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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!

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