For several years, I was a Debian developer. Not anymore.
Am I hosting or what? All right. Cutting in now. Welcome, everybody, to an amazing episode of Adventures in DevOps. I am your host for today. Who doesn't realize he's the host for the day, Jonathan Hall. Here also today we have Will.
What's going on?
Jill Gillian can I call you Jill that sounds better when I'm trying to rhyme Well and Jill I can also do William if that's if that's better
Yeah, that's fine. That's right.
Will and Jill.
That could be, I don't know, like our alter ego villain name. If we decided to pair up and cause mayhem, it could be Willian is... Willian is on the case of the Linux distros and why you should absolutely use Ubuntu because it's the most widely supported and the Gillian portion of Willian is lazy.
Yeah, see that's the part where us pairing up as super villains is probably not going to happen because I don't think we're on the same page about that.
Ha ha ha.
Are we diametrically opposed with this? Oh no, that could be a part of like some, some offshoot villain origin story.
So today we're doing a Linux distro cage match between Will and Jillian, and I'll be refereeing apparently. Maybe I'll pipe in with some opinions too, but we're talking about Linux distros today and favorites and least favorites and why. Who wants to kick us off? I think Jillian has a... Yeah.
So I just want to go on record as saying Ubuntu is Windows for Linux.
Okay. All right.
Yeah, I think we can all deal with that.
I think I agree with that.
Cool, and that's all the reasons you need to know to not use it. Yeah, let's do it!
Thanks for listening, shall we move on to pics? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Jillian, what do you think?
Um, I mean, yeah, that's true. So I guess recently I switched to Ubuntu even for all of my client work, because it is more widely supported specifically from desktop applications. I never had to support desktop applications before. Like.
a year ago, I guess, and I was trying to support them on the EC2 version of Linux, and that was really not working. And so then I was like, all right, forget this, we're gonna switch to Ubuntu, and it does a really good job supporting desktop applications. It's also very widely supported by, like, everything else. So for example, the kind of...
like Docker images and things I'm usually grabbing. Like I'll usually grab like a base Ubuntu and then Nvidia always has a GPU image that's based off of all the Ubuntu's, you know. They have like that whole build matrix going on. So.
That's that. I don't know. I don't really feel like that deeply about it. I'm just kind of like, it works. It works. And I'm done building EC2 images, which I'm really happy about because, man, I spent a lot of time building those Amis, you guys, like, like a lot, like a lot, a lot, a lot of time building those images. It's ridiculous.
So I think my biggest Ubuntu does work. I'll give you that. There's no argument there. The problem that I have with it is, like I said, it is Windows for Linux. And from my perspective...
Ubuntu comes with a lot of, like your base Ubuntu image comes with a lot of software that I don't want in my production environments because that means there's dependencies and security vulnerabilities and different actions you have to take to secure that I wouldn't have to deal with if those packages weren't on there in the first place.
I agree with that. I virtually never use an Ubuntu image in production. Of course, I don't use a Debian image either or any other like full blown Linux distro. So it's not picking on Ubuntu. It's that I want the absolute minimum, when possible scratch.
That is true. Yeah, a bun too gets pretty heavy.
What do you use then?
See, that's way too, that just sounds like a lot of work to me. I mean, I could even get like Alpine or something. Okay.
If you're a Go developer, Scratch is easy. Because Go gives you a Docker image and an executable essentially. Like your entire, for most things, your entire application is a single executable with no shared library dependencies. So it's actually quite easy sometimes to make a Scratch image. Maybe there's only a single file in it, or maybe that single file plus some certificates.
So Jonathan, if somebody was interested in learning more about Scratch and Go and how to use those, do you have any resources that you could recommend for them?
You know, I know what you're getting at. You should head over to my YouTube channel, Boldly Go. Yeah. I've never talked about scratch on there, but I probably should. That's a good topic for a video. There we go.
Wow! Oh, that's fantastic! Well, you got a couple weeks before we launch this episode, so...
