There used to be a time when Linux was a joy to use. Now, its a head-ache inducing slog through the bowels of the operating system. You have to be a brain surgeon and a rocket scientist. You have to work over-time. You have to have the patience of a saint and the persevernce of a boxer. I am so tired of this. I'm exhausted.
Update: 4 February 2017 - Systemd fucking rulez
cgroups/cgfs.c:lxc_cgroupfs_create:901 - Could not find writable mount point for cgroup hierarchy 12 while trying to create cgroup.
So, after an apt-get update; apt-get upgrade on Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty, my LXC containers stopped booting, with the above error message. It took me maybe 6 hours, with a dinner break, to find and fix the issue. The solution was simple, it turned out -- cgroups were not being mounted and my hacky solution was to copy /usr/bin/cgroupfs-mount from another system and run it by hand. Bingo, LXC containers work again.
What happened? Well, the interwebs claim that .. who knows. Its got something to do with systemd. The Ubuntu LTS maintainers apparently don't bother testing thier code before pushing it any more ... and they broke LXC. WTF. OK, yes, Ubuntu jumped the shark many years ago; but the new hero, the savior and solution to all our problems has not yet appeared.
Seriously: operating systems for servers are supposed to be stable. The apt-get update; apt-get upgrade is not supposed to break working systems. WTF.
Update: 24 January 2017 - FUCK YOU SYSTEMD
systemd-udevd: renamed network interface eth0 to p1p1
Why can't systemd just boot my machine without fucking with the network interaces!? Why is networking so goddamned difficult with systemd? Why can't it just get out of the way and let the networking subsystem do its thing? I just want to boot my machine, I don't want to search on-line help to figure out why my system doesn't boot anymore because systemd renamed eth0 to p1p1 and then causes `ifup eth0` to fail. Its just frickin the integrated ethernet port on the motherrboard! Quit trying to fuck with it! FUCK YOU SYSTEMD!
And now back to the original 25 May 2015 rant.
I have 5 linux boxes I regularly maintain; two are webservers. You're looking at one now. The Linux kernel has a fantastic uptime -- a year, two years without reboots. But then there is the inevitable power outage during a thunderstorm. And then, at least one or two of my machines won't boot afterwards. Its been like this for 5 or 6 or 7 years now, and frankly I'm beyond getting tired of it. I'm beyond having enough. What are the Kubler-Ross stages of grief? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance? I used to want to punch, well, I don't know who, maybe Kay Sievers, maybe Lennart Poettering, or someone, anyone, in the face, for all my trouble and my pain. The pain is still there. I think this open letter is a manifestation of the "bargaining" stage. What do I have to do, what price can I pay, to have a system that boots?
Its never the same thing twice in a row. Many years ago, it was udev and dbus. You had to do rocket surgery to get udev-based systems to boot. That eventually sorted itself out, but for a while, I lost back-to-back 12 hour days fighting udev. Then it was plymouth. Or it was upstart. Why were such utterly broken and buggy systems like plymouth and and upstart foisted on the world? Things with names like libdevmapper should not crash. And then there is systemd, which, as far as I can tell, is a brick shithouse where the laws of gravity don't hold. I understand the natural urge to design something newer than sysvinit, but how about testing it a bit more? I have 5 different computers, and on any given random reboot, 1 out of 5 of these won't boot. That's a 20% failure rate. Its been a 20% failure rate for over 6 years now.
