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.

~ by scaryreasoner on April 29, 2008.

4 Responses to “Giving Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) another chance”

  1. If you’re interested in Ardour, maybe Ubuntu Studio will give you the most convenient default config:

  2. I disagree about it needing a compiler. I aliased ‘sudo apt-get install’ to just ‘install’, so I’ll not be compiling anything on /this/ machine any time soon. No end user should _ever_ have to compile code.

    I just hope Ubuntu gets away from the whole scary linux-CLI-compile-your-own-drivers thing. People don’t put up with that. They’ll just go out and buy a mac and never give linux a second glance. –and until we catch up, depending on their patience and skill, I may advise them to do just that.

    I’m just sad that windows sets the standard for usability so low. Let’s not set it any lower, mkay?

  3. By all means, please go buy a Mac, and good riddance to you. Attitudes like yours are what is ruining linux in the name of “usability,” and is exactly the sort of thinking which leads to not having man pages for three quarters of the stuff in /usr/bin — “what end user would care about a man page for this obscure program he should never have to run manually?” yeah, right. Go buy a mac.

  4. I agre that linux should always haver a compiler present..and at least a rudimentary development possibilities. Why ? Because removing this to make things more user the same mistake Microsoft always have made..they declare the user stupid by hiding complexity. I say it can still be user friendly and have rudimentary dev. possibilities as default. For one thing it is essential that it is easy to start writing your own code, especially if Ubuntu should spread well in 3d world developing countries.

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