February 26th, 2004


ah yes, true freedom // philosophical geekery

Ah, yes, I love the way Linux will not only let you shoot yourself in the foot, but it'll load/prime the gun and aim it for you!

"badblocks -s -w /dev/hda1" doesn't do any warning or confirmation or any other kind of user intervention. It just goes right ahead and does it.

same with "rm -r /", for that matter.

"wipe -r *" doesn't bother confirming, either (in fact, I accidentally halted the system last night becuase it turned out there was an active swapfile on /dev/hda1 and wipe tried wiping it while it was in use -- oops!).

That's probably the greatest thing I like about (most flavors of) *nix in general. The programmers assume that if you're going to be using this OS, and mucking about at the command-line level, then you know what you're doing and they are not going to second-guess you. If the system is at all capable of doing what you're asking, it'll go ahead and do it (even if it leads to a total system failure and you have to re-install (kernel recompile, anyone?)). None of that "oh, you don't *really* want to do that, so we'll just assume you are an idiot and not let you" bullshit that you get from both Apple and Microsoft (sorry, gang, this is one area OSX is just as bad (if not worse) than Windows).

It's also one reason I'm not sure I *want* Linux to become more mainstream. Sure, it'd be nice for the software industry to once again start moving ahead through innovation and unstifled development, and I do think a mainstream Linux would be a large step towards bringing this about, but I realize that to make Linux mainstream would mean having to remove all that freedom. You can't say that the user-level login would protect people, because they are going to know the admin password on their own box and anytime the system says "sorry, users can't do that" they'll just su themselves a root prompt (and don't even tell me they won't know how to do that, it'll become the first tip in "PC User" magazine or somesuch) and do it anyway. I've worked with enough users to know that they like to feel they have control over the machine physically at their desk, even when they don't need that control and are likely to mess things up if we give them it.
I suppose it's an option, though, that when some few distros of Linux have become mainstream, I'll just move on to Debian or some not-so-mainstream distro. Or perhaps switch to one of the BSD flavors. So I guess it wouldn't be all that bad. It'd just be a bummer, after having followed Linux so long, to see it get watered down so much.

Me? Jaded? no. I work with users every damn day, I still have to answer questions like "my printer's yellow light is blinking and the little screen on it says 'load letter' -- what should I do?" The optimist in me likes to think that eventually people will clue in and start to learn how to handle day-to-day operation of a PC, but I'm not seeing any evidence supporting this.

hrmmm // dreaming

wow, it'd sure be nice to study abroad. I'm sitting here looking through Germany's state-sponsored university site, and they have one or two that offer a PhD. in Mathematics (edit: to international students). Perhaps I should consider that as an option. Save up enough, maybe get a student loan or two, and then go study there. Provided they approve my application, of course. It'd be hard work, getting my language skills up to snuff. And they say that student jobs are highly regulated (they flat-out say that if you're an international student, don't plan on working at all -- EU students can work, but it's not likely to provide much income) so I'd have to somehow come up with tons of fundage..

But damn. the experiance that would provide. 3-5 years studying mathematics in Germany. wow..

plus, I would only have to have enough funds for cost of living and books. They don't charge tuition.

I'll have to do further research to see how the degree is viewed internationally, of course. And this isn't even an option for the next 3 or more years anyway, while I'm prepping myself here.

Still makes for a nice dream to keep in the back of my mind, though. :)