So tired of computers right now…

Every computer I have is being a pain in my ass. Lion is buggy and requires reboots all the time, Snow Leopard eats more RAM than the computer has available, Bodhi Linux got wiped off the laptop because I really dislike being 2 versions out of date on everything, Arch Linux is an awesome idea, but if I can’t even easily set up my WiFi then you’re probably doing it wrong. Gentoo on my G4 is actually pretty stable and working well ironically, but it’s not using wifi or X.
And, just to be fair, windows is right out too. I used it on and off on my Thinkpad for a little while. I hate the window manager, and getting it working and maintained is at least equally as complicated as Linux, so why would I bother?
I may have to go back to Ubuntu, even though I’m really sort of tired of APT package management, just because it at least works. Although previous experience tells me that it doesn’t work nearly as cleanly when you like using alternative desktop environments, as I do.

DAMMIT people, how did we let it get to this?! The current state of computers being so highly polarized to one side or the other of the “Arcane <–> Appliance” scale that it’s insane. Arch Linux really did sound like a good idea to me when I was looking at distros. A basic system that lets you plug in the tools you want to build the system you need. Yes please. However the state of things is just feels so broken. The fragmentation inherent in the open source community is simultaneously one of it’s greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses. I shouldn’t need to install 5 different tools and figure out how to get them all to work together just to get my wifi connected. (Never mind having to choose which of several options I want for any of those 5 tools.) There’s been a lot of attempts at standardization over the years and these are great, but it’s still a long way from being something that “just works”. Ubuntu is the best distro around for this, but the cost in freedoms and ability to customize and tweak is something I had been hoping to avoid.

Here’s a good example: Ubuntu at least recognizes my keyboard properly. I thought Arch was just disliking Apple keyboards, but when installing on my Thinkpad it’s also kind of wonky. (Backspace not working in vim, function keys being recognized properly, etc..) Never had trouble with that on Ubuntu.

Where’s the operating system that aims to provide a usable functional base, NOT have a “blue screen” based installer that makes you learn partition your disk by hand? I want a clean install that includes a working network management daemon, automatically gets uses DHCP when I plug an ethernet cable in, mounts my removable media nicely, has X configured for my video card, gives me a choice of window managers to use to suit my personal needs and taste, and provides a package management system that lets me keep my system up to date and manage source based or “outside the official tree” installs cleanly as well?

I see why the slide towards “computing appliance” is such a big push. Making software that works and gives users choices is *HARD*. Building a coherent system that works and gives users the choices they need requires focus and coordination, often things that open source unfortunately lacks.

There’s gotta be some middle ground though. Even we reasonably hardcore nerds sometimes want to just sit down, join a wifi network, and write some code…