Life is Messy...

The Linux Chronicles, chapter one: Life is Messy...

Well, I began using Linux three weeks ago; I formatted my hard drive here at home, wiping all Microsoft software off, and installed Mandrake 8.1 on my three year old Compaq.

I had played around with Linux before, on an old laptop that couldn't load X correctly, on an old 486 Packard Bell that gave up the ghost completely and permanently upon encountering Redhat Linux 5.2, and using Linux for Windows on the same Compaq. But all of these experiments were at least a year in the past, only the Linux for Windows installed halfway correctly, and I still used my Windows 95 environment almost completely.

Until three weeks ago. Since then, I have used Linux exclusively here at home (I am forced to use Windows 2000 at work).

I love it. The command line is awesome; with only around 20 commands I have much more complete command line control than I ever had using DOS in the 80's. I grep it, I grok it, I love it.

KDE is almost as slick as Windows; except for a less functional clipboard. Furthermore, when KDE hangs, or rather when an application hangs in KDE, I just exit KDE and re-enter it. I have managed to do this several times with unruly apps, and while I am sure there must be a more elegant way to kill the recalcitrant apps, I have not yet mastered it.

My sound card works, I have great resolution on my monitor. Best of all, my cable modem connection was recognized automatically.

My only problem is my HP T45 multi-function printer-fax-copier. No driver exists on HP's main driver site, but I found a driver on, a cups driver I think, that sort of works a little, but more often hangs my whole computer.

Such are the joys of Linux so far.

Hey, life is messy; we might as well get used to it. In my first three weeks, I have weathered rumors of AOL buying Redhat, Linus being dissed by his subordinates over rifts that could threaten a fork or two, Enron, and Miguel de Icaza asserting that Gnome 3.0 will be built on a .NET base. Mono is a monkey world, the real world, where ambiguity rules, certainty is an illusion, and certitude is only in knowing that life is messy; so get used to it.

Maybe the open source model fails; maybe only corporations can sustain software development for the long haul. I certainly applaud BSD style licenses, GPL-lite, and open source based companies earning a good profit. Compromise is necessary because life is messy.

But open source rules. I believe in open source, I support open source , and I love open source.

After all, consider this:

In time, advanced computational tools will be combined symbiotically with the human brain to create genetic-cryogenic cyborgs of immense mental capabilities. In that day (perhaps not so far off) do you want the source code that interacts with your brain to be owned by Microsoft; or would you rather it be open source and free?

I don't know about you, but I will go with open source.

Ron Stephens

February 2, 2002