"free" as in "nothing better to do with your day"

Ways in which Linux has stolen my time from me recently:

  • Getting an external Firewire drive to work: 8+ hours.

    I finally had to resort to having jungar come over and figure it out. Turns out the Firewire card was conflicting with my (secondary, slower) SCSI card in some obscure crazy way. Solution: throw away the SCSI card. Side effect: I no longer have any way to use my scanner. (I had the scanner and disks on different cards, since the scanner (HP-4C) is ancient and only does SCSI-1.)

  • Getting a wheeled mouse to work: 3+ hours.

    For most of that time, Google evidence was actually suggesting that I was going to need to upgrade my kernel to get the mouse wheel to be recognised! This mouse has two buttons, a wheel (which is also a middle button) and three extra buttons (one on each side, and one below the wheel.) But after much thrashing, I finally managed to get all the buttons working except the little button below the wheel (it now always sends the same code that scroll-wheel-down does, which is pretty useless.)

Amount of effort either of these tasks would have required on a Mac:

  • Zero.

Fundamental tactical error made during the execution:

  • Failure to preface all efforts with a rigorous protocol of heavy drinking.
Tags: , , ,
Current Music: SMP -- Negative ♬

62 Responses:

  1. pdx6 says:

    Use of Linux and Freebsd has increased my alcohol consumption my by many magnitudes.

    This is a good thing.

  2. bifrosty2k says:

    thats just sad
    I've got SCSI+USB stuff around, but who would've thought that SCSI+FW would have a cow under Linux.
    I guess one more reason for me not to use it heh

  3. this is exactly why I've never made a serious attempt at learning how to use Linux. I just don't have that kind of free time and patience to undertake that sort of endeavor.

  4. cvisors says:

    Drinking could of helped, but then again, may of not...

    nice mouse btw, works wonderfully on the mac


  5. jck says:

    So buy a Mac already.

    Fortunately, this is exactly the sort of bullshit that guys like rml are looking to tackle in coming year - making hardware on linux Just Work(TM).

  6. violentbloom says:

    you and mice never seem to get along.

  7. pinkpaluka says:

    Windows XP would have worked too *ahem*

    • Actually, no. If the SCSI card and Firewire card had an IRQ conflict, XP would have appeared to work, and then dropped random signals from devices on each. Hint: this is worse than not working.

      • otterley says:

        What makes you think Linux would have acted any differently?

        • <lj user=jwz>'s very extant description of what happened (it refused to use one of the devices as the IRQ in conflict).

          The point here is that that one detail is a result of the absolutely absymal architecture design in IA32. Buying Apple hardware would, definitely, solve that problem, regardless of what operating system you chose to run on it.

          • beschizza says:

            It would very likely work in XP without hitch. It feels dirty, but strangely thrilling, to say that.

          • pdx6 says:

            Everyone says "buy a Mac" and you won't have a problem with hardware. While that may be true, why doesn't anyone say "Buy a Sun" or "Buy an SGI Tezro"? I don't think I've had problems with hardware from those vendors, though they do tend to be at least ten times as much as any sort of fruit -based hardware/software solution.

            GNU software runs on them too :)

            • cvisors says:

              well I guess you're correct here in regards to sun and sgi kit, Sun gear is somewhat okay price wise, but sgi hardware is also quite expensive. And I as an owner of a couple of pieces of sgi kit, (an o2, and indigo2) but the licensing for software on IRIX is well, fun.


            • jwz says:

              I spent a lot of years running free software on both Suns and SGIs, and I can tell you without hesitation that it's a bad, bad world. That's the marginalized of the marginalized: nothing ever fucking works right, because "all the world's an x86." You can't get precompiled binaries that are better than two years out of date, and building things yourself means, basically, porting everything. And I don't mean just tweaking the Makefile.

              I have an O2 and an Indy that have both been powered down for years because of this. I didn't want to give them up, but the "getting modern software to work" pain finally came to exceed the "putting up with PC hardware" pain.

              • pdx6 says:

                Up until about 6 months ago, I was running mostly an IRIX on a Indigo 2 (R10k) and I found their free software to be somewhat up to date. The problem is that SGI doesn't update their free software more than once every 4-5 months, and they skipped their last free software update this time around (it usually matches an IRIX release). I suspect their laid off that part of their team.

                I agree that it is a sad state, and they've mostly started moving over to IA-64 (RHEL) Linux, so they don't have to port free software anymore.