Wonderful how this works out.
But stepping back a little bit, I'll throw in my view on Linux histories. So I've been a Debian user for a long time. I started using Debian before Ubuntu existed. Of course, Ubuntu is based on Debian, so it's natural that Debian existed first.
I don't use Ubuntu. I would never use Ubuntu on a server. Just full stop, never. I would consider using Ubuntu on a desktop where security is less of a concern. Debian has a pretty rock solid track record for security. You know, they keep it, they're, I mean, I run a Debian on both my desktop and laptop and I'm getting security updates every day or almost every day.
So, you know, I trust that if you're able to keep up with that on your server, you can keep your server pretty secure by running a recent version of Debian. Ubuntu doesn't keep up as well. And as you mentioned, Will, there's a lot of stuff in Ubuntu. That's good if you're trying to run a desktop. If my mother asked me which Linux distro should I use to browse the web and get recipes or whatever, I'd probably say Ubuntu.
Yeah, for sure.
But I wouldn't want a data scientist or a fintech running a Ubuntu on their servers. I just wouldn't trust it.
Now I know Ubuntu is gonna disagree with me on that because they want everybody running Ubuntu everywhere, but that's my view of it. I think Ubuntu is fine for casual usage, but for anything where security matters at all, I would prefer Debian. Or Scratch.
I think Ubuntu is a great way to, I think it's a good first operating system when you're just getting started with Linux because everything is on there, you're going to have less obstacles, you're going to be successful faster, but I think that should just be your entry point to learning.
your core Linux fundamental skills, and then start taking the training wheels off and moving back to Debian. And I was a CentOS user for a long time, but over the last few years, I've just come to rely on Debian more and more.
I had Fedora on my laptop for a long time when I did that, but then I switched over to Mac and, like Mac and Docker images, like when I need to run something in Linux, I'll just use a Docker image on Mac or just go to AWS because, I don't know, why should I be running things on my computer? That's what my clients have BC money for.
Right? Am I gonna use my own money?
It'd be ridiculous. It's not what I'm here for.
I think another plug for Ubuntu or for Debian is consistency. Like the Debian core maintainers are all very, very disciplined in making sure that no matter which Debian package you get, it installs and configures the same way with the same utilizing the file system the same way, how services are starting to stop the same way. And so you get a very consistent experience across different applications that you may be running on that.
Right, yeah. The downside to using Debian, and this is the reason I would, the main reason actually I would consider Ubuntu for desktop is that the release cycle is very long. If you're trying to run desktop apps on Debian, which I do, but I often end up installing the Ubuntu versions of some things. If I need the newest version of GIMP or something, I'm not waiting three years for Debian to come out with a release.
could be a problem.
On a server that's usually less of a problem, I mean, sometimes it is. If you really need the latest version of MariaDB or something, fine. But usually servers, we're more concerned about stability and security than we are about the greatest new features. So that's one reason I think from a practical standpoint, Debian is usually a good fit for the server, often less of a good fit for the desktop unless you just like the pain of...
managing your own stuff. I do media editing on my Debian PC, which means I've installed the latest version of OBS and GIMP and different video editing stuff. And almost never is that from Debian, or it's not the most, I'm taking it from their unstable release or something like that. You just have to do that for desktop work.
Yeah, I used to not be so concerned about desktop work. And then I started to support computational chemists. And they use all the desktop apps, you guys, all the desktop apps. It needs to support like QT4 and QT5 and WX widgets and like the gnome desktop. And sometimes some other kind of desktop, because this is still biochemistry. So it's still scientists writing the software. So who knows what it's gonna work with? Sometimes we use one desktop and sometimes we use another because that's just the way that my life is.
So what about your experiences with some of the other distros now that we've determined that Debian is the best? What about Red Hat?
I'm going to go ahead and close the video.
in a sane world.
