Thursday, June 22, 2006

More Linux Fun

There is a new version of Xandros. The description makes it sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread. Since I purchased version 3, I get a discount on the new version 4. Of course, nothing is automatic. I have to send a message to the Xandros sales team begging for my meager $20 discount. And wait. For God-only-knows how long. I was ready to make an impulse buy, but now I wonder if I even want to bother.

Meanwhile, last night I tried to remotely access my e-mail from work. It requires that a Java runtime is installed. No big deal, because I had already taken care of that so I could get into my e-mail from home when I was healing up from having my sinus cavity violated. Except for some reason, Java seems to have uninstalled itself. Firefox offers to install it, but when you tell it to go ahead and do that, it just blows up. I tried following some of the links that Firefox offered to manually download and install and even managed to download some sort of fucking script that I couldn't figure out how to run. Double-clicking just opened the script up in an edit window and right-click, open-with gave me a list of every application I have installed. Fuck that. Now I have no Java runtime. Hope I never need to use my work e-mail from home, because, once again, I just don't seem smart enough to use Linux.

Yesterday, I needed to get some information from my resume seeing as I am quitting my current job. All my documents are in the latest Open Office format (open document). Of course the version of Open Office that shipped with Xandros version 3 doesn't know what that is. No big surprise. I first try the Xandros Networks, which is supposed to handle installing and upgrading Xandros-approved applications. It doesn't show any updates available for Open Office. I head over to, but they doesn't seem to have anything for Xandros/Debian, but they had a link to this site that at first glanced looked useful, until I started reading:
Installing for debian is very easy with apt-get/dselect or dpkg.
Now that sentence may make sense to one or two-tenths of one percent of all computer users, but once again the Linux/open source community demonstrates a complete disregard for the vast majority of the user community, which just drives them back to Windows, except for the few that make the jump to Apple.

OK, maybe if I just push on, all will become clear. The next paragraph reads:
1.Installing with apt-get.

If you are using debian-unstable (aka sid), debian-testing (aka etch) or debian-stable (aka sarge) you do not need to change /etc/apt/sources.list. If you are using debian-oldstable (aka Woody or Debian 3.0r4), you have to choose a mirror of our debian-packages-mirrors from here and put it in your /etc/apt/sources.list.

Ok, we will go ahead with the installation of
Type apt-get update ; apt-get install
You can do apt-get install too, this will work! Choose$CC for your CountryCode, that you want. is now already installed in the debian-package, so, the only thing you need to do is just type openoffice into a shell or click on the icons at your WindowManager.
If you have a tar-ball off installed, please delete it before you are starting from the debian-package. Just do these steps for this:

If you have already installed on your system, you have to remove the installation of and the configurations files in your $HOME directory - rm -rf .openoffice .user60.rdb .sversionrc ; rm -rf /path/to/your/
Well, I don't know about you, but even with 22 years in IT working at a pretty low level on PC's and various IBM midrange and mainframe systems, I have no fucking clue what the hell they are blathering on about.

And, once again, a major player in the open source community makes it dumb-fucking easy to install the latest version of Open Office on a Windows or Apple machine while making nearly impossible to do so on a Linux installation. Nice work, guys. Way to defeat the Evil Hoard from Redmond: force people to use Windows in order to run the latest version of your software.

In any case, I cannot open any of my documents because I foolishly "upgraded" all of them to the latest Open Office file format when I installed OOo 2.0.1 on my ugly, bug-ridden, virus-laden, corporate-ass-kissing Windows 2000 machine months ago.


Once again, I'm receiving the message loud and clear: I'm just not smart enough for Linux. If this is the best the open source community can do for something as fucking simple as installing the latest version of a software package, I have better things to do with my time.

I was digging around in a pile of debris the other day and came across an old PC that I had originally been using as a Xandros box. I needed more disk space and I knew there was a 30 gig drive buried in there along with a DVD-ROM drive that I could install along side the DVD-RW I already had in my current machine. An hour or so later, and my Xandros box had a second hard drive and dual DVD drives. Remembering Xandros' spectacular failure to adjust to me replacing a CD-ROM with a DVD-RW, I fired it up with some trepidation. I made it through boot-up, logging on, and got to my desktop. Promising. At least I hadn't broken anything major.

