually installed KDE for people who want an integrated desktop and run Afterstep, WindowMaker, or Enlightenment by themselves for my own use.

I love Afterstep (or at least the versions that page properly ... after the 2.0 release there were some bad performance problems that I'm not sure were fixed) it uses about 3MB of RAM, includes an icon manager, launch bar and pager, and has almost no external dependencies except for X and the image libraries.


Quote:
There're also implied questions, like what would be better? How would a "fixed" system look? Why hasn't anyone done this before? Etc. I know some of these answers, but not all.

I see three major problems. The first two of are technical and exacerbated by the third human problem.


<b>SO Hell</b>
I'm sorry Cathy; I've tried to set up a project to use Autoconf/Automake and it's an abomination. The config.?? files are horrible enough themselves, but the M4 that they're built on top of is ridiculous. Nobody wants to learn <i>another</i> rather useless programing language just to set up a build. So we all use Autoproject and accept the defaults and get ./configure scripts that check for deps we aren't using and not for the specific versions of things that we are using.

Make is a shoot-yourself-in-the-foot-and-watch-your-lower-torso-evaporate-in-cloud-of-compiler-errors language. Yes, it is more flexible and powerful than Ant, but how often do you need that?[1] The most complicated thing in any build is the dependency checker that descends into DLL (SO) hell and returns with information garnered by the darkest of methods. This is the kind of thing that the distro itself should be handling. A distro should be more than an aggregator of packages. They should be an integrator too, and they should contribute integration fixes back to the package author.

You may or may not be familiar with a Java tool known as <a href="http://maven.apache.org">Maven</a>. It's not perfect. It's slow and it imposes an unnecessarily clunky project structure. What it does do is provide a <i>uniform</i> project structure and a terse language for managing the build and dependency issues. It's been widely adopted for these reasons. I'm picturing some kind of simple, cross-disto/cross-platform API for build and dependency management. Let the distros develop it and write it. Projects will use it or risk irrelevance. Distros can contribute build and install scripts for packages they're integrating back to the primary authors[2].


<b>Not Implemented Here</b>
Open source projects are usually done on free time, and they accumulate dependencies like mad. Nobody like reinventing the wheel, and especially not on their own time. "<i>Get it working and move on!</i>" is our motto. The problem is that these deps need careful management. Otherwise they lead to brittle structures like the godawfullness that is my current CD ripper/burner GUI. It invokes no less than five programs <i>using a command line exec</i> and it refuses to work with the Debian kernel because the cdrecord author thinks Torvalds is a dick for ripping the legacy SCSI API out of the kernel, despite the fact that cdrecord is the last and only program on earth that uses it.

Yeah. This is helpful. Have you people ever heard of static linking? Or maybe private lib directories? I understand that this defeats the purpose of dynamic linking and loose coupling, but come on ... there have to be limits.


<b>Project Management</b>
Honestly, I think this is the biggest failure of the GNU model -- it's entirely unplanned and it's driven by coders. Not software designers, not project mangers, but by people who dig horrible holes for themselves with unmanageable dependencies and unmaintainable builds and then attempt to <b>code</b> their way to a solution.

The Apache projects and most of the BSD distros have a core team that does project planning, sets code standards, enforces documentation rules, and generally keeps things going in a single direction. I know the kernel and a few other big projects have management teams, but most packages are written and maintained by one or two people and quality and process vary widely. Distro developers have to deal with this and they generally do an okay job ... until you break one of the magic files. Then they start sucking badly. They're at the mercy of the package providers. If developer Y wants to use a new superpimp build tool or introduce a dependency on a Cantonese regular expression library, the most the distros can generally do is provide a statically linked binary and hope nobody ever downloads the source package.

So yeah, I'm not much of a fan of the GNU model of integration. Don't get me wrong, I think GNU and the GPL are fantastic tools for individual developers. The problem is that they do not scale well at all for large projects or projects that require integrating multiple third-party components.



[1] I had a discussion last night with a friend who was using make to drive a data collection system. My friend's opinion was that he needed the extra flexibility of calling directly to the shell and he was willing to put up with make's fuglyness. My question was why it needed be part of the build ....

[2] I find Debian's constant reference to "Upstream Problems" telling.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:48 pm 
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At this point, I think the choir is preaching to itself.