I tried Red Hat ages ago, I think Red Hat version 4 or something, and it kept timing out over my 28K modem, which is why I went to Debian. Of course, I've used Red Hat or CentOS more recently than that, but more in the sort of a Docker sense. I've never installed it from scratch. I've used images or whatever. I always feel a little bit out of place trying to...
I can't do that.
use RPM or whatever. I know that they have apps now, but it still kind of feels like it's shoehorned in. It doesn't feel natural. But you can be productive there. And some people love it. And if you've learned RPM or Red Hat's version of apt or whatever, and you're comfortable with that, I don't see a problem with it. And I do think there's a similar...
difference between like CentOS and Red Hat as there is between Debian and Ubuntu. So, you know, hopefully you're using CentOS. CentOS is the free one, right? I don't remember. One of those is one. I don't remember which was which. So hopefully you're using Red Hat Enterprise, I guess, for your servers and CentOS for your hobby stuff or whatever. But yeah, I prefer the Debian flavors of things. I'm just more comfortable with it.
It is, yeah.
Yeah, I was a CentOS user for a long time. And then they, then when I started doing more AWS work, started using Amazon Linux, which is based off of that. But then it felt like things got really wonky with Red Hat and what the future of CentOS was. Like, are they gonna continue supporting it or rename it? Wait, is it a paid product now? And it just got, it got to be really confusing at what they were doing. And...
Then I ended up working with one of the Debian core maintainers who took me on the path of enlightenment and here I am.
Nice. I used to be a Debian developer for several years. That was a lot of fun. I think I had the last commit into the CD image building script before Lenny was released. It was well past freeze and they had this particular bug that I was fixing for selfish reasons. I had no desire to get it in Lenny. I needed it for my work.
That's how open source software works. Like...
And it was, that was so cool. I got that thing merged in and this is eight years ago or something or maybe longer, 20 years ago, I don't remember. And yeah, it felt kind of cool to get a commit into Debian after freeze. Like that never happens.
I'm not going to show you the commit though, by the way, it was almost entirely written in bash and a little bit of Perl, so it's really ugly code. I'm never going to show it to anybody. Don't go Googling for it, please.
So what about Alpine Linux? You guys use that one? It's pretty common in the Docker world, I know.
it is, but I can never figure out how to install stuff on there. And then I'm like, ah, whatever. I'm just going to go get like, just going to go get some other image. I mean, even like the, you know, a base like Centos or Ubuntu or whatever is, is easier to install. I know I should, but then I don't know. So, so like these, these tech people keep figuring out ways.
Yeah, it is.
You know, so that like I can just continue to be lazy and just do the things that I want to do like when Docker introduced the build layers. You know, so for example, you don't have to have like everything that you build with. You can just, you know, you can like compile your software and then as like a build layer and then copy it over and like your final layer. Yeah, that one, that one. Thank you. And since then, I just, I don't know. I just, I don't care.
You mean multi-stage build, is that what you're talking about? Yeah, OK. Yeah.
I like Alpine because I like small images. It makes things faster. It makes CI-CD pipelines faster. It makes local development faster. But it makes rapid development slower. Because like Julian said, sometimes it's difficult to install something. Or it's not packaged for Alpine or whatever. So sometimes I'll use Debian or Ubuntu for a first iteration of a Docker image. When I'm changing things rapidly, 50 times a day, I pound through things.
Once I have something working, then I might convert to Alpine to sort of tighten it up and make it build faster and smaller images and better caching and all that stuff.
For me, if I'm dealing with software, and even after it's compiled, just the software itself is a couple gigs. It's like, am I really saving that much by spending a whole bunch of time getting it working on an Alpine dock or image? Not really, not really. Maybe another gig or two. And again, not my storage. It's not my storage pass.
As long as you're paid by the hour, you don't care how long it takes.
I hope your clients aren't listening to this episode.
somebody else's. I have to hope that like every week, like every week I come on the show and I'm like, ah, I'm admitting to so many things I shouldn't be admitting to on the air, but you know, here we are.
The tagline for your consulting company is going to be, Jillian Rowe sucks to be you.
