I don't hate Microsoft - I just love freedom. Microsoft hates freedom. So we're enemies.

Why Would You Want To Do That?

Date/Time Permalink: 11/06/10 01:33:15 pm
Category: Humor

Let me explain the concept of geek rage to you.

The title of this post is the #1 question that sets my teeth on edge. That's from people. From a computer, the question that drives my fists through the screen is "Are you sure?" and its variants. Variants include "Ubuntu will shut down in 60 seconds." No, I clicked the button NOW so shut-down time is NOW. But from a human, "Why would you want to do that?" is really the question you should not ask me should you ever find yourself engaging me while I happen to be brandishing a weapon with the safety off, because I'm likely to just react on pure reflex without even knowing what I'm doing.

Like, for example, when I upgraded Ubuntu to Karmic Koala (or was it Kangaroo?), it suddenly removed Dillo. It removed Xscreensaver too, because fark you, but I could get Xscreensaver back after I upgraded. Why did it do this? I don't even know, but I know the reason will turn out to be stupid.

Everybody's reasons but mine are stupid. But I never question other people's reasons. Other people always question mine.

I go to install Dillo, and whoops, it's not in the package search. Period, no Dillo, no explanation, just fark you. I search for "ubuntu dillo" and sure enough pull up multiple explanations. this one says it's because of license issues and this one says it was because of stalled development, and so on.

A question I was aaaaaaalways asked back when I ran Slackware was "What's your problem with package managers?" Even good, smart people like Caitlyn Martin ask this. The tone of voice is always like that of a Dickens street urchin asking Scrooge why he doesn't like Christmas. Well, this is the problem with package managers. Using a package manager forces you to rely on other people to make your decisions for you. I don't like that. Not because I'm an anal-retentive control freak, but because other people can't possibly guess my motives and get it right all the time. There's a reason why the waiter in the restaurant asks you what he'll be serving you.

Now, I would hop on IRC, Ubuntuforums, Reddit, Launchpad, and so on and start shaking it out of people what the hell's going on with Dillo, but I know from experience that help is only for other people. Whenever I have a question, suddenly the whole wide world is one big bunch of Gumbys.

GUMBYS: "Why would you want to run an old, outdated, feature-poor piece of crap like Dillo?"

You just said it yourself - feature-poor! There are times when I try to load a web page in Firefox, and something in the Javascript, CSS, Flash, or something else makes it hang indefinitely. For instance, Slashdot in the past couple of months has just started doing that. I don't know what's going on. You'd think Slashdot, for the love of Cthulhu, would make sure it loads efficiently on every set-up, including Morse code over shortwave radio, but there you go. If it loads for you, fine, I'm crazy and making it up. Bye bye. Anyway, on Firefox on my Ubuntu when a site like Slash hangs and I just want to find out what the hell the story is, I load up Dillo and read it from there. The page loads instantly on there, so it's something in the Javascript or CSS or somedamnedthing, probably the ad server. I don't know and I don't care. So, to answer, "Because it's fast and doesn't load a bunch of crap I don't need for those edge cases."

Now can I have my Dillo?

GUMBYS: "Why don't you use Lynx?"

Ah, good one! I do use Lynx sometimes, too, but it's too feature-poor. It doesn't display images. And navigating in it, especially to fill in forms, is a pain. Basically I use Lynx either for scripting or for the rare time when I'm in a mood to non-interactively read gobs and gobs of text on some site like TVTropes or Textfiles.

Now can I have my Dillo?

GUMBYS: "Well then why don't you turn off Flash, CSS, and Javascript in Firefox and go to that one site?"

Jesus, because in Firefox I have to mouse over to menu, page style, no style, and then edit, preferences, content, disable Javascript, and then tools, addons, NoFlash and then hit F5 to reload the page and then, when I'm done reading this paragraph of text on Slashdot that turns out not to have supported its headline ("Flaming Death of Entire World Imminent!")(the actual reading took 1.25 seconds), since by default I have all those features turned on, then I have to go back through all those steps and turn everything back goddamn ON again. If I have Dillo, I have keyboard shortcuts setup when I can go Alt-F2, F8, type the URL (or paste it with Ctrl-V), read, Ctrl-W to close it, Alt-F1 back to my main browser. Trust my word for it, it's faster.

Now can I have my Dillo?

GUMBYS: "Well, you have Firefox, Konqueror, Seamonkey, and Lynx installed. How many web browsers do you need?"

Millions and millions and millions.

Now can I have my Dillo?

