Linux from the eyes of an electrician

It was this morning, at 11:20 AM. I was still sleeping (had finished editing my video clip at 4:10 AM you see). Phone rings. It’s my brother Teo from Greece and he’s not happy with Ubuntu again (which he nuked Windows for because the SP2 wouldn’t install), so he calls me for some tech support. The following is our conversation:

Teo: Ubuntu Feisty Fawn can’t see my modem.
Me: Mmm, yeah, I guess it’s a winmodem or softmodem… ZZzzzz….
Teo: Well, my [3-year old] modem CD has some linux drivers in it. It says it’s for “Linux 7 and 8″.
Me: Which Linux exactly?
Teo: 7 and 8.
Me: No, I mean, which Linux distribution is that?
Teo: Doesn’t say. Will it work with Ubuntu? Aren’t all Linux the same?
Me: No, quite probably it won’t work. If this is for Red Hat, SuSE or Mandrake 7 or 8, chances are that the driver won’t be compatible anymore after all this time.
Teo: Why?
Me: Because the Linux kernel is not as much backwards compatible as Windows is.
Teo: Why?
Me: Because it’s easier for the programmers that way. They don’t have to worry much about testing their code further.
Teo: And what about the users?
Me: Linux is for advanced users when it comes to system configuration rather than simply using it.
Teo: Hmm… did Microsoft made configuration difficult on purpose, so people dislike Linux?
Me: WHAT? What the hell are you talking about?
Teo: I don’t know… it sounds suspicious.
Me: It’s not. It’s just how it is.
Teo: So, if I double-click that file on the CD will it open on Ubuntu?
Me: Depends. If it’s an RPM file it won’t. If it’s a DEB file it will open but chances are that it will fail installing. And if it’s a tarball you will have to compile it.
Teo: “compile it”? What does that mean?
Me: That’s what programmers do. Alternatively, you need to find a hardware browser utility, find which modem model you got, then google it, and then download the right, updated, driver.
Teo: But how can I download the driver if I don’t have internet connection?
Me: Go to a friend’s PC.
Teo: …..
Me: Or, get DSL. I told you a hundred times to get DSL. The Ethernet will work with Ubuntu immediately.
Teo: Can’t afford it, I just bought an HD satellite receiver.
Me: Ok, bye then, I am going back to sleep now.
Teo: But….

I hang up the phone, and head back to bed.

Mr Torvalds, you owe me an hour of sleep (couldn’t get back to sleep after the phone call).


Chris wrote on June 14th, 2007 at 8:15 AM PST:

Tell your brother to buy a 2nd hand SGI (Octanes and O2s are pretty cheap) and he will be happy with IRIX.. ;-)

l3v1 wrote on June 14th, 2007 at 9:21 AM PST:

Well, there would be no problem if new kernels would only come out every 4-5 years, and a distro would only get major updates every 2-3 years…

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 14th, 2007 at 9:27 AM PST:

Windows updated seriously the kernel with its SPs and other updates. If you think that you are running the same XP as in 2002, you are fooling yourself. Microsoft has a huge history of aggressively keeping compatibility, because it’s part of their business model.

Linux does not care about ABI/API compatibility, and this is something that Linus has expressed many times in interviews and the mailing list. He simply doesn’t care. He is a hacker for the sake of being one, not a product manager that has to cater for his users.

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