Wow, but I mean there's two sides to that coin, right? Because they could presumably pay me to spend time getting their software to work on Alpine, but that's going to be like a much bigger invoice, I suppose, is the way that would be for development time, as opposed to like, you know, the extra gig or whatever that's on the Docker image. Those two, like the math doesn't math there, because I'm expensive. So...
Yeah, that's very fair. If you were to include that as an optional line item on your, on your quotes, your invoices for your clients, no one would check that box.
Yeah, because my clients aren't going to care, right? Because I'm dealing with non-technical people. They're not going to care in the slightest if their image that's generally behind some kind of network protection or a VPN or something like that, right? It's not typically just open to the world, is built using the absolute best practices, smallest image that it could be if it takes me an extra couple days, even a couple days or a week or whatever to build.
and not the care.
So have either of you used WSL?
No, I don't even know what that is. What's that?
Windows subsystem for Linux. We're basically running Linux in Windows. All right, well, not a lot to talk about then. I've only used it for one thing, which was creating some scripts to modify configuration for my Fallout 4 modules. All right.
Yeah, I think the last... What was that?
There you go. Guild Wars 2, here I come, right? I'll bet there's some crazy patches going around for some of the PC games since that came out. But no, I have no idea. I've never used it.
I remember doing wine back in the day.
Oh yeah, I remember that.
And I think that was the foundation for WSL. I don't really know the history there. I don't know. I don't have enough experience with WSL to know.
Is it? They're kind of opposites, aren't they? So, I mean, Wine lets you run Windows APIs in Linux.
Even just like VS code though.
You could kind of install Windows EXE stuff with Wine. That was the idea. It didn't always work, but that was the idea. I thought, I don't know, I'm going to go into the depths of my memory for this one.
WSL is more like a VM on top of Windows, I think.
But even just like VS code, you can install it on Windows, no problem. And it gives you a pretty good, you know, like terminal environment or whatnot. I'm not even sure how much the, um, I know now they have like a whole integrated Linux environment. It might be, I don't know if it's like a virtual machine or just a terminal or what it is, but like I've seen some clients just using VS code on Windows. And that seems to be pretty good, just like on its own.
So I guess I technically have another Linux distro in my pocket now, which you're talking about Wine reminded me of. I just bought a Steam Deck, which runs Linux. It runs Linux with Proton, and Proton includes Wine. So I'm playing Starfield on Linux via Wine, technically, when I do that.
Oh, that's right. That has Linux, right? Doesn't it run on Linux?
I don't know what that Linux distro is called. It's probably called SteamOS, I think. Is that the name of their operating system? So I guess I have some SteamOS Linux distro experience too.
I don't know.
I wouldn't probably run that on a server though, or on a Docker image.
Too late, I'm pushing to prod right now. Ha ha ha.
Let's play the video games.
So you both use Linux for your desktop, right?
I do, yeah.
No, I use a Mac. I used to use Linux for desktop, and then when I did, I mostly used Fedora. And I used that for, I don't know, a long time, like, you know, like a number of years, and then I switched to Mac. But I did find the Fedora desktop, which is like a...
bread hat, you know, like it uses YUM as it's a package manager, was much like faster and lighter than Ubuntu was. Like I remember trying to install Ubuntu and it was just like really slow and laggy and so I killed it and then installed Fedora. That might have been like a me and like configuring things problem though. I didn't look into it that much just I worked with somebody and he was like oh just use Fedora on these computers because it was like it was a work computer too and he was more familiar with the um with the work computers.
Are you a gnome user, Jonathan?
No, I have used it. I use KDE mostly, not because I like it, but because it's familiar. I mean, I've had people make fun of me, that looks like Windows. Like, yeah, I don't hate Windows because of the way it looks. I hate it because of the way it works. So, you know, I don't love the way it works or the way it looks either, but I'm familiar with it. And when I've tried to get known before, it's just a little bit weird.
and I didn't feel like overcoming. I'm too old to learn new tricks, so.