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 Post subject: Did I mention I do software development for a living ... and that I've seen some hair-curling-bad things in the last week?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:15 am 
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I'm <i>venting</i>.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 1:14 am 
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Thinman wrote:
Winter wrote:
Kernel problems

Ummm ... that's really weird ...

It gets weirder than that, too, but it's not really worth describing all the freaky details. Once i figure out what's going on i'm going to send it in, i think.

Quote:
Honestly, I take the coward's way out of kernel configs. I used ext2 exclusively until a few years ago when it stopped being able to cope with HDD sizes. I check Linux compatibility obsessively before I buy hardware and I don't muck with the performance settings more than is strictly necessary to get the IDE driver into the correct mode (ARGH IDE-33 SMASH).

The problem, for me, is that there's so much more you can do than just the minimum. And i want to do it. But the system isn't set up to let you do it, unless you get lucky.

Quote:
Quote:
X problems

My theory is that there is some kind of Gypsy Curse on X that causes it and anything that it touches (i.e Gnome/GTK) to bloat like a beached whale in the sun.

Sounds about right.

Quote:
Quote:
Gnome problems

Well, the way I've coped with this in the past is not to install Gnome. I install just enough GTK+ to get Gimp running and that seems to work for most other GTK applications that aren't horrible Gnome crap. Admittedly, this limits your choices for desktops. I've usually installed KDE for people who want an integrated desktop and run Afterstep, WindowMaker, or Enlightenment by themselves for my own use.

I don't have gnome installed, either.

But if i wanted a shiny gtk theme--and i do, i'm not running enlightenment and other shiny stuff only to have all my gtk apps look like they got lost somewhere in the 1980s and landed here--i apparently do need to install Gnome. My complaint is: why? No apparent reasons.

After posting my original rant, i went back and looked at the theme engine. Turns out the dependency that is killing the install--killing it this time, i should add--is that i don't have a particular internationalization tool installed. Or rather, i have it installed--just not in the exact, precise way their configure expects it. But since it doesn't describe the way it expects it, it's going to be all but impossible to fix it by hand.

But why? Why do i need an internationalization tool? There is no reason! As Thin notes below, it is because the gnome developers (or at least, the theme engine developers) fucked it up.

Quote:
I love Afterstep (or at least the versions that page properly ... after the 2.0 release there were some bad performance problems that I'm not sure were fixed) it uses about 3MB of RAM, includes an icon manager, launch bar and pager, and has almost no external dependencies except for X and the image libraries.

Enlightenment is the same way. The only listed dependency is imlib2, which of course is clean itself. (Of course, if you want to do e17 it gets uglier--but that's e17 and it's not ready yet.) It's not very small (and e17 is technically superior in every way--including size/speed!), but it is nice--it does exactly what i want it to, no more and no less.

And that's the compile-from-source solution!

And e16 is not a small project! Sure, it's not as big as gnome--not by a long shot. But it is bigger than a part of a theme. Or perhaps, more appropriately, it should be!

Quote:
Quote:
There're also implied questions, like what would be better? How would a "fixed" system look? Why hasn't anyone done this before? Etc. I know some of these answers, but not all.

I see three major problems. The first two of are technical and exacerbated by the third human problem.


<b>SO Hell</b>
I'm sorry Cathy; I've tried to set up a project to use Autoconf/Automake and it's an abomination. The config.?? files are horrible enough themselves, but the M4 that they're built on top of is ridiculous. Nobody wants to learn <i>another</i> rather useless programing language just to set up a build. So we all use Autoproject and accept the defaults and get ./configure scripts that check for deps we aren't using and not for the specific versions of things that we are using.

Make is a shoot-yourself-in-the-foot-and-watch-your-lower-torso-evaporate-in-cloud-of-compiler-errors language. Yes, it is more flexible and powerful than Ant, but how often do you need that?[1] The most complicated thing in any build is the dependency checker that descends into DLL (SO) hell and returns with information garnered by the darkest of methods. This is the kind of thing that the distro itself should be handling. A distro should be more than an aggregator of packages. They should be an integrator too, and they should contribute integration fixes back to the package author.

Which is what's happening with the theme engine. The reason it's 22k lines long is because it was generated using a script. It's a script written ten years ago as a tack-on solution to software designed thirty years ago being used on the software of today.