I fired up the administrator version of the file manager, and there they were: a DVD writer, DVD-ROM, and device hdb2 (the second hard drive). Well I'll be damned. I almost started feeling guilty about all the nasty things I said about Linux/Xandros. Almost.

One of the main reasons I installed a second drive was so I had room to copy the files I use most often from my USB drive onto an internal drive in an attempt to be able to access them in less time than it takes me to grill ribs for 50 people. I started the copy of all my digital photos from the USB drive to the internal drive, then got busy doing something else. It was a couple hours before I had a chance to poke my head in to check on the progress. Unsurprisingly, it was done. Cool.

I started the copy of my mp3 files. This was over 16 gig of data, so I started the process and wandered off to do something else (most likely stuff my face and watch Family Guy reruns). A couple hours later, I decided it was time to hit the sack. The copy was still running. Worse, the estimated time to completion was over 4 hours! A total of 6+ hours to copy just over 16 gig? That's one impressive data transfer rate. I know that USB drives, even USB2, are way slower than an internal drive. But I have moved large amounts of data on and off this exact same device under Windows, and I can guarantee that it wasn't at some paltry 2.7 gig per hour rate, or I would have returned the drive as defective. I have no idea if this is some sort of problem with the hardware or with how Xandros addresses USB drives, but this is nuts.

But it gets better. You knew that, right?

I try to use the data from the second internal hard drive. I can only see the drive if I'm using the administrator version of file manager, unless I mount a network share under my user ID. That's right, folks; Xandros forces you to set up a second internal drive as a network share and grant permissions to each person that is allowed to see it. Stupid and not well documented. Just like in Windows, Help isn't. Luckily, I paid the extra money to get a hard copy manual. It's all in there, but you have to bounce around a lot to get all the pieces together. I finally got it all set up, then logged off and back on to make sure it reconnected. Problem one. No matter what I do, I have to put in the system administrator password to mount the drive. This is just stupid, but not fatal. I open up DigiKam and download a couple pictures and try to do some minor edits (rotations and cropping). The download worked. In Digikam's edit mode, I can delete pictures. But I cannot save changes to pictures. Access Denied.


[Aside: Thank you Xandros and the Linux community for making "fuck" a habitual part of my vocabulary.]

More fiddling. More rebooting. No joy.

OK, maybe it's just DigiKam. I already know this isn't the most stable piece of software. I fire up GIMP, load the image, rotate the image, crop the image, modify it from color to black and white. No sweat. Save the changes. Access Denied.

Fuck fuck.

Save to My Documents. That works. Exit GIMP, fire up the administrator version of the file manager, give the administrator password, move my one file from My Documents to where it belongs. Finally. My data is where I wanted it instead of where Xandros thought I ought to be putting it. Isn't it That Mortal Enemy Of All Mankind, Microsoft that is arrogant enough to tell me what I can and can't do with my own data?

While I'm bitching (like that's anything new), there is one behavior that has been in every version of Windows that annoys the hell out of me and every other person I know that has ever laid hands on a PC. Say you have a window displaying thumbnails of a directory of photos. You want to select all of them from a three-up list like this:

1.jpg | 2.jpg | 3.jpg
4.jpg | 5.jpg | 6.jpg
7.jpg | 8.jpg

Now any rational person would assume that a single-click on 1.jpg and a shift-click on 8.jpg would select them all, right? As anyone who has used Windows for more than five minutes knows, the answer is absolutely not. You have just selected the first two columns in a list of files in row order. Just plain stupid, right? So would one of the High Holy And Pure Ones Of The Community Of God, er, Linux please explain why the fuck you would imitate this stupid, irritating behavior?

Jesus H. Christ and All Twelve Butt-Fucking Apostles!

And I'm giving up and going to bed. I grow weary of being made to feel stupid. I'm about one more aggravation away from buying a copy of Windows XP.


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