Let That Be a Lesson To You, Son: Never Upgrade

(Update: This piece originally ran on April Fools' day; although the content of the post is not an April Fools' joke, the retro styling definitely was. View a screenshot of how this post looked on April 1, 2008)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2008/03/let-that-be-a-lesson-to-you-son-never-upgrade.html

One of my favourite JWZ quotes is:

"I think I still enjoy writing software, usually. But what I end up spending almost all of my time doing is sysadmin crap. I hate it. I have always hated it. Always. If you made a Venn diagram, there would be two non-overlapping circles, one of which was labeled, “Times when I am truly happy” and the other of which was labeled, “Times when I am logged in as root, holding a cable, or have the case open.”

All distros are not equal.

I hate Red Hat too.

Try out Ubuntu.

Addendum. Linux has never been jwz’s “platform of choice”. This is a guy who was quoted at length in the Unix-Haters Handbook. That “Linux is only free if your time has no value” quote is actually HIS, in an essay he wrote ten years ago ranting about the OS:


Mmmmmm. Linux doesn’t suck. I haven’t actively used in in a few years, but when I did I used an older machine as a home server. file, email, etc. Thing never crashed and it ran on an old measly underpowered computer with a dribble of ram. Uptimes of over a year, and only then it’s because I moved. I can’t even remember the distro, maybe Red Hat.

I have a Mac, and OSX sucks. I have a PC and Windows sucks. Vista sucks. XP sucks. Win2000 sucked. All computers suck. The fact that XP eventually degrades itself and requires a reinstall really sucks.

I found that Linux worked better with slightly older, very common hardware (lets say 1 year). It makes sense since the nice people who fix the bugs and write drivers probably already fixed the bugs for the older hardware.

Jamie not fixing bugs doesn’t make him more or less of a developer. Just because I develop software doesn’t mean I have the arrogance to think I can sit down and track a bug in sound hardware drivers in a reasonable amount of time. I also have a life, and I’d rather relax with a brew. Apparently Jamie did what anyone else would do - look for a newer version.

Upgrades - any OS upgrade is a hassle. Any software component upgrade is a hassle. Any framework upgrade is a hassle.

If anything, Jamie just mirrors what most ‘software engineers’ are like when they get older … they don’t want to spend their time fiddling with stuff that should work. It’s why I haven’t played a PC game in years and don’t give a hoot what graphics card is in a machine. Consoles are inferior, but they’re commodities that work.

Still. I’d rather develop software than be a lawyer.

Seriously Jeff, your blog is going downhill. The ratio of original to quoted content keeps going down and down.

I say this because I am concerned. I enjoy this blog, and I’m beginning to lose interest.

April Fool color scheme? :slight_smile:

Linux distro is a matter of preference, but Fedora is highly experimental. That’s its design objective. You should use something more conservative. RedHat Enterprise and CentOS are in the same family, but without the experimental elements.

I don’t know about audio, but for my work (computational fluid dynamics), I rely on Linux heavily. It’s rock solid.

“Heh - it really is April 1. As if Windows geeks bash anyone with anywhere near the frequency as Mac or Linux geeks.”

Hehe, that might have something to do with the lack of “Windows geeks” - after all, who would be enthusiastic about using Windows?

Anywho, Jeff, it seems like you’re just writing this post as another attempt at Linux-bashing. I’m sure there are better things to blog about than your bias towards Windows, which everyone is already well aware of.

Being a world class software engineer does not make someone suddenly an expert at everything. jwz’s ability to deal with things better is demonstrated, but “linux” as it is bandied about these days is many things (kernel, gnu projects, distributions, …) and no one is ever going to be readily deft across the board.

Your (and Jamie’s) main point about the perils of upgrading is on the mark though. Needless to say this is certainly not an issue exclusive to open source. At least there is the option of diving in to fix problems in that case.

You’ve jumped the shark.

