distro history

I am not a sysadmin. Ok, I adminstrate machine, but mostly so that I can go back and write some more horrible code. Coding for unix system is the most fun. I still remember when the Sun spark pizzabox showed up in the adjacent office and it came with a huge box of documentation: “They want you to know all this? Awesome!” On DOS PCs I was used to an environment where equipement makers would not share any knowledge.
After working on Intergraph work stations I then spent years with Irix. Which was nice at the time, since SGI had lots of money and even used some of it wisely. Of course the writing was on the wall. And running a web server on basically free hardware (except for electricity) was intruiging enough to try to deal with Linux. I am still trying to do that. Redhat was what came my way first. It worked ok, but at some point I got sick of rpm dependency stacks. Debian looked good with apt-get. So I built two boxes running that, and they drive me crazy. No chkconfig, ‘just’ use ’sysv-rc-conf’. Once in a while I have to deal with Suse, but new machines I build with Fedora. Yum is pretty much making me happy these days. I simply don’t understand why somebody thought it would be a great idea to rename httpd to apache (or vice versa). And there are lots and lots of these differences. You don’t notice them when you stay with one system. But switching back and forth makes this annoying. Comes with the concept of free and open software I guess. But somebody I would like to have the cake and eat it too.

The quality of software is quiet interesting: the core of things seems to work really well for linux. Not so much ‘core’ as in ‘kernel’ but rather functionalities. The fringes, the configurations, the interface to adminstrate these things is pretty horrible. The babylonic /etc/init.d/ confusion is only one example. Another one would be that sar is by default off after you installed it on debian. You have to go into /etc/default/sysstat and enable it. Trickier to find than it should be.

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