Never Never Ever Trust Auto-Installers

I should’ve known better. Bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep.

This is from cfdisk of my AA1’s hard drive, measured in MB.

cfdisk-never-let-something-install-itself-again

I’d issued the free command while in middle of some work this afternoon to see how this poor thing was faring with KDE on top of it with myriad applications running and stopping and running again. I was a bit stunned to see the size of my swap — all unused, of course, since I have a GB of RAM — so I looked with other tools like fdisk -l and cfdisk to confirm it.

I was reluctant to turn the installer for PCLOS loose on my hard drive last night but went ahead anyway. Now I wish I hadn’t. I should’ve set up my own partitions and seen if it would set them up correctly.

I mentioned in my previous entry (and replied in comments to another) that I’m going to post reviews of other Linux distros. That’s based on my ancient ThinkPad, not the AA1. PCLOS wasn’t going to be among those. I wanted to look at things from a “light” distro perspective and compare them with respect to ease of installation and system management on lesser-able hardware.

Without giving too much away now, I think a lot of “easy” distros are way overrated. I’ll use this install of PCLOS as an example. Its first boot was rather slow. It was hard not to notice samba and cups and everything else starting even though I’d not even configured networking. I realize PCLOS doesn’t target older, slower hardware but it does make pretenses about ease of use. I don’t think ease of use boils down to starting nearly every possible daemon without good reason or the user’s approval.

And, giving a bit more away, the same goes for loading every damn module possible. PCLOS didn’t do that, but Xubuntu — one of the three in my forthcoming small distro shootout — did. While loading modules and starting processes means the user doesn’t have to, it does give him or her more work if performance is a bit sluggish and he or she is savvy enough to kill some bloat.

Undoing stuff is just as much work as getting it to run in the first place. Maybe more work.

I chose PCLOS because I’m at a point where I don’t have time to put together the “perfect system” myself — I let it install itself because I trusted it would be sensible in its settings. I wanted to do minimal tweaking and configuring, yet I find myself changing defaults like crazy to reduce the initial load and increase speed to get to a usable desktop. Here I am burning my candle at both ends with work and trying to fix some BS I shouldn’t have to mess around with. Hell, if I hadn’t wondered how much RAM I was blowing with KDE this afternoon I doubt I would’ve noticed how much swap this thing has set up until at least this weekend.

This is better than Windows? Please. I’ve spent very little time sorting through what works and not, and I’m just scratching the surface.

Maybe I wouldn’t be as disillusioned if I’d manually set things up — insofar as PCLOS’ installer allows. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a well-built distro. It uses a stable version of KDE instead of seeking to be on the bleeding edge. It’s not overloaded with tons of crappy software like other distros often throw together. It may not be perfect for every user, but what is?

I’m weighing other options very seriously right now. I’m regretting my rush to go ahead and install when I didn’t have time to set it up myself and better weigh my options.

Let me deal with one of the myths I’ve read about Linux on netbooks: battery life is about the same as for Windows if you run a similar kind of set up. That means you’re going to drain your battery pretty fast using wifi and other processes regardless of OS. Wasn’t that the whole point of netbooks? Hard to go mobile when the battery life is a couple hours. Prepare to always carry the cord whatever OS you prefer.

This will require a lot more work to get it on par with XP’s configuration. I’ll screw with it later and figure out what I’ll do with all that swap.

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