Elite Nerds Create Linux Distro From Hell

Fake News written by James Baughn on Wednesday, May 24, 2000

from the toggling-software-in-via-front-panel-switches dept.

HELL, MICHIGAN -- A group of long-time Linux zealots and newbie haters have thrown together a new Linux distro called Hellix that is so user-hostile, so anti-newbie, so cryptic, and so old-fashioned that it actually makes MS-DOS look like a real operating system. Said the founder of the project, "I'm sick and tired of the Windowsification of the Linux desktop in a fruitless attempt to make the system more appealing to newbies, PHBs, and MCSEs. Linux has always been for nerds only, and we want to make sure it stays that way!"

One of the other Bastard Distributors From Hell explained, "In the last five years think of all the hacking effort spent on Linux... and for what? We have nothing to show for it but half-finished Windows-like desktops, vi dancing paperclips, and graphical front-ends to configuration files. Real nerds use text files for configuration, darnit, and they like it! It's time to take a stand against the hordes of newbies that are polluting our exclusive operating system."

And what a stand it is. Even the most ardent Linux hacker will find Hellix to be a pain to use. Everything is configured via cryptic, inconsistent text files with spotty documentation. The system only contains one text editor: evil, a clone of vi that's even more user-hostile and, well, just plain evil. Most of the man pages and FAQs have been either omitted or condensed "in order to save space for more important things like Quake".

The modified X Window System is particularly nasty. You won't find GNOME or KDE on this beast; you've got Xhellwm. This window manager (if you can call it that) doesn't take advantage of the mouse much; most operations are done via keyboard. If you want to move a window, for instance, you have to hit META-F2-M, and then enter the new X, Y coordinates (in hexadecimal). And that only works if you've properly configured ten different text files hidden throughout your hard drive like easter eggs.

Installation of Hellix is -- as you would expect -- a complete and utter nightmare. Everything is done via command line, with no help and only limited prompts provided. Then, assuming you are able to finish that, you must manually enter the FCC identification numbers for each and every piece of hardware in your box. Finally, before anything will run properly, you must create your initialization scripts, the XF86Config file, the multiple Xhellwm dotfiles, the terminfo database, and several dozen other files that you will spend six hours trying to find buried within the /etc and /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/etc/share/lib/etc hierarchies. If you make a typo in entering the display parameters in XF86Config, then your monitor is liable to explode.

The amount of bundled software in this distribution is limited. For web browsers, you can choose between Netscape 1.1 or MissingLynx 1.0 (a modified version of Lynx that is, well, harder to use). For graphics, all you get is a stripped down version of The GIMP operated via character-cell command line.

Reaction to the new distribution has been mixed. One Anonymous Coward was overheard (overwatched?) saying on IRC, "This is so cool... It's just like Unix back in the good old days of the 70's when men were men and the only intuitive interface around was still the nipple. I'm going start hacking on this system... I'm so elite."

Jesse Berst said in a recent column, "I can't tell the difference between this and any other Linux distro. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Linux sucks." John Taschek has been so busy engaging in flame wars with his readers that he hasn't been able to review the new Distro From Hell.

Hellix is now available for download buried deep within the bowels of your favorite sluggish overseas FTP archive.

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