Writing, and Linux

The writing did not go well yesterday, but some days are like that. I stalled out on Molly. Today, however, I worked through all of Molly’s story and most of Lauren’s, including developing Lauren’s major conflict, which will drive the rest of the book. Still have some work to do on notecards, but will have everything carded tomorrow, and will be able to spread stuff out on the floor and try to figure out the best order. Once that’s done, I’ll do a typed scene-by-scene outline, install it into my novel document, and start checking off scenes as I write them.

On to Linux. [rant mode=”on”]

I’ve now installed, then uninstalled SuSE, Caldera, Red Hat, and one other flavor of Linux the name of which slips my mind at the moment. I keep trying, dammit — I want off of Windows. But last night’s and this morning’s fun with Red Hat is enough to make me think it’s not worth the trouble. Of all the Linux varieties I’ve installed, Red Hat was the worst. First, it died every time I tried to install GNOME, requiring three complete reformats and reinstalls before I could even get the system to work, and I had to do that by going in and manually choosing packages, and eliminating all GNOME-related packages. Then, it would not acknowledge the printer and hung up, requiring a reboot; then hung up again, requiring another hard reboot, when I tried to use the modem; eliminated all access to my D drive in both Linux and Windows modes; and finally, devoured my boot manager, causing the system to crash when I tried to switch into Windows.

Where do I go if not to Linux? I won’t buy Windows XP, mind you. Bill crossed the final line in requiring registration, then limiting re-installs to four before you have to call Mommy and ask for permission to install your own damned software on your own damned machine. And Macs … I have gone over and over and over the Mac issue — they’re nice machines, but overpriced, undersupported, and proprietary as hell. Their software is too expensive, too. And Apple has the nasty tendency to develop OSs with bad backward compatibility, or else software with seriously vile planned obsolesence. Either way, not good.

Linux looked like the way to go. Except that every flavor of Linux I’ve tried has been actively user-hostile. If you cannot set up your system without the manual, that’s not great. However, if you cannot set your system up by following the instructions in the manual, that’s dreadful. Either Red Hat hires idiots to write its manuals, or the manual writers are taking some steps as given that are neither intuitive nor obvious, or Red Hat is developing its version of Linux to be elitist — in which case, it should say PROGRAMMERS ONLY, ALL ELSE BEWARE on the box.

So.

Having eliminated Windows, Mac, and Linux as desirable operating systems, I’m left with … what? Reversion to the typewriter? Been there, done that, it sucks too. Doesn’t anyone make a modular, stable, well-coded operating system that actually works with printers, modems, etc. when installed? I’ve had both Debian and Mandrake recommended, but after all the unhappiness with my last four tries, I don’t know that I want to put any more money into Linux systems that just may not work, or may screw up access to my non-Linux hard drives the way Red Hat did. I’m tired of playing.

Hell, I switched from QWERTY to Dvorak — I’m willing to tolerate a learning curve, a fair amount of effort on my part, the requirement of patience and research and hard work to get something better than what I have. But what I’m getting has to at least not screw up what I already have, and should, at bare minimun, do what it says it will do. [rant mode=”off”]

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

9 comments… add one
  • Eliste Aug 21, 2002 @ 19:12

    Did a little research. NeXTStep became OpenStep, and that works on x86 machines.

  • Eliste Aug 21, 2002 @ 18:44

    Holly, have you tried NeXTStep?
    I know I’m being like out-of-the-blue strange poster girl lately, but I SO FEEL YOUR PAIN. At home we run Win98, XP, Mac OS 10.1, and Red Hat linux for our server. As an English major who took just enough programming classes to get in trouble, I really really really just want an OS that WORKS. I HATE red hat. HATE IT. Every time I try to update it I break it for days. I truly love the new Mac OS X, but on the hardware side, Mac laptops don’t stand up to punishment & are way too big & heavy.
    I love my Sony Picturebook, hate XP. I don’t want to fight another round with linux, so I’ve been thinking about NeXTStep.
    NeXTStep is the precursor of Mac OS X. It was developed in the ’90s to run on NeXTs, servers that were radical for their time. NeXT was run by Steve Jobs before he came back to Apple. The NeXTStep OS stayed in development long after NeXT stopped making servers. It’s been ported to x86 machines for years. Read here to learn more about it: http://www120.pair.com/mccarthy/nextstep/intro.htmld/
    Hope that helps!

  • Alison Aug 19, 2002 @ 21:41

    Sounds like you need a friend who has done it before. The people I know who’ve gone to LINUX either (a) don’t have anything they’d rather do than wrestle LINUX into submission or (b) know a member of group (a).

    I’m a 16-year Mac user myself. I have a 1999 powerbook with a nice soft keyboard running OS8.6 and have all the software and capacity I need (some crafty person even made an OS8 patch for iTunes). I decided after the last upgrade ate my writing-time for a week that that was it until something broke.

  • Keri Aug 19, 2002 @ 20:41

    Good luck with it all, Holly – have you tried any of the windows environments already on Linux? The KDE that came with SuSE I use and it’s really quite familliar for windows users, with some added bennies I’ve enjoyed, like the quick-button to the Clipboard and such.
    I’ve never used GNOME, so I don’t know how different it is, but if Linux itself is working, perhaps on of its default interfaces will work, too?

    Good luck!

    (Oh, and I’m thinking of going Mac next time around, too. Just moving through those OSes like there’s no tomorrow!)

    Hope it works out for you.

  • Holly Lisle Aug 19, 2002 @ 20:28

    Went the e-bay route — found a set for just under $10 including shipping.

  • Labloch Aug 19, 2002 @ 16:55

    Hey, good idea Shalon!

    I missed out on the board cheer-Holly-up-a-thon [g]. I’d be happy to d/l Debian or Mandrake and burn ’em for you.

    Email me and let me know!

    Sophie 🙂

  • Shalon Wood Aug 19, 2002 @ 15:42

    Holly, one thing to consider is getting someone with broadband and a cd-burner to burn you a free copy of Debian or Mandrake.

    If my burner still worked, I’d volunteer.

    SHalon Wood

  • Labloch Aug 19, 2002 @ 15:12

    Holly,

    I’m using Win2000 on my brand-new computer–I cringed at Win XP, too. It hasn’t given me the blue screen of death in so long I can’t remember.

    I haven’t worked out Admin-User divisions, but I schlep along okay doing everything in Admin mode. (Word hiccups with notices about docs I open being in use, but I just cancel and move on…)

    If you’re still game for Win stuff, give it a try.

    I also have an old Brother word processor in the basement that just needs a new inkjet cartridge, but it’s sloooooow. (and in QWERTY)

    If all else fails, I can lend it to you and see if you like it.

  • Peggy Kurilla Aug 19, 2002 @ 15:06

    Quite by accident, I found a website called livingwithoutMicrosoft.org. It’s devoted to analyses of non-MS software and products–and states specifically it is NOT an anti-Bill or Linux-fanatics site.

    One of the links down the right hand side of the page referred to running Linux without installing it.

    If that article doesn’t help, maybe the site has something else that can.

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