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PlatinumTrinity
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:53 am    Post subject: Userspace tools Reply with quote

Greetings again,

If someone were wanting to get up to speed with the various user space tools typical in a Linux distro what would be good resources to read? I've used linux distros off and on for years but due to the nature of my work I wasn't able to use it full time until recently. I've also used NetBSD for various things over the years. On BSD the tools seem to be more documented. On linux distros all of them use different ones and I'd like to understand why those choices were made in each distro.

I understand that NetBSD and the others are developed as a whole system where Linux distros are a hodgepodge of different tools brought together. I know there are disagreements about which are the best for each job. I'd like to read more about these options but it's hard to find information that isn't biased. For example, any time I try to read about init systems it always ends up devolving into arguments from pro/anti-systemd folks.

I've been using Gentoo for some months now. When I started I tried to stick with one of the profiles (in my case KDE) until I learned more. Now I'm looking to put together my own custom distro using Gentoo so I'm very interested in learning about the various options. When I'm done I'd like to have a system that mimics BSD's userspace. By that I mean a coherent base system that uses short names for all the commands. I know I can do this with aliases.

Thanks for you time.
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psycho
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:17 am    Post subject: Re: Userspace tools Reply with quote

PlatinumTrinity wrote:
Linux distros are a hodgepodge of different tools brought together. I know there are disagreements about which are the best for each job. I'd like to read more about these options but it's hard to find information that isn't biased.

You summarised the situation very nicely there. You will never find "information that isn't biased" because there's no single agreed-upon standard that someone can be "biased" away from: you just have to accept that there are multiple perspectives and that you may have to gain understanding of all of them before you really know the lay of the land...of course I could claim this or that resource as an "unbiased" account, but that would be my biased perspective ;)

To give you some reference points though, there are lots of standards around like POSIX with which various tools or operating systems may (or may not) make an effort to adhere to, to varying degrees...and then there are Linux-specific efforts like the LSB that you could read up on if you want to examine some attempts to standardise things. Most distros don't care if they're LSB-compliant, so it's not something I'm suggesting you take seriously for your own distro...but you could take it seriously if you wanted to, if you were just looking for some kind of a definition to determine which tools among the "hodgepodge" you assemble.

Busybox is interesting in this context too: most Linux distros use the GNU tools (a whole bunch of standard tools like grep that you really need, or at least you'd be running a very unusual system if you didn't have them), but busybox implements the (well, a limited subset of the) functionality of those tools in a single tool. I never got around to it, but for a long time I wanted to have a go at building a minimalist distro using busybox instead of all the proper tools. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend that, but browsing through the busybox applets (the commands built into it) does give you another possible reference point for deciding where to lay your boundaries around the "standard" Linux tools.

Init systems are a special case. If you really want to understand the criticisms of systemd, I recommend you read up on the principles of UNIX...look for stuff like "the UNIX philosophy". In fact that's a sensible way to study anything really, from both ends: a bit of practice at the "applied" end (playing with the tools), a bit of study at the "theoretical" end (understanding that principles that the tools aim to embody). If you build a house out of a single piece of rock, you've built a house and maybe it's a decent house, but it's only useful to people who want to live in that particular house. If you build a brick, that might not make you as famous as building a house but it's vastly more useful in a general sense, because it can be built into houses, or bridges, or things that nobody's even thought of yet: that's one of the UNIX principles, "do one thing and do it well", write simple reusable tools that can be combined with other things in a potentially infinite variety of useful ways...that way you leverage all the creativity of everyone else in the world by giving them a tool they can use themselves...don't be a poser who tries to out-do everyone else's bricks and pipes and windows and so on by building your own monolithic one-piece house as a monument to your own ego and an impediment to everyone else's creativity.

That's just my "bias" though: lots of people love Windows-like software more so read up on their reasons for loving it...get their perspectives too as you might agree with them. There's no unbiased source or single these-are-the-tools-to-use perspective: you just examine all of them until you get a sense of their pros and cons and decide what works for you.
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PlatinumTrinity,

What psycho said and a reminder that its going to be your distro, so you set the standards.
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PlatinumTrinity
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Userspace tools Reply with quote

psycho wrote:

That's just my "bias" though: lots of people love Windows-like software more so read up on their reasons for loving it...get their perspectives too as you might agree with them. There's no unbiased source or single these-are-the-tools-to-use perspective: you just examine all of them until you get a sense of their pros and cons and decide what works for you.


Hello thanks for you time.

I don't plan on publicly releasing a distro but I do want to make an effort to have something good. My goal is a distro I can deploy on a desktop system that would have compatibility with *nix and windows software. I pretty much have this now with my own gentoo install but I want something I can just throw on any computer. I want to introduce some younger people to *nix. I want to be able to give them a thumb drive and say "This will do what you need and here is the gentoo handbook if you want to roll your own".

I'm familiar with the UNIX way and I like it. I've stayed away from systemd because I don't like the idea of one large tool like that. I left the windows world to get away from that type of thing. s6 seems interesting but I haven't gotten a chance to use it. So far I've just been using OpenRC which is similar to what I knew from the last time I used Linux a decade ago. I like the fact that it's simple and I don't really care about shaving a few seconds of boot time.

