I have previously discussed my facility with hardware. Yesterday’s outage proves that my UNIX system administration skills are up to the same exacting standard. I upgraded from RedHat 7.1 to the latest, 9.0, because I absolutely had to have a journaled file system, and various catastrophes ensued whose consequences I am still sorting out. Have I mentioned that I write software for a living?

What happens to the vast majority of the computer-using population, who understand nothing of executable file privileges, network interfaces, and firewall rules, when their machines go bad?

Nothing happens. They live with whatever went wrong, and in this lies the great secret of Microsoft’s success. Windows machines work, in a crude way, with minimal user intervention, nearly all the time; and when they don’t, they’re cheap enough that most people can afford to buy a new one. Most users don’t care if their desktop is ugly; they often take special pains to choose wallpaper that makes it uglier. They don’t care if 90% of their software is in barely working order, don’t care that it takes five minutes to reboot, don’t care that it beeps at odd intervals. So long as they can surf the web, read their email, and use the application of their choice — Word, Excel, some game, or, God help us, Powerpoint — they are willing to leave well enough alone. After yesterday, I can’t say I blame them.

Aaron Haspel | Posted August 26, 2003 @ 1:36 PM | Code

2 Responses to “Out, Out”

  1. 1 1. Mark Riebling

    What is a journaled file system and why do you really need it? Can I have one too?


  2. 2 2. Aaron Haspel

    A journaled file system is essentially a buffer. The operating system writes file changes to the journal before writing them to the file itself. This allows it to reconstruct the file system in case of a dirty shutdown, which helps prevent bit corruption and other such nastiness.

    No, you can’t have one.


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