Similar Experience/Forget Hardy

John Cavan john at
Wed Jun 11 02:03:28 UTC 2008

Brian Astill wrote:
> My issue is with an increasing development towards the "nanny" 
> approach made famous by a certain organisation based in Redmond.
> "Just do it my way, dear.  There now, isn't that better? Good 
> boy!" (or girl, if you prefer).

Hmm... I would have handed that accolade to Apple.

> We had  lengthy - and repeated - discussions early on about sudo 
> vs a root account.  The choice of sudo always seemed odd to me.

I'm new to Ubuntu, though not new to Linux (over 12 years starting with 
early Slackware) or many such lists (even took part on a couple of wars 
on kernel list and the old Mandrake lists). I too find the use of sudo 
very odd, but not that odd since I also have a couple of Macs. Usually, 
in such environments, I fix up the root user to use because 'sudo -i' 
versus 'su -' isn't really all that much of a difference in the end and 
I don't have a bad memory for passwords.

Still, for newcomers to the Linux/UNIX world, it does add a layer that 
creates enough a pause to make people consider their choices and makes 
it a little less likely that someone will install something wrong. I 
just can't help but think every time the password prompt pops up that 
I've mistakenly logged into one of my Macs...

> Later versions have introduced UUID instead of /dev/hdx for 
> reasons which are  obscure.  In Hardy, fstab exists but editing 
> is ignored.  I installed Hardy and as it seemed to be running OK 
> edited fstab to have /home in my home partition.  Hardy ignored 
> my change and refused to recognise anything other than its own 
> setup.

I can't say I've noticed any real issues with editing fstab. I've added 
a bunch of entries, albeit to mount NFS and SMB shares, but they've all 
mounted correctly on boot and mounted correctly using 'mount' as well.

> Has everyone noticed that nearly all the apps listed in (eg) 
> Synaptic are 'ubuntuised' and wondered why? All in all there 
> seems to me to be too much fiddling going on. 

All distributions do that, even Debian. Some more than others, but I've 
used Redhat, Mandrake, Slackware, Gentoo, Debian, and more and every 
single one had their tweaks to the software to one degree or another. Of 
the lot, and this goes back more than 10 years, Slackware seemed to do 
it the least. Of course, Slackware wasn't for the faint of heart back 
then either.

> I used to use FreeBSD so maybe a switch to Gentoo would be 
> sensible. 

I have a Gentoo machine, on x86, but it took forever to install, as in 
days. You'll need a lot of patience for this system. I also tried 
installing it on my two Sunfire machines and, after a couple of days of 
churning away, it proclaimed success and asked me to reboot. It failed. 
I then downloaded the Debian Sparc distribution, installed it on both in 
a couple of hours, rebooted, and they've been going ever since.

I don't want to put a damper on Gentoo, but I spent less time building 
an RJ-45 to DB-9 serial console cable for my Sunfires than I did 
installing Gentoo on them. Net effect, if you want to go to a 
distribution that is similar to the BSD variants, without some of the 
installation hassles, I'd go Debian.

However, I don't want to suggest either. I'm actually pretty impressed 
with Ubuntu in general. Yeah, there are places where things can improve, 
but it's generally well put together. I will say that sometimes the 
evangelical aversion to closed-source is a pain. The average, 
non-techie, Windows user isn't going to be motivated to stick around 
when their top of the line PC with an nVidia or ATI card comes up with 
the dazzling resolution of 800x600 because the drivers the card makers 
supply are not open source. Pre-installs by hardware manufacturers will 
help with this, but it is worth realizing that the absolute vast 
majority of PCs sold will have nVidia or ATI driving the video. These 
cards *must* work and work well if there is even a remote hope of 
unseating Microsoft from the top dog position.


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