              • transgress says:

                i also have an Octane and a indy, among many older sparcs - and I totally agree. I mean I've loved SGI's ever since I got one, and sometimes wonder if SGI had marketed themselves differently earlier on, if they would be the microsoft of the world as IRIX really could be used by anyone coming from a windows background, I found it that easy- although honestly coming from a mostly unix background finding the names of some of the more menu/gui driven controls was rather difficult and frustrating. I had the misfortune of buying the octane used, so when I got it, it had NO c compiler, no compilers in general, I did end up finding an assembler under some incredibly rediculous path like /foo/bar/tmp/another/directory/or/two/lib/stuff/one/or/two/more/assembler , although I cant actually remember the name of the assembler atm.
                With that I truly realized (in addition I got the sparcs at about the same time and a couple of them came with sun's c compiler), how inferior in alot of ways gcc is. Making it work with the SGI assembler has always proved to be a pain in the ass. I keep meaning to move the octane over to linux just in hopes that things will work better, I REALLY like the hardware, just wish it wasnt such a hack to use it.

                • jwz says:

                  Someone mentioned to me that SGI has decided to use the XFree86 server to drive the ATI chips in the new Onyx4 hardware instead of adding a new driver to Xsgi.

                  This is a very sad thing. Xsgi was at least ten years ahead of XFree86 in terms of features and quality. (Which is to say that Xsgi from ten years ago is still better than XFree86 is today.)

                  • transgress says:

                    ive wondered over the past few years what will happen to SGI over the next few years, I don't want to say they will fold, but sometimes I seem to get the impression their not doing as well as they'd like, this impression is drawn from how intel-centric they seem to have become, although honestly how intel-centric the whole world is, well i find it rather sad.

                    as an addendum to you post on wasted time on linux, i imagine under os x you will never find yourself spending HOURS updating glib (gnome), gtk, gnutls, libgcrypt, libgpg-error, etc - all so you can fix the 14 or so bugs in gaim for your girlfriend to use. Although i suppose thats a bad on me for not using debian or gentoo or similar where i can just update everything with a few commands.

          • chrisbw says:

            Yeah, but even if you can avoid the IRQ BS on Apple hardware, if you run Linux on there, you still get to do the "recomplie the kernel" dance of death...

      • pinkpaluka says:

        That's interesting, because when I tried installing Redhat 7.2 on a machine that already had Win 2k on it the install repeatedly bombed out at different places. After a lot of thrashing around I came across an article suggesting it might be bad memory chips. Well guess what? It was! Suddenly, the every 4 month meltdown of Win 2k (necessitating a re-install) made sense.

        So Linux barfed on the install stage, whereas WIn 2k installed and run, but was slowly corrupting the hard drive.

        • jwz says:

          Well it's not like that's a feature or anything: it just means that the RH installer uses a lot more memory than the Windows installer does.

          • pinkpaluka says:

            If I remember correctly there was an option to limit the amount of memory used for the installer and as I brought the number down the install tended to last longer.

        • pinkpaluka says:

          Oh and, once I got the bad RAM replaced and Linux installed I realized there was no reason to run Redhat anyway, because the only reason I was trying it was to get a solid platform for running JBuilder. When JBuilder repeatedly crashed complaining about fonts I decided it wasn't worth my time screwing around just to get every niggling detail worked out.
          Although, I do run Win2k with mostly non-MS apps: Eudora/The Bat! for email, Opera browser, Openoffice (well, I still use the Word part of MSOffice)

          I drool over the Mac's pretty GUI though. If it wasn't for the pain of buying apps and the hardware I'd consider a Mac too.

  8. waider says:

    Fundamental tactical error made during the execution:
    * Failure to preface all efforts with a rigorous protocol of heavy drinking.

    I think by "preface" you mean "replace".

  9. giles says:

    I gave up being a real geek and switched the server at work from Linux to OS X Server.

    I don't think the "X" means "Ten" at all. I think it subtly communicates that the OS is like porn. You'll feel dirty using it, but it will be worth it. Steve Jobs will have to admit that sometime before they are due to start calling it "Mac OS XI" which everyone will pronounce "Chi" just to annoy him.

    Bonus psychic prediction: They will hire the surviving members of Spinal Tap to do a commercial in which they encourage users to turn it up to XI. Also Garage Band 5.0 will become very unstable everytime you add a drum track.

    • deeptape says:

      And how is that OS X Server working out for you?

    • coldacid says:

      I take it that Steve Jobs does not like Chobits.

    • cannery says:

      Macos X: neither fish nor fowl and they suck where the joins show as in chflags, that little extra security flags which don't show up under ls -ls and then you wonder why you can't modify anything.

      As a build server - and I maintain 3 macos x build servers - they suck as the upgrade path is vicious. Every increment has enough differences to cause "issues". For example, an app won't work because I compiled it's perl module under 10.2.8 and expected it to work under 10.3. Silly me.

