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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

The Linux software ecosystem is boring and a little lame (a rant).

Quick, an­swer this:

What was the last time a ba­sic piece of the Lin­ux sys­tem was re­designed and re­placed by ev­ery­one?

And the new piece was not a drop-in re­place­ment or evo­lu­tion­ary de­vel­op­ment for the old garbage?

Please post the an­swers on com­ments, be­cause the best I can come up with is one of the fol­low­ing:

  • Post­­fix re­­plac­ing Send­­mail

  • Ev­ery­thing else re­­plac­ing Wu-ft­pd

  • GRUB re­­plac­ing LILO ? (not that GRUB is all that great, but at least you have a de­­cent chance of fix­ing it when it break­s)

  • OpenSSH re­­plac­ing tel­net and rlogin

There are still dis­tros ship­ping Wu-imap and its off­spring!

There are still dis­tros ship­ping the old sys­log!

Let's con­sid­er a ba­sic, tty Lin­ux first.

  1. GRUB (ok)

  2. Lin­ux ker­nel (ok I guess)

  3. An­­cient SysV init (un­­less you use par­­dus/­­gob­­o/­­some oth­­er rad­i­­cal dis­­tro)

  4. Ser­vices, which prob­a­bly in­­­clude

    1. Sys­log-NG (which is marginal­­­ly less bro­ken than old sys­log)

    2. Send­­­mail (even if on­­­ly for loop­back ad­­­dress­es, it's still lame)

    3. OpenSSH (ok, al­though I think the client sucks be­­­cause I can't fig­ure out how to store pass­­­words and pass­fras­es in KWal­let)

  5. A get­­ty

At least here there is not much room for in­no­va­tion be­cause we are try­ing to start some­thing that is a lot like a 30-year-old Unix box.

So, let's go server-ish. What would you nor­mal­ly use?

  • BIND

    An­­cient soft­­ware with a ter­ri­ble se­cu­ri­­ty his­­to­ry. Yes I know it's rewrit­ten late­­ly. They did that be­­fore, too, you know.

  • Apache

    For all the good things Apache has, it has some bad ones, too.

    • It's overkill for most server­s.

    • As the A in LAMP it has lead peo­­­ple to be­lieve PH­P4 is the right lan­guage to de­vel­op ap­­­pli­­­ca­­­tions in, and MySQL a good place to store their da­­­ta.

    • If it fails to do what you wan­t, you may get an er­ror. Or not.

    • The con­­­fig­u­ra­­­tion is in some sort of pseu­­­do-XML

    Let's get re­al. For most mod­­ern web apps what you want is a de­­cen­t, high per­­for­­mance WS­­GI thingie for python ap­p­s, and what­ev­er you use for Rail­s. Apache may or may not be that or have that in­­sid­e, but who needs the rest of it? What for? PHP pages? mod­­_perl web ap­p­s?

    No, re­al­­ly, I'm ask­ing a ques­­tion here. What pieces of Apache do you use nowa­­days?

  • Sam­­ba

    • It does what it does.

    • Noone else does it.

    • Er­­­go, it's the best at what it does.

    • That does­n't mean that los­ing its TDB ev­ery once in a while while do­ing a "R­PC vam­pire" is not an­noy­ing.

    But ac­­tu­al­­ly, I am pret­­ty hap­py about Sam­­ba. I mean, what's the al­ter­­na­­tive, here? NF­reak­ingS?

  • CUPS

    Ok, not too many new print servers out there, but hey, it's bet­ter than LPRng!

And if I had writ­ten this rant three years ago, I would have used the ex­act same ex­am­ples.

Where's the vi­brant new serv­er ap­p?

Who's go­ing to write a cool, per­form­ing, easy to con­fig­ure HTTP+WS­GI serv­er in D?

Who's go­ing to im­ple­ment a fast, se­cure, sim­ple, ze­ro­con­f-en­abled, file serv­ing dae­mon?

Who's go­ing to re­place BIND?

Who's go­ing to cre­ate a Lin­ux serv­er dis­tro with on­ly de­cent soft­ware in it?

Me? No way, I have di­a­pers to change. And there used to be smarter and more driv­en peo­ple around to do this stuff. Are they all chang­ing di­a­pers now?

Come on, stop re­hears­ing with your band that plays "met­al with me­dieval in­flu­ences"! Stop grow­ing your stamp col­lec­tion! Stop

Come on, it's on­ly go­ing to con­sume at most a year or two of your life. It's not go­ing to harm you more than a bud­ding al­co­holis­m, or a po­et­ry hob­by, or at­tend­ing fur­ry con­ven­tion­s, young man (or wom­an)!

You don't need to be all that knowl­edge­able (look at the BIND4 sources) or bril­liant, all you need is to be in­dus­tri­ous.

Grow a spine and get crank­ing! Show us old hacks what you've got!

Consultants / 2007-07-04 15:58:

Apache is configured with commented text files (see httpd.conf) not xml.

tomcat/jakarta will require xml for configuration, but java is a sluggish choice for servers.
For example ebay.com is (under)powered by java and sun.
Even for clients, we think java is too sluggish.

We like modperl and mason for dynamic content.
For example Amazon.com.

Roberto Alsina / 2007-07-04 16:04:

From httpd.conf:

SSLRandomSeed startup builtin
SSLRandomSeed connect builtin

Pseudo-XML. Not real XML, either.

Roberto Alsina / 2007-07-04 16:05:

Grrr. Here it is with [] instead of angle-brackets because Haloscan eats them:

[IfModule ssl_module]
SSLRandomSeed startup builtin
SSLRandomSeed connect builtin
[/IfModule]

Consultants / 2007-07-04 16:05:

Who's going to replace BIND?
D. J. Bernstein.

See http://cr.yp.to/djbdns.html

Consultants / 2007-07-04 16:16:

Who's going to create a Linux server distro with only decent software in it?
You are!

Really can't find what you want at distrowatch.com?
Roll your own.
For example morphix

Roberto Alsina / 2007-07-04 17:14:

DJB's software has huge license issues (I am a big fan, though).

As for rolling my own... I have tried once or twice. But now? Diapers it is :-)

I manage with CentOS and a bunch of RPMs I did.