It doesn't have to be this way. There are better solutions--solutions in the vein of elektra, and better. They're available right now, even! But nobody wants to use them, because everybody uses make, because everybody has make installed, because make is the "standard". To paraphrase Black Mage from 8bit theatre: apparently evil standards are standards, too.

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[...]

<b>Not Implemented Here</b>
Open source projects are usually done on free time, and they accumulate dependencies like mad. Nobody like reinventing the wheel, and especially not on their own time. "<i>Get it working and move on!</i>" is our motto. The problem is that these deps need careful management. Otherwise they lead to brittle structures like the godawfullness that is my current CD ripper/burner GUI. It invokes no less than five programs <i>using a command line exec</i> and it refuses to work with the Debian kernel because the cdrecord author thinks Torvalds is a dick for ripping the legacy SCSI API out of the kernel, despite the fact that cdrecord is the last and only program on earth that uses it.

Yep, this is definitely part of the problem.

And Linus is a dick. He'll admit it himself. But guess what? Without Linus up there being a dick the Linux kernel would be sucktacular. It's already pretty bloated, but can you imagine if every single program fix was left in it? Dear God! The hacks for (the incomplete) Reiser 4 alone make me want to curl up in a corner!

(Which brings us to another point: Time was, the reason you compiled the kernel was to specify your architecture, etc. This used to be (and, really, still is!) a very useful function. It was about picking the stuff that the kernel did, specifically. Not about picking one million device drivers and modules, trying to figure out which ones you needed!

Maybe one of the ways to "fix" kernel configuration garbage like the configure program not working is to--ironically--add more complexity: Make two parts, one being the "kernel essential" stuff like whether you want to use preemption and which scheduler you want and which architecture you want and that sort of thing. Then have all of the rest modules. Of course, this means fixing the "root fs is in a module" problem--but really, that should have been fixed a long time ago anyway. And no, initrd is not a "fix".)

This sort of thing--except the root fs problem, and that's really secondary--doesn't require totally re-writing the kernel. I could make a ruby script to handle it myself, or more likely: several. (Of course, that would require installing ruby and gtk-ruby, which means we're sort of back where we started! Although i note that Ruby has an apt-like library that could be tacked onto the front end of this program, that's a kind-of non-ideal solution because it introduces all of the other problems we're dealing with) It would just take a lot of thought and learning make to re-write the make modules;make modules_install routines. And maybe not even that. It's just that it's a lot of work--meaning a lot of time, which i don't really have--and (once again) i shouldn't have to do this. This should come with the system.

Quote:
Yeah. This is helpful. Have you people ever heard of static linking? Or maybe private lib directories? I understand that this defeats the purpose of dynamic linking and loose coupling, but come on ... there have to be limits.

I think, to a certain extent, static linking (etc) is the answer. Sometimes, you really don't want dynamic linking. Sometimes upgrading a dynamically linked library is going to fubar the program--and sometimes it's just not significant enough to matter!

But no, people don't think about this sort of thing.

Quote:
<b>Project Management</b>
Honestly, I think this is the biggest failure of the GNU model -- it's entirely unplanned and it's driven by coders. Not software designers, not project mangers, but by people who dig horrible holes for themselves with unmanageable dependencies and unmaintainable builds and then attempt to <b>code</b> their way to a solution.

The Apache projects and most of the BSD distros have a core team that does project planning, sets code standards, enforces documentation rules, and generally keeps things going in a single direction. I know the kernel and a few other big projects have management teams, but most packages are written and maintained by one or two people and quality and process vary widely. Distro developers have to deal with this and they generally do an okay job ... until you break one of the magic files. Then they start sucking badly. They're at the mercy of the package providers. If developer Y wants to use a new superpimp build tool or introduce a dependency on a Cantonese regular expression library, the most the distros can generally do is provide a statically linked binary and hope nobody ever downloads the source package.

So yeah, I'm not much of a fan of the GNU model of integration. Don't get me wrong, I think GNU and the GPL are fantastic tools for individual developers. The problem is that they do not scale well at all for large projects or projects that require integrating multiple third-party components.

I think that, here, you've hit it.

GNU has no standard way to handle this stuff, and it's a gigantic project. Maybe the biggest! Microsoft would disagree, of course, and maybe they're right. But GNU is enormous.

And there is, apparently, no thought given to this sort of thing. It's all "run autoconf, it'll take care of everything".

