Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Threats to Linux: Expertise and acceptance

Filed under

Do you know what most large Solaris installations have in common? Mis-management. What seems to happen is that the people in charge get there on the basis of large system experience in the eighties and then forcefully apply that expertise regardless of whether it's appropriate to the technology or not. That's what happened to a lot of large business projects started on Solaris in the mid to late ninties, why there was a resurgence in mainframe sales as these projects were written off in 2000 one and two, and why there's now a threat that the same thing is about to happen with Linux.

Linux installations, so far, have mainly been compromised by the expertise evolved to cope with the day to day emergencies associated with managing Microsoft's products. I think that's about to change as the big guys grab "the coming thing" and try to twist it into what they already know.

Look at Linux implementations in (bigger) business or government and in a majority of cases what you see is people trying to treat it as a one for one substitute for Windows - producing rackmounts stuffed with PCs all individually licensed from Red Hat, all running one application each, and all being routinely shut down for patch installation and "preventative reboot."

It's not that the people doing this are dishonest or incompetent - quite the contrary they're honestly doing what they've been taught to do, it's just that they haven't internalized the fundamental truth that Unix isn't Windows and so think their expertise applies. In reality, Linux isn't as good a Windows product as Windows, so the net effect is generally to increase cost to the employer while decreasing benefits.

The mainframers all want to virtualize or partition - despite the fact that these technologies address problems that don't exist on Unix. The windows generation wants to use lockdowns, proxies, anti-virus software, and the rackmount approach to SMP for the same reason: these are the things they know how to do and therefore the things they will do -and so what if the problems these solutions address don't exist in Linux.

It's insanely frustrating to hold a conversation with someone who's deeply committed to this kind of technological miscegenation. Typically you're dealing with someone who looks and sounds like a decent human being you'd be happy to have as a friend or neighbour -until you hit the job spot and what spews out are absolute certainties made up of absolute nonsense.

Recently, for example, I found myself explaining to a bunch of Windows people that DHCP started as Sun's bootp support for diskless devices, entered the Windows world as a means of temporarily assigning an IP address to a Windows 3.11 PC so it could be used to access the internet, and became unnecessary, and therefore inappropriate, for fixed network installations when Microsoft finally adopted TCP/IP.

These were bright people, honest and competent in their own way, but I would have won more converts arguing for the replacement of email by trained mice scurrying around carrying digitally inscribed slices of well aged lunar cheese. As a group they agreed that it would be a good idea to use non routable addresses internally, but nothing was going to change their true and certain knowledge that address allocations must be handled through DHCP.

What's going on with them, and their mainframe predecessors, is management by knowledge accretion -the setting in stone of managerial reflexes gained through thirty years of experience and applied, unchanged, to technology they've never seen before.

As a process, accretion works well for making sandstone, but it's not so smart for IT management -and the consequences are usually bad for the technologies involved because the people responsible for the resulting failures blame the tool far more often than they blame themselves.

By Paul Murphy

More in Tux Machines

Kernel Space/Linux

Red Hat News

openSUSE Tumbleweed: A Linux distribution on the leading edge

So, to summarize: openSUSE Tumbleweed is a good, solid, stable Linux distribution with a wide range of desktops available. It is not anything particularly exotic or unstable, and it does not require an unusual amount of Linux expertise to install and use on an everyday system. To make a very simple comparison, in my experience installing and using Tumbleweed is much less difficult and much less risky than using the Debian "testing" distribution, and it is kept much (much much) more up to date than openSUSE Leap, Debian "stable", Linux Mint or Ubuntu. I don't say that to demean any of those other distributions. As I said at the end of my recent post about point-release vs. rolling-release distributions, if your hardware is fully supported by one of those point-release distributions, and you are satisfied with the applications included in them, then they are certainly a good choice. But if you like staying on the leading edge, or if you have very new hardware which requires the latest Linux kernel and drivers, or you just want/need the latest version of some application (in my case this would be digiKam), then openSuSE could be just what you want. Read more Also: Google Summer of Code 2017

Graphics in Linux

  • 17 Fresh AMDGPU DC Patches Posted Today
    Seventeen more "DC" display code patches were published today for the AMDGPU DRM driver, but it's still not clear if it will be ready -- or accepted -- for Linux 4.12. AMD developers posted 17 new DC (formerly known as DAL) patches today to provide small fixes for Vega10/GFX9 hardware, various internal code changes, CP2520 DisplayPort compliance, and various small fixes.
  • libinput 1.7.0
  • Libinput 1.7 Released With Support For Lid Switches, Scroll Wheel Improvements
    Peter Hutterer has announced the new release of libinput 1.7.0 as the input handling library most commonly associated with Wayland systems but also with Ubuntu's Mir as well as the X.Org Server via the xf86-input-libinput driver.
  • Nouveau TGSI Shader Cache Enabled In Mesa 17.1 Git
    Building off the work laid by Timothy Arceri and others for enabling a TGSI (and hardware) shader cache in the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver as well as R600g TGSI shader cache due ot the common infrastructure work, the Nouveau driver is now leveraging it to enable the TGSI shader cache for Nouveau Gallium3D drivers.