I was just going to say, I think that really hits on it. You know, at some point in your career, you just hit this point where if it works, then all the other features just don't really matter.
Yeah, yeah. That's how, that pretty well summarizes how I feel about Mac OS too. You know, I don't have anything technically wrong with Mac OS. I'm just not productive with it. I've tried switching multiple times. I've been given Mac books from multiple employers and I tried to use it and I just can't become productive. I've spent literally six months coding in Mac OS and I still hate it after six months. If I'm not coming, I've not, please cut out that mumbling. If I'm not gonna get over that hump in six months, it's just not gonna happen for me, so.
No hate to anybody who loves Mac, it's just not for me.
Really? What was it though? Cause for me, I'm just hanging out in PyCharm all day long anyway. So once, it's like I had to get, so I didn't start using a Mac as like my desktop until Docker was fully integrated and all that kind of stuff. But after that, I don't know, but I am spending most of my time in like Vim, Docker, and PyCharm and like that's it. So.
So when I was working only as a manager, I was able to use Mac for about a year and a half, but I was using Outlook and that was about it. And when I tried to code, it didn't work. When I tried to pull up VS Code or whatever, just the shortcuts weren't the same. It just didn't feel the same. I didn't feel comfortable. So I don't do it.
Yeah, no use. I mean, I think that's a lot of these, like why we have so many variants of basically the same thing is that because these aren't all technical problems. Like a lot of these are people problems, and people are just more attuned to one situation or another. And so they prefer one solution over the other, and it doesn't really matter that much.
from a technical perspective, it's a usability perspective for what they're most familiar with, that kind of stuff.
I'll have to ask you, Jonathan, sometime how you landed a managing gig. I feel like I should be managing people. I should have minions that think that I know what I'm doing. That would be quite the change of pace for me.
Ha ha ha.
So the answer is fairly straightforward. A former colleague referred me to the job and they gave it to me.
This is how I've gotten every job. Yeah, okay. All right.
Yeah, I mean I had two offers on the table. One was for that, one was IC work again. I decided to try management. I figured, you know, after a year and a half, two years of this, what would I rather have? Two more years of IC work on my CV, or whatever years I already have, plus two years of management. Let's try management. If I don't like it always, I can always go back.
Thanks for watching!
and I take it you didn't like it.
There were things I did and things I didn't like about it. Maybe we can make this an episode next week. The pros and cons of management in tech.
For sure, because I, yeah, I tried it. Same thing, clearly not a manager now, so we may have similar thoughts on that whole path.
That is a very interesting career trajectory for tech people just because of the level of feelings that it brings about and the types of conversations that I've heard about it. I find it very interesting. Maybe that will be like my new thing. I need to find out about people who, tech people who manage other people and the types of personalities of people who like it versus people that don't.
Well, it feels like we're running out of bad things to say about Ubuntu, so maybe we should move on to PIX?
Yeah, it's getting to that awkward pause thing, so yeah, we should probably wrap this up.
Well, I'll kick it off since I've already mentioned my pick. I was going to pick my Steam Deck this week since I mentioned it last week, but I hadn't yet used it. I've been using it for a week when I have time and my two-year-old lets me, and it's fun. It's surprisingly usable considering the size. I was concerned that it might be too small. I wish I could increase the font size in some places. Maybe I can if I look hard enough. But yeah, it's a pretty solid —
Thanks for watching!
system. I've been playing Starfield on it, which despite the negative reviews has been fine so far. I've read that it's terrible on the Steam Deck. I haven't had any problems with it, but maybe my expectations are just too low. Maybe I don't notice the low frame rates because I'm not a true gamer. I don't know. But anyway, even if you're not going to play Starfield, it's a cool little system. There's a lot of cool games on it. I've been playing Baldur's Gate 3 as well and some of the older games. So yeah, that's my pick for the week.
Right on. I've seen a lot about that. I may... I just don't have... I don't spend a lot of time gaming anymore, but maybe a Steam Deck is the solution to that problem.