Yeah, maybe if it's "take care of" like the mafia euphemism for "murder".

And then, when people mention stuff like Elektra, they say "Oh, but that's all arbitrary and it requires everyone to code to its expectations!" But that's already how it is! It's just that the expectations are unwritten and impossible to track.

Sigh. Well, i'm going to try Ubuntu i think. That is, assuming it doesn't explode and/or assuming i actually got an install cd, rather than a cd without an installer.

I'm betting on the latter, even though it was clearly described as an "install cd".

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 2:00 am 
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Copy all of the files you need to floppy disk/CD/DVD/whatever.
Reformat your hard drive.
Install Windows on your now blank hard drive.

There, problem solved in three easy steps.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 2:26 am 
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And of course, it doesn't work, God damn it!

It also smashed the cdrom itself, although i think that might be partly my fault--or more accurately, my cd burning software's fault for scewing up the burn.

nick012000 wrote:
Copy all of the files you need to floppy disk/CD/DVD/whatever.
Reformat your hard drive.
Install Windows on your now blank hard drive.

There, problem solved in three easy steps.

Err, no, it doesn't work. If it were that easy i would have done it already.

The problem is not the hard drive.

The problem is the motherboard. And Windows

It is a known issue (if you're feeling masochistic you can google a7v and windows install--winxp, particularly--and find out more but you probably shouldn't) and can be fixed--but it's extremely complex and realistically not worth it.

I know--or at least, i think i know--what's wrong. It's just nonsense and i refuse to waste time on it. In addition, Asus has gone on my "do not buy from this company" list for this and other reasons. The motherboard was half the reason Windows exploded violently in the first place.

At the least it would involve pulling the drive out, installing Windows on it from another computer, grabbing all the drivers from my hardware, installing them in a particular manner, pulling the disk out of that computer and writing '666' on it with the blood of a chicken, and then hand-editing the windows boot loader's junk (or more realistically: getting a more capable one on the disk) to make it all work right. And, of course, that might not work anyway.

And that doesn't actually solve the problem--or the problem that killed Windows to begin with!--it just works around it.

And this didn't happen by accident. Oh, no. It's the copy protection in winxp that's to blame. And the shoddy asus board. But the board is not entirely to blame.

(Incidentally, i am also mostly venting. Sure, there's some real stuff in here--but venting is a part of the motivation.)

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 2:37 am 
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So pull out the motherboard and buy a new one. Sure, it won't stick to the inside of your box all nicely like the one that came with the box, but it'll work. Probably.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 2:45 am 
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nick012000 wrote:
So pull out the motherboard and buy a new one. Sure, it won't stick to the inside of your box all nicely like the one that came with the box, but it'll work. Probably.

Except that's expensive and not worth doing in this computer. (It'd have to be motherboard + processor + ram because of how old it is, at which point it's basically an entirely new machine--may as well get the right case, and maybe a new monitor or something.)

Buying win2k is also out. Yes, it does install. No, i am not paying for it for the privilege of running Microsoft's software--the wrong version, technically--when it's their own fault the stuff i already bought does not run. I could pirate it, but that's fairly illegal and for what end? Why would i want to go back to Windows?

I simply do not care enough to spend that sort of time or money. About the only thing i get out of it that i do not get out of Linux is games--and a TransGaming subscription is way cheaper than any of these solutions anyway.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:00 am 
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I'd suggest trying a BSD or something on it.

apt-get -f is your friend.

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 Post subject: notice how I never said Gentoo was faster.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 11:44 am 
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This is why I use Gentoo. I've never had anything not work out of the box with it.

It does take a long ass time to compile everything from source, but it fucking works pretty damn well once you're done. You don't even have to download their LiveCD you can boot any distro's CD with working net drivers to install Gentoo.

I used to run Slack at one point... it is horrible and mean and eats puppies.

But the problems you described of the Kernel not working can be caused by many many things. Nearly all of them are of the you fucked up nature.

In fact most Linux I've ever had were because I fucked up somewhere.

Yes Linux could use some foolproofing, but as we've all seen (read clippy) too much foolproofing is a very bad idea.

nick012000 wrote:
So pull out the motherboard and buy a new one. Sure, it won't stick to the inside of your box all nicely like the one that came with the box, but it'll work. Probably.
You assume this is an OEM machine, or did I miss something?

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