Saturday, July 21, 2007

Anecdotal Evidence that Linux Sucks

So I've been trying to figure out why the new Plot implementation works perfectly on windows, but totally craps out on Linux. Unfortunately, I've started getting more hard disk errors. This time it's a persistent (within 5 minutes of booting) 'kernel panic: journal commit i/o error.' Of course, this error message is preceded by a complete lockup of 3-5 minutes, and sometimes it never shows up, and halts or reboots instead. Beeeeautiful. This is a different hard disk than the one I had a similar problem with in June. The machine is an Alienware Aurora, running on an Asus A8N-32 with an AMD 4800+ X2.

For most of my life, I've suffered the reputation of being able to fix computer problems with only my proximity. Lately, the universe seems to have found balance. In the past three years, I've lost three hard drives, two motherboards, and a CPU at exceedingly inopportune times. Call it terrible coincidence, but each time, I had recently began dual-booting one or another Linux distro after a long period of brutish but relatively problem-free Windows-only celibacy. Now, I can't PROVE nor should I be taken to imply that the Linux kernel is directly to blame. But regardless of statistical (im)probability, this seems to happen to me all the time.

In one such instance, my motherboard DIED after a nasty, bone-grinding, system-fan-maxed-out, cold-sweat-inducing system halt during a Knoppix session--yes, the mobo DIED. I had JUST BUILT the computer a few months prior (based on an AMD 3500+ and an A8N SLI Deluxe). A few months later the CPU died while I was trying to learn Slackware. Maybe I ESD'd something when I was building it, who knows? (I did in fact use a wrist strap, though)

In another instance, I had recently started using Ubuntu Warty on my Dell Inspiron 8200, after pleasantly (to the extent possible) running windows on the machine for months. The system ate it, and I had to replace the hard drive (which was less than a year old).

In June of this year, when I got "grub error 17," I had been using a new Feisty installation for just a few days. Had to replace the drive. Note also that there have been several other incidents _only_ resulting in serious data corruption and loss (i.e. a simple low-level format and reinstall fixed it).

I consider myself of above average hardware, software, and OS literacy, but there is nothing in my knowledge base which explains these hardware failures. But consider this: I use only Windows for probably 80% of the year on average (because it takes me a while to reinstall Linux after each incident, then I just have another one soon after), and these failures seem to happen in Linux. For clarity, I like Linux a great deal, but it's increasingly making me want to smash all of my gadgets and move to Walden Pond.

Multiple Choice:
A. The Linux Kernel and/or Drivers are killing my computers.
B. I'm using my system in some strange and scary way that causes massive hardware failures.
C. I have an electro-static aura which is only activated when I'm feelin' the penguin love.
D. AMD and/or ASUS hardware is the common thread.
E. Solipsism; I'm the only person with free will, and the rest of you are lying about how problem-free your Linux installations are.

I'll have to choose E unless someone can give me a better explanation. Either way, I think I'm going to invest some of my GSoC earnings into a MacBook Pro.

3 comments:

Jason G said...

Virtual machines make me happy. I haven't had any issues with my Feisty installation at all in the VM. I have no idea why you might be having problems because I'm no Linux expert myself, nor am I superb on the level of hardware.

Ondrej Certik said...

Me neither. To myself it happened only once, that the hardrive crashed. I am using Debian exclusively for last couple of years.

Jakub Piotr Cłapa said...

I have burned my CPU down with Linux once. After some investigation I found out that problems occurred only when using Athlon specific instructions (burnK7 and co.). Thus Linux suffered from frequent rebots and halts (especially when running mplayer/mencoder) but Windows didn't (draw your own conclusions).
In the end the CPU died altogether, got replaced and is running Linux ever since as a small humble server.
Maybe the same thing applies here? Linux just uses your hardware in some no very well supported ways? (e.g. hard drive DMA was turned off by default in some older Windows versions)