28 September 2005

"I don't like Linux"

I visited the redoubtable Bob Scott (my chiropractor) yesterday in Warwick, and he mentioned that his dialup link between the Warwick clinic and the Como clinic hadn’t been working for a while, with consequent chaos due to doubled-up appointments and such. So I sat down to have a look.

The MS-Windows 2000 Professional workstation didn’t show any dialup connections. Hmm.

When I create one, the third page of the “wizard” (perhaps it would be more appropriate to rename them “drongo” because that’s who they’re for, and that’s what they’re like, but I digress) would throw an “Unexpected Error” dialogue (/ME wonders what the expected errors are) and bail out. This would leave an icon in the dialups window, but it would do nothing when clicked on, and disappear if you refreshed the window.

At an inconvenient point, I shut down the LOB application (“Capable”) and rebooted the machine. Lo! For there were now dozens of dialup connections in the window... all of which had problems with the modem.

The Hardware List window showed the modem, no problems (and a softmodem on the motherboard, which I disabled but that didn’t help). Interrogating the modem from the configuration panel for the device showed a bunch of appropriate ATIn responses and stuff, but it just would not go, reckoned that the connection had been dropped every time but the lights on the modem didn’t flinch.

While I took a break for the receptionist to put some people through, a bloke in a technical tee-shirt wandered up to the front desk, so I groused “If that app ran on Linux, this box’d be running it in ten minutes, and never blip again.” He grinned knowingly, but standing next to him were a young couple; at this point the femme said, and I quote, “I don’t like Linux.”

D’oh! Sacrelige!

I spent about five seconds chewing on my tongue, not inviting her around the counter to fix this random/POS Windows installation herself, then explained calmly and politely that if it had been running Linux, it wouldn’t break by itself, and if someone did break it I would have all of the tools and detailed information to hand with which to fix it — and it would stay fixed.

It turned out that her problem was that a Linux box she was forced to use didn’t have Solitaire, MSN Messenger or MSIE (which a chat site required). Notice the critical nature of the flaws? I suggested PySol (“you’ll never look back!”, Kopete and either finding a less fragile chat site or adding the browser ID plugin to Firefox. And off she went.

I de-installed the modem and then did a hardware scan. This brought the modem back to life, but while it would dial and connect to the near-identical box at Como, it wouldn’t authenticate. Maybe someone changed the password at Como, or maybe it’s time for the second step of the Paper Tiger mantra:

  1. Reboot; if that doesn’t fix it
  2. Reinstall; if that doesn’t fix it
  3. Resign, blaming the badly set-up network for all of the problems.

Either way, ain’t no tools to find out. If it were Linux, I’d get the other end to dial an ISP, ssh in and check the passwords and logs from that.

1 comment:

M said...

grr blogspammers :-(

Pretty amusing story, I can just imagine the apoplectic look on your face :-D

Linux really does need more "guru's" in WA to justify it dominating the scene. In particular the Health and Education sectors.