      I feel for jwz here as I've spent 3 dayts trying to get Suse 9.0 on a mini-itx machine with a 160GB disk. Having found the driver (from promise), turned off ACPI, I now get kernel panics in scsi-emulation and I have no idea why. The only hint on google is from Linus who says that he's dropped the module where I get a core-dump. I have hopes for gentoo which claims to have support for the latest hardware, and I've spotted someone on the web claiming to run the same model hard-disk under gentoo. It also has a command line installer.If that fails, then it's back to XP for me.

  10. smokedamage says:

    reading this post : Priceless.


  11. dwinsper says:

    I've had hell getting some hardware to work on Linux too. MY favourite is my USB wireless network adapter. The official Atmel Linux drivers will freeze any machine I put them on, which isn't exactly useful. Thankfully, somebody else had done a far better driver himself and that worked.

    BTW, how did you get all the buttons working? I've got a Logitech mouse with a thumb-button, but it doesn't seem to work in X.

    • mjg59 says:

      Use the ExplorerPS/2 protocol in your XFree configuration, not ImPS/2. Yes, even for USB. Yes, really.

    • jwz says:

      # With a Logitech Mx310 mouse, "PS/2" gives buttons 1,2,3;
      "ExplorerPS/2" or "MouseManPlusPS/2" give 1,2,3, plus side buttons 4,5.
      Adding "ZAxisMapping 7 8" makes the wheel work (they do nothing without that, for no reason I can comprehend), but the little "windows" button seems to always send the same code as down-wheel. If ZAxisMapping is 4,5 then the wheel will send that, but the side buttons do nothing.
      So you still need to do: xmodmap -e "pointer = 1 2 3 7 8 6 4 5"
      after X has started.

          Section "InputDevice"
      Identifier "Mouse0"
      Driver "mouse"
      Option "Device" "/dev/psaux"
      Option "Emulate3Buttons" "no"
      Option "Protocol" "MouseManPlusPS/2"
      Option "Buttons" "8"
      Option "ZAxisMapping" "7 8"

      • dwinsper says:

        Thanks, that did the trick. Still, it's far more effort than I should have to go to just to get my side buttons working. Hopefully Keith Packard will address this in the FreeDesktop XServer.

  12. nerpdawg says:

    If you hate the extra effort that comes with linux, why do you keep using it?

  13. jkonrath says:

    I got the stupid idea that I'd buy one of those PVR-350 cards and turn one of my Linux machines into a TiVo-like thing, since it's sitting next to my TV anyway. I started working on it last Friday at about 8:00 PM and by about 5:00 PM the next day, I had MythTV running, but then I rebooted and I haven't been able to get it to work since.


    • taffer says:

      The lasy Lunix I tried to use (Mandrake 8.1?) did something similar with my USB printer... worked like a champ during the install; after rebooting, the computer couldn't even see it, let alone print to it.

      Yeah, I know Mandrake isn't a "real" distro for übergeeks, but I just wanted to get stuff done.

    • volkris says:

      Yeah, I remember installing a tv tuner in my computer...

      Under Linux it was just a matter of recompiling and installing mplayer. Took an hour total including research and lots of time compiling.

      Later I had to convert the box to Windows.

      Getting that card working took four or five hours, and it never did give the same quality recordings.

      I think when you get to a certain level of expertise with Linux it all suddenly gets easy. The learning curve peaks rather sharply and then the benefits start to be really pronounced.

  14. otterley says:

    There's a reason why I don't use Linux for anything except serving mail, Web sites and databases. For everything else, there's simply too little return for the effort.

  15. evan says:

    i'm surprised the wheeled mouse took you three hours. you of all people ought to know that all problems are solved by switching distros and/or upgrading kernels.

  16. dcdan says:

    I used to have the same issues, when I realized that I'd need to recompile the kernel yet again to get my new printer work. I switched and so far no regrets.

  17. Switching to a Mac sounds a lot like deciding that being nibbled to death by ducks is better than shooting yourself in the foot. Sure, it seems like a good idea at the time, but then the ominous quacking starts…

  18. malokai says:

    Uhh, were you trying to get that mouse to work in something than XF86?

  19. xenogram says:

    Linux; nice to use, hell to install. If it doesn't work immediately after I apt-get it, I usually give up. Or beg, bribe or blackmail somebody into doing it for me. I'm a programmer dammit, not a sysadmin.

  20. nutznboltz says:

    Gee, JWZ I'm sorry you can't do simple things with Linux. Why don't you hire an expert? Even the GNU Manifesto allows the services that surround Free Softare to be commercially exploited.

  21. I just bought my first mac, its an iBook.