Archive for April 2nd, 2006

Linux Distro Trust

When it comes to “system updates” I don’t trust any Linux distro the way I trust Windows, OSX or Solaris. No matter if it’s Fedora, Ubuntu or Arch Linux, there is always a piece of something that will stop working after performing a major upgrade. A few days ago X wouldn’t start because the package manager “ate” some of the files it was supposed to extract. Today, after updating my distro with its 220 MB Gnome-2.14 packages, Gnome won’t start (no matter which user you are logged in as) and not only that, but it seems that all gnome-dependant or gconf-dependant apps won’t start either (plain GTK+ apps do work).

Things like that happen at least once a month over here. I have to file a bug report, wait for them to reply, and give me a tip that as an end-user I should’t need to know in the first place. But that’s at least 2-5 days without being able to USE my desktop! The only distro that had a better track in sys-update stability was Slackware. But Slackware doesn’t do Gnome anymore, and I don’t like running third party builds of Gnome that have zero testing. And so Arch Linux it is, with all its problems of course.

This situation has never, ever, EVER, happened to me with Windows. I am updating Windows with all its system updates for years now, and I have never, ever, EVER had a single problem with it. And I have none such problem with OSX either! (OSX users who complain that something broke after a software upgrade and they run crying at MacFixIt and MacInTouch.com to bitch at Apple, they should just uninstall their desktop-hack utilities — that’s all I will say to them).

I have said that in the past, and I will say it again: enthusiast programmers/maintainers don’t get a kick out of testing. They get a kick out of releasing stuff. Testing is boring. And of course, the end user is paying for this situation. And with it, the Linux adoption rate too. You could always argue that it is “free” and so I should not expect anything out of Linux distros, but when these same Linux distros or companies behind them are trying to compete with Microsoft or Apple at various levels, then it becomes the consumer’s problem too and they open themselves to critisism. They should learn from it.