Dynebolic 2.5.2 Sucks!

Call me old school.

I’ve been a late adopter to things like kernel 2.6 and HAL because I hate the idea of automounting (and it seems like all 2.6-based distros set up automount). If I need to mount anything — a CD, DVD, some USB device, a floppy, ZIP disk, another partition, a network file share, ANYTHING — I want to do it myself, on my own terms. The funny thing about the whole issue is how so many anti-Windows zealots complain about Windows auto-starting CDs, and now they like the same feature in Linux. Hypocrites. Turn it off in Windows (I have), don’t do it in Linux.

I was cleaning up some space on a partition this evening when I saw a dynebolic ISO sitting in a directory with other distro ISOs. I never bothered burning it, but I know it has installation methods that don’t require burning at all. I chose one.

I set it on a partition that I formerly used as a /home for DSL frugal installs, then added an entry so I could boot it from GRUB. I rebooted, selected the new dyne entry, and sat back to watch it boot.

My first “WTF?!” came when I saw it mount /dev/hda1 and start fsck. Then /dev/hda2 and another WTF, and /dev/hda3 and WTF, and /dev/hda5 WTF, and so on. Each with a message about how many mounts since last check and each time running fsck. Something I didn’t want it to do, something I wouldn’t want it to do, and something it shouldn’t have done since not one of those partitions is tied in any way to the partition on which dyne was installed.

I was mad as hell. It is not a live-CD distro’s job to auto-mount every fucking partition on a hard drive, let alone override the user’s settings for fsck’ing things.

I was already opposed to dynebolic because it loads and runs as root. This is bad practice for many reasons. But add to that the undesired, unnecessary fsck’ing, and I am NOT a fan of dynebolic.

Why?

Too much stuff can go wrong. I quickly rebooted to get back to the distro on the partition from which I’d last run, and from which I “installed” (“nested” or whatever the hell the developer of dyne chooses to call it). Bingo, big fucking problem:
FAT bogus logical sector size 0
Kernel panic: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on …

One of the areas where some distros deviate between each other is in the manner in which they configure their filesystems with slight variations in default options. What is a “problem” for one distro isn’t necessarily one for another; but in “fixing” such things, they can break. And that’s what happened to me. THANK YOU, DYNEBOLIC, FOR FUCKING WITH MY SYSTEM.

Again, I don’t like auto-mount anything. This is why. One distro or live CD may not make the right distinctions and then the user has trouble. Manually mounting things as-needed doesn’t make things any less convenient than manually umounting the same devices when finished with them. It’s just as easy. And it doesn’t cause additional problems.

I didn’t bother seeing what dynebolic was all about because I was more concerned with making sure it didn’t fuck up anything else. That partition is now minus a directory called /dyne. And, after running a proper fsck on the partition that got kernel panics thanks to dyne’s fsck’ing, I have things back in order with it — now I have to check the rest of my partitions and see what else has to be fixed. I shouldn’t have had to go back and un-do the bad behavior someone set up as a default in his live CD!

I don’t recommend anyone use a distro that only has a root user — dynebolic is among those in this category (and Puppy Linux). I don’t recommend anyone use a distro that auto-fsck’s every damn partition without regard for if it’s actually part of that particular system — as dynebolic did the first time I ran it. Combining the two problems of running as root-only and mounting every single partition is extremely dangerous and makes each partition vulnerable. (Speaking of vulns, I also noticed that Samba, etc., also started without my blessing. Bad!)

I don’t recommend dynebolic at all. It sucks.

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2 Responses to “Dynebolic 2.5.2 Sucks!”

  1. jaromil Says:

    dyne:bolic liveCD does fsck of partitions mounted at boot as of standard LFS guidelines. however, it does so only when running from harddisk (dock) and not when booting as liveCD. if you would have booted from liveCD this wouldn’t have happened.

    to control this behaviour there is a configuration file as well kernel boot options (fsck=true or false)

    besides all that, consider d:b a tool for fast booting and have control of all the hardware, not for a stable “secure” (and limited) desktop system, it is a system that gives you access to the whole computer.

    there is an interesting explanation of this approach resumed here http://www.gabba.tv/files/602ce84c7da345fe607c9b402931bab1-74.html
    where they blogged some statements i’ve done in a presentation some time ago.

    at last, samba and rsync are started sharing read-only the dock system so that thin-clients can automatically use it on the LAN.

    besides this, i consider DSL a pretty interesting work, with many differences and things to learn from, i’d be delighted to hear your opinion on various choices that would make d:b better.

    ciao

  2. lucky Says:

    Thanks for your comments.

    Rather than waste a CD just to try it out, I chose to mount the ISO and copy the /dyne directory to a partition which had space for it. There was nothing in the “docking” or “nesting” literature I read that said anything of fsck’ing any *other* partitions. I cannot tell you how wrong I think it is to have that as a default setting rather than as a user option — please consider changing it so fsck=false by default and fsck’ing *every* partition, or any *other* than the one needed for dock and/or nest, is something the user must choose rather than making that decision for the user.

    Whether something is intended to run with “all control” over hardware or not, I also cannot stress enough that doing so as root-only is extremely unwise practice. As I wrote earlier, I knew I would be doing that with dynebolic. My presumption, though, is that I wouldn’t be doing that and risking every other partition — none of which was necessary for using dynebolic as /home or anything (other than swap) — in the name of convenience. It’s not convenient when I have to go through and re-fsck partitions just so I can mount them again. It also wouldn’t be very convenient if anything worse had happened.

    I think any time you have “optional” processes that they function similarly as I think fsck’ing should: at the user’s discretion and invocation rather than by default. If for no other reason, that reduces the initial load on system resources so users of older hardware — and I saw that you include them in your target audience — have room to “grow” rather than have to go through and turn off things so their computers can run efficiently. Accordingly, things like samba and ssh and cups and any http/ftp daemons should only start when the user wants. Not by booting into defaults.

    I understand and appreciate the desire to make things more convenient, especially since many users you may be targeting away from proprietary systems are used to having all of those things on their other systems (automounting and autoplay of everything, root access across the board, etc.). I think, though, some of those things have proven to be really bad ideas in other systems and Linux shouldn’t emulate them in any form. That really starts with running as root-only, but includes all the above wrt starting what could be superfluous daemons and processes.

    I know you probably think I was harsh on your distro and there may have been a FM for me to RT somewhere. I wouldn’t change my opinion about the defaults even if there were big red warning signs that all my partitions would be mounted and fsck’ed. I just would’ve deleted the ISO and never bothered to boot it from CD, from hard drive, from anything.

    FWIW, DSL, like Knoppix, has many daemons available on the live CD but those must be started either at boot via cheatcode or started once the CD has loaded. The same is true for mounting of devices, though I believe recent 2.6 versions of Knoppix will automount USB media, etc. Older ones may have but I don’t recall.

    Again, thanks for writing. Please let me know if you make changes with respect to default behaviors and/or boot into a non-root account. I would love to try it again, but not if it means having to disable a bunch of things (no matter how I intend to try it). :-)

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