My love-hate relationship with Linux

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I have been programming for about 20 years. Within that, about a solid year has been fiddling with Linux. Yet I wonder how much I’ve been able to remember. When ever I try to set something up in Linux, I quickly start swearing like a trooper, and end up Googling things like “I f****ing hate Linux”. Or “Why is Linux so f***ing obscure”. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone.

But why do I keep going back? Because it has its place. While I think it is unfit as a desktop OS for 99.9% of cases, (stats don’t lie. How many people actually use it for that?) The fact is it is beyond widespread on servers, and frequently used for embedded systems and systems like the Raspberry Pi. If you know what you’re doing, (if you *really* know what you’re doing), you can butcher it, configure it and extend it to your heart’s content. Oh, and it’s free. That’s why I love it.

You just need to read through the comments on this blog post to see plenty of reasons Linux is hated. But I’m going to add a couple. I’m fiddling with an RPi at the moment, so I will have plenty of reminders for what to say on this matter.

The truth is that whenever I try something remotely ambitious in Linux, I end up throwing in the towel. We shall see how this goes.

Have you tried understanding entries in /etc/inittab  ? Even once you know how it works, there’s no denying that the syntax is cryptic compared to how modern programming languages might specify the same configurations. It’s hardly as ubiquitous as JSON.

Why is it so hard to get things working on Linux? The problem is threefold:

  1. Those very comfortable with Linux who write tutorials assume that readers know everything but the tip of the problem, so skip on the details.
  2. Those not comfortable will have spent so much time and tried so many commands to try to get it to work that by the time they write the tutorial they’ve lost track of 95% of the things they had to try first.
  3. Because of the wild permutations of possible distros, versions, configurations and hardware, very rarely are two people’s situations the same.
  4. Combine reason 1 and 3: those in the know can’t, without huge effort, write a tutorial or make a script to, for example, make WiFi work. So many possible combinations, software always changing, it wouldn’t work for long.

 

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