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The borken side of Linux

Network Manager. PulseAudio. 802.11 PCI cards.

All three of these are Linux things that many people tell me work fine, even great, for them. All three are things where I have had much grief over the last few years… Network Manager works fine, as long as I'm willing to occasionally restart the service, occasionally delete and recreate AP table entries, and generally fiddle with it every time I try to do anything.

PulseAudio works fine, as long as I'm occasionally willing to kill it, stop all the clients that were using it, and restart them. OK, not that fine. On both my desktop and laptop box, it seems to be confused about the difference between its interface and ALSA's, requiring me to go into the audio mixer and manually unmute the ALSA HDA channel after unmuting PulseAudio from the desktop widget. Some other minor glitches too.

I've given up on 802.11 PCI cards after two perfectly good ones regressed in Linux to the point of unusability. Turns out I'm better off buying little TP-Link routers and running OpenWRT on them.

OK, so Bart's having trouble with Linux. Who could possibly care?

Well, my theory is that it's warts like these that kept laptop/desktop Linux down over the last few years. After all, all the really fundamental stuff is working fine. We have a usable environment (XFCE, don't get me started on the other ones), great application suites for most all the common purposes, great application suites for some niche markets, coverage of almost all the hardware commonly out there. Heck, we even have some games.

After the better part of a decade, though, some things are still not fixed, or have even regressed. No commercial software company would put up with that. They couldn't. They'd go out of business. "What was that about the seats?" asks Neal Stephenson.

So at a time when the desktop/laptop market is about to be eaten alive by the web on one hand and mobile on the other, here we are with a market opportunity: provide a free, seamless desktop experience that could keep the platform alive a lot longer. As an open source developer, keeping this platform alive is really important to me: it's where I get my work done. I can't imagine the joys of developing for web or mobile on the web or on a mobile device. I need this thing.

Linux's response? Be just crappy enough to keep people from caring about it.

Maybe I should be fixing these things myself. But hey, I'm old, and life is short. There's only so many oceans I can boil at once.

Way easier to just whine on my blog. Fob