Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

14Sep/04Off

Darwin Is Calling. Collect.

I saw the first mention today of Havoc Pennington's Stateless Linux paper (it's a PDF file, of course) a couple of hours ago.There's already been a fair amount of "Whazzat?!?" and "Why?!" yelling from people who ought to know better. He's absolutely right about Windows deployments (as I've bemoaned here a thousand times in the past) being a miserable mess. The amount of breakage you see on an individual machine when simply migrating user profiles (and doing it correctly by creating the profile before populating it) from one nearly identical machine to another. Switching user profiles between 2000 and XP was horrible and completely inconsistent.

More importantly though, his proposal is a viable solution to the thick client/thin client mess we so commonly refer to as desktop support work. A lot of people (particularly over at OSNews) have been preoccupied with the question of how this might effect them as a desktop user and that concern would head off any Microsoft initiative for this sort of thing. The client user cannot be the center of your strategy any more than Fred Phelps can head an AIDS education project. Locking down the desktop is a constant battle and giving the users we're trying to save from their own carelessness all of the tools they need to circumvent these measures won't win you a whole lot of fans. Making things easier for the administrator is making things easier for the user. This is the large scale deployment thinking I was complaining about a couple of days ago. People buy gadgets off the shelf but companies don't deploy operating systems because they have cool new rendering engines. Yeesh. This is the sort of easy that I like not the "holy crap I can hose my system up in a matter of minutes even without administrative or elevated access" easy that is commonly mistaken for friendly. In that sense, Unix is more friendly than any other system imaginable. rm won't hassle you about anything but permissions. Of course, you wouldn't go crying to the author(s) of your flavor of *nix-ness but the poor, tired, and underpaid bastards who have to pretend they give two fucks or feel the slightest bit of ownership for your bad, bad decisions. That, essentially, is why Microsoft needs to smarten up, cater more towards their technical users, and stop using the same one-size-fits-enterprise brain tourniquet system design.

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