The Linux Project XII:
The loser files.
NOTE!As with all of the articles in The Linux Project, this is my opinion of the distributions in question. If your experience with the distributions below is different from mine, I am willing to hear how you made it work. However, as I have said on numerous occasions, The Linux Project is taken from the point of view of the newbie. The operating system distributions listed below failed to impress me for the reasons that will be listed after the distribution is named. Please don't slam me for these reviews. If you think I did something wrong, get your own test machine and write your own reviews. See if you disagree with me.
There have been certain Linux distributions that have been nothing short of complete garbage. I need to be specific as to the reasons why I would rate a distribution as garbage.
Firstly, the distribution in question failed attempts at installation over a protracted period of time. In other words, if after at least a full day of attempting installation, the distribution remained on its install CD alone, and refused for any reason to install to the hard drive, then it's total garbage. Secondly, if upon visiting the web site seeking guidance and input from the forums or power users, it was discovered that those in attendance fell into the category of total jerk then their distribution was also added to the garbage pile. Third, if the distribution in question installed, but was deemed unfriendly to the user, it is on this list. Fourth, if the distribution was plagued by both stubborn inability to install and jerks telling you the reasons why, then said distribution will have no other place but the garbage can.
Such is the case for both Lunar Linux and Gentoo Linux. Not only were the distributions nearly impossible to get functional, the people who populate the "help" forums were nothing short of rude a**holes. I got the idea that they looked down upon those who failed in the mission to turn these cup-o-soup distributions from source code to a functional operating system. You can read The Linux Project X for further amplification on these two stinkers.
Yet another addition to the loser pile is an atrocious mess known as Yoper. Meant to be a bastardization of, "Your OPERating system", it is a complete bastardization of what one would assume to be a usable product. Unlike most of the other Linux distributions here, the installation disk doesn't boot to a GUI. Instead, it boots to a console session. In order to "install" Yoper, you are supposed to type in the word "Yoper". This starts the "installation" program.
I put installation in quotes, because nothing, and I mean NOTHING gets installed. Simply put, as you follow the "menu" towards the area where you are supposed to be able to install the operating system once you get past telling the program the partitions on the hard drive you want to use, it gives an error saying, "Cannot find Linux on partition, the program will exit." Then it exits to the console again.
I tried all manner of trickery to get it to install. I partitioned the hard drive and set up the swap file before attempting to install Yoper with another distribution. I attempted to install it over another fully functional setup of PHLAK 0.3. I specifically set that up to see if Yoper would finally install itself over top of another Linux installation. Guess what, it didn't. As a matter of fact, once again, I received the same, "Cannot find Linux on partition, the program will exit," error message I got all those times before. Finally, I was left with only one conclusion: Yoper is worthless!
I hate to waste a lot of time trying to get a system up and running, only to have it fail miserably again and again with no seeming way to make it work. To me, Yoper was nothing more than an exercise in futility.
I could blame it on the fact that it was, "compiled in New Zealand," as the blurb says on the Yoper web site. However, if New Zealand can give us Peter Jackson, and his Lord Of The Rings trilogy, I don't think the problem is with the country as much as it is with the authors of the system. Yoper might be the coolest Linux distribution ever created. However, if it won't install, it's hardly worth the aluminum backed mylar disk onto which I burned it. Considering I buy pretty inexpensive blank CD's, that's not much at all.
Yoper. What were they thinking? Has anyone actually seen this crap up and running? At least Gentoo made an effort to install before it crashed and burned. Yoper can't even be bothered to try. What a waste!
There is another that I add to this list. I add it not because I find it inferior. I add it because it cannot be installed at all. There is no installation program, either under its GUI or available in console mode. It's called Santa Fe Linux.
It comes on a live CD. That means it boots directly to a GUI, and has pre-installed programs ready to go. However, you can get no further than that. The help files on the desktop speak of an elusive installation program that supposedly allows you to install Santa Fe directly on your hard drive. However, after three boot attempts, and a few hours of looking, I couldn't find hide nor hair of an installation program.
