I hate Linux.

There. I said it. Linux is rubbish; the emperor has no clothes.

Okay, it’s got some things going for it. As a server operating system, it’s very useful. It’s so much more secure than Windows that comparing the two is like comparing Fort Knox to a child’s piggy bank. For high-volume Internet server applications, it can’t be beat for the price.

But as a general desktop operating system? It’s bunk. Want to know why? Because there’s a dirty little secret about open source software…it’s made by amateurs!!!

And until those amateurs get their shit straight when it comes to installers, it will never beat Windows regardless of how many problems Windows has and how many security holes Windows suffers from.

So last night I tried installing Fedora Core 4 on one of Shelly’s computers. Fedora core 4 uses a graphical installer called anaconda, which is the worst pile of crap ever to disgrace a computr screen. Want to know why? It’s the user interface, stupid!

I’ve had problems with various Linux installers before–they’re all pretty and friendly and turnkey until the slightest unexpected thing happens, and then you find out that they’re poorly debugged and as fragile as a soap bubble, and when they crash, man, it ain’t pretty. See, writing installers isn’t all sexy and doesn’t give you street cred the way writing kernel software does, so nobody really wants to do it. It’s the castor oil of programming; people have this vaguue notion that installers are good, somehow, but nobody wants to get near them. And you get things like anaconda, which crash into exception traces and stack backtraces when they don’t like a particular brand of network card, or which don’t have even basic error checking and recovery.

Take the problems I had last night (please!). It took four tries to get the damn thing to install, even from media that had been verified and was known to be good.

The first problem was my fault, kinda. See, FC4 fits on four CDs. You run the installer, and when it’s done with a CD it pops out and asks for the next CD. You put the next CD in, click OK, and off it goes, and so on.

Well, when the installer asked for the third CD, I popped it in, and then (stupidly) clicked the OK button right away, before the CD finished spinnig up. Now, any other program I’ve ever used for any other operating system waits for the CD to finish spinning up, then does its thing. Not anaconda, oh my, no. Instead, if the operator foolishly hits the OK button before the CD finishes spinning up, he instantly gets an error message ‘The CD can not be read. Sorry, this error is fatal. Click here to reboot.” No “click here to try again”–no, that’d be too robust, and we don’t want Linux to be robust, do we?

The next three attempts to install met with similar fates. Even though I carefully waited until each CD finished spinning up before I hit OK, at three random times during the install, I got a message “A file could not be read or written. This may indicate a problem with the media, with the hard drive, or with your hardware. Sorry, this error is fatal. Click here to reboot.”

Yeah, it may indicate a problem with the media, or with the hard drive, or it may indicate that the goddamn installer is crap, with poor error checking and no error recovery.

Now, the Linux users of the world pride themselves on the overall robustness of their operating-system-cum-religion, yet write crap installers that fall down if the wind blows from the wrong direction.

I once had a problem with a Windows CD. The CD-ROM was defective from the factory; it had a scratch on it that caused some of the sectors to be unreadable. Want to know what happened when the installer hit that spot? Listen up, Linux boys, there’s a lesson in here for you. Ignore this lesson at your peril:

It displayed an error message saying “The CD could not be read. Click here to try again, or click here to cancel the install.”

“Click here to try again.” My goodness. What will those satanic Redmond monsters think of next? Retrying an operation that failed is just…it’s just…well, diabolical!

I finally got it to install, by holding my breath and making the proper incantations, but lordy, I have yet to be impressed.