Fedora and the System Administrator -- not seeing the "big picture" on "support" ...

Bryan J. Smith b.j.smith at ieee.org
Fri Oct 3 16:05:27 UTC 2003

Quoting Edward Croft <ecroft at openratings.com>:
> Yeah, still catching up with all of that. And changes are still
> happening, though all for the good. I got a job, a linux shop, woohoo!

I'm at the opposite of the spectrum.

I started introducing Linux on Corporate networks back in 1995.  From 1998-
2002, my #1 responsibility was Linux.  I moved 1100 miles 2 months ago (at my 
own expense) to take on a major Linux project once again, at a Fortune 20 
company no less, only to see it cancelled 3 weeks into my employment.  So now 
I'm back to 0% Linux (at the same Fortune 20 company).

> Got my life back in order and met a wonderful woman that I married
> just two weeks ago. Hoping things slow down this winter a bit. 

If anything is good in my life, it is my wife of 6 years.  I think we're going 
to make it past the "7 year itch" which is now a half a year away.

> Nope, in all my years, never had to do that. Installed it on a
> Terminal Server, that was fun. 

I've had numerous situations where a vertical application was still using 
Access 95 or 97 components when we've moved to 97, 2000 or, more recently, XP.

And MS Word 97/2000/XP are "supposedly" the same format, but that is not simply 
so.  Throw MS Word for Mac 98, 2001, etc... into the mix and you might as 
well "bend over."

Again, I'll take Linux package dependency hell _any_day_ over Windows' ease-of-

BTW, from a pure security standpoint, software should _never_ be installed with 
its own binary.  Plus I liken to an OS that has a filesystem that _forces_ you 
to tell it a file is "executable."  ;-ppp

> Don't get me wrong. I have never blamed the developers of Linux for
> any issues. I was just commenting on the vendor support for Windows.

And you should do that to a hardware vendor.

But the problem is that most hardware vendors do _not_ like an OS that is 
perpetual when it comes to drivers.  They want to "align" with an OS that 
_forces_ you to upgrade your hardware, _including_ peripherials, every 2-3 

> I understand about the industry trying to lock up the whole DVD decoding
> issue. That is definitely not the developers fault. The developers
> have tried to support DVD, as in decss, and have been sued by the industry.
> The industry feels that Windows is safe because it is proprietary,
> while the Linux code is open. And the developers have done a wonderful job
> with getting as many devices recognized without input from the vendors
> themselves. I highly commend what the developers have done without any
> support from the vendors themselves. 

As I always say, if Microsoft had to write their own drivers, they'd be SOL.

> The only comment I was making was the ease of installation for most
> software. This comes from the vendor supporting and writing drivers
> for Windows. As Linux grows in popularity, the vendors will jump on board
> and this will become a moot issue. 

Not so.

Understand that _most_ hardware _is_ supported by Linux nowdays _except_ for 
hardware that is _purposely_designed_ to only have drivers for 2-3 to _force_ 
you to upgrade.

Such hardware, and their vendors, will _never_ support Linux.

As such, Linux doesn't solve the larger issue of "let the buyer beware" which 
applies to Windows users as well.

> I will say that Crossover Office does work fairly well with Office
> 2000.

But why not run Windows then?

I really don't have a problem with the Windows OS itself -- namely the NT 
kernel -- it's all the crap that applications have thrown atop of it, forced it 
to accomodate, etc...  Most of the NT developers at Microsoft are very smart 
cookies, but the tools deveopers, application developers and, ultimiately, 
their own IT division, are in order of increasing incompetence with with their 
_own_ OS.

> Which is great when you have to use documents that have been expressly
> written for Excel or Word, like our POs here. They are formatted in
> Excel. OpenOffice does not handle that well. Though I do use OO for
> most everything else including writing documentation. Ugh!

That's good.  Because in 5 years when they want to edit them, they will be 
screwed if they are in MS formats.

As one Microsoft Office for Mac developer documented, it's not just the "forced 
upgrade" approach of Microsoft's Windows applications.  It's the larger issue 
of "data alignment ignorace" in their Windows applications.

> As I said above. I was not blaming the developers. I am just
> frustrated with getting realplayer to work.

I have no such issues myself.  The community version works great for me under 

> Part of that could have been my fault for trying to load the RealOne
> player for Linux. It might have bolluxed things. See, I do try to be
> bleeding edge. I just wish vendors supported the system better so that
> you only had to download and install an rpm and it works.

???  I downloaded the community version of RealPlayer in RPM format myself.  It 
works on all version from Red Hat 6 - 9.

> No tweaking, no fussing. I do have flash, java, etc
> working. I was waiting for RH10 and then I was going to do a clean
> fresh install to clean everything out and start over. 

Why?  I upgraded from 4.2 to 7.1 (including 5.0, 5.2, 6.0 and 6.2 inbetween), 
temporarily reloaded 7.2 new when trying out SGI XFS, then when back to stock 
7.3 and upgraded to 9 (including 8.0) where I am now.  Many times I 
upgraded "live" -- e.g., 6.0 -> 6.2 by merely using RPM from the command-line 
(I didn't do that for major X in X.Y version changes though, I used the 

I've done this with production servers as well.

> Yeah, it is a firewire scanner from Umax, the 6400. Not supported with
> any current OS.

Huh?  FireWire not supported?  Really???

FireWire, like SCSI, has a _detailed_ command set.  USB, like parallel, does 

[ Long story on USB, but basically that's why you didn't see devices for 3 
years after you had mainboard/OS support.  Microsoft and Intel put very 
_little_ into the "host-end" standard.  It's also why USB devices often 
_conflict_, because must of the "brains" are in the end-device drivers, not the 
host driver. ]

> A $200 anchor. Actually, it does get recognized by
> Linux, but when Sane starts a scan it starts the pass and then freezes
> as it hits the end instead of returning and rendering the picture. As
> I said before, not enough time between work and remodelling our house to
> investigate this further. Though, my wife informed me that she had
> another scanner, and HP USB. That worked. Now to learn Gimp so I can
> get this photo fixed up for my daughter. :-O

I'm still using an 9 year old Microtek Scanmaker III SCSI as my flatbed.

As far as feeder, I'm using a $59 HP OfficeJet V40.

And my wife, she has a $439 HP LaserJet 1220se (which has the scan/copy 
functionality, plus native Postscript 2).  Love it as well.

Bruce Parens did a great job of getting HP "on board."

> No, no, no. there you go again.... :-P I never blamed the developers.
> There are a lot of people involved. I blame the vendors who kowtow to
> ye god Gates. This will change too. Just frustrating right now.

Some of it will _not_ change (as I mentioned above).

> Yeppers. I see your points, but I reiterate, I admire the developers.
> I have met many of them through the years. I was only speaking about the
> frustrations brought about by proprietary software and vendors that
> won't play nice. This will change in time. 

"Companies and consumers must be deligent in their choices of hardware and 
software as vendors will NEVER offer a way out of lock-in."
  -- Gartner Group (paraphrased)

Bryan J. Smith, E.I.  mailto:b.j.smith at ieee.org  http://thebs.org
There is no greater ignorance than the popular American environ-
mental movement, which focuses on the most useless details.  Be it
recycling the world's most renewable resource or refusal to use
proven CFC insulation on launch vehicles, no lives will be spared
in the further pursuit of, ironically, harming the environment.

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