Friday, September 14, 2012

Linux / Unix / Nvidia Update 9/13/2012

I am going to briefly digress from the topics of metaphor in space opera, and national security policy, to discuss the critical and related topic of which OS, specifically which Linux, to run.

The occasion comes about because we are going through a season where various collaborators (occasional collaborators, usually) are choosing their OS and seem blissfully unaware of the implications of their choice.   I believe that the choice of an OS is similar to choosing to use the Dark Side of the Force, forever is your destiny affected.

Or said another way, a moment of pleasure, a lifetime of regret.

But the answer to the question of which OS is a moving target because we live in a fast-paced world and also because the Linux community is working very, very hard to destroy any chance it has to become mainstream by splintering into as many small factions as they can as often as they can.

The Lisp community also splintered but were in general quite smart and had interesting reasons to splinter, even if in the long run it was very counterproductive.  But the Linux people aren't that smart, they just splinter because they are immature and can not compromise.

But I am holding back my real feelings, you may wish to read between the lines to see what it is I really think here.

Anyway, this is a brief update on Centos/Redhat, Ubuntu and FREEBSD (the descendent of the original Berkeley Software Distribution to which we are all beholden) and also a discussion of support for graphics hardware for Linux because there is so much misinformation out there.

Centos/Redhat is the professional version of Linux, as far as I can tell.  The people who are using Linux on their thousands of Apache servers, for example, seem to be using Centos / Redhat.   Centos is Redhat, but recompiled, and without formal support.  It is literally Redhat and those who need support (large corporations usually) buy directly from Redhat.  For the rest of us, Centos is free to download.   There is now a version 5.8 which I plan to upgrade to, and a version 6.3 that has many features I do not need, especially involving managing virtualization.

Centos should be your default Linux OS for professional work, unless you are bleeding edge, in which case you may prefer their developmental version, Fedora.

Ubuntu used to be the best choice for a primarily desktop user who needed an OS for their laptop, or for an office worker.  The latest version of Ubuntu however has moved to their own incompatible window system, and clearly indicates to me that they are out of their minds.  I wish all you Ubuntu users the best of luck.

For fun, and because I had never tried, I downloaded and installed FREEBSD on a system here.  It installed flawlessly.  And to my surprise, when I logged in, it had a classic beautiful Unix login shell.  No damn window system for these guys, they are manly men.   I love this, its so pure and unspoiled.  I would look seriously at FREEBSD if I were in a position to to change OS's and wanted a serious Unix as a base.

I want to publically thank NVIDIA for doing such a spectacularly good job of supporting Linux. ATI/AMD's support of Linux has always been minimal, and NVIDIA has always done a very serious and professional job of supporting Linux for all their many hardware products.  The confusion comes from people who have never seriously tried to do graphics with Linux, I suspect, because if they did they would quickly discover, as I have, that there is only one mainstream graphics vendor who seriously supports Linux.

Remember, whatever choice you make here will determine dozens if not hundreds of other choices you make in the future.   Changing OS's is very difficult, upgrading to a new release is very annoying.   Adding a new OS to a mix in a working studio always adds complication.  Choose wisely, as your destiny will be affected.

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