Articles that pose “topics of deep interest”, such as the purpose of middle mouse buttons. Numerous self-links, etc, which garner numerous mindless replies. Baffling, but so is the reality of why some people still cook with Crisco.

Today some garble about some guy, and a link to his “lounge” with a picture of one guy appearing to bugger another.

Real quality Jeff, I think you’ve prostituted yourself to page-rankings.


(Interesting new retro scheme)

I’ve tried Linux a few times over the years, but as I can always do what I need to do under Windows I’ve never been drawn in.

I did leave Linux on my Eee PC for a few months, but in the end I found it easier to install XP.

My brain is already overloaded trying to keep up to date with the latest Microsoft technologies, I can’t take in all the open source things too! Maybe that’s their plan :slight_smile:

As far as I recall, for personal use Jamie moved to OS X fairly early on.

He does seem to have a lot of trouble with Linux, but at the end of the day, it’s all anecdotal. Anyone can pull out horror setup stories, and it doesn’t say a lot except what Jamie did at the top of the post you linked: “Stupid computers”.

And is every site doing the horrible colour scheme for April’s fools? Yours isn’t so bad, but some of the others make me want to gouge my eyes out. Here in the future, April 1st was yesterday. Get with the times, sheesh.

As has been said, Linux is free if your time is worthless.

Almost nobody in the Western world shops at real-life bazaars either, because they are dodgy, unsafe, and unregulated. And in the Western world, we like things to be reliable, working, safe. So cathedral it is. Even our flea markets aren’t bazaars, really, they’re just knock-off cathedrals.

I will say though, Linux audio is horrible. And that’s coming from someone who uses it as his platform of choice. It does seem to be getting better.

After working with Windows professionally for over 10 years, I found Linux to be a lot easier to deal with, although certain areas are not as streamlined as Windows or Mac OS X.

The reasons have nothing to do with Linux itself. When you install a product in Windows, the manufacturer wrote the driver. When you install a product in Linux, somebody wrote the driver in their spare time, possibly by reverse engineering, and possibly by reading the spec provided by the manufacturer, which may or may not have been accurate. Then these drivers were picked up and maintained by Red Hat or the other linux distro companies.

The areas (like webcams and wireless) where Linux has difficulty have more to do with the inability or unwillingness of manufacturers to do the same for Linux that they do for Windows.

Granted, very few people are using Linux the way that Jaime is using it, so it’s certainly possible that even given manufacturer support, there would be difficulties doing what he wants to do. I myself would still prefer OS X or Windows for audio stuff (I’m a musician and I’ve done a fair bit of sound engineering), but Linux has been improving in that area, particularly.

Also, it’s not like that upgrade problem is limited to Linux–it’s a broad phenomenon that spans all areas of engineering, not just computers, even.


The real april fool’s day prank was starting the linux vs. windows flame war, of course. The new style is just a red herring.

Not all Linux distributions are the same. A distribution with a long release cycle is more adequate for situations that require stability over several years. All of that can’t be found with Fedora which is a playground for Redhat developers. IMHO it can’t be updated securely. I would have recommended a Debian maybe with a backport of the audio system.

Please fix the horrible color scheme in the pages, dark green on black is unreadable. Light green on black (as in old monitors) is fine, though.

Yes, I have used green on black monitors at 80’s and they are kind of vintage and cool but this website is now unusable for me and will stop reading it if this horrible usability issue is not fixed.

I think it is also somewhat disturbing that a software developer of Jamie’s caliber refuses to bust open the source code and at least take a look. Refusing to leverage one of the strongest points of OSS seems kinda…odd.

well, I’m not sure this post is an April’s fool product. It does seem like one, but putting it in context, I have though a number of times that some of these posts are paid by MS… well, it’s not so strange that I heard about this blog for the first time when listening to an interview to a MS executive.
Anyway, many of Jeff’s other writings are great, and that’s why I keep reading his posts.