now: everybody who wants to tell me that Linux is mature enough for the average user is happily invited to eat my underwear. The last 24 hours have been extremely frustrating, for numerous reasons:
Last night I was quite happy seeing my new machine compiling first and second stage of Gentoo. At 02:30 it finally finished compiling, and I was finally allowed to reboot the machine, just to find out that there was a problem with the partitioning of the HD. With other words, 18 hours of compiling were all done for zilch.
That's it, I thought, and got out Suse 8.2, an OS I had successfully installed on one of my machines in Germany (quite easily, actually). So out came the CD's and hey presto, Suse installed quite beautifully, with a nice graphic user interface during installation. Fine, I thought, this seems to work!
After 15 minutes of straightforward installing the machine rebooted, and: nil!
Suse's installer, Yast2, seemed to have a problem with either my monitor or my (pretty old) graphic card. Ok, I admit, a PCI Trident TGUI 9680 chipset from 1994 is not the most common of cards, but Xfree has had a driver for it for years, and my monitor (a similarly ancient TVM AS4D) worked until days ago in my office.
So I tried to change the boot parameters of Suse, but to no avail: none of modifications seemed to work. Ok, I thought, let's try to configure XFree by hand (I always managed this on OpenBSD, so hey, why not on Suse), only to find out that Suse doesn't have a Xfree installation client. They have their own thing called sax2, but that insists on starting within an X-Window, so even on the lowest, most harmless specs the bloody thing didn't work.
Funnily enough, Knoppix 3.3 never has one problem with either Monitor or Graphic Card, so obviously Karl Knopper's hardware probing must be much better than Suse's.
So now I'm back with OpenBSD: I know that XF86config works with my hardware and it's much safer anyway. It's also less bloated: the amount of packages that Suse installs on your desktop is mindblowing. Even though OpenBSD's installation procedure is a bit tricky, at least the result is always reliable. And that from someone who doesn't know his Grep from his Grok.
I am normally a happy Mac user, so this has taken me to new abysses of hardware/software recognition.
Linux on the desktop?
It's a loooong way away (if you have unusual hardware).