Exactly how much system testing is needed to push the failure rate to less than 1-out-of-5? Is it really that hard to test software before you ship it? Especially system software related to booting!? If systemd plans to take over the world, it should at least work, instead of failing. Stop killing init. Stop failing to find the root file system. Stop running fsck on file systems that are already mounted r/w. Do you have any idea how hard it is to try to edit plymouth or upstart files from busy-box, hoping that maybe this time, all will be OK? To boot rescue images over and over and over and over, tracing a problem through a maze of subsystems, following clues, only to find, two days later, that it was Colnel Mustard, err, systemd that did it in the kitchen, with a candlestick? I mean, I have a really rather high IQ (just look at the web page below), and I have patience that is perhaps unmatched. And I find this stuff challenging. Lets get real: sysvinit was simple and easy-to-use by comparison, and it worked flawlessly. Between 1995 and 2009, I never once had a boot problem. Sure, there were times when I could not watch youtube videos ... but then Ubuntu came along and solved even that problem. For a while, it was Heaven on Earth.
Do you have any idea how shameful it is to tell your various bosses how great Linux is, and then have to dissemble and obfuscate, because you can't bear to tell them the reason you did no work for the last 10 days was because your Linux box didn't boot? To say "no thanks" when your boss offers to buy you a new laptop?
And its not just the low-level stuff, either. There's also the nuttiness known as gnome-shell and unity. Which crash or hang or draw garbage on your screen. And when they do work, they're unusable, from the day-to-day usability perspective. This wasn't a problem with gnome2. Gnome2 rocked. It was excellent. Why did you take something that worked really really well, and replace it with a borken, unusable mess? What happened, Gnome and UI developers? What were you thinking? In the grips of what madness? In what design universe is it OK to list 100 apps, whose names I don't recognize, in alphabetical order? Whoever your design and usability hero is, I am pretty sure they would not approve of this.
Its spreading, too. Like cancer. Before 2013, web browswers worked flawlessly. Now, both mozilla firefox and google chrome are almost unusable. Why, oh why, can't I watch youtube videos on firefox? Why does Chrome have to crash whenever I visit adware-infested websites? What's wrong with the concept of a web browser that doesn't crash? Why does googling my error messages bring up web forums with six thousand posts of people saying "me too, I have this same problem?" When you have umpteen tens of thousands of users with the exact same symptoms, why do you continue to blame the user?
I can understand temporary insanity and mass hysteria. It usually passes. I can wait a year or two or three. Or maybe four. Or more. But a trifecta of the Linux boot, the Linux dekstop, and the Linux web-browser? What software crisis do we live in, that so many things can be going so badly, so consistently, for so long? Its one thing to blame Lennart Poettering for creating buggy, mal-designed, untested software. But why are the Gnome developers creating unusable user interfaces at the same time? And what does any of this have to do with the web browser?
I'm not sure its limited to Linux, either. Read the trade press, everyone belly-aches about the incompatible, fragmented Android universe. And, well, obvioulsy, Microsoft Windows has been a cesspool for decades; it was the #1 reason why I switched to Linux in the first place. Duhh. But why has Linux morphed into all of the worst parts of Microsoft Windows, and none of the best parts? We are all Microsoft Windows, now.
What's at the root cause of this? Sure, its some combination of programmer hubris, lack of system test, inexperienced and callous coders. Overwhelmed coders with a 10 year-long backlog of reported, unfixed bugs. Perhaps some fatigue and depression in the ranks of Debian and Ubunutu package maintainer community. Perhaps it is a political problem: the older, more experienced developers have failed to teach, to guide the younger developers. Perhaps we've hit a fundamental complexity limit: there are too many possible combinations of hardware and software. I fear we have hit a wall in the ability to communally develop software; the community is not working. All bugs are no longer shallow. Or maybe it has something to do with capitalism and corporate profitability. Some malaise presaging the singularity. I don't know. What's the root cause of this train wreck?
We need to figure out what is going wrong, not just at the technical level, but at the social and political level, that is allowing major distros to ship buggy and incomplete and broken software, oblivious to the terrible condition it is in, uncaring and dis-interested in fixing it, or perhaps unable to fix it, and unable to see a way forward. But we have to move forward. We need to find a way out of this mess. It cannot continue like this.
