The Spoils of War

So I recently sent a post to my Linux group with reference to a certain article and this has spawned a very serious and heated argument.

The post, as you'll see, is related to French Parliament's decision to incorporate, even replace, Microsoft Windows with "the open source operating system, Linux" for their government office computing. Before I get much further in to this whole story let me make one thing very clear: THIS IS A VERY GOOD THING FOR THE LINUX COMMUNITY. This is government openly recognizing the power, capability, cost benefit and ease of deployment of using a Linux infrastructure.

So the post spawns a debate about which distro will be chosen. Myself and a couple other users suggests that Novell's SuSE Linux would be a good choice (find the open version here). I stated that the interoperability with closed-source functionality will be a key factor in their decision. That's a founded concern in the IT field and I felt justified in saying so. Many agreed with me. But some didn't, and voiced their concerns vehemently.

This all turned to an ongoing argument about the partnership between Novell and Microsoft. Some good arguments were made about this, both for and against the two rival companies cooperating. I even commented on the parntership, which I am very much for, by the by. So "what's the big deal?" you ask.

It was off topic. I'm all for being a little off topic but this was getting out of hand. In the space of a single day the argument had turned to insults, innuendo and general backbiting. I don't approve of this and stated so. I was greeted by semi-apologetic replies from the offending parties and now all is well.

What the fuck am I talking about?
The deal between Microsoft and Novell is that Microsoft will, over the course of the next five years, distribute SuSE Linux to 350,000 of their customers in an effort to "work together to improve the interoperability between Linux and Windows". This is good, right? Microsoft gets to lie and say they don't fear or hate Linux and SuSE, at least, will get more exposure to the world.

SuSE is, at least in my opinion, the easiest Linux distro to use. I set it up just today and it just friggin' works. With the exception of DVD playback, which is easily solved by getting libdvdcss. Everything else, from simply browsing the web to installing programs to reading (not writing to, unfortunately) from NTFS partitions, is unbelievably easy or works automatically. I RPMd Firefox 2.0 and it just worked. It replaced the existing version (at least as far as I can tell it's gone) and just started working. I had to run a version check just to make sure because I wasn't interrupted by install scripts and wasn't asked to reboot, something that happens quite frequently in Windows and other Linux distros.

Sound worked from the get go, as did video and networking. The cards were detected automatically (and correctly, much to my surprise...), drivers loaded for them and they just worked. I set my monitor type (LCD), resolution (1280x1024) and aspect ratio (4:3) and rebooted. I was logged in automatically and there was a beautiful, high res desktop in about 23 seconds. I've never had to work less!

I've yet to run in to any issues that I didn't cause myself (tried to download libdvdcss the first time and grabbed a package that contained the utils but not the library; my bad). Changing system settings is never more than a few clicks away. The shell is still BASH, so no change there and it has yet to fail me. Things load exceedingly fast, close faster and the whole thing just works almost flawlessly (I won't say completely flawlessly because a) I'm not that far in to it yet and b) it'd just be stupid; there's always some little thing that makes it incomplete).

These are a few of my favorite things...
GET OUT OF MY HEAD, JULIE ANDREWS! Sorry, stroked out for a second there.

1. YaST, the installer/configurator/guru tool for SuSE is much improved over previous versions. It's not nearly as invasive as it has been in the past and is truly enjoyable to use now.

2. RPM management, whether through YaST or the other system installer tools, has gotten a hell of a lot better over the years and I don't have to think as much if I don't want to. You click to download an RPM and 99% of the time the browser asks if you want to save or launch the file with the appropriate utility, resulting in a fast install.

3. GNOME (haven't played with KDE yet and don't think I will now... :) is just as fantastic as always. The re-org on the interface, namely the sys bar, makes it way too easy to use. The menus make more sense and things are where they are supposed to be. If you browse your applications and go to the "Multimedia" menu you expect to see media players and tools. That's what you see. Isn't it great when you don't have to think?

4. Size has always been an issue for SuSE. My last installation, SLED (SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, these are the boxed versions) 9.3 Pro, was a whopping 8.5 GB. That's huge. Open 10.1 is a mere 3.44 and theres probably stuff I'll remove. I didn't install everything for either of them but being less than half, almost 1/3 the size, of 9.3 is a huge accomplishment and Novell should be very proud of themselves.

Hey Mikey, I don't think he likes it

1. The package selection used to be as granular as I wanted. Not so much now. During install YaST makes many of the decisions for you, just like it should. But I like to get picky, to the point of taking an hour or so removing this and adding that (why do I need the Arabic help for PERL again?). I can't do that as much now. While the packages are available for review it's pretty much grouped by dependencies or application. In other words "you take all of this stuff or none of it".

2. Partitioning and disk setup is somewhat lacking. All of the partitions are available but the expert mode isn't as expansive as I prefer and mounting Windows partitions is a little... weird.

3. Documentation, while available online, feels like it was relegated to the back seat. I downloaded all of the docs that were available but they didn't go much beyond "this is your computer, it has disks; this is SuSE; go at it, big guy". In other words it was lacking in the detail. They should really get O'Reilly to write their docs.

Wait, that's it?
Yep, that's it. Those are really my only complaints. I'm used to being on the phone with Squall while I'm configuring stuff. I'm smart but he's miles ahead of me when it comes to Linux. After all, he introduced me back when SuSE 8.0 was "new" (god, I'm old... :( ). But this time I was able to call and tell him "it just...fucking...works!". And that's a really good feeling.

Dumb fucker of the week
Maybe it's DF of the past few months. Haven't had one for a while, but this is a doosy.

"Is that those flappy things that look like wings?"

Yeah, this one was fun. My friends and I were up camping on a four day trip a while back. We'd been getting drunk until well in to the evening. The group was mixed company and all but one of us had someone of the opposite sex on our lap. Except Scott. Kid is completely fucking hopeless.

So we're pretty sloshed and talking about sex in general. You know,... well, you know. Drunk and sex are like peanut butter and jelly, they go between bread (or sheets, as it were). Somebody gets on the topic of female anatomy and brings up labia, a subject I never get tired of talking about (god I need to get laid!). We've been having a serious discussion about what types of labia we enjoy, what we like to do to them and whether or not it's proper to dress them in little dresses or make them carry heavy objects when Scott pipes up with what I thought was a joking comment. "Labia (he pronounced it lab-by-uh)... is that those flappy things that look like wings?"

I looked at him, as did everybody else. He had a serious look on his face, like he was in math class and wanted to know what the pythagorean theorem was. The rest of us thought he was in math class and had just asserted that 2+2=5. So everyone completely fucking lost it.

We'd been laughing for about 15 minutes when we all finally regained our composure. Then Brandon (not you, Baren) decided to fuck it up for us again with an impersonation of what should have been a baby seal but wasn't. More hilarity followed by weird barking sounds, accompanied by wet sloshing and slapping sounds. I really have to get some new friends...

Gryyphyn, out.
Section-9/The Wired

1 comment:

  1. Comment. Oddly enough, I have a counter on my blog, and my hits haven't changed in a LONG time. (Well, until I started reading my own posts from way back when). Anyways, I do read these, I just don't comment.

    And Microsoft working with SuSE? I think I hear the world collapsing piece by piece.


Flamers will be neutered, pulverized, drawn and quartered and their heads will become my next hood ornament while their bodies will be burned and the ashes thrown in to my personal portal to the 7th level of Hell.