Deep breath now, … I hate Linux

… in a heavily admin’d University Environment

It’s taken me some time now to summon the willpower to risk the wrath of the Linux people, but I’m sorry today’s the day.

Firstly let me say that Linux is a great concept, and when done well it’s borderline marvelous. If I was so inclined I’d be happy to join the millions of people happily pootling about on their PC’s, Macs and whatever installing the latest version of this, patching that, and tinkering with kernels like the best of them. Because you’ve all got root right?  

But guess what? I gave up may last Unix (SGI) root password in 2004 and now only have admin/root on a few work Macs and PC’s, and no Linux boxes. And there’s the problem.  Almost without exception our molecular modelling Linux boxes run Red Hat, because that’s what the software we need runs on (Sybyl, GOLD, etc.). Not Ubuntu or some other pretty home friendly distro. No, Redhat Enterprise it is (except CentOS for one cluster), and no, the Uni IT people will not give you root.

  • So you want to change printers? Enter root password. Oh I can’t do that. Lodge IT Helpdesk ticket. 
  • Update GL drivers? Enter root password. Oh I can’t do that. Lodge IT Helpdesk ticket. 
  • Server restart broke all disk shares. Need to remount.Enter root password. Oh I can’t do that. Lodge IT Helpdesk ticket. 
  • Standalone flexlm license manager died after power outage? Reboot the LM? Enter root password. Oh I can’t do that. Lodge IT Helpdesk ticket.  
  • On and on and bloody on it goes. I … hate … it.

People who think that deployment of Linux in a mixed platform environment will save them money because they don’t have to pay  a few $$$ in license fees to Microsoft are delusional at best and flat out lying to themselves and their users at worst. Prepare to employ at least twice as many Linux support staff than you would for an equivalent number of Mac’s and PC’s. Round here our Linux helpdesk tickets take miles more time to resolve than anything else. Not because our IT staff can’t do it, but the sheer compexity of the installed software and hardware combos (32 bit, 64 bit, GL) drives them to distraction and they just are too stretched to cope.

Yes the very things that give all you happy tinkerers hours of pleasure in chasing up solutions are costing us time and money at work. It’s too bloody hard.  And I’m fed up. I will not recommend another single Linux install in our group. Windows or Mac only. The Mac can do Sybyl, Openeyes (mostly), Xplor-NIH, VMD, CNS, O, Pymol, grep, awk, perl, whatever. And the PC for all it’s failings can do most of that and GOLD as well.

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About martin

almost on holidays
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