From what I can tell there seems to be a push to make Linux more like Windows and OS X. The new Gnome (when I last used Linux Gnome 2.x was the latest release), systemd, and wayland all seem to be just an effort to lock-in people and software. I've noticed such things spread like viruses. Maybe not wayland but systemd for sure. So much stuff seems to depend on it for no reason. I feel the same way about Rust. Maybe I'm wrong.

This is why I chose Gentoo over Debian, Ubuntu, Arch, and many others. When I last used Linux there wasn't all this in-fighting. That's what I meant about biased information. I don't see much technical discussion about these projects. Usually it's just people trying to convince others their project is the best and anyone that doesn't want to use it is wrong. I would have been willing to give systemd a try but then I saw the attitude of the devs on their bug trackers and mailing lists.

A decade ago all these popular distros felt like they were different. Now they all seem like they're just the same thing with a different default desktop and package management.
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PlatinumTrinity,

I'm old and cynical. That's a warning to go with the rest of this maybe biased post.
systemd and freedesktop are essentially 'owned' by Red Hat. Being vendors, they have a vested interest in vendor lock in.

Quote:
Now they all seem like they're just the same thing with a different default desktop and package management.
They are effectively all Red Hat clones.
Did I warn you about being old and cynical?
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NeddySeagoon

Computer users fall into two groups:-
those that do backups
those that have never had a hard drive fail.


Last edited by NeddySeagoon on Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Banana
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm old and cynical.

I call it honest ;-)
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psycho
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon wrote:
Being vendors, they have a vested interest in vendor lock in.

Yes...and huge input into the direction the kernel's headed, so basically a great position to execute some serious lock-in. This $#!^ wouldn't be happening to Linux if Linus were a bit more Stallman. Or maybe just a bit older and more cynical.
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a history lesson about vendor lock in for those too young to remember the original workstation.

Readers may be amused by the first part.
The history lesson starts at Historical Detour: The Open Standards Steamroller.
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Computer users fall into two groups:-
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PlatinumTrinity
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon wrote:
PlatinumTrinity,

I'm old and cynical. That's a warning to go with the rest of this maybe biased post.
systemd and freedesktop are essentially 'owned' by Red Hat. Being vendors, they have a vested interest in vendor lock in.


No I understand, I'm old and cynical too. From the outside looking in it's obvious what's going on. I just don't understand why it seems like it has so much support. A big part of why I didn't use Linux full time 15 years ago was support for some software. Now that it's supported it feels like the same thing happening on a different OS. All the bad things about Windows are happening. When I looked into who was funding these things it all made sense.
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PlatinumTrinity,

Look at what Red Hat either own, by bankrolling directly or have a controlling interest in.

Red Hat and its derived distros
Debian (look at the technical committee) and its derived distros
Freedesktop.org
There's no need to go on but there is more

The rot set in in in the 1980's with Windows 3.0 or Windows 3.1
Parents started using it at work and took it home for their DOS based home PCs, Their children grew up with WIndows, which set their expectations for their adult lives.
Yeah, Microsoft owes its success to that software piracy.

Unfortunately, the 'Windows way' is prevalent among software developers, who are bringing it to Linux because its all they know.
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NeddySeagoon

Computer users fall into two groups:-
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psycho
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon wrote:
Look at what Red Hat either own, by bankrolling directly or have a controlling interest in.

Red Hat and its derived distros
Debian (look at the technical committee)

Holy cow. Would that be the technical committee that decided "screw democracy" and pushed through the systemd switch? If so maybe Devuan should just call itself "Debian"...I don't know what the project that calls itself Debian is any more, but if it allows Red Hat to impose Red Hat products on its users in breach of the project's democratic principles, I'm puzzled as to how it gets to keep the Debian identity while the folks who stuck to the project's principles don't.
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PlatinumTrinity
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wasn't there some strange stuff surrounding the death of Debian's founder? I followed the news about it back when it happened.
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psycho
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, but that wasn't related to Red Hat's Linux takeover. Ian committed suicide (or at least seems to have committed suicide...he apparently was sending suicidal messages in the lead-up to his death) after an incident in which he said he was assaulted by police. Based on the (strange, indeed) circumstances and in particular the lack of follow-up (I didn't hear of any officers going on trial for the alleged abuse, let alone for covering it up with a faked suicide), I've always assumed that it was one of those "mental illness" situations where nobody was taking Ian's abuse story seriously due to their feeling he wasn't well enough to be taken seriously in the hours leading up to his suicide. Of course these things are never straightforward and the "mental illness" explanation can be a great way to point the finger at the end results (an exhausted, profoundly distressed individual) while ignoring the causes leading up to those results...but given that Ian's family and friends can live with things as they stand, it's not my place to mutter "foul play!" from my extreme distance, knowing only what I've seen online: his death was tragic, regardless of what contributed to it, and I don't feel that it's any of my business to dig into it. No room for hard-core conspiracy theories speculating that a Red Hat operative drugged Ian, either: he'd retired as Debian's project lead, many years before the systemd stuff.
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