merde, merde, MERDE!
nothing makes me more cursing than configuring computers. maybe i just should not do it anymore...
in the last days i tried to succeed with two tasks: 1. securing the imap and pop server using openssl; 2. installing tomcat (and then running helma under it).
yet, i failed. and i am close to giving up.
because my doubts are growing that anyone can do this the easy way or even explain it in a way it can be understood and generally working. it's like an equation with too many variables, a problem consisting of interfering hardware, platform, operating system, compilation, distribution, installed and to-be-installed software issues.
however, distributions are an essential nuisance. i only can talk about suse at this point and i am almost sorry to say that they suck big time. it's crap and nobody should use it until it has matured. let me tell you why giving a few examples collected during my own odyssee.
suse 7.2 comes along with bugs in the user interface almost everywhere, be it setup (including yast1) or kde.
i was able to press a back button when no previous screen was available. the result: the dialog was closed unexpectedly and any data i already entered was lost. i added users in different interfaces (yast1, yast2, kde) and sometimes the one interface did not know about users added in another. in kde i was not able to copy and paste (i heard newer kde versions have this fixed).
basic installations, untouched and pristine, do not work (especially apache). i manually had to remove a module from httpd.conf, otherwise apache would not start.
moreover, they often don't make sense. in 7.3, apache is configured with the most unessential and probably unknown modules so far.
here's what is displayed when apache is starting up at boot time: LDAP auth_cookie auth_cookie_file auth_external auth_inst auth_mysql auth_nds auth_radius auth_system bandwidth cache cgisock cvs disallow_id dtcl eaccess fastcgi gzip ip_forwarding layout lock macro peephole PERL PHP4 put qs2ssi random relocate roaming session throttle ticket urlcount susehelp. does anyone know all of these modules?
suse utilities corrupt configuration files. if you successfully configured httpd.conf i recommend to never use any suse tools (aka yastards) ever again.
although i expected it to be installed already (initially, i selected it from the list of programs to be installed) i had to install php myself after i managed to fix httpd.conf. unfortunately i was using yast for this, so instead of the appropriate php modules suse added some modules for ssl support (which certainly were missing) which prevented apache from starting up, again. lucky me, i was able to fix this manually, too.
official updates may stop a well-doing system from functioning. well, that's probably no news, sure do i know the motto "never change a running system". however, who really would imagine an official kernel update could disable pci detection from your machine? well, it did at least on my computer and i even found out the reason. so why couldn't those suse guys (i mean, it was posted by the master himself)?
another problem here is that suse's gui illusions makes one believe any update is improving the system. not to mention that updates are essential concerning patching new security holes.
using rpm is no real solution, either. most of the time there is at least one library missing for the rpm package you currently want to install. certainly, it's the same with the package that would provide this library. on the other hand, a successful rpm install often results in an error message (like "xyz is using that plain api you are not using. it will crash with this special api that is not installed. please recompile xyz with this very special option") when the newly installed program is invoked.
sure, compiling can be a solution, but the same troubles will occur (files are missing or not of the right type). just the error message won't be that clear, anymore. not to mention instructions (if there are any).
sigh, this is really sickening. i only can hope other distributions are much better. or linux will never be a reasonable alternative to commercial operating systems (well, why should it? it does not have to be, anyway. maybe the evangelists just should stop pretending it is).
compared to my first steps in unix land, the installation of netbsd on a 68k mac, suse linux is a real nightmare and i definitely cannot recommend it to anyone fancying a transition.