Re: [dev] [9buntu] first attempt -bashing needed

From: Donald Allen <>
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2010 00:27:01 -0400

On Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 10:49 PM, Kris Maglione <> wrote:
> On Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 02:47:45PM -0400, Donald Allen wrote:
>>> I never said ‘weaker’ meant simpler.
>> That's true and I didn't say you did. You said it was 'weaker' and I
>> said it's 'simpler' (but not *too* simple).
> You certainly implied that I was arguing against simplicity, which I very
> clearly wasn't.

Again, that's not what I said nor what I intended. You stated that
Slackware's package management was "weaker" than Arch's or GoboLinux
and that the lack of package management leads to "headaches". The
implication that I took from that was that you thought it was *too*
simple and that was the point with which I took issue. That's very
different than my implying that you were arguing against simplicity,
which I was not. I think we would agree on the principle that things
should be as simple as they can be, but no simpler. We're just
disagreeing on how to apply that to Slackware, where the line is.

>> I was as skeptical as you are, until I finally (in desperation,
>> because I couldn't find a simple, unbloated distribution that was
>> reliable) gave it a try. In actual use, it's a simple system to
>> administer. If dwm (WHAT?? No config files? I have to edit C code? Mon
>> dieu!) were a Linux distribution, it could easily look like Slackware.
> I've used Slackware in the past, and the lack of dependency resolution did
> indeed cause problems (as it did on similar systems). On most Unices these
> days (even the loathesome RPM-based systems), just about anything may be
> installed with one command, or two if you have to search first. You don't
> even need to think about the dependencies, and you certainly don't have to
> visit a website. It's especially irritating if, like me, you tend to keep
> your system clear of Gnome, but occasionally need a Gnome-based program
> installed, along with its battalion of dependencies, and need to purge the
> lot afterwards.

I don't use Gnome or KDE, for that matter. Just a window manager (dwm
-- though I'm testing i3 now -- dmenu, and something to display the
date-time). What you cite above is not a problem for me. The one app
that I use that needs chunks of Gnome is Gnucash. A shell script or
two got me the slackware packages for the dependencies, they get
installed on all my systems, and then the same for the Gnucash

Look, the world's full of trade-offs. I want a minimal distribution
(which is what originally attracted me to Arch), but it needs to be
reliable. I don't want to spend my time fighting with computers. If I
did, I'd run Windows. Arch didn't fill that bill for me. Slackware
does. The small (and for me it has been small; virtually all of it was
for Gnucash) amount of extra work I've had to do was well worth it to
me, given how solid and well-done this system is and how well-suited
it is to my requirements (more so than anything else I've tried).
Apparently, you don't see it the same way. Vive la difference.

> And, as for dwm, you won't win any points from me on that score. I still
> think that that's a bad design decision.

Disagree completely. It works beautifully for a (small) target
audience willing and able to hack a C header file. For those who won't
or can't, there are other choices, even from suckless.

>> Most do not have those "tricks up their sleeve" and they get screwed.
>> The only reason I can see for using Arch is if you make a conscious
>> risk-benefit decision that always having the latest and (presumably)
>> greatest easily available to you is worth the risk of occasionally
>> having to glue your system back together or restore it from a backup.
> Don't care about most people, frankly. That being said, I've never my Arch
> system wedged in the past three years or so, though I have had some more
> minor yet annoying problems relating to their rolling packaging.

I'd argue you've been lucky. It's also possible to smoke a pack of
Pall Malls every day and live to be 100 (the great ragtime composer,
Eubie Blake, did exactly that).

>> But I do often wish that Linuxes would provide
>>> something akin to FreeBSD's statically linked /rescue.
>> I will avoid wasting network bandwidth by going on a FreeBSD rant.
>> Suffice to say that I've tried 7.* and 8.* and I don't think that
>> system is fit for the desktop. Its reputation for solidity was made on
>> servers and I'm sure it's fine there. But, for example, the usb layer
>> was totally broken in 7.*, they re-wrote it for 8.* and it still
>> doesn't work correctly. There were other problems, too.
> FreeBSD has gone down hill over the years, no doubt. I used 4-STABLE for
> nearly 10 years, and only ever upgraded to 5-STABLE when 4 wouldn't run on
> my laptop. My firewall ran 4-STABLE for some years after that, and my
> desktop eventually got 6-STABLE when it was released. But after that, I
> didn't bother to install it on my new laptop, because things were clearly
> not moving in the right direction.


