Category Archives: Linux

Sorry Linux, we’re just not meant to be… yet.

I had some use-’em-0r-lose-’em vacation days at work, so I decided to use them to clean up some of the miscellaneous projects I’ve been working on over the past year or so, and just hadn’t had the time to finish them off.  One of them was building a database server so I could migrate my MySQL database that I’ve been using for various applications that I’m writing off of my media server.  I figured that this would probably be a good time to take a peek at a fairly popular Linux distribution as the OS, as I’ve always been tempted to jump into learning a Unix-style OS.  I hear all the time about how the folks that know what they’re doing using Linux to run their stuff, so, why shouldn’t I?

I did a little research, put together a list of components that was probably a bit of an overkill for what I currently need, and headed down to Fry’s to pick them up.  Nothing spectacular or expensive, and it was all off-the-shelf stuff.  After being home for about 30 minutes, I had the thing all assembled and fired up.  I made a boot image of the latest version of Ubuntu on a USB drive, and I was off and running with my first Linux install.  It was actually very painless, and I was surprised at how easy it was to get everything set up – sorta.  I wasn’t super familiar with how the drives I had were going to be partitioned, so I pretty much just accepted the defaults for everything, except for the drives I planned on using in RAID-10 to house the main database files.  I was really impressed with how smooth the install went, and how fast I was up and running – with everything configured.  I didn’t have to download any updates or drivers, it all just pretty much worked right out of the box.

… and then things got interesting.

I am going to preface this next part with saying that my Google-fu is pretty strong, and I have a cursory understanding of permissions, file system structure, and the terminal.  My main media machine runs an earlier version of Ubuntu, and I’ve been able to get everything working that I’ve needed to on that.  It took a little work, and a little learning, but it wasn’t bad.  However, my experience with actually trying to set up ‘work’ applications was a whole different experience.  The first thing I wanted to do was create a RAID-10 volume from 4 128GB SSD’s.  It took me about 4 hours to figure out, and I had to follow a sequence I found from searching through various Ubuntu blogs and help sites, but I got it done.  I was quite proud of myself, even though I really didn’t have a good understanding of what I had actually done.  I was pretty relieved that I had actually gotten the thing to work, so I didn’t question it too much.  I bookmarked the site I referenced for the sequence, and went on about my business, hoping I never had to do that again.

I then installed MySQL server, which was the easiest thing in the world.  I do have to say that I really can appreciate the simplicity and ease of the ‘apt-get’ command.  With a simple one-line command I was able to install MySQL server no-problemo, super cool stuff there.  Where I really started to run into issues is when I tried to move the MySQL data directory onto the RAID-10 drive I had labored to create earlier.  I found several sites that had some semblance of a sequence on how to do it, with a few of them being very specific with the commands needed to make that happen.  But, to my dismay, I found I was using a newer distro of Ubuntu than any of the referenced sites were, and that was causing the sequence to not work for me.  I was running into issues with not being able to connect to the database initially, which I eventually found to be that the default install of MySQL had changed to only bind to – easy enough to solve, but not very well documented.  I also had a lot of difficulty with the AppArmor ‘thing’ – this appeared to be a sticking point for a lot of other folks as well, as there was a decent collection of helpful posts on the subject, but unfortunately things seem to have changed with version 15+ of Ubuntu, as I could never get it to work quite right with what was presented in those posts.  I probably spent a good 6 or 7 hours trying to remedy that, which wasn’t too unexpected, as, again, I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to Linux.

I did finally get it all working though, which was awesome.  Again, I had done something, and it was working, but I wasn’t 100% sure of what I actually did, and severely doubted my ability to be able to do it again without the same amount of headache.  What finally blew the whole thing out of the water for me though was just trying to do some everyday simple things, like move export files over from a network share so I could import them into my shiny new database.  I somehow deleted the file browser from the application bar on the left hand side of the screen, and for the life of me, I couldn’t find out where that thing was to get it back.  And then I did some searching to try to find out where it was, and couldn’t locate it, so thing I searched for what I could type into the terminal to just bring the thing over myself… and I found about 10 different ways to do that, all of them being sequences of commands that really didn’t make sense.  Like, do I really need to install a bunch of stuff just to read a file off of a network share?  That didn’t seem friendly at all.  And I really didn’t feel like having to look all of that crap up again when I would inevitably have to transfer more files over.

When all was said and done, I had burned half of my three days off trying to solve these issues, and I was sure that I was going to eventually going to have to burn more time in the future messing around with this stuff again.  And, time is just something I don’t have a lot of right now.  I pulled myself away from the machine and realized I blew half of my time off that I had allotted for projects to something I could have done in a little under an hour had I used Windows 7.  So, I went back down to Fry’s and picked up a new copy, and I haven’t looked back since.  It took me less than half an hour to get everything up and running with my Windows install, and I haven’t had any issues with it at all.

I think at some point I will probably explore Linux again, as it really did have some decent selling points.  However, it’s just lacking way too much polish for me to be able to move over to it wholesale as my primary OS, and I definitely wouldn’t move over to it if I was doing anything in production, yet.  That’s just me, and my relative inexperience with it, but it’s still enough to keep me away from it for a bit.