I have the Switch and it's pretty awesome for plane rides.
That's one reason I wanted it also is because we have a large trip coming up at the end of the year. Thanksgiving and Christmas, we're going to fly across the Atlantic a couple times, visit three or four different cities in North America. I thought having a game system might be a nice thing for that trip.
I have a trip to Dubai coming up. Maybe I should look into that.
There you go.
You do? What are you going to Dubai for? You know, I'm only like an hour from Dubai.
I'm going for the polygon engineering offsite meeting because we have all of our engineers are remote. And so we're doing an annual get together to see people IRL.
fun and everybody can get visas to Dubai huh? Yeah.
Yeah, yeah, that's one of the pros there is they'll pretty much give a visa to anyone who wants to come.
Um, so my pick, uh, we were talking about before we started recording, so I'll just continue with that. Uh, David Sinclair's book, Lifespan has been a really interesting read. It's, um, like the core premise of the book is extending how long you live, but then he addresses the problem of, um, well, yeah, if I'm just gonna, you know.
be strapped to a hospital bed, that's really not the kind of life I'm looking to extend. So he actually talks about different research that's going on to not only extend your life, but make it the kind of life extension that you would enjoy and look forward to. And then he goes into how the aging process is controlled by DNA and how your DNA gets haywire and then the different things they're doing that can reverse that effect. So I found it to be a really cool read.
And that's my pick.
Awesome. I can't remember if I've read that one or another one of a similar title, but I'll check it out. If I haven't read it already, I will read it, because the one I did read was also quite fascinating.
I just put it on my to buy list.
If there was another one, if it was a different book you read, let me know because I thought the topic was pretty cool.
Okay, I sure will. Yeah.
Alrighty, well I'm gonna pick The Seven Daughters of Eve, mostly because I was having an argument with somebody the other day that was telling me that you can only do ancestry through the Y chromosome and I was arguing with him, no you can also do ancestry through mitochondrial DNA, like it's not just mapped through men and also the X chromosome, and he was like no it's only the Y chromosome. Anyways we had this argument for a while, it's not true, if you want to hear like a whole story about how it's not true you can go read The Seven Daughters of Eve, it's a really good
and very interesting kind of matrilineal history of a lot of different groups in Europe.
uh so that one and then I also re-listened to Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson but I listened to the graphics audio edition which is really good. I really like, I like the graphics audios. They're uh like dramas, like dramatizations of audiobooks so they have different voice actors for the different characters and like background noises and they're you know they're like very entertaining at least for me. I like them. And now they're on Audible and Audible did a nice thing
have to buy them for one credit. It used to be like one graphics audio audiobook would cost like 50 bucks because they were expensive and so I would have to wait for them to go on sale because I'm too cheap for that. But you know now Audible has come to my rescue and here we are.
Oh, and then actually another discovery that I made is that if you have Amazon Prime, you can have like an Amazon family account, which I already knew because I have my kids in there, but I found out I could add like another adult to it. And you can share all of your Kindle books that aren't Kindle Unlimited and all of your Audible audiobooks. And I think it also shares the Prime, like Prime shipping with them as well. So, you know.
I'm going to go home.
Yeah, so that was really handy because I was able to just add another adult on there who didn't have it. So that was good.
I have to say the surprising thing about all that to me was that you were arguing with someone.
I know, it's shocking, right? Who would have thought it?
So, well, I checked it was the same book. I have read that book. Yeah.
Is it already on your Kindle or other reading device? Okay.
It was on my audible library actually, yeah, I listened to it.
Anyway, I think that's about a wrap. I think we've had a good conversation. So thanks everyone for listening. Hope to chat to you next time.
Do a 1, 2, 1. Hahahaha
What? Where were you for the last half hour?
I just thought that would be fun to throw in there. It's like throw a firework and then run away. That's my plan here, you guys.
Until next week, cheers.
Alright, see you everyone.