>> OpenBSD is a different story. It is a very high quality system. But --
>> it's noticeably slower than Linux, it doesn't have real SMP support
>> (just one Giant Lock around the kernel), it doesn't have unified
>> buffer cache support, and its hardware-support repertoire is not
>> nearly as big as that of Linux. But it's perfectly usable as a desktop
>> system, if it supports your hardware (and you don't care about Flash,
>> which many do not), very secure, very well documented and very
>> bug-free. It's also simple to administer, because the config setup is
>> sensible and everything is clearly documented. The big down-side, for
>> me, is that the developer community has taken on Theo de Raadt's
>> personality. A friend of mine said to me recently "the only reason for
>> running OpenBSD is if you like being insulted". Perhaps an
>> over-statement, but there's some truth to it. I just don't like the
>> way they treat people and so I won't use their stuff (because I like
>> to give financial support to people who donate their time to making
>> software that I use, and I just didn't want to send these guys any
>> more money). Too bad, because in the right setting, it's a great piece
>> of work.
> I don't believe that OpenBSD is noticably slower than Linux, at least not
> for servers. It consistently performs well on benchmarks compared to Linux
> and the other BSDs, and I know that the OpenBSD devs brag about their
> network device support compared to bothe Linux and the BSDs.

And there have been lots of benchmarks that show OpenBSD significantly
slower than Linux or FreeBSD (or NetBSD, for that matter). We can
argue, pointlessly, about benchmarks. I'm talking about how the system
feels and to me it feels noticeably slower than Linux on the same
hardware (I have a lot of experience running both on the same set of
machines). And I've done some tests of my own that show that the
filesystem is quite a bit slower (soft updates, other options
apples-to-apples) than ext4. I even tested async ffs against async
ext2 and it was no contest (in favor of ext2). The lack of unified
buffer cache can make a difference in certain situations where, for
example, you don't need a lot of page-frame memory, but a really big
buffer cache would help. Linux adapts nicely to such cases, OpenBSD
does not. As I said earlier, OpenBSD doesn't have fine-grained support
for SMP. It also doesn't support > 4 Gb of physical memory without
building a special kernel (and I think the large memory support is
experimental). So not suitable for multi-core, 16 Gb database server,
for example. It's not that they don't understand this stuff. They do
-- they're smart guys. They just don't have the resources that Linux

 They focus on
> server support, and they do that well. And, well, Theo is an asshole, but I
> rather like him.

I think he's a very talented guy. I admire some of the principled and,
in some case, courageous stands he's taken. But I just *hate* the way
he and some of his cohorts treat people who aren't as smart as they
are and who don't know as much about OpenBSD as they do. I think they
are hurting the project by doing this -- it's all downside in my view,
completely unnecessary. I'm not even sure 'asshole' is the right
description. He's a brilliant person with extraordinary capabilities,
but exhibits some of the problems dealing with people that you see all
the time in places like MIT. I don't pretend to understand what his
deal is, and at this point, I've decided that his system, good as it
is, isn't good enough for me to put up with the kind of stuff he
dishes out to everyone (I've never been attacked by him myself, by the

He's a rather welcome antidote to Ulrich Drepper at any
> rate. It's odd, though, that OpenBSD being so focused on security and
> stability, that DJB of all people ditched it for FreeBSD because of its lack
> of the latter...
> --
> Kris Maglione
> One does well to put on gloves when reading the New Testament.  The
> proximity of so much uncleanliness almost forces one to do this.
>        --Friedrich Nietzsche
Received on Sat Jul 31 2010 - 06:27:01 CEST

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