GUMBYS: "Well, why don't you just quit bitching and install it from source?"

Ah ha! Ah HAHAHAHAHA! Ah! That's it, I give up, I'm building my own rocket and I'm going to find a new planet to settle where I never have to deal with you people again. Install from source??? On Ubuntu??? You're kidding me??? Source??? Ubuntu??? Do you have any idea what you're proposing?

To install from source on Ubuntu, I'm going to have to have a compiler, linker, parser, libraries, and a command line that can sleep through the night without wetting itself on Ubuntu. You know what's going to happen when I try to do that? I'm going to have some dependency issue that requires some arcane library hosted only on a server on the dark side of the moon maintained by a sysadmin whose last installed distro was Caldera but he's since switched to Plan Nine From Bell Labs and when I show up frantically barking for my .lib.so file, he's going to look up from his daily Sunday anacrostic puzzle, set down his mug of yak kefir, and in a voice somewhat like that of the caterpillar in Alice and Wonderland, blow his hookah smoke in my face and ask me "Whhhyyyyy woooouulld yoooouuu waaaaaaaaaaant tooooo dooooo thaaaaaaaat?"

Because you can bet your ass they won't be in the package repositories.

It's like this every time I ask a tech-related question on the Internet. I almost wish I was being worked over by the Spanish Inquisition instead. Oh, for a nice, relaxing interrogation under thumbscrews right now.

(And this is the part where Slaskware, Gentoo, Linux-From-Scratch, and other wrench-monkey distros win the rounds that Ubuntu and company loses: They are built with the assumption that you're going to be compiling from source a lot, so they give you the full toolbox right from the start.)

Now can I have my Dillo?

GUMBYS: "Oh, wait, I think you could solve this with a GreaseMoneky script, you could force Slashdot to load in plain text..."

Look, if I have to write a script, I might as well write my own web browser while I'm at it, now mightn't I? And there's other sites that have this problem sometimes too.

GUMBYS: "Is it really that crucial? I'm on Internet Explorer 5.5 and the only site I go to is Zombo.com. Everything works fine for me! What's your problem?"

My problem is that I'm a freelance writer, it's my career, I've been doing it for going on a decade now. And when you write for the web, the instant you sit down to write an article, you must become The Smartest Person In The World Who Knows Everything (TM). On deadline. So my very career - yay, verily, my very sustenance - depends upon my being able to immediately find out every fact about everything. Because you'd better believe you'll get fact-checked by 10,000 neckbreads with Cheeto fingers out there, each of whom will take an entire leisurely day to post a 500-word comment illustrating every way in which J00 R TEH SUXOR. Seriously, in the information age, Generation Y is indulged in becoming a nonsentient sponge who can't even be bothered to text with both thumbs any more, but a writer is required to have nothing less than the omniscience of Yahweh himself on his (Yahweh's) best day.

I give up. I don't want my Dillo. You convinced me. I'll think of something else.

You know, just once I'd like people to explain something to me for a change. Why do you want to ask "Why would you want to do that?" ? What's it to you? What do you get out of it if you win "Why would you want to do that?" ? Do you get a trophy cup for convincing other people that their needs were crazy? Are you hoping I'm this dumb asshole who's never heard of Greasemonkey? Are you just trying to get rid of me? Why do people always complain about "RTFM" as an answer, when that's a really good answer, and it will help 99% of the people out there with their problem, but all of the people who complain about "RTFM" are the same ones who go "Why would you want to do that?" over and over again and think it's funny?

This is a good time to ask this, because Ubuntu just announced that it's ditching the X Windows display server in favor of Wayland. And at the same time ditching Gnome in favor of Unity. And this decision is being made by people who think like Eleven is Louder, who simply trumpet things like "X11 is unmaintainable. It's also quite large." (- compared to what?) and then compares it to Windows: "it's not quite as advanced as Quartz or Windows' GUI layer." - Bzzzzt! Wrong answer! That's all I've been hearing since the day I installed my first tar.gz is "We gotta turn Linux into I-Cant-Believe-Its-Not-Windows(TM)! WindowsWindowsWindows!" and the people saying that have been nothing but wrong every single time.

So, at some point in the future (I'll be back to say I told you so) I'm anticipate that I'll be hearing a lot of wailing and grief-driven rending of garments over not having X11 and Gnome any more when 99% of everything in Ubuntu is coded to the X11/Gnome world. And suddenly the rest of you will get a sip of the cider I've been pounding for years.

The countdown has begun.

Batman reads manuals. That's why he's Batman.

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