Monday, September 24, 2007

Does Linux suck?

Every once in a while I try to recall just how far back it was when I began using Linux.

I remember using a version of Slackware that was available for purchase on some nice Infomagic CD sets. I also recall Redhat's Mother's Day release (very slick compared to Slackware back then). I can also remember months before these handy CD distributions were available, downloading individual floppy images from the Internet over my pathetic modem, just to get Slackware to install.

So when was it? I'm guessing that this was around 1995. Twelve years seems like a long time doesn't it? Wait, it's even longer. Version 1.0 (Mother's Day), was back in November 3, 1994 (1.2.8 kernel). I definitely recall downloading those floppy images I mentioned even before that release. Thirteen years! Now I feel old. Eve though I recall testing a version of Linux with kernel version 0.99 with my buddy Rick., I wasn't using it as early as some folks. They were using Linux as far back as 25 August 1991, when Torvalds first made his famous post to comp.os.minix.

Linux wasn't exactly smooth back then. Version 1.0 of March 1994 supported only single-processor i386 machines. When Linux 1.2.0 was released it only had 310,950 lines of code. Even after installing it, I wasn't sure what Linux was capable of doing for me, but I kept exploring. Using X Windows was not exactly easy back then. It was not like it is today. In the good old days, FVWM was perhaps the most popular desktop/window manager around. I had to edit all the conf files by hand for that little beauty, but I loved doing it. If I wanted to go on the Interenet with Linux, I had to jump through several hoops. Now people complain about wireless support in Linux. Ha! We had to hand configure scripts just to dial up with either PPP or SLIP. Once we got on the net, we had nothing like Mozilla, Firefox, or Opera. We used Mosaic or Amaya.

Linux was definitely an interesting and fun challenge back then. Computer system resources were low, especially for poor people like me. I was thrilled to have a entire MB of memory, but I knew that Linux ran better with more available memory. So what's does a Linux lover do to free up memory? He compiles his kernel to strip it of absolutely all unneeded stuff. I would configure the settings and start my kernel compilation before bed. My little 486 SLC would take all night to give me my fresh, thin kernel. Getting up in the morning to find that I made the slightest error meant I could watch the compile process on my screen for another 5 to 7 hours. Half a decade later I recall using a dual Pentium Pro board and having a contest with a buddy to see who could compile a kernel the fastest. Twenty minutes to get a new kernel built, whoo hoo, I was a kernel compiling god.

Learning how Linux worked back then was great. Everybody was using Windows, and this new operating system was so alien. It was exciting to find that after researching something really complicated and finally figuring it out, that I had just seen the tip of the iceberg. Linux and all of it's tools, apps, configurations, and languages, was so vast, it felt like taking first steps into the new world. I was an explorer.

I used to sit happily and not complain too much about re-compiling my X server to trim it of all the unwanted junk, or building my own scripts to launch windows. There was no handy GDM or KDM back then, I had to know the startx command intimately. Even with all the manual configuration, and lack of important apps and tools, I never complained too much. I was in love.

Now I wonder if Linux is starting to suck. After all these years and all the different distributions of Linux, I find that Linux is doing things to piss me off. Years ago, I found Linux to be very solid and reliable despite its youth. Perhaps I was looking at Linux through rose colored glasses. Now I find it locks up, or does silly shit just to make me grit my teeth. How many distributions do I have to fiddle with before I find a decent Debian based distro that doesn't screw up when it encounters my Intel based sata controller? Ubuntu handles the controller. Why not Sidux, or Mint Linux, and some others? Why do my recent installations (tested with different distributions) sometimes cause my KDM display to be massively huge with what appears to be a ridiculously large virtual, scrolling display? Sure I can restart the X server, and it magically cures itself, but why should I have to? Lately I notice that in Ubuntu, I have to hit enter after everything loads at boot up, or the screen just sits there as if

it is taking hours to complete rc.local. Having to hit enter just to get a login sucks. Those types of annoyances never happened years ago. As problems, I'm sure that to some people, these little gripes of mine are all too trivial to complain about. Are there other more pressing issues in Linux that I am simply not aware of? I also wonder if I am using my selective memory and not considering some real annoyances in Linux that bothered me years ago. Maybe Linux doesn't suck any more or less then it ever did.

It still beats Windows.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Goodbye Readyboost

I gave Readyboost a shot. I thought it was going to make Vista perform better. The multiple web pages describing its benefits had me convinced that Readyboost was worth trying.

I don't get it. I think I may have expected too much. I thought I would see some sort of difference. As far as I can tell, Readyboost is useless. Remember those cola tests where someone was blindfolded and tried to compare one cola from another? I bet that if i sat in front of two identical laptops with same software and everything, but one used Readyboost, I couldn't tell the difference.

So now what do I do with a 2 GB Sandisk SD card?  I found that our new, and inexpensive Electrohome DVD player, shows AVI and picture content from SD cards. So I didn't waste $30 after all.

Friday, September 7, 2007

I cancelled my VDS at

Today I canceled my Virtual Private Server at ServerAxis. It wasn't because of bad service or anything. In fact Server axis had a really great system with lots of ram, gigs of space, and lots of bandwidth. Why cancel? Frankly, their service was too good for me. I need to mess around with a server at home for a while before I invest in the quality they offer.  Their VDS was wasted on me.

I am such a Linux server admin wannabe.

My latest rifle

I have added a picture of my latest rifle to my photo gallery. I can't wait to shoot this one. It's a Savage model 116FLSS in .223 Rem. The photo is here.

Foaming bore cleaner

I love this stuff. I have read or heard enough references of how great this stuff is. Yesterday I finally tried it out. I have to say am very impressed. It is so easy to use, and it sure pulled a lot of crud out of the bore on my old M96 (1914). I thought I had thoroughly cleaned this rifle before, as I typically soak, brush, and swab a bore pretty well. Foaming bore cleaner went even further. I couldn't believe the crap that came ou. It wasn't just the blueish residue I expected from years of copper, but enough blackening to make me consider filling the bore with foam again.

Looking through the bore later made me real happy. This old rifle now has a sparkling bore, that doesn't look 93 years old.

I need to buy more of this cleaner, and do all the firearms. I wonder how much crap will come out of my old 1891 Mosin Nagant.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My memory sucks and I am too cheap (and broke).

I picked up a brand new rifle recently. She's a beauty! It's Savage 116FLSS in .223 Remington. Look here I purchased a bunch of ammo so I could break the barrel in, and even slapped a budget scope on it. Then I thought, "damn, I don't even have a .22 cal cleaning rod. How can I clean between shots on break-in?"

I was mentioning this to my buddy Bill the other day. I then reached for my only cleaning rod and realized that it was a 44 inch rod marked 22'' to 24''. That was a little embarrassing. I recall now that when I started purchasing equipment back when I got into firearms, I selected a rod diameter that I could use on multiple bore sizes. Why couldn't I remember that! What a cheapskate too. It is actually better to have a rod match the bore you are cleaning, but to save money I took the short route.

Now I need at least 3 more rods.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Vista's Readyboost

I picked up a 2GB SD card today so I could use it with Vista's Readyboost technology. What is Readyboost? Well, supossedly, it can can improve system performance because it can retrieve data kept on the flash memory more quickly than it can retrieve data kept on the hard disk, decreasing the time you need to wait for your PC to respond. (Okay, that was obviously a description I found online.)

I am just curious if this will actually make a difference in Vista's performance. Anyone know if there's a Linux equivalent?