Subject: Apology and update re Linux experience
From: ghost@aladdin.com (L. Peter Deutsch)
Date: Thu, 1 Sep 94 14:30:48 PDT

Dear FSB and Linux Journal,

In the past few months, I've made a number of statements about Linux in
your forums including statements that, in my opinion, (1) Linux
documentation was worthless, (2) Linux code was unreadable, and (3) some
Linux software was annoyingly unreliable.

I would like to retract, and apologize for, any statements I made in
categories (1) and (2).  (1) resulted from not having read the Linux
installation brochure carefully enough, and having missed the 'whence'
command.  (2) resulted from having picked a particularly obscure and
locally undocumented bit of code (profil.c) as the first and only test
case.  Having now used 'whence' a few times and browsed around some other
code in the LGX (Yggdrasil) Linux distribution, I find that the quality of
almost all documentation and code readability ranges between pretty good
and very good.

I still regard Linux as noticeably less reliable as a whole than the other
Unix system I've used extensively, namely SunOS.  Although I have found
the Linux kernel (file system, process scheduler, etc.) and shell to be
extremely reliable, there are several specific problems in other parts of
the system that are a source of ongoing annoyance:

	- If the X server ever runs out of swap space, the entire machine
locks up and I have to reboot.  (I usually can't just shut down the server
gracefully.)

	- gdb gets badly confused by optimized code, showing bogus
variable values with no indication that they are bogus.

	- Attempting to debug profiled (-pg) code with gdb often results
in strange, non-resumable traps when single-stepping.

	- Profiling sometimes produces very large variations in observed
times when running under X Windows.  I find I have to shut down X in order
to get repeatable results.

	- Having done a partially CD-ROM-based installation, I find the
CD-ROM being invoked at unpredictable times and for odd functions; for
example, just to do a ls -l in the current (non-CD-ROM) directory.

Despite these problems, I have found Linux to be an excellent value for
the price I would have paid for it ($99) if Yggdrasil hadn't sent me a
free copy.  $99 won't even buy a decent C compiler in the PC world.

L. Peter Deutsch :: Aladdin Enterprises :: P.O. box 60264, Palo Alto, CA 94306
ghost@aladdin.com, ...decwrl!aladdin!ghost ; voice 415-322-0103 ; fax 322-1734
	    "Implementation is the sincerest form of flattery."