Yesterday, there was another thunderstorm, another power outage. Today, I spent the last 11 hours trying to make my other webserver, https://gnucash.org boot. No matter how I twist and turn, I get a "can't mount root filesystem" or "killing init". Its supposed to be a holdiay weekend. I'm not being paid to run these servers. Why can't I just have a system that boots?
-- Linas Vepstas 25 May 2015 Austin TX
I can be hard to reach. If you need to reach me, leave a note for me at google+
My current technical interests focus on natural language processing and artificial general intelligence. I've held jobs working in the above areas; unfortunately, I now pursue these only as a hobby. The NLP directory has pre/re-prints of some of the academic publications that have come out of this work. My primary research platform is the open-source OpenCog project. For me, OpenCog provides a general technical setting where I can experiment with different machine learning theories and algorithms, with both connectionist and symbolic processing flavors. I've compiled a messy list of related open-source AGI projects here.
I've spent many years at IBM; most recently working on the Linux kernel for Power architecture-based mainframes. The Linux on the PowerPC wiki is a good place to find out more about IBM Linux mainframes and systems. I've been active in the Linux community; I was a founder of the Gnome Foundation; and was the lead developer for GnuCash for over 7 years. I've founded three dot-com startups, all of which failed to enrich me financially. I was a founding member of the OpenGL Architecture Review Board; and spent 8 years learning about and designing 3D graphics hardware and software. I have a PhD in theoretical physics from SUNY at Stony Brook. Currently, I am utterly infatuated with mathematics, and have made large contributions to over 400 math articles in Wikipedia. BTW, y'all, global warming is for real. Do something about it.
The Art Gallery has been running for fifteen or twenty years while being silent about the underlying math. I suppose its high time to make amends. The core idea of the dissertation is that the shapes of fractals are describable through Farey Fractions, which appear naturally through continued fractions, which have the symmetry of the Modular Group SL(2,Z), which is inter-twined with the Riemann Zeta and the structure of the set of rational numbers. Besides the four basic operations on the real numbers (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), there is a fifth basic operation which is rarely taught in primary school and under-appreciated at higher levels, namely, "Farey Addition" or, expressed correctly, group multiplication in SL(2,Z). The modular group doesn't just lead to Pellian equations and algebraic numbers, it in fact intertwines all rational numbers (and their extensions to reals and p-adics) in crazy, fractal ways. This is why, for example, one sees Farey Fractions in the Mandelbrot Set. In number theory, the structure of the Modular Group provides a unifying theme for understanding the nature of factorization and primality. This is why, for example, power series and Dirichlet series (such as the Riemann Zeta) exhibit such crazy fractal Cantor-Set type patterns. Despite this connection being seen by Weierstrass as early as 1872, its more-or-less entirely ignored in standard textbooks on Analysis and Number Theory. A series of articles tries to provide some of the underpinnings for the above breathless assertions. Some highlights include:
American Political Unreality, 2008. Yes, politicians are from outer space, and they arrived in a flying saucer called "journalism". How can you tell? They focus on everything except what is actually important.
Why did Bush promote warrant-less wiretapping? Why is Obama continuing these Bush policies? I can guess why, and I really don't like it. Stop Illegal Spying!.
Wikipedia needs new leadership! I used to have various essays about the structural and cultural problems in Wikipedia, and the things that could be done to solve them. These were posted on my WP user page. Unfortunately, the malicious and stupid leadership there found these so offensive that they deleted the essays. Boo-yah! So now my profile is just soo very squeky-clean and totally inoffensive. To anyone, that is, except me. You might never guess that I'd been raped by the admins there. Woo hoo! Go Wikipedia!
This is Your Brain on Drugs explores drug use in America today, and the political forces wrestling with this social problem.
Labour of Love - The Volunteer Economy Free-market economists, thinkers and pundits (correctly) champion the power of free markets to create a better world. Yet if one opens a history book, it is hard to find a historical figure that was motivated by greed. Both prominent and emerging social and economic institutions are marked by excellence due volunteer, freely donated efforts, rather than wealth accumulation. When will we recognize the economic benefits of channelling this powerful force with social, political and governmental norms?
