An opinionated history of Linux

dos2unix

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It's funny how certain subjects come up sometimes.
A guy I used to work with was over-seas in Jakarta for about 8 years.
He just got back about 3 months ago.

He was telling me that newer versions of specific distro's are hard to get there.
He also says, that even when you can get ahold of them, often the hardware is so
old, that newer distro's won't run on them.

The place he was working hasn't upgraded their Linux versions in almost 10 years.

We got to talking about how Linux has changed over the years. There was a lot he has never used.

systemd vs sysV init.d
systemctl vs chkconfig
firewall-cmd/ufw vs iptables
wayland vs X11
nmcli vs ifcfg scripts
SElinux, setenforce.
udev uuids vs device paths
gsettings registry vs .bash_profile and .bashrc scipts.
Ansible vs puppet/chef
About a million different distro's, and desktop flavors. ( I may be exaggerating 'slightly')
The "cloud" and virtualization, docker, podman, VM's in general.
UEFI vs Legacy BIOS.
Other things that we never got about to discussing.

He said he hates the "new" stuff. Later, he admitted he doesn't hate the new stuff, he just hates learning it.
I remember going through the same process. But for me, I had several years to learn the changes slowly over
a period time. For him, it's all coming at once. I feel for him.

But then the discussion turned to why things change. His old systems were running on the 3.10.x kernel.
I am running on the 5.16.x kernel. A lot has changed in the meantime.

We can blame a lot of this on Ubuntu, Fedora and Redhat. They are the culprits here. :)

Redhat was the first distro to support built-in clustering, cman, clusterfs, fencing, etc...
They were also the first distro to support NIC teaming, NIC failover redundancy.
They were the first distro to support LVM and software RAID. They were the first distro to incorporate
journaled file-systems. All of this makes sense for a distro that is primarily used in enterprise data centers
that needs maximum uptime and redundancy.

Fedora was the first distro to use systemd, wayland, NetworkManager, pipewire, firewalld, systemctl service
files, and device uuids. There is some debate other whether they were the first distro to support secure boot and UEFI.
We can blame these guys for complicating our lives! :) It seems that for good or bad, however you feel about it,
many other distro's have incorporated this stuff, and now it seems to be a standard part of most mainstream distro's.

Now as bad as Redhat and Fedora have been for changing the backend of things... Ubuntu has it's share.
Most new desktop environments start out in Ubuntu distro's, Even now they have some desktops other distro's
just don't have, Enlightenment, Deepin, Boas, etc... They were the first distro add proprietary drivers.
nVidia, Radeon, mpg codecs, mp4 codecs. (You could manually download this stuff before that time)
Ubuntu has done a lot for the multimedia/gaming community as well, it seems the earliest versions of Steam, Kodi,
Lutris, and Proton were on Ubuntu desktops. So we can blame Ubuntu for adding all these extra complications
to the frontend.

Sure there are other distro's that have contributed to the mainstream.... but by and large, these are the bad guys!

Note: These are three main distro's I use. :p
 
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dos2unix

dos2unix

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systemd. _ How I used to hate it.
Good ole chkconfig, and sysV init scripts and run levels.

But systemd has a lot of advantages.
First sysV only had 5 run levels, and for most applications only two really usable.
systemd service files can specify what services are required, in what order.
Systemd tracks processes, so zombie proceeses are a LOT harder (not impossible) to spawn.
systemd standardizes process starting and stopping. It doesn't matter if it's a bash script,
java app, python script, or a binary... the start and stop syntax is always the same.
Problems get logged into journalctl. I can view errors based on the application, I don't have
to wade through a ton of dmesg and messages logs to find my specific application.
Once you get familair with it. You wonder how we ever did without it.

That's just one example, but the same could be said for NetworkManager (a lot of people hate it)
Or really any of the things listed above. But things evolve. Things get better, more advanced.
Easier to use, more secure, less buggy, ...

In my opinion, one of the best things about Linux is that it keeps advancing, it's ahead of
Microsoft and Apple in many ways. Yeah, that means I have to learn new stuff sometimes..
but what's wrong with that?
 
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TheProf

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I personally like the idea of constant change, its why I decided to work in IT. I also feel that you don't like learning new things, then IT would get boring over time, at least for me.. I need to learn and focus on something new ever couple of years, I cant keep doing the same thing over and over.

I remember trying Linux for a very short period of time 15 years ago when I first started working in IT... back then, desktop Linux is not what it is today, thankfully many years of development and iterations made it a great operating system today. The fact that a lot of influencers on social media are giving Linux attention, says a lot about how far the operating system has come... If it were to remain the same, I doubt there would be this much interest.
 

CrazedNerd

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keeping up with new hardware certainly comes to the detriment of the old, but i can't say in honesty that certain distros are just better than others. I personally don't like Ubuntu just because i've had more issues with it so far than Mint or Fedora, and even though i've used it little i can't say anything great about any version of "bare bones" Debian so far.
 

KGIII

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I wouldn't so much 'blame' them so much as I would 'thank' them.

We can't stay mired in the past just because you're comfortable there. New tech means new possibilities. That some people can't access this tech is unfortunate, but hardly the fault of the distro creators. They can solve many things, but can't resolve government and infrastructure problems. Nor should they be expected to do so.

I'm grateful that they incorporated this new tech. While there are legit complaints about systemd - there are only like two legit complaints and they're easily dealt with. The anti-systemd noise (mostly) comes from people unwilling to learn new tools.
 
N

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KGill wrote:
The anti-systemd noise (mostly) comes from people unwilling to learn new tools.
There's also the movement away from UNIX philosophy of a system of discrete tools which do single things well and can be combined in endlessly creative ways to achieve multiple outcomes. Some users grieve the loss of that conceptual framework.
 

KGIII

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KGill wrote:

There's also the movement away from UNIX philosophy of a system of discrete tools which do single things well and can be combined in endlessly creative ways to achieve multiple outcomes. Some users grieve the loss of that conceptual framework.

Yeah, that was dead long before systemd.

But, there are two legit-ish complaints. The way it deals with errors in stdout and storing of logs in binary format.

And, yes, it's a giant bloated thing this systemd. I have no idea why systemd-resolved needs to be a part of an init application.
 

f33dm3bits

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And, yes, it's a giant bloated thing this systemd. I have no idea why systemd-resolved needs to be a part of an init application.
That's because "systemd is a software suite that provides an array of system components for Linux" not just the init system, you don't have to use it all but it's available there to use if you want it.
 
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KGIII

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Conceptually, I understand. The inclusion of resolved however is just such a weird thing to have incorporated. That one mystifies me.
 

f33dm3bits

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Yes agreed. I have nothing against systemD, it seems to have made a lot of things easier but systemV worked just as well for me. No point in going backwards, we can only go forward.
 

KGIII

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Oh, not only do I not mind systemd, I straight up like it. Once I got it sorted out, it 'just works' and it's relatively easy. More important, I guess, is that it's consistent. I wouldn't want to regularly use a distro without it.

In my opinion, it's better than what we had before.
 
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