Kommandeering Developers Everywhere

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Theory vs practice

As the saying goes:

In theory, theory and practice and the same. In practice, they'e different.

Now I agree fully in theory with the stabilization and hopeful boredom of the desktop (due to completeness and stability). In practice, I'm not quite there yet.

My tech pride forces me to cover this, and not just send a footnote email to Aaron. When pride force you to post on a topic that will undoubtedly result in 102% of the readers to label me as incompetent (or cement their existing label of me being incompetent) and I do it anyways, it's ugly.

For my computer user profile, file me under "enthusiast" or "newer hardware" In other words, the linux kernel still kills me. I try to ride onto hardware as long as possible, but when I upgrade, I tend to buy fairly new components (but well below the insane price-threshold point of course, reserved for suckers and cash-fat businesses.)

That being said, I've never, ever, ever installed any Linux distro that has ever, ever identified and configured 100% of my equipment. Ever. Not with Red Hat in 1998 on my PII because of my SCSI controller and not since. (To be fair and for the record, in my personal experiences on this hardware sampling pool, Mandriva/Mandrake and Slax for live CDs do consistently recognize and configure hardware components as well or better than any other option)

Recent tribulation? Caved and built a new desktop. AMD64, socket 939, striped RAID Serial ATA, PCI-express video card. Not bleeding edge. At risk of being labeled a message board fanboy, I'll stop there - let's just say I shopped the linux hardware friendly sites and support lists to maxmimize my odds. Now, up through trying OpenSuSE 10.0, not a single distribution would even install through completion. Not Fedora/OpenSuSE/Ubuntu/Kubuntu (of course with same back end)/etc/etc. No live CDs will run. Not Knoppix/$other_version_here. 64-bit distros/32-bit distros, you name it(Note: I did not try the newest versions of Xandros or Linspire). So I install XP with no problems.

After installing VMWare, I tinker further. Even in VMWware tweaking the settings, no distro will install. Same goes for my other dekstops. other servers and other laptops. Conclusion: I've never had a Windows install finish *unsuccessfully* and I've never had a Linux install finish *successfully*. ie. my worst installation with Windows since 3.1 is better than my best Linux experience still to this day.

Of course, every individual experience is different, but I'm still waiting for the day I can buy standard brand components (Gigabyte, Nvidia, Asus, Logitech, etc) that have been out on the market for 6-9 months, are listed as being supported, and have a corresponding distro support them.

Conclusion: God I hope we get to the point where the KDE desktop is boring and stable, but I'm not even putting money on my desk yet to save for Linus' pina coladas for all his free time. In the interim, I'll still push heavily for vendor pre-installations.


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