Free Software ~ Free Trade? An examination of the powerful economic forces driving the acceptance of Free Software/Open Source in corporations and businesses. When we realize that Free Software is not just a (political) philosophy, or a social or anthropological movement, but an economic force akin to the removal of trade barriers, we can finally understand why its adoption by corporations promises to be a sea-change in the way that software is used. Reviews a business case study of a very large, failed technology project. If you thought the Internet was big ... this is bigger.
DeCSS: Consumer Politics in the 21st Century A moral/sociological/legal diatribe about the immorality and evil ethics of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the corporations that wish to squish human endeavor in the name of the protection of intellectual property.
Open Source and Code Quality The relationship between the software worker and the software means of production leads to fundamentally new economic forces that will change the very nature of the software industry.
Banned! A collection of outlaw computer technology, harvested from the net. Why would I mirror such dangerous and subversive material? In order to protect my personal freedoms -- and yours. Seems that greed and lust for power -- happily wrapped in the flags of "free enterprise" and "democracy", continue to lie at the root of many political and social evils and ills.
linkparser> Atvažiavom į sodžių. Found 1 linkage (1 had no P.P. violations) Unique linkage, cost vector = (UNUSED=0 DIS=0 AND=0 LEN=1) +----LI----+ | +-DG-+-Xp-+ | | | | atvažiavom į sodžių .
A Better Way to do SETI makes the argument that if extra-terrestrials are trying to send us a radio message, then they will be using broadband spread-spectrum (pseudo-random noise) modulation techniques. Finding such a signal is much, much harder, but when found, it provides a much, much clearer communications channel than any other modulation technique. The ET's know this, and they know that we know this, and will thus use this technique preferentially. Essentially all of the current SETI searches, while being important so as to rule out other methods, are all really looking for the wrong thing.
Eternity Service is a commentary on the basic ideas behind Napster as viewed through the eyes of David Gelertner. David chooses not to dirty his prognostications with the names of present-day technologies. I do. They are E-Rights, distributed.net, and Eternity Service, all mashed into one.
A Digression on Artificial Life and Cellular Automata This web page is a very long diary of a set of experiments that were run in the early 90's with a collection of cellular automata. The automata were designed to have a 'genetic code' that was shared between cooperating individuals. By cooperating (or not) individual cells could (and did) self-organize into 'symbiotic' plant-like structures. Lots of interesting stuff was seen. Never attempted to write this up for publication; I should have. Nuts.
The good stuff is in the form of letters:
An Airline Flight Reservation System I founded Teleport Travel, and was bought out by Intransco, where I served as Chief Technology Officer. More work, for less money, at an Internet startup. Developed the prototype entirely by myself. Teleport Travel was the very first on the 'net (Spring/Summer 1995) with an actual functioning airline reservation system, never mind that it worked better, and had a nicer user interface than many/most travel res systems today. An unhappy experience in the end, as this was a dot-com that dot-bombed. I shoulda been a billionaire by now, but it turns out (duhh) that superior technology has no correlation to success. Its all about the management, the CEO, the board of directors. I was unable to control the company, and was bitter about it for a long time -- my baby was taken away from me. Anyway, the actual technology does live on at TravelStoreMaker.com, and some good friends still work there.
Pioneer 10/11 Silver Anniversary Commemorative Site Dr. John Simpson hired me to work on Pioneer 10/11 Charged Particle Instrument data analysis programs for my first paying computer programming job, twenty years ago. These are now the farthest spacecraft from our solar system. Goodbye Pioneer 10/11!
Morgan Park Academy Class of `76.
Training video, with coach's chase-boat in pursuit.
Finlandijoi randama pavarde 'Vepsalainen'. Dagiau apie Veps.
SANLight status reports - Novamente status reports - Hanson Robotics Docker containers - Language learning databases