Monday, December 28, 2015

Systemd is not the end of the world but someone needs to save us from it

This post has been months in the making. I believed I've reduced the rant-iness to a minimum level. It add nothing to the discussion elsewhere on the Internet. It is however, a burden off my chest.
I became aware of systemd as an init system in recent months as it gained traction in Fedora and it's competition with upstart. I didn't give it much of an interest as it primarily dealt with services that are more associated with the desktop: Plug and Play, power management etc. Imagined my surprise when I installed CentOS7 and it was the default init option. And going back wasn't an option.
The discussion around it's adoption has been intensive. This is a website that documents the fallacies in the arguments against for it and the follow-on discussion for a now-dead website advocating for boycotting it.
 My main beef with systemd is philosophical. Systemd's complexity and how it goes against the concept of "many simple programs doing basic jobs well working together" is not where Linux should be going. While many deride this backward-looking, that concept has served us well and has brought us this far. Yes, I do know that not everything that has brought us this far can carry us into the future but that point is evident only in hindsight. We should try new things but not at the cost of what works.  They should also be subject to discussion and mutual agreement. And finally there should be a transition between what is to what will become.
The opposite of this concept is "one big program doing many things complicated things", the best example being Windows. While some point out that systemd is a collection of applications, they are being developed together as a whole and made inter-dependent.
Another beef is the sense of (or lack thereof) of community around the development. The fan-boy-ism around it and the attitude of the developers (e.g the attitude towards corruption in binary logs) is alienating. Although it runs both ways, it is more healthy on the sysvinit side of things. I understand why there is a strong push-back from parts of the Linux community. This is the age-old difference between Linux users that are excited by solving problems and those that like to go home at the end of the day. Systemd is this complicated box / tool that can be used to solve complex problems in a complex way.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

End of another hiatus

I've been quiet for some time because I've had quite a few interesting gigs. Basically, I was thrown deep into the corporate end of the enterprise IT pool. And enough time has passed that I can share something about it.
I won't do that right now. Not the details. It's enough to say that it has reinforced some of the things I already know to be true. Like the difference between open source software and commercial enterprise software is just polish and the benefits that come with a large user base. Like finding obscure bugs. Really,  the average feature set and functions are the same. It's just that commercial software can be easier to configure (sometimes at the cost of flexibility) and someone is selling it. The user may say that what they're looking for is support but really they're just waiting for someone to sell them something.
There were a few surprises, though. Like however great a system can potentially be, it's the way it's used that can make an ocean of a difference.
Look out for this space for more.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dual booting Windows 8 and Mageia 4: Part 1 - The Prep

I wanted to install Mageia on the Lenovo laptop as soon as my work allowed me to mess around with it since it was now my main system.
My main worry was UEFI, Microsoft's effort to make it harder to install anything else along Windows in the name of security. After going through so many detailed explanations, I'm still not convinced that it was a good move. Protecting anything is a good idea so long as the bad guys don't crack the key. But with a target as valuable as Windows, the cost spent to crack the key may be justified. I figured it would be best to see how other people were doing it. I found this great guide and how other Mageia users are dealing with it. In this day and age, there was already someone who shared how they did it on YouTube.
After reading some more, I found out that Mageia 4 does already some of the work needed already ( This convinced me that the risk I would mess up everything was not that high (Famous last words).
I tried to shrink the 400GB windows partition down into 100GB but could only go to 200GB
cause is unmovable files. Now I'm thinking: Do I "screw it and use gparted" or do I "do the safe way". Since I don't have a backup copy of Windows 8  and I need A USB stick with 16GB to create a bootable recovery backup, I chose the safe way. Basically I disabled the windows system settings that were preventing me from shrinking the volume. These posts were helpful in getting me to that point.
I was able to shrink the partition to about 70GB and re-enabled the settings back, doing all the reboots that were required along the way

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