This is really disappointing. Santa Fe had some really pretty wallpaper and a very nice color scheme from the CD. I would have liked to see what it looked like when installed on a hard drive. Unfortunately, that was not going to happen. Oh well, it's not the worst of the Linux lot, but if I can't put it on a hard drive, there's hardly a reason to bother with it.
Yet another Linux bomb is Yes Linux. It exists without a desktop at all. It is strictly set up as a console system. I can almost forgive them for their desire to keep Linux as close to UNIX as possible. It's a purist thing, like someone who refuses to migrate from MS-DOS. I can understand that mindset.
That doesn't mean I agree with it. This is 2007. Computers, while not the brainiacs predicted by those out of touch with the reality of technology, are best operated by way of a GUI. There are many operations I perform in my Linux set up where I use the keyboard in a console session. However, I have many more programs that operate strictly from the GUI. Frankly, I like the freedom to choose. I don't like the idea that my desire to use a GUI is seen as a weakness. To me, Yes Linux taunts me for desiring a GUI.
Since the focus of The Linux Project is the newbie, Yes Linux sits far outside that focus. For the die-hard keyboard jockey, Yes Linux might rule the roost. For the purposes of this series of articles, Yes Linux is just another poor excuse for a computer operating system.
While I am sure you can add a GUI to the Yes Linux base system using the generic GNU releases, I get the feeling that getting the GUI to work right would be as much of a pain as it is with Gentoo Linux or Lunar Linux. Since doing this kind of set up is not for the faint of heart, or the newbie, I simply can't recommend anyone use Yes Linux unless they KNOW Linux.
The final distribution on this list is Solaris; the open source offering from Sun Microsystems. Sun computers have been running a UNIX style operating system from the get-go. Sun Microsystems is also the originator of the platform independent language, Java. I know they have years of experience with computers. I know their systems have fueled a few movies. I know a lot about them.
I also know that Solaris leaves much to be desired. It comes on five CD's. It takes for bloody ever to set up. It took almost five hours to set up on the test system. It comes with its own desktop that shares nothing with any other open source desktop system. It also refused to set up my net card, my sound card, or my mouse properly. Every other distribution at least attempted to work with the devices installed on the test machine. Solaris seemingly couldn't be bothered. Someone needs to clue Sun Microsystems into the fact that their software needs to support devices in order to be seen as usable. People simply aren't willing to have their computer operate in a hobbled fashion.
I could have forgiven some of the problems inherent with Solaris until it came to file system. Solaris doesn't support long filenames. It supported the old MS-DOS 8+3 file convention only! Even lowly Microsoft gave up on the 8+3 file naming convention with the advent of Windows NT 3.51. Windows 95 used long filenames, albeit by a strange trick of bastardization. My old version of OS/2 Warp used long filenames. The old version of Linux I ran on my old 486 in 1993 used long filenames.
Not so for Solaris. Frankly my friends, I didn't stop laughing for some time when I found out that Solaris was still stuck with 8+3. Once I stopped laughing, I got pissed off. I spent all that time to install what I thought would be the premier open source operating system only to find it was incapable of reading long filenames. What a gyp! What a rip off! What a disappointing piece of sh*t! Next to Lunar Linux and Gentoo Linux, Solaris was the last of three distributions that didn't last an hour on the test system once they finished setting up.
Solaris was just plain lame, no two ways about it! While I wouldn't say it's user completely user unfriendly, it is really not Linux in the classic sense, ie running with a kernel created by Linus Torvalds. It's also hobbled with it's file system and inability to run popular devices that other true Linux iterations support completely. I'd recommend Debian before I'd recommend Solaris.
So there you have it. Take this as a list of distributions that should be avoided at all costs by the newbie. Lunar Linux, Gentoo Linux, Yoper Linux, Santa Fe Linux, Yes Linux, and Solaris should definitely be avoided by the new user. While the reasons are as varied as the crappiness of the distribution, it all boils down to one basic fact: these operating systems are not created with the new user in mind.
Whether they have broken or non-existent installation programs, take forever to install, or require an above average knowledge of computers to install, they are definitely not for the newbie, the faint of heart, or those like me who have no patience for total garbage. When you consider the number of usable Linux distributions available on the net, avoiding these digital irritants is an easily accomplished feat.