Last night I got around to getting my venerable G4 desktop up to some semblance of modern-ness (modernity? modernality?). Took a couple hours but it all went smoothly until I upgraded to the latest version of QuickTime and now no video plays back at all (PPC + 10.3.9 + QT 7.1.5 = bad). No worries, I've got nothing better to do tonight than muck about with that.
As a command-line text editor I happen to like nano. Actually that's not quite true. I just dislike nano less than I dislike all the others (and if you're the sort who just started spitting at your monitor over how much vi/vim/emacs/pico are better and I'm a luser schmuck for not using [your editor of choice here] take your finger and jab it in your eye firmly and you'll have a decent approximation of my position on that issue). And I like editing text files as much as the next guy so I figured I'd just whip nano onto the G4 too. How hard can it be? It's only 117 k in size.
1. Install DarwinPorts
2. DarwinPorts won't work without the Apple Developer Tools
3. Download 600 megs of Apple developer tools
4. Install the developer tools (with ten minutes of system optimization)
5. DarwinPorts won't work without X11
6. Download 50 megs of X11 (with ten minutes of system optimization)
7. DarwinPorts won't work without X11 headers
8. X11 headers are part of the developer tools, but not part of the default install (duh)
9. Re-download 600 megs of Apple Developer Tools (mea culpa, I figured after it was done installing I was done with it and trashed the installer)
10. Re-install the developer tools, this time with X11 headers (with ten minutes of system optimization)
11. Update DarwinPorts
12. Install nano
13. There is no step 13
Piece o' cake. 1.1 Gigs and 2.5 hours to install a 117 k of text editor. For my next trick I'll install GIMP by next Sunday.
Anyhow, enough of that. That's just the long of way of getting to... .
Having to use all three major operating systems daily I've finally come to believe deeply and resolutely what I think I've known for years about the Operating System wars we all engage so heartily and smuggly in:
All operating systems suck. Yours does, mine does. In fact all of mine do. The one used by the smartest person I know does, as does the one used by the stupidest person. All our operating systems suck.
We're like cavemen who've recently just invented the wheel: all our wheels are still hand-carved by bashing rocks together and we're arguing about who carved the wheel the smoothest and which type of rock is best for wheel-making when in fact what we really need is 4-ply all-season radial run-flat tires attached to some decent shock absorbers.
The OS wars are not about who's OS is best, they're about who's OS sucks the least. All we're all doing is trying to find the one that sucks the least for us, as individuals. And an argument at that level is not an argument worth having.
So I hereby apologize to everyone whom I've ever implicitly or explicitly offended by deriding your OS choice. I was wrong and mine is no better, it just happens to suck less for me. But it still sucks.
And if anyone ever implies you're somehow defective for not being able to use a modern computer, poke them in the eye really hard. They deserve it. The software is defective, you are not.
When it comes to modern computing, I think Han Solo sums it up the best: "Good luck, [we're] gonna need it."
Evidently I need to clarify some points above since some people seem to think I'm attacking the developers of our modern operating systems for software-related issues or bugs. I'm not. That misses the point entirely. Those developers are in the same boat we all are: their tools are also just as bad as ours and their OS is just as bad as ours. It isn't about the specific software per se.
If the caveman analogy didn't make the point clear enough perhaps this one will. The Wright brothers invented the airplane (our computers today are their airplane). But undoubtedly they had some issues with flying long distances in the fog, at night. That's us, trying to create stable, easy, unobtrusive consumer computers and operating systems.
it's perfectly reasonable for the Wright brothers to put a light on their plane, and then a brighter light, and then a whole bunch of lights to help them fly through the fog. That's us, improving languages, creating better compilers, doing more usability testing for the users.
But in hindsight the best way to fly through fog so far is by using radar, GPS and aircraft auto-pilot systems that can land a plane even if the pilot can't see the ground. That's... exactly where we aren't in computing and, and this is important, it's no one's fault.
No, I don't have a solution. That'd be like expecting the town doctor to tell Orville he just needs to pop up a few geo-stationary satellites and he'll be hunky dorky. Things just don't work that way and my whole point here isn't to lay blame but in fact to point out the very futility of doing so.
That's why the OS wars are so pointless. We're not at a point where being militant is useful since we're all suffering, perhaps in different ways and with different degrees of technical savviness.
So when I say the modern OS sucks, it's not an attack on the makers, or the users, or to imply I somehow magically know how to fix it all. Statements like that are useless, just errant bitching. Rather it's a statement of perspective on the state of our infantile knowledge about computing in general compared to where we might hopefully end up one day, far far away.
I am, in fact, celebrating that our operating systems, our software, sucks. Try it, say it, dump the emotional personal investment you've made in your operating system as a reflection of your personality and world-view, take a step back and laugh at what we've created.
And then marvel at how incredibly far we've come in the last fifteen years. It's a good time for suckage.