Saturday, October 6, 2007

Why I Left Linux Land

I thought I'd talk a little bit more about why I finally decided to switch from Linux back to Windows. I will admit right off the bat that some of these issues are due to my inexperience as a Linux maintainer. However, my inexperience does not make me embarrassed at all. From what I have seen in the past two years, the investment required to become a Linux guru is not worth it in the end, at least not for me. My priority above all else is to be a productive graduate student.

So here are the reasons why I left, culminating with the straw the broke the camel's back:
  1. I had a facilitized machine - This is more of a meta-reason, but I was using a CMU facilitized Linux box. This provides a few benefits, like support for when things break (which I needed on numerous occasions), backups and easy access to the printers. However, it makes it impossible to find help on the Internet that actually applies to my system, since my configuration was non-standard in so many ways. I briefly considered installing Debian or Ubuntu and separating from the CMU/Facilities industrial complex, but decided that I don't have time for that sort of thing.
  2. XMMS Doesn't work - For whatever reason, the XMMS media player crashed on my system whenever I tried to play a song. It was a gnarly error that had to do with its inability to create a new thread. The internet had no helpful advice and 'yum update' did not bring me any respite. I wanted XMMS because it's what I used to use last year before my harddrive failed and CMU upgraded me to Fedora Core 5.
  3. RhythmBox - So I wanted support in the music player that I did use. Turns out, the version of RhythmBox that comes in the Fedora Core distribution is an earlier version that does not yet have support for The package that did have the latest vesion only worked on FC6 and above. I wanted support so badly, that I downloaded from source and built the newest version. The only want I could get the build to work was by removing some random lines from the Makefile. Every time I launched RhythmBox, it gave me an error about visualizations not working, and still support was spotty. It would only record that I had played a song when it damn well pleased. This all brings me to my next point...
  4. The Fedora package system is crazy - I like how the linux world has attempted to make software installation easier with the use of package managers like Yum. This is good. What is not good is how a given Fedora package will only work for your exact version of Fedora. If I want RhythmBox version 3.3, for instance, and the FC5 package only has up to version 3.1, tough luck. I am essentially running an incompatible operating system for all intents and purposes. In the Windows world, I can easily and run a program from the Windows95 days, and it will work almost every time.
  5. Flash - Again, I have been told that this was a problem with having a facilitized machine, but Flash never worked, in my two years of trying. Flash! I tell you, it really sucks having everyone and Katy Couric talking about some YouTube video that is sweeping the nation and not being able to watch it.
  6. Eclipse - And finally, the end for Linux. Eclispe 3.3 had been working for a month. All of a sudden, it started crashing on launch, and no matter how many times I reinstalled it, nothing was solved. I even had a bonafied Linux/Eclipse guru come in, and he basically told me I was screwed. I need Eclipse for a project I have just started. What else can I do? Added to this fact that Eclipse was always much slower on Linux that Windows, and I am way happier now.
Most of these problems aren't Linux's fault per say. Savvy Linux friends gave me reasonable explanations for each of the problems I experienced, and I was sympathetic. But at some point, I just need to get work done, and I need my computer to work. As  pointed out, there are definitely benefits to using a mainstream platform. In the Windows world, you rarely have a problem that no one else in the world has ever experienced. In this Linux world, this seemed to happen on a regular basis. Windows sucks in many ways, but at least the programs I need to use generally work. Okay... that is all...

1 comment:

  1. So true. DeadBeef crashed with segfaults on me. I tried talking to the developer, after the first email I was simply ignored. I was taught this: if you do something, do it right, or don't do it at all. Linux community would truly benefit adopting this rule.

    Suspend usually worked for me, not so much wake-up.

    Sound control always went overboard, in Windows it is maxes at 0db. In Ubuntu, it maxes out at 12db. Not really safe, plus it's sound-distorting... I know, you could probably walk the thin line and still make it, but is taking the risk every single time really worth it?

    I know that humans have been pampered and maybe we expect too much. Maybe we should do the things ourselves. However, these projects require cooperation, they're big, and they're especially in need of working properly.

    I left Linux, not because I hate it, but because I'm tired of "fixing transmission every 4 miles", I don't have 1000 years of life to do all that and have a life. If someone likes to play with the gears of an OS, hey, it's just as mechanics do the cars. Just not everybody is a mechanic.