I recently installed Red Hat Linux 7.2 on my 512meg 800mhz server PC. Partly I wanted to try it out, Partly I wanted to try out some Apache + Java stuff. I haven't had to setup/configure linux since about 1996. At that time I set it up terminal only and I setup sendmail and nntpd which took me about 3 weeks (vs Exchange which took about 45 minutes)
Since that time Linux has gotten a ton of press and you can go to Slashdot everyday and get a ear full (or eye full) of "Linux is the best thing ever!", "Linux rules!", "Linux is super stable!", "Linux is no longer hard to setup!", "The Interface is now great!" etc etc. Well, either all those people are either blinded by their hate of Microsoft or they are playing a sick joke on the rest of us.
It's taken me about 4 days of about 4 to 6 hours a day to get this thing working.
It started out fine. I downloaded the 7.2 images, burnt CD−ROMS, popped them in, it installed and came up. Cool! Looks prettier than it use to etc.
Okay so I want to some how get samba up so I can grab some files from my Win Boxes. After an hour of digging through docs I find out how to do it. I go to my folder on my winbox with all my downloads in it through Nautilus. It's takes 4 minutes to give me a folder listing!!!!! Rebooting the machine in Windows and viewing the same folder across the net takes 3 seconds!
Well, at least it's running.
Up until now that machine has been running Win2K and ICS to share my ADSL line. Setting it up was a matter of installing the PPPoE software, typing in my username and password, clicking "auto−connect with Windows starts up". To get it shared I click about 3 buttons, "Share this connection", I select the net to share it on and I click OK. It works.
In Linux though it takes me about 10 hours to get it to work. Getting the PPPoE to dial−in, finding the docs etc since it's not in the network configuration application takes me a couple hours of searching.
The killer is getting the line shared. Some people call it NAT, some people called it IP MASQUERADE, finding docs all over the net and none of them work. Even Red Hat's own docs do not match the install. The docs say they are for version 7.2 the configuration program is cryptic as hell and it's for ipchains, 7.2 uses iptables. Why the hell is that program even installed? As it's not working I worry maybe it has something to do with firewall settings. The docs say to run lokkit or gnome−lokkit. I search my whole hard drive, there is no gnome−lokkit. I try lokkit but lokkit is also an ipchains program not and iptables program.
I find one sight that claims: start iptables (it's already started), flush it, type one line, type this other thing to save the configuration and Red Hat will restore that config when you reboot. It seems to make sense. It seems like that's how it's designed to work. Except, It doesn't work.
I finally found some script which got it to work by manually adding files here and there. That's really friendly isn't it 😞 I have no idea which new configuration tool will not be happy that there's new stuff.
But I'm still not done. In order to reproduce my 3 click ICS I still have to setup dhcpd. Fine, dig out the docs. No one click here. Start it up. Oh joy, Red Hat didn't install it. I get to learn about installing packages. Hopefully all this new fancy stuff will make it as easy as Windows? No way, GNOrpm? What a joke! Which fucking button to you push? How do you tell it to look on the CD? Time to read the manual again. Why is it I've never had to read a Windows manual?
Okay, get that installed. Now another 2 hours on the net trying to find docs that cover this case. Certainly somebody has wanted to do this before. But, all the docs I find are what dhcpd does and what all the options are. That's all fine and dandy except I want to know what the correct ones are. The question is "how to I reproduce ICS?" If I figure them out by myself there's a large chance I'll get them wrong. Finally, after a couple of hours of digging I give up and make my own. I've setup dhcp on WinNT before so I know what it's talking about. Okay that works, except for one thing. My DNS is supplied dyanimcally from my ISP's dhcp server. I want to pass that on to my clients through this dhcpd. Another 3 hours of searching and no luck. I finally just hard code them in. Sure I could probaby write a script the generates the dhcp.config file and fills in the current dns but of course that's more unknown stuff I'll have to guess at. Now when my isp changes them (which they do) and my net connection no longer works it will be how many hours until I figure out I need to go fix my dhcpd.config file. I least I have Windows to fall back to.
Then of course there is that legendary stableness. Hmmm, well, my NT server has been running for a year without one problem. My Linux server? Several times one or both of Nautilus or Mozilla stop responding. No problem, I'll just logout and login again, quick, painless, it seems to work except Mozilla won't run. I click on the icon, nothing happens. Nautilus comes up but when I try to download something no response. The solution? Reboot!!!!! This has happened to me at least 5 times in the last 4 days. So much for stability and that's out of the box. I didn't have to start downloading and installing 237 programs like I would in Windows before it got unstable.
What's left? How about how it takes 3 times longer to start than rebooting in Win2K? How about how anonying it is that you can't resize a window from the top border, only the left, right and bottom. (I'm sure there is some setting that will turn that on if I dig through another 2 hours of docs). How about how the taskbar always seems to be hidden behind another window when I need it. (again that's probably a setting somewhere). How about that launching any program seems to take twice as long as Windows on the same machine?
It's also clearly slower. Mozilla is much slower than IE on the same machine. Nautilus is a joke. What where they thinking? The folder trees take so long to load they made them live meaning going to a big folder and they can take 30seconds or more to fill up. I guess they thought having the folders appear as they are read would make it more useful except that since the names are all getting shuffled around while it's figuring them out there's no way you can click on them. By the time you've got the name you wanted scrolled on the the screen and you're about to click on it it jumps up or down 3 or 4 lines as a few more names finally get plopped in.
Next I want to get Apache installed and the Java SDK and the Java plugin. Apache installs no hitches except the docs are a separate install. Again wishing I was on Windows where the docs are an option in the same install instead of having to find them. They turn out to be on the other CD. The Java SDK installs but the plugin fails. I can only find docs installing the plugin in Navigator, not mozilla. Another 2 hours of searching. I decide I'll get the newest version of Mozilla. I get the rpm but it says it needs another package, mozilla−nspr. I find the website for that. They only have a .gz file which I download. It just unpacks into a few files with no docs on where to put it or anything and I can find nothing on their site. I look around and find another .rpm on some other site. They guy claims to have compiled it on 5/7 so it's new. That rpm though says it conflicts with the already installed mozilla−nspr. If it's already installed why is the new mozilla complaining? Well I tell it to ignore the error and just install. Then I try to install mozilla. I get the same error, need mozilla−nspr. I'm fed up at this point so I pick ignore. It gives me a huge list of problems it's either going to have or had, I'm not sure but regardless it doesn't work and I give up in disgust. Have I ever had any problem remotely like this with Windows since 95? The answer NO!!!!!!
Linux is a turd. It's so convoluted, so messy, it's almost like it's deliberate. Maybe that whole "give it away for free, pay for service" thing really is have an influence. The harder it is to setup the more likely you are to pay someone to help you. That's all fine expect the right solution then is to pick something that's not hard to setup.
If you want to run a server run FreeBSD. If you want desktop machine and you can't stand Microsoft get a Mac with OS−X. But whatever you do, stay away from Linux unless you want your new hobby to be searching for docs relavent to your particular 1 of 6523 distros of linux and configuring your machine on a daily basis.