Linux failed because capitalism rules

Let me tell you why I have been gradually migrating from Linux on all the machines in my household, from the point where everything ran on Ubuntu Jaunty, to the point where only the HTPC (media player in the living room) runs Ubuntu Mate Trusty, and everything else runs either Windows 10 or Mac OS.

A year ago I bought my younger kid a new PC, because his old Thinkpad T43 was behaving unreliably. Since he didn’t move the laptop from his desk anyway I decided to get him a desktop, a Bay Trail (J1900) motherboard with the integrated CPU. I love those CPUs, BTW. They are strong enough to run all normal tasks one would require from a computer, such as web browsing, playing all the video formats, light gaming and editing documents, they are cheap, they use very little electricity, and the motherboards themselves are tiny mini ITX format.

It’s efficient enough to have passive cooling, although that didn’t work so well in Universe Sandbox, so I mounted a big silent case fan in front of the CPU to keep the temperatures down. Basically, this looks like an ideal general purpose home computer, and is exactly what a huge number of people are getting their kids for doing homework. Also, a huge number of cheap laptops run Bay Trail CPUs, so the installed base is vast. Also, to keep the cost down, one would expect a large portion of users to put Linux on them, since all the non-specific applications such a machine would be expected to run work well on Linux.

Unfortunately, Intel fubared something with the CPU design, specifically, they seem to have messed up something with the power state regulation, so when the CPU changes its power state, there’s a high probability of hanging. Sure enough, a microcode update was issued and quickly implemented in Windows 10. On Linux, a bug report was posted in 2015. This is what happened:

This bug report was initially opened in January of 2015 about “full system freezes” and the original poster bisected it down to a bad commit within the i915 ValleyView code. There was more than 100 comments to this bug report without much action by Intel’s Linux graphics developers when finally in December they realized it might not be a bug in the Intel i915 DRM driver but rather a behavior change in the GPU driver that made a CPU cstates issue more pressing. The known workaround that came up in the year of bug reports is that booting a modern Linux kernel with intel_idle.max_cstate=1 will fix the system freezes. However, using that option will also cause your system’s power use to go up due to reduced power efficiency of the CPU.

In December when shifting the blame to the other part of the kernel, this bug report was opened and in the few months since has received more than 120 comments of the same issue occurring on many different Bay Trail systems.

As of right now and even with the many complaints about this bug on a multitude of systems and Linux 4.5 set to be released this weekend, this bug hasn’t been properly resolved yet.

That article was written in March 2016. It’s now May 2017, and the issue still hasn’t been resolved. Essentially, the problem with Linux is that the kernel development team apparently doesn’t have anyone competent and motivated enough to deal with this kind of a problem. It’s unclear whether they are simply unable to fix it, or they just don’t care about anything anymore, because there’s no ego-trip in it to motivate them. Let me show you what I’m talking about. There’s a huge thread where the users reported the bug, and tried to figure out solutions. One of the responses that looks very much like it came from a Linux developer, was this:

Well done on turning this into a forum thread. I wouldn’t touch this bug with a 10-foot pole and I’m sure the Intel developers feel the same.

Essentially, TL;DR. It was too long for him to read, because brainpower.

Another thing became apparent to me: they all live in an echo-chamber, where Linux is the best thing ever and it’s the only option. Linux is the most stable OS, it’s the best OS, it’s the greatest thing ever. Except it crashes on probably a third of all modern computers deployed, and Windows, which they treat with incredible contempt, works perfectly on those same machines. Let me make this very clear. I solved the Linux kernel problem with the Bay Trail CPUs by first trying all the recommended patches for Linux, seeing that they all failed, installing a BIOS update, which didn’t help, and then I installed Windows 10 on the machine, which permanently solved the problem. Not only that, it made the machine run perceivably faster, it boots more quickly, and it is stable as a rock, not a single hang in a year.

That’s why I gradually migrated from Linux to Windows and Mac. They are just better. They are faster, more stable, and cause me zero problems. The only places where I still run Linux are the HTPC, and a virtual machine on my desktop PC. Linux is so fucked up, it’s just incredible. It looks like you can only go so far on enthusiasm, without motivating developers with money. After a while, they stop caring and find something more rewarding to do, and that’s the point where Linux is right now. The parts that are maintained by people who are motivated by money work. Other parts, not so much. As a result, my estimate of stability of Linux on desktop at this time is that it is worse than Windows 98. It’s so bad, I don’t recommend it to anyone anymore, because it’s not just this one problem, it’s the whole atmosphere surrounding it. Nobody is even trying anymore, it’s a stale product that joined the army of the living dead. Since I used Linux as my daily driver for years, this pisses me off, but there’s nothing I can do about it but hope that Apple will make Mac OS support a wider range of hardware, and make it available as a commercial product one can install on anything, like Windows. That would make desktop Linux completely obsolete, and would be no more than it deserves, because its quality reveals its communist origins: it’s made like shit. It’s a Trabant, a Wartburg, a Yugo. Conceived on an ego-trip, and built by people who can’t be bothered with work. It’s proof that you can’t build a good thing on hatred of those evil capitalists. In order to get people to make really great things, you need to have a free market that rewards the winners with money. Huge, superabundant amounts of money. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs kinds of money.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. A conclusion of my project of installing Linux on an old Mac laptop. I gave the laptop to my kid. Within a month, it became so unstable, with so many different things breaking all at once, like dozens of packages reporting errors, mostly revolving around Python modules of this or that kind, with apt reporting mass breakage of packets, I gave up, backed up his data, formatted the drive and installed Mac OS Sierra on the machine. It’s slower than it should be because the machine lacks RAM (and I can’t add more because it’s soldered on), but everything works. Linux is so unreliable at the moment, it’s useless on desktop.