Giving Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) another chance
My default OS has, for many years now, been some sort of Redhat. Fedora for the last few years.
Awhile back, I tried ubuntu, since it was making so much noise around the internet. That was Gutsy Gibbon. I wasn’t that impressed. It seemed designed in a way, for Windows users (although, at least they chose gnome rather than that wretched Windows wannabe called KDE.) KDE might have a nicer programming interface (so I’ve heard) but I’ve only programmed against gtk/gdk, and KDE, from a user’s perspective, gives me the Windows Willies. I hate it.
But I digress. I was talking about Ubuntu. Last time I tried it, I was put off by the seemingly anti-developer, pro-dumb-user mindset the OS seems to have.
This time around, (Hardy Heron) I still see the same mindset, but a little more persistence on my part, and some other things I’ll get to in a moment are starting to bring me around. Last time, I was really put off by the lack of man pages. To me, if it’s in /usr/bin, then it better have a fucking man page, period. (To be fair, Redhat is a big offender in this area as well.) But, if it’s in libc, then it REALLY better fucking have a man page. Redhat never let me down there, section 3 (library calls) and section 2 (system calls) were always present. Ubuntu? Not so much. With Gutsy Gibbon, the internet searching I did to try to find how to get the man pages turned up answers — but answers that did not work. I never did get reasonable man pages for Gutsy Gibbon. So, I ejected Ubuntu from my hard disks on that account, and justifiably so.
This time, with Hardy Heron, I found the man pages…
I am still left with a bad taste of the “guess the package name” game that you have to play with Ubuntu, though. For instance, the man pages, I know they had the name “posix” in there, and “manpages”, but the exact package name? I don’t know it. I did find out a magic command which is essential:
apt-cache search "regular-expression"
For instance, I was able to find out the package name by “apt-cache search ‘posix.*man'” From that I can see the package name is “manpages-posix-dev”, and after “apt-get install manpages-posix-dev”, then “man 3 printf” gives non-insane results.
Another “bad taste left in the mouth” moment was when trying to compile libsndfile (or maybe it was portaudio). When I tried “configure”, I was told “gcc cannot create executable binaries.” What? No C compiler? Hmmm…. Gcc seems to be there. Oh, I need libc6-devel package or some crap. That solved it. (But, what I actually needed, I found out later, was the “build-essentials” package. Ok, if it’s “essential”, why don’t I have it by default? I’m sorry Ubuntu, I know this is a distro for dummies, but it is still linux, still a variant of unix, and god dammit, it needs a working C compiler!!! I’m not fucking kidding. Get your ass in gear and make a working C compiler a default. Must Have! None of this “apt-get install build-essentials” Not cool. It needs to work immediately. Linux without a working C compiler is a shooting offense. Give me a working C compiler, or I give you death.
But, what has made me give ubuntu a second serious look is a couple of things:
First of all, I just bought a new computer to put in the music room, the idea being that it will connect my Yamaha AW4416 to the internet via ADAT lightpipe (RME Hammerfall soundcard plus MY-ADAT board in the AW4416.) What OS to put on this new computer? I was going to put Fedora 8 on there, which is what I have on my other computer, but I lent the DVD out to somebody. So, I figured, why not give ubuntu a try?
Second, I found that I could install Ardour, a multitrack recorder (the linux counterpart to Protools — as the Gimp is to Photoshop, Ardour is to Protools) by means of a simple “apt-get install ardour”.) I’d tried to compile this for Fedora in the past, and had been stymied by a number of problems (library version hell, if I remember correctly — though this may have improved since I last tried it). Well, there are still a number of things to work through. For instance, I think there’s a bit of tuning to do with the setup, I expect jack (Jack Audio Connection Kit) wants to be run as root, with some realtime kernel features, etc., However, I have been able to send some audio through the ADAT lightpipe, through jack, and into Ardour. So definite progress on that front. There are still a lot of details I need to work through to come up with a decent workflow though. Even so, having Ardour installed by a mere “apt-get install ardour” almost makes up for the lack of a working C compiler out of the box, and lack of man pages out fo the box. Almost. But, you know, C compiler or death, that’s just how I roll.